Daily Kos
Political analysis and other daily rants on the state of the nation

Archives: June 2002

Saturday | June 08, 2002
Bush's downward spiral

Two polls released yesterday confirm that Bush's sky-high popularity has a short shelf life. I had argued that barring any new terrorist attack, Bush would continue to drop 2-3 points a month before stabilizing in the high 50s. However, the "trifecta" of Enron investigations, 9-11 investigations, and the Halliburton-influenced stock market collapse last week together helped chip seven points off Bush's approval ratings in one week.

Gallup has Bush's approval ratings at 70 percent. Republicans still approve of Bush at a clip of 96 percent, but Democrats and Independents are abandoning the president in droves. However, even that 96 percent from Republicans is a soft number, given the electoral beating Bush's handpicked candidates have suffered in recent Republican primary elections.

Everyone's favorite fair and unbiased source of news has Bush's favorability rating at 69 percent, down eight points from a week ago. What's especially telling about Fox's poll is the question: "How confident are you in the United State's ability to handle the problem of terrorism?". Only 54 percent of respondents said they were "absolutely confident" or "pretty confident" the US would win. Those numbers have to be terrifying to a presidency built entirely on the War on Terror.

The more the Bush Administration shrugs its shoulders at problems confronting the nation ("the US will get hit with another terrorist attack", "Colorado will become a desert thanks to global warming," "people losing their life pensions and jobs because of corporate greed is the beauty of capitalism," etc.), the more Bush's poll numbers will bleed.

And fair or not (and it really isn't fair), it's easy to contrast the Clinton years with the Bush years. Peace and prosperity versus perpetual war, recession, corporate excesses and greed, constant fear of terrorist attacks, massive defecits and ballooning debts. And Karen Hughes has left the building. Bush is in trouble.

    | 09:47 AM | Link | Comments (0) | Email this post

From Media Whores Online:

Plummets 7 points in one week!
Now stands at 4 points lower than President Clinton's the day after "impeachment"

    | 09:11 AM | Link | Comments (0) | Email this post

WOT is a quagmire

I find it amusing that last fall, as the US was gearing up its campaign against the Taliban and Al Queda, the media establishment was tripping all over itself trying to claim the War on Terror had become a quagmire. It hadn't. Indeed, it's amazing what the Clinton military was able to accomplish in such a short period of time and against a foe so remote from any established US airbases.

However, now that the war has become a quagmire, no one is talking about it.

The US and its allies now face hundreds of Al Queda cells, disgruntled Taliban, petty warlords, and hostile terrain and weather. Despite boastful claims that the Taliban and Al Queda had been routed, it turns out they were just scattered all over Afghanistan and Pakistan. The US and Brits mount massive military offensives and net nothing more than a "weapons cache". God knows there are enough weapons in that country to arm every man, woman, and child ten times over. The Afghan operation is looking more and more like an occupation, which will only further inflame local passions against the Westerners on its soil.

Furthermore, the administration claims that the US is just as vulnerable as ever to another massive terrorist attack, betraying assertions that Al Queda was routed. And while the US couldn't shut up about Bin Laden post 9-11, that name is now verboten within the Bush Administration. Indeed, recent news reports show a determined effort to completely shift public attention away from Bin Laden. Smacks to me as an attempt to divert attention from the US's complete failure to apprehend him.

All the while, the US is committing troops to the Philipines, Georgia (former Soviet republic, not the peach state), and Colombia. And while US casualties have been light, lives aren't the only way to measure a quagmire. It can be measured by the expense of maintaining large number of forces deployed all over the globe, by the hit on morale of our forces in the field, by the emnity breeding overseas at our military adventurism, by the malaise hanging over our country as people grow weary of war talk, by the utter and complete lack of palpable military victories to rally the nation and lift spirits, and by the increasing body count of innocent civilians caught in the crossfire or killed as a result of "regrettable accidents".

    | 09:09 AM | Link | Comments (0) | Email this post

MA Democrats sic lawyers on Romney

This is a surprise: the Massachusetts Democratic Party has filed a legal challenge to Mitt Romney's candidacy. I would have expected the state's Dems to be more subtle than this. Instead, the challenge smacks of desperation. I would have rather they at least wait a while and seen how the latest revelations affected Romney's standing in the polls. Romney's tortured explanations and outright lies could have easily damaged the candidate. Instead, he will probably garner sympathy.

