May 31, 2007

Don't count this as an endorsement but...

My vote for the Hillary campaign song contest is "Suddenly I See." It just has the right amount of kick and I like the words. It works for me.

Another chapter in "tort reform"

Unbelievable. In corporate America employees are discouraged, if not outright forbidden, to discuss their salary with their co-workers. So, it can take some time to figure out if you are being screwed in the pay department. That doesn't seem to be a concern to our current Supreme Court that blames the victim if he/she doesn't discover the situation in enough time to file a discrimination lawsuit.

Just remember, from now on, instead of focusing on doing a good job in those early days of employment, you need to be using all your energy to make sure your pay is on par with your co-workers. Because if you don't file your discrimination lawsuit within six months, forget about it.

Tort reform = no corporation held liable EVER.

Weary

Not Your Mama at Coyote Angry starts her post this way:

So Anyway.....

You have this friend who you love very much. You'd do just about anything for this friend because, well shoot, you believe this friend has the potential to do great things because they are great and you just know they could be even greater.

Problem is, this friend is incredibly self-destructive. Forever making terrible choices for even worse reasons and then even lies about it. You're not even sure if your friend knows she's lying or if she's been doing it so long she actually believes her own lies.
Go read the whole post. I think it's a feeling a lot of us have these days.

May 27, 2007

Better Know a Candidate - Obama in Reno

From my inbox:

BARACK IS COMING TO NORTHERN NEVADA THIS WEEK!

MAY 31st
WINGFIELD PARK AMPHITHEATRE
DOWNTOWN RENO

GATES OPEN AT 12:00PM

The event is free and open to the public, but tickets are required. Tickets are available at:

http://my.barackobama.com/page/s/20070531reno?source=eventcenter

or at the following locations in Lyon County, Carson City and Douglas County:

Fernley Democratic Party, 15 E. Main St, Suite 5, Tuesday and Wednesday 10am-2pm
Eddy Street Bookstore, 1225 Eddy St., Sunday and Wednesday, 9am-6pm
Sierra Bakery, 1966 US Hwy 50, Everyday
Carson City Democratic Party, 2101 Arrowhead Dr, Ste 102, Tues-Wed, 10am-2pm

VOLUNTEERS NEEDED:

1. Sign-making party on Tuesday 5/29 at 6:00pm 141 E. Pueblo Street in Reno
2. Event Day at 8:30am at Wingfield Park in Reno.

Respond to this email
(rsigman@barackobama.com) or call 775-842-1435 to sign-up.


For the record, Sierra Bakery is in Carson City and the Eddy Street Bookstore is in Douglas County. That's not clear from this email.

Better Know a Candidate - A new beginning

It's been a week of new beginnings and I haven't had time to post the way I am used to. I've started a new job and that means I'm no longer on staff with NSDP. What does that mean for Blue Lyon? First of all, the declaration in this post is no longer operative. That is, I intend to caucus for a candidate, and make my intentions known at some point. But not yet. Like many out there, I simply have not made up my mind. I have, at least, crossed some names off my list.

Definite NOs:

  • Joe Biden - Between his vote on the bankruptcy bill and his vote on the Iraq funding bill last week, he is now officially off my list. (Sorry, Omar)
  • Mike Gravel - Yeah, he is full of pee and vinegar, but though he's right about Iraq, his "National Initiative for Democracy" sounds more like mob rule. Are you kidding me? Most Americans, between their jobs, families and trying to have some semblance of a life don't have the time to be legislators too. Yeah, it sounds good, but we live in a representative democracy and it's our job to hold those jokers' feet to the fire. If they don't do the job we sent them there to do, then fire the bums. But, we pay them to look at the facts, come up with solutions and pass legislation. We pay them to do that job. If they fail in that regard, we have a 'national initiative for democracy every two years. It's called an election. And as much as I hate what our tax code has become, his idea of replacing the current one with a national sales tax and a really convoluted system of "prebates" (replacing one bureaucracy with another?) is ridiculous. Our tax system is broken, but seriously, there's got to be a better solution than a national sales tax.
Secondly, I may become more outspoken on people and topics I had heretofore been mum about. We'll see how that plays out in the coming months.

