Tuesday, October 31, 2006

You Can't Make This Stuff Up ...

There are 22 daily newspapers in Florida. All 22 have endorsed Democrat Bill Nelson for re-election to the U.S. Senate.

The lone newspaper to endorse Republican Katherine Harris is the Polk County Democrat, a non-daily in Harris’ childhood home of Bartow. She trails Nelson by a sizeable margin in recent polls.

Democrats aren't shedding any tears for Harris, who played a controversial role, to say the least, in the 2000 election of President Bush.

In Blow To Conservatives, NY Post (Grudgingly) Endorses Hillary Clinton

"The Post today also endorses Hillary Rodham Clinton for re-election to the United States Senate.

Surprised?

Well, so are we - a little. ... Mrs. Clinton, well, she's been a pretty good senator - popular with her colleagues and as productive as a first-term legislator from the minority party probably can be."

-- New York Post editorial, Oct. 30

Scientists Try To Reverse Movement In Ohio Toward "Intelligent Design"

In an effort to fight advocates of the non-evolutionary theory "intelligent design," a group of scientists has recruited a candidate of its own for the Ohio Board of Education.

The scientists, under the moniker Help Ohio Public Education, are backing former Rep. Tom Sawyer, a Democrat, over Republican incumbent Deborah Owens Fink, who has pushed for students in science class to be taught information for and against evolution.

In 2002, the school board adopted science standards that encourage students to seek evidence for and against evolution. Last February, however, the board rescinded the policy in an 11-4 vote.

Critics of the policy said it was a backdoor attempt to introduce "intelligent design,'' a controversial belief that argues that a higher being designed the complex universe. The belief has been championed by conservative Christian leaders as an alternative to evolutionary theory worthy of being taught in public schools -- creating a "debate" between scientists and non-scientists. It has been fought by supporters of separation of church and state, who see intelligent design as a thinly veiled way to teach religion in public schools.

"I think it's important to seat a strong pro-science majority if only to serve as a signal to the rest of the country,'' Kenneth Miller, a Brown University biologist who has been stumping in Ohio for Sawyer and other pro-evolution candidates, told the Associated Press.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Connecticut Republican, After Lying About Opponent, Trails In New Poll

Rep. Nancy Johnson (R-CT) may be learning that lying doesn't pay.

Johnson, who six weeks ago led Democrat Chris Murphy by 14 points, now trails Murphy by four points, according to a new Hartford Courant-University of Connecticut poll.

As JABBS noted last month, Johnson used a lie in a television advertisement to try to portray Murphy as weak on national security issues. The ad includes a purposeful misrepresentation of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act to make its argument. Murphy, like most Americans, supports the idea that the president should follow the act's provisions when fighting the "war on terror."

Maybe that kind of lying contributed to a turnaround among so-called Independent voters, who in the Courant-UConn poll say they favor Murphy, 45 percent to 36 percent. Independents make up nearly half of the voters in the district.

Is Idaho Turning Purple?

Idaho voters are seriously considering Democratic candidates for the first time since the early 1990s, a new poll by the Idaho Statesman and by the Boise ABC television affiliate suggests.

The poll finds that races for Congress and governor essentially are tied. In the governor's race, Republican U.S. Rep. Butch Otter leads Democratic newspaper owner Jerry Brady by a single percentage point. In the Congressional race to replace Otter, Republican state Rep. Bill Sali leads Democratic businessman Larry Grant by 2 percentage points.

Democrats haven't won the governor's race since 1990 or a congressional seat since 1992.

Idaho GOP Chairman Kirk Sullivan, showing refreshing honesty in the face of the poll results, said the national mood is hurting Republicans in the reddest of states.

"Idaho has been rather immune to the attitude and mood of the public across the nation," he said. "But this time, based on the amount of coverage that appears to be anti-Bush and anti-war, I believe that attitude has invaded Idaho."

One Side Of Embryonic Stem Cell Research "Debate" Includes President Bush And Conservative Radio Ranters. Check Out Who's On The Other Side

In addition to the vast majority of Americans, literally thousands of U.S. scientists and doctors, and every major independent medical association, are in favor of embryonic stem cell research.

President Bush disagrees, perhaps because he is trying to appease religious conservatives. Meanwhile, conservative ranters doing his bidding embarrass themselves with their partisan hyperbole. Rush Limbaugh shows ignorance when discussing Michael J. Fox's Parkinson's Disease. Mark Levin shows ignorance when he calls embyronic stem cell research a "hoax."

None of the three are doctors. They hope that by speaking out with fact-challenged claims, they will create the perception that there is a "debate" on the issue. That's just empty conservative spin.

Support in the medical community and among more thoughtful Republicans for embryonic stem cell research is near universal. Here are some of the long list of supporters:

"Those who would pit research with adult stem cells against research with early stem cells [also embryonic stem cells] are trying to mislead laypeople. The overwhelming majority of scientists and physicians in the U.S. support research with both adult and early stem cells. The organizations to which they belong support research with early stem cells, including those produced by SCNT [Somatic Cell Nuclear Transfer]. These include the American Medical Association, the National Medical Association, the Association of American Medical Schools, and the National Academy of Sciences."

Dr. William Neaves, Ph.D. President, Stowers Institute for Medical Research

"It is not evident to many of us that cells in a petri dish are equivalent to identifiable people suffering from terrible diseases. I am and have always been pro-life. But the only explanation for legislators comparing cells in a petri dish to babies in the womb is the extension of religious doctrine into statutory law."

Former Sen. Jack Danforth (R-MO); now an ordained Episcopal priest

"While stem cells have been isolated from both embryonic and adult tissues, they differ in several properties including the ability to differentiate into specialized cell lineages. ... Most scientists agree that research must be conducted in parallel on both adult and ES cells since each has advantages and disadvantages (e.g., plasticity, longevity, expansion, immune compatibility). For any particular disease, both embryonic and adult stem cells may have to be evaluated to determine which is most efficacious."

American Medical Association

"Given the enormous promise of stem cells therapies for so many devastating diseases, NIH [National Institutes of Health] believes that it is important to simultaneously pursue all lines of research and search for the very best sources of these cells."

National Institutes of Health

"Embryonic stem cells have specific properties that make them uniquely powerful and deserving of special attention in the realm of medical science. These special properties explain why scientists and physicians feel so strongly about support of embryonic as well as adult stem cell research. Unlike other stem cells, embryonic stem cells are "pluripotent." That means they have the capacity to become any type of tissue in the human body. Moreover, they are capable of renewing themselves and replicating themselves over and over again – indefinitely. Adult stem cells meet certain medical needs. But embryonic stem cells – because of these unique characteristics – meet other medical needs that simply cannot be met today by adult stem cells. They especially offer hope for treating a range of diseases that require tissue to regenerate or restore function."

Sen. Bill Frist (R-TN) Senate Majority Leader and Doctor

"Most scientists believe and studies show that embryonic stem cells will likely be more effective [than adult stem cells] in curing diseases because they can grow and differentiate into any of the body's cells and tissues and thus into different organs…Up to 100 million Americans may benefit from this research."

Coalition for the Advancement of Medical Research

"As a right-to-life Senator, I believe that a critical part of a pro-life, pro-family philosophy is helping the living. ... The purpose of [stem cell] research is to save life, not terminate it."

Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT)

"Recent studies in adult stem cell research have shown promise, but because these cells are not as pliable as embryonic stem cells, they may not be as useful for therapeutic interventions. Research into the transplantability and differentiation of human embryonic stem cells appears to have the greatest potential to lead to important therapies for a large number of intractable diseases. ... ASH believes that stem cell research offers a significant degree of promise and hope to the approximately 100 million Americans suffering from deadly and debilitating diseases, including cancer, stroke, heart attack, Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, diabetes, and traumatic brain and spinal cord injury."

