Tuesday, October 31, 2006

A Warner effect?

If Jim Webb is taking off in Virginia right now, it could very well be due to a "Mark Warner" effect...this is the ad that ran, I believe, just prior to his current one:

Lies and the lying liars who tell them

The Liar-in-Chief:
Rather than accurately describe the Democrats' positions on key issues, the president puts forth a ludicrous mockery of their position -- then gets his audience to participate in jeering at it. But the media doesn't call him on it.

For instance, Bush's now-stock call-and-response exercise intentionally obscures the actual debate over warrantless surveillance program -- which is that Democrats want the executive branch to get court permission for wiretaps, to make sure they are being conducted for legitimate reasons.

But here's Bush:

"When it comes to listening in on the terrorists, what's the Democrats' answer?

"AUDIENCE: Just say no!"
Yes, the President of the United States actually pulls this crap. What an embarrassment. And he gets away with it.

Lying to the bitter end...

Calling Olbermann

I think this latest manufactured attack by Rethugs on Kerry cries out for a special comment from Keith...what do you think?

Update: Olbermann to do a special commentary tomorrow night, stay tuned...:)

Hilarious

Some political snark for you. How dare the Democratic party participate in the electoral process...:)

Why Allen's crew is so desperate

The polls are trending Webb's way, despite Allen's last ditch negativity. Webb leading Allen in four polls now...and with a great new ad for the last pitch.

The gift that keeps on giving

All I will say about Norman Spector's comments on Belinda Stronach is that it reminds women everywhere that if you do what a man does, you're a bitch. It's the old double standard...Peter MacKay doesn't exactly have a sterling record when it comes to relationships, does he?

As for Spector, he's a crotchety, nasty old dude. Who cares what he thinks?

Another attempt to distract from Iraq by Republicans

This time, they're trying to grasp desperately to a statement by John Kerry yesterday. They claim Kerry was slagging the troops in Iraq. Got that? Kerry the war veteran is defaming troops in Iraq. How laughable.

Kerry's point was that if you're intellectually lazy, if you don't do your homework, you may end up leading your country into a quagmire, Iraq. You may get your country stuck in Iraq. That's Bush's war. He's the lazy, incompetent one. Bush didn't know the difference between a Shiite and a Sunni before invading Iraq.

Kerry is fighting back, and should pound away:
“If anyone thinks a veteran would criticize the more than 140,000 heroes serving in Iraq and not the president who got us stuck there, they’re crazy. This is the classic G.O.P. playbook. I’m sick and tired of these despicable Republican attacks that always seem to come from those who never can be found to serve in war, but love to attack those who did.

I’m not going to be lectured by a stuffed suit White House mouthpiece standing behind a podium, or doughy Rush Limbaugh, who no doubt today will take a break from belittling Michael J. Fox’s Parkinson’s disease to start lying about me just as they have lied about Iraq. It disgusts me that these Republican hacks who have never worn the uniform of our country lie and distort so blatantly and carelessly about those who have.

The people who owe our troops an apology are George W. Bush and Dick Cheney who misled America into war and have given us a Katrina foreign policy that has betrayed our ideals, killed and maimed our soldiers, and widened the terrorist threat instead of defeating it. These Republicans are afraid to debate veterans who live and breathe the concerns of our troops, not the empty slogans of an administration that sent our brave troops to war without body armor.

Bottom line, these Republicans want to debate straw men because they’re afraid to debate real men. And this time it won’t work because we’re going to stay in their face with the truth and deny them even a sliver of light for their distortions. No Democrat will be bullied by an administration that has a cut and run policy in Afghanistan and a stand still and lose strategy in Iraq.
If Bush and his cronies want to talk about Iraq, I say go for it!!!!

Allen's thugs don't like personal questions



You see, it's perfectly fine for and his thugs to attack the integrity and character of his opponent. But when Allen is asked about his own character, well...the thugs are at the ready. And apparently they're on a hair trigger these days. An impudent question? The thugs will manhandle the person out of there and indeed, assault him. Forget about free speech.

This is what the Allen campaign has wrought, by slinging mud and catering to the lowest common denominator. They've got to expect that people will ask Allen nasty questions if that's the trash he's dealing out himself.

George Allen's reaction to the incident? "Things like that happen..."

Maybe in George Allen's Virginia they do...and Karl Rove's America.

Excerpts from Woodward's book making the rounds today

Some tidbits, I take it, to illuminate one's election thinking.

Here's what W apparently said to the Saudi Ambassador, "Bandar Bush," in 1997:
"I'm thinking of running for president," said Bush, then 52. He had hardly begun his campaign for reelection as governor of Texas. He had been walking gingerly for months, trying not to dampen his appeal as a potential presidential candidate while not peaking too early, or giving Texas voters the impression he was looking past them.

Bush told Bandar he had clear ideas of what needed to be done with national domestic policy. But, he added, "I don't have the foggiest idea about what I think about international, foreign policy.

"My dad told me before I make up my mind, go and talk to Bandar.
One, he's our friend. Our means America, not just the Bush family. Number two, he knows everyone around the world who counts. And number three, he will give you his view on what he sees happening in the world. Maybe he can set up meetings for you with people around the world." (emphasis added)
The empty sieve, filled up by his Saudi friend. There's lots more here on Bush's unnerving lack of experience and knowledge, naive questions to others he brought on - Rice, Armitage - and there's the odd sense of certainty that he would be president.

A timely reminder, I guess, of the need for a check on this amateur who, along with his neocon advisers, has dug a deep hole in Iraq.

That predicted "unrest" in Pakistan

Here it is:
Thousands of pro-Taliban tribesmen threatened to send suicide bombers to attack Pakistani forces and execute people found spying for the Americans in a fiery protest Tuesday denouncing the Pakistani air raid the killed 80 people a day earlier.

The rally in Khar, the main town in the tribal Bajur district and close to the village where Monday's missile attack on a religious school took place, drew 20,000 protesters and was the largest of several demonstrations to denounce the raid held across Pakistan.
Brought to you by the Bush administration, fomenting unrest in an unstable nuclear ally...ah, yes, making the world a safer place.

Why doesn't Bush just call Democrats terrorists?

He's getting pretty close, after all. Look at this unbelievable headline, "Bush Says 'America Loses' Under Democrats":
Faced with potential GOP defeat in both chambers, Bush and Cheney aimed to avert that by convincing voters that they cannot risk giving the opposition party any power in Washington.

"However they put it, the Democrat approach in Iraq comes down to this: The terrorists win and America loses," Bush told a raucous crowd of about 5,000 GOP partisans packed in an arena at Georgia Southern University in Statesboro, one of his stops Monday. "That's what's at stake in this election. The Democrat goal is to get out of Iraq. The Republican goal is to win in Iraq."
Since we all know what a bang up job Bush has done with his war of choice in Iraq. You can't veer from his conduct of the Iraq war, it's been such a success! He and Cheney, Rumsfeld, Rove and the gang have made Iraq a war of which to be proud! Allies and friends around the world applaud his actions! You can't now hand it over to Democratic oversight! They'll mess up such great stewardship!

What utter, blatant nonsense he's spewing..."the Republican goal is to win in Iraq" when everyone knows that James Baker and Lee Hamilton's Iraq study group is set to report after the election on options and "winning" is not likely to be part of the equation at all.
A commission formed to assess the Iraq war and recommend a new course has ruled out the prospect of victory for America, according to draft policy options shared with The New York Sun by commission officials.
Instead, the group is likely to propose options on a staged withdrawal of troops - the position Bush so gleefully and irresponsibly disdains.

Other thoughts of late on Iraq? John McCain's talking about 20,000 more troops being needed. Rumsfeld says, "back off and relax." John Kerry and military commanders say it's not a military solution that'll do it at all, it's political and diplomatic efforts required. My point here? If someone can figure out what constitutes a "win" when speaking about Iraq and a plan, they deserve a prize of significant estimation. The likely consensus will be that there is no victory to be had, it's too late for such talk.

Bush running around saying that the "Republican goal is to win in Iraq" is a little like a Miss America contestant saying her goal is to achieve world peace. It's the expected stock answer, and it seems like a laudable goal, but, well, it sounds a might naive given the facts staring most rational folks in the face. And frankly, it ain't happening anytime soon.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Cheney takes a keen interest in shredding

Check this out. Shredding service on its way to the Veep's residence...:)

What's up, Dick? Know something we don't?

