Friday, October 24, 2003

Another poll, big difference

A Zogby Int'l poll; conducted 10/21-23; surveyed 500 likely Dem primary voters; margin of error +/- 4.5% (release, 10/24).

WH '04 Dem Primary Matchup
All Dem Ind Men Wom NH01 NH02 9/25 8/26 6/7 Fav/Unfav
Dean 40% 43% 35% 33% 46% 38% 42% 30% 38% 22% 77%/ 11%
Kerry 17 20 11 17 16 15 17 20 17 25 66 / 26
Edwards 6 5 7 8 4 4 7 2 4 2 50 / 14
Gephardt 4 4 4 5 3 5 3 6 6 7 49 / 32
Lieberman 3 1 7 4 3 3 4 5 6 10 44 / 43
Sharpton 1 - 1 1 - - 1 1 - - 13 / 57
Kucinich - 1 - - 1 - 1 1 1 2 16 / 23
Braun - - - - - - - - - - 21 / 27
Clark 6 8 4 12 2 8 5 10 2 n/a 38 / 23
Oth/Undec. 23 18 31 22 25 27 20 25 24 32

I really don't get this poll, if three other polls have Dean between 35% and 25% and Kerry at or around 18% with Clark in third, why does this one have Clark tied for 3rd/4th with Edwards (who hasn't been on the map really) and Dean at 40?

Seems to be either way off, or the other polls aren't smelling the Dean rout. Wasn't Zogby the guy that did polling for Jeanene Shaheen's ill-fated senate race in 2002, with polls that suggested it was close when in reality it was called at the close of the polls (like over 10 points)? Or was Zogby behind some other terrible numbers for 2002 polling...Maybe it was that "close" Colorado Senate race? All I can say is, I really doubt Dean is up by that much.
More nastiness in Kentucky

The driver "of a campaign bus rented" by KY GOP GOV nominee/Rep. Ernie Fletcher "deflated a tire on a van owned" by the KY Democrat Party "at a Fletcher appearance in Shelbyville"

John Cheves of the Lexington Herald-Leader writes "Democrats use the van to carry The Job Terminator, a large, Fletcher-like head with sunglasses that party workers puckishly parade around at Fletcher events. The caricature is intended to tie the GOP candidate to job losses and the weak national economy."

Refusing to lose more jobs, the Fletcher camp won't fire the idiot that was caught by no less than two eye-witnesses. "It's the first time anything like this has happened," said Jeff Derouen, the Democratic spokesman. "It's not a good development." No indeed, but just watch it get worse. Republicans have no trouble getting their hands messy to get the job done.

Thursday, October 23, 2003

Getting down and dirty in the Bluegrass state

Kentucky's Gubintorial election in November is seen by many as a good bellweather of Bush's re-election chances, not just in this state but in general. And right now, AG Ben Chandler, the Democrat whose party has been tarnished by the current adulterous Governor, is neck and neck with US Rep. Ernie Fletcher, a Bush yes-man.

There have been tons of negative ads in this race, both Democrats and Republicans have comparied the opposition to dogs. But the old "southern strategy" is coming home to roost again in KY.

Jefferson Co. GOPers "intend to place Election Day challengers at 59 voting precincts in predominantly black neighborhoods, a move that NAACP leaders yesterday called blatant intimidation. The GOP election workers, most of whom live outside the targeted precincts in western and central Louisville, Portland and Newburg, will be on hand to challenge voters who they suspect aren't eligible."

Jefferson Co. GOP chair Jack Richardson IV said the "precincts were chosen at random or because" the GOP has had "trouble finding registered voter in those areas to serve as election workers. The challengers, who will receive the same training as precinct workers, could fill in if needed."

Dems called the GOP "challengers an attempt to intimidate black voters in what is expected to be a close race" between Fletcher and Chandler. Jefferson Co. Dem chair Tim Longmeyer: "They have only one purpose: to intimidate and suppress votes in the West End and other minority areas" (Shafer, Louisville Courier-Journal, 10/23).

Somehow I highly doubt that this polling places were chosen "randomly." The GOP has a history of alligning itself to the worst racists and religious zealots in the south, and have been rewarded with a sweep in the 2000 presidental election and an ever-increasing edge in state congressional delagations. Enough is enough. When will the GOP realize that intimidating blacks in the south doesn't get them votes from blacks in the north, or east or west? Why are they supprised that Bush got only 9% of the Black vote in 2000?
in the crosshairs

Washington Post's Chandrasekaran reports "attacks on U.S. troops in Iraq have increased sharply over the past two weeks, reaching a high of 35 a day, the commanding American general" said 10/22. Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez said throughout the summer "there were between 10 and 15 attacks on U.S. soldiers most days. Since early October, however, the number of daily attacks has fluctuated between 20 and 35" (10/23).

Out of those daily attacks, our brave soliders can only defeat so many. Give them more help Mr. President! Send in real allies with real numbers and decrease our relative number and exposure. Can't we find any friends to help foot the bill/watch the store? Oh that's right, you snubbed your nose at them repeatedly, now I remember. Thanks.

Wednesday, October 22, 2003

yet another poll

A Research 2000 poll; conducted 10/16-20 for the Concord Monitor; surveyed 600 likely voters; margin of error +/- 4% (release, 10/21).

WH '04 Dem Primary Matchup (asked of Dems only)
---------Now---------- --------6/17-19-------
All Men Wom Fav/Unfav All Men Wom Fav/Unfav
Dean 33% 35% 31% 66%/ 20% 21% 23% 19% 32%/ 12%
Kerry 18 17 19 63 / 29 30 28 32 68 / 16
Clark 14 16 12 55 / 18 2 2 2 12 / 1
Lieberman 6 8 4 53 / 26 10 13 7 49 / 24
Edwards 5 3 7 47 / 25 3 2 4 22 / 14
Gephardt 5 7 3 51 / 33 11 12 10 36 / 26
Kucinich 1 1 1 17 / 15 1 1 1 3 / 2
Sharpton - - - 5 / 63 1 1 1 7 / 57
Braun - - - 15 / 49 1 1 1 3 / 3
Undec. 18 13 23 18 15 21

WH '04 General Election Matchups
Bush 48% Bush 51% Bush 52% Bush 52% Bush 53%
Clark 41 Kerry 39 Lieberman 40 Dean 39 Gephardt 37
Undec. 11 Undec. 10 Undec. 8 Undec. 9 Undec 10
Step 1, open mouth. Step 2, insert foot.

My compatriot blogger and old High School friend Max Jupiter notes two very disturbing things from the Bush administration, again. "President George W. Bush traveled to Asia and gave a speech in Manila comparing Iraq to the Philippines, a former U.S. colony that was 'liberated' from Spain in 1898 and occupied for 48 years. Bush said that the Philippines, which he called 'the oldest democracy in Asia,' should be seen as the model for a new democratic Iraq, and then quickly left the country because of security concerns."

Wow. Where to start? How about the Phillippines being a model...actually that is what Iraq is now: a hotbed for terrorists with differing factions and discontented ethnic groups, with former military leaders who've got blood on their hands (East Timor anyone?). Better goal would be Bosnia, whose occational ethnic clashes are indeed serious and the groups will take generations to truly trust each other (would you if they killed a family member?) but the overall violence level is still much better than say Detriot or DC. And guess who is responsibile for the Balkins? Gen. Wesley Clark, Richard Holbroke, Sec. Madiline Albright, NATO, and President Clinton. Guess which one is running for president?

Back on topic...What about Bush's pro-colonialism statement? Don't you just love these? I guess his neo-con team wants Iraqi as America's oil-bitch/colony. Just ask the British how well that worked. Weren't colonies so 19th century? Maybe Bush is trying to make them cool again.

OK here's the next juicy nuggett, again thanks to Max J., "Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld defended Lt. Gen. William Boykin, the deputy undersecretary of defense for intelligenceand war-fighting support, who was videotaped making a number of impolite comments about Islam. Boykin was also videotaped propounding a new theory of American electoral politics: 'Why is this man [George W. Bush] in the White House?' he asked in a speech. 'The majority of Americans didn't vote for him. Why is he there? And I tell you this morning that he's in the White House because God put him there for a time such as this.'"

First off, the guy is an idiot. You don't go to church and say crap like that in your uniform while it is being taped. He has a right to believe that stuff, but it is not the policy of the US government. Because A) we have separation of church and state in the US B) Bush has repeatedly made clear that this is not a religious war, but a war for "civilization" (whatever that means, Francis Fukuyama aside) and C) although Bush likes to think he too was chosen by God to lead, he doesn't like those 'he wasn't elected' comments anymore, especially from his supporters (you know, like people he appoints to important thinks like oh say finding the weapons of mass destruction that Saddam/Syria/terrorists now have). Fareed Zakaria makes a pretty good argument for firing this appointee. "This is not simply a matter of symbolism, though that is important because this story is now being broadcast across the globe. [It's] The position Boykin holds [...] Is this a man who will be able to objectively sift through intelligence and analysis about the state of Muslim societies, the difference between moderates and extremists, the distinctions among various fundamentalist groups? Or does he look at them all and see ... Satan?"

On the other side, Cal Thomas seems to think this is just the dog of political correctness out of get him. But I think anyone with their head screwed on should tell him to shut his piehole. After all, describing his battle with a Somali (Muslim) warlord, he has said: “I knew that my God was bigger than his God. I knew that my God was a real God and his was an idol.” He has also repeatedly explained that America’s enemy was “a spiritual enemy ... called Satan.” The enemy will only be defeated, he added, “if we come against them in the name of Jesus.” It was this remark that lead Josh Marshall to compare him to Pope Urban II.
spoke too soon

Another poll, another result. This time, Dean is over 30 and Kerry's gap is much larger. "Dean had the support of 33 percent to Kerry's 19 percent in the Franklin Pierce College poll conducted Oct. 13-15." What to make of the two different polls? Sounds like 2002 all over again, bad polling because people don't want to be polled anymore.

The order is the same but the gap between Clark and Kerry is larger too. "In the latest poll, Wesley Clark was at 7 percent, Richard A. Gephardt 4 percent, Senator John Edwards at 4 percent, and Senator Joseph I. Lieberman at 3 percent."

