Friday, September 30, 2005

GAO Rules Bush Propaganda Illegal

Things just seem to get worse and worse for the Bush Administration. Public opinion of them is low, and most believe that their domestic agenda is virtually dead. Now they can’t even legally continue one of their methods of increasing support. The New York Times reports that Buying of News by Bush’s Aides Is Ruled Illegal:

Federal auditors said on Friday that the Bush administration violated the law by buying favorable news coverage of President Bush’s education policies, by making payments to the conservative commentator Armstrong Williams and by hiring a public relations company to analyze media perceptions of the Republican Party.

In a blistering report, the investigators, from the Government Accountability Office, said the administration had disseminated “covert propaganda” in the United States, in violation of a statutory ban.

Maybe they’ll take a look at Fox News next.

Inside The Bubble Says Little About Campaign

As we suspected from the initial clips, Inside the Bubble was more hype than anything which would provide any meaningful insight into the 2004 campaign Slate was not very impressed with the movie:

Unfortunately, Inside the Bubble, which premiered at the New York Television Festival Thursday, doesn’t do much to answer those questions. The movie overpromises the way sham politicians do. There are some amusing and entertaining moments, but there is little in it to explain why Kerry lost—no inside scoop from his senior advisers or much insight into the man himself. . .

Because the Steve Rosenbaum wasn’t given much access to the real strategists, he tries to make the subjects he gets sound more important than they are. When not doing that, the film tries to suggest that the confusion you’re watching represents the chaos afflicting the Kerry campaign. It doesn’t. It’s garden-variety chaos that hits all campaigns.

Early media coverage suggested that the film might be harmful to a future run by Kerry, but aspects might actually be helpful. Slate observes, “As for the candidate himself, we don’t see much of him that we haven’t seen already. But there are a few surprises. Kerry the candidate seems tantalizingly less stiff than we remember.” Kerry picks up a few points for some of the issues he discussed which might have seemed boring at the time but now indicate his foresight: “flood protection, coastal zone protection …” Just the kind of ideas which might be appealing to voters in 2008–and they might not even mind that he goofed off and interviewed himself off camera.

John Kerry’s Floor Statement on the Introduction of the Small Business Hurricane Relief and Reconstruction Act

The following is the text of John Kerry’s Floor Statement on the Introduction of the Small Business Hurricane Relief and Reconstruction Act from today, Friday, September 30, 2005.

Mr. KERRY: Mr. President, today I join with Senator Snowe, the chair of our Committee, and our colleagues, Senators Landrieu and Vitter, to introduce a bill to help small businesses that have been damaged, physically and economically, by one or both of the Hurricanes that have destroyed the Gulf region over the past four or five weeks.

Our colleagues should feel very comfortable voting for this bill. The need is undeniable, based not only on what we see on television everyday and read in the papers, but also based on the testimony of small businesses and governors at hearings held in the Senate, in our Committee last week, and this week before the Finance Committee. Further, 96 Senators voted for very similar legislation two weeks ago.

This bill is very similar to the amendment (S.A. 1695) that Senator Landrieu and I offered to the fiscal year 2006 appropriations bill for the Departments of Commerce, Justice, and Science, and that passed the Senate by a vote of 96-0 on September 15th as part of the compromise amendment (S.A. 1717) put I put forth with Senators Snowe, Landrieu, Vitter. We offered those amendments to the appropriations bill because relief for small businesses had not been provided for in the two emergency supplementals. Two bills, worth some $63 billion, and nothing designated for small businesses.

It is through the Small Business Administration that disaster loan assistance is available, not just for businesses, but for homeowners and renters, and it is through the Small Business Administration that the Federal government provides the full complement of assistance to the small businesses in our nation. The SBA is indispensable to the recovery of the Gulf region after Hurricane Katrina. If the Administration is not going to provide small business relief in the emergency spending bills it sends to Congress, this is absolutely appropriate.

We have got to get into law, and to fund, relief for small businesses before Senators go home for a week break in October. These folks have waited too long. We have got to get people back to work.

Since Hurricane Katrina hit, the Gulf has had the extreme misfortunate of being hit by Hurricane Rita. And this bill reflects the damage caused by going a bit further to take care of those small businesses too. It also incorporates provisions requested by the Administration. For example, at the request of the Administration, the bill authorizes the Small Business Administration to make economic injury disaster loans nationwide to any small business directly and adversely impacted by Hurricane Katrina or Hurricane Rita. The bill limits eligibility of economic injury disaster loans to those small businesses suffering economic losses because of the spikes in gasoline and natural gas and heating oil related to Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. That is consistent with all other provisions in this bill. We also increased the amount of funding for grants to the states from $400 million to $450 million, to reflect the increased damage and delays in recovery caused by Hurricane Rita. We also repeal some contracting provisions enacted as part of the second supplemental that were anti-small business and would have resulted in millions of contracting dollars lost for small businesses that should be getting federal contracts to rebuild the area. The small businesses don’t just need loans; they need work to get revenue flowing again and to hire again, creating local jobs.

Mr. President, I extend great thanks to my colleagues, Senators Snowe, Landrieu, and Vitter for their work on this bill. I think we have demonstrated to a weary public that we can work together, and I hope that our colleagues in the Senate, and in the House, and the President, will join us and vote to make this law, and to fund it.

Wading Through the River of Republican Corruption

Every day the river gets deeper, and I'm not talking about the Mississippi. It's the river of Republican corruption, that I am referring to -- and the river Denial that keeps some in the media still spouting GOP talking points.

Earlier this week Ron and I both pointed out a recent example of this from the Boston Herald as they leveled yet another baseless attack on John Kerry and took his words out of context. Our posts on the latest from the Boston Herald can be found here, here and here. has a must read post today, "The Media's Role In The Maligning Of John Kerry."

How telling about the state of our media that there are still Pre$$titutes willing to play the 'bash Kerry' game. So let's call a spade a spade: if Kerry were president today, America would be on the road to recovery, recovery of our dignity, recovery of our integrity, recovery of our reputation as the world's moral leader.

As we wade through a river of Republican corruption, and as the sham of "Bush the protector" drowns in the murky waters of Katrina, it would serve us well to remind ourselves how we got here, and to recognize the central role played by the media.

I'll take Presstitutes points a step or two further and suggest that when left-wing bloggers echo the talking points of the Pre$$titutes, they're not helping the situation at all, as I pointed out here. As the river of Republican corruption gets deeper daily, we need to get on board the unity train. It's one thing to disagree with our own leaders, but it's another to use GOP talking points when we do.

The golden opportunity is here for Democrats to band together and draw strength from the wake of the river of corruption. "We don’t have to agree on every little thing our Democratic leaders say or do, but standing behind them in unity can go a long way, at time when we need to do what they have done so well for so long, shore up our bases."

Kudos to for speaking up and catching on to what Ron and I have been saying here on The Democratic Daily.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

You enjoyed reading about Tom DeLay’s legal problems. Now you can wait for the movie from Mark Birnbaum Productions:

You enjoyed reading about Tom DeLay’s legal problems. Now you can wait for the movie from Mark Birnbaum Productions:

The Big Buy

Raymond Chandler meets Willie Nelson on the corner of Wall Street and Pennsylvania Avenue in The Big Buy, a Texas noir political detective story that chronicles what some are calling a “bloodless coup with corporate cash.” It follows maverick Austin DA Ronnie Earle’s investigation into what really happened when corporate money joined forces with relentless political ambitions to help swing the pivotal 2002 Texas elections, cementing Republican control from Austin to Washington D.C.

Sounds far more interesting than that other political movie we were talking about earlier in the week.

America’s Right Doomed by Incompetence


The Economist looks at "What's gone wrong for America's right." This conservative (but not neocon or supporter of the religious right) magazine doesn't like Bush's big government conservatism, but finds that the biggest problem is one of incompetence:
The Economist has always had all sorts of ideological disagreements with Mr Bush, but our main problem with his administration has increasingly become incompetence. Katrina now stands besides the shambles overseas in Iraq and Guantánamo Bay as supporting evidence. Mr Bush is a bold decision-maker, but he is also a delegator who too often picks the wrong people and seldom fires them. Both “Rummy” and “Brownie” (ie, Donald Rumsfeld, the defence secretary, and Michael Brown, the erstwhile Arabian-horse man whom Mr Bush belatedly removed from the Federal Emergency Management Agency) are symptoms of the same problem.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

"Forgive Me While I Tear My Hair Out"

In her blog post yesterday about John Kerry's speech on Monday in Boston, Arianna Huffington says, "Forgive me while I tear my hair out." Her witty comment is in reference to Kerry's comments about Iraq as quoted from the Boston Herald. As Ron pointed out earlier today, the Boston Herald took Kerry's comments out of context.

I must say that in reading Arianna's post, I had the same reaction, I wanted to tear my hair out. Not for what John Kerry may or may not have said but, for her wanton quoting of the Noise Machine, with no, that's right, no space given to the facts.
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Cindy Sheehan Meets with John Kerry reports that Cindy Sheehan has met with John Kerry...

