Thursday, June 30, 2005

50% of Americans think Congress should NOT impeach Bush if he lied about Iraq

Not a misprint. According to John Zogby's polling, one half the country believes that Congress should not institute impeachment proceeding against the President if it finds he lied about his reasons for declaring war against Iraq.

IMPEACHMENT! Um.... good gawd y'all, what is it good for? (Absolutely nothing!) Say it again!

Less than half think Congress should. Anyone know what the numbers were for the Monica-Clinton impeachment?

In other obvious news, a majority of American disapprove of how partisan the political parties are and wish the parties would put compromising over tending to their extremist bases, according to Zogby. No word yet how many Americans think puppies are cute and Hell would be a bad place to spend eternity.

Friday, June 24, 2005

McClellan: "If people want to try to engage in personal attacks instead of defending their philosophy, that's their business"

For McClellan to say that in response to the outrage to Karl Rove's baseless, partisan smear is about the most ironic thing I've seen.

I'm glad to see that some conservatives are honest in saying the whole "Rove meant liberals, not Democrats" defense is hogwash. (Hat tip: Daily Kos)

Several have said something similar, and I'd like to add this message to the President and Mr. Rove:

When Democrats were pushing for a Department of Homeland Security, Republicans were talking tort reform.

When Democrats wanted commissions to examine intelligence failures that allowed 9/11 to happen and mislead us so drastically wrong in Iraq, this President adopted what he calls "the philosophy of the stop sign."

It wasn't just liberals who pointed out that the administration was wrong about Saddam's intent to acquire WMD and his capabilities, but the President's hand-picked inspectors in the Iraqi Survey Group.

It wasn't just liberals who said your administration was naive to think that Iraqi oil could pay for the reconstruction and American forces would be out no later than six months.

It wasn't just liberals who said that your "enemy combatant" policies would harm America's image and violated international law, we know now that attorneys in the U.S. State Department said so.

It wasn't just liberals who have criticized your policy on torture as violation of international law and a risky scheme that puts American soldiers' lives at risk, but those who have worn the stars and bars and served in combat zones defending American interests.

While you've been talking about bankruptcy reform, Democrats have been pushing for better protected borders and ports.

For a party that supposedly is wrong on terrorism and national defense. It sure seems like the Democrats have been proven correct time and time again.

OBL is alive and free today, nearly four years after 9/11, not because of liberals, but because of you, Mr. Rove. You allowed the trail to go cold by pulling needed military manpower out of Afghanistan to prepare to invade Iraq. The resurgence of the Taliban there is your failure, not the Democratic Party's.

When this nation called on you at its time of dire need to defend its interest, Mr. Rove, you hid.

Now you mock those who have different political beliefs than yours but are willing to put themselves in harms way to defend this country, to implement the policies you've created. And to add even further insult, because of your failures and your budgetary policies, the Department of Veterans Affairs is facing a $1 billion shortfall in funding to care for these veterans.

Mr. Rove, have you no shame, no sense of decency?

And Mr. McClellan, when the White House would rather engage in personal attacks, instead of defending its policies, that's everyone's business.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

DNC issues report on voting problems in Ohio

The headline links to the Executive Summary which is a much quicker read. If you are interested in reading the full DNC report: click here.

In short, the report doesn't tell us much more than what Ohioans largely observed themselves. African-American voters in much larger numbers experience much larger waits in line to vote in 2004. 3% of Ohio "voters" said they left the line without voting due to the wait and never returned (should they really be called voters, then?).

Despite this and a number of problems, the researchers say that while there was problems the data does not support any basis to believe that widespread fraud misallocated votes from Kerry to Bush.

While this should put to rest any lingering doubts whether Bush "stole" the election in 2004, that doesn't mean this report is irrelevant. The fact that any voter, white or black, Democratic or (yes, even) Republican, was dissuaded from voting by intimidation, misinformation, and inadquate polling place and voting technology should be no less troubling.

It seems that the general consensus is preference for optical scanners with a printed receipt (can you refund an election?). Touchscreens, surprisingly, took more time than punch cards (I spent five minutes doing delicate micro-surgery to my ballot to make sure any hint of a "chad" was gone alone.)

