Fair. Balanced. American.

Sunday, August 31, 2003

Money questions

Curious about the consequences if George Bush accepts public funding for the general election, JUSIPER reader David asks, "if the $250 million [raised during the primaries] is not spent, is it lost? Does Bush have to return it? Or does he get to keep spending it on the campaign?" Here's part of the answer, from today's Boston Globe:

Although this money theoretically is for the primaries, Bush has no primary opponent. He is thus able to spend his money from now to the Republican convention in September 2004, giving him a major edge for the fall campaign.

The disparity is so large that Representative Martin T. Meehan, the Lowell Democrat who coauthored the campaign law, said in an interview that Democratic candidates would be better off rejecting public financing and avoiding the attendant spending cap -- hardly the position of a reformer.


Where is Bush's money going to come from? Same places as before:

Bush, relying heavily on oil and financial interests, rejected public funding. Thus he didn't have to abide by the cap. As a result, he had about $100 million to spend, more than twice the sum raised by Gore, the Democratic nominee, who did agree to the cap.

Then came the campaign-finance law. Doubling the individual contribution is likely to double Bush's war chest to $200 million.


Meanwhile, the only organization that can give the Democratic nominee direct aid - the DNC - is strapped, starved. The Globe story points out that in it's current state, the party lacks the money to do an adequate job even of registering minority voters. That's something that can't be overlooked; as Jesse Jackson has been saying, "We must go South again." The Globe doesn't mention, however, that such tasks can be performed partly by other organizations acting independently, like the new $75 million effort planned by unions, women's rights groups, and George Soros.

No doubt, there's going to be a lot of finger-pointing going on -- at the campaign finance reformers in Congress, at the DNC for its reliance on the now-banned soft money. But there's no time for blame. It's time to remake the party, fast. Time to heed Kos, and the sudden jackpot wisdom of the Dean campaign. The Globe quotes former DNC chair Steve Grossman, now Dean's national cochair:

''The Democratic Party's salvation is to take a serious look at what the Dean campaign has done in terms of donor development and cultivation and to try to emulate that.''

Things the DNC needs to adopt and co-opt into a coherent structure, with a measure of centralized leadership and coordination: Jerry Lewis-style telethons for the wired world, and new local and national infrastructures developed via new tools like internet-arranged meetups -- which connect people, not just their money. And it needs to stay in step with the old infrastructures -- unions, enviromentalists, civil rights groups, etc. -- that are becoming increasingly interconnected themselves via new, movement-style connections.

Saturday, August 30, 2003

FRC: Racicot schedules secret homosexual activity, signs on to gay agenda

Ken Connor of the Family Research Council is furious at former Montana governor and current RNC head Marc Racicot for calling a secret meeting with gay activists in which, it appears, he "implied that religious conservatives who oppose the gay political agenda are motivated by fear and ignorance."

It now surfaces that this was not even Racicot's first time engaging in such activity.

"As governor of Montana in November 2000, he signed an executive order establishing 'sexual orientation' as a protected civil right without the benefit of public hearings or public notice (possibly violating the state's open meetings law). Only gay activists were invited to the hearing that preceded Gov. Racicot's action and opponents were kept entirely in the dark. The governor's action preempted the Montana Legislature, which had refused to pass an expansion of civil rights to encompass sexual conduct. Gov. Racicot simply added this provision to existing state law by executive fiat."

Maybe he should have run for senator after all.

Simon advisor: Classic Pete Wilson campaign in the works against Bustamante

Many of Jorge Luis Macias' recent pieces in La Opinion on the recall election have been must reads. This past Tuesday his recall wrapup also reported on a rather interesting conversation:

"The Republican Party, according to former Bill Simon advisor K. B. Forbes, plans to launch direct attacks on Bustamante's campaign through the use of anti-immigrant rhetoric that will come from the campaign of Arnold Schwarzenegger and his campaign chief, ex-governor Pete Wilson.

"'It will be interesting to find out the moment that they will choose those who supported Proposition 187 -- Arnold Schwarzenegger and ex-governor Pete Wilson -- to attack together and explode both Davis and Cruz Bustamante,' said Forbes.

"Schwarzenegger was a firm supporter of Proposition 187, promoted by Pete Wilson; the theme divided Californians. Even though the initiative was approved by an ample majority of voters, it was later declared unconstitutional.

"'Two weeks prior to the October 7th election, the plan is to present Bustamante as a liar, as a person who made commercials in Spanish (supporting the re-election of Davis) and now wishes to distance himself from him, even though he knows that he part of the same problem [the fiscal crisis of $38.2 billion] that affects California,' Forbes indicated.

"This is the type of discourse that took Pete Wilson to victory over Kathleen Brown after having trailed her by more than 20 points in 1994.
"

The article goes on to quote vehement denials from every state Republican Party leader, closing with a response by Bustamante advisor Richie Ross: "Arnold Schwarzenegger and Pete Wilson personify the same devil. They are the same person, they have the same ideology and they are racist, racist, racist."

Friday, August 29, 2003

Not asking, not telling

It turns out that a celibate gay linguist is a greater threat to the proper functioning of the United States Armed Forces than the heterosexual serial rapists enabled by an indulgent military hierarchy.

I guess in the end "don't ask don't tell" only ended up being applied to one group: their victims.

How Dean Can Win: A Response to the Naysayers (Part 2 of 4)

(Read Part 1)

I'll resume with the second of Ruy Teixeira's claims about the assumptions made by Dean supporters. Here's what Teixeira writes:
Assumption #2: Dean’s antiwar stance will not hurt him; in fact, it’ll help him, now that Iraq has evolved into a seemingly intractable mess and the public is starting to wonder whether the whole adventure was worth the costs.  Dean’s been consistently against the war, while the other candidates, like Kerry, have not and voters will reward that consistency.

Problem #2: Voters do not necessarily reward consistency.  They reward those who seem to represent their view of the world and what needs to be done.  The fact of the matter is that Kerry’s ambivalence-but-reluctant-support of the Iraq war more fairly represented the public’s view of the war going in than did Dean’s intransigent opposition and Kerry’s  current move from ambivalence toward a critique of Bush’s approach also fairly represents how the public mood is evolving.  So the inconsistent Kerry is probably in a much better position than the consistent Dean to capture the moderate voters who are becoming disaffected with the war’s aftermath, as well as the administration’s mendacity.  And don’t forget: Kerry’s war hero status does matter and will help allay moderate voters’ fears that a critique of Bush comes from Democratic softness on national security, not from a realistic, tough-minded appraisal of what it’ll take to beat terrorists and keep America safe.

This is a good point, and it feels right. But I don't understand how it plays out to Kerry's advantage. One can imagine how Republicans will easily portray Kerry's inconsistency negatively, as indecisiveness and opportunism. More difficult to imagine, for me at least, is how one plays up the "ambivalence but-reluctant-support" angle in a way that voters respond to and that showcases the strength of the candidate (rather than a weakness).

Furthermore, Kerry may be the veteran, but does he act the veteran? Remember, Dukakis was a veteran too, but he didn't look or act the part enough. So was former Rep. Max Cleland, a Democrat who supported the war but whom the GOP sent packing by equating him with Saddam in a TV ad. I worry that Kerry's aloofness may overwhelm his military credentials. I hope I'm wrong.

Similarly, Jonathan Chait talks about the need to solve the Democratic party's "national security credibility problem." Chait writes:
This isn't to say Democrats can't attack Bush's foreign policy, only that they must do so from a standpoint of toughness. Several Democrats, for example, have criticized Bush's failure to plan for occupying and rebuilding Iraq. Edwards and Lieberman have attacked Bush's refusal to provide adequate funding for homeland security. Dean's critique, however, is decidedly dovish. In a foreign policy speech last month, he called on the United States to "lead by example, not by force." In April, he said, "We've gotten rid of [Saddam Hussein], and I suppose that's a good thing." And, in an April op-ed, he criticized the administration for "imposing our will on sovereign nations."

First, Chait has misconstrued Dean's words and chosen an unrepresentative sample of Dean's statements. The very points on which he quotes Lieberman and Edwards (no doubt Chait's favorite candies), have also been made by Dean. He says straightforwardly and repeatedly that he supports other military interventions and that we need to increase our troop strength in Iraq. Dean speaks forcefully about the need to confront the Saudis on their role in supporting terrorism. Furthermore, what Chait calls Dean's "decidedly dovish" foreign policy - which stresses the importance of nurturing international alliances and being truthful with the American people - is remarkably similar to that of Gen. Wesley Clark, who led NATO forces to victory in Kosovo and could hardly be considered a dove.