A failed October surprise?

New York Times reporting that Pakistan's military says it attacked a religious school today where 75-80 "militants" were killed.

ABC news, however, is reporting that it was actually Americans who attacked, in a botched attempt to get Ayman al Zawahiri in the week before the election.
Pakistani intelligence sources tell ABC News they believe they have "boxed" Zawahiri in a 40-square-mile area between the Khalozai Valley in Bajaur and the village of Pashat in Kunar, Afghanistan. They hope to capture or kill him in the next few months.
What do you think the Pakistanis have been offered as an incentive to insure they get al-Zawahiri in the next week?

The Bush administration, playing politics with missiles....more here about the "unrest" this may cause in Pakistan. Maybe al-Qaeda militants will succeed in getting Musharraf executed, fuelled by such incidents. Then the world will have an even worse nightmare on our hands. You thought al Qaeda was bad, how about al Qaeda with nukes?

Oh well, as long as the GOP retains control of the congress, it's all for a good cause, right?

Today's "A" for effort

(AP Photo/Stephen Morton)

Bush in Georgia today, visitors out to greet him...:)

Don't you love that sign, "Who Would Jesus Bomb?"

Send the clown a message

Exactly:
So this is a watershed election. It is the last time the country will be able to cast a vote on George Bush, and on what he represents. It's not just about Iraq. It's about whether we want to live in a state of perpetual fear. But what's becoming clear is that the most overwhelming fear these days is being felt by Bush and the RNC -- they're terrified about what will happen to them if Americans decide they no longer want to live in fear.

Has the GOP's fear-mongering strategy run its course? We'll find out next week.

Operation "Psych Out"

In case you haven't figured it out by now, Karl Rove is clanging his cymbals as loudly as he can, doing his damnedest to lead this "Operation." You know, the one where most polls show a dismal outlook for Republicans and most prognosticators are predicting that the Democrats will re-take the House, yet Karl Rove is walking around grinning and predicting that the Republicans will remain in control. It's Operation Psych Out, in full swing, as set out in the Washington Post today:
By many calculations, Democrats are ready to make big gains in the midterm elections, enough to take over the House and possibly the Senate. But White House Chief of Staff Joshua B. Bolten says there is one reason he is feeling upbeat amid so much Republican gloom.

"I believe Karl Rove," Bolten said in an interview in his West Wing office Friday. "Karl Rove, somewhere inside that massive brain of his, has figured out the political landscape more clearly than the entire collection of conventional-wisdom pundits and pollsters in the entire city of Washington."
You see, this is the power he wields, my friends. Democrats have been bitten so often by the losing bug, and ever so closely, that they're ready to believe they'll lose. It's a ripe environment for Rove to exploit and he's doing it again with his psych out number. It's entirely possible that a number of people may be swayed by such displays of bravado by Rove, and he knows it.
Even within Rove's own party, expectations are widespread that the Nov. 7 elections will mark a repudiation for the base-rallying, contrast-drawing brand of politics with which he and Bush have been so closely aligned. But it is a mark of the particular place Rove holds in the Washington psyche that even the most exuberant Democrats are wondering why he seems so confident.

There are two questions. Is Rove just acting cocky as a way of lifting GOP morale, or does he really believe it? And, if the latter, is he deluding himself, or does he once again know something that Democrats do not?
The guessing game that he stimulates has just got to be so satisfying to his smugness. Articles in the Washington Post, no less, focus on his headgames. A supposedly candid Rove had this to say last week on his game plan:
"I look at the individual races as clear-eyed as I can every single day, knowing what we are doing and knowing that we have the capacity to move the resources in if we need to do more," Rove said in a brief telephone interview from the road last week. "Incumbents are hard to defeat. Our candidates by and large have significantly more resources than they have. And we have succeeded in making these races choices between two local candidates."
Can't make it a national race since his boy, W, stinks to high heaven in every state but a few, like Utah and Wyoming.

Here's hoping that the spectre of W and Rove, unchecked for the next two years and free to continue their divisive politicking is enough of a deterrent at the ballot box next week...defeat Operation Psych Out once and for all. To use Rove's own words, "Fight, beat 'em, win."

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Here's a quote of the day for you

Jim Webb yesterday:
"The fish rots from the head down," Webb (D) said, referring to his belief that Allen (R) is responsible for his campaign staff's tactics and has now shown his true character. "Our government should no longer be in the hands of a group of unprincipled, small-minded, power-hungry character assassins."
That means you, George Allen and you, Karl Rove...:)

On the retirement of "stay the course"



So sad to see such a useful phrase retired so ignominiously...:)

The ultimate chutzpah

Frank Rich today with a powerful column on Iraq and Bush's shameless manipulation of the facts and his p.r. strategy in order to maintain the GOP's control of Congress. From "Dying to Save the G.O.P. Congress," here's an excerpt on Bush (and Lynne Cheney of late) attacking the media for showing the actual violence in Iraq:
The ultimate chutzpah is that Mr. Bush, the man who sold us Saddam’s imminent mushroom clouds and “Mission Accomplished,” is trivializing the chaos in Iraq as propaganda. The enemy’s “sophisticated” strategy, he said in last weekend’s radio address, is to distribute “images of violence” to television networks, Web sites and journalists to “demoralize our country.”

This is a morally repugnant argument. The “images of violence” from Iraq are not fake — like, say, the fiction our government manufactured about the friendly-fire death of Pat Tillman or the upbeat news stories the Pentagon spends millions of dollars planting in Iraqi newspapers today. These images of violence are real. Americans really are dying at the fastest pace in at least a year, and Iraqis in the greatest numbers to date. To imply that this carnage is magnified by the news media, whether the American press or Al Jazeera, is to belittle the gravity of the escalated bloodshed and to duck accountability for the mismanagement of the war. Mr. Bush’s logic is reminiscent of Jeffrey Skilling’s obtuse view of his innocence in the Enron scandal, though at least Mr. Skilling has been held accountable for the wreckage of lives on his watch.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Why the Republicans may retain control

Gerrymandering. The nation-wide polling that creates the impression that Democrats are on the verge of a takeover may be completely irrelevant to what actually occurs. It's why Karl Rove claims to have "the" math on the actual race, district by district.

It just may be that all of the hope is for naught. How crushing that will be.

Jim Webb making sense

Still talking Iraq and trying to address the disaster.
"Since 2003, President Bush has laid out nine different plans for victory in Iraq, none of them serious and none of them workable. And most seriously, this incompetence has hindered our ability to fight international terror," Webb said.

It marked the second time since July 1 that Webb, a decorated Vietnam combat veteran, has given the Democrats' address. Both times, his focus has been Iraq.

Webb warned in a newspaper column in 2002, the year before Bush ordered the Iraq invasion, that a war there would destabilize the oil-rich Middle East and mire U.S. forces in a bloody and protracted conflict. As of Friday, 2,810 American troops had died in Iraq.

"It gives me no great pleasure today to be saying `I told you so,'" said Webb, whose son, Jimmy, is a Marine on active duty in Iraq. "It pains me as an American that our casualties are again escalating while this president and his followers are still incapable of bringing forward an intelligent, commonsense approach to ending our involvement there."
Allen, by contrast, is talking about Webb's fictional novels.

The outcome of this election will certainly say a lot about the people of Virginia. Are they going to be sidetracked by Allen or are they going to be voting on the issues, like Iraq?
"A Democratic Congress will demand from day one that the president find a real way forward in Iraq. We'll work with the administration and other Republicans to develop a concrete plan, but none of us are ready to settle for empty rhetoric, or the same old unacceptable results," Webb said.
Or you can vote for Allen, and he'll stay the course with his buddy W...

Letterman breaks a Republican talking point



Don't you love the way all the conservatives now, O'Reilly on Letterman, Lynne Cheney on Blitzer's show, keep asking "Do you want the United States to win in Iraq?"

Letterman's response, while comic, was right on. "It's not easy for me cause I''m thoughtful."

What exactly does winning mean? Implicit in their talking point question is the notion that there's some easily definable concept of "winning" that everyone should rally around. The United States has to "win" and everyone should support that. If you disagree with the question, then you don't want the United States to win, and that's the box they're trying to put you in, you're unpatriotic. If you even hestitate at a response, you're somehow not supporting the United States, the troops, etc. Unless you support the Bush administration's Iraq policy, for all its failures, you're undermining the effort to "win." Questioning it means you don't want the U.S. to win. What a load of hooey.