The touchscreen technology machines were pushed particularly by Sec. of State and Gubernatorial candidate Kenneth Blackwell. If I find a thoughtful reaction from him on the topic, I'll be sure to post it.

Strickland for Governor released this statement from Congressman Strickland regarding the DNC's report:
“There’s nothing more fundamental in our democracy than the right to vote. The disparities detailed in this ground-breaking report should shock the conscious of every Ohioan. More important, this report should move us to action. As governor, I’ll work my heart out to ensure that no Ohioan is denied their voice at the ballot box.”

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Strickland for Governor Update

The Ohio Democratic Party has gone so long without a state-wide elected officeholder, I forgotten what an impact a Democratic governor would have on the party. Much like the President, a Democratic Governor would serve as the titular head of the party. A Strickland Administration would most likely lead to the "ruralization" of the Ohio Democratic Party. And that is probably the best model for the Democrats to gain even further influence in state government.

The Strickland for Governor campaign has been busy setting up its organization. I don't have all the information, but I can tell you that Strickland is getting Democratic political operatives with a national reputation for working for successful Democratic gubernatorial candidates in the South. The ability to win over rural voters will be key for Strickland to win the election, and having people with that kind of experience will help.

I've also been told that the official Strickland campaign website will be up in roughly four weeks (so patience people, it's still nine months until the primary.)

Also:
  • Is the Coleman campaign wilting? Last week, former Ohio AG/'98 Gubernatorial nominee Lee Fisher announced that he would not run for Governor in 2006. At least one observer (besides myself) has theorized that Fisher realized there just wasn't enough support for him to be a credible primary candidate in an already competitive field. Michael Meckler of RedState.com (not to be confused with the national conservative blog, RedState.org) noted that the Strickland campaign suddenly, and (to him) unexpectedly, energized Democratic activists, thus sucking the oxygen out of the race for Fisher.
    Meckler further theorizes that Coleman, too, is starting to feel a little light-headed from the lack of oxygen and may need to seek shelter by running for another state-wide office such as State Auditor. You can read Meckler's post: here. It appears that Coleman has yet to dispel Democrats unease about his candidacy since the much overblown Glenn Beck interview. While Coleman is well-respected and considered a rising star of the Ohio Democratic Party, his candidacy was received more with acceptance than the enthusiasm I've seen with Strickland. Indeed, it's rare on sites like DailyKos to see people even mention Coleman anymore.

    • Strickland gains county party endorsements: Only 40 days since announcing (and nine months before the primary), Strickland has been endorsed by eight Democratic Party County organizations. (The counties are Brown, Clinton, Columbiana, Gallia, Highland, Hocking, Pike, and Ross County.) Strickland has represented all but Brown County during his tenure in Congress. The chair of the Ohio Democratic County Chairs Organization is Susan Gwinn, Chair of the Athens County Democratic Party, and a long-time ally of Strickland's. 8 counties down, 80 to go!

    • For any Deaniacs out there, there's a Strickland MeetUp group in Columbus. There's also one in Cincinnati in the works. If you're in the Columbus area, sign up.

    As I learn more, I'll share what I can. BTW, next Wednesday, the Strickland MeetUp is hosting a fundraiser in Columbus at the Metro Bar and Grill at 6 p.m. You can get more information once you join the group!

    Monday, June 20, 2005

    Rhetorically Wrecked

    For a week now, conservatives have been foaming over a Senate floor speech by U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) in which he said that an FBI agent's reported observation of Gitmo sounded like something you would have heard in describing the Russian gulags or the Nazi's concentration camps. For Durbin's passe use of Hitler, reasonably minded conservatives and conservative-leaning commentators (such as the Drudge Report, Rush, and oh, the White House).

    Today, during a floor vote on a Democratic amendment requiring the Air Force Academy to develop a plan to prevent coercisive and abusive religious proselytizing, something that the Air Force has admitted is a problem (the culture at the academy had gotten to the point where cadets felt it was proper to call a fellow cadet "Jesus killer" because that cadet was Jewish.)

    In response to Democrat's proposal to have Congress encourage the Air Force to fix a profound problem it itself admits it has, U.S. Rep. John Hostettler (R-IN) added this contribution to the national dialogue:

    "[T]he long war on Christianity in America continues today on the floor of the House of Representatives" and "continues unabated with aid and comfort to those who would eradicate any vestige of our Christian heritage being supplied by the usual suspects, the Democrats. Like a moth to a flame, Democrats can't help themselves when it comes to denigrating and demonizing Christians."

