Monday :: Mar 27, 2006

You Only Hurt The Ones You Loathe


by pessimist

We've had an awful lot of cold waves in Hades this year! It seems like everytime you turn around, Lucifer has to toss another oil field or a coal mine onto the blazes of Hell, muttering Satanic Curses about the cost of heating fuel ever since King George usurped power. Now, aggravating the already-bad energy shortages, another deep freeze has gone to Gehenna -

Newt Gingrich is offering advice to the Democrats:


Republicans On The Run

Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, who masterminded the 1994 elections that brought Republicans to power on promises of revolutionizing the way Washington is run, told TIME that his party has so bungled the job of governing that the best campaign slogan for Democrats today could be boiled down to just two words:
"Had enough?"

OUCH!

The signs suggest an anti-Republican wave is building, says nonpartisan electoral handicapper Stuart Rothenberg, whose Rothenberg Political Report is closely followed in Washington. "The only question is how high, how big, how much force it will have. I think it will be considerable."

As the campaign season kicks into gear, Republican incumbents are having a hard time figuring out how close they want to be to the White House. Voters have plenty to take out on Republican candidates this year--ethics scandals, the G.O.P.'S failure to curb spending, the government's inept response to Hurricane Katrina, a confusing new prescription-drug program for seniors and, more than anything else, an unpopular President who is fighting an unpopular war. Iraq could make a vulnerability of the Republicans' greatest asset, the security issue.

Jump in, Jehosephat! The signs appear to be correct!

War May Hurt GOP in Heartland

Even in the heartland, Democrats suddenly see advantage on an issue that is usually considered a GOP trump card: national security.

Baron Hill, who hopes to unseat the Republican who represents this region of Indiana, said it used to be hard for Democrats to criticize the Iraq war without sounding unpatriotic. "Not anymore," Hill said in an interview.

"I think people are very skeptical now about what is going on over there,
and you have more freedom to talk about Iraq."
Increasingly, the talk these days revolves around Iraq, and it is the kind of talk that could spell trouble for the GOP. "Nobody is against the people fighting the war. I think you'll hear that everywhere," Liz Larrison said. "We're just against it going on and on."

On top of other woes confronting Republicans, the continuing violence in Iraq and President Bush's message last week that the deployment would last several more years has heightened Republicans' concerns about how voters such as Larrison will view the party in the November elections.

In fact, Larrison — who, like many of her customers,
considers herself independent but tends to vote for Republicans —
says she will vote against her Republican congressman.

OUCH!

Bu$hCo suck-up John McCain can't even find a (mi$)Admini$tration-friendly context into which to put Iraq:

"We all know that the polls show declining support amongst the American people," he said. "We read the polls and we know that the American people have grown frustrated and we also know the stakes are very high.

"We all acknowledge, particularly after visiting here, that this is a very long, tough enterprise and challenge that we are facing and I think the best way to treat it is to tell the American people exactly that," McCain told reporters.

"All of us would like to find an easy way out."

OUCH!

That isn't going to happen if you Senate guys approve George's request for hundreds of millions of dollars for large bases intended as permanent sites for U.S. forces!

But of course, there is a bare-faced lie - I mean, a cover story for the request:

Pentagon spokesman Army Lt. Col. Barry Venable said, "We're building permanent bases in Iraq for Iraqis."

Right! Tell that one to Rep. Ron Paul, True Conservative of Texas. He knows what the score is:

"It's the kind of thing that incites terrorism,"
Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) said of long-term or permanent U.S. bases
in countries such as Iraq.

OUCH!

The fact that so many Republicans are muttering backstage about what George is up to - a scheme which threatens such a large backlash every one of their phoney baloney jobs are at risk - one has to sense that The GOP has suffered yet another split:

Congressional Republicans were already distancing themselves from the President; last week Bush reciprocated and the cracks in the Republican Party's unity became a lot harder to cover up. When the President told reporters that the decision to bring the last American troops home from Iraq would "be decided by future Presidents and future governments of Iraq", he widened the already yawning gap between the White House and Republicans on Capitol Hill.
Bush's admission encouraged Democrats and dismayed Republicans
who are only too aware that much of America expects to see most of the troops home by Christmas 2006.

OUCH!

