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Last update1 week 5 days ago
February 3, 2006
In his State of the Union address to the nation last night, President Bush announced a new cabinet-level position to coordinate all current and future scandals facing his party.
President Bush announces his plan to manage the numerous scandals of his administration.
"Tonight, by executive order, I am creating a permanent department with a vital mission: to ensure that the political scandals, underhanded dealings, and outright criminal activities of this administration are handled in a professional and orderly fashion," Bush said.
The centerpiece of Bush's plan is the Department Of Corruption, Bribery, And Incompetence, which will centralize duties now dispersed throughout the entire D.C.-area political establishment.
The Scandal Secretary will log all wiretaps and complaints of prisoner abuse, coordinate paid-propaganda efforts, eliminate redundant payoffs and bribes, oversee the appointment of unqualified political donors to head watchdog agencies, control all leaks and other high-level security breaches, and oversee the disappearance of Iraq reconstruction funds. He will also be responsible for issuing all official denials that laws have been broken.
So, does Bush think money grows on trees?
The Bush administration said Thursday that it would seek about $120 billion in additional financing to pay for continuing military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan through 2006.
The request shows that the cost of military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan has remained at virtually the same level for several years, despite hopes that a large number of the American troops may leave Iraq by the end of the year.
He likes to talk about the government not taking "your money". But whose money does he think is financing his incompetent foreign adventures?
We've been talking a lot about that Republican in sheep's clothing Henry Cuellar, and we'll do so again moving forward.
But for now, let's talk about Ciro Rodriguez.
Aravosis dug up some info on Ciro:
From the GREAT STATE OF MAINE...
Art class is open!!
Kids, you'll love today's activity. Before you start you'll need: a pair of scissors; crayons, fingerpaint, chalk or whatever you prefer to color with (I use yogurt); and a Xerox CopyCentreTMC3545 (payment plans available).
The rest is easy. Print out the box below---featuring a FunQuote from the President of the United States---and color it any way you want (I chose gray). And, in the true Bushian spirit, you don't have to stay within the lines if you don't feel like it:
Nothing has changed, by the way.
When we're talking about chasing down terrorists, we're talking about getting a court order before we do so.
It's important for our fellow citizens to understand, when you think Patriot Act, constitutional guarantees are in place when it comes to doing what is necessary to protect our homeland, because we value the Constitution."
---President George W. Bush
Now make thousands of copies and pass them out to all your friends (and maybe even the corporate-owned media so they can put it on their break room refrigerators and use it from time to time).
Optional: To add a final flourish, caption the egregious betrayal of public trust above with: Lawbreakers go to jail. But I'll settle for Crawford.
Have fun! An all-cheers Cheers and Jeers starts in There's Moreville... [Swoosh!!] RIGHTNOW! [Gong!!]
See excellent post by DarkSyde, interviewing Dr. Tara Smith. This Science Friday follow-up expands on some of her points about H5N1.
Did you know that flu experts met in Washington this week and took stock of the situation? The conclusion, after evaluating what's going on here and abroad, is that we're not ready if it should ever get here.
WASHINGTON, Feb 2 (Reuters) - U.S. flu experts are resigned to being
The Feds agree. HHS Secretary Mike Leavitt is touring the country (he was in CT yesterday), explaining about the disastous 1918 flu and warning that if (and when) a pandemic strikes the US, and you're not prepared, there's no cavalry coming from DC.
Rell and Leavitt signed a resolution at Thursday's event to affirm the
But the details include a $1 million grant to prepare all of CT. That works out to be around $32,000 per CT's acute care hospital, and if you think that's enough to solve this problem (if nothing else, that'll buy enough tamiflu to treat 10,000 of CT's 3.5 million citizens), I've got a bridge in Brooklyn to sell you. The Feds know this, and that's why they're warning citizens to consider stockpiling food and water in the event services are disrupted.
We tend to think ourselves as the pinnacles of Creation, high above the other creatures of this planet on the Tree of Life. But if the metric of success is persistence and sheer numbers, the most successful organisms are microbes, some so primitive they aren't even considered alive. Living or not, from the molecular perspective of these tiny denizens, multicellular new comers like human beings represent only one thing: Fresh meat. Of course, in the aftermath of 9/11 and with the grim spectre of WMDs held over our heads at every opportunity by White House speech writers, we can count on our War President to be on top of a National Disease Emergency, right?