American Society of Hematology

"Throughout my lifelong pursuit of better health for my patients, there has never been a more promising breakthrough than that of early stem cell research. While this technology is relatively new, the early results hold tremendous promise for relieving human suffering and finding cures for hundreds of thousands of our citizens who are afflicted by debilitating diseases for which we currently have no good answers."

E. Grey Diamond, M.D., Former President, American College of Cardiology

"The Society supports research, done in the highest ethical fashion and within the bounds of federal, state, and local regulations, using all human cell types that might further the development of treatments and a cure for MS. Thus the Society — along with the American Medical Association, other voluntary health organizations, and many scientific societies —opposes regulations that would limit the full exploration of this important area."

National MS Society

"Neuroscientists agree that there is great potential, although no guarantees, for breakthroughs in therapies for diseases such as ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis), Alzheimer’s disease, Huntington’s disease, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, spinal cord injury, and stroke, through embryonic stem cell research. While adult stem cell research is believed to hold less promise, the AAN and ANA believe both embryonic and adult stem cell research should be pursued rigorously and under close scrutiny."

American Academy of Neurology and American Neurological Association

"The American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) recognizes that stem cell research encompasses stem cells of many types, and stresses that each facet of stem cell research is in fact complementary – not duplicative. Research on adult stem cells (tissue-specific stem cells found within adults) may uncover the body’s innate maintenance and repair mechanisms. This area of research includes important classes of blood-forming stem cells, such as the hematopoietic stem cells resident within bone marrow or the umbilical cord blood stem cells harvested at childbirth, as well as emerging studies of cancer stem cells. Embryonic stem cells (unspecialized stem cells found within very early stage embryos called blastocysts) have the ability to transform into the cells of every major organ system. If this characteristic, called pluripotency, can be controlled, then medical researchers could determine the signals directing the development of human tissues, including cancers."

American Association for Cancer Research

"Stem cell research holds much promise in the search for better treatment and for a cure for the more than 18 million Americans with diabetes."

Lynn B. Nicholas, Chief Executive Officer, American Diabetes Association

"United Spinal supports all legal cutting-edge research that will make progress toward finding a cure for paralysis and prevention of secondary complications of SCI [Spinal Cord Injury]. Upwards of 700,000 people in the United States have some type of spinal cord disability; stem cell research has the potential to improve the quality of life for millions of Americans."

Gerard Kelly, Executive Director of United Spinal Association

"As you may know, Ronnie will observe his ninety-second birthday soon. In earlier times, we would have been able to celebrate that day with great joy and wonderful memories of our life together. Now, while I can draw strength from these memories, I do it alone, as Ronnie struggles in a world unknown to me or the scientists who devote their lives to Alzheimer’s research. Because of this, I am determined to do what I can to save other families from this pain. I’m writing, therefore, to offer my support for stem cell research and to tell you I'm in favor of new legislation to allow the ethical use of therapeutic cloning. Like you, I support a complete ban on reproductive cloning. However, I believe that embryonic stem cell research, under appropriate guidelines, may provide our scientists with many answers that are now beyond our grasp."

Nancy Reagan, Former First Lady

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Bill O'Reilly, Non-Partisan Pundit ...

From the Oct. 23 edition of Fox News Channel's O'Reilly Factor:

HOST BILL O'REILLY: See, I'm not a partisan as far as telling anybody who to vote for. I think you're smart enough to know who to vote for. But I'm looking at the unintended consequences.

FORMER HOUSE SPEAKER NEWT GINGRICH: (T)he truth is, in a straight up-and-down vote, the Nancy Pelosi-Howard Dean unilateral withdrawal argument would get about 25 percent of the vote. ...

O"REILLY: Right.

To review, O'Reilly is not a partisan, except when it comes to misrepresenting the views of the Democrats, or by default the majority of Americans.

Because Democratic leaders aren't proposing "unilateral withdrawal." Democrats, like the majority of Americans, believe in a timetable for gradual redeployment of troops, and the likelihood that a portion of the U.S.-led coalition would only be redeployed to the Kurdish region of Iraq and to the Iraq/Kuwait border.

It's typical of conservative pundits to seek to make an American majority feel like the fringe left -- when that opinion doesn't agree with official Republican talking points.

How many Americans believe in redeployment? A Fox News/Opinion Dynamics poll conducted Oct. 10-11 found 73 percent of Americans agree with this statement: “The United States has sacrificed enough for the people of Iraq, and now it is time that they take on most of the burden of their security in their country and let U.S. troops to start to come home.”

Bill O'Reilly, Historian ...

From the Oct. 23 edition of Fox News Channel's The O'Reilly Factor:

HOST BILL O'REILLY: Isn't it interesting that Iraq now -- this Muslim country that 10 years ago nobody even heard of, all right, is now impacting on how we live in America.

FORMER HOUSE SPEAKER NEWT GINGRICH: Right.

Funny, the history most Americans remember includes the United States leading a coalition against Iraq in Operation Desert Storm in 1991.

Maybe O'Reilly thinks that Americans heard of Iraq 15 years ago, but then had collective amnesia 10 years ago?

Republican Congressman Blames Bush's Record Deficits On Clinton

Rep. John Sweeney (R-NY), who has a comfortable lead in his bid for re-election, brought some unnecessary attention to his campaign yesterday.

With former President Clinton in the district to campaign for Democrat Kirsten Gillibrand, Sweeney decided to engage in a war of words.

Clinton said the Bush administration and Congress turned a projected $240 billion surplus into a $250 billion deficit,following several years of
deficits of $300 billion to $400 billion.

In response, Sweeney said: "The deficit is actually a result of a recession that began in his administration."

Oh yeah, I forgot. Everything that has gone wrong in the six-plus years of the Bush Administration is ultimately Clinton's fault.

Sadly, the reporter covering Sweeney didn't bother to fact-check the quote. Way to be "fair and objective."

As the charts below, from economist Steve Stoft, show, "If one counts Social Security contributions as offsetting the deficit, then the 'deficit lite' has gone down by almost half, from $413 billion to $248 billion. But that's just a normal result of increased Social Security contributions, which ... are themselves an obligation that must be repaid. The real total deficit, the gross national deficit, is still near a record high."

Radio Clown Mark Levin Calls Embryonic Stem Cell Research A "Hoax" Perpetuated By Liberals, Fertilization Clinics

Radio clown Mark Levin claimed on last night's radio rant that embryonic stem cell research is a "hoax."

Levin said that the "hoax" was being perpetuated by liberals and promoted by the liberal media, apparently doing the bidding of fertilization clinics, which he claimed want to be in the business of selling embryos.

It's hard to believe even Levin's loyal listeners would believe such fact-challenged ideas.

In truth, it's Levin who is creating the hoax, doing the bidding of a tiny minority of Americans. While Levin called the issue "divisive" to the nation, a new study shows that the vast majority of Americans -- including about 66% of Republicans -- believe in the promise of embryonic stem cell research. While Levin claims that embryonic stem cell research is a "hoax," scientists and doctors universally disagree.

Levin, who isn't a doctor, went on to claim that liberals are ignoring the promise of other reserach, regarding adult stem cells and the use of viruses. That's simply not true.

You won't find liberals suggesting this is a debate of embryonic stem cell research vs. every other research. You will find liberals -- and moderates and even a majority of conservatives -- who believe that scientists should proceed with all avenues in the pursuit of cures for such things as Parkinson's Disease, Lou Gehrig's Disease, Juvenile Diabetes and Alzheimer's Disease, among others.

In truth, it's Levin who is being "divisive," loioking for anything that can demonize liberals, and make an American majority feel like the fringe left, on the eve of the mid-term elections.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Democratic National Committee Launches Web Ad On "Stay The Course" Rhetoric

The Democratic National Committee has launched a new Internet-only advertising campaign on the Bush Administration's sudden departure from the phrase "stay the course."