Answers to Cindy's Questions

1. What noble cause? “This is an artsy question that is hard to answer. However I can tell you that a war based on lies is not noble, but a war based on bringing freedom to people is noble.”

2. How many more lives? “If we can not achieve the goal of bring freedom, I do not want to see any more lives lost in this war.”

3. How many lives are you personally willing to risk? “I will say the same thing. If this war will not bring freedom to the Iraqi people I am not willing to personally risk any lives.”

4. What are you doing to bring our troops home? “I believe that we are in a critical two month stage right now. The Iraqi people are supposed to have an election in December.”

Other comments made to Cindy during the meeting:

- He told Cindy “What you are doing is saving lives.”
- “I can not tell you how much I hate what he (Bush) has done.”
- “Rumsfeld is a disgrace.”
- “There are countries that will not become involved with Bush.”
- “What we are doing now has hurt the strength of our military.”

The "Snore Room"

The rightwing blogosphere is attempting to make a big deal about the documentary Inside the Bubble, a behind-the-scenes look at the Kerry campaign. After viewing the clips available online, I think the working title should be 'The Snore Room.' Beyond Kerry staffers and volunteers, I doubt anyone would want to watch the recycled footage of the sleep-deprived existence of a few members of Kerry's campaign staff.

We all remember the documentary on the Clinton campaign, The War Room. The War Room was popular because it starred James Carville, Paul Begala, and George Stephanopoulos. 'The Snore Room' stars mid level Kerry campaign staff, primarily advance team and logistical support staff. Insinuating "what went wrong" revolved around this select group of staff, is absurd. If this is Steve Rosenbaum best attempt at getting "inside the bubble," someone needs to burst his bubble.
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Tunnel Vision

This week we are seeing two more examples of political perception versus reality in comments in the blogosphere about John Kerry. We are seeing an excellent example of tunnel vision in the use of the Boston Herald’s recent story which takes Kerry’s views on Iraq out of context. It is interesting that the usual Kerry bashers are well aware of a single story in a newspaper long known for its biased reporting, but appear totally unaware of Kerry’s actual statements on the war. They appear totally unaware of the warnings against going to war in Kerry’s Senate floor speech, Georgetown speech, and other public statements. They have also forgotten Kerry’s call for regime change in Washington after Bush ignored Kerry’s advice and went to war.

Inside the Bubble is also an interesting litmus test. We know that if a movie unfavorable to Bush, or even to a previous losing candidate such as Bob Dole was coming out, the Republcans noise machine would be defending the Republican and attacking the film’s producers. Will liberal bloggers debunk the criticism of Kerry, or will the usual Kerry bashers see this as another chance to pile on? The tendency of many Democratic writers to spread such criticism of other Democrats is one reason the Republicans have been so successful.

DeLay May Face Indictment

Who will be indicted first? Will it be Karl Rove or Scooter Libby (Dick Cheney’s Chief of Staff) over Plamegate? Will it be Bill Frist for insider trading? Maybe it will be Tom DeLay according to the Austin American-Statesman:

U.S. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay’s leadership post is on the line today as a Travis County grand jury is expected to consider indicting DeLay on conspiracy charges, several lawyers familiar with the investigation said.

Broadening the investigation to include such conspiracy charges increases the chances of a DeLay indictment and ultimate conviction. Under House rules DeLay could keep his seat in Congress if indicted, but would have to step down as Majority Leader. The Republicans backed off on rules changes which would have allowed him to keep his post.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Bush Approval Falling Further in Red States

In August I noted Bush’s decreased approval when Survey USA looked state by state. The current numbers continue to look bad for Bush.

Disapproval of Bush compared to August has increased slightly from 60% to 61% in Ohio, with 37% approving in both polls. Bush’s approval dropped from 44% to only 39% in Florida. Disapproval increased in Virginia from 52% to 58%, with approval falling from 42% to 40%.

Currently Bush has an approval of over 50% in only ten states (Utah, Idaho, Mississippi, Nebraska, Wyoming, Texas, Louisiana, North Dakota, and Oklahoma). I bet that many people from Lousiana who would rank Bush unfavorably were either unavailable to pollsters or relocated out of the state.

Dowd: Bush Descended Into Slapstick

Maureen Doud reports that the “once disciplined and swaggering Bush administration has descended into slapstick” as she makes fun of both their suggestions for energy conservation, and of Karen Hughes:

Air Force One costs $83,200 to fill up and more than $6,000 per hour to fly. Then there’s the cost of helicopters and a 2006 Cadillac DTS limo that gets less than 22 miles per gallon.

Karen Hughes, the Bush nanny who knows nothing about the Muslim world and yet is charged with selling the U.S. to it, wasted even more fuel this week flying to Saudi Arabia to tell women covered from head to toe in black how much she likes driving even though they can’t.

She knows so little about the Middle East that she looked taken aback when some Saudi women told her that just because they could not vote or drive did not mean that they felt they were treated unfairly.

One thing Saudi women like even less than not having certain rights is to have hypocritical Americans patronize them.

Dowd provides several other examples to demonstrate her final line: ” W. doesn’t really need to worry about turning down the lights in the White House. The place is already totally in the dark.”

Reports on Kerry Campaign Film Exaggerates Damages

The latest attacks on John Kerry appear to be as lacking in substance as all the previous attacks. The buzz in the blogosphere this week comes from a report in the New York Daily News on an upcoming movie on the campaign. The Daily News claims the film “could end up being the silver bullet that kills Kerry’s presidential chances for 2008.” From what I’ve seen so far, I doubt this film will have any meaningful impact. Here’s among the worst that the Daily News reports from the movie:

It features, among other not-ready-for-prime-time moments, Clinton scowling and rolling her eyes over an apparent Kerry gaffe during a presidential debate; Kerry pretending to interview himself and babbling in Italian while waiting for a real interview to begin; Sen. Joe Biden (D-Del.) cursing at reporters during a campaign stop, and Kerry message guru Robert Shrum confidently declaring a few days before the 2004 election: “Zogby [a prominent pollster] just announced who’s gonna win. Us!”

None of this sounds very meaningful. The Kerry bashers in the Democratic blogosphere were just as confident that the polls predicted a Kerry victory (and if the momentum wasn’t stopped by Bin Laden’s pre-election statement they might have been correct). A candidate playing around before the start of an interview is hardly even worth mentioning. Perhaps the claim which appears most significant is that Hillary Clinton scowled in response to a “Kerry gaffe” in a debate. Now that I’ve had the opportunity to review this portion of the film I’ve found that there was no gaffe.

The Hillary scowl occurred as Kerry was noting that, “The president got $84 from a timber company that owns, and he’s counted as a small business. Dick Cheney’s counted as a small business. That’s how they do things. That’s just not right.” Bush denied any knowledge of owning a timber company, but demonstrated that John Kerry was right, reporting that “according to his 2003 financial disclosure form, Bush does own part interest in ‘LSTF, LLC’, a limited-liability company organized ‘for the purpose of the production of trees for commercial sales.’

So we have Hillary scowling following a true statement made by Kerry during the debates , hardly a gaffe, and several other trivial events. Hillary's scowl very well may have been in response to Bush's tree response rather than to Kerry's true accusation. Give me a video camera and access to a campaign, and I bet I could find hours of material which would make the same campaign appear either brilliant or incompetent, depending upon how the material was presented. Of course we could never do this with the Bush campaign as they would never dare allow such access by the media.

This is not to say I believe the Kerry campaign was perfect. There are things I would have done different, but there is also no guarantee they would have done any better if they did what I would have preferred. It also must be remembered that Kerry came far closer than most Democratic candidates in recent years, despite facing an incumbent during a war, and despite facing an unprecedented smear campaign. In considering the competence of the political campaigns, we cannot deny the considerable expertise of the Bush campaign in distorting the facts. It is a shame that such competence is not seen when they attempt to govern.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Evolution Provides Predictive Powers Lacked By Intelligent Design

The Washington Post reports on a suit by parents in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania to prevent the teaching of intelligent design as science. They argue (correctly) that intelligent design is not science, but a form of creationism, the teaching of which has been found by the Supreme Court to violate separation of church and state.

The Washington Post also has a lengthy discussion of the science of evolution, and the lack of a scientific basis for intelligent design. They review the ramifications of the recent study we mentioned here a few weeks ago on the mapping of chimpanzee DNA. While intelligent design cannot be studied by scientific experimentation, the mapping of chipmpanzee DNA allowed further tests which could either verify or refute the validity of evolution:

If Darwin was right, for example, then scientists should be able to perform a neat trick. Using a mathematical formula that emerges from evolutionary theory, they should be able to predict the number of harmful mutations in chimpanzee DNA by knowing the number of mutations in a different species’ DNA and the two animals’ population sizes.

“That’s a very specific prediction,” said Eric Lander, a geneticist at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard in Cambridge, Mass., and a leader in the chimp project.

