Archive for October, 2006

Quotable

Posted: October 19, 2006 in 2006 Elections, Humor

Matt Stoller at MyDD has one of the funniest and most memorable quotes about a political campaign that I’ve seen this side of Hunter Thompson’s “Fear and Loathing: On the Campaign Trail ’72.” His post-debate analysis is skewed in favor of Lamont, but this line is too good to not quote.

It’s not that Lamont has overperformed, or that Joe has melted down, it’s that Connecticut Election 2006 has gone off the deep end. It’s not your normal white picket fence suburban election, with attack ad facing attack ad. No, this is more like a white picket fence election that suddenly gets bored with life and decides to live in the forest, take a bunch of LSD, trout-fish naked, and taunt a bear cub before ending its life suddenly and with total and inexplicable resolution on November 7.

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The Iraq war and occupation has been repeatedly compared to the debacle in Vietnam a generation ago, mainly by critics of the Bush Administration and opponents of the current conflict.

The comparisons received play from two unlikely sources.

President Bush and the Tet Offensive:

Bush Accepts Iraq-Vietnam Comparison
George Stephanopoulos Interviews President Bush on Iraq, the Midterms and His Legacy
By ED O’KEEFE

WASHINGTON, Oct. 18, 2006 — – President Bush said in a one-on-one interview with ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos that a newspaper column comparing the current fighting in Iraq to the 1968 Tet offensive in Vietnam, which was widely seen as the turning point in that war, might be accurate.

Stephanopoulos asked whether the president agreed with the opinion of columnist Tom Friedman, who wrote in The New York Times today that the situation in Iraq may be equivalent to the Tet offensive in Vietnam almost 40 years ago.

“He could be right,” the president said, before adding, “There’s certainly a stepped-up level of violence, and we’re heading into an election.”

“George, my gut tells me that they have all along been trying to inflict enough damage that we’d leave,” Bush said. “And the leaders of al Qaeda have made that very clear. Look, here’s how I view it. First of all, al Qaeda is still very active in Iraq. They are dangerous. They are lethal. They are trying to not only kill American troops, but they’re trying to foment sectarian violence. They believe that if they can create enough chaos, the American people will grow sick and tired of the Iraqi effort and will cause government to withdraw.”

Bush said he could not imagine any circumstances under which all U.S. troops would be withdrawn from Iraq before the end of his presidency.

“You mean every single troop out? No,” he told Stephanopoulos.

Sen. Conrad Burns and the President’s Secret Plan to Win the War:

Burns, however, said the U.S. does need to change its military tactics there. “If we don’t change, we’ll pay a heavy price, but we cannot afford to lose it,” he said.

Tester said that Burns has finally admitted that his “stay the course” position in Iraq is wrong and welcomed the senator to his own side.

For nearly a year, Tester has called on Bush to develop a plan to remove U.S. troops from Iraq. Burns has criticized Tester’s position as “cut and run.”

“We’re in a quagmire over there,” Tester said.

Burns told Tester firmly not to put him in the Democrat’s camp on the issue.

“I said we’ve got to win,” Burns said. “He wants us to pull out. He wants everyone to know our plan. That’s not smart.

“He says our president don’t have a plan. I think he’s got one. He’s not going to tell everyone in the world.”

Many in the crowd, which was dominated by Tester supporters, openly laughed at Burns’ claim that Bush has a plan.

Tester said Bush’s only plan is staying the course in Iraq at considerable sacrifices to U.S. troops and the federal treasury.

“We went in under false pretenses,” Tester said. “We pulled the troops from Afghanistan and put them in Iraq. Osama bin Laden is still running free.”

The war is costing the U.S. billions of dollars a year that could be better spent on helping middle-class families and small businesses, the challenger said.

Tester said he is not for “telling our opponents what we’re going to do. The fact is, we don’t know what we’re going to do.”

Replied Burns: “We’re not going to tell you what our plan is, Jon, because you’re just going to go out and blow it.”

Immediately following the debate, Tester campaign spokesman Matt McKenna likened Burns’ claim of a Bush plan to President Nixon’s secret plan in 1972 to end the war in Vietnam.

The Burns campaign spokesman Jason Klindt, however, said there is no secret plan. President Bush has said from the start that he wants to empower Iraqis to govern their own country.

Republicans should really avoid making any deliberate or inadvertent comparisons of Iraq to Vietnam. Democrats are doing enough of that already and they don’t need any help.

Last night, I mentioned how Alan Schlesinger had emerged as the winner of the first Connecticut Senate debate and how his performance could bolster his support among state conservatives to the detriment of Joe Lieberman’s independent candidacy.

It looks like Schlesinger’s challenge from the right has rattled Lieberman’s cage enough that he endorsed John Bolton’s re-nomination to be confirmed as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.

Lieberman’s position would put him at odds with the other senator from Connecticut, Chris Dodd, who has been one of Bolton’s fiercest critics in the Senate and on the Foreign Relations Committee. This would also put him at odds with the other New England moderate centrist in a tight race this year, Lincoln Chafee, who voted against Bolton earlier this year. It seems to me that both Lieberman and Chafee appear to have taken their divergent positions on Bolton purely out of their own political self-interest in an election year.