Bottom line, the one two three is unchanged and Kerry, who used to be tied with Dean in July is now struggling to regain lost ground, although his positive ratings are high (then again so are Dean's-- 60%). And Kerry really has to win NH. They may pretend otherwise, but really his staff were bragging about a year ago that NH was already in the bag for them. So much for that.

Tuesday, October 21, 2003

polling update

In New Hampshire, Kerry is closing in on Dean. "Dean.... leads Kerry by 6 percentage points [the margin of error is 5 points] in a 10/17-19 survey by Suffolk University for WDHD-TV, a slightly smaller margin from a September poll. Dean was favored by 25 percent while Kerry... was backed by 19 percent. Dean led 26 percent to 17 percent last month." This trend is similar to other polls saying Dean's lead is narrowing and Kerry's positivies are back up. Maybe he finally decided to campaign instead of just announcing that he is running for president.

Meanwhile, "Wesley Clark was at 11 percent, Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman at 8 percent, Missouri Rep. Dick Gephardt at 7 percent, and North Carolina Sen. John Edwards at 4 percent. Carol Moseley Braun was at 1 percent, along with Ohio Rep. Dennis Kucinich. Al Sharpton was at 0 percent. About 23 percent in the poll were undecided." Remember that Dean is from neighboring VT and Kerry is from MA, and both have done tons of ads already (trust me I have to watch them even in Massachusetts).

Lieberman and Edwards have spent some serious time and money in New Hampshire, with branded cars and buses and town hall meetings. Clark has been up about 4 times in his life, spent only as much money as a campaign office, flights up and rental cars can buy. Yet he is in double digits and free from the burdens of campaigning in Iowa, where Kerry just sent out job offers for Iowa field hands.
Human bodyshield

It seems the venerable Slate has finally agreed with me that Clark and Lieberman's move out of Iowa was a smart one, and it worked well so far.

William Saletan argues that by both pulling out, the story became Iowa and not Clark or Lieberman. "Every story on them today is full of quotes from Iowa Democrats and rival campaigns heaping pious, self-interested scorn on them for turning tail." To my earlier point yesterday that the punditry are saying watch out for IA to bite Clark/Lieberman in the butt in November 2004, Saletan retorts, "you may recall how little George W. Bush's debacle in the 2000 New Hampshire primary hurt his performance there in the general election."

Whomever on the Clark campaign leaked that they too were dropping out got a chalk board lashing from the General (who lost his voice from his extensive travels and speeches while having the cold) but should get a pat on the back from Joe's crew. It is weren't for Clark, there would have been more 'buzzard's circling the Lieberman campaign' stories.

And while it is true that Lieberman has less cash than Clark and not much more to show for over six months of running (besides some speeches and boos), this move clearly staves off the inevitable. If Lieberman can bypass both IA and NH then he might have a better shot at Oklahoma or Arizona which actually have more delegates to win over than tiny IA or NH.

Let's face facts here: New Hampshire is whiter than Utah, and much smaller than the beehive state too. Yet you don't see presidential wannabes kiss butt in Utah. Why? Well for one, it is a lock for GWB and secondly, its straw poll isn't until February 23, which is better than nothing, but still a long way away. It is true that New Hampshireties take their duty very seriously and vote in high numbers and are well educated about the candidates and their positions. But they are a bit spoiled, as are Iowans. Most states don't even see presidential candidates or nominees, let alone expect them to knock on their door and hold town hall meetings in their town/county. Stop hogging!

Monday, October 20, 2003

Mom and Dad got your back

Why is there all this Bush 41 revivalism? First there is a CNN documentary on his WWII heroics (which I am sure they were), and how Babs is going around on the talk shows plugging her memoirs.

I guess they forgot that they lost big time in '92. Or maybe they forget since Bush 43 is trying to make his time in office the second term his Dad never had. As Yogi Berra once famously said, "Its deja-vu all over again"

In 2000, people were tired of Clinton and his 'is' is mentality and they were sick of the 90s, with all it is corporate love fest and technology is the answer and the NewEconomy lies. They saw Bush as a flash back to some good old days that were never that good; but I guess Bush recessions seem not so bad when things are so good.

Another question, why can't 43 defend himself against the nine 'dwarfs' running against him? Why do Mom and Dad have to come to his defense, like 41 did when Clinton attacked then Gov. Bush in 2000, saying "I will tell the world what I think of him [Clinton] as a human being." Gee, I am sure that story would have been filled with superlatives.

I thought Americans had a revolution to rid themselves of classes and ruling elites and inherited titles. Maybe I have just been spacing out in my American History classes. You tell me.
Welcome

I am moving shop again since readers complained that the old blogs title was too negative. good point. Now old posts have been moved but the links and such are lacking, so go back to my old blog to read the links. Some are good and some are just to prove that I know how to use HTML on some level.

Anyway, enjoy and welcome to the conversation. Please post your queries and comments in the Shout out section. Thanks!
[ Mon Oct 20, 12:22:54 PM | David Billings | edit ]
Strategery

Lieberman and Clark have annouced that they will skip Iowa (since Clark is currently in 5th there and Lieberman is scoring somewhere between Sharpton and Kucinich).

Some in the press say that this is a really bad idea, arguing "Few have tried to bypass Iowa since the caucuses came to prominence in 1976, when Jimmy Carter used the state as a springboard to the White House. Those who have skipped the state since have had little success." Of couse, they seem to forget Bill Clinton in 1992 who lost both IA and NH in a crowded field or that IA winners seldom win the big kauhuna (just ask Gephardt) or even the nomination.

But we are getting ahead of ourselves. The point is, there are nine people running (well ok 3 of them are just for show but six is still alot) and the primary calendar is very compressed. No one knows how much momentum either IA or NH wins will bring since the next contests are in quick sucession.

Dean is betting on alot. He is in a strong position to win both IA and NH, although he could lose both. If Dean wins both decisively, look for most states to swing his way and for it to be a two man fight to the finish (Dean and the anti/un-Dean, probabbly Clark). However, if Dean manages to lose both, he is toast. No matter how much cash he still has, he is still now the presumptive front runner and to lose two in a row when he was in such a strong position would be deadly.

The more likely senerio is that Dean narrowly loses IA to Gephardt and wins NH. In that case, Gephardt is still around, and Kerry is left for dead but still shows up to the debates. Clark or Edwards wins SC, and then February 3rd becomes a critical date for all the real players. I will be hard for anyone who doesn't do well to stick around and not be a laugh (psst Kerry/Lieberman/Edwards that means you) .

For Clark and Lieberman to avoid IA is merely stating the obvious. They weren't going to win, so why waste time and money pertending like they would? Clark would have been lucky to crack 3rd, and that would have not really been worth it in the long run. Still Clark and Lieberman need to not totally alienate Iowans for fear that they will stray to Bush during the real election, since it went narrowly for Gore in 2000.

But if people like Gephardt Dean and Kerry are spending time in IA instead of NH and Clark can get 3rd or higher in NH along with win more of the SC and 2/3 contests (NM, DE, OK, AZ) then he will be in far better shape and really sneak up on them. As for Lieberman, best of luck, because you will need it.
[ Thu Oct 16, 04:15:23 PM | David Billings | edit ]
Finally

I guess the DLC had to acknowledge the surging Wesley Clark Campaign at some point. So today was the day that Ed Kilgore mentioned Clark's service plan. As you might have guessed, I think it is the best plan yet, and have offered to volunteer for America, joining the Clark Corps.

Ed summarizes the speech and plan like so:

"The $100 million program is designed to provide a better way to mobilize the vast skills and experience of ordinary Americans in times of crisis. Individuals who register with the Civilian Reserve will provide their occupation, skills, preferences about service, and their contact information. Members will sign up for five-year terms of service, during which time they could be mobilized for up to six months, if their specific skills and knowledge matched the crisis at hand, to work side-by-side with government agencies, non-profits, and non-governmental organizations. Mobilizations would focus on "voluntary calls to action," but the president would have the authority to call up as many as 5,000 reservists during a crisis if sufficient volunteers were not available. Reservists who were mobilized would receive a stipend, health care, and the same job protections accorded to military reservists. "

Of course, since he and Will Marshall (PPI president) are advising Kerry, they have give him props for his service ideas, which was good, but not as good as Clark's. Sorry!

Also, he has to mention Edwards too since DLC President Bruce Reed is advising him. Thank goodness they didn't mention Lieberman, since his candidacy has made the DLC a bit of a laughing stock.

Why has the DLC waited so long to talk about Clark? Well he was against the war, despite attempts by Lieberman, Kerry, and Dean to say otherwise. And that my friends is a cardinal sin to the higher ups who write these things. Even though he was dead right and they were high-minded but ultilmately, dead wrong.
[ Thu Oct 16, 01:09:47 PM | David Billings | edit ]
Reality Check

The President has been whining that the national media, who rolled over and played dead for him before during and (up until this summer) after the war in Iraq, has failed to report the good news that is coming out of Iraq and has taken his spin patrol off to the local reporters, in hopes of getting softball interviews. First of all, wasn't it the local Boston station who gave him the "pop quiz" right before his disastrous New Hampshire primary outing? What makes him assume that the local guys will be pushovers.

Second of all, I think the troops know even better than the president it seems, what is really happening, and it ain't pretty. A troop survey by Stars and Stripes what Talking Points Memo calls "not exactly a left leaning publication," reports that there is major moral problems in Iraq. Not that much of surprise given that their deployments have been suddenly extended, they are away from their families (some of whom have also been called up), benefits have been slashed, and there is no end in sight to the almost daily killing and maiming of American Troops in Iraq.
[ Thu Oct 16, 01:02:42 PM | David Billings | edit ]
Fresh from the Irony Department:

AP: "Bush told his senior aides Tuesday that he "didn't want to see any stories" quoting unnamed administration officials in the media anymore, and that if he did, there would be consequences, said a senior administration official who asked that his name not be used."

Yeah, I bet that Senior Administration Official really got the message.
[ Fri Oct 10, 02:23:35 PM | David Billings | edit ]
and now for some hopeful news

The Nobel Committee gave its coveted peace prize to someone who is doing good things for peace (read not Bush and not Arafat or Sharon) these days: Shirin Ebadi an Iranian female attorney who is Muslim, and is trying to bring about democracy and respect for human rights, especially women's rights in that country.