I will continue to post about our candidates' position on issues, but now feel freer to provide commentary at the same time.

Anyway, it's my birthday (I was born on a Memorial Day Sunday - - really!), so this weekend is always a bit odd for me. I celebrate my life at the same time I mourn and remember the fallen.

May 23, 2007

A bird's eye view of Dean Heller's "Town Hall"

On Monday night my phone rang, and an automated message from Dean Heller invited me to immediately join a teleconference "Town Hall." Though I chose not to, a friend of mine did participate and sent me this email.

Junior Congressman Dean Heller took his show on the road last night by staging a “town hall meeting” over the phone with what he felt were his constituents.

My phone rang and I chose to enter the on-line foray. Every 15 minutes, during the session, Dean would interject with EST and that he was calling from his Washington, D.C. office. The only thing out of the dialogue was that it could be along the Potomac River.

The highlight of the conversations I tuned in to including participants from Storey, Lyon and Churchill counties, as he continued to reiterate, was the one I heard from my favorite pair of U.S. Navy veterans residing in Fernley.

M & D F----- are a dedicated couple with whom I became acquainted, volunteering at the Nevada Veteran Cemetery in Fernley.

A dedication to their personal philosophies of life, and a Democratic stance rang out loud and clear during this telephonic episode. We were all told to press “#” and wait until it was our turn to ask a question.

So, when it was the F----- family turn to be put on line D mustered up all the strength that a veteran on oxygen, and a true Democrat would, proceeded to open the conversation with the Congressman: “First of all, I didn't’t vote for you”.

I thought I would fall over in my chair and D continued to calmly express his opinion ... until Dean cut him off and went to the next person queued up to speak with the illustrious Nevada leader.

If there were a Democratic ... or for that matter a voice of reason academy award ... I would give it to Don who stood steadfast to his principals [sic] and that of his wife ... when faced with the challenge.

Also, during the event, participants were given the opportunity to express their opinion about the newly proposed immigration legislation by pressing a button on their telephones. When the polled results were in, there was only one vote for the present proposal ... as sketchy as it may be at this moment.

Obviously, my vote was the only one that stood out in my mind.

In a follow up email with my friend asking permission to post this on the blog, she also informed me:
Also, one of the "callers" was speaking to boycotting gas stations. Heller was enthusiastic (maybe tired...but who contributed to his campaign?).
Then, the caller and Heller narrowed it down to Seven Eleven convenience stores served by CITGO.

Today, I learned that has all changed and the CITGO signs removed? The source of their oil....so the caller contended was Venezuela. Yeah, said Heller we don't want to deal with Communists. It sounded like we were back in the black/red lists of the 1950s...which I remember from having been raised in the backyard of Hollywood, California.
Too bad Dean Heller either didn't know, or didn't want to spoil the moment, by pointing out that 7-Eleven had dropped Citgo months ago. Hell, even Faux News reported it. But let's not let the facts get in the way of a good scapegoating!

Olbermann nails it again

I will be watching the vote in the Senate and the House. Who I will support in the caucus is in the balance. Time to put up or shut up. Digby says it well:

This one's easy for the Presidential candidates, if not the pants-wetting Red State moderates. This occupation is the most important issue to Democratic voters and things aren't going to suddenly "turn around" before the election. It's a disaster that will only get worse. I don't know what it's going to take to get the Democratic leadership to internalize that basic fact. On both a moral and practical basis, voting to continue this war on Bush's terms is just plain wrong.
Here's Keith:

May 19, 2007

Off to Winnemucca

I'm off in just a bit to do my PowerPoint thing and chat with rural Dems today about the caucus. If you are in the neighborhood, we'll be doing our thing from 11am until 2pm. Jill Derby will be there as well as rural Dems from all over.

Invisible casualties

DH and I've got a friend who after at least a year of searching for a decent paying job in Nevada with no luck, took a job as a private contractor in Iraq. We email back and forth as he is able. We worry about him. A lot. The emails try to downplay what he is experiencing, but it feels to me like he's getting worn down. And so this article (NYT) doesn't come as any surprise to me. I know that there are some who see any private contractor as some sort of evil being, but many, if not most, are like my friend: just trying to support their families.