After a lengthy series of dated clips from 2003 to 2006 from President Bush, Vice President Cheney and others using the phrase "stay the course," the advertisement then shows Bush last month saying that "we've never been 'stay the course.'" The tag line reads: "Mr. President, America deserves more than a change in rhetoric, America deserves a change in policy. Democrats: A new direction for America."

It's a potentially effective message, refuting empty Bush Administration spin. But an Internet-only campaign will never have the impact of a broad television campaign. Why not run the ad in key districts nationwide?

And while the DNC is at it, here are some other video clips that Americans should be reminded of:

-- At a 2002 press conference, just six months after 9/11, Bush said that he was "not that concerned" with Bin Laden, who he said had been "marginalized."

-- Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, in early 2003, said of the pending Iraq War: "It is unknowable how long that conflict will last. It could last six days, six weeks. I doubt six months."

-- At the 2004 Radio and Television Correspondents Association dinner, President Bush joked while "candid" photos -- projected onto a screen -- showed him unable to find Iraqi weapons of mass destruction. One featured him under his desk, with this narration: "'Nope, no weapons over there."

-- Vice President Cheney, in May 2005, said: "I think they're in the last throes, if you will, of the insurgency."

-- Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice, speaking in March: "I know we've made tactical errors, thousands of them I'm sure."

That's a montage people need to see.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Desperate Ohio GOP Used Doctored Photo, Fabricated Quote To Smear Franken And Attack Brown

The Ohio Republican Party sent out a news release (full text here) attacking Rep. Sherrod Brown for enlisting the support of comedian Al Franken:

OHIO GOP: It is not surprising that Sherrod Brown is enlisting the help of a Hollywood liberal, who like him, is so far out of the mainstream of Ohio values. What is troubling is that Brown would solicit support from someone [Franken] who compared conservatives to Nazis “who should drink poison and die.”

The quote used in the news release is taken from Bernard Goldberg book, 110 People Who Are Screwing Up America, in an alleged interview between Goldberg and Franken. But in his book, Goldberg makes it clear that the exchange is completely fictional. The Ohio Republican Party represented it as fact.

The news release was accompanied by a "photograph" showing Franken dressed up like a baby bunny, wearing adult diapers and clutching a fluffy white teddy bear.

Andy Barr, director of Franken’s Midwest Values PAC, confirmed, “The picture is a fake.” The Ohio Republican Party used a 2004 AP photo of Franken for the doctored image.

Why Do Conservatives Think They Can Make Diagnoses Via Televison?

Last year, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN) laughably concluded that Terri Schiavo wasn't in a persisntent vegetative state, based not on his personally examining Schiavo, but instead on the court testimony of a discredited doctor, William Hammesfahr.

Frist was later proven wrong, of course, by the results of Schiavo's autopsy. And like so many conservative leaders today, Frist promptly agreed with the autopsy results, skipping over the fact that he had made the original diagnosis-via-video.

Fast forward to this week, when conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh tried to "pull a Frist" by diagnosing the extent of Michael J. Fox's Parkinson's Disease.

Frist, for all his faults, is a licensed doctor. The closest Rush Limbaugh has come to being a doctor is when he over-prescribed his own use of oxycontin and other pills.

Yet on his Oct. 23 show, Limbaugh said Fox either "didn't take his medication or he's acting" when Fox was showing symptoms of Parkinson's in commercials he taped on behalf of Democratic Senate Candidates Claire McCaskill of Missouri and Ben Cardin of Maryland.

Yesterday, Dr. Limbaugh continued pushing his ignorant line:

LIMBAUGH: I stand by what I said. I take back none of what I said. I wouldn’t rephrase it any differently. It is what I believe; it is what I think. It is what I have found to be true.

That would suggest he actually consulted with a doctor. And certainly, he could find some discredited yahoo to support his ignorant statements, just like Frist and other conservatives defended their ignorance on Terri Schiavo by rallying around the discredited Hammesfahr.

Those of us in the fact-based universe know that Fox wasn't acting. "Anyone who knows the disease well would regard his movement as classic severe Parkinson's disease," Elaine Richman, a neuroscientist in Baltimore who co-wrote Parkinson's Disease and the Family, told the Washington Post. "Any other interpretation is misinformed."

***

Thankfully, most Americans aren't buying Limbaugh's ignorance now, just as they didn't generally buy into the conservatives' ignorant claims a year ago on Schiavo.

In fact, a new study shows that Americans across the political spectrum increased their support for embryonic stem cell research after watching Fox.

The poll shows that the vast majority of Americans support such research. The Bush Administration doesn't understand as much, kowtowing instead to the religious right and fringe conservatives.

Republican Congressman Touts "Greatest Moments" Working With President Clinton

Rep. Clay Shaw (R-FL), in a tight battle with Democrat Ron Klein, is touting the record he amassed ... while Bill Clinton was president.

Shaw, who has distanced himself this year from the Bush Administration, has a new radio advertisement touting times he crossed party lines to work with Democrats during the Clinton era.

"(T)he greatest moments of the Clinton years came when Democrats and Republicans worked together. ... How about Social Security? Bill Clinton signed a law getting rid of the earnings penalty for senior citizens who work, and that law would never have passed without the leadership of our Congressman Clay Shaw," the ad script reads.

Shaw's South Florida congressional district has voted for both John Kerry and Al Gore in recent presidential elections.

RNC To Pull Controversial Tennessee Ad -- Not After Corker Criticizes It, But After Canadian Ambassador Calls The White House To Complain

A controversial Republican National Committee advertisement attacking Tennessee Senate Candidate Harold Ford Jr. is apparently being pulled.

The RNC's decision comes after some critics suggested the ad had racist overtones -- implying that Ford, a black man, was interested in a scantily dressed white woman -- and after the Republican candidate for Senate, Bob Corker, called the ad "tacky" and "over the top" and asked that it be dropped. The RNC didn't listen, though.

Instead, the RNC's decision to remove the ad apparently is coming after it caused an international incident with our neighbor to the north.

Canada'a Ambassador to the U.S., Michael Wilson, lodged a complaint with the RNC, because the spot also takes a swipe at Canada.

The 30-second ad features "man on the street" people taking pot shots at Ford on a variety of domestic and foreign affairs issues. It also makes misleading references about Ford's campaign contributors and his attendance at a Super Bowl party.

When the topic of North Korea comes up, one man says: "Canada can take care of North Korea. They're not busy.''

That line prompted Wilson to complain to the White House, reminding Republicans of Canada's help in the Afghanistan War.

***

But in addition to being offensive to Canadians, the line also misrepresents Ford's position -- a common theme with ads created by the RNC.

In fact, at a debate last month with Corker, Ford said that he supported bilateral talks with North Korea -- and he meant the U.S. and North Korea, not Canada and North Korea. Both candidates condemned North Korea's recent nuclear test.

But why should the truth matter to the RNC? Control of the Senate is at stake, after all.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

And Now For Something Completely Different ...

It appears Vice President Dick Cheney is finally agreeing with reality, and acknowledging that the Iraqi insurgency is not in its "last throes."

Speaking with NPR's Juan Williams yesterday, Cheney had this exchange:

WILLIAMS: Do you think, you've said... famously, this business about "last throes of the insurgency." Do you think they're in the last throes now?

CHENEY: I can't say that. I would have expected that the political process we set in motion -- the three national elections and so forth -- would have resulted in a lower level of violence than we're seeing today. It hasn't happened yet. I can't say that we're over the hump in terms of violence, no.

It's a progression to comments Cheney made in June at the National Press Club:

MODERATOR: Do you think that you underestimated the insurgency’s strength?

CHENEY: I think so. I guess if I look back on it now, I don’t think anybody anticipated the level of violence that we have encountered.