As odd as it sounds, the Middle Eastern country I have the most hope for is Iran. If they were ever to be able to overthrow those Mullas, they would instantly have a great democracy. We have lots of interested young people, a real parliament, a reform minded president, Iranians young and old alike wanting to be like the rest of the world. The only thing holding it all up are those reactionary old men in control.

The Nobel committee is again playing politics, however. Last year, they named ex-President Carter to slam Bush on Iraq. This year they are trying to get the UN and US more involved in a peaceful solution to Iran's nuclear threats. Save Rumsfeld's friends, I think most Americans favor an international based peaceful solution as well. Certainly not another stealth attack by the Israeli Defense Forces, who are trying to set up Bush's next cakewalk war with Syria.

Its all part of his re-election plan. Gen. Clark heard about the huge list countries the Pentagon wants to it in 2001. First on the list was Iraq, but guess who was next?
[ Thu Oct 09, 11:01:49 AM | David Billings | edit ]
Note to Nader: there is a difference

Now tell me, would a Democrat who has a ear to the president, and the ability to knock out any member of his party in a primary or any sort of election (see Alabama Gov. Bob Riley) ever say something like this, or its liberal equivalent?

Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform, what Ed Kilgore likes to call a "super-lobbyist" and close ally of the president, has offered a glimpse into the "unrestrained id of conservative ideology."

In an interview last week on Terry Gross' National Public Radio show Fresh Air, Norquist actually compared the morality of taxing the rich at higher rates to the Holocaust. Here's what he said:

NORQUIST: The argument that some who play to the politics of hate and envy and class division will say is, "Well, that's only 2 percent -- or, as people get richer, 5 percent, in the near future -- of Americans likely to have to pay [the estate tax]." I mean, that's the morality of the Holocaust: "Oh, it's only a small percentage. It's not you; it's somebody else." And [in] this country, people who may not make earning a lot of money the centerpiece of their lives -- they may have other things to focus on -- they just say it's not just. If you've paid taxes on your income, government should leave you alone, not tax you again.

GROSS: Excuse me one second. Did you just compare the estate tax with the Holocaust?

NORQUIST: No, the morality that says it's okay to do something to a group because they're a small percentage of the population is the morality that says that the Holocaust is okay because they didn't target everybody. "It's just a small percentage, what are you worried about? It's not you. It's not you. It's them." And arguing that it's okay to loot some group because it's them, or kill some group because it's them -- and because it's a small number -- has no place in a democratic society that treats people equally. The government's going to do something to or for us; it should treat us all equally. And the argument that Bill Clinton used when he wanted to raise taxes in 1993 is "I'm only going to tax the top 2 percent, so this doesn't affect the rest of you. I'm only going to get some of these guys, not you, others."

The challenge there, when people use that rhetoric -- in addition to the fact that I think it's immoral to separate the society -- but when South Africa divided society by race, that was wrong. When East Germany divided them by income and class, that was wrong. East Germany was not an improvement over South Africa. Dividing people so when you can mug them one at a time is a bad thing to do. Whether you do on racial grounds, religious grounds, whether you work on Saturdays or not grounds, economic grounds.

GROSS: So you see taxes as being, the way they are now, a terrible discrimination against the wealthy, comparable to the kind of discrimination of, say, the Holocaust?

NORQUIST: Well, when you pick, when you use different rhetoric, or different points for different purposes, and I would argue that those who say "Don't let this bother you, I'm only doing it -- the government is only doing it -- to a small part of the population," that is very wrong. And it's immoral. They should treat everybody the same. They shouldn't be shooting anyone. And they shouldn't be taking half of anybody's income or wealth when they die.

What? Thank goodness Ed is obsessed with his evilness Norquist much like how Mickey Kaus was obsessed with then NYT Editor Reines.

Josh Marshall picked up this two, saying in effect, "where's the outrage?" How about right here Ed and Josh? I am not Jewish but I think anyone except for the most inane think that is an apt comparison, to say the least.

Since when is progressive taxation even mugging or robbing? How about paying your fair share to help those who can't afford it? I tell I would love less taxes as much as the next guy, but hey I am also responsible. If private charities could rid us of seniors in poverty, homelessness, health care for the poor and elderly, school lunches for poor, adequate schooling, roads, policing, prisons, safe consumer products, a clean environment, the rule of law over power and wealth, unprofitable cures for diseases, national defense, and so on, then we could make government "small enough to drowned it in a bathtub" as Grover dreams of someday.

Until then, republicans pushing enormous and unstimulative tax cuts while raising the deficit expediently are not only irresponsible, but reckless and unfit to govern.
[ Wed Oct 08, 02:03:36 PM | David Billings | edit ]
Do Democrats Recall how they used to win California?

Amidst all the hullabaloo surrounding Schwartzengger's stunningly easy win over both his B ballot appointees and now soon to be ex-Governor Gray Davis, some one forgot to say why Davis and Busta-my-career lost.

Daniel Borenstein's piece in the Contra Costa Times sums it all up: "Democrats lost the center, and election". The DLC seems to get this point too, although tries to still defend their support for Davis and Bustamante in their latest "New Dem Daily."

It seems like Dems forgot that it was only 8 years ago that there was a Republican governor in California, and that he lost because he appealed to the extremes of their party. And while Arnold mouthed moderate-ness, Gray et al passed bills left and right that were blatant handouts to unions, immigrants and other Democratic base voters, i.e. he pandered to the other extreme.

Davis thought that the recall was like Clinton's impeachment in 1998 (or maybe Bill did too): simply rally the base behind you and they will keep you alive. But people forget that the recall was in the hands of voters who by a 3-to-4 margin, disapproved of Davis' "leadership" over the past 5 years, while Clinton held 60% approval ratings during the impeachment, so the comparison was invalid.

The lack of team work with Davis, and the pitiful campaigning and candidate in the case of Bustamante sealed the deal. In retrospect, the second Arnold got in and Sen. Feinstein stayed out, it was over. The Democrats seemed willing to sacrifice two bad pols at the alter of voter discontent and not ruin the careers of the other statewide electeds.

Now they are going to have to hope for Arnold's failure to run against him in 2006. Great work and good luck.
[ Mon Oct 06, 03:56:21 PM | David Billings | edit ]
To the Point

Once again, Joshua Micha Marshall has the Plame game neatly summarized into a neat litte package:

"It's next to certain that the president --- like the rest of those who read Novak's original column or heard about it --- knew this in mid-July. But it's absolutely certain he's known about it since September 27th.

And what has he done about it? Nothing.

...We now have the farcical spectacle of the Justice Department initiating a massive investigation --- with the net thrown almost comically wide --- in order to find out what the president could find out in a few hours, tops.

That's the whole story right there. "

Marshall is correct in rulling all this debate over journalistic codes of honor a circus sideshow. Novak's opinion and story-changing is obviously biased and in self interest. Ditto for almost every journo who has denied involvment or calls from Karl Rove or whomever it was that leaked it.

As Marshall says, "The only credible explanation [for why Bush's hasn't done anything to uncover the leaker(s)] is the obvious one: that he doesn't want to get to the bottom of it."

Unlike Marshall however, I am not sure that Bush will pay for him protecting his henchmen. It seems like Dubya catches all the breaks. Gets Cs at Andover, still gets into Yale. Gets Cs at Yale, still gets into Harvard Business School. Fails businesses left and right yet gets bought out and somehow makes money. Spends a couple hundred thousand on the Texas Rangers yet makes out a millionaire. Loses the popular vote, yet becomes president. Is faliling at 51%, and then gets a boost via 9/11. The Afgahistan war drags, then they win. Ditto for Iraq. Now the occupation is going badly, the Wilson/Plame leak is all the rage, and he is losing to almost all Dems according to polls.

Somehow I think something has got to give. The economy might go up, Iraq might get better, or maybe he will find Saddam or Osama... as Ella Fitzgerald once said "something's gotta give."

The guy just doesn't lose, damn.
[ Fri Oct 03, 11:38:14 AM | David Billings | edit ]
Who to Plame?

Bush that's who. Even if he didn't explicitly condone the leaking of a covert CIA agent's name, these tactics are par for the course of the Bush camp. They smear when they can't get ahead, the use smoke and mirrors to confuse where they stand and what their opponents stand for.

When McCain went into the swamp of South Carolina in 2000, Bush's Bob Jones University thugs threw any kind of mud-- race-baiting or other out right lies-- at him.

Sure Joseph Wilson gave money to Democrats, but he also gave money to Bush, he was appointed to his first ambassatorship by Bush's father. This is not a guy who had an axe to grind but felt he needed to tell the truth.

Even if they were "only 16 words." Bush decieved the American public into supporting war in Iraq, he had no plan post-Saddam, and he still doesn't Meanwhile, an average of one American solider dies a day. Meanwhile, he cuts taxes for the rich, meanwhile he cuts aid to military families.

Somehow, I am not surprised.
[ Wed Oct 01, 03:12:40 PM | David Billings | edit ]
If you want to know why I like Wes Clark, read this

TPM: Well let's start with--there's obviously a tradition in the officer corps of generals -- all officers -- having an apolitical stance when they're in the service. But people who vote in primary elections are very political people. Obviously you were in the Army for 34 years and you said that you were non-partisan during that time and then you came out and started thinking about your views and so forth. I think, again, for people who vote in primaries, that's a little hard to understand: You know, how can you be a man in your fifties and have put aside politics in that way? So how do you explain that? Again, for people who have really lived politics for most of their life and think about it a lot.

CLARK: I think it's a wonderful thing that people have dedicated their lives to politics because without that we wouldn't have a democracy. In our country, political parties perform an essential function. But for people in the military it's very hard to participate in party politics because you're always on the move and you don't have the time, the energy, the opportunities -- deployments and night maneuvers and so forth would screw up anybody. Sometimes some of the wives have been involved. But generally the men couldn't be. And there's also the Hatch Act, which says that you can't participate in uniform. So you can give money to a party or to a candidate, if you want, as an officer, but you can't do anything that indicates an official endorsement by people in uniform for someone in a political race.