    Fortunately, the Congress still has some rules to promote decorum and to try to prevent the dialogue you expect on rant-wing talk radio and not the deliberative legislative body of the most powerful democracy on the planet.

    Facing an uproar of Democratic disgust, Hostettler retracted these statements when he was told the sanction he faced if he did not: he wouldn't be allowed to talk the rest of the day.

    Jon Stewart is right; we're governed by children!

    Jon Alter dittos my thoughts on Gov. Bush and makes an interesting parallel to one of the lowest acts in Rev. Al Sharpton's career. Click here to read the Alter's Newsweek article.

    Saturday, June 18, 2005

    DeLay: Alone no more

    When the FBI announces it is "very interested" in some of your business activities, you know you've royally screwed up. The last time the FBI opened an investigation into a sitting Congressman, um, well, it was Jim Traficant.

    The main allegation facing U.S. Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham (R-CA) is that he sold his California home to a defense contractor for $700,000 more than what it's worth. Did I mention that Duke is a member of the House Defense Appropriations Subcommittee and has helped the contractor's company win millions of dollars in Pentagon contracts?

    Cunningham defends the sale of the house as being "aboveboard" by claiming the sales price was reasonable. Rep. Cunningham points out that the sales price was reasonable based on comparative estimated sales price of surrounding homes in his area that was independently calculated and provided to the defense contractor. However, the sales price calculations were made by a woman who had long been a significant and longtime campaign contributor of Cunningham's. Furthermore, Duke hired the woman to be his realtor in the subsequent purchase of a $2M home (nice commission.)

    The defense contractor later sold the home at $700k less than what he had paid for it, and every realty expert consulted has concluded that the purchase price initially paid was inflated. Maybe Duke's defense would be better if he simply said he learned to make such deals from this guy.

    Duke is accused of living on the defense contractor's D.C.-docked yacht without paying reasonable value (he claims he is gathering the necessary documentation showing otherwise).

    When Duke lived on his own yacht in D.C., he used his Congressional committee position to earmark $3M to refurbish the waterfront where he lived. Oh, and he once gave a WWII vet the finger at a speech of prostrate cancer patients.

    So how did the Congressman respond to the allegation that he has made himself too influenced by this defense contractor?:

    Cunningham denied that he is a particularly good friend of MZM owner Mitchell Wade, saying last week, "No more than I am with (Qualcomm founder) Irwin Jacobs or (Titan Corp. founder) Gene Ray or any of the other CEOs."

    Here's a lil' advice for the ol' Duke-

    Having more than one John doesn't make you any less of a whore.

    The Dishonorable Governor Bush Part II: The Weasel Rises

    If you're going to use your official bully pulpit to accuse someone of being responsible for the severe disability and death of their own spouse, at least be man enough to admit that's what you're doing.

    According to the AP wire story:

    "Between 40 and 70 minutes elapsed before the call was made, and I am aware of no explanation for the delay," Bush wrote. "In light of this new information, I urge you to take a fresh look at this case without any preconceptions as to the outcome."

    But the person Gov. Bush asked to "look into this case" was a county prosecutor, who only has jurisdiction to investigate crimes, which makes this Bush quote seem rather inconsistent:

    Bush said his request for the probe was not meant to suggest wrongdoing by Michael Schiavo. "It's a significant question that during this ordeal was never brought up," Bush told reporters.
    If Bush's request was not meant to suggest criminal wrongdoing by Michael Schiavo, what, then, WAS it meant to suggest? I guess, yet, again the liberal media jumps to the illogical conclusion that when the Governor asks a county prosecutor to investigate a particular person's actions during the event, they mistakenly presume that means the Governor suggests that person may have committed a crime. And, maybe I'm just spitballing here, the reason it was never brought up during this 15-year long terrible ordeal was that it is not a significant question, but a shameless political smear?

    What a spineless slime weasel.