[DR Tara Smith] Despite the lip service paid to making this country "safer" in the aftermath of 9/11, the measures put in place show that protection of our health has become almost exclusively a political issue, and the science is again being ignored.
Tara Smith is one of the frontline warriors in research fighting the ancient scourge of disease in all its forms, from manmade bioterrorism to natural pandemic. I had a chance to ask Tara her expert opinion on the status of that age old threat or how our Federal Government might perform under fire. Her answers are not reassuring ...
Aravosis' one-man effort to get DC pols to act against companies who would sell anyone's phone records online is finally bearing fruit. (Damn does that guy get results!)
And the pols are looking beyond just the selling of sensitive data to those online brokers, to preventing phone companies from selling any consumer information to anyone at all -- including affiliates, joint partners, and agents. Good.
But as Aravosis notes, why did Dems punt on the issue? Aren't we supposed to be the party of privacy? We sure didn't act that way.
Now, after a good 3 weeks, do you finally get that this is an issue that isn't going away? That this is an issue that is SO up our ally in terms of privacy rights affecting so many issues we care about? That even Republicans are scrambling to get on board? That this is an issue that is STILL going on in the local media? Why in God's name aren't the Democrats the ones holding press conferences and public meetings on this issue? Are they actually that afraid of taking credit for something when it's handed to them? I gave this to the Dems before I even wrote about it - they weren't interested. And we wonder why we don't ever win.
Some DC consultant must've told them this made Democrats look weak on national security.
Snowe's political track record is daunting. She won her past Senate elections handily, with 69 percent in 2000 and 60 percent in 1994. She previously served seven terms in the 2nd District seat. Since she left it, that seat has been held by two Democrats: John Baldacci (1995-2003), who now is governor, and current two-term incumbent Michael H. Michaud.
A January poll conducted by Survey USA found that 75 percent of the Maine respondents liked the job Snowe is doing, the highest approval rating in state of any senator. "She must be the most popular senator in the country," said Christian P. Potholm, the DeAlva Stanwood Alexander professor of government at Bowdoin College.
CQ vote studies confirm that she is one of the leading dissenters among Senate Republicans. In 2005, she voted against Bush's stated position on Senate legislation 33 percent of the time, ranking her behind only Rhode Island's Lincoln Chafee and Maine colleague Susan Collins in Republican presidential opposition.
She also went with most Senate Democrats against most Republicans on 44 percent of "party unity" votes, a contrarian position exceeded only by Chafee.
The AFL-CIO, the labor union federation that mainly endorses Democrats, announced its support for Snowe last week.
Republicans are putting up some sembleance of a fight in Nebraska and North Dakota versus our deep-red-state senators. It's a shame Snow is essentially getting a pass.
February 2, 2006
Windsor (CT) Democratic Town Committee:
That the Windsor, Connecticut Democratic Town Committee votes no confidence in Senator Joseph Lieberman's positions for embracing President Bush's position on the Iraq war, including denial that we wrongfully entered the war; denial that the war is being conducted unsuccessfully and the absence of any reasonably detailed standards for withdrawal of American troops from Iraq.
The resolution passed 34 ayes to 2 nays and one abstention. The committee is also frustrated at Lieberman's refusal to meet with them.
So we have, what 300 million people in this country? And few cared enough about this president to give him an hour.
Bush's address clocked about 8.2 million viewers on Fox, according to Nielsen stats.
That beats NBC's 8 million, ABC's and CBS's 7.7 million each, Fox News Channel's 6.5 million, CNN's 2.2 million and MSNBC's 707,000 viewers, according to the stats.
About 33 million, or just over 10 percent of the country, though those are averages and Nielsen claims 41.699 million watched at some point or another. And good thing for averages, because people tuned out:
Though Bush clocked his biggest numbers on the Fox broadcast network, that's not to say he did such a hot job retaining the "Idol" audience. In its final half-hour, Tuesday's episode -- set in Las Vegas and featuring auditions of the above-mentioned Idol wannabes -- the singing competition logged 33 million viewers.