It's a good thing. Because we don't want our military involved in partisan politics. Our military should be loyal to the commander-in-chief no matter who he is, no matter what party. Their job is to raise the professional military issues, and the big policy decisions ultimately have to be made by the people's elected representatives or their appointed representatives. That's civilian control of the military. It's the essence of democracy.

The old military tradition was that people in the armed forces didn't vote at all. Guys like George C. Marshall, they made a passion of not voting. The reason is, they said, "It's really up to the people, the electorate, to choose the president. I'll work for whoever, I don't want to get involved in trying to pick sides. Whoever the president is, I support him."

In the 1950s it became acceptable and expected -- well I shouldn't say expected because no one ever knew -- but acceptable to vote. And there were efforts made to make sure that soldiers got to vote through absentee ballots. We know after Florida that a lot of these ballots probably were never counted. There's no telling whether they were ever counted, and in most races they probably weren't. For me, I had served under a Republican president as a White House fellow. I was in the Office of Management and Budget--

TPM: This was President Ford?

CLARK: Ford. And I knew Dick Cheney and Rumsfeld -- I didn't know them personally or well; I was 30 years old and they were very important people. I was just a sort of special assistant to the director of OMB. But I knew him, and Paul O'Neill and other people, and respected them. Then I worked around with the Clinton administration when I was the J5 on the Joint Staff. I knew people there, high level officials, and respected them. And when I got out, I went into business and obviously I voted.

I voted for Al Gore in the election of 2000. I had voted for Bill Clinton previously. For me, the issue was: make sure before you pick a party -- you don't have to pick a party in Arkansas to vote, you just vote, and I voted in the Democratic primary, but that didn't mean becoming a member of the Democratic party. Before you pick a party, make sure you know why you're picking a party. Make sure you understand what the partisan political process is in America. What does it commit you to? What does it mean? How does it affect the rest of your life? What is it all about? And so I thought I'd take a look at both parties.

I was fortunate. I was well-enough known that both parties invited me to consider them. The Republican party invited me to participate in a fundraiser and run for Congress. The Democratic party invited me to be their nominee for governor of the state of Arkansas. I was tremendously honored by that. And it was clear as I looked at the parties, looked at the culture, watched the dialogue, it wasn't just that I had voted for Al Gore, I really believed in what the Democratic party stood for. And so when it came time to choose a political party, I chose the Democratic party.

TPM: Obviously, President Bush has been in office for more than two years, and a lot of Democrats, at least, think he's governed in a very ideological, very conservative way. A lot of the divisions among Democrats have been pushed aside because there's unity created by being in the opposition--sort of a beleaguered opposition, some would say. But those differences are still there in the Democratic party, and they would certainly come to the fore with another Democratic president. You have -- just the most obvious one -- in the '90s, Clinton who had a more New Democrat, pro-free trade, fiscal discipline message; the people in congress were more traditional Democrats, more leaning to the left. So, especially since your experience is more on the foreign policy side, which advisors are you listening to? Who are you gravitating towards in the context of the Democratic party?

CLARK: I read books and I listen to a lot of different people who talk to me. Laura Tyson's been a friend. She's helped me. On the policy team with me now are guys like Ron Klain. These are people who've got a lot of experience, they've seen a lot of issues go by. Gene Sperling, Bob Rubin have participated. Some of the former speechwriters have helped me.

But when you run it all through, it's really me. It's my views that have been shaped by a lifetime of public service, traveling across this country, putting a child through school, worried about how much--or how little--money I made, how to survive on very middle [income] wages while moving every two or three years. The wife would come in and say, "Ah, the towels don't match the bathroom and you've got to buy new bathroom mats. And now what are we going to do for curtains? The curtain rods don't fit in this kind of the house." You know, all these expenses of moving on top of not making very much money. It's just a question of who you are.

I have strong views. I have strong feelings about what's right and what's wrong in the way of policy. I taught economics at West Point, I taught political philosophy. I worked in the South Bronx in 1966 for three or four weeks in the neighborhood youth corps as part of the Johnson administration's anti-poverty program. So I had seen urban poverty. I worked as a counselor at the Little Rock Boys' Club back in the late '50s, early '60s, ended my last staff member position at the Little Rock Boys' Club in 1965, meeting kids from not the most affluent backgrounds. You get a certain feeling for America. And that's the feeling for the America I know. That's the America I want to-you know, I want to give everyone in America equal opportunity, including those people that are like I grew up with.

TPM: There are all sorts of critiques about the present administration's domestic policies. What's the central one? What's the central problem, the central flaw in this administration's domestic policy?

CLARK: There's an underlying ideological drive that overrides pragmatism. The American people want government to fix the things they can't fix themselves. The American people are basically individualists. They like each other; they're very charitable and generous; they're bound together in a hundred different ways -- they're not a big-government country. They're not socialists. But they recognize there are things they can't fix, like healthcare, or education--public education.

And this administration comes in with an ideology that blocks its ability to see, articulate, and resolve those problems. It's an ideology that's a sharpened sort of right-wing Republican party ideology. It has no real intellectual base to it. It's just the ideology of a party. By intellectual base, I'm talking first, trickle-down economics. No reputable economist stands up and says, "Trickle down economics really works." Because we know the marginal propensity to consume of people who are making $100,000 a year and less is much higher than the marginal propensity to consume of people who are making $350,000 a year and more.

So therefore when you say you're going to give money to the rich so they'll make jobs for the poor -- that's not a very efficient way of producing jobs in the American economy. We know that, all things being equal, that the lower the tax rate at the margin, the greater the incentive to earn the extra dollar. But we also know -- it's just human nature to figure that out -- that in a society where you've got a lot of people that are struggling to pay the electricity bill and the telephone bill and you've got a few people who don't care what the electricity and telephone bill is, that the few people who don't care about these things ought to pay a higher proportion of their income to help the rest of the country than the people who are struggling with the necessities in life.

I mean this is just sort of basic principles. I think most Americans understand and appreciate it. For some reason, this administration can't. This administration has crafted an ideology that basically is designed to roll back the institutions that have helped this country. They promote the ideology through sloganeering, through labeling, name-calling, talk radio. But when you really get down and scratch it, there's not much there.

For example, take the idea of competition in schools. OK now, what is competition in schools? What does it really mean? Well, competition in business means you have somebody who's in a business that has a profit motive in it. It's measured every quarter. If the business doesn't keep up, the business is going to lose revenue, therefore it has an incentive to restructure, reorganize, re-plan, re-compete and stay in business.

Schools aren't businesses. Schools are institutions of public service. Their job--their product--is not measured in terms of revenues gained. It's measured in terms of young lives whose potential can be realized. And you don't measure that either in terms of popularity of the school, or in terms of the standardized test scores in the school. You measure it child-by-child, in the interaction of the child with the teacher, the parent with the teacher, and the child in a larger environment later on in life.

So when people say that competition is-this is sort of sloganeering, "Hey, you know, schools need this competition." No. I've challenged people: Tell me why it is that competition would improve a school. Most of them can't explain it. It's just like, "Well, competition improves everything so therefore it must improve schools."

If you want to improve schools, you've got to go inside the processes that make a school great. You've got to look at the teachers, their qualifications, their motivation, what it is that gives a teacher satisfaction, what it is a teacher wants to do in a classroom. We've got to empower teachers. Give them an opportunity to lead in the classroom. Teachers are the most important leaders in America. All that is lost in the sloganeering of this party. And the American people know it's lost. So you asked me to give you one thing about this party that's in power -- it's the sort of doctrinaire ideology that doesn't really understand the country that we're living in.

TPM: In the primary process, one of the things that you bring to the table is your foreign policy resume. You spent a career working with national security issues -- obviously being a general and so forth. It seems in many ways, though, that the threats that this country faces in the medium-term or maybe even the long-term are more asymmetric threats rather than the conventional military threats that we thought of in the Cold War period. How does your background suit you to guiding a country and a world where those are the threats.

CLARK: Because in foreign policy and foreign affairs you have to work with allies. It doesn't matter what the threat is. And in the world that I learned to work in, international law trumps diplomacy. And, except under the most extreme circumstances, diplomacy trumps force. Force is the ultimate action, but improperly applied, force only kills people and breaks things. It gets you into something. It doesn't give you your success. I've had the experience of putting together the complete packages.

TPM: Let me just touch on a couple of issues. Iraq is the major issue now, but there are a few others sitting there that could rise to the surface at any point. On the Korean Peninsula, is there a line that we have to say they cannot cross? And if there is, where is it?

CLARK: Well there was a line, we already set it, but this administration let it go by. This administration thought it was better for the country to permit North Korea to go ahead with the nuclear development program rather than to talk to it. In other words, this administration was more worried about embarrassing itself in front of its right-wing base by talking to the North than it was in preventing the emergence of another nuclear-armed power that could proliferate nuclear weapons. It was a tragic--it will be, it's possible that it could be, a tragic miscalculation. And like much I see in this administration, it's an administration that's put politics over sound policy. People on both sides of the aisle understood that the way to resolve the North Korean problem was to talk to North Korea--honestly talk to them.

TPM: Which is what the previous administration was in the process of doing.

CLARK: It's what the Clinton administration had done. Is North Korea wily, tough, paranoid, nasty? Sure, it's all those things. Has to be. It's a twenty-three- twenty-four-million population impoverished country in Asia--in the land of super-giants. Its survival as a separate state is an historical anomaly and nobody knows it better than the North Koreans. And that's why they're hyper and paranoid. That's why they built up an arsenal of weapons and forces that defies all rational explanation but is ultimately highly rational from their perspective. And so why can't we talk to that regime? We talked to them in the past.

TPM: Given that we let them--we sort of gave them--a tacit green-light, and now they're clearly moving ahead with the plutonium process, the uranium process is probably not quite so far along, but they probably have--we at least assume that they have--some nuclear weapons, but how do we deal with it now?

CLARK: It's not too late to talk to them.

TPM: How about Iran?

CLARK: Iran needs to be worked through the international community. But it's difficult to work Iran through the international community when you have alienated much of the international community by your policy in Iraq. Iran was always a greater threat than Iraq.

TPM: Why is that?