The numbers, which have not been previously reported, disclose the extent to which contractors — Americans, Iraqis and workers from more than three dozen other countries — are largely hidden casualties of the war, and now are facing increased risks alongside American soldiers and marines as President Bush’s plan to increase troop levels in Baghdad takes hold.

As troops patrol more aggressively in and around the capital, both soldiers and the contractors who support them, often at small outposts, are at greater peril. The contractor deaths earlier this year, for example, came closer to the number of American military deaths during the same period — 244 — than during any other quarter since the war began, according to official figures.

“The insurgents are going after the softest targets, and the contractors are softer targets than the military,” said Lawrence J. Korb, a former assistant secretary of defense for manpower during the Reagan administration. “The U.S. is being more aggressive over there, and these contractor deaths go right along with it.”
They are less protected and if they complain they are basically told to "Put up or shut up."
Many contractors in the battle zone say they lack the basic security measures afforded uniformed troops and receive benefits that not only differ from those provided to troops, but also vary by employer. Weekly pay ranges from $60 for Iraqi translators and laborers to $1,800 for truck drivers to as much as $6,000 for private security guards employed by companies like Blackwater. Medical and insurance benefits also vary widely, from excellent to minimal.

Conditions in Iraq are harsh, and many civilians who arrive there, drawn by patriotism, a sense of adventure or the lure of money, are overwhelmed by the environment. If they raise questions about the 12-hour workdays, the lack of armor plating on trucks or the periodic shelling of bases, supervisors often tell them to pack up and go home.

May 18, 2007

I never thought I'd say this

There are many in my party that have been screaming for Bush's impeachment from Day One. I, on the other hand, had hoped that our system of checks and balances would keep Bush in, well, check.

Alas, it appears not, and the revelations just keep coming, the latest in a long, long string of executive abuses being Alberto Gonzales and Andrew Card's visit to John Ashcroft's intensive care bedside in an attempt to get him to sign off on a warrantless wiretapping program that had already been going on for two-and-a-half years, but upon closer scrutiny by Ashcroft's Justice Department, had been found illegal. Who'da thunk it, even John Ashcroft, fundamentalist Attorney General who spent more time after 9/11 going after medicinal marijuana users and family planning clinics than he did terrorists, understood that our Constitution requires warrants for phone-tapping. Wow. I may not agree with his religious views, but at least he knew that the Constitution is the supreme law of the land. But not the Bush administration. As far as they are concerned, THEY are the law, not some moldy piece of paper in the National Archives.

It looks like the Washington Post finally gets it. A bit late, but better late than never. I am, however, troubled by this assertion in their editorial:

Under the Constitution, the president has the final authority in the executive branch to say what the law is.
Uh. No, he doesn't. He administers and executes the laws passed by the United States Congress. The Supreme Court of the United States determines the constitutionality of our laws. The President does not get to decide what the law is. Perhaps the WaPo editorial board needs to go back to school and take U.S. Constitution 101 again.

Back to impeachment. I've not been a proponent of it, as stated above. Well, I've changed my mind. It's should be obvious to anyone with an honest brain cell that Bush (and Cheney, et al) have nothing but contempt for the underpinnings of our system of government. They ignore laws created by Congress, they take rulings by the Supreme Court under advisement, and the press, well, the press holds a special place of contempt in their world. The press is there to serve them, to take them at their word, and to never, ever dare question them.

It's time for them to go. And it's time for Democrats and Republicans to come together on this. This is not about Bush alone. It's about abuse of power. If we let this stand, what is to stop the next administration, whether Democrat or Republican, of going even further?

A comment posted by khote14 regarding the aforementioned WaPo editorial says it well (no correction for spelling, punctuation or capitalizaton):

There are those of us whose hatred for bush blinds them to anything good he might have done, and there are those of us whose love for bush blinds them to anything bad he might have done.

The haters cry "impeach", and the lovers accuse them of making that demand without regards to any facts, simply because they hate bush.

But where should the remainder of we the people be on this issue?

I am not concerned with either of these groups. What I am concerned about is the future of my country, and the behavior of future presidents. If we let bush get away with this kind of strong-arming of the constitution because we love him or fear the enemies we hired him to defeat, what have we let ourselves in for, what are the consequences?