***

The reality check for Cheney -- essentially joining the rest of the world in acknowledging the obvious -- counters what he said in May, when Cheney said he still thought the insurgency was in its "final throes," because the election of an Iraqi government was pushing the insurgency to the margins.

Of course, Cheney's original remarks were not referring to elections, a unity government, or a Constitution. "The level of activity that we see today from a military standpoint, I think, will clearly decline," he said then. "I think they're in the last throes, if you will, of the insurgency."

***

Still, the fact that Cheney has finally acknowledged his "last throes" comment was wrong -- even if the reality check is merely for political gain on the eve of the mid-term elections -- is a small step for mankind. Americans have to see this reality check as "good news."

Now if only Cheney would stop lying about ties between Iraq and Al Qaeda ...

Should We Be Scared Of Osama Bin Laden? RNC Ad Suggests "Yes," Even Though President Has Implied "No"

The Republican National Committee unveiled an advertisement on Friday featuring the image and words of Al Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden and a warning to voters that "these are the stakes" in the Nov. 7 election.

The ad, first shown on its Web site and scheduled for airing on cable television this week, also includes images of Al Qaeda fighters in training and other Al Qaeda leaders.

"What is yet to come will be even greater," the ad quotes Bin Laden as saying, before concluding with the words: "These are the stakes. Vote November 7."

It's perhaps the most hypocritical advertising campaign in the history of American politics.

Consider that while the RNC wants Americans to be scared of Bin Laden, it's the Bush Administration that has been at the helm for five-plus years, while Bin Laden remains at large.

Consider that while the RNC wants Americans to be scared of Bin Laden, it was President Bush who said that Bin Laden had been "marginalized," and that he was "not that concerned" with Bin Laden.

Those comments came on March 13, 2002. That's roughly six months after the Al Qaeda attacks on the United States. If Bush wasn't "concerned" about Bin Laden then, why is the RNC now using the threat of Bin Laden to scare Americans?

Consider that while the RNC wants Americans to be scared of Bin Laden, the CIA last year closed a unit that for a decade had the mission of hunting Bin Laden and his top lieutenants. Of the decision, Michael Scheuer, a former senior CIA official who was the first head of the unit, known as Alec Station, said: "This will clearly denigrate our operations against Al Qaeda."

"These are the stakes," the ad says. I couldn't agree more. If Americans want Osama Bin Laden to be brought to justice, for Al Qaeda to be dismantled, and for fearmongering to end -- not just from Al Qaeda, but from our own government -- they must vote Democrat.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

You Can't Make This Stuff Up ...

Fox News Channel's Neil Cavuto once again demonstrated his painfully partisan "journalism" style yesterday.

Check out the question at the bottom of the image at right: "Will Dems Crush The Economy If They Control Congress?"

It's the latest example of what Jon Stewart last month not-so-affectionately dubbed "The Cavuto."

STEWART: Just a question. Now, technically, that's not really a question mark at the end of that. It's a similar punctuation symbol known as "The Cavuto." It's named for the journalist? (shrugs) who pioneered its use.

Cavuto using "The Cavuto" and calling it journalism is ridiculous. It's not far removed from asking someone "When did you stop beating your wife?"

The sad thing is, Cavuto and the folks at Fox News actually think Cavuto is a serious journalist.

Limbaugh Attacks Michael J. Fox, Saying Symptoms Of Fox's Parkinson's Disease Are "Purely An Act"

On the Oct. 23 edition of his nationally syndicated radio program, Rush Limbaugh accused actor Michael J. Fox, who has Parkinson's disease, of "exaggerating the effects of the disease" in a recent campaign advertisement for Missouri Democratic Senate candidate Claire McCaskill.

In the ad, Fox endorses McCaskill for supporting embryonic stem cell research, which her opponent, incumbent Republican Sen. Jim Talent, opposes.

Noting that Fox is "moving all around and shaking" in the ad, Limbaugh declared: "And it's purely an act. This is the only time I have ever seen Michael J. Fox portray any of the symptoms of the disease he has." Limbaugh added that "this is really shameless of Michael J. Fox. Either he didn't take his medication or he's acting, one of the two."

Later in the broadcast, Limbaugh stated that "I will bigly, hugely admit that I was wrong." ... However, Limbaugh then returned to criticizing Fox, stating that "Michael J. Fox is using his illness as a way to mislead voters into thinking that their vote for a single United States senator has a direct impact on stem cell research in Missouri. It doesn't, and it won't."
-- MediaMatters, Oct. 23

Monday, October 23, 2006

State Department Official Apologizes For Saying U.S. Has Shown "Stupidity" In Iraq. Will Department Spokesman Apologize For Lying About It?

A State Department official has apologized for telling Al Jazeera that the U.S. has shown "arrogance" and "stupidity" in Iraq.

"We tried to do our best (in Iraq) but I think there is much room for criticism because, undoubtedly, there was arrogance and there was stupidity from the United States in Iraq," senior U.S. State Department official Alberto Fernandez said to Al Jazeera in Arabic.

Immediately after the comments were made, State Department spokesman Sean McCormack blamed Al Jazeera, saying Fernandez' comments were not translated properly.

But today, Fernandez told CNN that the problem was not Al Jazeera's translation, but that he "seriously misspoke." Strangely, he said that his comments Sunday did not represent his views, or those of the Department.

It's a strange comment. If it didn't represent his views, why did he say them? And now that Fernandez has made his strange apology, will McCormack apologize for lying -- blaming Al Jazeera (the "enemy") rather than accept what Fernandez said?

DeWine Pulls Ad That Made False Claim, But RNC Will Continue Running Its Version

Sen. Mike DeWine (R-OH) has pulled an advertisement that his campaign agrees made a false claim about his Democratic opponent, Rep. Sherrod Brown. Sadly, an ad from the Republican National Committee making a similar false claim is still running.

In the DeWine ad, an elderly woman tells Brown "I just don't trust you" because "you didn't pay your outstanding tax bill for 12 years."

But within hours, state officials confirmed that Brown's congressional campaign settled a delinquent $1,800 unemployment tax bill in 1994, four months after it was filed.

The RNC ad accused Brown of not paying unemployment taxes for 13 years (because, if you're going to lie, then lie.) Sadly, RNC spokesman Aaron McLear issued a statement saying that the RNC would continue to air its ad.

So in Ohio, the RNC will continue to run an ad it knows is false, seemingly against the wishes of their candidate. And in nearby Tennessee, the RNC is running an ad against Democrat Harold Ford Jr. that was described as "tacky" and "over the top" by Republican Senate Candidate Bob Corker's campaign, which is asking that the ad be dropped.

The RNC is desperate for votes, and scared that the Democrats are going to regain control of the Senate. And that combination, sadly, means it will air false or misleading ads.

And Now For Something Completely Different ...

Democrat Harold Ford Jr. and Republican Bob Corker are in a dogfight to fill the Tennessee Senate seat being vacated by Majority Leader Bill Frist.

As former President Bill Clinton said last week, "This is a contact sport, politics." So it would be understandable if, in the waning days of the campaign, a politician pulled out all the stops -- even if it meant hitting below the belt.

The Republican National Committee apparently feels that way. It paid for an anti-Ford commercial that has since been criticized as "tacky" and "over the top."

But surprisingly, the comments about the ad came from the Corker campaign, which is asking that the ad be dropped. The Corker campaign's disgust with mudslinging has to be seen as "good news."

The ad features a series of "man-on-the-street" interviews which make misleading claims about Ford. Among them: a smirking guy in sunglasses says, "So he took money from porno movie producers. Who hasn't?" and a woman who says she met Ford at a "Playboy party" and later winks and says, "Harold, call me."

As the Memphis Commercial Appeal notes: "(A) newspaper reported that Ford attended a Playboy-sponsored Super Bowl Party in Jacksonville. Ford's campaign returned money from Hollywood pornography producers as soon as it was brought to his attention."