The Democrats' action is especially surpirsing considering that state law isn't clear on whether they will prevail or not. MA has historically defined "residency" rather loosely. And the state's newspapers have penned editorials urging a liberal interpretation of Romney's residency status. In the best of circumstances, the Dems chances of success are iffy.

If Romney is knocked off on this "technicality", they might as well hand the keys to the governor's mansion to the eventual Democratic nominee. But at what price? A tainted victory a-la Pres. Bush?

    | 01:32 AM | Link | Comments (0) | Email this post

Friday | June 07, 2002
A look at vulnerable Dem Senate seats

Republicans claim confidence that they can retake the Senate in the Fall. However, barring any unforseen disasters, it's hard to see how this could happen.

The three legitimately vulnerable Democratic seats are Missouri, South Dakota, and Minnesotta. Republicans want to add Iowa and Georgia to the mix, but that's nothing but wishful thinking. The Republicans face tough challenges in Arkansas, New Hampshire, Oregon, Colorado, Maine, and yes, even Texas.

Iowa: The GOP claims Iowa is in play, but this week's GOP primary has made nominee Ganske "damaged goods" in the eyes of many analysts. Indeed, two major lessons can be taken from the primary: 1) Ganske faces strong dissatisfaction amongst Iowa's conservative Republicans, and 2) Pres. Bush has no cotails amongst the "party base" (religious conservatives) in Iowa. Bush had his fingerprints all over Ganske, yet that support did not translate into a decisive victory for Ganske. Democratic Sen. Harkin has a 15-point lead in the latest polls. While this race may tighting, it won't be as competitive as Republicans hope.

Georgia: There hasn't been any polling in this race for the last four months. The last poll, done for Democratic Sen. Cleland back in February, gave Cleland a 14-point lead over GOP challenger Chambliss. I'm not sure why Republicans think this race is competitive (probably Bush's strong showing in GA in 2000), but I haven't seen anything to see this as anything more than a "likely" Cleland victory.

As for Missouri, South Dakota, and Minnesotta, anything I might say has already been said better by MyDD. In short, Sen. Johnson in South Dakota is the most endangered Democrat in the Senate, down 46-42 in the latest poll. Sen. Carnahan (up 50-44 in the latest poll) is a bit better off, but still vulnerable. Wellstone, already facing a strong challenge (up only 42-40), now faces the wildcard of a Green Party candidacy. The Greens may have played a stronger role in Wellstone's downfall, but the candidate they fielded is sort of a joke. More on the MN race as new developments play out.

I'll take a look at some of the endangered Republicans soon. Again, MyDD offers great analysis on the races. I'll simply add whatever I can to his analysis.

    | 10:03 AM | Link | Comments (0) | Email this post

Romney admits he lied about MA residency

Well, well. Republican Mitt Romney finally admitted why he wouldn't release his income tax forms. Turns out the Massachusetts gubernatorial hopeful outright lied just days ago when he claimed he was always a MA resident. In fact, he filed as a part-year resident in 1999, and as a non-resident in 2000.

This is a major problem for the front-runner, since MA law requires governors to have MA resident for the 7 continuous years prior to the election. In short, it doesn't look like he can stay in the race.

Romney was fully exposed when he refused to release his tax returns two days ago, something all other candidates had done, even with the financial data redacted. Romney's campaign staffer told the Boston Globe that Romney had filed as a MA resident, but that they were going to have to take the spokesperson's "word for it". Talk about loss of credibility.