In his first half-hour of speechifying, Bush averaged about 9.5 million viewers on Fox. That's a lousy 29 percent retention rate, which would get him canceled faster than he could say "Emily's Reasons Why Not" if he were a TV series.
But, thankfully, he's not. And, by 9:30 p.m., which is how long it took another 3 million Fox viewers to realize the president wasn't just another bad audition for "American Idol," that network's contribution to the SOTU audience had plunged to 6.9 million viewers.
Almost 250 people have contributed, to the tune of over $11K, in just over four hours (netroots and Atrios). Pretty amazing, so it seemed like a good time to provide more information on what is shaping up to be the next big contest for us.
And there's a ton of good info showing up in the threads of the previous posts on the race. So without further ado...
Henry Cuellar, the incumbent "Democrat", is very, very conservative. We know he has the Club for Growth endorsement. But did you know the Blue Dog Dems didn't want him in their caucus? For those of you who don't know, the Blue Dogs are so far to the party's right flank that they make the DLC look like Dennis Kucinich by comparison. Yet, despite asking to be in the caucus, he's not a member. Not to mention he arrived in DC with a ton of baggage:
In Washington, Democrats say they will monitor Cuellar's votes before deciding how warmly to embrace a man who calls himself pro-gun, pro-free trade, anti-abortion and anti-gay marriage. Several House Democrats, hearing rumors that Cuellar might switch parties, took the unusual step of asking him to confirm his party loyalty.
We also know that Cuellar endorsed Bush in 2000. But did you know that he travelled the country campaigning for Bush? From the October 27, 2000 edition of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel:
Madison -- Two Texas Democratic state legislators picked Thursday, the day Democratic presidential candidate Al Gore campaigned outside Wisconsin's Capitol, to come to Madison to endorse Republican presidential candidate George W. Bush.
Democratic state Reps. Robert Junell and Henry Cuellar, both leaders of their party in the Texas House of Representatives, said their endorsement of the Republican governor resulted from his willingness to work with members of both parties to solve Texas problems. They also said they were angry that national Democratic leaders have unfairly criticized Texas under Bush.
And we know the guy is a backstabber:
When the new Congress returns to work Thursday for President Bush's inauguration, Cuellar's toughest audience will be the Congressional Hispanic Caucus. Rodriguez was chairman of the Democratic group, and many members worked hard on his behalf in last year's primary.
Rep. Solomon Ortiz, dean of the Texas Democrats in Congress, said many caucus members took Cuellar's challenge as a betrayal. Cuellar and Rodriguez were friends who served together in the Texas House, and Rodriguez raised money and campaigned for Cuellar in his 2002 race against Rep. Henry Bonilla, R-San Antonio.
"That's the reason why a lot of members feel uneasy about Cuellar. Congressman Rodriguez brought him around, introduced him to all the members of the Hispanic caucus -- he took him everywhere," said Ortiz, D-Corpus Christi.
Cuellar's entire political existence appears to be designed to provide Bush with "bipartisan" cover, from his days in the Texas House to the past two years in the US House.
If Bush wants bipartisan support, he needs to earn it the real way -- through negotiation and compromise, not by flipping a switch with Henry Cuellar, his mole inside the Democratic caucus.
Update: Ciro will be on Majority Report Radio tonight at about 8:20 p.m. ET.
Update II: Approaching $18K raised by 6:15 p.m.
[T]he new ethically pure, reformist, anti-corruption Congressional Republicans will be led by a Republican from Ohio. Boehner is a member of a male-only country club with a $75,000 initiation fee. Maybe that cleaned out his bank account, which is why he had to take almost $14,000 in free trips from the lobbyist-connected Ripon Society. He also has a history as a bag man for the tobacco lobby during his days as a capo for Newt Gingrich, even going so far as to disburse checks from tobacco lobbyists to Republican members on the floor of the United States Congress.
Huh, what's that last line all about?
In 1995, Boehner handed out campaign checks from the tobacco industry to members on the House floor at a time when lawmakers were considering eliminating a tobacco subsidy.
At least one Republican understood ahead of time the trouble Boehner meant for his caucus:
Representative Chris Shays, a Connecticut Republican, said he believes that Boehner is even closer to lobbyists than Blunt. "The problem John faces is that he's so close to K Street; that's the challenge he's got," said Shays, who's backing Blunt.