The notion that there's some easily discernible "win" to be obtained is ridiculous. When these clowns ask this question, it should be immediately turned back on them. What does winning mean? Is it possible to "win" anything in Iraq now?

It's the same game they played in previous elections. Hopefully, there are enough people who are tired of this political bullying and will vote accordingly.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Time for Webb to smack this crap back

George Allen's last gasp in Virginia.

Um, Webb based his fictional works on his time spent in Vietnam and incidents he witnessed. Allen didn't go to Vietnam.

Allen would like to be talking about anything other than Iraq.

Time to bring your bazooka to the gun fight, Democrats...maybe start here...

White House aide sentenced

Abramoff had his corrupt tentacles inside the White House. Bush's former aide sentenced today:
Former Bush administration official David Safavian was sentenced to 18 months in federal prison Friday for concealing his relationship with disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff.

Safavian wept as he asked for leniency in his obstruction of justice case, telling a judge that Abramoff manipulated him and drew him into the scandal.

Safavian was convicted in June of lying to investigators about his relationship with the lobbyist while Safavian was chief of staff in the General Services Administration. He helped provided Abramoff with details about GSA projects and offered advice on dealing with the agency.
A friendly reminder on a Friday afternoon about the ethics of some working in the Bush White House.

Go Dixie Chicks



New movie, "Shut up and Sing," documentary of the Dixie Chicks' blacklisting opens today. Here's a trailer for all to see as apparently, it's too much for NBC right now...:)

Allen's divorce records?

Josh Marshall gets tough...I have no idea what this is about, but if Marshall is willing to raise it, I don't doubt it's significant.

This was a real treat yesterday

"Rumsfeld Tells War Critics to 'Back Off'."

Catching flies for Bush again, a day after Bush's disastrous press conference on Iraq...

Remember Afghanistan?

Krugman today, "The Arithmetic of Failure," calling for a redirection of American troops out of Iraq and into Afghanistan:
Iraq is a lost cause. It’s just a matter of arithmetic: given the violence of the environment, with ethnic groups and rival militias at each other’s throats, American forces there are large enough to suffer terrible losses, but far too small to stabilize the country.

We’re so undermanned that we’re even losing our ability to influence events: earlier this week, Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki brusquely rejected American efforts to set a timetable for reining in the militias.

Afghanistan, on the other hand, is a war we haven’t yet lost, and it’s just possible that a new commitment of forces there might turn things around.

The moral is clear — we need to get out of Iraq, not because we want to cut and run, but because our continuing presence is doing nothing but wasting American lives. And if we do free up our forces (and those of our British allies), we might still be able to save Afghanistan.
...
If we stopped trying to do the impossible in Iraq, both we and the British would be able to put more troops in a place where they might still do some good. But we have to do something soon: the commander of NATO forces in Afghanistan says that most of the population will switch its allegiance to a resurgent Taliban unless things get better by this time next year.

It’s hard to believe that the world’s only superpower is on the verge of losing not just one but two wars. But the arithmetic of stability operations suggests that unless we give up our futile efforts in Iraq, we’re on track to do just that.

Hatemonger in chief

Bush gay bashing again.

Grasping at anything to change the subject from Iraq.

About that Tennessee Senate ad...

An overlooked aspect of that slimy Republican ad to most Americans is the gratuitous swipe taken at your northern neighbour. No doubt meant to fuel up part of the O'Reilly-Republican base crowd that suspects Canada for all things terroristic and left wing. The offending line?
“Canada can take care of North Korea. They’re not busy,” says an actor in the campaign advertisement, against Representative Harold E. Ford Jr., a Democratic candidate for the Senate in Tennessee.
Well, we are actually a little busy these days. In a place called Afghanistan? Remember that little old place? Home of Osama bin Laden? Ringing any bells?
The perceived slight against Canada comes at an awkward time for its minority Conservative government. The recent deaths of Canadian soldiers have prompted criticism of the government’s decision in September to increase its deployment by 500 troops to 2,500.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who increased military spending this year, has made developing close relations with the Bush administration a priority.
Mini Bush's efforts have certainly made a big impression, haven't they? And the ad is not the view of Bush, his administration or most Americans protests Bush's thug, David Wilkins, the American ambassador to Canada. Oh, well then. That explains why we're being trashed by a Republican financed ad campaign.

We're your neighbour. We're actually your best friend. Most Canadians love Americans - just not the Bush administration. And for good reason apparently.

Watch Limbaugh mock Michael J. Fox



Everyone should see the pompous blowhard Limbaugh in action.

Conservative icon says GOP voters might as well stay home

One of the conservative "grandfathers," Richard Viguerie, is putting out the word that conservative voters might just stay home this time. And they included little old me in their mailout. So I'm happy to put the word out for our infighting conservative friends:
“The big-spending, high-deficit, morally-deficient Republican Party hasn’t anything to offer conservatives except Halloween scare tactics about the Democrats. But since the GOP majority in Congress has engaged in an unprecedented spending spree, conservatives know that Democrats cannot be any worse and that divided government may lead to less spending,” Viguerie said.

“And conservatives have learned that, while Republicans sometimes provide significant symbolism on social issues, in truth, many of them have a disdain for values voters,” he added.

“Trying to frighten conservatives by yelling ‘Nancy Pelosi’ and ‘Harry Reid’ won’t work this time. As I mention in the Introduction to Conservatives Betrayed, similar tactics didn’t work in 1948, 1960, 1976, and 1992 either,” he said.
In this instance, let's hope that what he says is true.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

An end to conservative dominance says David Brooks

David Brooks today, "The Era of What's Next," declaring that 2006 is the end of a period of conservative dominance that spanned 1980-2006:
We’re about to enter another of those periods without a dominant ideology. It’s clear that this election will mark the end of conservative dominance. This election is a period, not a comma in political history.

That’s clear not only because Republicans could lose their majorities, but for several other reasons. First, conservatives have exhausted their agenda. They have little new left to propose and have lost their edge on issues like fiscal discipline and foreign policy. Second, conservatives are beset by scandals, the kind of institutional decay that afflicts movements at the end of their political lives. Third, the Reagan coalition is splintering, with the factions going off in wildly different directions.

Fourth, there is no viable orthodox conservative candidate for the 2008 Republican presidential nomination. Orthodox conservatives like Allen, Frist and Santorum are fading, and only heterodox figures like McCain, Giuliani and Romney are rising.
This guy continues to pleasantly surprise of late...and still obsessed by the office park suburbs I note, the locus of the next dominant "pragmatic" ideology according to Brooks...

Speaking of race in politics...

There's a lengthy article in the Washington Post today about George Allen's political career and how questions of race have followed him throughout his life. And you know, the big picture of his life is just not very flattering. How a guy like this would think he could run for President...

More cutting and running from stay the course



Tony Snow trying his best to obscure the fact that Bush has been "stay the course" man throughout the Iraq war. But video is just so darn inconvenient, isn't it?

"Evidently somebody at the White House needs a little help with The Google"...:)

Chris Matthews calls out Republicans for racist ad



Chris Matthews calling it like it is, the Tennessee ad run against Harold Ford Jr. is racist, end of story. And puts it in context, with America over in Iraq saying essentially, we're going to teach you guys how to get along and here we are running this racist crap in our election. And corrects the anchor who suggests it's just the normal "nasty" ads, no, it's racist...good for him. Enough of the hesitancy. People need to call this stuff for what it is.

Attaboy Stephane!

REUTERS/Mark Blinch

Stephane Dion's inspiring response to Ignatieff's "Quebec is a nation" powerplay:
So, here is my position: I am proud to belong to the Quebec nation within Canada. The constitutional recognition of such a fact, although desirable, is not necessary because nothing prevents us Quebeckers from participating and succeeding in this great endeavor that is Canada, a country we have contributed so much to building.

Nothing can justify that we renounce our Canadian identity. Such a rupture would be a tragedy, for ourselves, our children and future generations. We should not be encouraged to make such a mistake on the basis of a recognition that is desirable but not necessary. That is my position and I am more than willing to debate it because I do not underestimate the importance of symbols and recognitions. But I do not believe that we should ask other Canadians for such a recognition until we have clarified what we are hoping to obtain from it.