Republicans on Capitol Hill now routinely refer to the White House as "arrogant", while the administration feels it has been let down by Congress on matters such as the ever-increasing federal budget and the doomed Dubai Ports World deal that would have seen the Dubai company operate terminals at six American ports but for Congressional opposition.

And it is it not just Congressional Republicans who are unhappy. Conservative talk radio host Laura Ingraham warned that "if the base becomes any more wobbly or dispirited, then the President will not be able to escape the lame duck label. And last time I checked, lame ducks didn't have any pockets to hold their political capital".

OUCH!

"I've been astounded by Bush in his relationship with Republicans in Congress," said David Keene, chairman of the American Conservative Union. "In my lifetime, there has been no Republican president who has spent as much effort electing people of his own party to the Congress, or less time talking to them after they got there."

OUCH!

The long knives are being sharpened if that grinding noise I hear means anything:

Conservatives' new books have Bush in crosshairs

Conservatives who charge President George W. Bush has imposed a theocracy, risked US bankruptcy and fanned flames of anti-Americanism are flooding US booksellers with their irate tomes. Political analyst Thomas Mann, who works for the Brookings Institution, argues that 'the books themselves reflect a broader political talk that's under way now'. "Bush had achieved remarkable unity and support among conservatives and Republicans, and now in the face of sagging poll ratings, huge budget deficits and a very unpopular war," his performance has come under intense review and criticism, says Mann.

Leading the list of bestsellers on Amazon.com is commentator Kevin Phillips' American Theocracy, the Peril and Politics of Radical Religion, Oil and Borrowed Money in the 21st century. "The rapture, end-times, and Armageddon hucksters in the US rank with any Shiite ayatollahs, and the last two presidential elections mark the ransformation of the GOP into the first religious party in US history," argues Phillips, who cites messianic overtones in some of Bush's pronouncements, the mobilization of churches ahead of elections and of creationist fervor.

According to Phillips, this trend is bad news for the United States. "The religious hawkishness, substitution of faith for reason, and missionary insistence increasingly visible in the US have plagued leading world economic powers from (ancient) Rome to (Inquisition-era) Spain to (imperial) Britain," he warns.

Commentator Bruce Bartlett, who worked for the Reagan administration, focuses on the consequences of budget deficits in his book titled Impostor, How George W. Bush Bankrupted America and Betrayed the Reagan Legacy. His hypothesis cost him his research job at the conservative National Center for Policy Analysis, but he had a soft landing at the libertarian Cato Institute.

Francis Fukuyama uses his book America at the Crossroads to explain his break with the neoconservatism he once held dear. For Fukuyama, "the fact that these errors [the reasons offered for invading Iraq - ed.] were made by the world's sole superpower exposes the fatal flaw lying at the heart of a world order based on American benevolent hegemony.

"The hegemony has to be not just well-intentioned,
but also [be] prudent and smart in its exercise of power."

OUCH!

Neither of those conditions has been met by King George signing into law a bill that wasn't passed by both houses of Congress and then coming up with another bizarre SCOTUS decision from the 1890s to justify that extralegal act!

How well will THAT play in Peoria??? It won't:

Public Citizen, a legislative watchdog group, sued Tuesday to block a law that aims to cut $40 billion over five years, charging that Bush and Republican leaders of Congress flagrantly violated the Constitution when the president signed it into law knowing that the version that cleared the House was $2 billion different from the Senate's version.

OUCH!

It's no wonder Republicans try to change the subject away from Bush!

But when they do, they don't find much to brag about! Tom DeLay and his religious right brethren are caught with their fingers in the charity cookie jar again, and to make matters worse for DeLay, The State of Texas wants his concealed carry permit revoked! [PDF - via Brazosriver.com]

And of his 'religious' right-to-lift bretheren? Conservatives aren't being very compassionate toward Ralphie Reed!

[I]t's becoming harder for Reed to dismiss his critics as ideologically motivated. One of the toughest is Marvin Olasky, a close associate of President Bush who helped developed the administration's faith-based initiative and the concept of "compassionate conservatism."

Reed, Olasky wrote March 4, "has damaged Christian political work by confirming for some the stereotype that evangelicals are easily manipulated and that evangelical leaders use moral issues to line their own pockets."

OUCH!

In the state touched by the hands of wicked fate in 2000, there exists the honest man so long sought by Diogenes:

"An honest man with integrity is probably not the person you want to bet on in the American political system," Leon County's Ion Sancho said.