    Friday, June 17, 2005

    The Dishonorable Governor of Florida Jeb Bush

    After an official, independent autopsy revealed that Terri Schiavo's brain was so severely damaged that it had half the expected mass of an average brain, and that it was impossible for her to have any visual function at all (therefore, the "tracking" her parents' claims was the very involuntary, unconscious act a vast majority of the medical experts in the case said it was.) Furthermore, the autopsy said (yet again) that there was absolutely no medical evidence whatsoever to indicate that her husband ever physically abused her, let alone in a manner to cause her medical state.

    What does Florida Governor Jeb Bush do in light of this strong medical evidence that everything he has publicly said about the case was false, or at best, grossly misleading? Unlike Bill Frist's "let's move on from this" response, Gov. Bush contacts a state prosecutor and demands an investigation into the cause of her collapse and whether her husband failed to immediately call 911 to get her medical assistance.

    Bush's baseless and grotesque allegations has to mark the lowest blow an elected official has ever leveled against anyone, especially a private citizen with no bully pulpit in which to respond. Prosecutors don't investigate anything but crimes, and given the tone of the letter, it's hard to characterizes Bush's letter as anything but an allegation that Terri Schiavo's husband murdered his wife. If anyone can give me an alternative rationale interpretation of what Bush is alleging, I'd be happy to hear it.

    But Bush's own letter (attempting to cite some basis for this scandalous criminal allegation) demonstrates how baseless his allegation is. The central theory of his allegation is that, according to the husband's prior statements over the past 15 years regarding the incident, Bush believes they indicate a 40-70 minute difference between when he discovered Terri's collapse and calling 911.

    But one of the sources Bush relies on is a deposition the husband made in the medical malpractice case regarding his wife's care prior to her collapse. It was the verdict award in this case that lead to Terri's husband and parents falling out and also provided the monetary support for her care until her death.

    Had the husband committed a crime that was the cause of her permanent vegetative state, then the medical provider would not have been found liable. Surely, such a defense, if at all plausible, would have been used by the medical provider.

    Bush apparently is hell-bent to appease those radical right-wingers who are still upset with him that he refused to disregard his oath of office, the constitutions of the U.S. and Florida, and the rule of law and instead use state agents under his authority to kidnap Terri Schiavo.

    How popular does a term-limited, lame duck Governor need to be with the extremist elements of his party that throwing whatever slime he can throw to a private citizen with little means to defend his reputation is politically justified?

    Thursday, June 16, 2005

    Modern Esquire's PSA: NGA's Medicaid Reform Plan

    Yesterday, the National Governors Association presented it's bipartisan proposal for Medicaid reform. Despite all the bluster and attention regarding Social Security this year, Social Security will be the longest "solvent" of the big three entitlement programs. Medicare and Medicaid have far more extensive problems with solvency. But since you cannot "solve" the problem by a trillion dollar privitization give-away to Wall Street, the Bush Administration have been absolutely silent on the issue of Medicare/Medicaid reform. To be fair, Congressional Democrats have been largely silent on this issue as well.

    (Attn: Strickland and Coleman people) Because it's largely managed by the States, Medicaid has been a particular budgetary fiscal nightmare for state government. But some Governors have gained tremendous national prestige for their plans to reform their states' Medicaid system. Besides being an statewide-elected Southern Democrat, Tennessee Gov. Phil Bredesen has been mentioned as a possible '08 Presidental Candidate for his handling of the state's TennCare program.

    While I don't mean to sound dismissive of the CoinGate scandal (especially since it may be criminal and shows a sorry state of Ohio's current government management), the difference between the self-dealing waste of tax dollars in the BWC pales in comparison to the overcharge Ohio has been paying for prescription drugs in Medicaid. Health care, not Taft's scandals, will be one of the major issues motivating voters in 2006 to one candidate over another (particularly in the primaries.) To present a bold plan on Medicaid could provide a candidate with a double whammy: it shows the candidate is concerned both with health care and fiscal conservatism. That's just my thoughts.

    Although only a measly 16-pages, I haven't yet had time to review this report, so I'll post my thoughts on the NGA plan presented by Virginia Governor Mark Warner and Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee to the Senate Finance Committee yesterday later. To read more about their testimony, click here. Also, please feel free to e-mail me or post your comments as well! I think this is the kind of issue we should be debating in the 2006 state elections.