Although it is an important one, I do not believe this debate is the most important thing we can do to improve Quebec and Canada as a whole. For me, the main issue by far is to ensure Canada is part of the solution, not the problem, to the crucial challenge of the 21st century: how to reconcile humanity with the ecological limits of the planet. That is the vision and the plan of action I am proposing to Canadians in order to combine the three pillars of our success: economic prosperity, social justice and environmental sustainability.

Quebeckers, we have better things to do than to see this movie for a fourth time. We should mobilize ourselves to make our country a pathfinder in the 21st century. Let’s contribute all our talents, energies and our own culture, as we have always done in the past, when we have had to respond with other Canadians to great challenges.
Love this guy!

Thanks to Paul Wells for posting an English translation.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

First poll to show Webb leading Allen

Has the momentum finally shifted in this race? First poll to show Webb in the lead, here, 47 to 44.

Wow. Of course, there are still two weeks to go and a boatload of ad money likely forthcoming from the RNC. They're using a racist ad in Tennessee against Harold Ford, wonder what's coming against Webb?

Quote of the day

From a Republican-supporting conservative radio host at yesterday's White House propaganda extravaganza:
Moments after Bartlett moved down the rows of folding tables to the next interview, however, Boortz said during a break: "I've adopted the opinion that maybe I'd like to see the Republicans take it in the teeth in this election, lose the House and lick their wounds. They just haven't done enough to be rewarded with continued control in Washington."

Running Against Themselves

Maureen Dowd today, "Running Against Themselves," mocks the White House for running from its "stay the course"slogan:
Things have become so dire for the Republicans that now even Bush is distancing himself from Bush.

The president is cutting and running from the president.

In a momentous event at the White House on Monday, Tony Snow made a major announcement about an important new strategy for Iraq. The president will no longer stay the course on the rallying cry “stay the course.”

A presidency built on message discipline (Message: “Stay the course”) is trying to salvage itself with some last-minute un-messaging (Message: “No more stay the course”).
...
Unwilling to admit mistakes or face the urgent need to go past semantic changes in a protectorate that has fallen into a vicious civil war, in which Americans are merely referees and targets, the White House is falling back on marketing. Just as Andy Card rolled out the war as a marketing event, the Bush team now thinks that all it needs to do is come up with a catchy and chesty new advertising pitch.
The late hour at which this silly phrase has been jettisoned by Bush invites such mocking. Particularly when they're freely admitting that it means no real change in their Iraq policy, it's all for electoral show.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Rush Limbaugh is a big fat...

Well, you know the rest. More evidence here.

The larger point here is that everyone knows Michael J. Fox has Parkinson's. That's not debatable. It's not capable of being spun or attacked for political gain. Parkinson's and other diseases could very well be helped by stem cell research. If Republicans are going to oppose such science, then they better be prepared to see the results of ignoring the science. Fox is asking for help and he has every right to do so in the course of the election discourse.

Limbaugh, by contrast, so callously demonstrates why people have had enough of Republicans. They'll say anything, do anything to win. Even publicly trash a man with Parkinson's.

Rove playing politics with Michigan

Read this little article and get a sense of why Bush and his gang have royally screwed up governing:
The heads of Detroit's Big Three auto makers have scheduled a date to meet with President Bush next month, Karl Rove, senior advisor to the president, said Tuesday. The meeting follows a series of failed efforts undertaken this year for the three parties this year.
Rove, speaking in an interview with Detroit radio station WJR, said the White House often talks to "the auto boys" and that Bush relates to the problems of the Big Three - General Motors Corp. (GM), Ford Motor Co. (F) and DaimlerChrysler AG's (DCX) Chrysler Group.
"We need to find a way to help moderate the very dramatic increase in health-care costs," Rove said.
Bush has consistently said he is not willing to offer the auto makers a bailout. Meanwhile, Detroit executives have said they simply have asked for an audience with Bush to discuss problems and not lobby for a bailout.
"We need to have tax policies and litigation policies," Rove said, suggesting there are ways for the government to help auto makers cut costs, which have been largely responsible for each of the Big Three devising restructuring or recovery plans over the past year.
The news comes one day after Ford reported a staggering $5.8 billion loss for the third quarter. Ford's performance was dragged down by weakness in North America and restructuring costs. Chrysler and GM will report third-quarter earnings Wednesday.
So what are the many problems implicit in this little story?

First, to use an auto metaphor, is driving the car. Which means that if the auto industry is having problems, as they have been for years with their escalating and indeed crippling health care and pension costs, it's only of concern at election time. Because Rove is driving the car in Washington. And every issue is weighed through his political prism. So with two weeks to go in the election season, with a Democratic Governor in peril in Michigan, Rove will ride to the rescue (in his mind anyway) and announce a high profile meeting between the "auto boys" and Bush. Got to make the announcement at a time of maximum political impact. So that's the first thing, political considerations driving the federal government's response to the continued bad news out of Detroit (except the Tigers).

Following from the first point, when Rove and Bush only take a concrete step to address a major industry's problems at the height of election, it cements cynicism among people about government's motivations. It destroys people's faith in government as a force for the common good. Government will only be used for the common good under the Bush administration when it's good for their political fortunes. They don't care how it appears, they've gotten away with it thus far.

And then there are the policy solutions they vaguely throw out there.
"We need to find a way to help moderate the very dramatic increase in health-care costs," Rove said.
And this:
"We need to have tax policies and litigation policies," Rove said..."
They've done nothing to address health-care. Expressing faux concern at this point is supposed to help? And "litigation policies?" The tired refrain suggesting that trial lawyers are the problem for the auto industry? Give me a break. Conservative orthodoxy from an incompetent administration is not going to help GM and Ford. These are vague hints of solutions at the eleventh hour that have little to do with the health-care and pension funding problems that these long time businesses have. So throw in misguided policy solutions as well.

A perfect case study in why Bush and Rove need to be taught a lesson by the electorate.

The desperate flight from "stay the course"

Josh Marshall has a great bit on Bush's desperate attempt to retreat from "stay the course":
There's a lesson hear amid the cackling though, one which may be grimly echoed in our own departure if the country doesn't force the president's hand and prevent his ego from being the guiding force in our policy. Strategic retreats are often the choice of wise leaders, shrewd generals. Having the clarity of vision to see the difference between the possible and the desirable can often allow you to change course early and avoid a debacle later. Here you see the White House which has banged away at 'stay the course' and 'don't question the policy' for like two years now and suddenly at the crunch point they're bailing out. Or trying to bail out -- but now they really can't. The White House political czars look like nothing so much as those panicked embassy workers and refugees on the compound rooftop clamoring to get one of the last seats on those final helicopters out of Saigon. Same amount of planning, about as much dignity.

Like I wrote earlier today, the president has run this war like a confidence game. And as you would expect, that's led to a bubble. The support is tough but brittle. Any move off the absolutes, with us or against us, stay the course vs. cut and run, and the whole think starts to crack. Once the White House comes out for pragmatism and flexibility, that leaves them perilously close to embracing reality itself. And that, of course, is like the kryptonite of Bush's superherodom. After that, the deluge.

Trying to Contain the Iraq Disaster

Speaking of plans, there's another decent set of suggestions in a NYTimes editorial today on what could be done to try to right the course in Iraq, "Trying to Contain the Iraq Disaster." Given the Bush record on changing the course, while a number of these suggestions seem worthwhile, they're likely to get little traction with the non-responsive Bush administration. They do help remind the electorate, however, at a crucial time of practical steps that could be taken but are not.

Here are a few of the suggestions, under the heading, "Starting at Home":
For all the talk of timetables for Iraq, there has been little discussion of the timetable that must be handed to George W. Bush. The president cannot leave office with American troops still dying in an Iraq that staggers along just short of civil war, on behalf of no concrete objective other than “get the job done,” which is now Mr. Bush’s rhetorical substitute for “stay the course.” The administration’s current vague talk about behind-the-scenes agreements with Iraqi politicians is next to meaningless. Americans, Iraqis and the rest of the world need clear, public signs of progress.

Mr. Bush can make the first one by firing Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. There is no chance of switching strategy as long as he is in control of the Pentagon. The administration’s plans have gone woefully wrong, and while the president is unlikely to admit that, he can send a message by removing Mr. Rumsfeld. It would also be a signal to the military commanders in the field that the administration now wants to hear the truth about what they need, what can be salvaged out of this mess, and what cannot.

The president should also make it clear, once and for all, that the United States will not keep permanent bases in Iraq. The people in Iraq and across the Middle East need a strong sign that the troops are not there to further any American imperial agenda.
Again, another very worthwhile editorial today...