The impeachment of Clinton was a useless attempted coup by the republicans. I saw the democrats gather around Clinton whether they like him or not, in an equally partisan show of support. Clinton may have been a pathetic and narcisstic man who couldn't keep his hands out of his own pants, but was what he did comparable to what Bush has done, and is doing now?

Should we allow our fatigue arising from that partisan show prevent us from examining the misdeeds of the current president?

Impeach Bush. Not because we hate him, not because we may not think him competent to run the country, not because our personal partisan nature wants to get even with him - impeach him because he is a criminal, and to tell future holders of his office that we will hold them to account as well.

Get on it Congress.

Small comfort



Three are still missing.

May 17, 2007

This is a trick question, right?

A letter to the editor of the New York Times asks:

Re “Giuliani Takes On G.O.P. Orthodoxy on Social Issues” (front page, May 12):

Can the Republican Party support Rudolph W. Giuliani with a straight face? In good conscience, is getting an electable candidate out there more important than standing up for its cherished beliefs?

Is winning everything?

Ronald Kaprov
Bronx, May 12, 2007

Better Know a Candidate - Hillary Clinton needs your help.

Okay, this is up there with Bill Richardson's interview ads.

Toddling off to see what the choices are...

May 16, 2007

War Czar or Scapegoat?

Well, it looks like Bush has found his "War Czar." But this really leaves me with more questions than answers. When this idea was first floated, it sounded like the WC would step into Bush's responsibilities as Commander in Chief (CiC) which raised some troubling Constitutional questions. Now I'm not so sure. More like adding another layer to an already dysfunctional administration and doing an end run around Gates. According to the New York Times:

If he is confirmed, General Lute would have the rank of assistant to the president and deputy national security adviser, and would report directly to the president. His job, which is part of a broader reorganization of the National Security Council staff responsible for Iraq and Afghanistan, would be to brief Mr. Bush every day on the two conflicts, and work with other government agencies — including the Pentagon and the State Department — to carry out policy.
Sounds like he won't have any real policy-making authority, and that this is merely re-arranging deck chairs on the Titanic. Or, as suggested by a poster (sarge) over at HuffPo:
It means we have another stall tactic. 'We can't just start pulling out now, the "war czar" hasn't had a chance to work yet. We need to give him some time--a year and a half should do it.'
From chinohillster:
Lt. General Lute is not a "war czar", he is the "Take-The-Blame-For-Failure-In-Iraq-From-Now-Until-2008-So-The-Democrats-Can't-Lay-It-At-The-Feet-Of-Bush" guy!
So exactly how many people do we now have with fingers in the pie of this fiasco? Let's see if I have this right:
  1. Commander in Chief - George W. Bush (but it appears he doesn't want the job anymore, unfortunately the Constitution doesn't allow him to abdicate his responsibilty, but...hell, it's just a piece of paper, right?)
  2. Bob Gates, Secretary of Defense (I wondered when he got confirmed how much effect such a reasonable sounding person would have within the Bush administration. I think I now have my answer.)
  3. General Petraeus (The general on the ground Bush is supposed to be listening to, so we need the War Czar because...?)
  4. National Security Adviser, Stephen Hadley
  5. National Security Council
  6. War Czar (if confirmed), General Douglas E. Lute (who was against the surge before he was for it)
  7. U.S. Congress

Ultimately though, this war is Bush's war. He is the Commander in Chief as he so often reminds us. And all the window dressing in the world isn't going to change that.

May 14, 2007

Why Iraq is not like WWII

Kirk Caraway answers a letter to the editor in this post as to why Iraq is not like World War II. I would have loved to have had this list in hand at our table at Oodles of Noodles this weekend when I had to deal with one of the 25%ers still supporting Bush and this war and railing against Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid.