***

Sadly, though, the RNC doesn't plan to listen to their candidate -- a sign of how scared Republicans are that a Democratic win in Tennessee would lead to Democratic control of the Senate.

RNC spokesman Camille Anderson told the Commercial Appeal, "The RNC stands by this advertisement, and I have no reason to believe that it will not continue to air on television stations across the state."

It would be ironic if, in spite of Corker's intentions, Tennessee voters rejected the ad, and as a result, rejected Corker.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Pundits Novak, Cook, Harwood, Broder Predict Democrats Will Regain House

On today's edition of NBC's Meet The Press, four pundits of different political stripes -- conservative columnist Robert Novak, liberal columnist David Broder, the Wall Street Journal's John Harwood, and Charlie Cook of the National Journal -- each predicted that the Democrats would regain control of the House next month.

The Democrats need a net gain of 15 seats to regain control.

NOVAK: If the election were held today, Democrats would gain control of the House of Representatives. ... There’s always a possibility of a wave coming through and, and really getting higher than 20 seats.

COOK: I think we start at 20. I mean, I mean, look, 16 days, obviously, everything could change. I think it’s at least 20 in the House. I think it’s more 25, 30, 35. It, it could go, this could get bad, particularly if Republican turnout really drops.

HARWOOD: My gut tells me 20 is about right, and that in the Senate, maybe five seats for the Democrats, and you end up with 50/50.

BRODER: I think our friends are absolutely on, on, on target. If, if they’re wrong, I think it would be underestimating this wave, not overestimating it.

Broder Fact Checks Blunt's Desperate Hyperbole

How desperate have House Republicans become?

On today's edition of NBC's Meet The Press, host Tim Russert and liberal pundit David Broder discussed the wacked-out hyperbole of House Majority Whip Roy Blunt (R-MO):

RUSSERT: David Broder, the House majority whip in the Senate, Roy Blunt of Missouri, had this to say, “Pelosi’s House,” referring to Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic congresswoman from San Francisco who becomes speaker. “This list of the bills most likely to be championed by committee chairmen in a Pelosi-led House of Representatives would be great fodder for the late-night talk show hosts if it weren’t true. Instead, it’s just plain scary. While Republicans fight the War on Terror, grow our robust economy, and crack down on illegal immigration, House Democrats plot to establish a Department of Peace, raise your taxes, and minimize penalties for crack dealers. The difference couldn’t be starker.

BRODER: I like Roy Blunt, but that rhetoric gives a measure of how hard up the Republicans really are. I mean, that is not the Democratic agenda. The Democratic agenda is raising the minimum wage, doing something about drug prices, and probably doing something about the war in Iraq.

***

You'd expect that sort of ridiculous anti-liberal rant from a Mark Levin, Michael Savage or Ann Coulter. Roy Blunt, an elected representative, should be more responsible with the words he chooses.

It's like the adage: be nice to the man in the elevator on the way up for you will most assuredly meet him again on the way back down. Should the Democrats regain control of the House next month, Blunt will no doubt hope the Democrats forgive his hyperbole.

State Department Official: "There Was Stupidity From The United States In Iraq." (But Department Disputes Translation)

The United States has shown "arrogance" and "stupidity" in Iraq, a senior U.S. diplomat said in an interview aired today. Or did he?

"We tried to do our best (in Iraq) but I think there is much room for criticism because, undoubtedly, there was arrogance and there was stupidity from the United States in Iraq," senior U.S. State Department official Alberto Fernandez, director of public diplomacy in the bureau of Near Eastern affairs, told Al Jazeera, according to a translation on Al Jazeera's web site, and a translation done by Reuters.

Fernandez was speaking in Arabic. The State Department -- which has long been at odds with the Pentagon over Iraq according to several recent books -- has said that Fernandez' comments were not translated correctly on Al Jazeera's website.

Here's a thought: The media should have independent translators settle the dispute.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Did Ken Mehlman Really Suggest The U.S.-Led Coalition "Cut And Run" From Afghanistan?

What did Republican National Committee Chairman Ken Mehlman mean when he said today on NBC's Today Show that the Bush Administration doesn't want Iraq to become "another Afghanistan"?

(Video available here. It's the third option under "Today Show Video.")

Here's the exchange with host Meredith Vieira:

VIEIRA: Do you gentleman believe that the administration will have no choice but to change its strategy?

MEHLMAN: Uh, Meredith, I think that what you're going to see is that there's a continued focus on the goal, and the goal is defeating the terrorists and making sure that Iraq is able to not be another Afghanistan, which would become the consequence if we, if we were to "cut and run."

Is Mehlman suggesting that the U.S.-led coalition "cut and run" from Afghanistan -- by focusing our attention on Iraq, and by no longer considering Osama Bin Laden's capture crucial to winning the war on terror?

Or is Mehlman suggesting that the U.S.-led coalition is no longer "defeating the terrorists" in Afghanistan, because -- unlike what President Bush said in 2004 -- the Taliban is very much in "existence."

Considering Mehlman is the top Republican spokesman, the snippet from Today either qualifies as the biggest blunder of the year, or the biggest admission.

Cheney Still Lying About Link Between Iraq And Al Qaeda

The Senate Intelligence Committee concluded last month that there was absolutely no relationship between Saddam Hussein and the late Al Qaeda operative Abu Musab Al Zarqawi.

Here’s the key quote from page 109: "Saddam Hussein attempted, unsuccessfully, to locate and capture Al-Zarqawi and … the regime did not have a relationship with, harbor, or turn a blind eye toward Zarqawi."

But that didn't stop Vice President Dick Cheney from falsely peddling Zarqawi as proof of a connection between Iraq and Al Qaeda.

During an interview yesterday with an Indiana television station, Cheney had this back-and-forth:

Q: ... why, since there has not been a direct connection between al Qaeda and Iraq established?

CHENEY: Well, the fact of the matter is there are connections. Mr. Zarqawi, who was the lead terrorist in Iraq for three years, fled there after we went into Afghanistan. He was there before we ever went into Iraq.

To quote liberal pundit Rachel Maddow: "This is isn't archival footage from 2003. ... Cheney said this yesterday!"

If you take the Senate report into consideration, then by Cheney's logic, the Bush Administration had a "connection" to Mohammed Atta, since he was an operative for Al Qaeda while living in the United States.

***

White House Press Secretary Tony Snow -- perhaps doing Cheney's bidding -- made a similarly false statement last month during a press briefing. House Majority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) also has recently lied about ties between Iraq and Al Qaeda.

When will the lying stop?

Cheney Says Iraq Government "Off To A Good Start," And "Doing Remarkably Well." Sadly, The News From Iraq Doesn't Match The Spin

"I think there’s some natural level of concern out there because in fact, you know, it wasn’t over instantaneously. It’s been a little over three years now since we went into Iraq, so I don’t think it’s surprising that people are concerned. ... (T)his government has only been in office about five months, five or six months now. They’re off to a good start. It is difficult, no question about it. ... If you look at the general overall situation, they’re doing remarkably well."

-- Vice President Cheney, on the fledgling Iraq government, Oct. 17


Or it may be that there was a "natural level of concern" because the insurgency is not in the "last throes," as Cheney said last year, and then redefined in comments in June.

Or maybe the "natural level of concern" comes because earlier this year, Cheney either lied or showed unconscionable ignorance when he suggested no one "anticipated the level of violence" from an Iraqi insurgency. In fact, many respected people anticipated the possibility of a violent resistance -- but the administration ignored those people, just as they ignored generals who said they needed more troops on the ground to fight the insurgency.

But beyond Cheney and his recent history of spin (read: lies), the facts on the ground in Iraq simply don't support the idea that the fledgling Iraq government is "doing remarkably well."