Second, I agree that a candidate's appearance on national security is going to matter. Americans don't usually worry about foreign policy in the voting booths. Since Sept. 11, of course, they will - especially when Republicans raise the issue (and televise the right images) over and over again. But if the economy is bad enough, that will matter too. In an August 12 CBS News poll, almost four times as many people identified the economy as "the most important problem facing this country today" as did terrorism or Iraq.

The real question is not whether Dean (or Edwards, or some of the others too) will get hit with national security questions. They will. To echo Teixeira, the real question is what he can do to beef up an image as commander-in-chief. If he wins the nomination, Dean would be smart to seek out support from Army leaders who want Donald Rumsfeld booted from the Pentagon, as would any other Democrat. Discontent has been brewing among troops, higher-ups, and the Army press, and it's waiting to be tapped by the Democrats. If Dean held a press conference with a phalanx of Army generals endorsing him, the way Sini reminds us that Clinton did with Admiral Crowe, that would take him a big part of the way.

PART 3, on Dean's rhetoric and appeal, coming Tuesday ...

UPDATE: Read Part 3.

"I don't think there has to be a standard based on content"

[We are extremely pleased to post a second post by the late George magazine's senior political writer Peter Keating]

I generally find "slippery-slope" arguments intellectually lazy. But it's more than a little scary that as the Justice Department pursues its first obscenity prosecution in 10 years, administration officials are resolutely unwilling to describe the standard they are applying for quashing speech. And their vagueness reinforces the disturbing impression that John Ashcroft wants maximum clearance to haul anyone who runs afoul of his morals, or tastes, or feelings, off to court.

In April, postal inspectors searched the headquarters of Extreme Associates, a small-time purveyor of nasty pornography. Their search warrant noted that Rob Zicari, who runs the company, had "issued a challenge to Attorney General Ashcroft" on Frontline. Zacari had told the TV program that Ashcroft "could not do anything about his films," and apparently that was enough to get him targeted as a test case: he was arraigned this week.

But exactly what makes any particular producer worthy of federal legal attack? Andrew Oosterbaan, who heads the Justice Department's Child Exploitation and Obscenity section, ducked the question six times on Wednesday's Nightline:

KOPPEL: [M]aybe you can explain to me, Mr. Oosterbaan, where ultimately you're gonna draw the line between what the folks whom we have just met in those pieces are producing and the rest of the adult video industry.

OOSTERBAAN: Well, actually, Mr. Koppel, it won't be the job of a prosecutor to draw that line. Under the law of obscenity, it's the community's job to draw that line …

KOPPEL: What I'm asking you, I guess, is, it wasn't that the folks of a particular community in Pennsylvania came to you and said, please, Justice Department, you gotta do something about this. Or was it?

OOSTERBAAN: Perhaps not literally, but I can tell you that in my position I hear from the public quite often …

KOPPEL: You and I both know that … during the two terms of the Clinton Administration, when this was not a high priority with the Justice Department, there were no such prosecutions. So, it's all well and good to suggest that this happens as the result of community outrage but you and I also know that it doesn't go any further unless the Justice Department wants it to, and in particular, unless the Attorney General wants to. He has made it a priority, not the communities, right?

OOSTERBAAN: Well, that, that's true in part …

KOPPEL: So, what I'm still asking is, out of that, whether it's [a] $2.5 billion or $10 billion industry, where, if at all, do you draw the line in determining what you go after? You can't do it just on the basis of whether you have a bunch of e-mails or a bunch of letters from outraged citizens …

OOSTERBAAN: And your question assumes that that line is drawn solely based on content, and it isn't. That line is drawn, from a prosecutor's perspective, on a number of factors …

TED KOPPEL: Precisely my point … There are some of those porno companies out there making hundreds of millions of dollars a year. Why not go after one of the big ones?

OOSTERBAAN: And the answer is, because prosecutors are paid to be efficacious …

KOPPEL: Therefore you go after a company which is small but, clearly you feel has crossed some kind of a line. And at some point or another, you and I are gonna run out of time and then you don't have to answer the question, but still, what I'm suggesting to you is, there has to be a standard somewhere. Where is your standard?

OOSTERBAAN: I don't think there has to be a standard based on content because a community will determine whether content is obscene or not.


Does a Justice Department conference room count as a "community"?

- Peter

Thursday, August 28, 2003

How Dean Can Win: A Response to the Naysayers

THE FIRST IN A SERIES OF FOUR PARTS.

Last month, the cover of the The New Republic asked this about Howard Dean: "Must he be stopped?" It had the ring of an exclamation more than a question. Critics from his own party, like TNR's Jonathan Chait and the Democratic Leadership Council's Al From and Bruce Reed, have railed against Howard Dean, arguing that a Dean candidacy would guarantee George Bush a landslide reelection. (Jonathan Cohn wrote a dissenting view for TNR.) Chait wrote that Dean "has come to represent a political delusion: that on every issue Democrats have a moral and strategic obligation to oppose Bush diametrically. This delusion could enfeeble the Democratic Party in 2004, whether or not it makes Dean its nominee." Chait and the DLC are wrong, and their distaste for Dean blinds them to the strengths of a Dean candidacy.

Donkey Rising's Ruy Teixeira, on the other hand, is skeptical of Dean but retains an open mind. Teixeira says Dean has significant weaknesses that his supporters ignore. Frankly, I think he's right. I've been struck by the naivete of some of the claims made by Dean supporters. But the case for Dean or against him shouldn't depend on the testaments of true believers, just as it shouldn't depend on the desperate claims of defensive rivals.

Hoping to goad his readers into a constructive dialogue, Teixeira writes, "Let the debate continue!" I second that motion.

What first piqued my interest in Dean wasn't his stance against war in Iraq. It was the fact that he was a governor (the only one in the race at the time) and that he had a reputation for being pro-gun. I'm no gun freak - far from it. But together these two simple facts fascinated me: here was a Democratic candidate who had liberal instincts but was at the same time an outsider -- to Washington (as a governor), and to his own party (on the gun position). I've long believed that the outsider element is important to winning the presidency, particularly for Democrats. An outsider can run effectively against the worst of Washington and against the worst stereotypes of his own party. As Simon Rosenberg, head of the New Democrat Network put it: "This race isn't about left and right in any case. ... It's about insider and outsider. Dean has lucked into being the only credible outsider." (The NDN acts as the DLC's political action committee, although the two organizations have apparently drifted apart on Dean.)

I don't know how many Dean supporters began that way. However, Teixeira boils the support for Dean down to three assumptions, each of which he says is mistaken. Teixeira might be right in his descriptions of many Dean supporters he's seen writing on the web, but he's not entirely right about Dean himself. Here are Teixeira's words, in which he describes the first assumption and the problem he sees with it:
Assumption #1: Dean’s association with liberal social issues like gay marriage won’t hurt him much—or, at least any more than any other Democrat will be hurt by social liberalism--because he is conservative on other social issues (guns, death penalty).  Anyway, the country is becoming more liberal on issues concerning gays (witness the recent Supreme Court decision), so Dean won’t seem nearly so out-of-step as a lot of commentators think.

Problem #1: Yes, all Democrats, including nominal front-runner Kerry, will have to battle social liberalism critiques and hit jobs if nominated.  But that’s exactly why you don’t want to present too much of an easy target and Dean does, due to not only the specific issue of gay marriage (still a bridge too far for most of the public, as opposed to legalizing gay sex, which they support), but also his geographic origins and the general profile of his candidacy.

Actually, Dean, like most of the other Democratic candies, doesn't support gay marriage. He opposes it. Like most of them, he does support civil unions, a route he chose explicitly when he signed the bill in Vermont. What I want to know (like MyDD) is how Dean will make an easier target than Kerry, who states publicly that he also supports civil unions.

Does anyone really believe the GOP is going to give Kerry or the other Democrats a free pass on gay marriage just because they say they oppose it? The GOP will do their damnedest to equate the two, saying that civil unions is code for gay marriage - especially given the Supreme Court's Lawrence ruling and Canada's movement toward gay marriage - and any Democrat will try equally hard to refute it.