Sancho has his share of supporters, with [a] Tallahassee Democrat dubbing him 'a zealous soldier in election reform battles'. "Ion is one of the few to ask the questions," said Herbert Thompson, chief security strategist for Boston-based firm Security Innovation. "Like, what is this thing actually doing to my vote? How is it processing my vote?"

Vendors of the ATM-like electronic voting machines, tired of Sancho's criticisms over the level of security in their software, no longer want to do business with him or the county. All three companies certified to do business in Florida — Diebold Inc., Election Systems & Software Inc. and Sequoia Voting Systems Inc. — have said "no."

The three vendors' refusal to work with Sancho led to a complaint from the Miami-Dade Election Reform Coalition on Wednesday, asking Attorney General Charlie Crist to investigate if those companies were violating antitrust laws. "It's of concern," Crist said Thursday. "We want to make sure we have free, fair and open elections."

Sancho's insistence on quality also has angered several Florida officials, including Gov. Jeb Bush, and has already cost his county more than a half million dollars. He recently ran into trouble with his commissioners over the loss of $564,421 in federal grant money because the county missed a Jan. 1 deadline for meeting a federal requirement to provide voting systems for disabled people. Now, it's up to the Legislature to decide whether to reinstate the money.

Sancho wants to make sure such problems don't occur in Leon County. "If you make a system that can be manipulated, unfortunately in our current political environment, it probably will be," Sancho said. "Why take that chance?"

[A] September report from Government Accountability Office, the investigative arm of Congress, pointed to significant security and reliability problems long the subject of complaints from computer scientists and security experts. A separate review of voting machine logs used in Palm Beach County in the 2002 election revealed thousands of errors — just two years after it was forced to manually recount votes when Florida's massive elections problems surfaced while a presidential election was being settled.

"Nowadays, with the electronic voting systems, you don't know what even looks suspicious if you're an elections official," Thompson said. "You need people who understand software and software security to understand what the risks are."

"Florida is one example of how partisan politics interfere with having folks' votes being counted accurately," Sancho said in his office overlooking a series of mildew-stained white government buildings near the state Capitol.

"Americans have taken elections for granted for far too long."

OUCH! We had that one coming!

Speaking of having it coming, in the state illicitly and deviously deviated in 2004, Republicans had best mind their Ps and Qs! The voters are restless!

[T]he well-publicized troubles of GOP colleagues [of Sen. Mike DeWine (R-Ohio)] are becoming one of the biggest obstacles to his election to a third term in November against an energized Democratic opponent, Rep. Sherrod Brown, and his long-thwarted party that smells a chance to paint red-state Ohio a shade of blue.

DeWine wants you to know he is not President Bush, whose popularity has plummeted. Nor is he Ohio Gov. Bob Taft, who was fined for taking unreported gifts. Or Ohio Rep. Robert W. Ney, who is under investigation. Or Texas Rep. Tom DeLay, who is under indictment.

Polls show voter frustration with political corruption, a faltering economy and an Iraq war that has hit Ohio particularly hard.

Since the war began, 105 service members from Ohio have died in Iraq.
The state has lost more than 175,000 manufacturing jobs this decade.
Daniel Hoffheimer, a Cincinnati lawyer and a Kerry-Edwards '04 campaign legal adviser, described DeWine as honest but vulnerable in a state where Democrats are eager for an upset. "I've long believed Ohio is a Democratic state that's been asleep," Hoffheimer said.
"If anything's going to wake up the people,
it's to look at what the Republicans have done
when they've had the opportunity to be in power in Columbus and Washington
."
Brown, a staunch liberal and onetime boy wonder of Ohio politics first elected to the state legislature when he was 21, tells audiences that DeWine shares responsibility for a federal government that has 'betrayed its public trust'. "[DeWine] voted for the Iraq war. I voted against the Iraq war," Brown told more than 200 cheering Democrats in the town of Solon on Wednesday. Brown said he opposed Medicare privatization and the energy bill, in contrast to DeWine.

Then he noted DeWine's more recent votes favoring a minimum wage bill and opposing drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. "He's almost become a Massachusetts Democrat!" Brown said. "He's gotten religion. He's also got a tough race on his hands."

"It's really the environment that gives DeWine a problem," said one Republican adviser in Ohio who asked not to be identified.