Remember Darfur

Here's a plan of action encouraging Canada to step up and take the lead on Darfur, a worthwhile quick read today: "Canada should lead in Darfur - `Responsibility to protect' more than a slogan."

Iraq and its costs, some milestones

Nick Kristof cites a staggering study today in his column, "Iraq and Your Wallet:"
“The total costs of the war, including the budgetary, social and macroeconomic costs, are likely to exceed $2 trillion,” Joseph Stiglitz, the Nobel-winning economist at Columbia, writes in an updated new study with Linda Bilmes, a public finance specialist at Harvard. Their report has just appeared in the Milken Institute Review, as an update on a paper presented earlier this year.
There's another study he cites that puts the cost at a piddling $1 trillion. Any way you slice it, it's now patently clear how costly Bush's choice to go to war in Iraq has become.

And in terms of the human costs, did you catch Pat Tillman's brother's comments yesterday?
Kevin Tillman has not spoken publicly about the war or his brother's death since his discharge from the Army. But on Truthdig.com, he wrote openly about the war and America's response to it.

"Somehow, the same incompetent, narcissistic, virtueless, vacuous, malicious criminals are still in charge of this country. Somehow, this is tolerated. Somehow, nobody is accountable for this."

Monday, October 23, 2006

Olbermann takes on latest Bush fearmongering



Keith Olbermann takes on the latest RNC scare tactics, in the form of their abominable terroristic ad effort to scare Americans once more into voting Republican.

Americans negotiating with insurgents

A potentially significant development in Iraq...Bush administration apparently negotiating with insurgents now.
AMERICAN officials held secret talks with leaders of the Iraqi insurgency last week after admitting that their two-month clampdown on violence in Baghdad had failed.

Few details of the discussions in the Jordanian capital Amman have emerged but an Iraqi source close to the negotiations said the participants had met for at least two days.

They included members of the Islamic Army in Iraq, one of the main Sunni militias behind the insurgency, and American government representatives. The talks were described as “feeler” discussions. The US officials were exploring ways of persuading the Sunni groups to stop attacks on allied forces and to end a cycle of increasingly bloody sectarian clashes with members of the majority Shi’ite groups.

According to the source, the key demand of the Islamic Army was the release of American-held prisoners in allied jails.
So, Americans talk with Sunni insurgents and the Iraqi Prime Minister is apparently conducting "parallel" efforts with Moqtadr al-Sadr the Shiite cleric leader of the Mahdi army, the key Shiite insurgent force. Is this the departure from "stay the course" that we've been hearing about?

Quote of the day

How'd you like to get a dressing down like this from your son? In public and with such a petulant, condescending tone?
In an interview shown Sunday on ABC News, Mr. Bush was asked about a comment by the first President Bush, who said this month that he hated to think about life for his son if Democrats took control of Congress. “He shouldn’t be speculating like that, because he should have called me ahead of time,” the president said, “and I’d tell him they’re not going to.”
He continues to amaze, doesn't he? This bully is seriously in need of his own dressing down, hopefully in the form of his Republicans losing control of the Congress.

No kidding

"Ignatieff's Quebec strategy fraught with risk."

Rove believes they will win

From the NYTimes today:
Mr. Rove has told associates that the party’s turnout machinery, through which the White House will continue to pump an unrelenting message against Democrats on taxes and terrorism, gives Republicans an advantage of four to seven percentage points in any given race. Though Democrats call that too generous, they acknowledge that it accounts for at least a few percentage points.

Mr. Rove and Ms. Taylor are said by associates to have spent hours going through data on volunteer efforts, voter registration tallies and financial matchups between candidates throughout the states, and they see a path to victory. (emphasis added)
Anyone who thinks the Democrats are on their way to an assured victory, remember 2004 and the crushing reality that sunk in when W actually won a second term...it could happen again due to Rove's get out the vote effort, gerrymandered districts and a fistful of cash pumping negative ads through close races. Bush's legacy is on the line (what's left of it) and the prospect of Democratic investigations of these guys will motivate them to do whatever it takes.

You watch, I can't bring myself to label this one

Sunday, October 22, 2006

A rationale for the anybody-but-Ignatieff movement

So the Liberal leadership race is making some noise. Principally due to a motion passed by the Quebec Liberal wing to the effect that Quebec should be recognized as a "nation" within Canada. Michael Ignatieff, the front-runner, supports this motion. Bob Rae and Stephane Dion do not. Gerard Kennedy's French is poor so he failed to make any impact or statement of note on the issue in the French language debate yesterday.

Kudos to Rae and Dion for taking on this irresponsible motion. It may be just a wave to Quebec nationalism in any event, as it's simply now a motion moving forward onto the national Liberal agenda for consideration at the December convention. Nevertheless, Ignatieff's support of it marks a real turning point in this race. He's joined the ranks of those who wish to pander to Quebec nationalism for political purposes. He may protest that it's a heartfelt belief, it's not politics. Yet it's made in the heat of a leadership race with political consequences. So whatever the root, it has to be considered for the dynamic it's creating.

This is a needless stirring up of nationalistic sentiment at a time when it's clearly at bay. Rae and Dion's instincts to challenge this folly are right on. Ignatieff's move raises serious doubts about his ultimate electability as the Liberal standard bearer now that he's taken on such a position clearly out of step with the traditional Liberal position. This marks a significant turning point when the anybody-but-Ignatieff movement now has perhaps its most significant raison-d'etre.

Rove says "Boo" once more

Trotting out the old standards in Buffalo on Friday night. Democrats are weak, they coddle Al Qaeda-types, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah....:
"You can't say I want to win the war but not be willing to fight the war," said Rove, Bush's top political adviser. "And if leading Democrats have their way, our nation will be weaker and the enemies of our nation will be stronger. And that's a stark fact, and it's the reason that this fall election will turn very heavily on national security."
Put this guy out to pasture, please...who seriously believes that Democrats are intent on weakening American security? I mean, really, how can anyone believe that? Other than Rove's true believers, I mean.

He says if Democrats "have their way...the enemies of our nation will be stronger." Hello, Karl? Iraq? Has that strengthened Iran?

And hello, Karl? North Korea testing nukes and threatening war?

Democrats caused the strengthening of those enemies, right?

I hope people wake up and teach this guy a lesson. A badly overdue, well-deserved lesson that his divisive tactics which principally involve smearing Democrats as weak and unpatriotic are just plain over.

A new day in boardrooms for exec comp

Gretchen Morgenson today, "The Shot Heard Round the Boardrooms," on the likely fallout from the Grasso decision this past week:
IN his ruling last Thursday requiring Richard A. Grasso to return as much as $100 million in compensation to the New York Stock Exchange, Justice Charles E. Ramos opined colorfully and unequivocally that Mr. Grasso had breached his fiduciary duties by failing to disclose how mountainous his pay had become during his years as the Big Board’s chairman.

Mr. Grasso’s lawyer, Gerson A. Zweifach, said he would appeal the ruling as quickly as possible. “We are confident that the appellate division will set this right,” Mr. Zweifach said.

But the message of Justice Ramos from State Supreme Court in Manhattan is a clear warning to corporate directors everywhere: The days of pouring other people’s money into the pockets of C.E.O.’s without justification are over.

Of course, the Grasso case, brought in 2004 by Eliot Spitzer, the New York attorney general, involved a nonprofit institution and not a public company. But the transfer of wealth from the New York Stock Exchange’s seatholders to Mr. Grasso is markedly similar to what occurred at many public companies in recent years. As a result, directors who decide on compensation matters had best consider their obligations to their company’s shareholders as they make those decisions. (emphasis added)

Rich today on Barack Obama

Frank Rich takes a more skeptical tone about Barack Obama's prospects as a future presidential nominee in his column today, "Obama is Not a Miracle Elixir," yet points out that he may have better instincts than most in the Democratic party as evidenced by his consistent opposing position on Iraq from the start:
The question is whether Mr. Obama will stick up for core principles when tested and get others to follow him.