A crucial factor in any candidate's chances - on any issue, not just this one - is going to be whether or not he can overcome powerful Republican efforts to paint things the way they want them to be seen, to say forthrightly and simply where he stands, and to echo James Carville, combat their thuggery. I have doubts about Kerry's ability to communicate the necessary counter-attacks, given his long-winded and aloof style. Al Gore had a similar problem; he lost the South, and he was from the South. Edwards and Gephardt are positioned than Dean to take advantage of economic discontent in South Carolina. But, since they are the darlings of lawyers and of labor, respectively, the GOP will try to hit them hard in those areas.

Even if the South resists Dean (as it probably would Kerry too, although we would expect it to be slightly more open to Clark or Edwards), the midwest could very well remain in play, as Sini has argued. Dean's pressing a strong rural agenda, and he knows how to talk to Midwesterners.

The impact that civil unions will have on the election depends on the Democratic nominee's ability to frame them as an issue of equal rights rather than social decay. At a campaign appearance in Iowa, Dean demonstrated how he's going to do it. A woman concerned about the issue brought it up with him after his speech. Dean told her about an 80-year old veteran he had met who had fought in World War II: the man had thanked Dean for the civil unions bill, and said he was gay. If America could deny someone like that the same rights as other people, Dean said, then it wasn't the kind of country he thought it was. If anyone can frame gay rights the right way, it's him.

Teixeira asks, "Can Dean reinvent himself?" In fact, no reinvention will be necessary, just reintroduction, and hardly even that. Most Americans still haven't heard of him. And Dean won't be alone in introducing himself: the closer the primaries get, the more the other Democrats will help portray him as a moderate. Kucinich, Kerry, and Gephardt are all to his left in one way or another. When asked if he's a liberal, Dean always replies that if balancing budgets and putting aside money for a rainy-day fund makes him a liberal, then, yes, he is. On his Today Show appearance, he pronounced with stunning confidence: "I am the center." Dean's consistent theme is that the GOP has moved too far to the right. (He should take up Kevin Phillip's call to action and further paint Bush as beholden to religious fanatics.)

UPDATE: Read PART 2.

Why we owe Teddy

Anyone capable of making Robert Novak this upset has got to be doing something right. Isn't it amazing how oppressed these folks feel even though they control all three branches of the government?

Remarkable

Al Sharpton, Carol Moseley Braun and Howard Dean were the only presidential candidates at the 40th anniversary celebration of the March on Washington. I suppose it's just another sign of the current crop's tone deafness on matters of race.

Stick a fork in him

[Note: Today JUSIPER welcomes Peter Keating as guest blogger. Peter's writing has appeared in Money, where he was staff writer until 1999, George Magazine, where he was senior writer through 2001, and a number of other publications, most recently Reader's Digest and ESPN-The Magazine. A holder of degrees from both Harvard College and the John F. Kennedy School of Government, his knowledge of American political history is staggering, as is the analytical power he brings to just about every topic he writes about. We are truly delighted to have him on board and look forward to many future posts.]

Sorry to disappoint my fellow bloggers, but the California governor's race is already as interesting as it's going to get. Mark it on your calendar: Arnold Schwarzenegger's campaign, already in decline, will fall past the point of no return on September 18.

That's the day George Pataki will hold a $1,000-a-plate fundraiser in Manhattan for the Terminator. Pataki has already set up one meeting for Arnold with "top GOP moneymen." Now he's holding a dinner that you can co-chair for just $50,000, and he'll fly to California to campaign for Schwarzenegger, too.

That's right, Pataki, the master of binge borrowing, off-balance-sheet financing and overreliance on non-recurring revenues who has turned New York into the most heavily indebted state in the nation.

Pataki, who, having screwed New York City's budget repeatedly, is now hypocritically and vengefully fighting to stop the city from refinancing bonds to raise cash.

Pataki, who is so unpopular that he won't run for reelection in 2006 because Wall Street-buster Eliot Spitzer would kick him back to Peekskill, a town about which all I can say is that if you're okay with its mayor becoming governor of New York, you can't possibly object to the governor of Vermont becoming President of the United States.

Why is Arnold grubbing for money at all, let alone from fat cats out of state? Wasn't he supposed to be free from all that baggage? Does he really need the spare change? And from the likes of Pataki?

As it turns out, Arnold is coming out fitfully but definitively as a boring hack establishment Republican. Schwarzenegger is campaigning as though he's won a Republican primary and is running against Gray Davis. Tactically, that's stupid, since neither one of those things is true, and Arnold is already finding himself vulnerable to a firming up of partisan opposition on both flanks. He'll probably find his support peaked during the Tonight Show – it's not as though he can increase his name recognition.

And on a deeper level, the Schwarzenegger campaign is a tragedy in progress. Evicting a Democratic governor, even one who is corrupt and incompetent, is obviously a bigger job than California Republicans can handle – the GOP simply won't nominate candidates who can win statewide. It would require not only special circumstances, which the recall has provided, but a famous figure able to channel populist resentment into a tidal wave for change. A celebrity, say, who is disgusted with Gray Davis' selling of the state "piece by piece" and who is willing to govern "as an independent." By harnessing power sources alternative to the usual blocs, such a candidate, if he won, could intimidate state legislators into breaking their old logjams. Along the way, he might pull the Republican Party toward greater tolerance of gays and immigrants. He might even help California reconsider the anti-communitarian impulses that are at the root of so many of its fiscal troubles.

Day after day, though, Arnold's proving he's not that guy. Of course, that's why they run campaigns. We needed to learn that all he really wants to be is Pete Wilson with bigger pecs.

I don’t think there's any chance of it making a difference, but someone should try to get it through to him: Wilson would really have sucked in Kindergarten Cop.

--Peter

Wednesday, August 27, 2003

Oh my God, that's more than J-Lo!

Then again, he can probably sing better. And I don't even want to think about how much he would save on that second limo.

Nader neutered

That's how I interpret the huge turnout for Howard Dean in Seattle.

W's secret plan to end the deficit

It turns out that all W. learned from Poppy's political demise in 1992 was the importance of showing concern for the unemployed, fiscal responsibility and economic stewardship be damned:

"'Those who are worried about the deficit must first worry, I hope would worry first, about people being able to find work, like in Washington state,' Bush said to reporters near Seattle. 'I am more concerned about somebody finding a job than I am about numbers on paper.'

"That said, he did add, 'we've got a plan to reduce the deficit in half in five years,' alluding to administration budget projections that the deficit will shrink by half without any policy changes."


That ought to calm those nervous markets down.

Tuesday, August 26, 2003

Schwarzenegger is pro-Bush, anti-tax

While that might be enough for many on the right, it simply cannot be for all of them, not least because in the same interview he muddied the waters by suggesting that he wanted to govern "as an independent." Arnold's strategy does, however, make sense, because it makes him the clear candidate for libertarian Republicans. As a result, McClintock will have to begin to make appeals to the Republican base on bedrock issues like guns, race, immigration, gays and abortion. And that is when this race will become interesting.

Of course, there's still that pesky issue of the state's deficit. But I am guessing the media will allow Simon's plan to die a slow death. Why ask difficult questions about cuts in services when you've got Arnold, Mary, Gary and Larry?

Bye bye, West Virginia

So it looks like Bush's economic team wants to get rid of the steel tariff that Karl Rove put into place only months ago. I wonder if the EU was smart enough to have its list of retaliatory tariffs affect battleground states like Ohio, Missouri, Florida, and New Hampshire. Of course, Bush doesn't need their help hurting the economy; his policy succeeded in reducing imports and saved 10,000 steel jobs at the cost of 200,000 in other sectors, although it did, to be fair, add to payrolls in NAFTA-protected Canada.

In the meantime, current and retired members of the United Steelworkers, already upset enough at the loss of healthcare and pension benefits, are furious and preparing for a battle royale.

Heritage and Cato on Clark

All they can say about Wesley Clark is that he's guilty of nation-building (gasp!). And why is that a bad thing? John Hulsman, a senior foreign policy analyst at Heritage, has an answer:

"'Gen. Clark is a passionate, outspoken advocate of nation building,'" Hulsman said. Clark supports policies that haven't worked in Haiti, Somalia, Bosnia, Kosovo and also will not work in Afghanistan or Iraq, he added."

So... a Clark presidency would be dangerous because his foreign policy might be like Bush's? Karl Rove better get some new talking points out, and fast.

Give Bush a three point handicap

Because $250 million can go a long way.

Pastors to Bush: Christian responsibility extends to the born

It's certainly not a good sign that he has ministers angry at him (fortunately for Mr. Bush, it turns out that, guilty of Christian humanism, they are hellbound anyway).

But it turns out that ending AmeriCorps and reducing proposed funding for education might not be very popular with voters.