CLARK: There was an odd--Iran is larger. Had more power, more wealth, more independence, more maneuver room. It was not under UN sanctions, was not under an imposed inspection regime. Been a much tougher problem. And, my friends in the Israeli Defense Forces would have been the first to acknowledge it.

But, in the odd kind of geopolitical chess board game this administration seemed to want to play, they seemed to assume that you could get your forces into Iraq, and, like a game of checkers, you could skip across the Middle East--plop, plop, plop--as though in some metaphysical sense, it was easier to come ashore up through the Euphrates and Tigris valleys into the heart of the Middle East and southwest Asia, and then cross into the mountains of Iraq--excuse me, of Iran--or pivot and go towards Syria. It was analytically, geometrically satisfying, even though those of us who understood the situation at the time said it made little sense. It was old-think. It was 19th century geostrategy--

TPM: So, the Great Game? A sort of a new version of the Great Game?

CLARK: It was the Great Game with modern equipment, and hypermodern risks. And, in reality, the problems with Osama bin Laden were not problems of states. They were problems of a supranational organization which alighted in states, used states, manipulated elements of states, but wasn't going to be contained and destroyed by attacking and replacing governments.

TPM: I noticed that Doug Feith, who's obviously the Undersecretary of Defense for Policy, had a statement a while back saying that the connection between terrorist organizations and state sponsors was, I think he said, the principal strategic thought behind the administration's policy.

CLARK: It's the principal strategic mistake behind the administration's policy. If you look at all the states that were named as the principal adversaries, they're on the periphery of international terrorism today. Syria -- OK, supporting Hezbollah and Hamas -- yeah, they're terrorist organizations. They're focused on Israel. They're getting support from Iran. It's wrong. Shouldn't be there. But they're there. What about Saudi Arabia? There's a source of the funding, the source of the ideology, the source of the recruits. What about Pakistan? With thousands of madrassas churning out ideologically-driven foot soldiers for the war on terror. Neither of those are at the front of the military operations.

TPM: Well, those are our allies, our supposed--

CLARK: Mentioning those two countries upsets the kind of nineteenth century geostrategy and the idea--this administration is not only playing that game, but they're more or less settling scores against the Soviet surrogates in the Cold War in the Middle East.

TPM: That being Syria, Lebanon

CLARK: The proxy states, Syria, Lebanon, whatever. These states are not -- they need to transform. But, why is it impossible to take an authoritarian regime in the Middle East and see it gradually transform into something democratic, as opposed to going in, knocking it off, ending up with hundreds of billions of dollars of expenses. And killing people. And in the meantime, leaving this real source of the problems -- the states that were our putative allies during the Cold War -- leaving them there. Egypt. Saudi Arabia. Pakistan.

TPM: Obviously, the big, really the foreign policy issue right now is Iraq. And, there was all the debate that went on before last March and April, which is sort of moot now. But the question is, what do we do now? We're in there, we have almost 150,000 troops -- that's an expense in itself -- let alone the reconstruction stuff. What do we do now?

CLARK: Well, I support our troops, and I want to see this be successful in Iraq, and that's a national imperative, that we be successful. What we've got to do is realistically look at the situation, put the right number of troops on the ground, hopefully, they'll be Iraqi troops. Secondly, there'd be international troops. Last resort, we may need more American troops, but that's not clear yet, to me.

I haven't been invited over there to take a look. I'd like to, but they haven't invited me to do that. Then the second problem is going after al Qaida. You must go after al Qaida. You know, let's not give them a free ride, re-forming in Pakistan, and penetrating into Afghanistan, and sending its messages around the world. Number three: if you're going to be successful in Iraq, you're probably going to have to change the dynamic in the Middle East. Right now, we've given Iran and Syria the strongest possible incentives to work against our purposes in Iraq, because we've let them know that they're next. So, from their perspective, they don't want to get invaded. They don't want to get knocked off because they're against the United States. It's only natural that they'd be working to make sure there's enough resistance in Iraq.

TPM: To keep us pinned down there?

CLARK: Exactly, exactly.

TPM: What is victory in Iraq?

CLARK: Well, I think that's an important question that we'd like to see the administration define. The elements of it might be the following: What kind of government? A unitary Iraq? Maybe a federalized Iraq? A common language, common currency, common -- no customs problems inside Iraq. Common schools, common flag, all the symbols of nationhood. So, you want to hold Iraq together. And, a country that doesn't threaten its neighbors, and a government that has enough security wherewithal to be able to protect itself and not become a recruiting base for al Qaida. And an Iraq that's able to be integrated into the modern world. So if you lay out those five criteria in some way, you probably could come up with a definition of success.

TPM: As we mentioned before, in different capacities you worked for a number of different administrations. Whether it was Ford, working directly in the White House, or for the last 15, 20 years in various capacities at a fairly senior level. You've seen these different presidents conduct foreign policy. What are your opinions of the different ones?

CLARK: Well, you know, nobody gets to be president of the United States without conspicuous strengths. But the ability to conduct foreign policy draws not only on the president himself but on the leadership of the administration. If you were to start here and work backwards, you'd say this administration was doctrinaire. You'd say that it didn't have a real vision in foreign policy. It was reactive. Hobbled by its right-wing constituency from using the full tools that are available -- the full kit-bag of tools that's available to help Americans be in there and protect their interests in the world.

Clinton administration: broad minded, visionary, lots of engagement. Did a lot of work. Had difficulty with two houses in congress that [it] didn't control. And in an odd replay of the Carter administration, found itself chained to the Iraqi policy -- promoted by the Project for a New American Century -- much the same way that in the Carter administration some of the same people formed the Committee on the Present Danger which cut out from the Carter administration the ability to move forward on SALT II.

TPM: This being the same neo-conservatives that people hear about in the press today?

CLARK: Right, some of the same people. And then, you know, if you go back to the Bush administration, they were there when the Berlin Wall fell. I think there was some artful maneuvering -- which the Clinton administration followed through on -- to extract Russian forces from the rest of Eastern Europe. That began in '89-'90, it was carried on, actually didn't finish until I think '94 when the last Russian forces pulled out of Latvia.

So both administrations get credit for that. I think the Bush administration as they worked the problem of [the] post-Cold War had difficulty understanding the significance of NATO and the role that Europe could play. They opened -- they were part of the fissure that emerged -- the Europeans, especially the French, were also part of that. But there's that famous quote from former Secretary [of State] Jim Baker about the problem in Yugoslavia saying, "We don't have a dog in that fight" or something. And I think that if you critique it from the standpoint of 15 years post, the first Bush administration's beginning, you say it was a time of revolutionary transformation and what we had to do at a time of transformation like that is hold even closer to our friends and our allies around the world.

Lord Palmerston in the 1830s, I think, in the UK, later quoted by Count Gorchakov, the Russian foreign minister in the 1880s, later quoted by Prime Minister Primakov in 1998, it was, at the original saying, "Britain has no permanent friends, only permanent interests." It became transformed into Russia. But it's the sentiment that we want to avoid in a modern world. What we wanted to have done, what we should have done in the late '80s was said, "Look, even though now we've eliminated the Soviet threat, we have permanent friends. You in Europe, you're our permanent friends. We will make our interests converge so that we strengthen our friendship. The friendship is more important than the interests, if you work this right over time, you can work to smooth off the sharp edges of conflicting interests. And I think that's still a recipe for moving forward.

As for Ronald Reagan, there were some things done well, some things done poorly, but one of the biggest things was it was the administration in which inflation came under control as the result of a lot of tough policies, some of them begun by Reagan's predecessor to attack the expectations that had built up in this country as a result of trying to do guns and butter during Vietnam. And it took years to drive these expectations out of the business community, out of the financial community. But as they disappeared and people began to accept core inflation rates of less than two and three percent and they didn't build cost escalators into everything, you established a much firmer sense of purpose and success in America. That's a bipartisan effort. I loved Reagan's speech at Pointe du Hoc. I was at the Pentagon, I was at the Pentagon as a colonel when he gave it on D-Day.

TPM: This is the forty-fifth anniversary I guess?

CLARK: Fortieth anniversary. Communications is really important for a president. We've had a few presidents in the twentieth century who were great communicators. Most aren't. But in terms of foreign policy, we went through a lot of shocks in the 1980s with our European allies. But ultimately it was Russia itself that broke. The Soviet Union fell apart. A combination of circumstances and pressures dating back to Franklin Roosevelt's and Harry Truman's early visions of how to win this competition, finally came to fruition.

TPM: We just crossed the Potomac River a few minutes ago. So that both means that my time is running short but also we're coming into Washington -- we've just come into Washington, DC. And obviously for the last two or three days there's been one story in this town. And that's about this beginning investigation. We don't know what the facts are, but it seems at least -- there's evidence out there -- that some high level officials in the administration, seemingly just for political reasons, exposed the cover of a CIA agent, a covert operative in the CIA, whose husband obviously, Joseph Wilson -- people know the background story. Obviously having been a four-star general, retired now, you've dealt with all sorts of classified and top-secret information. Just how does that strike you? That that could have happened? What was your reaction to that?

CLARK: Well, I'm mystified as to how it could have happened. I don't understand how people in the White House -- if that's where it came from -- in the political operation, would have had any knowledge about the qualifications, or the activities, of a retired ambassador's wife. They just wouldn't have -- how would they know that? That's why I've called for an impartial commission of inquiry, not associated with the executive branch, to go back into this, because there are enough charges and counter-charges out in this issue, in this very political administration. You have to take the intelligence community, especially the protection of censored sources, out of the political process. And that means you need an independent commission, which is not part of this administration, to look into the full circumstances and issues surrounding this case.

TPM: Now, obviously this particular case of whether this CIA employee's cover was blown, and so forth, gets back into this other issue of the uranium claims and forged documents, and you can sort of trace that back into the whole larger debate about intelligence--the quality of intelligence, the political uses of intelligence. Obviously, you've talked a lot on CNN and stuff like that -- what is, looking back, what are the key mistakes? Not on the formal, not on the operational plan of the war, key mistakes getting in? What weren't they thinking? What didn't they prepare for?