  1. Iraq did not attack us. Japan did, and Japan's ally Germany attacked our allies in Europe.
  2. Iraq had no ability to attack us. Their military was a shadow of its former self, and even at full strength had no ability to project power to our shores.
  3. The enemy in WWII was the same from the first day of the war until the last day. While a small case could be made for the Italians switching side, for the most part we knew exactly who the enemy was. In Iraq, that enemy started off as Saddam, then the Sunnis, then al Qaeda, the the Shiites, then who knows who.
  4. Japan and Germany were imperial powers. There were countries who wanted to take over the world, and had the resources to do it. Iraq was a fourth-rate power without either the will or the ability to conquer.
  5. Japan and Germany did not break down into civil war. Huge difference. Imagine if we had tried to occupy Japan and referee a civil war.
  6. We had far, far more troops in WWII, even if you make allowances for the difference in size of the enemy. We had three times more troops when we took on Saddam in 1991 than we have there now.
  7. The nation was asked to sacrifice during WWII. We were urged to enlist (if not, then drafted), and to do without certain luxuries. For Iraq, we got tax cuts, no call to duty. Just go on with your regular life.
  8. Neither Japan nor Germany had the kind of serious ethnic/religious divisions of Iraq. Germany did have the division with the Jews, but their "final solution" pretty much eliminated that division, and not in a good way.
  9. The world wasn't against us in WWII. We had a very strong network of allies all contributing to the efforts against Germany and Japan. Every major power in the world was involved in some way, and all of them were on our side.
  10. Changes is technology has enabled irregular guerrilla forces to fight effectively against regular armies. Cell phones, email and websites make communications between groups easier. Combined with video cameras, insurgents have a way to communicate with the public. Weapons like AK-47s, RPGs and improvised explosives with remote triggers can make even a small group a formidable challenge to regular army forces.
  11. Germany had WMD, Iraq didn't. Germany had stockpiles of poison gas, including nerve gas, but didn't use them. They were also very close to coming up with an atomic bomb, way more advanced than Iraq was.
  12. Germany and Japan didn't have any resources that we would want. They don't have oil, Iraq does, and the Iraqis know this. They believe this war is about oil, and that the two oil men in charge of the U.S. who started this war want to steal that oil. It is this perception that makes this situation so hard to handle.
  13. Our allies in Iraq are not our friends. The Maliki government has close ties to Iran, and the radical Shiite cleric al Sadr. They are working at cross purposes to the U.S.

Bush Admin re Iraq refugees: Don't blame us

I just finished reading this NYT Magazine article regarding the issue of Iraq refugees (2 million out of country, 1.9 million still within Iraq). It's a complex issue, as most are. Syria has taken the bulk of refugees (1.2 million), followed by Jordan, Egypt, Lebanon, Iran and Turkey. The United States, to its shame has only allowed in 701 Iraqi refugees to date. The administration reasoning can be found in the words of John Bolton, former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations and is echoed by other administration officials.

The U.N. refugee agency meeting in Geneva on April 17 and 18 was the international community’s belated attempt to confront the Iraqi refugee crisis. Jordan’s minister of the interior, Mukhaimar al-Mukhaimar, claimed at the meeting that his country was spending $1 billion a year on Iraqi refugees; Syria’s deputy foreign minister, Fayssal Mekdad, claimed his country had spent $160 million in 2006. “It’s the fastest-growing refugee population in the world,” said Kenneth Bacon, president of Refugees International and assistant secretary of defense for public affairs from 1994 to 2001. “It’s a crisis in response to an American action. This is a refugee crisis that we triggered and aren’t doing enough to deal with.

“What I find most disturbing,” Bacon went on to say, “is that there seems to be no recognition of the problem by the president or top White House officials.”
But John Bolton, who was undersecretary of state for arms control and international security in the Bush administration, and later ambassador to the United Nations, offers one explanation for this lack of recognition: it is not a crisis, and it was not triggered by American action. The refugees, he said, have “absolutely nothing to do with our overthrow of Saddam.

“Our obligation,” he told me this month at his office in the American Enterprise Institute in Washington, “was to give them new institutions and provide security. We have fulfilled that obligation. I don’t think we have an obligation to compensate for the hardships of war.” Bolton likewise did not share the concerns of Bacon and others that the refugees would become impoverished and serve as a recruiting pool for militant organizations in the future. “I don’t buy the argument that Islamic extremism comes from poverty,” he said. “Bin Laden is rich.” Nor did he think American aid could alleviate potential anger: “Helping the refugees flies in the face of received logic. You don’t want to encourage the refugees to stay. You want them to go home. The governments don’t want them to stay.”