It also turns out there's more... a lot more. Bush plans to cut one billion dollars from his much touted African abstinence education and AIDS initiative, the center of a compassion agenda. It's hard to imagine that playing well with suburban women voters, the intended audience of these efforts from the beginning.

Finally, returning to our Ohio Watch, these sure aren't the headlines an incumbent president would want to see the year before an election.

Sunday, August 24, 2003

Willie Nelson to Bill Clinton: "Was that you with me on the roof?"

Listening to the extraordinary performance of "A Song for You" by Leon Russell, Ray Charles and Willie Nelson on the latter's seventieth anniversary celebration prompted a bit of a research.

I want to see it on video, not least since the song seems to have been performed twice. But I don't think I'd mind seeing the part where Willie Nelson comes to President Clinton's rescue against the "rude Republicans."

Saturday, August 23, 2003

McClintock's lucky day

We wrote earlier that right wing Republicans would have to choose between Simon and McClintock and would probably go for the latter. Now the choice has been made for them and it's only McClintock on the right. For now, one should expect a bump in McClintock's polling.

The real question is this: will the one million people who went so far as to vote for Simon over Riordan in the California primary really be able to stomach a candidate with Davis' social agenda in exchange for lower taxes and tough times for Mexicans? Will it be enough for them to have pro-choice Pete's folks running the show again? JUSIPER will be on the case in the coming weeks.

Only 6 percent of Britons trust Blair over BBC

Which only goes to show you: don't mess with Auntie Beeb.

Friday, August 22, 2003

What a deal

The war in Iraq: it siphoned off resources from the search for Al Qaeda, and created a terrorist threat where none had existed before.

All for the low, low price of $60 billion.
The noose tightens

He has upset Cuban Americans and the Family Research Council to the point where they're making public threats. Now Bush has to deal with a warning from the Log Cabin Republicans, via executive director Patrick Guerriero (from NationalJournal.com's daily roundup, Aug. 20):

We're aggressively preparing for 2004 with a strategy for our chapters.... We're watching and hoping that we can avoid a constitutional amendment fight, because that would take up a lot of our resources and energy. And we hope that the president will stay as disciplined as he was in 2000 on being an inclusive leader so that we can work with the administration in getting that message out as well.

Sure, gay Republicans aren't a key ingredient to Bush's electoral victory. But they could make trouble -- in the form of intensive internecine conflict with the party's socially conservative elements.
Flood the Zone

The first Flood the Zone Friday, the brainchild of NotGeniuses, is here. Use George Bush's own Action Center to write to your local newspapers about why Americans need to refuse him a second term.

Thursday, August 21, 2003

Defend Democracy in Texas

The Texas redistricting fiasco has been covered extensively by bloggers. Now we can take it to the streets. From MoveOn.org:

A partisan plan pushed by Karl Rove and Tom Delay will redistrict up to 7 Democrats out of Congress. Right now, 11 Democratic State Senators are hiding across state lines -- with the Texas Governor calling for their arrest -- to prevent this illegitimate plan from being strong-armed into law. They have put their reputations and careers on the line for all of us. Please help us launch a hard-hitting ad campaign to fight back in Texas.

Give a few bucks at MoveOn.org, or use our link on the upper right to give to the DNC, which has partnered with MoveOn in this effort. (Keep it up, Terry.)

UPDATE: It's not clear exacly what ad campaign this will be funding. The only ad that appears on MoveOn's web site is the older "Mis-leader" one, which, as far as I can tell, hasn't actually appeared on television yet. Presumably they have a new one in the works.
Connecting the Davis recall to, well, everything

Yeah, the issue needs to be nationalized AND expanded. Hence, this suggested letter to newspaper editors everywhere:

To the editor:

California's problems seem far away from us here in [anyplace else], but they hit closer to home than one might think, and need to serve as reminders. Just like Californians need a leader who is trustworthy, fiscally responsible, and looking out for ordinary people rather than big corporations, so do all Americans. But just like Gov. Gray Davis, President George Bush has lied about the country's fiscal problems and about the reasons for going to war in Iraq, created a budget deficit that threatens to bankrupt the government, and protected the interests of corrupt fat cats like Enron who benefit from energy crises. On the president's watch, the nation has lost 3 million jobs, endured corporate scandals, suffered from a massive blackout, and seen the lives of hundreds of its family members lost in a war that is still going on and spinning dangerously out of control. Not to mention that we are not any safer from terrorism than the day Bush entered office. If Gov. Davis can be recalled, then Pres. Bush needs the pink slip too.

Sincerely,

Everyman/woman
Everywhere, USA

The logic is irresistible

The nationalizing of this kind of state-level argument is very dangerous to the Bush campaign, which is why we'll be hearing it for a long time to come. And don't miss the delightful letter to Darrell Issa.
The tragedy behind Terry's tears

Although I don't disagree with Sini and legendary political writer Peter Keating's contention that Terry McAuliffe and Bill Clinton got the Democratic Party hooked on soft money, I do think it's unfair to put all the blame on Terry and Bill for the party's current financial woes. After all, when they took the reigns in the 90s, they had to deal with a party structure eviscerated, perversely, by internal reforms intended to democratize the party in the 1970s. At the same time, Republicans had emerged from the 80s with a highly efficient machine that connected a grassroots, church-based movement with a powerful central command. And it was a wider failure that allowed campaign finance reforms to pass without handicapping the GOP as well as the Dems.

That said, it's extremely embarrassing that George W. Bush's new campaign website makes better use of internet technology than does the DNC's, when it's a Democrat who's doing all the pioneering.

Newsflash: Alabamans exempt from Christian duty to the poor

One of the most interesting things to observe about Alabama governor Riley's recent proposal to raise taxes has been Republican reaction. Riley is not only a Republican but a Christian who believes that "According to our Christian ethics, we're supposed to love God, love each other and help take care of the poor." And he adds that "It is immoral to charge somebody making $5000 an income tax."

Reaction in Republican circles? "He's right almost. The truth, however, is that it's immoral to charge anyone an income tax at all," says Young Republican Jonathan David Morris. But young Mr. Morris is quick to add a caveat: "Now don't get me wrong: I do believe we have a duty to do what we can for the poor. But that doesn't mean we should take care of them."

The Christian Coalition of Alabama, meanwhile, is apoplectic. "[Christian Coalition of Alabama President] Giles said that the Alabama opposition is rooted in the state chapter's longstanding opposition to tax increases."

The referendum, sadly, is going to lose, despite the support of the governor and (in all fairness) Roberta Combs. White voters, according to the Washington Post, aren't voting for it, and African-Americans aren't either.

Earlier takes on the subject, it appears, remain available.
Roy Moore: Wallace or King?

Last night from Newsnight with Aaron Brown:

BROWN: There's a number of things have been said, a goodly number of things have been said today. Let me throw a few of them at you. One is that this is, in some respects, a replay of what we saw in Alabama a generation and a half ago, when the governor defied a federal court order on segregation, which he said was unlawful.

BROWN: Can you tell me why you view this as different, if in fact you view it as different, from what Governor Wallace did?

MOORE: Oh, it's far different from what Wallace did. Wallace stood in the doorway to keep people out. We're trying to keep God in. Wallace stood for division. We're standing for unity.

This is more like what Martin Luther King did in standing for rights for the people of Alabama and the people across this nation. Our rights come from God, and if we do not acknowledge God, we do not know where our rights come from.

Indeed, we stand for the proposition that all men are created equal because they're "endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness."


Moore has evidently realized something that many other Southern Christian Republicans have; there's no reason to unnecessarily insult Martin Luther King when you can create a new Martin Luther King to suit your agenda.

Perhaps it was his love for Martin Luther King that caused him to obstruct a monument in King's honor in the same very same courthouse. Surely it was King who inspired him to appear on Rev. Pete Peter's radio show in 1997. And certainly King would have approved of Rev. Peter's anti-Semitism and membership in the "white supremacist Christian Identity Church, which preaches against Jews, African Americans and other minorities."

Of course, it turns out that Moore isn't really all that interesting. He's just another in a long line of Republicans currently in the power structure, from Lott to Bush, who have benefited from and encouraged the conflation of Christianity with racism in the majoritarian Southern politics that has made them kings.

Terry's crocodile tears

As legendary political writer Peter Keating reported years ago in Talk Magazine, it was under Terry McAuliffe and Bill Clinton that the Democratic Party began its complete dependency on soft money. And it was under Terry McAuliffe that the average age of a Democratic donor reached 68, even as of the average Republican donor fell to 42.