The MA Democratic Party says it's 50-50 whether they will challenge Romney's candidacy. Doing so might make the Dems look afraid and petty. It seems Romney is doing a fine job of digging himself a hole with his lies and obfuscations. The Dems should either let the status quo stand (making a political issue of Romney's candidacy, not legal), or have someone unaffiliated with the Democratic Party make the challenge.

    | 09:35 AM | Link | Comments (0) | Email this post

Thursday | June 06, 2002
Upgrading site

As you can see, I have been busy today updating the look of the site. I was originally most interested in getting my content up, and making sure I had the energy and time to keep it updated. Having succeeded with step #1, I set out to actually make the site look nice. IMHO, I think I succeeded. Regular updates will resume Friday.

Also, my archives aren't working, nor is the "link" in this post's footer. That is a problem with my blogging software that is currently being fixed (supposedly).

    | 11:17 PM | Link | Comments (0) | Email this post

Wednesday | June 05, 2002
Romney's legitimacy in MA guv campaign questioned

The Massachusetts gubernatorial campaign is getting interesting. Republican Mit Romney, he of Salt Lake City Olympics fame, has had the edge in Bay State polls the past few months. However, his Utah tax records state he is a resident of Utah, not MA. MA law requires candidates to have been residents of the state for the seven continuous years preceding the election.

That's not so much a problem, since Massachusetts law interprets "residency" loosely. Indeed, he can claim residency by simply saying he intended to return.

What is interesting is the issue of Romney's 2001 MA tax return. He has refused to release that return, unlike every other candidate in the race. It was previously assumed he did not want to reveal financial issues. However, this residency issue now casts new light on Romney's refusals. You see, the return requires you to select between Resident, Non-Resident, or Part-Year Resident. Is that what he is afraid to release? Further adding fuel to the theory: Romney refused to release a redacted copy of the report to the Boston Globe showing only the residency question.

If nothing else, this controversy should knock Romney off message, forcing him to defend his residency at every turn of the campaign.

    | 09:46 AM | Link | Comments (0) | Email this post

Tuesday | June 04, 2002
Historic Latino-Latino NM guv campaign on tap?

Primary voters in several states head to the polls today. There is one race of particular interest to me: the GOP gubernatorial primary in New Mexico. The winner between State Rep. John Sanchez and Lt.Gov. Walter Bradley will earn the right to get crushed by former US rep, UN ambassador, and energy secretary Bill Richardson.

The GOP is salivating over a Sanchez victory, as it desperately wants to appear Latino-friendly not only in NM, but in the rest of the country. If Bradley wins, the Republicans will field an all-Anglo ticket in the only state in the union that is currently majority-Hispanic. If Sanchez wins, expect him to become a national rising star, as Republicans love to trot out their minorities every chance they get to show how "inclusive" they are.

And Sanchez would be a great prop in Bush's efforts to woo Latino voters.

Richardson is Mexican-American, and has a stellar reputation with Latinos nationwide. Indeed, he was mentioned once or twice as a potential veep candidate for Gore before the Wen Ho Lee fiasco tarred Richardson's reputation. He would have been the perfect trailblazer for a Latino on a national ticket -- he has an Anglo name and is light skinned. Very unthreatening. As is, assuming he wins, a Governor Richardson will be a clear force to be reckoned with in national political circles for the next decade to come.

    | 11:02 PM | Link | Comments (0) | Email this post

Monday | June 03, 2002
Cheney's mismanagement of Halliburton being exposed

The stock market is plunging on news that Alcoa's CEO is under investigation for tax fraud. Investors are starting to realize that CEOs and their accounting firms have been cooking their books for a while, and the market is taking a beating as a result. One of those crooked CEOs appears to be none other than our good Veep Dick Cheney. His mismanagement of Halliburton looks to go way past $100 million in improperly reporter revenues.

Yup, cooking up the books with $100 million is pretty bad, and is the source of a newly opened SEC investigation. But, what may REALLY get Cheney in trouble is his acquisition, as Halliburton CEO, of Dresser Industries.