Sure enough, when Lander and his colleagues tallied the harmful mutations in the chimp genome, the number fit perfectly into the range that evolutionary theory had predicted.

Their analysis was just the latest of many in such disparate fields as genetics, biochemistry, geology and paleontology that in recent years have added new credence to the central tenet of evolutionary theory: That a smidgeon of cells 3.5 billion years ago could — through mechanisms no more extraordinary than random mutation and natural selection — give rise to the astonishing tapestry of biological diversity that today thrives on Earth.

While this is just one of many examples of evolution being subject to experimentation to verify its predictions, intelligent design lacks any similar evidence of its validity.

Republicans Use Katrina to Promote Right Wing Agenda

The Republican Taliban continues to try to break down the separation of church and state. Last week we reported on the House approving hiring of workers based upon religion. Today the Washington Post reports on a plan for FEMA to reimburse religious groups for assistance they provided to Katrina and Rita survivors.

According to the Washington Post, “FEMA officials said it would mark the first time that the government has made large-scale payments to religious groups for helping to cope with a domestic natural disaster.” Civil liberties groups see this as both violation of the separation of church and state and as an act of pandering to the religious right to attempt to gain support for FEMA.

Just as after 9/11 the Bush Administration used the terrorist attacks for partisan gain and to promote pre-9/11 goals such as the invasion of Iraq, the Republicans are attempting to use the hurricanes to promote the right wing agenda. Fortunately this time a majority is seeing through their tactics and questioning their competence to govern.

John Kerry Addresses American Competitiveness

BOSTON -- In remarks today to business leaders at the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce, Senator John Kerry addressed America's ability to compete in the global economy. In his remarks, Senator Kerry emphasized that the current approach is only making the U.S. more beholden to countries like China and Saudi Arabia without giving American businesses any advantage in the global race to success. Kerry laid out a national strategy that offers Americans building blocks -- skills in science and math, affordable college education and a national research and development strategy -- while removing road blocks to competitiveness like soaring energy and high health care costs.

Senator Kerry’s remarks as prepared for delivery follow:

In the last weeks America has experienced the consequences of the failure to heed warning signs of impending or potential disaster. The nation has been painfully reminded of the price we pay - all of us - in lives and in dollars - for waiting too long to address critical challenges that are right before our eyes if we bother to look.

Sometimes these warning signs are so big and bright and alarming that they just can’t be ignored. I’ll never forget as a teenager standing in a field in October of 1957 watching the first man made spacecraft streak across the night sky. The conquest, of course, was Soviet - and while not everyone got to see that unmanned craft pass overhead at 18,000 miles per hour that night - before long every American knew the name Sputnik. We knew we weren’t competing hard enough. We knew we had been caught unprepared. And we knew that failure to maintain our supremacy in science and technology was not simply a blow to our pride and prosperity; it was a blow to our strength and security as a nation in a dangerous world.

Read the entire speech here -

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Pro-War Demonstration a Flop

Never let it be said we don’t report the activities of those who hold opposing viewpoints. Yesterday we reported on the anti-war demonstrations. It’s only fair that we now report that the supporters of the war were out to demonstrate in Washington, D.C. today. Four hundred turned out for the pro-war demonstration. That’s right–four hundred.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Frist Updated on Investments in "Blind Trust"

Every story on Bill Frist’s alleged insider trading seems to make it look worse and worse for Frist. Now AP reports that “Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., was updated several times about his investments in blind trusts during 2002, the last time two weeks before he publicly denied any knowledge of what was in the accounts, documents show.”

It might not be all bad for Bill Frist. Look how well Martha is doing after her prison time for insider trading.

Friday, September 23, 2005

Frist Insider Trader Investigation Widens

The investigations of Bill Frist for insider trading are appearing more serious per this report from Reuters. “A federal investigation into Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist’s sale of HCA Inc. stock widened on Friday when the largest U.S. hospital chain said federal prosecutors had subpoenaed the company for related documents.”

Thursday, September 22, 2005


Andrew Sullivan has a post entitled HOW DUMB IS ARMANDO? Measuring that is quite a task. The post is most notable for quoting a comment which sums up Daily Kos perfectly:

Have you ever read one ounce of analysis over at the LostKosKidzKomedyKlub? It’s all based on the theory that, if our side screams real loud, we’ll win the argument. And the site gets so many hits because it has a comments section the commenters tries to outscream each other.

House Approves Hiring Based Upon Religion

One more step towards undermining the separation of church and state: “The House voted Thursday to let Head Start centers consider religion when hiring workers, overshadowing its moves to strengthen the preschool program’s academics and finances.”

First Read on Kerry's Criticism of the War

First Read recognizes Kerry for being one of the few Democrats to be speaking out against the war (contrary to the claims of the Kerry bashers in the blogosphere):

The ease with which Bush rhetorically links Katrina, the WOT (war on terror) and Iraq to bolster public support stands in marked contrast with Democrats’ efforts to do the same in criticizing him. The focus on the GOP split over government spending on hurricane relief has temporarily obscured Democrats’ ongoing conundrum over Iraq. A few Democrats, like John Kerry, have tried to weave the war into a broader critique of Bush. But the louder and more harshly party lawmakers attack Bush on his response to Katrina, on gas prices, on ethics, and on alleged cronyism and incompetence, the more noticeable their collective silence on the war becomes.

Thomas Oliphant: Kerry’s Roads Not Taken

We've said it here many times, Kerry was right. While the right wing spin doctors try to paint a dark picture of John Kerry's speech on Monday, Thomas Oliphant reminds us of the roads not taken - Kerry's Roads Not Taken. Thomas Oliphant is right... Kerry "happens to be correct."

SUPPOSE WE had a president, with barely seven months in office, pushing Congress to confront the energy crisis and stop the insane importing of oil from the Middle East.

That was the road not taken before Katrina, remember?

Suppose we had a president who had challenged the lobbyist-run Congress long before Katrina produced gargantuan costs that cannot be paid honestly: His veto would block the extension of those juicy tax cuts for wealthy investors that expire in a few years in order to force a reestablishment of the best Social Security reform of all -- fiscal sanity.

That was another road not taken, remember?

And imagine a restoration of Bill Clinton's simple proposition that recovery from disasters, natural or terrorist, is too important to be left to incompetent political cronies, and is led by a guy who is delightfully ignorant of patronage politics.

Still another road not taken.

As John Kerry had the temerity to say this week in Rhode Island: ''Today more than ever, when the path taken last year and four years earlier takes us into a wilderness of missed opportunities, we need to keep defining the critical choices over and over, offering a direction not taken but still open in the future."


Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Bill Frist Suspected of Insider Trading

The New York Times looks at possible insider trading by Bill Frist, who sold his “stake in HCA, the giant hospital company that his family founded, as its shares reached a peak and began a steep slide.” They also report that “the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights of Santa Monica, Calif., said it sent a letter to the Securities and Exchange Commission asking for an investigation of the sale.”

New York Times Columnists on Bush and Kerry

Bob Herbert ties all the Bush problems into a matter of competence in writing about Voters’ Remorse on Bush:

Reality is caving in on a president who was held aloft for so long by a combination of ideological mumbo-jumbo, the public relations legerdemain of Karl Rove and the buoyant patriotism that followed the Sept. 11 attacks. The Bush people were never big on reality, so sooner or later they were bound to be blindsided by it.

Remember, there was already a war going on when Katrina came to call. I’ve always believed that war is a serious matter. But the president was on vacation. Dick Cheney was on vacation. And Condi Rice was here in New York taking in the sights and shopping for shoes. That Americans were fighting and dying on foreign soil was not enough to demand their full attention. They were busy having fun. So it’s no wonder it took a good long while before they noticed that a whole section of America had been wiped out in a calamity of biblical proportions.

What Americans are finally catching onto is the utter incompetence of this crowd. And if we didn’t know before, we’re learning now, in the harshest possible ways, that incompetence has bitter consequences. The body count of Americans killed in Iraq has now passed 1,900, with many more deaths to come. But there’s still no strategy, no plan. The White House hasn’t the slightest clue about what to do. So the dying will continue.

While Herbert notes that even many loyal Republicans are starting to question Bush, there are some who stick by him. David Brooks comments on Kerry’s attacks on Bush not by refuting any of the criticism but by complaining that Kerry attacks Bush too much. “Doesn’t this guy ever get bored? If Kerry ever makes an anti-Bush jab, he makes it again.” He puts Kerry in the camp of Democrats who will not (as he wishes) “snap back to Clintonite centrism after the polarizing Bush leaves town.”

Ironically, although he intended to attack Kerry, Brooks does us a service. He points out the degree to which Kerry has been attacking Bush and other conservatives, and how Kerry is sticking to principles rather than trying to move to the center. If only the Kerry-bashers among the Democratic bloggers also realized this.