So it's hard to take Terry McAuliffe's shock seriously when he says "We lost 70% of our disposable income." Nor does one feel much pride when he discloses his plans to hit single mothers up for cash.

It is Dean's success at raising money in small amounts from large numbers of people that holds the greatest promise both for the principles and, quite possibly, the long term success of the Democratic Party. And maybe that and McAuliffe's neglect of the party's donor base are reason enough for Dean to seriously consider the (possibly Rove planted) suggestion that he fire McAuliife if and when the opportunity comes.

Wednesday, August 20, 2003

Schwarzenegger: Some of my best movies are Mexican

Arnold when asked about immigrants: "I am very fond of the Latin community." The proof? He made four movies in Mexico. Later in the press conference he repeated his support for Proposition 187.

Arnold on the his budget numbers and where he'll make his cuts: "The public doesn't care about figures and graphs."

Just when you thought they couldn't get stupider

The latest from California is that they are planning to recall Cruz Bustamante too. Keep at it, Darrel, and thanks for not stopping at the California border! A few more years of your good efforts, and you'll realign Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona and Nevada for generations to come. THANK YOU DARRELL ISSA! Keep up the great work.
Univision: Arnold has already lost the Hispanic vote

Online now, a piece by Jorge Ramos, possibly the single best known TV anchor in the world of Latino television in the United States. To give you some idea of what this means, imagine Peter Jennings writing this piece in the New York Times about a major U.S. election. Entitled "Arnold, or How to Lose the Hispanic Vote," it is so stunning in its rage and reach that I am translating it and posting it in its entirety.

"Everything seems to indicate that Arnold Schwarzenegger is not interested in winning the Hispanic vote during the coming referendum in California. Why? Because up to now, he has made two awful decisions: the first, contracting the former governor of California, Pete Wilson, who has a well-earned repotation of being an enemy of Latino immigrants, to head his campaign; and two, letting all the media know that he was proud of it--that he voted for the anti-immigrant Proposition 187.

"Had the proposition not been declared unconstitutional by the courts, it would have left more than three million undocumented immigrants without public schools or social services, including one million Latino children. Arnold Schwarzenegger, and it has to be said, even if it hurts him, was in agreement that these million Latin children (who had nothing to do with their parents' decision to come to the U.S. illegally) not be allowed to study, live without access to a doctor in case of illness. It was with this that Schwarzenegger agreed in voting for 187.

"It is obvious that Schwarzenegger does not understand the terrible situation in which more than seven million undocumented immigrants live in the United States (half of whom are in California). His children don't have to worry that their father might be deported or have to survive on less than minimum wage; according to his last two tax returns, the Terminator earned 57 million dollars during 2000 and 2001 (he still hasn't turned in the 2002 return).

A closed door once they enter

"One of the saddest experiences it has been given to me to witness in the United States is how legal immigrants like Arnold criticize and attack those who are undocumented and make their lives impossible. They want to close the door to new immigrants after they have already entered. Arnold is an immigrant who came to this country (35 years ago) with few dollars in his pocket as stated byhis spokesman, Sean Walsh to the Washignton Post. But later, justifying his vote in favor of 187, Walsh said that Schwarzenegger believes that we live in one country, and in a state, of laws that have to be followed.

"The Terminator does not understand that the undocumented are neither criminals nor terrorists and that they are in the U.S. because in their home countries there aren't good jobs, and that here they are. I am completely sure that Schwarzenegger has benefited from the labor of the undocumented, whether he knows it or not.

"The food that has permitted him to have that voluminous body has been, surely, harvested by the undocumented. The mansion in which he lives was built, quite possibly, by undocumented hands. The people who attend on him in five star restaurants and hotels are, many of them, immigrants without legal documents.

"But Arnold the immigrant does not understand the situation of other immigrants with less money than he. Had he understood, he would not have voted for 187 and would distance himself as far as possible from people like Pete Wilson. Republicans like Arnold and Wilson don't understand that attacking immigrants is attacking Hispanics. 68 percent of all Latinos in the U.S. are immigrants or children of immigrants.

"Is Schwarzenegger anti-immigrant? His campaign, of course, says no, and that he has great empathy for all those who come in search of a better life.

"But beyond these vague declarations to the press, Schwarzenegger has not done anything concrete for the Latino immigrants he so claims to understand. On the contrary, there are different press reports including one from the Mexican daily Reforma and another from MSNBC that suggest that during nine years he used the word "brownies" to refer to Latinos and Mexicans. I have spent days investigating the supposed declaration and, in honor of the truth, I have not yet been able to confirm it.

Proposal to Mr. Schwarzenegger

"But to go beyond whether or not he insulted Hispanics by using the word, I propose something to Schwarzenegger. If he really worries about immigrants and Latinos, let him say publicly that he was wrong to support 187 and let him remove the controversial and divisive Pete Wilson from his campaign.

"Just as the Jewish community wants the Terminator to condemn his friend and Austrian compatriot Kurt Waldheim, the ex-Secretary General of the U.N. accused of forming part of an assassins' unit of the Nazi Army during World War II, the Latino community should demand that he demonstrate that he is neither anti-Hispanic nor anti-immigrant.

"But I fear that Schwarzenegger did his political calculations and already made his decision. He knows that Hispanics, even though they are a third of the population of California, only constitute 12 percent of its electorate. That is why he prefers to woo the 59 per cent of Californians who voted in favor of 187 and let the Hispanics vote for the principal Democratic candidate for the governorship, Cruz Bustamante.

"Arnold is teaching us the classic lesson of what any candidate should to lose the Hispanic vote. Being anti-immigrant in California, sadly, keeps earning votes. But there is nothing worse than when an immigrant forgets his past and turns his back on others like him. And Arnold's back sure is wide."

Arnold to move right?

John Fund quotes Dana Rohrbacher as saying that "Arnold opposes partial birth abortion and will support the Boy Scouts in their fight over membership standards."

Perhaps Lou Sheldon will find at least some comfort in Arnold's latest stance.

Tuesday, August 19, 2003

Those exciting California Democrats

Having just suffered through today's campaign appearances in California, all I can say is that there actually is one person in California who is as boring as Gray Davis. It's Cruz Bustamante.

The only inadevertently entertaining moment in an otherwise soporific appearance came when he responded to a reporter's question about his relationship with the governor on a day that it was revealed that they had barely spoken in four years: "I'd say my relationship with him is as good as anyone else's in Sacramento."

Janklow: old and new

Read Kos for the latest on the Janklow story. And read this and this for some background on South Dakota's wildly popular former governor.

Bush Administration finally finds a partner in the Middle East

Terrorists have finally struck a blow against the institution the Bush Administration hates most of all: the United Nations.

Now that the Bush administration has destroyed the United States' credibility as a force for good in the world, the nation's only remaining advantage in the war against terror is the strategic idiocy of its enemies. Today's tragic events are a case in point.

Paul Newman joins JUSIPER among the Fair and Balanced

Just in case FOX hasn't been ridiculed enough in the last week, here's a final blow from a real American institution.

Mitt Romney's courage

It turns out he thinks recalls are fine, but only during a second term,
lucky for him.

Monday, August 18, 2003

Random recall thoughts of the day

1) The recall will likely not be held on October 7th as scheduled. There is plenty of reason to believe that the federal courts will postpone it.

2) Gray Davis' remarkable move on domestic partners puts Arnold in a pickle. Arnold move to his left on this issue without proposing gay marriage, which he surely won't do. Davis' move forces him to take a stand agreeing, which will further alienate any Republicans who are vaguely for gay rights but wouldn't want to go that far (the squishy middle referred to in our recent post). Any kind of equivocation will make him look like just another politician, losing him support in the "radical middle" he depends on. Meanwhile, Bustamante will stand with Davis on this.

3) The right will have to choose between McClintock and Simon. If they get their act together they will try for their 20+% with one of them, probably McClintock. But those are two huge egos, and it's hard to know if either would quit without a Roveian push.

4) So all Arnold is left with now is the (admittedly huge) straight white and straight Asian middle. And newly registered voters. Does anyone know how many new one have gotten on the rolls since Arnold announced? We may find out, apparently, tomorrow.

5) California is simply not going to go Republican in 2004 no matter who the governor is. But in a recent story put out by Zogby, political scientist Shaun Bowler of UC Riverside suggests that the in the long run the recall will be remembered for the emergence of Bustamante and what he calls the "sleeping giant" that is the Chicano vote.