Dresser Industries, a company with strong Bush family ties, was bailed out from a sea of asbestos-related tort claims when Cheney's Halliburton acquired the company. As a result, Cheney saddled Halliburton with billions of dollars in potential tort claims and essentially drove its stock price to the ground. Oh, and he also fired 10,000 employees after the acquisition of Dresser. Funny how he claimed during his debate with Lieberman that "''I've been out in the private sector building a business, hiring people, creating jobs.''

These revelations all but ensure that Cheney will face a shareholder's lawsuit and be forced to testify in public. And as in the Enron case, expect the press to trot out some of those 10,000 people who lost their jobs, contrasting it with the $18.5 million windfall Cheney received when he left the company. This is the Bush Administration's "compassionate conservatism": layoffs, stock market crashes, perpetual war, massive deficits, and, oh yeah, tax cuts for the rich.

    | 12:37 PM | Link | Comments (0) | Email this post

Bush's history speech

This is the end result of Bush's disastrous trip to Europe. From Germany's The Daily News, the headline reads: "Bush's Historic Speech." He is an international joke. (AP Photo)

    | 08:04 AM | Link | Comments (0) | Email this post

Sunday | June 02, 2002
Halliburton could land Cheney in court

Speaking of delicious ironies, here's another entry for that file. It looks like Clinton v. Jones might haunt the Republicans. You remember Clinton, right? That's the Supreme Court decision that forced Pres. Clinton to testify under oath and in public in Paula Jones' sexual harrassment case against him.

Well, now we learn that Veep Cheney's Halliburton was engaged in financial shenanigans, improperly reporting over $100 million in profits while he was the company's CEO. All under the watchful eye of Arthur Andersen.

Halliburton's stock price has plummeted over the last year, and took another dive on this latest news. As is wont to happen in these cases, shareholders get together and sue the crap out of the company's officers. And if Halliburton investors follow the rule, it looks like Cheney will have to testify in open court, under oath.

    | 10:01 PM | Link | Comments (0) | Email this post

Dems chances in Nov. better than pundits admit

I don't think I have read a more flawed political analysis of the 2002 elections than this piece by the SF Chronicle's bureau chief. He argues that the GOP is poised for gains in November. Below is a point by point rebuttal of his arguments:

Republican governors preside over six of the seven largest states (California is the exception) and have just drawn new legislative boundaries that will last for the rest of the decade.
The seven largest states are California, Texas, New York, Florida, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Illiniois. It's true that only California has a Democratic governnor, but redistring efforts in those states haven't been the GOP landslide that was expected (other than in PA). In large part, the author makes the amateurish mistake of assuming that the governor has final say over redistricting efforts. In reality, redistricting is a process pitting all three branches of state government with oversight from the US Justice Department and the federal courts.

But aside from that, it is uncertain why the author attaches such significance to the redistricting efforts of the biggest states. What matters is the overall effects of redistricting, and on this count, the GOP only has a two-seat advantage, with another 6 districts competitive for both parties.

President Bush, even as his numbers fall back to earth, remains the most popular president of modern times. The top drawing mavericks on the fund- raising circuit -- former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani and U.S. Sen. John McCain -- are both on the Republican team.
Democrats had attained parity with Republicans in soft money donations -- now banned by the McCain-Feingold campaign finance reform law (unless the courts decide otherwise). Republicans have the edge on hard money donations, true, but Democrats can counter with stronger grass roots support from unions. In any case, Republicans have always massively outspent their Democrat counterparts. Indeed, Bush spent $66 million more than Gore ($186 million to Gore's $120 million), and still managed to lose the popular vote. Truth is, Republicans can only remain competitive by buying elections. In a battle of messages, the Democrats win hands down.

As for the president's popularity, it's been dropping at a pace of 2-3 points a month. The latest 9-11 revelations, as well as Enron's resurgance, can only chip Bush's lead at a faster clip. Finally, Bush's popularity was at, what, 176 percent in November 2001, less than two months after 9-11. Yet the Democrats staged a near-sweep of races in that off-year election, including the two gubernatorial contests in Virginia and NJ (both previously held by Republicans). The Dems captured over a dozen mayorships from the GOP in some of the nation's largest cities (including LA, San Antonio and El Paso), as well as two state legislatures (NJ and WA). The Dems did not lose a single office they controlled. Indeed, the only race of national import Republicans were able to win was the NYC mayor's office. Then there was the embarrassing loss of Bush's handpicked gubernatorial candiate in California, Richard Riordian. It is clear that Bush's popularity gives no traction to other candidates.