[...]

The United States is really just beginning to grapple with the question of Iraqi refugees, in part because the flight from Iraq is so entwined with the vexed question of blame. When I read John Bolton’s comments to Paula Dobriansky — the undersecretary of state for democracy and global affairs — and her colleague Ellen Sauerbrey, assistant secretary of state for population, refugees and migration, they mainly agreed with him. Sauerbrey maintained that “refugees are created by repressive regimes and failed states. The sectarian violence has driven large numbers out. During the Saddam regime, large numbers of Iraqis were displaced, and the U.S. resettled 38,000 Iraqis. We would take 5,000 a year at given points in time. After 2003, there was great hope, and people were returning in large numbers. The sectarian violence after the mosque bombing in February 2006 is what turned things around. The problem is one caused by the repressive regime” of Saddam Hussein. She did add, “We take the responsibility of being a compassionate nation seriously.”
Unbelievable.

May 13, 2007

Whose choice?

Let's face it, every single one of us is "pro-choice." The argument really boils down to: Who gets to choose?

This is one of the most gut-wrenching posts I've read in a while. Gentleman poster expressing his view on choice, and then grabs us with his real-life story. A snippet:

So then there I was, facing the sort of choice that you usually see only in hypotheticals in ethics and philosophy classes. Only it was real. It was my wife. And I didn't have exactly a lot of time to think about it. It was just me and the clipboard. An empty line there, marked for my signature. My wife bleeding right next to me. The ultrasound of my baby, and its heartbeat, fresh in my mind from minutes before. I cannot begin to describe how I felt at that moment. One cannot know until you are in it. I won't even try. I hope I never feel that way again.

[...]

I sat there, wondering if I'd at least get my wife back after this. Then 20 minutes passed, and nothing. Thirty minutes. Forty. Forty five. I started to get worried and thought all sorts of horrible things that I will not put words to. Mainly, then, I start to think about the abortion debate. About pro-lifers, in particular. I think about all those meddling politicians that would want to interject themselves into everything that just happened to me, interject themselves between me, my wife, and her doctors.


Very powerful post. Read it.

Interview with Reza Aslan

When polls revealed that viewers of The Daily Show with Jon Stewart were among some of the most knowledgeable consumers of news, it's probably in no small part because of interviews like this one linked at Coyote Angry.

(Of course, it could just be that we viewers tune in because it is obvious to us that Jon Stewart has a better handle on the news of the day and cuts through the bullshit better than anyone).

And if you haven't made Desert Beacon one of your daily stops in the Nevada blogosphere, do so. DB has and excellent post up about the National Guard and equipment loss due to the war in Iraq.

When all you have to cling to is Reagan...

Frank Rich hits another one out of the park. (Emphasis mine)

Earth to G.O.P.: The Gipper Is Dead

OF course you didn’t watch the first Republican presidential debate on MSNBC. Even the party’s most loyal base didn’t abandon Fox News, where Bill O’Reilly,
interviewing the already overexposed George Tenet, drew far more viewers. Yet the few telling video scraps that entered the 24/7 mediasphere did turn the event into an instant “Saturday Night Live” parody without “SNL” having to lift a finger. The row of 10 middle-aged white candidates, David Letterman said, looked like “guys waiting to tee off at a restricted country club.”

Since then, panicked Republicans have been either blaming the “Let’s Make a Deal” debate format or praying for salvation-by-celebrity in the form of another middle-aged white guy who might enter the race, Fred Thompson. They don’t seem to get that there is not another major brand in the country — not Wal-Mart, not G.E., not even Denny’s nowadays — that would try to sell a mass product with such a demographically homogeneous sales force. And that’s only half the problem. The other half is that the Republicans don’t have a product to sell. Aside from tax cuts and a wall on the Mexican border, the only issue that energized the presidential contenders was Ronald Reagan. The debate’s most animated moments by far came as they clamored to lip-sync his “optimism,” his “morning in America,” his “shining city on the hill” and even, in a bizarre John McCain moment out of a Chucky movie, his grin.