[UPDATE: Looks like we will get one federal ruling by Wednesday.]

Sunday, August 17, 2003

A race to watch

Can Bobby Jindal make the Louisiana runoff? If he does, this (all right and Kentucky, Kos has convinced me) may become the most interesting gubernatorial race in the country.
Time to get cable

Because this looks like one for the ages.
Joe's secret weapon

A fascinating edition of Road to the White House tonight on C-SPAN featured a horrendous speech by Karl Rove to a bunch of Louisiana Republicans who had the temerity to not only lunch through his remarks but barely applaud. These humiliations must be worthwhile in the service of a higher cau$e. One interesting remark was something to the effect that it would be a tough race, possibly quite as close as the last one--particularly
with "the other side understanding the importance of the stakes this time (meaning, among other things, that they didn't last time)."

Far more enjoyable was following Hadassah Lieberman around Oklahoma. The audiences, though miniscule, seemed enormously appreciative. And she talked policy too, mentioning "Joey" and his opposition to Republican's removal of tax refund checks for low wage workers.

Is she the only Democrat willing to talk about the magnitude of that outrage? It feels like we have heard one candidate debate after another--on health care in Iowa and with sheet metal workers in Philadelphia with no one even mentioning it.

And Hadassah didn't stop at noting her husband's opposition to this Republican move. She went on to point out that 30% of Oklahomans fell in that category. [Maybe someone ought to find out how many members of our armed forces won't get a check either. I hear $964.80 doesn't go as far as it used to.]

Maybe she's the one who should be running.

News from Bush lovin' South Carolina: "Screw the poor. Oh wait, scratch that, I'm one of them."

In the New York Times tomorrow a remarkable look at South Carolina's economy and its citizens changing views of George W. Bush.

The article takes pains to point out, there is little chance it's going to go blue anytime soon--a strike, at least for accuracy in sifting through facts, something the New York Times failed mightily to do in its bizarre analysis of its recent poll on Hispanic political attitudes.

But hidden towards the bottom are two striking facts. One is that in a room full of business leaders, all of whom voted for Bush in 2000, all of them their hands when asked if they would "be willing to abandon him in 2004." And the second is that South Carolina has lost more jobs during the Bush years than all but two states: Massachusetts and... Ohio.

Ohio.

Someone better call Larry Sabato.

If Pete Wilson runs in 2004

That would take California out of contention definitively. Link originally courtesy of the greatly mourned MYDD.
Likeability, schmikeability

Since Sini raised the subject in the last post: I don't buy the likeability argument. Sure, maybe it works for some number of uncommitted voters. But Al Gore didn't win the popular vote because people thought he'd be fun to have a beer with. By the way, Howard Dean plays blues harmonica and guitar (slightly, at least). Voters do like a rock star: witness 1992 and '96.

Bush's men to Novak: "Put the word out, we think it'll be Bush v Gephardt."

Dean's the one with the buzz, but Gephardt's lock on every union except the AFL-CIO itself has convinced the presidents' men that he is the nominee. Or at least those are this week's talking points.

Don't get me wrong: I love Robert Novak. He is probably one of the country's best political reporters when it comes to inner debates in the Republican party. But he is otherwise the Simon Cowell of reporting: his "objective" reporting is generally designed to promote the day's agenda.

Gephardt's speech at the Manchester rally where he received the Teamsters' endorsement from none other than Hoffa himself was a surprisingly emotional affair. In an age of stronger parties fifty years ago he might have seemed like the logical candidate. But union members do not vote monolithically even in Democratic primaries.

And it's an open question as to who will win the latest, newest presidential hurdle: the unguarded moments primary. And what happens if it's Sharpton?
Spoiled brats

Won't it be great if Arnold loses the election because the GOP has their own Nader?
I don't even know where to start.

This comes via tbogg, one of the most revolting exchanges I have read, even among MW's.

Saturday, August 16, 2003

Backlash or confusion?

Between the Supreme Court's landmark Lawrence decision, the lamentable new shows on Bravo and the debate over gay marriage, gay rights have been on the agenda in ways they never have been before. Last night's report on 20/20 by Chris Connelly was a slightly better than average version of the somewhat vapid albeit racy TV coverage the topic has gotten of late with the now usual questions about post-Lawrence backlash. Liberal Oasis has just run a brief note on the recent polling that has caused these kinds of characterizations that gets it just right.

Friday, August 15, 2003

Boxing Bush into a corner

The Christian Coalition may be okay with Arnold's stance on gay rights, but Gary Bauer's not. Bauer, the ultraconservative who sought the GOP nomination in 2000 and now heads the Campaign for Working Families, told NationalJournal.com that the White House better beware:

I think the White House certainly understands now that these are not issues you can try to maneuver on or satisfy everybody about. Either marriage is between a man and a woman, or it's something entirely different. We are confident that going into 2004, the Republican Party generally -- and the president specifically -- will defend traditional social values and resist this part of the gay rights agenda.
...
I know the people that work there and I know the new RNC chairman and I know they understand what the nature of the Republican vote is. And that vote is not comprised of gay rights activists. It's comprised of people who have fairly traditional understandings of most of the social issues that the country faces. If that traditional vote -- pro-life, pro-family, et cetera -- does not come out in massive numbers in November 2004, there's absolutely no chance that the president will enjoy a second term.


Sounds a lot like Cuban Americans' complaints in Florida, doesn't it?

Californians want Wilson back for Senate

It's always a tight race a year before for Boxer, who has never been as popular as Dianne Feinstein.

In the meantime, this poll sure comes at the wrong time for Arnold.

If the media start talking about Pete Wilson for the Senate just as Arnold is running for governor, Chicano turnout up will go up by yet another five percent. And a brand new generation, a decade removed from the racebaiting campaign that propelled Pete Wilson to victory, will identify racism with Arnold, George W, and the entire Republican Party.

Latinos in El Paso and New Jersey thrilled with Arnold/Pete Wilson's endorsement of 187!

Roger Hernandez: "Why was the first act of the Schwarzenegger campaign to play the race card? That is something Arnold needs to explain immediately."

Arabs love new magazine!

In the second half of his piece in the San Francisco Chronicle, Edward Gomez notes the world's incredulous reaction to the State Department's launch of Hi magazine (part of the hearts and minds project, presumably).

Immediate reaction from the rest of the world reflects a bit of incredulity.

Well paid military loves Bush, fighting!

John McCain often railed against the food stamp army during the 2000 campaign.

Yesterday Josh Marshall made reference to this piece by Edward Epstein in the San Francisco Chronicle in the Atlanta Journal Constitution which stated that the Bush Administration actually planned to cut pay for troops actually in the thater of operations.

Although it now appears they reversed themselves within a day, those of us interested in family values should note that the family separation allowance, "which goes to help military families pay rent, child care or other expenses while soldiers are away," was to be cut from $250 back to its prewar level of $100.

General Clark, over to you.

Thursday, August 14, 2003

Bush fundraised during power failures

Much as he hates New York and the rest of the region of his birth, you would think he might have worried about apperances. I mean Ohio, at least, isn't a blue state.

Pat Robertson for Arnold?

Have we actually come to this? Roberta Combs, President of the Christian Coalition, actually hinted at the moral tenability of a vote for Arnold despite his support of gay rights and abortion.

While I con't forsee an endorsement, the idea that the (apparent) leader of that group would equivocate on a candidate whose views are surely anathema (perhaps while awaiting talking points from Pat and Karl) is nothing short of astounding.

I guess Jefferson was right: the separation between church and state was meant, as much as anything else, to protect religion from corruption. It may be too late, alas, for them.

Dean and farm states

Matt Towery's piece in today's Atlanta Journal-Constitution highlights Dean's odd coalition of techies, urban progressives and... farmers. As we discussed before, this is very imporant, to the extent that it can put states like Missouri and Ohio in play. Towery, a Republican, might think so too.

States' Liberty Party Recommends Bill Simon

and not Arnold Schwarzenegger, who gets the worst of their quote war.

More Lou Sheldon

Lou Sheldon is furious at Arnold.

You would think he'd be angrier at the governor, who, for obvious reasons, has strong support in the gay community. But whom will gays vote for in the second part of the ballot? Cruz Bustamante, who also has a strong record on gay causes, or Arnold? I suspect the answer is that it depends on how cautious Arnold's handlers tell him to be on this issue. Equivocations will lose him those with strong positions on either side.

A "classic presidential-level misjudgment"

Wesley Clark speaks to why war in Iraq represented a "classic presidential-level misjudgment", on CNN last night:

Seems to me that the only terrorists we're finding there are the ones who have come back in to attack us since we arrived.