"Ohioans have not been happy for a long time with the direction of the state,
and they're not happy with the direction of the country, either."
"The economy around here is scary," said Richard Urbansky, 49, who works behind the counter at Medina Auto Parts, mentioning Ford Motor Co.'s closing its plant in nearby Lorain. "Health care. It has gone up. The war. We can't stay there forever. Get it finished and get out."

OUCH!

It's bad enough for the Republicans when the Democrats are after them. It's worse when intramural strife breaks out:


D'Amato and Weld Locked in G.O.P. Feud

The feud is the latest embarrassment for a state party that has already seen the implosion of Jeanine F. Pirro's bid to topple Senator Clinton and open Republican challenges to the leadership of Governor Pataki, who is not running for a fourth term.

For the last few months, William F. Weld's bid to become governor of New York has had a sharp thorn in its side: the outspoken opposition of the onetime kingmaker of state Republican politics, former Senator Alfonse M. D'Amato, who has said that Mr. Weld is "without any real experience" in New York.

Yesterday, Mr. Weld struck back in force, telling how their feud dated at least to a 1996 encounter in which Mr. D'Amato gave him $750,000 in donations for his Senate campaign that year against John Kerry of Massachusetts. The donations, according to Mr. Weld, came with an expletive-laced warning: that Mr. Weld distance himself from Robert S. Mueller III, who as a Justice Department official oversaw a federal fraud investigation of Mr. D'Amato's brother, Armand, in the early 1990's. (Mr. Mueller, a friend of Mr. Weld's, has been the director of the F.B.I. since 2001.)

"If I ever see that [BEEP!] Mueller at a [BEEP!] fund-raiser,
I'm going to get every [BEEP!] dollar of this back out of your hide,"

Mr. Weld, a former Massachusetts governor, quoted Mr. D'Amato as saying.

OUCH!

And we thought it was only George who thought that the Constitution was only a piece of paper!

But wait! THERE'S MORE:

Mr. D'Amato, who in 1994 helped shepherd a little-known George E. Pataki to the governor's mansion, has been openly praising the presumed Democratic front-runner for governor, Attorney General Eliot Spitzer:
"I don't intend to endorse Eliot Spitzer, but I will say, if asked,
he's done a magnificent job as attorney general, better than any I have ever seen."

OUCH!

The clash exposed in the most bare-knuckled form the searing divisions that have afflicted state Republicans as they seek to find credible candidates to run for governor and to challenge Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton in November.

Hillary's polling numbers indicate that the NY GOP opposition to her is weak, so if she were to listen to the advice we are all trying to giver her, she would be a shoo-in to be reelected as Senator.

Frankly, my dear Hillary, they give a damn! The rest of us don't. Besides - you will be needed in the Senate to investigate the voting irregularities since you ended your term as First Lady. Stephen Crockett, co-host of Democratic Talk Radio, outlines the past instances awaiting exposure:

The growing scandal over electronic voting machine failures exploded in state after state. Voting machine failures created news from Texas to Maryland to Utah to Florida. This column is simply not long enough to even begin to list the many daily breaking stories concerning the growing election voting scandal.

Maryland politicians from both major Parties are looking to scuttle the Diebold machines. A Texas primary recount was halted by court order when the voting machines were not counting properly for the recounts. Errors were reported up to 20 percent. Voting machine tests should serious errors and security weaknesses in tests in Utah and Florida.

The Bush Administration and allies in Congress are pushing to make these failed voting machines the standard by the Fall elections. Growing numbers of voting rights activists are seeking emergency action to guarantee verified paper trails to prevent election fraud and other snafus this year. The Corporate Media has not given the issue significant coverage. Many citizens are unaware their votes may not get counted this election. Information on the subject is readily available on the Internet.

The best place to start reading the many breaking stories is at Brad Blog.

Considering that Bu$h'$ poor numbers in an October, 2005 poll have only gotten worse, the voting machine gambit is about the only strategy Bu$h can count on to keep the Congress away from the control of the American people. [Holding nose:] A Democratic majority in the Congress will be the only way this problem can be rectified - and King George deposed from his would-be throne. [/Holding nose]

That's where you can best serve the country, Hillary. Make your mark in history there by saving your nation from oppression. There is precedent for that role, you know!


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