CLARK: Well, we don't know why they chose to go to Iraq in the first place. There's a lot of circumstantial evidence, but even Paul Wolfowitz admitted that the weapons of mass destruction issue was just the one issue that they could get most consensus on. Meaning, I suppose, that Colin Powell would have had more difficulty arguing against it then, let's say, a visionary scheme to transform the Middle East by playing hopscotch with military forces from country to country. So, that's the first question, is, why did they do it? And secondly is, why then? Why, when? Why, at that point in time, did they have to do that?

We don't know. And then you ask, well, when they took it to the United Nations, and when they got UN Security Council Resolution 1441 passed, why, at that point, didn't George Bush ask Karl Rove and say, "Karl. I've won the elections. I've done everything we wanted to do. [Inaudible] I'm a great wartime leader. Tell me again, why do we have to invade Iraq? What's in it for us, as America? Why can't we find another alternative? Why don't we just string this thing out? Let the international community fumble with it --we've got them going. We could, you know, knock out the critics and say, 'Look, I did go to the United Nations.'" You undercut the old whole unilateralist approach [argument], you argue that you're only using force as a last resort, let the half time play out. Why the rush? Don't know why.

TPM: You must have some sense.

CLARK: I think that it's really hard to understand it, but it goes back to the sort of doctrinaire, rigid, ideological approach that the administration's following. When you're looking at the facts in a pragmatic way, it was hard to construct the argument as to why you had to go in right away. It was so hard that we couldn't persuade our allies to come in with us. We couldn't even persuade the American people. Until it came time that the troops were actually there, and people said, "Well, you know, you've got the troops there, how long are you going to hold them there, this is getting embarrassing. Just go ahead and do it." At that point the polls started to raise--

TPM: So, sort of creating a situation [which] forced our hand on that.

CLARK: Exactly. I mean, the President went around, apparently, speaking around the country in February and March. I didn't hear him, but the quotes I've seen from then suggest that he went around saying, "If we're forced to go to war." Well, the only people that forced him to go to war was his own advisors. They forced the situation and the timing of it. It defies a good explanation. It needs to be -- it warrants an explanation. Even an investigation.

TPM: We're about to come up to Capitol Hill right now, and obviously I'm sure that -- you just flew in to Dulles. I'm sure that you've got a schedule of meetings with various [people]--how are you enjoying campaigning?

CLARK: I love it.

TPM: Yeah? How is it compared to being SACEUR [Supreme Allied Commander in Europe]?

CLARK: It's a lot more fun.

TPM: A lot more fun?

CLARK: Yeah. Because as SACEUR, I had life and death issues at risk. If we were to be successful in this campaign, those responsibilities will settle in again, even heavier. But right now, it's about reaching out. It's about communicating. It's about helping other people capture a vision, share, grow, experience, learn. It's an incredibly exciting thing to go around America and talk to people and have them tell you what they're thinking.

I was in New Hampshire on Saturday morning. I went to the YMCA. It was seven o'clock in the morning. There were already two ladies at work there, checking admissions passes. One of them told me that she works eighty hours a week. She works seven days a week. She works in the police station doing traffic tickets or something like this--you know, collating is her normal job, and then she works at the Y as an additional job. She works from eight o'clock in the morning to ten o'clock at night, six days a week. I was in awe of her. She has two children. She's a single mom. She puts those two children through school. Amazing. People share those kind of stories; we can get a real feel for what this country's about. And, a real determination. We can do more and be more and help more.

TPM: Thank you very much. I appreciate your time.

CLARK: Thank you, Josh.

End of Interview ...

-- Josh Marshall www.talkingpointsmemo.com
[ Thu Sep 18, 11:59:06 AM | David Billings | edit ]
Mmmm, Waffles at HoDean's

Finally a website has come along that links Eggo's and Dr. Howard Brush Dean, III of Fifth Avenue, New York City's inconsistant statements on important issues.

Members of the Church of Dean say, "the mark of an honest man is his ability to change his mind," which is true. However, if you are going to change your mind, you better have a damn good reason for it and share that reason with the public.

This is especially true if your campaign is based on A) claiming all your competitors are waffling, "Bush-lite" whimps and B) claiming you are the most "straight talking" one of the bunch.

For example, Gephardt used to be Pro-Life and now is firmly Pro-Choice (same with Kucinich). When Dick made the switch however, he gave lots of speeches around his district explaining why he had a change of heart. Dennis, on the other hand, mearely dismissed his decades of Pro-Life support with a waive of the hand because he has succum to the Pander Virus.

"Waffle Powered" Howard is more like Dennis than Dick. To see how read what he said on Social Security and then his outright denial of his change opinion when it is not politically popular for someone runnning as Paul Wellstone's sucessor (he even stole the Line "I represent the Democratic Wing of the Democratic Party" for awhile without giving the late Senator credit): ""The way to balance the budget, Dean said, is for Congress to cut Social Security, move the retirement age to 70, cut defense, Medicare and veterans pensions, while the states cut almost everything else." -Gov. Dean in Newshouse, 3/3/95 "I also would entertain taking the retirement age to 68." -Gov. Dean to NBC's Meet the Press, 6/03 Now Flashforward to a couple weeks ago: "I have never favored Social Security retirement at the age of 70, nor do I favor one of 68." -Gov. Dean in the 8/5/03 Democratic Presidential Debate.

If you are looking for different kind of politican, for an unpolitican, how about supporting someone who has never been an elected official, whose record doesn't dramatically conflict with his rhetoric, in otherwords, General Wesley Clark.
[ Tue Sep 16, 04:30:37 PM | David Billings | edit ]
VICTORY

No more holding my breath. General Wesley Clark will announce to his run for presidency tomorrow at 1 PM.

Ten people you say, what a joke. And I agree, all of them are a joke, save Clark.

Let's see, you've got a wishy-washy elitest New England Senator, another one who is a dud personality wise and whose claim to fame was losing in 2000, a New England Governor from the most-rural whiteist state in the country (whose moderate record are directly counterposed by his Wellstone style tone and rhetoric), a decade old Washington hack who has lost 6 times in a row to become speaker (this year's Bob Dole), an angry Grandpa who is trying to be this year's Orrin Hatch, an ex-Senator who cozied up to human rights violators in Africa and broke election laws at home, a soon to be ex-Senator who was taught how he stands on issues beyond his trial lawyer experience, the newest laughing stock in the US House, and a man who no body knows what his real job is (besides being a race baiter). What a stellar class.

Add to that field a Rhodes Scholar, First in his class at West Point (and high school), Silver and Bronze Star reciepent, 4 star general, and a southerner with a charming smile to boot. It really is not even fair. If you doubt me, go watch him in action on DigitalClark.com.
[ Mon Sep 15, 02:55:37 PM | David Billings | edit ]
Can I hold my breath for (up to) 5 more days?

"Hi, my name is Dave and I am a Clark-ohoic" [say hi Dave]

This weekend the General was in Knoxville, Tennesse giving a speech in a regularly Republican strong-hold with Democratic US Congressmen Lincoln Davis and Harold Ford, Jr. in attendence. Some of my friends drove 14 hours each way to hear him speak. And I thought I was hooked. But color me jelious.

All signs point to Wes

According to Salon.com "In a half-hour speech to 1,000 cheering Democrats in heavily Republican East Tennessee, Clark said Bush has failed the country on health care, education and foreign policy."

He said some pretty biting things against the Bush administration:

"The No. 1 responsibility of the commander in chief is what? The safety and security of the United States of America," Clark said, questioning the administration's efforts to avoid the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks."

"What happened on 9-11, Mr. President? Why is it that eight months into your administration, why is it that there was no plan to deal with the number one threat that Bill Clinton's national security team warned you about when you took office?"

The Atlanta Journal-Constition notes that, "Clark told the Tennessee Democrats that when he retired from the Army, a colleague warned him that in civilian life, "There's no one in charge."

"That's never been more true than since January 2001," Clark said

"From almost the beginning of this administration, we have conducted ourselves with a kind of an attitude that surprised and saddened so many friends of America. We walked out of the Kyoto Treaty. We expressed our determination to break out of the antiballistic missile treaty. We rejected efforts to establish an international criminal court which help prevent the kind of excesses in warfare that we see all over the world," he said.

"After 9/11, there was an enormous but brief outpouring of support for America, after which we told our NATO allies that we really weren't that interested in their help."

"We've talked about health care a long time, but we haven't fixed it. We talk about the environment, but we're going backwards. We've been talking about economic growth, but we've lost 2.7 million jobs," he said.

To answer the "Will he run?" Question, Clark teased, "Now I haven't made up my mind whether I am going to run," Clark, in shirt sleeves, told the crowd. "But I have my jacket off. And you can figure this out."

Thanks for giving us credit, General! All about the Clark 2004 express!
[ Fri Sep 12, 02:23:10 PM | David Billings | edit ]
Meet Mr. 9%/5th place without even trying Retired General Wesley Clark, the man who has been toying with my emotions for the past year and a race for the presidency got 9% in a CNN/USA TODAY poll nationally, Instantly catapulting him into the front tier with Lieberman, Dean, Kerry, and Gephardt. That's right, 5th place before announcing. All this is just Clark going on TV shows and us Drafies working our butts off for the past 6 months.

While the odds are 9-10 that he will go for it, the fact that he isn't a politican makes some worry that he won't have the stomach for it, or the ego and say thanks but no thanks. But I think at this point, there is so much momentum that it will be difficult to back off of.
[ Wed Sep 10, 01:12:57 PM | David Billings | edit ]
Second Delay Ok so a couple days slow on the old blogging, sorry.

Today's discussion will revolve around another fun thing to do: attack Dr. Howard Brush Dean, III (originally of 5th Avenue NY, NY now ex-Gov. of VT and frontrunner for the Democratic Nomination)

Now, HoDean problem's arrise from what most people find most attractive about him: his seemingly unpolished "straight talk" about issues. While Dean does a good job making his talking points seem off-the-cuff and therefore more geniune than the other 9 Dwarfs, his tendancy to say something completely stupid and unscripted leads his poor staff and him to lurch back with corrections, clarifications, and general flip-flopping or backtracking.

Example: Dean on the day Bagdad fell "I suppose it is a good thing that Saddam is gone, but..." Later on, he removed the qualifier that makes all the difference.
Or how about complaining that Sen. Edwards was not up front about his war vote, when in fact he was booed a couple minutes before at the California Democratic Convention for standing by his pro-war vote.

