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

Archives: June 2002

Friday | June 14, 2002
Graduates protesting Bush threatened with arrest

This is scary. Graduating students at Ohio State were threatened with arrest and expulsion if a planned mass protest of Bush (giving the commencement address) took place. This account is from a student who was led out of the graduation hall after participating in the protest. (The Secret Service ordered her to leave or face arrest for 'disorderly conduct'.) This is truly sickening...

    | 07:10 PM | Link | Comments (0) | Email this post

MyDD has posted a good analysis of the Rove/Mehlman PowerPoint presentation.

Most interesting is the conclusion that Rove's analysis assumes a Gore/Edwards presidential ticket in 2004: Rove has CT likely leaning toward Bush (wishful thinking, even with Lieberman off the ticket), while the two strong GOP states of NC and TN listed as tossups.

However, if Rove is indeed predicting an Edwards candidacy, he's going to have to place a lot more of the South in the 'toss-up' category.

    | 12:51 PM | Link | Comments (0) | Email this post

Rove's electoral analysis exposed

The White House is in full damage-control mode after its 'confidential' analysis of the 2002 and 2004 elections ended up in the hands of a Democratic staffer. The PowerPoint presentation, stored on a diskette, was found in a park by the staffer, who then made sure it got wide dissemination. (The link points to a .pdf file.)

There is enough material in that presentation to blog for a week. However, two items that immediately caught my eye. The report claims that

  • "[There is] no evidence that [the] economy has affected the President's rating"; and
  • "Americans optimistic about economic future."
That might've been the case late last year, or even earlier this year. But the economy is not in good shape, and the threat of perpetual war, growing deficits, ballooning debt, and steady stream of corporate scandals is effectively killing any early recovery. Indeed, thanks to Bush's minor league handling of the economy, the stock market is back to post 9-11 levels (9-27, to be exact). The consumer sentiment index has also fallen sharply, giving investors new worries. Especially since consumer spending has almost single handedly (along with home sales) propped up the economy. One economist called the consumer sentiment index report "awful." Another said, "Consumers now expect the slowdown to result in significantly less favorable economic conditions during the year ahead."

So much for Rove and co.'s consumer optimism. Much of the presentation's rosier projections assume an improving economy. The fact that the opposite is happening can only mean more problems for Bush and his party.

    | 08:02 AM | Link | Comments (0) | Email this post

Thursday | June 13, 2002
Why we won't invade Iraq this summer

An article in Slate argues that the US won't invade Iraq this summer because NBC suits (Nuclear, Biological, Chemical) are too hot for the summer. Having served in the Army during the Gulf War (though my unit didn't deploy), I am well acquainted with the NBC suit. Simply put, I couldn't stand to wear it more than ten minutes at a time, and that was in the much milder German summer. The NBC suit is in desperate need of upgrading.

But that's not the reason we won't invade this summer. Modern warfighting tacticts dictate a prolonged air campaign before the insertion of any ground troops. Thus, the US could launch its air assault in the summer, have it last through fall, and invade in early winter.

No, the reason the US won't invade Iraq is because the Middle East is already in flames. There is ZERO international support for a war. The US would be unable to use its bases in Saudi Arabia or Kuwait. Bahrain might allow the use of its bases, but it has no airfields of note, just naval facilities. The nearest usable base is in faraway Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean. Turkey has bases, but will not go along with an invasion. Even the UK will have to sit this one out, lest Blair's government collapses.

The Joint Chiefs of Staff are already on record against the War. Yet momentum for war, stalled a few weeks ago, is slowly building again. The National Review, Paul Wolfowitz and Veep Cheney, are all putting pressure on Bush to 'act'.

But whether the US acts or not ultimately rests on diplomatic and logistical issues, not whether it's too hot inside a soldiers NBC gear.

    | 10:47 PM | Link | Comments (0) | Email this post

The right turns on Ashcroft

I blogged yesterday on Ashcroft's increasingly tenuous position within the administration. I thought it interesting that the right was starting to pile on Ashcroft. The latest installment is Robert Novak's "Ashcroft puts a big scare in White House".