Response to Kerry Bashing From The Democratic Daily

This post started as a reply to a comment at The Democratic Daily which repeated the usual Kerry bashing after we posted one of Kerry's recent statements. Earlier today I promoted it to a full blog post at The Democratic Daily. Even though it refers to a discussion in the comments there, the ideas apply to many of the attitudes in the blogosphere. As it pertains so strongly to Kerry I will repost it here also. In addition to the attacks on Kerry, the commenter complains that The Democratic Daily is an open forum and the moderators should not inject our opinions and take sides in the discussions. Following is my response:

This is not an open forum. This is a blog to present our views. It is our full intention to inject our opinions and take sides on issues.

Expressing differing opinions here is fine, but expect to hear a response if we disagree. Especially expect a response to weakly reasoned and factually incorrect comments such as your comments regarding Kerry above.

The party does not benefit by routinely trashing its last candidate. This is especially true when done based upon bogus claims such as those common in the blogosphere (such as that Kerry didn’t attack Bush, Kerry supported the war, or that Kerry conceded the election when he could have won).

The truth of the matter is that Kerry was one of the earliest Democrats to attack Bush and the war, while most Democrats were afraid to take on Bush in the post 9/11 era. For more on this, see my recent blog entry here.

Most of the trashing of Kerry is based upon the Dean campaign’s need to differentiate Dean from the other northeastern liberal who started out well ahead of Dean. Dean ran an initially successful smear campaign against Kerry (and hopefully can do the same against the Republican, this time more honestly as he has the facts on his side). Fortunately most Democrats ultimately saw through the campaign arguments and voted for Kerry over Dean in the primaries, but the old ideas continued in the blogosphere. Those who already had a distorted view of Kerry were subsequently open to all the nonsense arguments regarding Kerry’s concession.

The party would be much stronger if Democrats took advantage of the leadership of former candidates. Not only did Kerry strongly criticize Bush both before and during the 2004 election, he continued post-election. It has been John Kerry who has argued that we must stick to our liberal principles, while many other Democrats wanted to move to the center.

The Republicans are stronger due to waging such continuous campaigns. You never see Republicans attack their former candidates. In Europe, opposition parties are often successful by sticking with an opposition leader to allow him to gradually gain support and change the minds of those with earlier disagreements and misconceptions. Democrats appear doomed starting late with a new leader before each election. Such new candidates are successfully defined by the Republican noise machine as they are not yet well known, and then attacked by Democrats as well as Republicans should they lose.

Unless we break this cycle, we will have an endless number of Dukakis, Gore, and Kerry loses. There are not many Bill Clintons out there, and it is even questionable if a Bill Clinton could still win today. Republicans benefit from presenting their arguments for years, and having leaders in the spot light with the full support of the party. When the general election campaign comes around, the media only follows the horse race and everything else is left to sound bites. The Republicans can get by by just presenting their sound bites as people have heard their arguments for years, and the sound bite is enough for them to recall the rest.

After the election, John Kerry studied the successes of European opposition parties, and is attempting do what some of them have done to gradually overturn the ruling party. All Democrats benefit from this, regardless of whether John Kerry ultimately winds up the 2008 candidate. Whenever Kerry’s opposition to the Bush Administration receives criticism from Democrats as well as Republicans, we are just helping the Republicans remain in power.

John Kerry Opposes Roberts’ Nomination for Chief Justice

Breaking news: John Kerry Opposes Roberts’ Nomination for Chief Justice

Below is a statement by Senator John Kerry on the upcoming vote on Judge John Roberts to be Chief Justice of the United States:

“I can’t in good conscience vote to confirm Judge Roberts to a lifetime leading our third and co-equal branch of government when his confirmation hearings contained no genuine legal engagement, no real exchange of information, and no substantive discussion. The confirmation exercise has become little more than an empty shell. I cannot vote to confirm someone to lead the very branch of government responsible for ensuring equal opportunity and justice when he refuses to say where he stands on things as fundamental as how he would interpret our Constitution.

“The White House’s refusal to release documents presented a significant obstacle to getting the facts, but the biggest roadblock has been Judge Roberts himself. He has evaded serious and legitimate questions and forced the Senate to exercise its Constitutional responsibility of advice and consent virtually in the dark.

“What little we do know about Judge Roberts’ record gives me real concern. We need a Chief Justice who respects our Constitution and also considers the real-life implications of his decisions. Whether it’s voting rights, Title IX, affirmative action, the Geneva Conventions or choice, Judge Roberts has consistently worked to put such high legal hurdles in place that they are virtually impossible for even the most worthy cases to overcome. America deserves a Chief Justice who will ensure that every single one of us - man or woman, rich or poor, black or white - will be treated with dignity, respect and fairness under the law.”

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

John Kerry on ANWR: The Republican Party is Mortgaging America’s Future

Earlier today I posted two threads with photos from Arctic Refuge Action Day in Washington. The rally was hosted by the Wilderness Society and other conservation groups and was held on Capitol Hill. John Kerry was one of the featured speakers at the event. The photo threads can be found here and here.

Republicans want us to believe that drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge will be of benefit to the economy and reduce oil dependence. It's simply not true. What it is, is more of the same old, same old, Bush Corporate Cronyism. (Kerry talked about this briefly yesterday, in his speech at Brown University.)

Here is the text of John Kerry’s remarks today, as prepared for delivery:

I would like to start this afternoon by thanking all of you for making the journey to Washington and for having the dedication to come all the way to Congress with your message about the importance of protecting the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge from oil drilling -- a policy we should not be pursuing through backdoor efforts. In fact, we shouldn’t be doing this at all.

There’s been a lot said about the Arctic Refuge during this debate. We’ve heard that drilling in the Refuge can be done in an environmentally-friendly manner. We’ve heard that drilling in the Refuge will reduce our dependence on foreign oil. We’ve heard that drilling in the Refuge will bring gas prices down at the pump. And we’ve even heard that drilling in the Refuge belongs in the national budget because of the revenues from the lease sales.

Now I’m going to tell you why each one of these arguments is false.

By definition, an industrial zone and wilderness cannot occupy the same space. In 1960, the Eisenhower administration first recognized the extraordinary wilderness value of the area, and the Arctic Refuge was established to protect its unique wildlife and landscape. Building a massive oil field in the Refuge would clearly violate this fundamental purpose.

Drilling proponents claim they would open only 2,000 acres to the oil corporations, but in fact the entire 1.5 million acre “1002 area” would be opened to leasing and exploration.

Oil companies want you to think that whatever oil may be found in the Refuge is in one compact area. But, as with the North Slope oil fields west of the Arctic Refuge, development would sprawl over a very large area and stretch across the coastal plain.

According to the U.S. Geological Survey, potential oil under the coastal plain is not concentrated in one large reservoir, but is spread across the coastal plain in many small deposits. To produce oil from this vast area, networks of pipelines and roads will be built and will the habitat of the entire coastal plain.

It is true that new drilling technology is more efficient and less harmful to the environment, but its advantages have been exaggerated. Even new technology, like directional drilling, will do irrevocable damage to the Refuge. Permanent gravel roads and busy airports are still used for access, and production wells scattered across more than a million acres of coastal plain must be connected by pipelines. And the entire complex would produce more air pollution than the City of Washington.

No matter how well done, oil development has significant and lasting impacts on the environment. The industry itself has admitted as much. None other than BP has said, “We can’t develop fields and keep wilderness.”

And if the facts and the frank admission of an oil company isn’t enough, my colleagues should know that the National Academy of Sciences, the Department of Interior and many others have all made the same conclusion.


Dan Rather: “There is a Climate of Fear running Through Newsrooms”

Reuters covered Dan Rather speaking at the Fordham University School of Law in Manhattan, stating that, “Former CBS News anchor Dan Rather said Monday that there is a climate of fear running through newsrooms stronger than he has ever seen in his more than four-decade career.”

They also quote him as saying:

in the intervening years [since Watergate], politicians “of every persuasion” had gotten better at applying pressure on the conglomerates that own the broadcast networks. He called it a “new journalism order.”

He said this pressure — along with the “dumbed-down, tarted-up” coverage, the advent of 24-hour cable competition and the chase for ratings and demographics — has taken its toll on the news business. “All of this creates a bigger atmosphere of fear in newsrooms,” Rather said.

American Astronomical Society Statement Supporting Teaching of Evolution

AAS Statement on the Teaching of Evolution

Adopted 20 September 2005

The American Astronomical Society supports teaching evolution in our nation’s K-12 science classes. Evolution is a valid scientific theory for the origin of species that has been repeatedly tested and verified through observation, formulation of testable statements to explain those observations, and controlled experiments or additional observations to find out whether these ideas are right or wrong. A scientific theory is not speculation or a guess — scientific theories are unifying concepts that explain the physical universe.