The candidates
mentioned Reagan’s name 19 times, the current White House occupant’s once. Much as the Republicans hope that the Gipper can still be a panacea for all their political ills, so they want to believe that if only President Bush would just go away and take his rock-bottom approval rating and equally unpopular war with him, all of their problems would be solved. But it could be argued that the Iraq fiasco, disastrous to American interests as it is, actually masks the magnitude of the destruction this presidency has visited both on the country in general and the G.O.P. in particular.

By my rough, conservative calculation — feel free to add — there have been corruption, incompetence, and contracting or cronyism scandals in these cabinet departments: Defense, Education, Justice, Interior, Homeland Security, Veterans Affairs, Health and Human Services, and Housing and Urban Development. I am not counting State, whose deputy secretary, a champion of abstinence-based international AIDS funding,
resigned last month in a prostitution scandal, or the General Services Administration, now being investigated for possibly steering federal favors to Republican Congressional candidates in 2006. Or the Office of Management and Budget, whose chief procurement officer was sentenced to prison in the Abramoff fallout. I will, however, toss in a figure that reveals the sheer depth of the overall malfeasance: no fewer than four inspectors general, the official watchdogs charged with investigating improprieties in each department, are themselves under investigation simultaneously — an all-time record.

Wrongdoing of this magnitude does not happen by accident, but it is not necessarily instigated by a Watergate-style criminal conspiracy. When corruption is this pervasive, it can also be a byproduct of a governing philosophy. That’s the case here. That Bush-Rove style of governance, the common denominator of all the administration scandals, is the Frankenstein creature that stalks the G.O.P. as it faces 2008. It has become the Republican brand and will remain so, even after this president goes, until courageous Republicans disown it and eradicate it.

It’s not the philosophy Mr. Bush campaigned on. Remember the candidate who billed himself as a “different kind of Republican” and a “compassionate conservative”? Karl Rove wanted to build a lasting Republican majority by e
mulating the tactics of the 1896 candidate, William McKinley, whose victory ushered in G.O.P. dominance that would last until the New Deal some 35 years later. The Rove plan was to add to the party’s base, much as McKinley had at the dawn of the industrial era, by attracting new un-Republican-like demographic groups, including Hispanics and African-Americans. Hence, No Child Left Behind, an education program pitched particularly to urban Americans, and a 2000 nominating convention that starred break dancers, gospel singers, Colin Powell and, as an M.C., the only black Republican member of Congress, J. C. Watts.

As always, the salesmanship was brilliant. One smitten liberal columnist imagined in 1999 that Mr. Bush could redefine his party: “If compassion and inclusion are his talismans, education his centerpiece and national unity his promise, we may say a final, welcome goodbye to the wedge issues that have divided Americans by race, ethnicity and religious conviction.” Or not. As Matthew Dowd, the disaffected Bush pollster, concluded this spring, the uniter he had so eagerly helped elect turned out to be “
not the person” he thought, but instead a divider who wanted to appeal to the “51 percent of the people” who would ensure his hold on power.

But it isn’t just the divisive Bush-Rove partisanship that led to scandal. The corruption grew out of the White House’s insistence that partisanship — the maintenance of that 51 percent — dictate every governmental action no matter what the effect on the common good. And so the first M.B.A. president ignored every rule of sound management. Loyal ideologues or flunkies were put in crucial positions regardless of their ethics or competence. Government business was outsourced to campaign contributors regardless of their ethics or competence. Even orthodox Republican fiscal prudence was tossed aside so Congressional allies could be bought off with bridges to nowhere.

This was true way before many, let alone Matthew Dowd, were willing to see it. It was true before the Iraq war. In retrospect, the first unimpeachable evidence of the White House’s modus operandi was
reported by the journalist Ron Suskind, for Esquire, at the end of 2002. Mr. Suskind interviewed an illustrious Bush appointee, the University of Pennsylvania political scientist John DiIulio, who had run the administration’s compassionate-conservative flagship, the Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives. Bemoaning an unprecedented “lack of a policy apparatus” in the White House, Mr. DiIulio said: “What you’ve got is everything — and I mean everything — being run by the political arm. It’s the reign of the Mayberry Machiavellis.”