[A]fter 16 months in office following a brutal confirmation process and nine months of fighting terrorism, Ashcroft seeks the spotlight as if he were still a senator contemplating a presidential run.

    | 12:06 PM | Link | Comments (0) | Email this post

Veep choices in 2004

I know I'm really jumping the gun, but I think the Dems vice presidential nominee might be key to the party's electoral chances in 2004. Simply put, I think it's high time the Democrats chose a non-white minority or woman to the ticket.

If Ed Rendell captures the governor's office in PA, he'll be hot property given PA's electoral importance. Southern governors Jim Hodges (SC) and Roy Barnes (GA) will merit consideration (especially if a non-Southerner captures the presidential nomination). Also for geographic reasons, a couple of midwesterners will make the short list -- Iowa's Vilsack? Daschle? Feingold? Vilsack might be the most viable of the lot, assuming he is reelected. Some might consider CA's Gray Davis, but he's damaged goods and if we don't like him here in California, his national chances are moot.

But, while regional considerations might make some sense, it's time for the party to acknowledge one simple fact -- the Democrats would be history without the support of women and minorities. It is definitely time for the national ticket to look like the voters supporting it. With that in mind, here are some possibilities (in no particular order):

Kathleen Kennedy Townsend: She is currently facing strong primary opposition in her bid to be Maryland's next governor. However, if she wins, she would be a strong veep candidate. She is a brilliant campaigner and sports that legendary name. On the negative side, she hails from a small, solidly Democratic state. And, she is still relatively green as a politician.

Sens. Mary Landrieu (LA) and Blanche Lincoln (AR): They are both women. They are Southerners. Conservative as Democrats can be. Either one would provide great balance for any of the non-Southern candiates (Daschle, Kerry, Dean, Gephardt, Lieberman, etc.).

Gary Locke: The two-term Asian governor of WA would do wonders to break the color barrier on a presidential ticket. Unfortunately, WA is fairly Democratic, and Asians are not a sufficiently large voting bloc outside the West Coast to inspire much attention.

Bill Richardson: I have always said Richardson would be the perfect candidate -- a genuine Latino, but light-skinned with a non-threatening name. He would be a stronger candidate with a couple of gubernational campaigns under his belt (he'll win his first guv campaign in NM this Fall), and he did suffer some fallout from the Wen Ho Lee fiasco while running the Department of Energy. He is also fairly liberal, so he wouldn't provide ideological balance under any ticket except perhaps Lieberman or Edwards.

Ron Kirk: First he needs to win a tough campaign for Senate in TX. But if he did, he would instantly become a national star. There are currently no African-Americans serving in the Senate, which would make him the highest-ranking black elected official in the nation. He is also a true Southern Democrat, to the right of the national party. And he is from Texas, which would provide delicious drama to the campaign. Then again, would the Democrats want to threaten their hold on the Senate by surrendering that seat (especially if a Republican sits in the governor's mansion)? Lots of "ifs" with Kirk, but an intriguing possibility.

As for Hillary Clinton, it's still too early for her. I would love to see her run either for president or as a veep candidate, but not after she has served two terms in the Senate. Diane Feinstein might also be a strong candidate, but brings no regional benefits to the table since California is safely Democratic.

    | 10:21 AM | Link | Comments (1) | Email this post

Wednesday | June 12, 2002
Ashcroft as the Fall Guy

It's been subtle, but it seems as though Ashcroft is slowly being set up to take the blame for 9-11. In a series of strategic leaks, rumors, innuendo, and information gleaned from the 9-11 hearings on Capitol Hill, it seems Ashcroft's position at the head of Justice is increasingly tenous. As of now, we know that the pre-9-11 Ashcroft:

  • did not fly commercial airliners starting July 2001 because of credible threats of terrorist hijackings;
  • killed an FBI request for an additional $58 million in anti-terrorist funds;
  • submitted budget increases for 68 programs, none related to terrorism;
  • ignored FBI Director Freeh's efforts to focus more on terrorism, preferring to focus on his pet obsessions: drugs, porn, guns, and naked statues;
  • turned down a request to assign hundreds of agents to the counter-terrorism beat;
  • sent a memorandum to his department heads listing his top seven priorities. The list didn't include terrorism;
  • has seen his FBI admit to ignoring warning signs that might've prevented the 9-11 attacks;

The voices against Ashcroft are steadily rising, not from the predictable left, but also on the right and from within the administration itself. Conservative columnists (and former Nixon speechwriter) William Safire recently wrote, "To fabricate an alibi for his nonfeasance, and to cover up his department's embarrassing cut of the counterterrorism budget last year, Attorney General John Ashcroft ... has gutted guidelines put in place a generation ago to prevent the abuse of police power by the federal government." Nonfeasance? Ouch.

And now, the administration is openly expressing its disapproval of Ashcroft's triumphant announcement of Padilla's arrest. There's no doubt in my mind that the Padilla announcement was coordinated by Karl Rove in his attempt to keep the American public scared and divert attention from the 9-11 and Enron hearings and other political ills afflicting the administration. However, now that the Padilla arrest has been exposed for the sham that it is, someone has to take the blame.

And isn't it funny that it's Ashcroft taking the hit? It seems clear that the Bush Administration will have to offer a sacrificial lamb to cleanse Dubya of any taint of responsibility for 9-11. And, that sacrificial lamb has to be someone with heft. Mueller just won't cut it. Ashcroft, on the other hand, fits the bill perfectly.

    | 10:54 AM | Link | Comments (0) | Email this post

No charges against Padilla

Once upon a time, security agencies needed things like "charges," or "probable cause" to arrest and detain someone. Thanks to the WOT, that's no longer necessary. Case in point: The alleged "dirty bomb" suspect that had the press in titters the last two days. While headlines trumpeted a victorious blow against terror, the government's case against gangbanger Jose Padilla was nothing more than vapor. The latest in this bizarre saga? Rumsfeld now admits that the US is not going to arrest Padilla. They just want to 'question him'.

Yet at the same time, in violation of everything this country and its Constitution stand for, he is being held "indefinitely". This is getting really scary.

The one compelling element of the story is that Padilla picked up $10k in Zurich. However, Brittish intelligence agencies say that Padilla was merele a courrier. The Independent reported:

Despite claims by the Attorney General, John Ashcroft, that the FBI had disrupted a plan to launch a radioactive attack against Washington, other officials conceded yesterday that there was no evidence that any such plot had progressed beyond the most basic stages.

British security sources, who believe Mr Muhajir might have been acting as a courier, said the Americans investigated Mr Muhajir's activities and tried to find a terrorist network he may have been involved with inside the US. The highly publicised announcement of the arrest only came after the failure to find anything more incriminating.

    | 08:09 AM | Link | Comments (0) | Email this post

Tuesday | June 11, 2002
Gangbanger of Doom

The must-visit Media Whores Online has the following post today:

CBS News is now reporting utter chaos has overtaken the White House efforts to scare the American public and to protect its own political rump with the alleged Jose Padilla "dirty bomb" plot.


CBS News Correspondent Jim Stewart reports some U.S. officials now admit they're not sure what Padilla's plans were when he returned to the U.S. last month.

MWO also includes a link to the actual article, but the story doesn't include the information mentioned above, apparently edited out. Interesting...

In any case, as I mentioned yesterday, this arrest of a small-time gangbanger is hardly the triumph over terror the administration would have us believe. It's designed to take pressure off Bush, the 9-11 hearings, Enron, and every other ill currently plaguing the administration. And the press and public lap it up. Unbelievable...

    | 10:23 PM | Link | Comments (0) | Email this post

Edward's NC quandry

NC Sen. John Edwards is perhaps the hungriest of the Dems positioning themselves for a 2004 presidential run. I don't mean he's a favorite, it's just really, really, really obvious he wants to be president.