That’s why it’s important to remember that on one true test for his party, Iraq, he was consistent from the start. On the long trail to a hotly competitive senatorial primary in Illinois, he repeatedly questioned the rationale for the war before it began, finally to protest it at a large rally in Chicago on the eve of the invasion. He judged Saddam to pose no immediate threat to America and argued for containment over a war he would soon label “dumb” and “political-driven.” He hasn’t changed. In his new book, he gives a specific date (the end of this year) for beginning “a phased withdrawal of U.S. troops” and doesn’t seem to care who calls it “cut and run.”
...
The Democrats may well win on Election Day this year. But one of their best hopes for long-term viability in the post-Bush era is that Barack Obama steps up and changes the party before the party of terminal timidity and equivocation changes him.
This is a refreshing addition to the apparently assigned topic of the week for Times columnists. Yeah, there's a lot of hype about Obama and there is a growing conventional wisdom on him as some kind of saviour for the Democratic party's presidential blahs. It's a lot to live up to and there's nothing wrong with some healthy skepticism...

"Those people are not like me."

David Brooks, "Thinning the Herd," on the "office" crowd of voters in the suburban Northeast who may do in the Republican majority this time:
The Republicans used to do well in these areas, but now it’s as if they are purposely trying to antagonize the married moms at the pseudo-New Urbanist outdoor cafes. The deficits alarm them. Tom DeLay was a perfectly designed Northeastern alienation machine. As insular Democrats know little about what life is like in flyover country, so insular Republicans know little about how people think in the suburban Northeast, where blue New York Times delivery bags dot the driveways each morn.

The big issue is Iraq, but the core problem with suburban voters is not the decision to go to war; it’s the White House’s reaction to the mess afterward. As Robert Lang, the superlative suburban specialist at Virginia Tech, notes, when people mess up a project in an office park, there are consequences. But Donald Rumsfeld never gets fired. Jerry Bremer and Tommy Franks get medals.

This is not how engineers and empirically minded managers behave. The people in these offices manage information for a living, and when they see Republicans denying obvious trends, or shutting out relevant data, they say to themselves, “Those people are not like me.”

So there goes your majority. In the years ahead, Republicans can either reintroduce themselves to the blue-state suburbs or they can ask themselves the dittohead question: Tell us, why, again, do we need to be a governing party anyway?
Gotta love that line on Tom DeLay...:)

Don't always agree with Mr. Brooks, but he's making sense lately. Funny how that'll happen when a sea change is afoot.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Junior MacKay and his dog

(CP)

Junior MacKay, this calling your ex a "dog," despite your pointless protestation that the comment is not officially on the record, is not going away. You can see the evidence here or here. Even the moustache is getting in on the action now, piling on because he can.

What to say about this weighty issue of the day? People may think the issue's getting overblown, but you can't say things like this when you're the Foreign Affairs Minister. Makes you look childish, nasty and vengeful. It says heaps about you, my friend. What would Condoleezza think for heaven's sake? You've created a sideshow that's not exactly helpful as your party is losing support among women and Canadians in general.

We call him "Junior" MacKay here at the Impolitical blog for good reason...:)

Today's "A" for effort

(AP Photo/Steve Helber)

This photo was actually taken Thursday on the occasion of Bush's visit to Virginia in support of George Allen.

That sign reads "Bush Lies" by the way. This guy's got chutzpah!

New Missouri Senate ad



Powerful.

Can you say having it both ways?



McCain's "real" position on gay marriage. If gay people want to have "private ceremonies" he's OK with that. But gay marriage should not be legal. In other words, he's with the social conservatives, as usual. This certainly clears up his other statement earlier in the program which seemed a little strange.

How the mighty have fallen...

The rock star's on tour

Maureen Dowd today, "Obama's Project Runway," picks up on the all-Barack-all the time kind of tour he seems to be on, sounding out the prospects of running for President:
His appeal combines the political ability — alien to the Bush administration — to see something from your opponent’s point of view with the cool detachment of a J.F.K. He’s intriguingly imperfect: His ears stick out, he smokes, and he’s written about wrestling with pot, booze and “maybe a little blow” as a young man.

He has been told by Democratic leaders to think about whether he really wants to be president, or whether he’s just getting swept away by people who want him to do it. (That’s a distinction that entitled and unqualified Republican WASPs like W. and Dan Quayle never bother to make, simply learning — or not learning — on the job.)

Does Barack Obama want to be a celebrity or a man of history — or is there no longer any difference?
Yeah, that's a very good question. Don't you love the sly dig at W and Quayle, lumping them together to begin with, but making the larger point that Republican buffoons suffer from no qualms about their own abilities, why should Obama? Heck, even smilin' vacuous George Allen was sizing up a run (at least until macaca). If such candidates can clog the public airways, surely Obama is more than entitled.

Yawn

Hey, there was a New York Senatorial debate last night...

Friday, October 20, 2006

McCain hearts gay marriage



McCain apparently jumping off the religious bandwagon here in stark contrast to his year long courting of the Falwells of the world. No problem with gay marriage ceremonies? WTF is going on?

Love this headline

"Bush backs philanderer."

Remember, W would restore honour and dignity to the White House...:)

Speaking of executive compensation...

The Grasso case has its first ruling. And it's validating Eliot Spitzer's prosecution thus far.
A New York judge ruled yesterday that Richard A. Grasso, a former chairman of the New York Stock Exchange, would have to return as much as $100 million he received as part of a fiercely contested $139.5 million payout.

The judge, Justice Charles E. Ramos of State Supreme Court in Manhattan, said that Mr. Grasso did not disclose to his fellow directors on the board of the exchange the extent to which his soaring compensation had caused his pension and savings to balloon in size and that he violated his contract by withdrawing $87 million before his retirement. Interest and money from a separate retirement account would raise the total.
Grasso's appealing the ruling, naturally, and what could be a very interesting aspect of this case is yet to be determined by the court. That is, the reasonableness of Grasso's compensation, particularly given the not-for-profit regime in which he worked, the NYSE. There could be some interesting commentary emanating from that part of the case, given the current climate.

There's another interesting point here that's relevant to the ongoing comp scandals and that has to do with the role of boards of directors. The judge seems to have validated the directors' lack of knowledge about Grasso's ballooning pension. It's portrayed here as Grasso's onus to disclose how fast his SERP (Supplemental Executive Retirement Plan) was growing, rather than the directors' duty to know about it. There appear to have been facts here that the judge accepted about Grasso's role as Chairman and his preventing the comp committee from knowing the extent of his actual pay and retirement benefits. If the directors knew there was a SERP in place, however, they had a duty to know what its implications were. Sounds to me like the halo around Grasso post 9/11 and his own questionable actions may have prevented the hard questions from being asked.

Permitting directors to get away with pleading ignorance is unlikely to be an option going forward with the heightened scrutiny on comp committees.

W and Bubba go to Virginia

(AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

Here's a report that highlights a difference between Bush and Bill Clinton's political acumen, on the occasion of their simultaneous visits to the respective Senate candidates in Virginia:
In the speech to Allen supporters, Bush said the best way to protect Americans is to stay on the offensive. "That's why they're the party of cut and run," Bush said. "That's why the United States will stand with our allies in Iraq."

Clinton, speaking later in the evening, said the public is weary of the Iraq politics Bush used successfully in 2004. Republicans "won two elections by skin-teeth by scaring people and dividing them up. But you can only run a dog through the same path so many times," Clinton said. "It's kind of mangy dog right now."

"Look at Jim Webb. Does he look to you like a cut-and-run kind of guy?" he said.
"Mangy dog" to describe the Republican cut and run fearmongering:) It's comical, light and vividly captures the desperation of the Republicans in a way that's actually entertaining. I laughed out loud at that one. My point? Clinton has the light touch and Bush is the heavy. A refreshing contrast at this point in a tired, nasty election campaign.

That's a shame

Quite the report on the conservative circular firing squad:
Tax-cutters are calling evangelicals bullies. Christian conservatives say Republicans in Congress have let them down. Hawks say President Bush is bungling the war in Iraq. And many conservatives blame Representative Mark Foley’s sexual messages to teenage pages.

With polls showing Republican control of Congress in jeopardy, conservative leaders are pointing fingers at one other in an increasingly testy circle of blame for potential Republican losses this fall.
My favorite quote from the article courtesy of Dick Armey, exacting a measure of revenge it seems:
“Economic conservatives,” he argued, were emerging as the swing voters in need of attention, in part because they had become more likely to vote Democratic in the years since President Bill Clinton was in office. “A lot of people believe he brought us from deficits to surpluses, and there is a certain empirical evidence there,” Mr. Armey acknowledged.
When Dick Armey is singing Bill Clinton's praises, something big has got to be happening out there. Yet somehow, Karl Rove continues to smile.