Or how about his unreasonibly high standards for developing countries, which in effect would result in less economic development around the world, violate several world trade agreements, create diplomatic tension, and hurt consumers in form of much higher costs with minimal benifits for union members. This view, which he unvailed at the New Mexico debate, alligns him with Kucinich, Nader, and other sure losing protectionists. Dean, that is your first clue you are dead wrong and off-center.

Or his statement on Jewish-Palisteine relations, that the U.S. is too pro-Israel. Maybe true, but not too smart poltically. Unfortunately for him, the potential truthfulness of this argument is counteracted by the fact that the US is the only party that both Israel and the Palistian Authority trust. No, not Europe, whom Israel sees as too Anti-Semetic, but the U.S. Dean is right, however, that Clinton and Carter should be used to broker something. Of course, this President will never swallow his pride.

The Ex-governor is also wrong for making everything about him and Vermont. Why is it DeanforNewHampshire.com and not NewHampshireforDean.com? The order does make a difference, just like "suppose" at the CDF debate. His arrogance and self-assuridness has attracted simlarly cocky people to his meetups and "Dean Defense Force" who go around shouting down all those who aren't members of the "Chuch of Dean" (thanks to Sterling Newberry of theclarksphere.com and draftclark.com) .

Despite all this, Dean is bound to win it all (all being nomination) unless the unconverted masses find a real canidate to take him on. Now Lieberman and Edwards are trying to emerge as the Anti-Dean since Kerry is about as sluggish as the economy right now, but they too are Washington Insiders run by insiders for insiders. Senators make horrible presidental candidates. So who's left? You guessed it: a Clintonista-backed ex-Gen. Wesley K. Clark (D-Ark)!
[ Fri Sep 05, 12:14:18 PM | David Billings | edit ]
Delays I hate 'em, especially Toms. One have to appologize for...a week off the blogging trail. Would it help if you knew I had set up two websites, two more blogs, started an LSAT course, had my future In-Laws in town, and oh yeah, had a job? Well so much for excuses.

Another delay I am having trouble with is General Wesley Clark's pondering of running for President. Months ago, I had told friends "My guess is Labor Day" and then as you know the week has come and gone with one announcement on his part: that he is a Democrat. Which was sorta obvious but necessary step to running.

I was really hoping he would declare in time for the New Mexico Presidental Debate, which would have made the debate a real story. Of course it was a redux of the South Carolina debate, with people tripping over themselves to insult Bush the best. And it looked rediculous, but at least Al Sharpton couldn't make it. The losers: Dick Gephardt for trying to out protectionist and out union pander Kucinich, who has the worst case of the Pander Virus I have seen in ages. Winner: Lieberman, again surprisingly. He came out with good zingers against every one of his opponnets and tried to shake the Elmer Fudd/"I made Cheney look reasonable in the VP debates" image. Also HoDean, because no one really took him on, and when they did, it flopped. Kerry also lost becuase this was supposed to be his week of relaunching...instead, he had staff shake up stories, Wife's role stories, how did he lose to Dean so fast stories, Muskie Crying Comparisons, and lots of other unfavorable stories.

Seems like the media has picked Kerry as their Gore redux, the guy they scrutinize to rediculous levels. Nevertheless, any objective (and many Kerry Aides I am sure) know they have really blown it this last summer and this week. Too many consultants, too few decisions.

Clark has managed to get a steady trickle of stories about his contemplation for running. but how many times can you squeeze a lemon and expect to get juice? On behalf of his tens of thousands of rapid supporters, please declare soon. We can't hold on much longer.
[ Fri Aug 29, 04:07:23 PM | David Billings | edit ]
August I am happy it is almost over. Finally, some one else explained exactly why it is a pointless month.

Slate's David Plotz explains that nothing good ever happens and usually bad things happen in August. To me, August is like a month long of Sundays.

Sundays are the worst, not becasue I hate the day of rest that dog spelled backwards has mandated, but because you know it is just one day and Monday is taunting you along with the rest of the work week.

The same is with August. Even if you are too old or educated to experience the back to school vibe, it still feels like summer is coming to an end, so why not just get it over with? Instead, August is a hot boring month with slow news, little productivity and unrealistic expectations.

I can't think of one August I really liked. That said, September is an excellant month, only to be improved on by October and November. December goes by so fast with holidays and tests (if, again you are in school) that you barely notice that you gain 20 pounds. Plus, the fall is the best season. Cool, but not cold. Maximum varibility of wardrobe for men and women. Leaves to kick around and dive into, Halloween and Thanksgiving, and the low expectations of the beginning of another school year.

People in California and other one season towns like Nome, Alaska really are missing out. Fall is the best and perpetual spring or summer or winter is just not fun.

Moral of the Blog: enjoy the holiday weekend! Horay for the end of August!
[ Wed Aug 27, 04:24:01 PM | David Billings | edit ]
Porn Solutions to Real Problems My favorite fake candidate for the California Recall is not Gary Coleman or Larry Flynt, but a Porn Star named Mary Carey who is trying to revive her career or maybe the "moribund" adult film industry in the Golden State.

Here is her platform [no seriously here it is]:

"The most important issue facing California right now is our $38 billion deficit and 6.7% unemployment rate. California needs a governor who will get our finances in order! As a 'political outsider,' I have fresh, original ideas for helping the state generate revenue and reduce its deficit. Here are just some of them:

1. Legalize gay marriage in California. This will generate a tremendous amount of revenue for the state as a honeymoon destination.


2. Tax breast implants. From Beverly Hills alone, we should bring in millions in tax revenue. (Note: I am all-natural and I personally discourage the use of implants!)


3. Make lap dances a tax deductible business expense. This will help grease the wheels of business in California and stimulate our economy.


4. If I’m elected Governor, I will wire the Governor’s Mansion with live web cams in every room. We will create a pay site, and all money collected will go toward reducing the deficit. Californians will get to see their government in action - literally! (Also, we will have people from around the globe helping to pay off our debt, so it doesn’t all fall on the shoulders of Californians.)


5. I will create a "Porn for Pistols" program to take handguns off the streets. Dealing with the violence and injuries associated with handguns is a huge drain on our state's resources.


6. As Governor, I will recruit fellow performers from the adult video industry as ambassadors of good will. These ambassadors will be a great help to California when it comes to such things as negotiating rates for buying electricity from neighboring states.


7. I will coordinate the state’s unemployment and jury systems, so that anyone who applies for unemployment will instantly be called for jury duty. This will save California state and local governments millions of dollars, because we won’t have to pay for jury duty. It will also relieve those with jobs from the stress of serving on lengthy juries.


8. I will fight the federal government's attempts to harass the adult video industry. Adult video is an $11 billion industry that creates more than $23 million in taxes each year for the state of California. We can't afford to lose this tax base!
"



OK, well at least one of these things is a good idea: manditory jury duty for unemployed. If we are paying them to sit on their butts, why not have them sit on their butts and listen to a case and vote on it?
[ Tue Aug 26, 11:01:56 AM | David Billings | edit ]
Fighting back as much as the media have talked up ex-Gov. Dean's angry attacks on President Bush, the have missed the men with the clearest argument against W. without sounding schrill or without background and credibility: ex-President Clinton and (future President) Gen. Wesley Clark.

As TPM and the New York Magazine pointed out, there was an Aspen summit where Clinton and Clark were the main attractions of the past and future and hope for liberals in taking down the Republican machine down a notch.

But here's the bit that Joshua Micah Marshall passed up: "It was, for this audience, such incredible good Fortune to have not just a real general (the victor of Kosovo) who would be willing to run as a Democrat but a real general who is a genuine brainiac (he was precise and clear and overarching as a panelist, whereas [ex.-Sec. State] Albright was huffing and puffing, and the Bush [-Cheny 2004] official was nearly incoherent). This was what the liberal Establishment was waiting for.

Of course, the brainiac thing represented a certain order of coolness, which might play less well with the nation’s not-so-cool people. The warrior-intellectual, thrilling to these people, might have a limited wide appeal.

But the love here was real and powerful.

You know it when overachievers sense one of their own." And people wondered why he talked to CNN from Aspen. The General was wooing folks for his campaign. Yee-hah!
[ Mon Aug 25, 04:54:46 PM | David Billings | edit ]
Crazy People my complaint of the day

Today I got two calls from crazy people I am supposed to help with their crazy problems that occur on account of them being crazy. Ok, maybe I am not sympathetic enough. These people would like me to do something wholly outside of my power or my bosses power, like get a restraining order on a landlord that says mean things to a tenant. Or elimate all head injuries by pulling over every person not wearing a helmet on a bike or motorcycle. If they are a child, then fine the parent and educate educate!

Maybe these don't sound so crazy, but after a 30-minute session on the phone, I certainly start to go crazy. Yes, I get what they are saying, repeating doesn't help your case, can I go now?

PS sorry for not posting on Friday, busy weekend of doing community service and narrowly missing a TIME magazine reporter covering Draft General Wesley Clark movement.
[ Thu Aug 21, 11:38:46 AM | David Billings | edit ]
Hey, that wasn't nice a new political blog is out that follows up every misstatement or error by Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney (of SLC Olympics 2002 and Bain Capital fame), calling him a fraud. Whomever this Ben is that stalks Mitt's every move, he is well sourced in his accusations. It is perfect fodder for a 2006 opponet. Even the most read Boston paper, the Phoenix, has picked up on it.

"Ben has attracted some notice, but it appears he’s got a way to go. The Boston Herald’s Cosmo Macero — on his weblog (cosmomacero.blogspot.com), not in his column — wrote recently that though he was flattered by Ben’s references to him, 'The stuff is brutal. And it’s got me wondering who the heck has got the time for all the research and posting? I think the State House press corps in Boston ought to shake off the rust and get on the case.'"

Ouch! I guess people should go to WeLoveArnold.com for some lovin'...or maybe not. With all its research, it would seem to be the perfect place to start for oppo folks.
[ Wed Aug 20, 01:58:30 PM | David Billings | edit ]
A summer sequel nobody wants to see except US AG John Ashcroft, everyone’s favorite whipping boy. What am I talking about? The “USA PATRIOT Act II” a bill that would further encroach on civil liberties and greatly increase the power of investigators and prosecutors.