So keep an eye out on stories that pretend Boehner's election means some sort of "cleaning house". They got a corrupt Ohioan, part of the corrupt Ohio Republican Party, to head the corrupt Republican caucus in the House.
For the GOP, it's all par for the course.
Atrios digs this up from the Google cache:
Cuellar was one of several Texas Democrats to support Bush over Al Gore in 2000.
Cuellar later was appointed secretary of state by Gov. Rick Perry before being elected to Congress as a Democrat.
And this from the Club for Growth endorsement, delivered by Pat Toomey of all people:
"By voting for CAFTA, to repeal the Death Tax, to prevent huge tax increases, and for supporting school choice, Congressman Cuellar has become one of the House's most pro-economic growth Democrats," said Club for Growth President Pat Toomey. "The House of Representatives would be better off with more Democrats - and even some more Republicans - who demonstrate Rep. Cuellar's commitment to their constituents' prosperity through economic freedom. It is particularly noteworthy that Rep. Cuellar cast these votes for a stronger economy despite intense pressure not to by some in his party."
This may be billed as a Democratic primary, but in this solidly Democratic Latino-majority district, Republicans needed a Republican in sheep's clothing like Cuellar to have a chance of winning.
Remember, Republicans didn't bother fielding a candidate in this race. Let's take away their stealth vote in this Democratic district.
Update: Damn, between the netroots and Atrios ActBlue pages, we've raised over $6K in just two hours or so. And here's the dirty little secret -- few people actually participate. Those $6K came from just 121 contributors (including me). Hackett and his $400K raised during his House special election came from just 4,500 or so contributors.
If even 1 percent of the netroots gave to these sorts of efforts, the numbers would be staggering. And while most don't have the money/are students/underemployed or jobless, etc -- 1 percent isn't an unrealistic number to shoot for. Especially when we're talking a target contribution average of $25-50.
But it has been an impossible target for all but the biggest races (Dean in the primary and Kerry in the general). This isn't a complaint. It is what it is. But it just goes to show that we really do have the power -- it doesn't take that many to have an effect.
February 1, 2006
Bush had two BIG initiatives yesterday, it seems -- a blue ribbon presidential commission everyone will ignore to produce a report no one will read, and, more dramatically, the banning of that scourge of Western civilization -- the human/animal hybrid.
Why he didn't propose the banning of giant mutant spiders and killer self-aware robots is beyond me. Those are scary fictional crises as well!
What else did Bush forget to propose banning last night?
Count the number of "good news" items in these first three paragraphs of this Bloomberg news article:
Democrats, seeking to regain control of the U.S. Congress this November, are narrowing their fund- raising gap with the Republicans.
Democratic Party election committees raised $143 million in 2005, up from $128 million four years earlier, led by a record amount collected by the Senate campaign organization. Republican committees raised $206 million, down from $234 million in 2001, according to reports filed with the Federal Election Commission.
The Democrats also reported $47 million in the bank at the start of 2006, $18 million less than the Republicans. That compares with a $37 million difference at the start of 2002, the last year congressional elections were held when there was no presidential race.
The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, under Senator Charles Schumer of New York, outraised the Republicans, collecting an all-time high of $44 million, with $25 million in the bank, according to figures released by the committee. The National Republican Senatorial Committee said it took in $36 million and had a balance of $11 million [...]
Dean doubled the Democrats' donations from small contributors, those who gave less than $200. The party reported taking in $32 million from small donors, compared with $16 million in 2001. The Republican National Committee raised $55 million in small donations, up from $40 million four years earlier.
The House Republicans' fund-raising arm took in $65 million, compared with $43 million for the House Democrats. The Republicans had $20 million cash on hand to $16 million for the Democrats, according to figures released by both parties.
Republicans depend on huge fundraising advantages to maintain their legislative majorities. Those advantages are being whittled away which will be scaring the shit out of the GOP. We are kicking their ass in the senate, are competitive in the house, and while the RNC has a big advantage over the DNC, Dean has been building infrastructure in the states while raising money for state parties.
Republicans can't be all that pleased with these numbers.