(Maybe he's insane...:))

Ending the oil addiction

Another worthwhile Times column to have a look at today, Tom Friedman's, "Make History, Arnold!," in which he eggs on Arnold Schwarzenegger to publicly back Prop 87:
Here’s the basic story: This Nov. 7, Californians will be asked to vote yes or no on Proposition 87, a ballot initiative that would impose a higher extraction fee on oil pumped in California. (Up to now, oil companies in California have paid a very low extraction fee compared with those in other states — a rip-off they want to keep.)

The new funds raised by Prop 87, explained The San Francisco Chronicle, “would be used to finance research and development of alternative fuels in universities; education campaigns; and subsidies to consumers who buy vehicles that use alternative fuels and businesses that produce and distribute alternative fuels. ... Oil companies would be taxed between 1.5 percent and 6 percent on oil production depending on the price of oil per barrel. The tax would end by 2017 or when the tax generates $4 billion, whichever occurs first.”

Incentives for the Dead

The Dow hits 12,000, record numbers and so, some must think Paul Krugman is a little nuts today, calling for corporate reform. But he's not. Following up on Gretchen Morgenson's article this past Sunday on the proliferation of obscene executive compensation packages fuelled largely by the use of backdated stock options and comp consultants, Krugman is beating the drum too. As well people should. While it might seem like a complex business story, it's really one of the oldest stories around. It's called greed.

So here's a bit of an overview of the problem. The rationale for the options being issued:
The claim, then, was that executives had to be given more of a stake in their companies’ success. And so corporate boards began giving C.E.O.’s lots of stock options — the right to purchase a share of the company’s stocks at a fixed price, usually the market price on the day the option was issued. If the stock went up, these options would pay off; if the stock went down, they would lose their value. And so, the theory went, executives would have the incentive to do whatever it took to push the stock price up.
The questionable practices that have nevertheless occurred:
Then there were the tricks that companies used to ensure lavish executive pay even if the stock simply seesawed up and down. For example, after a downward move in the stock price, executive stock options would often be repriced or swapped — that is, the price at which the executive had the right to buy stocks would be reduced to the new market price. Heads the C.E.O. wins, tails he gets another chance to flip the coin.

What the backdating scandal reveals is that for many executives even that wasn’t enough. To ensure that executives profited from newly issued options, companies would pretend that the options had in fact been issued at an earlier date, when the stock price was lower. Thus a contract that Mr. McGuire signed in December 1999 included a grant of one million stock options dated back to Oct. 13, the day UnitedHealth’s stock price reached its low point for the year.

What’s wrong with backdating stock options? There’s a tax evasion aspect, but the main point is the bait-and-switch. The public was told that gigantic executive paychecks were rewards for exceptional performance, but in practice executives were lavishly paid simply for showing up at the office.
Where we are:
And there’s no reason to believe that the problem has been solved. Three years ago, Warren Buffett declared that reining in runaway executive pay was the “acid test of corporate reform.” Well, executive compensation, which fell briefly after the Enron and WorldCom scandals, has shot right back up.
The reports of backdated options are coming on a regular basis now with no end in sight. This is definitely an issue requiring greater scrutiny. Fortunately, Krugman's call is being heeded, somewhat, in that the SEC is requiring significant disclosure of executive pay in company filings later this year. The tables included in those reports will make for some interesting reading, to say the least. And possibly, an incentive to keep the obscenity in check.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Run, Barack, Run

David Brooks today, joining a growing chorus on Barack Obama running for President in 2008. Yes, David Brooks. Some excerpts:
Barack Obama should run for president.

He should run first for the good of his party. It would demoralize the Democrats to go through a long primary season with the most exciting figure in the party looming off in the distance like some unapproachable dream. The next Democratic nominee should either be Barack Obama or should have the stature that would come from defeating Barack Obama.
...
“Politics, like science, depends on our ability to persuade each other of common aims based on a common reality,” he writes in his book. He distrusts righteous anger and zeal. He does not demonize his opponents and tells audiences that he does not think George Bush is a bad man.

He has a compulsive tendency to see both sides of any issue. Joe Klein of Time counted 50 instances of extremely judicious on-the-one-hand-on the-other-hand formulations in the book. He seems like the guy who spends his first 15 minutes at a restaurant debating the relative merits of fish versus meat.

And yet this style is surely the antidote to the politics of the past several years. It is surely true that a president who brings a deliberative style to the White House will multiply his knowledge, not divide it.
Note the use of the "common aims" and "common reality" by Obama...sounds a bit like Clinton's common good from yesterday.

On him running, I say he should go for it and he'd have a heck of a chance...

Your daily Olbermann fix



Keith speaking truth to power once again on the obliteration of habeas corpus rights pursuant to the Military Commissions Act.

I love a good "Tories in trouble" headline in the morning

Really, what could be better? These guys are violating one of the cardinal rules in politics. Make the media your friend. Not your enemy. Otherwise, they'll seek out such stories and run with them. They'll make it their daily mission to trip you up due to your lack of availability to them. Due to your changing of rules that all on Parliament Hill have lived under for years, and relatively well at that. And it doesn't help if you're a government who is apparently paranoid to such an extent that it's forbidding its elected members from communicating with the people. Pretty unbelievable communications strategy for politicians!

The damaging details here:
Mr. Harper and his communications director, Sandra Buckler, have imposed strict rules on when and how the government interacts with the news media.

Cabinet ministers have served as silent backdrops to announcements by the Prime Minister, such as last week's press conference in Vancouver, where Mr. Harper announced that a Clean Air Act would be introduced within a week. Four cabinet ministers were at his side for that announcement.

The Prime Minister has stopped taking questions from reporters on Parliament Hill in response to the unresolved debate with the Press Gallery over who should control the list of questioners. Members of Parliament are also discouraged from speaking with reporters.

The Globe and Mail has learned that at a caucus meeting last month, Mr. Harper informed MPs that cuts were coming to various government programs. He said that spokespeople would be assigned on the issue and that MPs should not comment, even if the cuts affected their ridings.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, some MPs said they had no problem with the order and described the comments as consistent with the Prime Minister's disciplined approach to public policy announcements. Others interpreted Mr. Harper's remarks as threatening.

Some Tories have quietly expressed concern with restrictions on their ability to speak out. One caucus source said recently that despite personal admiration for Mr. Harper's successes, the Prime Minister's Office does not use MPs enough.
There is something very strange about Stephen Harper's fear or loathing (or both) of the media that is driving his control of this communications process. It makes you naturally wonder, who is it that he needs to silence? What is he trying to hide?

Great

Forecasting problems with new voting machines on election day...

Clinton on the "common good"

From his speech yesterday, always worth a listen:
“Not that we want a bland, mushy, meaningless politics — we like our debates,” Mr. Clinton said. “The country has been well served by its progressive and conservative traditions. We understand that campaigns will be heated, but we want it to be connected somehow to the real lives of real people, to the aspirations of ordinary Americans.”

He continued: “This sort of politics — striving for a common good — for me stands in stark contrast to both the political and governing philosophy of the leadership in Washington today and for the last six years.”

“The more ideological, right-wing element of the Republican Party has been building strength, partly in reaction to things that happened 40 years ago,” Mr. Clinton said.
And more here:
"I long for the day when we will return to a debate that is not about who's a good person and who's a slug, not about who represents the religious truth and who is basically running for office on his or her way to hell," he said. "I long for the day when Republicans and Democrats will sit around and have these raucous, exciting arguments and actually love learning from one another and we create the common good out of the dynamic center."
Helpfully filling a vacuum at just the right time.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Money woes? For whom?

Article today in the WSJ bucking the conventional wisdom out there, I heard it today, that Democrats are the ones who are in trouble in the final weeks in terms of having enough money to compete: "Congressional Republicans Find Spending May Not Decide Races." (subscription required)

So what's the WSJ reporting? The opposite. From the article:
Just weeks before Election Day, most embattled Republican House incumbents have less campaign cash than they expected, despite raising more money than their Democratic challengers. Republicans had to spend heavily in recent weeks to buck an unfavorable national climate for the party.
...
In Connecticut, Republican Rep. Nancy Johnson spent $3.5 million on her re-election bid through Sept. 30 compared with Democratic challenger Christopher Murphy, who spent just $1.5 million, according to filings with the Federal Election Commission. Ms. Johnson ended the third quarter with $1 million in the bank compared with about $368,000 in Mr. Murphy's account. Even so, her race is still considered a "toss up" -- or one with no clear favorite -- by the Cook Political Report, a nonpartisan group that tracks campaigns, because of voter discontent with President Bush and the Iraq war.
...
In Virginia, Republican Sen. George Allen has raised $13 million for his re-election bid and spent $8.5 million. But he remains in a dead heat with Democratic newcomer Jim Webb, who has raised $4.6 million and spent just $1.8 million. Mr. Allen enters the final month with $5.6 million in the bank, but Mr. Webb can still compete statewide with his $2.7 million in cash.
The regular news items on Republican corruption, scandal, not to mention the Iraq debacle, work better than cash in providing the rationale, fully advertised through extensive television coverage, for the defeat of Republican control.