That's only part of his answer, but a big part.

Having WMD=Wanting WMD?

Josh Marshall's piece this morning on the Bush administration and weapons of mass destruction is important reading. This administration's plan is to reduce the threshold for WMD (aside from those whose use some in the current leadership were aware of and didn't mind) to astonishingly little. And as he points out, many on the left have been complicit, due either to rhetoric or intellectual laziness.

The argument for war was always based on imminent threat to the U.S. or its interests. Old Bush 41 hands like Lawrence Eagleburger argued that this had to be the standard, at least until just before the war:

"Lawrence Eagleburger, another member of the first Bush team, also weighed in yesterday with a claim that unless Hussein had 'his hand on the trigger' of a weapon of mass destruction, he could not understand the White House urge to attack."

Perhaps, in the end, he too was swayed by the overwhelming proof that Bush 43 presented to the public.

A movie no longer being watched

Agreed, Sini, the civic lesson will end as suddenly as it began. The following applies almost equally to California as a whole:

In contrast to the boroughs of New York and the wards of Chicago, Los Angeles was organized voter by voter, with no intervening structures like political parties or labor unions standing between the voters and the city as a whole. When voters were aroused, which is to say, when they were concentrating, it became a plebiscitary democracy, with each atomized voter entering momentarily into the political system on a one-to-one basis, then forgetting about it. In nonpolitically intense times, which is to say most of the time, Los Angeles as government, as politics, tends to disappear from voters' consciousness like a movie no longer being watched.

-Historian Kevin Starr

CA: "If it bleeds it leads."

All it took was the political equivalent of a car crash. My guess is that the media's newfound interest in civics, such as it is, will end October 8th.

Wednesday, August 13, 2003

Danger zone

From Univision.com: "[Democratic state senator] Mario Gallegos suggested that the [TX Senate] Republicans also 'unleash the dogs, get the firehouses out and wash us with them,' a reference to racial battles in the 1960's."

Last paragraph of the story: "Democrats believe the Republican proposal of new districts would reduce representation of minorities in Texas."

Adding to the symbolism of course is that Gallegos and the rest of the Democratic senators are in New Mexico, under the protection of none other than Bill Richardson.

Sometimes synergies can occur inadvertently, cutting across huge swaths of a population (or subpopulation). This is a dangerous moment for the Republican Party.

The final ingredient

Speaking of that final ingredient of Sini's: a Scripps Howard poll has Americans increasingly doubting the war:

Confidence in Iraq war falls below 50 percent

Public confidence in America's military involvement in Iraq has eroded recently with 42 percent of U.S. adults now describing themselves as 'not certain' that committing troops to war was the right thing to do.

Certainty that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction immediately before the war also has declined, according to a survey of 1,048 people conducted by Scripps Howard News Service and Ohio University.

The poll, taken over two weeks ending Aug. 12, found a broad drop in commitment for U.S. involvement in Iraq over a similar survey taken in early May, shortly after President Bush declared an end to major military operations there. At that time, fewer than a third of Americans said they had doubts about the correctness of the war and the military occupation that followed.


Meanwhile, soldiers' families protest the war in Atlanta.

Perfect timing for Wesley Clark to jump in.

Cuba and Florida

We await word from our JUSIPER office in Miami on this situation. In a one point election, a Democratic victory in FL almost certainly means the presidency.

In the meantime, two questions for everyone: what exactly would Cuban support for a Democratic candidate entail in terms of U.S. foreign policy? And is the potential for lifting the trade ban and attaching it to an appropriations bill a serious threat? I don't really know, but I am intrigued enough at folks like Idaho Sen. Larry Craig's support of the proposed legislation (as well as the whole situation's bizarre link to the European Community) to wonder.

Return of the living dead

It's like a cheesy old B-movie: three men who should have been wiped out by the Iran-Contra scandal of the 1980s have risen from the political graveyard to walk among us again.

Zombie #1: John Poindexter, the convicted and pardoned admiral who presided over part of the affair, recently quit a new job at the Pentagon for his role in its terrorism futures market. Zombie #2: Manucher Ghorbanifar, the shady arms dealer who arranged tenuous connections with Iran for gullible Reagan aides, recently had a meeting with Pentagon officials hoping for a leg up in their war on terrorism. Zombie #3: Oliver North, the architect of Iran-Contra, is now expected to join other religious fanatics in denouncing Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Once you dig up one skeleton, the whole graveyard thinks it can rise.

My favorite Iran-Contra story, by the way, is the time North and a couple of other players bought a cake in Israel and brought it to Iran as a gift for the so-called "moderates" they were meeting there. During Ramadan.

Back to Brazile

The latest results from the Washington Post poll take us back to our earlier discussion on Donna Brazile, Timothy Bergreen and Mark Penn.

Bush's favorable-unfavorable has not changed much since early July; it is now 59-37. (My inclination is to count the much cited Pew poll, conducted during a three week period during which the uranium allegations came to light just as the public was coming to realize how many young Americans were dying in Iraq, as accurate but also a local minimum.)

At this point, voters DISAPPROVE of Bush on the economy 45-51. They DISAPPROVE of his handling of the budget 41-50 (one issue Dean is head and shoulders above and to the right of the Democratic pack). Even on taxes, Bush's supposed forte, voters are essentially tied 49-46.

The only area in which he is approved of is, however ironic it may seem to many, "the situation in Iraq," where he receives 56-41 approval. That 56 is not far from his overall approval of 59, and it is obviously its sole cause. A solid majority continues to think the war was worth fighting; if anything those numbers (61-35) have returned to their June levels.

In short, all ingredients for a Democratic victory--and actually, a landslide--are already present, save for one. A Democrat without credibility on security will not be elected. Remember, it's not just the DLC that thinks this--Donna Brazile does too. It is simply not true that Howard Dean (or John Edwards) can't be that candidate. But he must acquire that credibility--by convincing Americans that foreign affairs have been mishandled and/or by convincing he can do better.

The lessons of 2002 are twofold: success depends on mobilizing the party base and credibility on security. This poll is further proof.

What Cheese Whiz has to do with winning the presidency

Tsk, tsk. John Kerry, man of the people, in Philadelphia:

"the Massachusetts Democrat went to Pat's Steaks and ordered a cheesesteak -- with Swiss cheese. If that weren't bad enough, the candidate asked photographers not to take his picture while he ate the sandwich; shutters clicked anyway, and Kerry was caught nibbling daintily at his sandwich -- another serious faux pas.

'It will doom his candidacy in Philadelphia,' predicted Craig LaBan, food critic for the Philadelphia Inquirer, which broke the Sandwich Scandal. After all, Philly cheesesteaks come with Cheez Whiz, or occasionally American or provolone. But Swiss cheese? 'In Philadelphia, that's an alternative lifestyle,' LaBan explained."


This reminded me of an appearance by Jimmy Carter on Letterman, years ago. Carter was talking up Habitat for Humanity, and he'd brought some video of himself, Bill Clinton and Al Gore helping out on one of the charity's house-building projects in Atlanta. Jimmy and Bill were taking nice big swings with their hammers, but Al was tapping a nail repeatedly - exactly the wrong way to wield the tool. Think George H.W. Bush at a supermarket scanner. Or Michael Dukakis in a tank.

I have a great deal of respect for Kerry, but the man needs some work.

Who does Ann Richards like?

From Larry King Monday:

RICHARDS: The one I like of the whole bunch so far is Howard Dean, the governor ... of Vermont.

KING: I met him a couple weeks ago. Why do you like him of the whole bunch?

RICHARDS: Well, he's the only one saying anything. I like candidates who tell me something that is going to make a difference to me. And Howard Dean is a doctor. He knows all about medical care. And he's talking about health care in this country, which I think is important.


Lots of other interesting stuff in the transcript.

Why wouldn't Bush endorse Arnold?

So he's pro-choice and allegedly pro-gay rights. Could he really want to soak the rich too? Maybe Bush is afraid of how his base would react to his support of that kind of Republican. After all, it's only his affection for plutarchy that gets him the big bucks. And only his pro-life stance and homophobia that get him the Solid South. [And yes, as John McCain learned the hard way, it's Bob Jones too.]

In the meantime, the White House is terrified that this whole Pete Wilson episode is going to backfire across ALL Latino groups. And that would explain why the White House seems to be trotting out the same line every day to any Latino reporter who is willing to listen.