Damn, check out this photo of Bush about to lay a big sloppy one on Henry Cuellar, one of the most disloyal Democrats in the House.
We have a chance to replace Cuellar with former Rep. Ciro Rodriguez in the March 7 primary. No Republican fled to run in this seat, so whoever wins the primary will be the next congressman from the district. (Cuellar won the race by only 203 votes in 2004.)
If you live anywhere near this district you can do something to transform the Democratic Party into an effective progressive fighting machine. Please get involved.
We all know that Cindy Sheehan was ejected from the SOTU address. She tells her own story at that link.
But she wasn't the only one kicked out. The wife of a Republican congressman also got the boot:
The wife of Rep. C.W. Bill Young said she was ejected during President Bush's State of the Union address for wearing a T-shirt that said, "Support the Troops Defending Our Freedom," a newspaper reported Wednesday.
Beverly Young said she was sitting in the front row of the House gallery Tuesday night when she was approached by someone who told her she needed to leave, according to the St. Petersburg Times.
After reluctantly agreeing, she said, she argued with several officers in an outside hallway.
"They said I was protesting," she said in a telephone interview with the newspaper Tuesday. "I said, 'Read my shirt, it is not a protest.' They said, 'We consider that a protest.' I said, 'Then you are an idiot.'"
Glenn Greenwald argues both ejections violate the law.
This is nothing more than a naked attempt to stifle dissent and to create a criticism-free bubble around George Bush. Presidents routinely use all sorts of propagandistic imagery at the State of the Union to decorate their speeches with an aura of regal patriotism. We always see weeping widows and military heroes and symbolic guests of all sorts who are used as props and visuals to bolster the President's message both emotionally and psychologically. The State of the Union speech is hardly free of visual messages and propaganda of that sort; quite the contrary.
But we apparently now have a country where the only ideas allowed to be expressed in our Nation's Capitol while the President is speaking are ones which glorify the Government and its Leader and where dissenting views are prohibited and will subject someone to arrest. Message cleansing of that sort belongs at a political rally in North Korea, not in Washington, DC [...]
In Bynum v. U.S. Capitol Police Bd. (Dist. D.C. 1997) (.pdf), the District Court found the regulations applying 140 U.S.C. § 193 -- the section of the U.S. code restricting activities inside the Capitol -- to be unconstitutional on First Amendment grounds. Bynum involved a Reverend who was threatened with arrest by Capitol Police while leading a small group in prayer inside the Capitol. The Capitol Police issued that threat on the ground that the praying constituted a "demonstration."
This is no longer a partisan affair. Bush will restrict the free speech rights of anyone that might upstage his carefully constructed propaganda efforts.
dKos reader poll. 1/31. 11,117 respondents.
Feingold 30 19 19 16 10 10
While this isn't a scientific poll of the Democratic Party rank and file, at 11K+ results it's a pretty darn accurate poll of the sentiments of the Daily Kos community.
And what do we learn? There are two tier's emerging -- the top tier includes those candidates with some traction in the netroots -- Feingold, Clark, Warner and Edwards, and those that have none -- Hillary, Kerry, Biden, Bayh, and poor, ol', forgotten Fox News Democrat Tom Vilsack. It's also a very nice division between the "insider" and "outsider" candidates.
I'm impressed with Kerry's numbers -- proving that to gain support with the netroots candidates have to do more than a one-off. Kerry took a tough stance on the filibuster battle. And while many might argue whether it was a "pander" or not, it's clear that community support is built with long-term constructive engagement. Of course, given his performance in 2004, Kerry has a higher hurdle than most.
H. Clinton still leads most of the 2008 polling among the general populace but is quickly sliding into irrelevance around these parts. Kerry in 2004 showed that the netroots didn't stand a chance against larger institutional forces. But Daily Kos traffic has nearly tripled from January 2005, and that traffic had nearly trippled from January 2004 when Dean hit the Iowa buzzsaw, and those growth trends (and those across the progressive blogosphere in general) aren't slowing. It'll be a radically different landscape in the 2007 primary battle.
I still think Warner is the person to watch, with Feingold a potential top-tier competitor for the "anti-Hillary" slot as he seemingly bleeds Clark's support away.
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