Astronomical observations show that the Universe is many billions of years old (see the AAS publication, An Ancient Universe), that nuclear reactions in stars have produced the chemical elements over time, and recent observations show that gravity has led to the formation of many planets in our Galaxy. The early history of the solar system is being explored by astronomical observation and by direct visits to solar system objects. Fossils, radiological measurements, and changes in DNA trace the growth of the tree of life on Earth. The theory of evolution, like the theories of gravity, plate tectonics, and Big Bang cosmology, explains, unifies, and predicts natural phenomena. Scientific theories provide a proven framework for improving our understanding of the world.

In recent years, advocates of “Intelligent Design,” have proposed teaching “Intelligent Design” as a valid alternative theory for the history of life. Although scientists have vigorous discussions on interpretations for some aspects of evolution, there is widespread agreement on the power of natural selection to shape the emergence of new species. Even if there were no such agreement, “Intelligent Design” fails to meet the basic definition of a scientific idea: its proponents do not present testable hypotheses and do not provide evidence for their views that can be verified or duplicated by subsequent researchers.

Since “Intelligent Design” is not science, it does not belong in the science curriculum of the nation’s primary and secondary schools.

The AAS supports the positions taken by the National Academy of Sciences, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the National Science Teachers’ Association, the American Geophysical Union, the American Chemical Society, and the American Association of Physics Teachers on the teaching of evolution. The AAS also supports the National Science Education Standards: they emphasize the importance of scientific methods as well as articulating well-established scientific theories.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Triumph of the Puritans (GOP Style)

The War on Porn is “one of the top priorities” of Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales according to the Washington Post. Perhaps the Bush Administration thinks that if they keep trying they will find a war they can actually win. Many FBI agents are making fun of this:

“I guess this means we’ve won the war on terror,” said one exasperated FBI agent, speaking on the condition of anonymity because poking fun at headquarters is not regarded as career-enhancing. “We must not need any more resources for espionage.”

They shouldn’t be surprised. This comes from an administration which was reelected by convincing enough people that keeping two guys or girls from marrying each other is a higher priority than providing affordable health care, reducing the amount we owe to China and Japan, or working to reduce outsourcing of jobs.

FEC Sues Club for Growth

The FEC has filed suit against the conservative Club for Growth to force them to comply with limits on political contributions. The New York Times reports that, "The case stems from a complaint filed against the group by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee in connection with a television advertisement broadcast last year."

Stem Cells Repair Damage in Spinal Cord Injury

More evidence of the benefits of stem cell research:

Injections of human stem cells seem to directly repair some of the damage caused by spinal cord injury, according to research that helped partially paralyzed mice walk again.
The experiment, reported Monday, isn’t the first to show that stem cells offer tantalizing hope for spinal cord injury — other scientists have helped mice recover, too.

But the new work went an extra step, suggesting the connections that the stem cells form to help bridge the damaged spinal cord are key to recovery.

Surprisingly, they didn’t just form new nerve cells. They also formed cells that create the biological insulation that nerve fibers need to communicate. A number of neurological diseases, such as multiple sclerosis, involve loss of that insulation, called myelin.

This Administration Is Done For

The conservativeAmerican Spectator reports that “this Administration is done for.” The atmosphere sure has changed since last November, when the Republicans felt like they had the “political capital” to pursue their policies (despite the opposition of a majority of voters to virtually all specific GOP policy positions). From The American Spectator:

Publicly, the White House will tell you that it intends to push ahead with two of its big legislative issues throughout the fall: making permanent the first term tax cuts and Social Security reform.

Even privately, with the political and policy debacle that the White House created with its Clintonian response to Hurricane Katrina, policy and political types at 1600 Pennsylvania insist what’s left of an agenda is still viable.

But at this stage of the game, barring some imaginative political moves that bear some resemblance to the Bush Administration circa 2002, Republicans on Capitol Hill and even some longtime Bush team members in various Cabinet level departments say this Administration is done for.

“You run down the list of things we thought we could accomplish and you have to wonder what we thought we were thinking,” says a Bush Administration member who joined on in 2001. “You get the impression that we’re more than listless. We’re sunk.”

Too pessimistic? Maybe not. Rumors are flying through various departments of longtime senior Bush loyalists looking to jump, but with few opportunities in the private sector to make the jump look like anything more than desperation. Almost daily, complaints from Cabinet level Departments come in to the White House about lack of communication coordination on even basic policy matters.

“What happened was that some of the best people who were working in the Administration during the first term, but who weren’t necessarily Bush campaign members or weren’t particularly close to the White House, jumped when they saw opportunities being filled by under-qualified but more politically connected people,” says a current Administration senior staffer in a Cabinet department. “In this department we lost three quarters of the people who should have been encouraged to stay, and most of them left simply because they had received no indication they would be considered for better or different opportunities. And many of these folks would have stayed.”

Election Reforms Recommended by Commission

The private Commission on Federal Election Reform, a 21-member bipartisan panel led by Jimmy Carter and James Baker, is issuing its recommendations. Recommendations include having elections run by nonpartisan officials. This seem like a rather obvious reform, considering how in 2000 Florida Secretary of State Katerine Harris was c0-chair of Bush’s Florida campaign and in 2004 Ohio Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell was co-chair of Bush’s Ohio campaign.

Another needed reform which was recommended was to maintain a paper record of the vote on computerized voting machines. They recommended changing to four regional presidential primaries, after the Iowa caucuses and the New Hampshire primary, to reduce the influence of states with early primaries. The commission has also made recommendations for reforms regarding voter registration with states being responsible for the accuracy of the lists.

John Kerry: Katrina Stripped Away Any Image of Competence and Exposed To All The True Heart and Nature of This Administration

John Kerry is delivering a major speech at Brown University in Rhode Island today. We’ve received an advance copy of the speech, which will be emailed to members of the community today, as well.

Kerry notes in his speech that although Bush has taken “responsibility” for the lack of response to Katrina, he needs to take the next step “by admitting one or two of the countless mistakes in conceiving, “selling”, planning and executing their war of choice in Iraq.”

“Katrina stripped away any image of competence and exposed to all the true heart and nature of this administration,” Kerry says. It’s “our job — to turn this moment from a frenzied expression of guilt into a national reversal of direction,” he reminds us.

Senator John Kerry’s Speech at Brown University
Remarks As Prepared for Delivery

Providence, RI - Thank you for your invitation to be here. It’s rare for me to speak at a university like Brown. Usually I don’t speak at a football factory. I want to personally thank those of you who generously lent your efforts to my campaign last year. No one showed more passion than the thousands of students from across the country who knocked on doors, wore out shoes, endured desert heat and arctic cold and probably damaged their GPA’s to get out the vote. You did everything, except move to Ohio.

I also want to thank you for what the Brown community has done to help and comfort the many victims of Hurricane Katrina. This horrifying disaster has shown Americans at their best — and their government at its worst.

And that’s what I’ve come to talk with you about today. The incompetence of Katrina’s response is not reserved to a hurricane. There’s an enormous gap between Americans’ daily expectations and government’s daily performance. And the gap is growing between the enduring strength of the American people — their values, their spirit, their imagination, their ingenuity, and their willingness to serve and sacrifice — and the shocking weakness of the American government in contending with our country’s urgent challenges. On the Gulf Coast during the last two weeks, the depth and breadth of that gap has been exposed for all to see and we have to address it now before it is obscured again by hurricane force spin and deception.

Katrina stripped away any image of competence and exposed to all the true heart and nature of this administration. The truth is that for four and a half years, real life choices have been replaced by ideological agenda, substance replaced by spin, governance second place always to politics. Yes, they can run a good campaign — I can attest to that — but America needs more than a campaign. If 12 year-old Boy Scouts can be prepared, Americans have a right to expect the same from their 59 year-old President of the United States.


Sunday, September 18, 2005

Fooled Like Charlie Brown

Bob Herbert also discusses Katrina and race in his Monday column. (I’m waiting for some bloggers to protest that on the first day of paid viewing of columnists, both are writing about the same thing.)

Herbert starts out by observing, “The president is Lucy, and he’s holding a football. We’re Charlie Brown.”

The major focus of the column is the lack of credibility of the Bush Administration, including his speeches on Katrina and his speeches justifying the Iraq war. Herbert concludes with:

You can believe that he’s suddenly worried about poor people if you want to. What is more likely is that his reference to racism and poverty was just another opportunistic Karl Rove moment, never to be acted upon.

Charlie Brown’s sister, Sally, once asked how often someone could be fooled with the same trick. She answered her own question: “Pretty often, huh?”

Krugman on Race and the GOP

Paul Krugman looks at race, Katrina, and the GOP today. Here’s a couple selections from the column:

By three to one, African-Americans believe that federal aid took so long to arrive in New Orleans in part because the city was poor and black. By an equally large margin, whites disagree. . .

But in a larger sense, the administration’s lethally inept response to Hurricane Katrina had a lot to do with race. For race is the biggest reason the United States, uniquely among advanced countries, is ruled by a political movement that is hostile to the idea of helping citizens in need.

Race, after all, was central to the emergence of a Republican majority: essentially, the South switched sides after the passage of the Civil Rights Act. Today, states that had slavery in 1860 are much more likely to vote Republican than states that didn’t.