The sad news from last night and this morning is the latest example:

The Shiite militia run by anti-American cleric Muqtada al-Sadr seized total control of the southern Iraqi city of Amarah this morning in one of the boldest acts of defiance yet by one of the country's powerful, unofficial armies, witnesses and police said.

The Mahdi Army fighters stormed three main police stations, planting explosives that flattened the buildings, residents said.

About 800 black-clad militiamen with Kalashnikov rifles and rocket-propelled grenade launchers were patrolling city streets in commandeered police vehicles, eyewitnesses said. Other fighters had set up roadblocks on routes into the city and sound trucks circulated telling residents to stay indoors.

Fighting broke out in Amara on Thursday after the head of police intelligence in the surrounding province, a member of the rival Shiite Badr Brigade militia, was killed by a roadside bomb, prompting his family to kidnap the teenage brother of the local head of the a-Madhi Army.

The Mahdi Army seized several police stations and clamped a curfew on the city in retaliation.

What Liberal Media? Coverage Of Reid Land Deal Greater Than Coverage Of Similarly Questionable Hastert Deal

CNN has given 50 times as much coverage to a controversial land deal by Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid’s (D-NV) than to a land deal made by House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-IL).

Meanwhile, Fox News Channel has mentioned the Reid land deal nine times, but has brought up the Hastert deal just three.

Strangely similar numbers, no?

***

Over on Fox News, Sean Hannity told Bob Novak that “you don’t see as much in the newspapers about this [the Reid land deal], Bob Novak, and I wonder if it would be the same if it was a Republican.”

But as the Center for American Progress notes: "(I)n reality, the media have extensively covered the Reid land deal, while ignoring the $207 million earmark House Speaker Dennis Hastert inserted into the 2005 highway bill that greatly increased the value of his property in Illinois."

According to the Center, Hastert made an astounding 136 percent a year on what he invested, whereas Reid made an annual return of 29 percent, probably quite typical of the profits made by other Las Vegas real estate investors during the same period.

Reid immediately apologized for the oversight lapse and amended his 2001 disclosure forms. Hastert, on the other hand, has done nothing.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

What's The Matter With Kansas ... Republicans?

Thomas Frank's groundbreaking 2004 book, What's The Matter With Kansas, explored the apparent disconnect between a populace with a history of populist values and a habit of voting for "populist" Republicans who don't reflect their values.

As Frank noted: "What we are observing, then, is a populist movement that has done irreversible harm to the material interests of the common people it professes to love so tenderly -- a form of class animosity that rages against a shadowy 'elite' while enthroning a new aristocracy of bankers, brokers, and corporate thieves. "

But that may be changing, and rapidly.

Polls released today by SurveyUSA show Gov. Kathleen Sebelius holding a 13-point lead over her Republican challenger and Democrat Paul Morrison maintaining a nearly identical lead over the incument Attorney General Phill Kline.

But there's more to the story than just a couple of Kansas Democrats running strong campaigns.

As the Washington Post notes reports, "Nor is Morrison alone [as a longtime Republican politician now running as a Democrat]. In a state that voted nearly 2 to 1 for President Bush in 2004, nine former Republicans will be on the November ballot as Democrats. Among them is Mark Parkinson, a former chairman of the Kansas Republican Party, who changed parties to run for lieutenant governor with the popular Democratic governor, Kathleen Sebelius. ...The spirit of the attempted Democratic comeback in Kansas, set by Sebelius, is a search for the workable political center."

Can Kansas go from bright red to purple? Stranger things have happened. As MyDD.com notes, Oregon and Vermont were once Republican strongholds, but now are among the bluest states in the nation.

Kansas Republicans have succeeded by being cultural populists, convincing voters that being against abortion rights, the estate tax and labor laws was in the best interest of working families. It's the same sort of logic that has allowed wealthy politicians -- including Steve Forbes and George W. Bush -- to spin themselve as "populists" who share the same interests as unemployed union laborers and minimum-wage workers at the local Wal-Mart.

Meanwhile, Kansas has over the past 25 or so years become one of the poorest states in the country, with one of the bleakest economic futures.

Perhaps a move to the center will lead to more attentive leadership, caring as much about working families as the tiny minority of Americans who would benefit from a repeal of the estate tax.

Santorum Securing Lord Of The Rings Vote

Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA) badly trails Bob Casey badly in his bid for re-election, and the buzz is that the Republican National Committee isn't pushing as hard in the Keystone State as in other more competitive races, such as Virginia and Missouri.

But Santorum, always the crafty one, hasn't given up. His latest tactic: trying to secure the Lord of the Rings vote.

"As the hobbits are going up Mount Doom, the Eye of Mordor is being drawn somewhere else," Santorum said before the Bucks County Courier Times editorial board late last week, describing the tool the evil Lord Sauron used in search of the magical ring that would consolidate his power over Middle-earth. "It's being drawn to Iraq and it's not being drawn to the U.S.," he continued. "You know what? I want to keep it on Iraq. I don't want the Eye to come back here to the United States."

"You have to really question the judgment of a U.S. Senator who compares the war in Iraq to a fantasy book," Casey spokesman Larry Smar said to a sister publication, the Herald Standard of Uniontown, Pa.

***

This latest bit of fantasy from Santorum should have been expected. He's been making fantastic claims throughout the campaign -- claims that thankfully Pennsylvanians have ignored.

Consider:

-- Pennsylvanians ignored a Santorum television advertisement that made false claims about who's donating money to Casey's campaign.

-- They ignored Santorum's lie on Fox News Channel's The O'Reilly Factor about Casey's ties to Al Jazeera.

-- They ignored Santorum when he made misleading claims about discovering Iraqi weapons of mass destruction.

I'm guessing Pennsylvanians -- even Lord of the Rings fans -- will probably ignore his new comments, too.

Editor Discovers That Many In Washington Don't Know The Difference Between Sunnis And Shiites

Scary stuff from Jeff Stein, national security editor at Congressional Quarterly, who wrote today in the New York Times about interviews he's conducted over the past several months with politicians and counterterrorism officials.

The question Stein asked: “Do you know the difference between a Sunni and a Shiite?”

Stein explains: A “gotcha” question? Perhaps. But if knowing your enemy is the most basic rule of war, I don’t think it’s out of bounds. And as I quickly explain to my subjects, I’m not looking for theological explanations, just the basics: Who’s on what side today, and what does each want? After all, wouldn’t British counterterrorism officials responsible for Northern Ireland know the difference between Catholics and Protestants?

But so far, most American officials I’ve interviewed don’t have a clue. ... How can they do their jobs without knowing the basics?

Take Representative Terry Everett, a seven-term Alabama Republican who is vice chairman of the House intelligence subcommittee on technical and tactical intelligence.

“Do you know the difference between a Sunni and a Shiite?” I asked him a few weeks ago.

Everett responded with a low chuckle. He thought for a moment: “One’s in one location, another’s in another location. No, to be honest with you, I don’t know. I thought it was differences in their religion, different families or something.”

... Representative Jo Ann Davis, a Virginia Republican who heads a House intelligence subcommittee charged with overseeing the C.I.A.’s performance in recruiting Islamic spies and analyzing information, was similarly dumbfounded when I asked her if she knew the difference between Sunnis and Shiites.

“Do I?” she asked me. A look of concentration came over her face. “You know, I should.” She took a stab at it: “It’s a difference in their fundamental religious beliefs. The Sunni are more radical than the Shia. Or vice versa. But I think it’s the Sunnis who’re more radical than the Shia.”

Did she know which branch Al Qaeda’s leaders follow?

“Al Qaeda is the one that’s most radical, so I think they’re Sunni,” she replied. “I may be wrong, but I think that’s right.” (Note: She is right.)

Did she think that it was important, I asked, for members of Congress charged with oversight of the intelligence agencies, to know the answer to such questions, so they can cut through officials’ puffery when they came up to the Hill?