Thus, it'll be really interesting to see how he handles the 2002 senate campaign in his state. He has been silent thus far. That is good politics. The NC primary campaign is still in full swing, and he doesn't want to alienate anyone by endorsing a candidate this early in the game (especially since one of the low-tier candidates is African-American, the other a woman).

However, it will be interesting to see what happens after the primaries. It would be in Edward's inmense interest to have a Democrat win the seat. For one, the press and pundits would shower Edwards with some of the credit for beating a powerful and popular Liddy Dole. Also, Edward wouldn't have to share the NC with a nationally recognized figure such as Dole. And finally, you can bet that if Dole wins the seat, the GOP will trot her out any time Republicans want to bash on Edwards.

Thus, it would make sense for Edwards to invest heavily in beating Dole. On the other hand, if Dole wins (as is generally accepted), Edwards will shoulder a great deal of the blame, wounding him in the eyes of donors and the press. As a result, he might consider sitting out the race and distancing himself from the result.

    | 10:08 AM | Link | Comments (2) | Email this post

It wasn't "The Little Caterpillar"

Last week, Bush surprised people by rejecting a report issued by the EPA admitting global warming was a scientific certainty. When asked about the report, Bush dismissively said "I read the report put out by the bureaucracy." I was shocked. What, Bush read a 268-page report? That would require some sort of adult attention span!

Well, Ari Fleischer finally admitted that Dubya lied: "Whenever presidents say they read it, you can read that to be he was briefed." That may be the case with Shrub and Reagan, but competent presidents do their own reading.

Of course had President Gore made this lie, it would be all over Fox news for weeks...

    | 07:43 AM | Link | Comments (0) | Email this post

Monday | June 10, 2002
Mixed messages

The Bush Administration announced that US intelligence and law enforcement agencies thwarted a "dirty bomb" attack on the US. However, I'm confused. President Bush said:

I can tell you that we have a man detained who is a threat to the country, and that thanks to the vigilance of our intelligence-gathering and law enforcement, he is now off the streets, where he should be.

The defense department's resident hawk, Paul Wolfowitz, said:

He did indicate some knowledge of the Washington, D.C., area but I want to emphasize again it was not an actual plan.

So, not only does Bush not mention anything about a dirty bomb plot, but Wolfowitz actually stresses that there is no plan. So, at best we have someone, who perhaps consorted with known terrorist, that has "some knowledge" of the DC area. If he truly is a threat, then bravo. But given the known facts, does his capture really merit the victorious headlines today?

Yahoo (AP): "U.S. Says It Thwarts Al Qaeda Dirty Bomb Attack"

Washington Post: "U.S. Citizen Detained In 'Dirty Bomb' Plot"

New York Times: " U.S. Arrests American Accused of Planning 'Dirty Bomb' Attack"

And so on. So, while the headlines trumpet the disruption of the bomb plan, Wolfowitz says "I want to emphasize again it was not an actual plan."

What gives? How can the US arrest someone from planning an attack when there is no actual plan? Just another attempt by the Bush Administration to divert attention from explosive hearings on Capitol Hill?

    | 12:49 PM | Link | Comments (0) | Email this post

Falwell loses fight against parody site

An Illinois resident won a David and Goliath battle against Rev. Falwell and his lawyer minions. Fallwell, who has trademarked his name, demanded that the parody site JerryFalwell.com surrender its domain name. While Falwell's lawyers originally threatened a lawsuit, they took the issue to the World Intellectual Property Organization, which mediates such disputes.

In a surprising 2-1 vote, WIPO shot down Fallwell's claims. Not only was the ruling a great victory for the First Amendment right to parody public figures, but a somewhat surprising ruling for WIPO, which is usually rabidly pro-Trademark owner.

    | 11:44 AM | Link | Comments (0) | Email this post

Texas GOP's suicidal dance

It will not happen this election cycle, but within ten years, Texas will become the next California -- reliably (if more conservatively) Democratic.