Krugman ties this into modern Republican politics:

Under George W. Bush - who, like Mr. Reagan, isn’t personally racist but relies on the support of racists - the anti-government right has reached a new pinnacle of power. And the incompetent response to Katrina was the direct result of his political philosophy. When an administration doesn’t believe in an agency’s mission, the agency quickly loses its ability to perform that mission.

A Brief Explanation of Evolution

The New Scientist looks at the world’s ten biggest ideas, including a short essay by Richard Dawkins on Evolution:

The world is divided into things that look designed (like birds and airliners) and things that don’t (rocks and mountains). Things that look designed are divided into those that really are designed (submarines and tin openers) and those that aren’t (sharks and hedgehogs). The diagnostic of things that look (or are) designed is that their parts are assembled in ways that are statistically improbable in a functional direction. They do something well: for instance, fly.

Darwinian natural selection can produce an uncanny illusion of design. An engineer would be hard put to decide whether a bird or a plane was the more aerodynamically elegant.

So powerful is the illusion of design, it took humanity until the mid-19th century to realise that it is an illusion. In 1859, Charles Darwin announced one of the greatest ideas ever to occur to a human mind: cumulative evolution by natural selection. Living complexity is indeed orders of magnitude too improbable to have come about by chance. But only if we assume that all the luck has to come in one fell swoop. When cascades of small chance steps accumulate, you can reach prodigious heights of adaptive complexity. That cumulative build-up is evolution. Its guiding force is natural selection.

Every living creature has ancestors, but only a fraction have descendants. All inherit the genes of an unbroken sequence of successful ancestors, none of whom died young and none of whom failed to reproduce. Genes that program embryos to develop into adults who can successfully reproduce automatically survive in the gene pool, at the expense of genes that fail. This is natural selection at the gene level, and we notice its consequences at the organism level. There has to be an ultimate source of new genetic variation, and it is mutation. Copies of newly mutated genes are reshuffled through the gene pool by sexual reproduction, and selection removes them from the pool in a way that is non-random.

What makes for success in the business of life varies from species to species. Some swim, some walk, some fly, some climb, some root themselves into the soil and tilt green solar panels toward the sun. All this diversity stems from successive branchings, starting from a single bacterium-like ancestor, which lived between 3 and 4 billion years ago. Each branching event is called a speciation: a breeding population splits into two, and they go their separately evolving ways. Among sexually reproducing species, speciation is said to have occurred when the two gene pools have separated so far that they can no longer interbreed. Speciation begins by accident. When separation has reached the stage where there is no interbreeding even without a geographical barrier, we have the origin of a new species.

Natural selection is quintessentially non-random, yet it is lamentably often miscalled random. This one mistake underlies much of the sceptical backlash against evolution. Chance cannot explain life. Design is as bad an explanation as chance because it raises bigger questions than it answers. Evolution by natural selection is the only workable theory ever proposed that is capable of explaining life, and it does so brilliantly.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Bush Support Down to 42% in Virginia

In case anyone thinks that Bush’s fall in approvl is primarily due to increased opposition in the blue states, here’s an interesting result from the Mason-Dixon Poll. Bush’s approval in Virginia has fallen from 58% last October to 42%.

Military Assistance for Katrina Victims Delayed By Bush Adminstration

Knight Ridder provides more evidence that (while others might have also messed up) the major blame for the inadequate government resonse to Katrina clearly falls on the Bush administration including the Homeland Security secretary. Ultimately when there is such a major failing within the Executive Branch, the buck stops with the President who failed to respond adequately to the crisis.

Two days after Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast, President Bush went on national television to announce a massive federal rescue and relief effort.

But orders to move didn’t reach key active military units for another three days.

Once they received them, it took just eight hours for 3,600 troops from the 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg, N.C., to be on the ground in Louisiana and Mississippi with vital search-and-rescue helicopters. Another 2,500 soon followed from the 1st Cavalry Division at Fort Hood, Texas.

“If the 1st Cav and 82nd Airborne had gotten there on time, I think we would have saved some lives,” said Gen. Julius Becton Jr., who was the director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency under President Reagan from 1985 to 1989. “We recognized we had to get people out, and they had helicopters to do that.”

Further in the story:

Several emergency response experts, however, questioned whether Bush and Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff understood how much authority they had to tap all the resources of the federal government - including those of the Department of Defense.

“To say I’ve suddenly discovered the military needs to be involved is like saying wheels should be round instead of square,” said Michael Greenberger, a law professor and the director of the University of Maryland’s Center for Health and Homeland Security.

There are also further comments in the story as to how the Bush administration failed to use the authority it had, and needed to use, to send in the military for relief in accordance with the section on responding to catastrophic events of the National Response Plan. The story concludes with:

“They’re trying to say that greater federal authority would have made a difference,” said George Haddow, a former FEMA deputy chief of staff and the co-author of a textbook on emergency management. “The reality is that the feds are the ones that screwed up in the first place. It’s not about authority. It’s about leadership. … They’ve got all the authority already.”

Friday, September 16, 2005

Bush’s Potemkin Villiage in New Orleans

From Brian Williams’ Daily Nightly blog:

I am duty-bound to report the talk of the New Orleans warehouse district last night: there was rejoicing (well, there would have been without the curfew, but the few people I saw on the streets were excited) when the power came back on for blocks on end. Kevin Tibbles was positively jubilant on the live update edition of Nightly News that we fed to the West Coast. The mini-mart, long ago cleaned out by looters, was nonetheless bathed in light, including the empty, roped-off gas pumps. The motorcade route through the district was partially lit no more than 30 minutes before POTUS drove through. And yet last night, no more than an hour after the President departed, the lights went out. The entire area was plunged into total darkness again, to audible groans. It’s enough to make some of the folks here who witnessed it… jump to certain conclusions.

Bottom line is that the facts on the ground are what matter. I don’t care if you liked or disliked Bush’s speech. Even a great speech this long afterwards does not make up for the lack of preparedness at the time. No mere words are sufficient to erase the suffering of those living in the areas affected by Katrina.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

John Kerry Responds to President Bush’s Speech to the Nation: "Leadership isn’t a speech or a toll-free number"

Bush offered a lackluster speech tonight and platitudes galore...

Below is a statement from Senator John Kerry on President Bush's address tonight on the devastation of Hurricane Katrina:

"Leadership isn't a speech or a toll-free number. Leadership is getting the job done. No American doubts that New Orleans will rise again, they doubt the competence and commitment of this Administration. Weeks after Katrina, Americans want an end to politics-as-usual that leaves them dangerously and unforgivably unprepared. Americans want to know that their government will be there when it counts with leadership that keeps them safe, not speeches in the aftermath to explain away the inexcusable."

A note on John Kerry's statement and the difference between Kerry and Bush in "getting the job done":

Today, the Senate passed a bill that will aid Small Businesses affected by Hurricane Katrina. That bill was authored by John Kerry.

Bush spoke of aiding Small Business tonight in his speech, as though it was something he would initiate, but the fact is that John Kerry has been working on aid to Small Businesses affected by Katrina for well over a week. Kerry's first announcement of his legislation came on September 9. The bill was passed in the Senate with bi-partisan support and some modifications earlier today.

Perhaps, Bush needs a DVD prepared of the proceedings on the Senate floor today. I would suggest that the video of Kerry's Floor Speech on his amendment, from yesterday, be added to that video as well, so that the President can get up to speed on how real leaders work.

Condi Flip Flops on Polls

Now even Condi’s become a flip flopper. Last night on O’Reilly Factor:

O’REILLY: How do you assess President Bush’s falling poll numbers? He’s at the lowest level of his presidency now. Why do you think that’s happening?
RICE: Well, Bill, I’m not one who can assess poll numbers in American politics.

Think Progress compares this to her comments when Bush was doing well in the polls:

RICE: Look, the president — first of all, I think one has to look at polls. And he was at astronomically high levels. But see, when you go out there and you talk to Americans, they trust this president. They know that this president is doing everything that he can on the war on terror.

Back to September 10 For Bush

It looks more and more like we have returned to September 10, 2001 in our perceptions of George Bush. There’s more bad poll numbers , first from the Wall Street Journal/NBC News Poll:

The president’s overall approval has fallen to a record-low for Mr. Bush of 40%, reflecting a shrunken core of base supporters. That promises to have repercussions for his domestic agenda on issues like Social Security, taxes and immigration, and leaves Mr. Bush with a steeper challenge on his most significant second-term priority: using American power and resources to transform Iraq and the broader Middle East.

A plurality of Americans has favored reducing troop levels in Iraq for most of the year. Now, 55% favor bringing soldiers home, while just 36% back Mr. Bush’s position that current levels should be maintained to help secure peace and stability.