“Oh, I think it’s very important,” said Davis, “because Al Qaeda’s whole reason for being is based on their beliefs. And you’ve got to understand, and to know your enemy.”

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Analysis: Democrats Likely To Regain Control Of House

With three weeks to go until Election Day, Electoral Vote.com has Democrats picking up 23 House seats -- more than the 15 needed to regain control.

It should be noted that the site only considers non-partisan polls.

Additionally, the site shows four other seats held by Republicans that are dead heats, and several other races which are expected to be competitive have not been polled recently.

Three weeks can be a lifetime in politics. But things are looking promising.

Economists Disagree With Bush On Relationship Between Massive Tax Cuts And ... Cuts In Deficit, Economic Growth ...

President Bush and Republicans up for re-election have been touting lower-than-expected deficit projections, claiming that this is proof that Bush's massive tax cuts are successfully stimulating the economy.

But economists disagree. And not economists from some liberal think tank, but from the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office.

An analysis of Treasury data prepared last month by the Congressional Research Service estimates that economic growth fueled by the cuts is likely to generate revenue worth about 7 percent of the total cost of the cuts.

"Federal revenue is lower today than it would have been without the tax cuts. There's really no dispute among economists about that," Alan Viard, a former Bush White House economist now at the nonpartisan American Enterprise Institute, told the Washington Post.

And even the Department of Treasury admits that the tax cuts haven't paid for themselves. "As a matter of principle, we do not think tax cuts pay for themselves," Robert Carroll, deputy assistant Treasury secretary for tax analysis, told the Post.

***

The entire Republican argument is disingenous. The deficit for the year ending Sept. 30 was $248 billion, compared with $413 billion for the previous year.

But is this a great accomplishment? Let's not forget that when the Bush team came into office, it inherited a budget that was projected to create surpluses of perhaps several hundred billion. Yes, the Bush team had to deal with the economic shock of 9/11 and the subsequent war in Afghanistan. But the Bush team chose to move forward with massive tax cuts after 9/11, when others suggested scaling back the tax cuts plans -- both to follow the concept of "shared sacrifice," and to not exacerbate the likelihood of massive deficits.

***

How else can we tell that the massive Bush-era tax cuts haven't stimulated the economy? From the words of Labor Secretary Elaine Chao.

Chao has said that the economy has only produced 140,000 jobs/month during the strongest period of the Bush-era economy. Economists suggest that a growing economy needs to create 150,000 jobs/month just to match population growth. By comparison, job growth during the eight years of the Clinton presidency was 236,000/month, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Chao has touted a 6% jump over five years in "overall compensation." That means that compensation is growing at a pace of 1.2% per year. With inflation at about 3% per year, that's not "growth." That's "not keeping up with inflation."

Furthermore, current compensation "growth" -- putrid as it is -- does not keep up with the compensation growth of the past seven economic growth periods.

***

The facts at hand -- again, not from some liberal think tank, but from non-partisan and Bush Administration sources -- won't stop Bush and Republicans seeking re-election from touting the great job they've done with the economy.

It's a mirage. It's up to Democrats to set the record straight.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

New Poll Suggest Ohio Senate Race May Be Over

AMERICAblog.com reports that the GOP is taking steps that suggest it is not going to focus on Ohio Sen. Mike Dewine's bid for re-election.

"The GOP is pulling out of Ohio. The DSCC has tracked the numbers. The RNC is scaling back big time," the blog reports.

Other reports have suggested the GOP is moving money from Ohio and the flatlined campaign of Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA) to help Sen. George Allen (R-VA), who holds a narrow lead over Democrat Jim Webb, according to recent polls.

The change in Republican spending habits comes on the heels of a new Quinnipiac poll that has Rep. Sherrod Brown, the Democrat, with a 12-point lead over DeWine.

Brown was favored by 53 percent of voters surveyed in The Quinnipiac University Poll conducted Oct. 10-15, compared to 41 percent who favored DeWine. The same poll found a statistical tie in the race in September.

Religious Right Upset With Bush Administration ... But Not For Charges Made By Kuo

Expectations were high that Christian Conservative leaders would show their disdain for the Bush Administration.

After all, a new book, Tempting Faith, was being released today. In that book, former special assistant to President Bush on faith-based issues, David Kuo, wrote that Karl Rove’s office referred to evangelical leaders as “the nuts," and that national Christian leaders were described behind their backs as ‘ridiculous,’ ‘out of control,’ and just plain ‘goofy.’

Pretty strong stuff. Certainly, it would be understandable if Christian conservatives took offense.

But while Christian conservatives acknowledged that they were upset with the Bush Administration, it had nothing to do with Kuo's allegations.

Instead, Christian conservatives are furious with the Bush Administration for appointing an openly gay man, Mark Dybul, as its Global AIDS Coordinator.Worse for them, First Lady Laura Bush was photographed as "smiling" during the swearing-in ceremony. Even worse for them, Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice referred to the mother of Dybul's partner, Jason Claire, as Dybul's "mother-in-law."

"(T)he deferential treatment that was given not only to him but his partner and his partner's family by the Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is very distressing," said Peter Sprigg, vice president for policy at the Family Research Council. "(F)or her to treat his partner like a spouse and treat the partner's mother as a mother-in-law, which implies a marriage between the two partners, is a violation of the spirit if not the letter of the .Defense of Marriage Act."

Sprigg also that in light of the recent scandal surrounding former Rep. Mark Foley (R-FL), "it's inexplicable that a conservative administration would do such things."

It's amazingly ironic, considering that Bush-era conservatives have successfully rallied Christian conservatives with, as liberal commentator Al Franken suggests, a campaign of "fear, smear and queers."

***

Don't think that Christian conservatives were unaware of Kuo's work.

JABBS wondered how long it would take for the Bush Administration or its friends in the media to attack Kuo -- as they had previously attacked one-time Bush Administration members-turned critics, such as Richard Clarke, Paul O'Neill and Colin Powell.

Christian evangelical leaders James Dobson, Tony Perkins, and Chuck Colson have already criticized Kuo.

Typical of the attacks against Kuo is one from Jason Christy, publisher of The Church Report, who wrote an essay, "David Kuo: An Addition to the Axis of Evil."

Christy notes multiple times that Kuo is an "unimportant, disgruntled former employee" -- which makes one wonder why Kuo received so much attention -- and "naive," that he is doing the bidding of liberals, and that he wrote the book only to make big bucks.

Christy's evidence? Kuo once wrote nice things to his then-boss, President Bush, about the office of faith-based issues.

Christy suggests that means Kuo is a hypocrite and a liar. But truth be told, isn't it more likely that Kuo was at one point optimistic about the possibilities of administration support for faith-based issues, and then later disillusioned by what he saw as hypocrisy by the administration -- both in how it carreid out policies as well as how it ridiculed Christian conservatives behind their backs?

Christian conservative leaders are making a big and very public bet -- that Kuo is wrong, and that their (blind?) faith in President Bush is justified. One wonders if, behind the scenes, they aren't demandng more favorable (for them) policies and comments from the administration, especially in light of Rice's "distressing" comments.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Novak: Reynolds Among Republicans "Sure To Lose Their Seats"

Is Tom Reynolds history?

Conservative columnist Robert Novak, in his syndicated column yesterday, makes a strong argument that Reynolds (R-NY) is going to lose big to Democrat Jack Davis -- and Republican insiders know it.

"A Republican campaign operative with a reputation for accuracy has put Rep. Tom Reynolds, chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee, on the list of incumbent Republicans who are ''gone'' -- that is, sure to lose their seats on Nov. 7," Novak writes.

Polls from Zogby and RT Strategies show Reynolds trailing Davis by more than 15 points.