Given the unfavorable political narrative shaping up for Republicans before the election, particularly with an increasingly competitive effort to maintain control of the Senate (check out these articles from Time, the New York Times, and the Associated Press from the past few days), Republicans may wind up hedging their bets and pulling out resources from Connecticut to focus on maintaining control of Senate seats held by endangered Republicans like George Allen, Mike DeWine, and Jim Talent. If that happens, Lieberman will truly be on his own, getting attacked from the left and the right during the final weeks of the campaign, with little or no money or ground operation to rally his voters on Election Day.

Update: Following up on the Bolton issue, a visit to the Senate voting record shows that Lieberman voted to uphold a filibuster against the Bolton nomination on two separate occasions. Chafee voted in favor of ending the filibuster on the same two motions.

R.I.P. CBGB’s

Posted: October 17, 2006 in In Memoriam, Music, Pop Culture

Check out this Rolling Stone report from the final performance at CBGB’s.

On that note, watch this epic 3-song, 6-minute performance by the Ramones at CBGB’s.


Gabba Gabba Hey!


Over the weekend, it was revealed that Curt Weldon is the latest Republican congressman to have an FBI problem.

Federal agents raided the homes of Rep. Curt Weldon’s daughter and one of his closest political supporters yesterday as part of an investigation into whether the veteran Republican congressman used his influence to benefit himself and his daughter’s lobbying firm, according to sources familiar with the investigation.

The investigation focuses on actions the Pennsylvania congressman took that may have aided clients of the business created by his daughter, Karen Weldon, and longtime Pennsylvania political ally Charles Sexton, according to three of the sources.

A grand jury, impaneled in Washington in May, has obtained evidence gathered over at least four months through wiretaps of Washington area cellphone numbers and has scrutinized whether Weldon received anything of value, according to the sources. They spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the investigation.

The investigation focuses on Weldon’s support of the Russian-managed Itera International Energy Corp., one of the world’s largest oil and gas firms, while that company paid fees to Solutions North America, the company that Karen Weldon and Sexton operate.

Weldon, who has been a proponent of some pretty far-out theories (i.e. Able Danger, and his proposed WMD hunt in the Iraqi desert), has a new one: that a Democratic conspiracy consisting of Melanie Sloan [who according to Weldon is a former aide to Democratic Congressman John Conyers and Senator Charles Schumer and wants them to win so she can get a job on Capitol Hill] from CREW [who asked the FBI to investigate Weldon’s dealings in 2004], the DCCC, 9/11 Commissioner Jamie Gorelick, Bill Clinton, fired CIA officer Mary McCarthy [who gave money to Weldon’s Democratic challenger Joe Sestak], and former National Security Adviser Sandy Berger [who also gave money to Sestak] are all out to get him. This is beginning to sound like something out of a Dan Brown novel.

Watch the full video of Weldon’s comments [from The Spin/The Daily Pennsylvanian]:

Joe Lieberman’s Two Front War

Posted: October 17, 2006 in 2006 Elections

I watched most of today’s Connecticut Senate debate, featuring Joe Lieberman, Ned Lamont, and Alan Schlesinger.

I assumed that it was going to be a constant back and forth between Lamont and Lieberman, with Schlesinger trying to get an occasional comment in or someone to notice that he was in the debate as well.

My assumption was wrong.

Alan Schlesinger, polling in the mid-single digits range, had absolutely nothing to lose and everything to gain in the debate, and it showed. He was the clear winner, by far. He showed an understanding of the issues and had the right combination of energy, political irreverence, and use of rhetoric to stand out among the candidates. Lieberman, being the 18-year Senate veteran, not surprisingly was the first candidate to burn through his 18 minutes of response time. Lamont sounded like he was trying to cram as many words as possible into each of his responses, essentially going into long John Kerry-esque musings while sounding as if someone was playing a tape on fast forward.

Schlesinger went after both of his opponents, although it seemed to me most of his jabs were directed at Lieberman, who is relying on Republican money and votes in his independent candidacy to try to save his political career. Lieberman was at a disadvantage, since at several points in the debate he had both Lamont and Schlesinger double-teaming him.

While Schlesinger may have been the winner of the debate, the big beneficiary was Lamont. If Schlesinger can shore up some more support from conservative Republicans by tapping into Lieberman’s base, Lieberman could lose the race.

Lamont is aware of this, and he even implicitly encouraged Schlesinger to play spoiler in the race at one point during the debate, recounting his own experience bucking his own party in his decision to challenge Lieberman.

Lieberman is stuck in a political no-man’s land. He’s essentially given up on the Democratic activist base that rejected him in the primary so is now forced to appeal to conservatives, moderates, and independents. Lieberman’s strategy has been to shore up support from conservatives and independents, who when combined outnumber the liberals in Connecticut’s registered voters. If Schlesinger starts tapping into the conservative base in the polls, Lieberman would be facing a challenge from his right flank, and that would mean he would have to fend off both Lamont and Schlesinger for the next three weeks.