From The New York Times/CBS Poll:

For the first time, just half of Americans approve of Mr. Bush’s handling of terrorism, which has been his most consistent strength since he scored 90 percent approval ratings in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks. More than 6 in 10 now say that he does not share their priorities for the country, 10 percentage points worse than on the eve of his re-election last fall, while barely half say he has strong qualities of leadership, about the same as said so at the early low-ebb of his presidency in the summer of 2001.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

George Bush In Command

Dick Cheney's Vacation Cut Short

Not only did Bush have to make sacrifices, coming back from vacation early, but Dick Cheney also had a rough week. From US News and World Report:

When asked by a reporter why he did not return from his vacation earlier than last Thursday, three days after the hurricane hit, the vice president replied: “I came back four days early.”

Yes, some people had it really rough the last couple of weeks.

Bush To Condi: Needs Bathroom Break

Bush's note to Condi at UN (from Reuters).

Misleading Answers From Roberts

The Roberts hearings have raised more questions than they have answered. Roberts is certainly intelligent and skillful at evading questions.

On the opening day Roberts compared himself to an umpire whose job is to interpret the rules rather than make them. From what I’ve seen of many current Republicans, my question is which rule book he is playing out of. Is he playing from the real Constitution of the United States or that imaginary one which many conservatives follow? In this imaginary Constitution which some conservatives adhere to there is no separation of church and state. In this imaginary Constitution there are few limits on the government’s power to intervene in the private lives of individuals, but the government has no regulatory powers over big business.

The tone of the hearings could be seen in the response Biden received when he observed that, “His answers are misleading with all due respect.” Specter responded, “Wait a minute! Wait a minute! They may be misleading but they are his answers.”

Misleading answers appear to be all we are to receive. I was pleased to see Roberts express the belief that Row v. Wade is established law and to see his expressions of reluctance to overturn it. I’m just not sure this has meaning since he declined to answer Biden’s question as to how he would respond to a state passed a law which banned abortion.

Roberts expressed such questionable support for preserving abortion rights and during other questioning agreed in principle that there are some limits to executive power, although I’m not confident that he would ever take action against an over-reaching Republican government. I have one question I would like to ask John Roberts: If the White House were to hire death squads to kill abortion providers or those who seek abortions, would you consider this to be either in violation of Row v. Wade or an abuse of executive power?

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Must see cartoon

John Kerry: The First Democrat To Stand Up To George Bush

Is there some reason some people either do not hear John Kerry or forget what he says?

Checking on the links to The Democratic Daily, one comes from a site which acts shocked that Kerry is speaking out against Bush. It’s not only today. Every time Kerry speaks out–and it happens quite frequently– there’s a round of comments along the lines that its about time Kerry did so. Such comments typically claim Kerry has grown a backbone (or other anatomical parts). Soon afterwards, on another day, Kerry will speak out against Bush again. Then there is inevitably another round claiming this is the first time.

It’s far from the first time. John Kerry was speaking out against Bush before very many were doing so, just as he spoke out against Richard Nixon on Vietnam and Ronald Reagan on Iran Contra. For example, it was John Kerry who called for regime change in the United States when Bush went into Iraq.

Check out the title of this New York Times article from 2002 for more evidence of who was among the first to criticize Bush (emphasis mine):

By Attacking Bush, Kerry Sets Himself Apart
By James Dao
New York Times | Politics
Wednesday, 31 July, 2002

WASHINGTON, July 30 — Secretary of State Colin L. Powell was cruising through a Senate hearing on arms control, charming his Democratic adversaries and deftly parrying their questions, when Senator John Kerry, a Democrat from Massachusetts, took the microphone.

In the aggressive style he honed as a prosecutor two decades ago, Mr. Kerry unleashed a barrage of criticism against President Bush’s nuclear arms treaty with Russia, saying it “neutered” previous pacts and included a “huge contradiction.” Twice, he interrupted a clearly irritated Mr. Powell in midsentence.

For many Democrats, the war on terrorism has made that kind of frontal assault on Bush foreign policy seem risky, if not politically suicidal. But not for Mr. Kerry. A decorated Vietnam veteran and potential presidential candidate, he has lustily attacked the administration on policies like trans-Atlantic relations, Pentagon spending, Middle East negotiations and even Mr. Bush’s greatest triumph, Afghanistan.

“I think there were serious errors,” Mr. Kerry said in an interview, referring to the American ground campaign in Afghanistan that he contends probably allowed Osama bin Laden to slip into Pakistan. He made the point again on Monday as he joined other potential presidential candidates in speaking to centrist Democrats in New York.

The full text was originally here, and is also available here.

Congressional Democrats Force Votes on PlameGate Coverup

Congressional Democrats are attempting to force House members to vote and go on record as to whether they support Karl Rove’s outing of Valerie Plame in four House committee meetings. Some of these committee meetings are available by webcast, with sites listed in this press release from Congressman Conyers:

For Immediate Release:
September 13, 2005

4 House Committees to Vote on Demanding CIA Leak Documents from Cabinet Departments

Watch and Listen Live on the Internet

Over the next week, 4 House Committees are expected to vote on resolutions requesting information on the outing of Valerie Plame Wilson in apparent retaliation for Ambassador Wilson’s truth-telling about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. Most of these markups will be broadcast live on the Internet. The following is a listing of the expected markup times and Internet sites for webcasting:

1. House Judiciary Committee, Wednesday, September 14, 10 AM, ET, 2141 Rayburn Building. Simulcast at:

2. House International Relations Committee, Wednesday: 10:30 AM, ET, Simulcast at

3. House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence: Thursday, September 15, 1 PM ET. closed to public

4. House Armed Services Committee, Time TBA, Tuesday, September 20, Simulcast at

Conyers stated: “This resolution is necessary because the Bush administration refuses to police itself in the midst of criminal and ethical misconduct. In July 2003, over two years ago, a Bush administration official committed one of the most serious breaches of national security in recent history by disclosing to the press the identity of an undercover CIA operative. Even worse, it likely was done for political reasons, to retaliate against the operative’s husband for successfully challenging the President’s claim that Iraq had sought nuclear materials in Africa.

“The purpose of this resolution is to get to the bottom of what happened and why the Justice Department slow-walked the investigation at the beginning. We know that, despite urgent pleas from the CIA for a criminal investigation into the leaker, the Justice Department and White House dragged their feet. Then-Attorney General Ashcroft insisted on private briefings on the status despite his long-standing ties to Karl Rove, a person involved in the investigation.

“It is time for Congress to exercise its duty to oversee the Executive Branch.”

Kerry to offer Kerry-Landrieu Small Business Hurricane Katrina Disaster Relief Amendment Today in the Senate

John Kerry is expected to offer the Kerry-Landrieu Small Business Hurricane Katrina Disaster Relief Amendment today on the Senate Floor today. C-Span 2 is broadcasting the Senate session.

Below is an advance copy of the summary of the amendment:

Kerry-Landrieu Small Business Hurricane Katrina Disaster Relief Amendment

Deferred Payments on SBA Disaster Loans: Disaster loan borrowers (homeowners or businesses) would have a two-year period after receiving a disaster loan before they would need to begin making interest and principal payments on the loan — as we did for 9-11 victims.

Refinancing of Existing Disaster Loans and Business Debt: Many small businesses in the Hurricane Katrina disaster zone are paying off existing disaster loans or other business debt. This provision would allow these debts to be refinanced under the disaster loan program to help businesses consolidate and reduce debt with low-interest loans.


John Kerry on President Bush Accepting Responsibility for the Federal Government’s Failures in Responding to Hurricane Katrina

Earlier today Bush said, "I take responsibility" for failures in dealing with Hurricane Katrina. Bush plans to address the nation Thursday evening from Louisiana. I suppose we'll hear more spin then.

Below is a statement from Senator John Kerry on President Bush accepting responsibility for the federal government’s failures in responding to Hurricane Katrina.

“This Administration still hasn’t figured out the difference between spin and leadership. The President has done the obvious, only after it was clear he couldn’t get away with the inexcusable. President Bush has accepted Michael Brown’s resignation and admitted the buck stops in the Oval Office. But there are a lot of survivors who want to know whether this will change anything. Does the White House even understand the problem? The Administration had four years after September 11th to get this right, and they were caught unforgivably unprepared to deal with a major emergency here at home. Do they now understand that our government’s efforts and resources have been going to the wrong priorities? What are they doing to make sure this never happens again other than talking tough talk?”

Monday, September 12, 2005

Kerry Receives Champion of Small Business Development Award

BOSTON, Sept. 12 /U.S. Newswire/ — During the Association of Small Business Development Center’s (ASBDC) historic 25-year silver anniversary celebration this year, U.S. Senator John F. Kerry (D-Mass.) was among the inaugural recipients of the ASBDC’s new Champion of Small Business Development awards.

“Small business is the engine of the American economy and the Champion of Small Business Development award recognizes individuals and organizations making significant contributions to small business development,” said Donald Wilson, president and CEO, ASBDC headquartered in Washington, D.C. “We congratulate Senator Kerry on his selection and look forward to his continued contributions to small business development.”