    What did I say about Congressional polling? (or why it may be looking like 1994 after all)

    Remember in my last post I mentioned that the most important poll number is an incumbent's re-elect/someone else numbers. Granted, this poll has obvious bias issues, but the GOP response to this story makes me think they don't have much to dispute it. For those interested in the full story, click here.

    In short, a poll conducted in the district of seven Republican congressional districts shows that voters are ready for a change.

    "While Rep. Rahm Emanuel (Ill.) did not name the members, who are from districts 'around the country,' he said all polled at 43 percent or less when voters were asked if they would vote today to reelect their congressional representative, sources at the meeting told The Hill."

    Indeed, two of the districts polled a re-elect number in the low 30s. Those are polling numbers worthy of Gray Davis (ironic since one of the low 30s came from a California Republican district.)

    Normally, the obvious bias of a poll commission by the DCCC should be easy for a spinmaster to handle. But how's this lukewarm spin strike you?:

    "Carl Forti, a spokesman for the National Republican Congressional Committee, questioned the validity of the Democrats numbers. 'I'm not sure we have any that are polling at 43 percent or below,' he said."

    I'm not sure we have any that are polling that low? Does that mean you need to look in the back or ask the store manager first? If the GOP had polling saying otherwise, I believe you would have a much stronger defense. The article attempts to do the NRCC's work for them by pointing out that in the latest ABCNews/WashPo poll Congressional representatives had a 60% approval rating by their own constituents. But the article fails to note that the very same poll had Congressional re-elect numbers in the low 40s.

    Of course, one of those districts might have been California Republican "Duke" Cunningham who is embroiled in a growing scandal about a sweetheart real estate transaction with a defense contractor (and receiving other luxurious perks below costs.) Josh Marshall at Talking Points Memo has been covering that story well for the last few days and its worth a good read.

    Back in March, "Lord of Darkness" Robert Novak wrote about growing complaints about Sen. Elizabeth Dole's lackluster recruiting efforts on behalf of the NSCC. (Sorry, I can't seem to locate a full copy of the Novak column.) And while Democrats have largely cleared the primary field for their top-tier recruits, Republicans seem more interested in recruiting candidates to face other Republicans than taking on Democrats.

    So on general public mood and candidate recruitment, the Democrats hold an advantage over the Republicans at this point in the 2006 Congressional races. However, Republicans have a significant (and I believe, larger than usual) fundraising advantage in both the House and Senate. At this time, the campaign message is a dead-even draw: Republicans have a clear, pronounced platform that nobody likes, and Democrats have little of a message other than "I told you so."

    Unfortunately for Democrats, if they are going to attempt the difficult task of a democratic legislative coup in 2006, they need to neutralize the GOP $$ advantage and begin presenting an articulate governing philosophy to win over frustrated voters, something Democrats have failed to do in every congressional election since 1994.

    At best, we presently can expect some Democratic pick-ups, but neither chamber of Congress will switch hands.

    Of course, it's still the pre-season.

    Tuesday, June 07, 2005

    Why Bush regrets getting what he wished for

    I apologize for the lack of posting lately. Immediately after graduation, I started my Bar review classes, and haven't had much free time. I'm going to schedule time to post at least twice during the weekdays and once over the weekends until the end of July.

    Today, I want to discuss the latest ABCNews/WaPo poll. Although not one of the "gold" standards of poll (ala Gallup) and publicly discounted by conservatives given the news source, I have no doubts that privately the GOP has examined and is thoroughly concerned about the results of this latest poll. And if not, they would be wise to heed this call: "You should be."

    1) Under the "be careful what you wish for" category: Since 9/11, the President's greatest arsenal to placate Democrats and critics into submission has been his high approval rating on terrorism. Indeed, whenever the President faced trouble passing any initiative through Congress, he merely needed to link it to terrorism and it would then sail through Congress like a flying greased pig. In fact, Bush was largely re-elected solely on the issue of he was trusted more than Kerry on national security and terrorism issues.