This from the New York Post:

KOOKY KOREAN TO LOSE BOOZE
U.S.: CUT OFF KIM’S HOOCH

October 10, 2006 — The United States moved quickly yesterday to seek tough U.N. sanctions against North Korea – including an export ban that would cut off alcohol-guzzling Kim Jong Il’s flow of his beloved top-shelf booze.

The U.S. plan for hard-hitting sanctions against the rogue communist nation came as world leaders joined the international outcry against Kim’s underground test Sunday night of a nuclear weapon.

The Bush administration urged the United Nations to take urgent steps, including:

* Banning sales of military hardware to North Korea,

* Inspecting all cargo entering or leaving the country, and

* Freezing assets connected with its weapons programs.

But it was a ban on countries exporting “luxury” items to North Korea that would hit Kim the hardest – right in his prodigious liquor cabinet, stocked with the world’s best libations.

The often-drunk Pyongyang dictator is known for his huge consumption of pricey French wines, Johnnie Walker scotch and the finest cognac.

He is said to spend an astounding $650,000 a year just for Hennessy cognac, and the basement of his official residence is a wine cellar with nearly 10,000 bottles of one of France’s most famous exports. And those foreigners who have spent time with Kim say his thirst is never sated. Reaction to Kim’s boast of a successful nuclear test was swift at the U.N. Security Council.

How come they didn’t show this in Team America?

In light of yesterday’s nuclear test, this seemed worth highlighting. [Note: At the time, Bandar was the Saudi ambassador to the United States and a close friend of the Bush family] From pages 12-13 of State of Denial:

George W. pulled Bandar aside.
“Bandar, I guess you’re the best asshole who knows about the world. Explain to me one thing.”
“Governor, what is it?”
“Why should I care about North Korea?”
Bandar said he didn’t really know. It was one of the few countries that he did not work on for King Fahd.
“I get these briefings on all parts of the world,” Bush said, “and everybody is talking to me about North Korea.”
“I’ll tell you what, Governor,” Bandar said. “One reason should make you care about North Korea.”
“All right, smart aleck,” Bush said, “tell me.”
“The 38,000 American troops right on the border.” Most of the U.S. 2nd Infantry Division was deployed there, along with thousands of other Army, Navy and Air Force personnel. “If nothing else counts, this counts. One shot across the border and you lose half these people immediately. You lose 15,000 Americans in a chemical or biological or even regular attack. The United State of America is at war instantly.”
“Hmmm,” Bush said. “I wish those assholes would put things just point-blank to me. I get half a book telling me about the history of North Korea.”
“Now I tell you another answer to that. You don’t want to care about North Korea anymore?” Bandar asked. The Saudis wanted America to focus on the Middle East and not get drawn into a conflict in East Asia.
“I didn’t say that,” Bush replied.
“But if you don’t, you withdrawl those troops back. Then it becomes a local conflict. Then you have the whole time to decide, ‘Should I get involved? Not involved?’ Etc.”
At that moment, Colin Powell approached.
“Colin,” Bush said, “come here. Bandar and I were shooting the bull, just two fighter pilots shooting the bull.” He didn’t mention the topic.
“Mr. Governor,” Bandar said, “General Powell is almost a fighter pilot. He can shoot the bull almost as good as us.”

Last week, I wrote that the Foley scandal was radioactive to anyone it touched. Tom Reynolds, the congressman most directly responsible for maintaining the GOP’s majority in the House of Representatives, is in serious political trouble.

How serious?

Serious enough that Reynolds felt it necessary to address the scandal in a new campaign ad running in a $200,000 buy in his district. I can’t find the ad on YouTube or Reynolds’ campaign website right now, but will update this post to include it if I find it later. But apologies may not be enough.

A weekend poll of residents of New York’s 26th district commmissioned by the Buffalo News now has Reynolds 15 points behind his Democratic challenger. The same poll says that 57 percent of respondents disapproved his handling of the Foley scandal.

Reynolds is now Exhibit A of what the Foley Effect might bring to incumbent Republicans who are entangled in the scandal. If Jim Kolbe weren’t already retiring from Congress, he would probably be facing a similar backlash from constituents based on today’s story in the Washington Post.

If Bob Novak’s reporting in his column today is accurate, this will not endear the now-embattled Reynolds with his constituents.

Disgraced former Congressman Mark Foley had two excellent job offers in the private sector this year when Rep. Tom Reynolds, National Republican Congressional Committee chairman, talked him into seeking a seventh term.

Although Reynolds says Foley was merely deciding whether to run again, the talk in Republican circles on Capitol Hill was that he was ready to leave Congress. His inappropriate e-mails to a former page were known to the Republican leadership late last year. The 16th Congressional District was considered so safely Republican that any GOP candidate could carry it but now likely will be lost with Foley still on the ballot.

Supporting the Troops

Posted: October 9, 2006 in 2006 Elections, Humor

Captain’s Quarters points out the photo on this section of the DNC’s website:

The problem? The soldier is Canadian.