Ashcroft and his team of religious zealots (or they have to at least show up to the prayer meetings all the time in the DOJ to move up the career ladder) even have a website to support their claims that this is a necessary tool for the War on Terror and somehow something that Jefferson of all people would approve of by including his words from the Declaration of Independence no less.

According to MSNBC.com, “civil liberties criticisms have led to passage of anti-Patriot Act resolutions by legislators in Alaska, Hawaii and Vermont and by more than 142 local governments. The Republican-led House also voted recently to restrict so-called ‘sneak and peek’ searches that allow for delayed notification of the target.”

As the ALCU’s Laura Murphy points out, “The Attorney General has suffered many public relations setbacks in the past months. Operations TIPS, the Justice Department internal Inspector General report disclosing systematic abuses of the non-citizens held in the months after 9/11 and the latest conservative backlash against anti-terrorism provisions, which they worry could be used against law-abiding right-wing activists, are all great reasons for the Attorney General to go out on the road [to sell his plan in PA, MI, and OH].”

Secretly, the ALCU must love the PATRIOT Act and its sequel. After all, the group’s membership has skyrocketed since September 11th and the signing of the PATRIOT Act. A lobby group once trivialized as a leftist whine parade is now latched onto by arch-conservatives like ex-Reps Bob Barr and Dick Armey (ex-Majority Leader as well) as well as liberals. In fact, the ACLU now seems like the voice of ration and reason, rather than Ashcroft’s Orwellian Justice Department.

I even have a slogan for the ACLU’s campaign against Bush’s (and hence Ashcroft’s) re-election: “Don’t let 2004 become 1984.”
[ Tue Aug 19, 01:11:27 PM | David Billings | edit ]
cell phones, can't live without 'em, can't get reception in my building

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

CONTACT: David at 617/817-4071 (good luck on that score)

BOSTON-- In sad day for mailing cell phones across the country, David B. discovered that his new AT&T wireless phone worked right outside his apartment building, and Downtown.

“I didn’t try it in the T because it really didn’t matter at that point,” B. said.

Despite walking all around the apartment late last night, B. was unable to get a signal in the building. “I tried all the rooms, by the windows, in the building's courtyard, everything except for outside,” he added.

This is the second wireless carrier to not work adequately in the apartment building. Sprint wireless however, was a marked improvement over American Telegraph and Telephone. “At least with Sprint, I got something,” he intoned, “With this new one, I get only ‘emergency service’ at best and I can’t make any outgoing calls. I get zero bars.” B. huffed.

B’s fiancĂ©e, Christina, could not be reached for comment. Sources close to the her household tell Gripe of the Day that Ms. Christina was asleep at the time the article went to press. Christina was the one that mailed over the phone, which is part of a family plan with herself, her bother and mother.

“I feel bad because they made all this effort and spent all this money to sign up for a new service and mail it out to me,” B. said. “Truth is, I was so excited about the phone; now I am just sad.”

The couple is wondering what it is about their apartment building that blocks or weakens the signals of at least two national carriers. “Maybe we should have made that a search criterion, but it never occurred to us until we had signed the lease,” said B. “Other than that, it’s a great place.”
[ Mon Aug 18, 02:03:23 PM | David Billings | edit ]

Happy thoughts some of my dear readers have argued that the overall tone of this blog is negative. From now on, I will strive to find as many "raves" as "rants" so that the proverbial yin and yang will be ballanced.

Today is one of the coolest days on the East Coast and yet it is still nice and sunny out. Think I will eat my lunch out in the park today. Even though it is supposed to get hotter tomorrow, by the weekend it will be nice again, and that is when it matters. My bicycle is working and I think a ride after work is in order.
[ Fri Aug 15, 01:48:21 PM | David Billings | edit ]

File this under “Dumb Idea” Amidst all the news of blackouts, Al-Queda captures, missile “plots,” and other media nuggets (like Kobe and the CA Recall), a big story is not being mentioned.

The Pentagon-- read Donald Rumsfeld and hence Bush-- are actually opposing wage hikes for get this, active troops in Iraq. Weren’t these the same guys that love to pose next to these 18-24 year old kids and their superiors? The same ones who have longed to go back into Iraq and take over since about oh February 1991?

But wait act now and you also get this free: they are refusing the pay raise on the grounds that they can’t afford it. That’s the biggest laugh of them all. Congress already appropriated the money. More importantly, this is the most fiscally irresponsible Administration since Ronald Reagan, and they are trying to top that too.

"Paging Mr. Kettle" Truth is, the US has had two massive tax cuts worth trillions, an elective (no I don’t mean we voted on it, I mean it was optional, like elective surgery) war in Iraq that is costing well over $100 billion with 1-2 soldiers dying daily, Bush tried to bribe Turkey into ignoring its populous to the tune of $15 billion in “loans and aid,” the president has yet to veto a single bill (let alone a spending bill like that massive Farm Bill in 2001 which is a bloated subsidy for the plain states that, surprise, surprise, lean to the GOP), this is the same white house that has tried to get an Energy bill worth billions more to their friends in the industry, handed out a no-bid contract for the Iraqi oil fields to VP Cheney’s old company, and who wouldn't mind doing another round of tax cuts next fall.

And they are the ones who say we can’t afford to pay those who are rising their lives and dying daily to maintain some order in Iraq a bit more? Please!
[ Thu Aug 14, 01:43:25 PM | David Billings | edit ]

Semantic Point of the Day: The missile "Plot" that never was. According to Dictionary.com, a Plot is defined as "Any scheme, stratagem, secret design, or plan, of a complicated nature, adapted to the accomplishment of some purpose," this plan of course needs to involve willing participants on both ends, not FBI agents. It was more like a plot to nab the arms dealers.

In reality, the shoulder-fired missile "plot" was merely an elaborate sting-- with a dud missile and dud terrorist. Uncovering a plot would require infiltrating a Al-Queda -type cell and finding out where something was going to happen and preventing the terror attack. This was not even close. While the FBI and the Ruskies did a good job, they merely got rid of an unscrupulous black market arms dealer (although the two terms go hand in hand) or two. No terrorists were harmed or hindered in this stunt.

Color me unimpressed and cynical. I think this is another diversion technique of the Bush White House to get people distracted from the 1 or 2 dead American soldiers a day, $4-billion a month occupation of Iraq which has not netted Saddam or any actual WMD. Or the sputtering economy. Or the fact that UBL is also still at large and the Taliban is in control of most of Afghanistan. Or any number of other fast ones the Administration has pulled on the press and public in its 2-plus years in office.
[ Wed Aug 13, 05:23:47 PM | David Billings | edit ]

today’s bitch-out: The Blaster “Worm” This little virus really was a dozy. Blaster Shut down my computers at work for a day and a half, depriving the dear readers of my insightful diatribes. Further, the inability to get anything done was so maddening that I longed for work to do.

But I guess the real complaint should be lodged against Microsoft and the support staff of my work. Although their was a patch out there, apparently the IT staff here felt no need to update it. Furthermore, Microsoft has such a bug ridden OS and other programs that make it easy pickings for so many virus writers. But mainly, people are idiots for opening these emails and putzes for not updating their software. Although, here again Microsoft is to blame because some times these patches do more harm than good for the average user. Such repairs in the code should in an ideal world not be necessary, but since they are, they should automatically and universally installed into every needed computer that is connected to the internet. There should be nothing voluntary about installing security patches.
[ Wed Aug 13, 05:16:13 PM | David Billings | edit ]

Gripe des Tages 12.8.03 [translation: Gripe of the Day for the 12thof August, in the year of our lord 2003]: California’s state government. The state of California held a lottery last night, and I am very upset. Not because I am an opponent of gambling mind you, but because this was a lottery to determine the order in which candidates for governor of the state would appear on the ballot -- all 250 or so of them.

Wait it gets better: in each of the 80 California Assembly Districts (read state house representatives) the ballot order will rotate such that if Schwarzenegger is at the top in one district, he will be in the bottom or some where in the middle the next, but his opponents, such as LG Cruz “No on Recall, Yes on my career” Bustamonte, will stay in the same place relative to him. If you are confused, just wait until a California voter gets a hold of this ballot.

With such luminaries as Gary “What you talking about, Gray Davis?” Coleman, “Mr. Unfunny-Guy-with-the-Watermelon” Gallagher, Self-Described Smut-Peddler Larry Flynt, a desperate “actress” who plasters her bikini-clad self on billboards around LA, and finally, a former Newt Gingrich ally who is now a darling of the Nader-Dean left, among many other clowns.

It might even be funny if it weren’t an incredibly large and important state, the sixth largest economy in its own right. With its state bonds one above junk bond status (BBB), $38 billion in debt, and loads of unfunded mandates from ballot initiatives and President Bush, that state is looming towards a complete disaster.

If you say some one else should be in charge, your right, since nobody is in control of this freight train. Not a single elected body/officer has the guts to figure out how to balance the budget without leaving millions out in the cold (well, ok at night it is cold in California). The Governor is a spineless pol who has never made a decision that would offend a potential constituency, accordingly, he made all the wrong decisions and hasn’t helped matters to say the least. But there is plenty of blame to go around: the legislature has refused to do the obvious-- raise taxes, Californians too have avoided hard choices by asking for more services with less taxes and no real government power (and they wonder why Sacramento never gets anything done).

This is the result. A state where an “Access Hollywood” whore is the leading alternative Gov. Davis at 42%. Somewhere, the gods are laughing at California.
[ Mon Aug 11, 05:07:51 PM | David Billings | edit ]

NSTAR, my gripe of the day. NSTAR, that massive energy monopoly out East we all hate, has a brilliant business plan: Make the customer work to pay their bill. That's right. I won't get a bill from NSTAR until I call them and beg for it. Or I could just play Russian Roulette and not call until they finally get around to either billing the previous tenant and the tenant drags me into it, or my power gets cut off.

Some people have gone for over a decade without paying their bills. When the poor old lady figured it out, she owed thousands due to late payment fees and interest rates.

I ask the masses on the internet, whatever should I do?