As JABBS has previously noted, Reynolds' campaign has flatlined because he is one of several Republican leaders who say they knew for months about inappropriate e-mails former Rep. Mark Foley (R-FL) sent to House pages. The best Reynolds has done is pass the buck to House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-IL). Reynolds, chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee, apparently asked Foley to run for re-election, even though he likely knew of Foley's "behavioral problems."

Kennedy Touts Lame U.S. Job Growth; Klobuchar Should Have Noticed

Yesterday's Meet The Press debate between Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Mark Kennedy (R-MN) was, to be kind, tepid.

Klobuchar can sit on a large lead with three weeks to go until Election Day. Kennedy has underperformed throughout the campaign, and yesterday his low-key speaking style did little to inspire.

But even though Klobuchar is nursing her lead, she should have remembered that the issues being discussed on a national news program can effect other races around the country. To that end, she should have, at the least, played fact-checker to Kennedy's spin.

Consider this argument from Kennedy:

HOST TIM RUSSERT: But, but specifically, what about rolling back the tax cut on those who make more than $200,000?

KENNEDY: We have had six million new jobs. The economy was flat on its back after 9/11. We passed tax relief to reward, and people — to let them keep more of their hard-earned money. Families, small business, those that take risk and create jobs. Six million new jobs have been created. We cannot be raising taxes, putting this economy back on its back, and also not growing jobs.

To be fair, Klobuchar wasn't given a chance to directly respond to Kennedy's comments. Russert had a back-and-forth with Kennedy, before going back to Klobuchar with a question on rolling back the Bush Administration's tax cuts for the wealtiest Americans.

But certainly, Klobuchar could have began her answer by challenging a) that 6 million new jobs is a solid performance; or b) the false logic that rolling back the tax cuts would reverse job growth.

Let's take this point by point:

We know, not from some liberal economist, but from Labor Secretary Elaine Chao, that the economy has only produced 140,000 jobs/month during the strongest period of the Bush-era economy. Economists suggest that a growing economy needs to create 150,000 jobs/month just to match population growth.

By comparison, job growth during the eight years of the Clinton presidency was 236,000/month, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

So, "6 million new jobs," while a pleasing sounding number, is really not all that impressive. Furthermore, one could ask what kinds of jobs are being created. Are they jobs that can support middle-class families, or are they primarily lower-wage jobs? Are they jobs with health care and other benefits?

Chao touted a 6% jump over five years in "overall compensation." What does that mean? First off, it means that compensation is growing at a pace of 1.2% per year. With inflation at about 3% per year, that's not "growth." That's "not keeping up with inflation." Furthermore, current compensation "growth" -- putrid as it is -- does not keep up with the compensation growth of the past seven economic growth periods.

We know that the Clinton-era job growth didn't come on the back of a humongous tax cut for the wealthy. Given the tepid job growth during the Bush era, the better plan may very well be to roll back the tax cuts -- combined with closing tax loopholes and better fiscal responsbility with regard to spending. When Clinton left office, the deficit was under control; under Bush, it isn't.

The key is that Democrats aren't saying, "tax and spend." Nor are they proposing a continuation of the Republican "spend and spend some more" philosophy. What Democrats are saying is, "let's bring some sanity back to our economy, because the enormous tax cuts for the wealthy passed during the Bush era have not, as promised, helped this economy."

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Ney Pleads Guilty To Corruption Charges But Still Won't Resign. How Is This Republican "Leadership"?

Rep. Bob Ney (R-OH), the first member of Congress to confess to crimes in dealings with the lobbyist Jack Abramoff, pleaded guilty to corruption charges Friday but said he would not immediately resign.

How is this possible?

According to the New York Times, Ney’s disclosure that he intended to remain in Congress "appeared to surprise and infuriate House Republican leaders, who are trying to tamp down other scandals that are threatening to damage the party in next month’s Congressional elections."

The White House called on Ney to resign, but Ney's lawyer would only commit to a resignation "in the next few weeks."

House Republican leaders, who have been unsuccessful in their "efforts" over the last month to get Ney to resign, plan to formally expel him for the House after next month's election. For the time being, Ney will continue to draw his $165,000 salary, even as he prepares for a 27-month prison sentence.

If the Republicans lose the House next month, give credit to Ney's selfishness and the House Republicans' inability to do anything about it.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Coroner Asserts British Journalist Was Killed In 2003 By U.S. Troops

U.S. forces unlawfully killed British television journalist Terry Lloyd in the opening days of the Iraq war, asserts British coroner Andrew Walker.

"Terry Lloyd died following a gunshot wound to the head. The evidence this bullet was fired by the Americans is overwhelming," Walker said.

The Pentagon has rejected the verdict.

But complicating matters for the U.S. is that the Pentagon refused to allow any of its soldiers or officers to give evidence to the inquest and provided footage of the shooting that had a crucial 15 minutes edited from it.

***

Lloyd was killed, together with his Lebanese interpreter, Hussein Osman, and French cameraman, Fred Nerac, near the Shatt al Basra Bridge outside Iraq's second city of Basra in March 2003.

Lloyd was shot in the back after getting caught up in US and Iraqi crossfire, and then shot in the head by American forces as he was taken away in a minibus for medical treatmen, said Walker, following a six-day inquest.

Walker said the civilian vehicle "presented no threat to the American forces."

"I am sure it was the intention of those who opened fire to kill or cause serious injury to those inside the minibus," Walker said.

Walker, the assistant deputy coroner for Oxfordshire, giving his verdict, said he would write to the Attorney General and the Director of Public Prosecutions "to see whether any steps can be taken to bring the perpetrators responsible for this to justice."

If Baker's Commission Proposes Redeployment, Will Bush Call That "Flexible" Or "Cut And Run?"

A commission formed to assess the Iraq war and recommend a new course has "ruled out the prospect for victory,” according to draft policy options shared with the New York Sun by commission officials.

The 10-member commission — headed by former secretary of state for President George H.W. Bush, James Baker — is considering two option papers, “Stability First” and “Redeploy and Contain,” both of which rule out any prospect of making Iraq a stable democracy in the near term.

The “Redeploy and Contain” option calls for the phased withdrawal of American soldiers from Iraq, though the working groups have yet to say when and where those troops will go.

President Bush noted at his Wednesday press conference that he “supported the idea” of the so-called Iraq Study Group and that he “looks forward to listening” to the commission’s recommendations.

But how will he react if the commission favors phased redeployment?

Bush, during the same press conference, followed a recent line of logic from the conservatives: when Democrats discuss redeployment, conservatives quickly label it "cut and run." When the military or fellow Republicans suggest redeployment, no such label is given.

Americans saw this hypocritical stance come into play earlier this year, when Senate Republicans continued to blast legislation from Sens. Carl Levin (D-MI) and Jack Reed (D-RI) even after they knew about a similar gameplan from our top man in Iraq, Gen. George Casey. In August, Casey reaffirmed his belief that troop redeployment could begin in 2007 or 2008.

So it shouldn't be surprising that Bush on Wednesday said this:

BUSH: Well, they may not use cut and run, but they say date certain is when to get out, before the job is done. That is cut and run. Nobody has accused me of having a real sophisticated vocabulary, I understand that. And maybe their -- their words are more sophisticated than mine. But when you pull out before the job is done, that's cut and run as far as I'm concerned. And that's cut and run as far as most Americans are concerned.

But a minute later said this:

BUSH: Senator Warner said, if the plan isn't working, adjust. I agree completely. I haven't seen Baker's report yet, but one of the things I remind you of is that I don't hear those people saying get out before the job is done. They're saying, be flexible. And we are. ... And I trust General Casey. I find him to be one of the really competent, decent guys.

Crystal clear, right? I guess I don't understand Bush's less "sophisticated vocabulary."

On the face of it, it seems Bush is being hypocritical -- falsely portraying the Democrats as cowards, to trick a majority of Americans into voting against something they believe in.

Listed on BlogShares