    So it shouldn't surprise anyone that when faced with criticism over his plans to invade Iraq and the subsequent occupation that Bush would constantly try to link the invasion of Iraq to the war on terror. First we were told Saddam had WMD, then that he was a material support of Al Queda, and then that he may have participated in the planning or otherwise aided them in the 9/11 attacks. Then we were told that Saddam intended to develop WMD to sell to the Al Queda. When all of this was revealed to be untrue, Bush then insisted that promoting democracy in the Middle East is the means in which to defeat terrorism.

    Tragically and unfortunately, Bush gambit worked with Iraq as well. The more the American people viewed a link between Iraq and the War on Terror, the more popular the President's Iraq policy became. That's why during the 2004 elections, Democrats tried to carefully lay out the argument that there is a disconnect between the real war on terror and Iraq.

    Well, the President won the election and, unfortunately for him, the argument, too. Finally, a majority of Americans view the President's handling of Iraq with his handling of terrorism, but not in the way he intended: The President's once large net approval rating on terrorism has all but evaporated into a statistically insignificant 50-49% approval/disapproval split. The only plausible explanation for the sudden six-point drop in his terrorism approval rating is that Americans now connect the President's handling of terrorism in general with his handling of the insurgents in Iraq. This new connection is a millstone to Bush's neck.

    2/3 of Americans believe the Administration has no end-game plan for Iraq. 2/3 of Americans describe the country as "bogged" down in Iraq, and over half believe that Iraq has not contributed to the long-term safety of America. Americans are increasingly starting to negatively view America's progress on the war on terror based on its growing pessimism and concerns about the Administration's handling of Iraq.

    The good news for Bush? Uh, terrorism is still his strongest area of support. Everything else polled had a net negative rating. Including....

    2) Bush: Good ol' boy no mo'- Remember how infuriated you'd get when people said they were voting for Bush because they liked the man, even if they didn't agree with all of his policies? How many stories on focus groups and polls talked about Bush as a guy Americans could see themselves grillin' in the backyard and knockin' down some cold near-beers with? Well, that used to be President Bush's second greatest polling strength but no more: Bush now has a net negative favorability rating of 48-51%.

    Here's the part that will scare the crap out of any conservative (just for fun):
    Americans have a more favorable view of U.S. Sen. Hillary Clinton (51-46%.... more if you look at Gallup) than they do President Bush.

    3) Obstructionist Democrats?: Nearly two-thirds of Americans believe that President Bush and Congressional Republicans are not making sufficient progress addressing the nation's problems. How many Americans blame the obstructionist Democrats for that? 13%. 67% blame Bush and the GOP Congressional leadership. Why? Cause they're trying to address the wrong problems. Americans rank the top three issues as: the economy/jobs (30%), Iraq (24%), and health care (16%). Given that a vast majority of Americans disapprove of the President's handling of each of these issues, it's no secret why since around 59% of Americans feels that Bush and GOP are mainly concentrating on issues not important to Americans!


    4) It's starting to look (or not) like 1994 again: Generic Congressional ballot numbers are a horrible indicator of elections. For an incumbent, the most important polling number is the re-elect/someone new number because it, historically, is the most accurate predictor of election results. If a majority of your constituency is inclined to vote for your re-election (regardless of your challenger), then you really don't have much of an election to worry about.

    In the ABCNews/WaPo poll: only 40% of Americans were inclined to vote to re-elect their member of Congress, and 50% were inclined to vote for someone else. That's numbers that would get a campaign running scared in an election, let alone a year out. It's also very similar to the numbers the fall before the 1994 Congressional elections (It was 35% re-elect-56% not right before the 1994 Congressional election disaster).

    So as a trend, these number should give Congressional leaders pause. But Democrats shouldn't get too excited either. While Americans seemingly seem dissatisfied with GOP leadership, they have not been sold that change would be better. For the most part, Congressional Democrats and the Democratic Party as a whole is polling equal to or (statistically insignificant) slightly better than the Republicans. For Democrats to capitalize on these poll numbers, they need to sell a plan to America on the issues Americans feel are being neglected: the economy, Iraq, and health care. Democrats need to convince Americans they have a winnable plan to address these issues and can govern more effectively than the GOP.

    Of course, the GOP is not going to operate in a vacuum either. Despite the Administration's plague of tin-earitis, the GOP will be subjecting itself to a careful make-over before the next Congressional election. Expect to start seeing more Ah-nold, McCain, and Rudy again soon. It's that time again....