Demographic trends all favor the Dems, with the state's exploding Latino population voting 66-75 percent for Democrats. Pres. Bush recognized this, and has made outreach efforts to Latinos and other minorities a priority. However, Texas wingnuts are doing everything possible to accelerate the state's transition to a Democratic bastion.

At the Texas' GOP convention, delegates defining the party's platform have voted to:

  • End bilingual education programs
  • harsher laws against immigrants
  • Harsher abortion laws
  • The posting of the ten commandments on government property

In addition, they have declared the US a "Christian Nation", while dinosaur Sen. Phil Gramm mocks the multicultural Democratic ticket: "Democrats believe that they can divide Texas based on race. That's their dream and that's their vision. And this election is about rejecting that dream and that vision once and for all."

So in essence, Gramm and the wingnuts (who cheered him heartily) are essentially fighting to reject the vision of a multicultural ticket. They are fighting for an all-Anglo ticket. That'll sell well with the very Latinos Bush is trying to court.

But most significantly, the wingnuts are trying hard to withhold state party funds to candidates who don't jive with the party platform. In effect destroying the moderate element of the state GOP.

Trends are already threatening GOP hegemony in Texas. While redistricting has been kind to them, and will probably help them take over the state's legislative bodies, their state-wide candidates are in a fight for their lives (enter Karen Hughes' Texas homecoming). While the more Latino-friendly policies of Dubya gave Republicans hope they would be able to contain their losses, the state party is doing its best to alienate not only Latinos, but moderate Anglos as well. And, if the wingnuts succeed in withholding campaign funds to moderate Republicans, we won't have to wait 10 years for Democrats to become competitive in the state once again.

    | 10:51 AM | Link | Comments (0) | Email this post

Saving brother Jeb, the heck with CA

I wrote a few weeks back that the Bush Administration would find a convoluted way to distinguish Florida's oil leases with California's. You see, Pres. Bush had offered to use federal dollars to buy oil leases in the Everglades and offshore FL. A real triumph for environmentalists, right? True, but an even bigger triumph for brother Jeb's reelection chances. Predictably (to all but Dubya, Rove, and gang), California immediately demanded similar treatment. But as we all know, there isn't a Bush running for anything in California.

Well, when I wrote "convoluted way", I had no idea it would be this bad:

[Interior Secretary Gale] Norton reasoned that California does not oppose coastal drilling because there are 77 active state and federal leases off the coast where more than 260 new wells have been drilled since 1990. California not only approved the wells, but is profiting from the royalties, she noted.

By contrast, no gas or oil had come from the Florida leases, she wrote.

The California drilling is on leases dating back 50 years or more. And, California is currently in court trying to revoke those leases and purge its coast of the dirty and ugly oil wells. Not only are state Democrats fighting to end the leases, but so is the GOP gubernatorial candidate. Does this support Norton's assertion that "Florida opposes coastal drilling and California does not"? Hardly.

    | 10:41 AM | Link | Comments (0) | Email this post

Sunday | June 09, 2002
White House's view of 2002 Senate races

The White House political director views the following Senate races as competitive:
On the Democratic side, Kenneth Mehlman claims Minnesota, South Dakota, Missouri, Iowa and Georgia are weak. He also claims Montana, Louisiana and New Jersey might be in play. (Maybe NJ, but not MT or LA.)

On the Republican side, the GOP is sweating Arkansas and New Hampshire, while Maine, North Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Colorado and Oregon might also be endangered.

I didn't think North Carolina or Tennessee were remotely competitive for the Dems at this time. But the fact that the White House included them in their analysis could be significant. At the very least it forces Republicans to mobilize resources for campaigns in two states that should've been safe GOP seats. The fact that that they also have to defend Texas and Colorado makes things that much more difficult for Republicans.

    | 11:48 AM | Link | Comments (0) | Email this post