The field of Democrats lining up to challenge Bush in 2004 appears so unlikely to prevail that the Washington Monthly and the New Republic both published essays this month on why McCain ought to switch parties and become the Democratic nominee.
This statement clearly ignores recent political history. Bush the Elder had a commanding lead in the polls two years prior to his reelection battle. GHWB seemed so unbeatable that pundits annointed him his second term, pointing to the lackluster field of Democratic hopefuls (none hailing from the Dems "A" list). We all know what Clinton was able to accomplish.

But aside from that, the Democrat field is shaping up to be a who's who of the best Democrats have to offer. Lieberman remains popular (if mistrusted by Democrat activists), NC Sen. John Edward is the second coming of Bill Clinton, Senate Majority Leader Daschle is solid, so much so that intense GOP efforts to demonize him have failed miserably (unlike Dem efforts against Newt Gingrich), MA Sen. John Kerry is a Vietnam War hero and marquee name in Democratic Party circles. Heck, even VT Gov. Dean is an effective campaigner and powerful voice for the party's left wing. As for McCain, he's evolved into a true RINO (Republican in name only). A McCain party switch would inflict a grevious wound on the GOP.

Political handicappers expect the GOP to retain, if not expand, its House majority, defying a historical trend dating back to the Civil War in which the president's party in all but two elections has lost seats in the House and Senate in nonpresidential election years.
This is perhaps the craziest of all statements in this SF Chronicle piece. As this Business Week article notes, early Republican confidence is starting to erode. The latest Gallup poll shows that on a generic congressional ballot, voters prefer Democrats to Republicans 50-43 percent. Democrats also maintain huge leads in domestic issues such as health care. Republicans hold strong leads on foreign affairs and national security. Again, the latest 9-11 revelations, as well as the fatalistic "we're going to get hit again, and there's nothing we can do about it" warnings, can only damange the GOP on those categories.
The Democrats only need six pickups to retake control of the House. I'm predicting 12 house pickups by the Dems, as well as three Senate seats. The Democrats are going to massacre Republicans in governorships.
More Americans identify themselves as Republicans than Democrats, albeit by a tiny margin, for the first time in polling history.
This poll was released months ago (January, I believe). As the latest version of the same poll shows, Democrats are reestablishing their historical lead over Republicans. The brief assension of the GOP was based entirely on 9-11. As the administration's handling of the crisis takes a beating, so will their poll numbers.

    | 08:54 PM | Link | Comments (0) | Email this post

Pandering to big steel could be costly

Delicious irony. The Wall Street Journal is reporting that Bush's decision to increase steel tariffs is having unintended benefits:

"Less than three months after the Bush administration suggested its stiff new tariffs on steel imports would have only a limited impact on prices, the levies are sending waves of pain through America's manufacturing sector -- including steep price increases, supply shortages and layoff threats."

"'The Bush administration just assumed that people could eat this -- that it would be no big deal,' says Charles Blum, a consultant who advises U.S. middlemen who buy and sell steel domestically. 'But it has become a big deal very fast..."

"The tariff decision unleashed a barrage of withering international criticism and reprisal threats, but it now appears that President Bush also may pay a domestic political price. Anger is spreading across the Industrial Belt as manufacturers complain that the president's bid to help one industry is hurting hundreds of companies that employ far more workers."

And Bush will face more pain. The European Union is on the verge of placing retaliatory tariffs on American goods from politically sensitive states, including such products as Florida orange juice. Those tariffs will place an unwanted spotlight on Bush's anti-trade, politically transparent moves.

    | 11:47 AM | Link | Comments (0) | Email this post