Must see Olbermann today

Here it is, latest on Bush's authoritarian power grab in the wake of the passage of the Military Commissions Act of 2006. He has no idea what damage he's doing to the great American judicial system. He's oblivious.



Bush has the power to declare Americans enemy combatants, unilaterally. Hear that? Do you trust this pathetic specimen's judgment after his disastrous choice of going to war in Iraq and his divisive rule, using religion and patriotism as wedges in American politics? With a consistently poor approval rating, less than majority support, his ability to obtain such powers is just incomprehensible.

Jonathan Turley, George Washington University Constitutional Law professor on this Act: "The Congress just gave the President despotic powers and you could hear the yawn across the country as people turned to, you know, Dancing with the Stars. It's other worldly."

Travels are over for now

Back from travels to Las Vegas and Washington for work...hope to get back on track with much more blogging from here on out, to the midterm elections!

The demonization of Nancy Pelosi much harder now

As the midterm elections draw nearer in the U.S., you hear the specter of Nancy Pelosi as Speaker of the House being hauled out as a rallying cry for the Republican base. I heard one such commentator say so jsut over an hour ago on MSNBC, Michael Medved. So what's the problem with this tag line? Frank Rich put his finger on it this past Sunday in his column, "The Gay Old Party Comes Out:"
As for Mr. Foley, he is no more representative of gay men, whatever their political orientation, than Joey Buttafuoco is of straight men. Yet he’s a useful creep at this historical juncture because his behavior has exposed and will continue to expose a larger dynamic on the right. The longer the aftermath of this scandal continues, with its maniacal finger-pointing and relentless spotlight on the Republican closet, the harder it will be for his party to return to the double-dealing that has made gay Americans election-year bogeymen (and women) for so long. (emphasis added)
The wind comes out of the sails on the Rethug attack on gays for political advantage, courtesy of the Foley scandal. When the Rethugs whip out the "Nancy Pelosi as Speaker" fear tactic, they usually also mention at the same time that she's from San Francisco. Why do you think they do that? Their implicit message is that she's from the heart of gay America and we can't have such a representative as Speaker of the House.

The Foley matter makes this pathetic attack just that much harder to pull off without the stench of hypocrisy billowing around it.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Bizarro democracy

Ken Blackwell and his gang have found a technicality that might help him win the governorship! And it doesn't even involve Diebold! (Yet)
Voters in Ohio can be forgiven if they feel they have been beamed out of the Midwest and dropped into a third-world autocracy. The latest news from the state’s governor’s race is that the Republican nominee, Kenneth Blackwell, who is also the Ohio secretary of state, could rule that his opponent is ineligible to run because of a technicality. We’d like to think that his office would not ultimately do that, or that if it did, such a ruling would not be allowed to stand. But the mere fact that an elected official and political candidate has the authority to toss his opponent out of a race is further evidence of a serious flaw in our democracy.
Can't win fairly? No problem, it's Ohio...

But Ken, WWJD?

Monday, October 16, 2006

Corporate America's Pay Pal

In case you missed this yesterday, Gretchen Morgenson in the NYTimes on Sunday took one of America's leading executive compensation experts to task. As with most of her columns, it's a must read and gives you a great overview of the issues that have led to the many embarrassing out of whack comp agreements in corporate America. And it's sure to be burning the necks of quite a few execs out there right now.

Krugman on change in control

Krugman today, "One-Letter Politics," reminds people of the ridiculous priorities the Republican congress has exhibited and suggests people think hard about whether a change in control of congress will matter:
The current Congress has shown no inclination to investigate the Bush administration. Last year The Boston Globe offered an illuminating comparison: when Bill Clinton was president, the House took 140 hours of sworn testimony into whether Mr. Clinton had used the White House Christmas list to identify possible Democratic donors. But in 2004 and 2005, a House committee took only 12 hours of testimony on the abuses at Abu Ghraib.
Think about that one...

Sunday, October 15, 2006

"Managed withdrawal"



Watch and learn...the "Iraq Study Group" led by some adults that used to be rational members of the U.S. government is going to recommend that troops be withdrawn from Iraq and that the prospects there are grim. Further proof that the tarring of Democrats as cut and runners is abject political manipulation, through and through.

How Bush Sr.'s aides really feel about Jr.

Interesting insight, here, by Tom DeFrank today in the form of Bush 41's aides and their pointed barbs about Bush 43 and his disastrous Iraq policy. My favorite:
Everyone knew how Rumsfeld acts," another key 41 assistant said. "Everyone knew 43 didn't have an attention span. Everyone knew Condi [Rice] wouldn't be able to stand up to Cheney and Rumsfeld. We told them all of this, and we were told we don't know what we're doing."
Everyone knew 43 didn't have an attention span. Do you believe that? What serious presidential aides say about the sitting president. It's unbelievable that the charade of W's competency for the job has been able to be perpetrated on the American people. And there's this:
The ultimate sticking point for the old guard is Iraq. They cite the appointment of 41's close friend and former secretary of state, James Baker, to chart a new Iraq policy as belated vindication.

The 41s remain incensed, however, that Brent Scowcroft, 41's national security adviser and once a top outside adviser to this administration, has been demonized since he wrote a 2002 article opposing an Iraq invasion.

"What Brent said is now the accepted wisdom," a senior 41 hand said, "and everyone believes 41 agrees with him, though he'll never say it."
This macho freudian psycho-struggle that's been played out, largely due to 43's insecurities is frightfully pathetic and a costly psychological undertaking at that.

Allen & Webb fighting it out in Virginia

What's this I see? Today in the Washington Post there's an article showing the closeness of the Senate race in Virginia...still. You would think that Allen's negative advertising against Webb would have had more of an effect on the race by now, that there'd be a bit of a pulling away by Allen after all the scrutiny on his gaffes and past have receded a bit. But no, appears that this will remain close and that Virginia's demograhics, like the U.S. appear to be split into the blue/red dichotomy with Northern Virginia leaning heavily Democratic and the rest of the state Republican.

Gives you hope that Allen could actuallly be knocked off in November. Hope the DSCC is going to kick in with cash in these few weeks...

Friday, October 13, 2006

Good for the Democrats

"In Key Races, Democrats Look at Rivals' Personal Lives." If Republicans are the party of moral values, what's the problem? If you don't live up to your claims of morality, you should be exposed. It's not pleasant, but Rethugs have brought this on themselves.

Bush manipulation of the religious right



Keith's first report on the new Bush insider book which exposes the manipulation of the religious right for Rove's political purposes.

"Get me an effing faith-based thing." (Rove!!)

Anyone surprised?

Bravo to Keith for giving air time to this devastating critique.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Sad

Vivid report of what Cory Lidle likely experienced yesterday, with some insightful comments from experienced pilots.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Bush trying to dilute Foley scandal

Anyone notice during his press conference today that he commented about waiting to see what the facts were and seeing what Republicans knew and what Democrats knew. To quote the master of obfuscation:
And we want to make sure we understand what Republicans knew and what Democrats knew, in order to find the facts. And I hope that happens sooner rather than later.
Nice try, Republican George. One more of their constant subtle misrepresentations that are too numerous to fight back.

This is a Republican responsibility through and through...if Democrats alerted anyone about this - and that's not the case - this was initially disclosed by Republicans to ABC's Brian Ross - it was because it SHOULD have been disclosed and no one was doing anything about it. Particularly the Republican leadership of the House.

Accountability rests with those in charge. Not the onlookers who have no power to mete out discipline. If they refused to exercise accountability, Democrats would have had every right to alert the media.

Bush reaffirms why people are sick of Republican control - No Accountability. No taking of responsibility. Ever.