Note this quote from the first paragraph of La Opinion's lead article today written by Maribel Hastings:

"While in California the final list of gubernatorial candidates was being defined and the principal aspirants began to define the details of their platforms, the Administration of president George W. Bush still resisted committing to a candidate and limited its expressions of support to Arnold.


"In the meantime, the admission that Schwarzenegger supported Proposition 187, considered anti-immigrant, and the name of Pete Wilson as his campaign chief created perplexity among Republican leaders in Washington."

The article goes on to say that the White House has not openly supported Arnold and won't this weekend either. It then quotes a Latina activist "who preferred to remain anonymous" who stated that

"even the veiled support that Bush gave Schwarzenegger Friday could jeopardize the President with Latino voters not only in California but across the country.

"'Supporting a Republican who, though himself an immigrant has anti-immigrant positions is a bad signal and demonstrates at the very least a lack of sensitivity towards the Latin community,' indicated the Latina activist and expert.

"Schwarzenegger not only supported Proposition 187 but also belonged to the Advisory Board of U.S. English, an organization that opposes bilingual education.


"'It seems they still haven't learned from the political disaster that hit Republicans in attacking California immigrants. The same people are using the same strategies that failed in the past.'"

Tone deaf Arnold

Hard to believe, but it looks like Pete's boys will be running the show. What's perplexing about it is that he doesn't seem to care that we find out.

In a better world

Why are showbiz politicians always Republicans? In a better world she would be in charge.

Where's the video of this?

And to think Ralph threw some back, "reflexively" no less!

Camejo claims it was "the work of Democrats who may feel threatened by the Green Party's growing popularity."

I'm not sure one needs to be a Democrat to be angry at someone who ran the country into the ground, all in the service of his own ego and a Party whose platform he didn't even endorse. But what do I know?

Enough about the Terminator. How about the Exterminator?

Looks like those bounty hunters may have been after the the wrong guys.

"The 90's are over, man"

From La Opinión:



"Antonio González, president of the Southwestern Voter Registration Project predicted this [recall] election will have a high turnout that is unusual in these types of elections and [also] predicted that the Latino vote could reach 15 to 20% of the total vote.

"González believes that the relationship with Wilson is what damages Schwarzenegger most among Latinos.

"Having Pete Wilson as his spokesman is an unimaginable stupidity if he wants to protect his image as a friend of immigrants," said González, who was furious at the "presence of Wilson on television this weekend, defending and talking about 187 as if we were still in the 90's."

Tuesday, August 12, 2003

"Pete Wilson y Arnold, la pareja racista." Oh oh.

And it's not just Univision.com's readers who say that. It sounds like Univision has finally had to break its silence. The front page of its national news section states the following, with links to the full story:

"California gubernatorial candidate Arnold Schwarzenegger named Pete Wilson, promoter of xenophobic laws, chief of his campaign."

In the article itself they note that Telemundo's channel 52, Univision's channel 32 and local daily La Opinion highlighted Arnold's polling advantage and his hiring of Wilson.

"Schwarzenegger, an immigrant born in Austria and who became a naturalized American after coming to the country in 1968, voted in favor of the initiative, recognized the actor's campaign spokesman, Darrel Ng.

"The proposition is considered one of the most retrograde and anti-immigrant measures ever put in place in California, since it not only regused educational services to undocumented aliens but caused severe persecutions and discrimination against them."


Particularly intriguing is this comment by a Republican operative, who said that he and his cronies turned pale [seriously, that's what the article says]

"when we heard about Wilson's designation. [It] will represent a grave problem for Arnold, because the president (George W.) Bush will not support him, since it would be a step backwards in the relationship he has built with Hispanics."

Native Americans for McClintock

Perverse yet intriguing: Daniel Weintraub reports that Native Americans may support both Bustamante and a Republican Schwarzenegger opponent.

Arnold ahead by a lot. Kind of.

He's ahead of Bustamante 31 to 18 according to an MSNBC poll released Monday. Another 26% are undecided. But the Monday poll shows Latinos voting for Schwarzenegger 32-23. How much do you want to bet the numbers have changed a bit?

If that 78% turnout number is for real, by the way, all bets are off. And it turns out that the law in California is that registration is allowed until 15 days before the election. So grassroots organizers have their work cut out for them.

Look out Terry

Looks like Dean isn't the only one who wants to get rid of Terry McAuliffe. Josh Benson of the New York Observer reports that Al Sharpton has his knife out as well.

Oh dear.

Looks like Austin Powers was right. Maybe a newly jobless Tony Blair can play the villain in the next film.

Speaking of Univision ...

This explains why Univision poses possibly the biggest threat to an emerging democratic majority.

Meanwhile, over at univision.com...

one notes two things: first, and this is unbelievable, not a single article describing Arnold's links to Pete Wilson and Proposition 187. What's that all about?

But word seems to have gotten to readers anyway. The numbers in their online poll have registered something like a 15 point shift in two days, which, despite the tiny sample size, is remarkable because the earlier votes are still there. And the comments have gone from early pro-Arnold enthusiasm to an angry and rather bitter 187 central. The last day's posts suggest a scab harshly ripped off.

The victims of Republican social conservatives' intolerance aren't the only members of the Democratic base. So are a slew of other people--put them all together, you get 30-40% of the state's vote. That can mean a lot when there are three people running. It can mean even more when there are 193.

The storm is gathering

At least that's what Lou Sheldon says. Will Arnold have the guts to pull a McCain and make this a race about something that matters? And if so, will Bush be able to stand by him and hope to keep his base?

There are some who argue that the the long term future of the nation depends more on reforming the sickness within the Republican Party than electing Democrats. The problem is that there are so few Republicans willing to take up the challenge. If Arnold does (unlikely given the company he keeps) and wins, there are reasons to be disappointed at the disrespect shown to a legitimate election. But we should always pay close attention to anything that forces Republicans to choose between an essentially hateful party base and the tolerance that is a prerequisite to a healthy polity.

Dean v Edwards

If Edwards becomes the non-Dean in the race (since, sadly and, somewhat inexplicably, it looks like Graham is fading even after two weeks of great coverage), it might not be inconceivable for the delegate totals to look stacked in Edwards' favor after Super Tuesday. It is, granted, his only realistic route to victory. But it's also one most observers stopped taking seriously when he was polling at 2%. Two more polls like this out of South Carolina and there will be a buzz.

Sunday, August 10, 2003

They've done it again: WSJ wins second Latest Load award

The Wall Street Journal's James Taranto calls MoveOn.org not only "far left" but "pro-Saddam", because the organization opposed the war in Iraq. Here's his reasoning:
Its position on the major issue of the day, whether to effect "regime change" in Iraq through military force, was essentially indistinguishable from that of Saddam himself.

In so doing, the WSJ wins the Latest Load, once again. By logical extension, the paper is also sticking it to such "radicals" as Gen. Wesley Clark, the former NATO commander and fourst-star general who earned accolades as "the ideal, the perfect modern officer - and, in fact, much of the defense and intelligence establishment, who similary opposed the rush to war earlier this year, too. So, for some at the Wall Street Journal, who sit safely and smugly behind (or under?) their desks, respected veterans and officers who've risked their lives for their country are suddenly in the same category as a ruthless dicatator and all his ugly deeds. (Do I hear echoes of the thuggish campaign that defeated Max Cleland?) Nuance is lost on the WSJ, as there seems to be no middle ground for them between one kind of aggression and another. Frankly, it's beneath them. Or, if they're still under their desks, above them.

This ought to help with the Chicano vote

So Arnold supported Prop 187. Does he stand by that decision? Is Pete Wilson, whose team he seems to be adopting wholesale, his governing model? Would he be willing to say that on Univision? Does he support Ward's new measure? What does he mean, in terms of legislation, when he claims to be pro-gay rights? And finally, are the Moonies right in saying Arnold's campaign will make the GOP appear more inclusive?

On the flip side, what interests will Arnold be beholden to? Will he stand up against Davis' shameless panders to the prison lobbies? If this is truly a revolt against the political class, is anyone going to take Bustamante's experience in the California legislature to be a plus?

Finally, what about those wacky federal courts? And when are they going to rule?

Saturday, August 09, 2003

54% of Canadians for gay marriage

Suggesting that their move towards gay marriage cannot be termed elite driven. And this without even watching half as much TV as Frank Rich.

Is Garimendi a spoiler?

The LA Times suggests that Bustamante is within striking distance of Arnie--and that the margin is roughly equivalent to the Garimendi's support.