Kerry Heads South With Relief Supplies

Kerry heads South with planeload of hurricane relief supplies

BOSTON --Sen. John Kerry flew south Monday with a planeload of supplies for Hurricane Katrina victims largely donated by Massachusetts businesses.

On board the UPS Boeing 757 were 5,000 bottles of baby formula donated by Children's Hospital, 5,000 pairs of sneakers from New Balance and an array of cleaning supplies from the New England Shelter for Homeless Veterans.

In addition to supplying the plane, flight crew and fuel, UPS also donated trucks and drivers to transport the goods to Logan International Airport and then to disperse them to Baton Rogue and Lafayette, La. The list of requested supplies was given to Kerry by Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La.

"Everything that any of us can do is so welcome, and it provides just a little bit of help at an extraordinary time," Kerry, D-Mass., said before he flew to Louisiana to help distribute the supplies and meet with local government officials.

The 2004 Democratic presidential nominee refused to directly criticize the relief effort mounted by the Bush administration, but he recalled talking about issues of coastal flooding at an event he held in Louisiana during the campaign.

He also recalled warning that the nation is not being sufficiently prepared for a terrorist attack, especially one targeting nuclear or chemical plants.

"I think it is not a new criticism that the Homeland Security Department is not funded properly and they haven't had the kind of leadership necessary to prepare," Kerry said. He said Michael Brown, head of the Federal Emergency Management agency, should be fired, not reassigned as he was last week.

The senator suggested organizing regional hurricane relief efforts, so supplies and relief workers are pre-positioned near where a storm is forecast to hit and then moved into the location immediately after it passes.

"This is not rocket science," Kerry said.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Kerry, Lawmakers: U.S. Isn't Prepared for Next Attack

The Lowell Sun has rarely been known to turn tail on the conservatives but they certainly did a bit of an about face today with this article, giving creedence to MA and New England Democrats -- Mass. lawmakers: U.S. isn't prepared for next attack.

WASHINGTON -- Grim images of unattended corpses and stranded hurricane victims illustrate shocking deficiencies in the nation's homeland-security systems designed four years ago to prevent and respond to the next 9/11, lawmakers said this week.

Ominous doubt on Capitol Hill about the government's ability to minimize the loss of life in the event of another major terrorist attack was widespread this week, a sharp contrast to the abundant political unity immediately following the nation-changing al Qaeda attacks of 2001.

“They clearly are not prepared,” Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., told The Sun, referring to the Department of Homeland Security's readiness for another attack.

The Lowell Sun notes that "Despite more than $100 billion spent since 9/11 to improve domestic protection by folding 22 federal agencies in the Homeland Security Department, New England lawmakers widely criticized the department's funding as vastly inadequate."

Kerry, when asked how much more money is needed, simply said “billions.”

“There's a huge quantity of unmet needs, which we've categorized year after year: port security, tunnels, trains, chemical plants, nuclear plants. Just a long list,” Kerry said, adding that homeland security investments have been “diverted to huge tax cuts and Iraq.” The White House said funding is adequate.

Those who paid attention during the election cycle will note that Kerry's list of unmet needs were needs he discussed over and over again during the election cycle and since... Read the entire article here.

The Case Against Bush on Katrina

While some conservatives have had enough of Bush, many right wing blogs, as expected, are already trying to revise the facts surrounding Katrina to deny any fault on Bush’s fault. With Bush’s approval ratings dropping into the 30’s, and even fewer approving of Bush’s response to Katrina, the usual right wing spin is not working. The Bush Administration is totally ineffective at governing, and has survived based upon finding enemies to attack. Unfortunately for Bush, it doesn’t work to say he will hunt down Katrina dead or alive, or that Mother Nature hates us for our freedom.

Lacking a clear enemy as with 9/11, the Bush Administration is trying to shift the blame to local officials. Maybe they also share some of the blame, but this does not exonerate Bush for his multiple failings. There are claims that Bush could not have offered assistance earlier as he was forced to wait until aide was requested, ignoring the complaints from local officials that their initial requests for assistance received an insufficient response. Ultimately, regardless of whether others share blame, the buck stops with the President.

We’ve already had multiple posts on the failings of the Bush Administration, and these have been discussed frequently even in the mainstream media which gave Bush a pass for his previous failings on 9/11 and (until recently) Iraq. With so many errors discussed, it might be helpful to quickly summarize the facts which demonstrate that the results would likely have been different under a more competent President:

As already mentioned, the Bush Administration failed to respond to initial requests for assistance from local officials.

Bush had reduced funding for flood relief by over 40%.

Bush appointed Republican political operatives to the top positions in FEMA who had no experience in disaster relief.

The National Guard’s response was limited by having many members bogged down in Iraq. The lack of necessary equipment remaining in the United States appears to have been an even more serious problem.

Condeleza Rice was on a shopping trip at the onset of the disaster, delaying coordination of supply offers from foreign countries. Even after her return, foreign countries continued to have difficulty getting supplies into the country, with many believing that the Bush Administration was reluctant to accept foreign assistance which might make them look weak.

Another accusation which still requires further investigation is that Bush delayed allowing some supplies into New Orleans on the day of his visit, in order to provide better photo ops of Bush pretending to be arriving to save the day. Such questions demonstrate why we need an independent investigation, and not one under Republican or White House control.

The Bush Administration’s denial of the problem of global warming may have also contributed to the problem. While global warming is unlikely to have been the cause of the hurricane, the warmer waters likely did increase its strength and may have increased the damage caused by Katrina. This is another issue which will require further study, but such study is made more difficult with an administration which has been hostile to science if scientists’ findings conflict with their political goals.

For more information, including references for the statements above, see the Hurricane Katrina category at The Democratic Daily or at the Kerry Reference Library.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Kerry bashes Bush at Corzine rally

Kerry bashes Bush at Corzine rally

Sunday, September 11, 2005
Star-Ledger Staff

Saying it bordered on “criminal negligence,” U.S. Sen. John Kerry blasted the Bush administration’s response to Hurricane Katrina yesterday and urged New Jersey voters to express their own dissatisfaction by electing Democrat Jon Corzine governor.

Kerry made his remarks during a boisterous campaign rally for Corzine at a union hall in Paramus, part of a seven-stop tour of the state by the former presidential nominee to boost Democrats in the November elections.

The Massachusetts senator, who outpolled Bush by 7 percentage points in New Jersey in his failed 2004 presidential campaign, said a Corzine victory would be a rejection of Bush’s handling of issues ranging from Katrina to the war in Iraq. He said the federal response to the hurricane would have been “profoundly” better under him.

“Make them hear what America needs to hear,” Kerry said to loud applause from hundreds of union workers as Corzine stood by his side.

“This is not just a race for New Jersey. People all across the country are going to read the tea leaves. People all across the country are going to listen to your voices as you express them when you go to the polls,” he said. “This is a time for our country to touch its soul again, and you can do that at the ballot box.”

Kerry’s visit came as a new Star-Ledger/Eagleton-Rutgers Poll showed the president’s job-approval rating has plummeted to an all-time low among New Jersey voters, with just 35 percent approving of his performance. In addition, only one in five surveyed said they are “very confident” the federal government could respond effectively should disaster strike here.

The senator’s visit marked the most high-profile and pointed effort yet in the New Jersey Democrats’ strategy of linking Corzine’s rival, Republican Doug Forrester, to national Republicans. New Jersey and Virginia are the only two states in the nation with governor’s races this year.

Sherry Sylvester, Forrester’s communications director, criticized Corzine for campaigning with a “big taxer” like Kerry. She said Bush’s low ratings in New Jersey would not hurt Forrester, who spent yesterday campaigning at street fairs and block parties in South Jersey.

“Doug is an independent voice who has been quite outspoken about the issues he agrees with the president on and the issues he disagrees with the president on,” she said. “This election is about property taxes and reform. … It’s not about President Bush or John Kerry.”

Asked if Forrester wanted Bush to campaign for him, Sylvester said, “Republicans from across the country are welcome” to stump for the GOP nominee.

Vice President Dick Cheney and Karl Rove, the president’s chief political strategist, have joined Forrester at fundraisers for state Republicans this year. Laura Bush was scheduled for another event this week, but the White House postponed that event because the first lady is devoting her efforts to raising money for hurricane victims.

Corzine told reporters it was fair to link Bush to Forrester, who raised $100,000 to help re-elect the president and used Bush’s image in his campaign literature during the GOP primary for governor.

“The philosophical view that my opponent takes with respect to a lot of issues is absolutely consistent with the Bush philosophy,” Corzine said.

Kerry, who has not ruled out another run for the presidency, said his visit to New Jersey had nothing to do with laying groundwork for a 2008 campaign and was instead an effort to help “strengthen the Democratic party.” His schedule yesterday also included events in Morristown and Edison, and two fundraisers for New Jersey Democrats at the Jersey Shore.

“I’ve thought about whether or not it might be possible,” he said of running for president again, “but it’s way too early to be caught up in or even serious about that now.”