His words have been borne out repeatedly: by the unqualified political hacks and well-connected no-bid contractors who sabotaged the occupation and reconstruction of Iraq;
the politicization of science at the Food and Drug Administration and the Environmental Protection Agency; the outsourcing of veterans’ care to a crony company at Walter Reed; and the purge of independent United States attorneys at Alberto Gonzales’s Justice Department. But even more pertinent, perhaps, to the Republican future is how the Mayberry Machiavellis alienated the precise groups that Mr. Bush had promised to add to his party’s base.

By installing a political hack, his 2000 campaign manager,
Joe Allbaugh, at the top of FEMA, the president foreordained the hiring of Brownie and the disastrous response to Katrina. At the Education Department, the signature No Child Left Behind program, Reading First, is turning out to be a cesspool of contracting conflicts of interest. It’s also at that department that Bush loyalists stood passively by while the student-loan industry scandal exploded; at its center is Nelnet, the single largest corporate campaign contributor to the 2006 G.O.P. Congressional campaign committee. Back at Mr. Gonzales’s operation, where revelations of politicization and cover-ups mount daily, it turns out that no black lawyers have been hired in the nearly all-white criminal section of the civil rights division since 2003.

The sole piece of compassionate conservatism that Mr. Bush has tried not to sacrifice to political expedience — nondraconian immigration reform — is also on the ropes, done in by a wave of xenophobia that he has failed to combat. Just how knee-jerk this strain has become could be seen in the MSNBC debate when Chris Matthews asked the candidates if they would consider a constitutional amendment to allow presidential runs by naturalized citizens like their party’s star governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger (an American since 1983), and its national chairman, Senator Mel Martinez of Florida.
Seven out of 10 said no.

We’ve certainly come a long way from that 2000 Philadelphia convention, with its dream of forging an inclusive, long-lasting G.O.P. majority. Instead of break dancers and a black Republican congressman (there are none now), we’ve had YouTube classics like
Mr. Rove’s impersonation of a rapper at a Washington journalists’ banquet and George Allen’s “macaca” meltdown. Simultaneously, the once-reliable evangelical base is starting to drift as some of its leaders join the battle against global warming and others recognize that they’ve been played for fools on “family values” by the G.O.P. establishment that covered up for Mark Foley.

Meanwhile, most of the pressing matters that the public cares passionately about — Iraq, health care, the environment and energy independence — belong for now to the Democrats. Though
that party’s first debate wasn’t exactly an intellectual feast either, actual issues were engaged by presidential hopefuls representing a cross section of American demographics. You don’t see Democratic candidates changing the subject to J.F.K. and F.D.R. They are free to start wrestling with the future while the men inheriting the Bush-Rove brand of Republicanism are reduced to harking back to a morning in America on which the sun set in 1989.
In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit for research and educational purposes.

May 11, 2007

Election Day Voter Registration

From the New York Times Opinion Page. Though the logistics need to be worked out, and they can be, I'd heartily support this in Nevada. Our voter registration deadlines were created for the comfort of county clerks and candidates, not the electorate.

Never Too Late to Vote
By BEN YSURSA and MATTHEW DUNLAP

LAST month, Gov. Chet Culver of Iowa signed a bill authorizing Election Day registration, which allows previously unregistered voters with proper ID the opportunity to cast a ballot that day. This is a powerful tool to promote voting and, as secretaries of state of two states that already have this policy in place, we welcome Iowa in joining our ranks.

With Election Day registration, all qualified voters can participate in the vital American tradition of voting without finding themselves hampered by arbitrary registration deadlines. Seven states — ours, as well as Minnesota, Montana, New Hampshire, Wisconsin and Wyoming — now use E.D.R., and the evidence is convincing: voter turnout in these states is on average 10 to 12 percentage points higher than in other states.

While opponents are concerned that this option might encourage voter fraud, such crime is exceedingly rare or nonexistent in states that offer Election Day registration. Citizens of Maine, for instance, have benefited from same-day registration since the early 1970s and no case of voter fraud has ever been attributed to the policy. With simple, fair and safe methods to verify voters, and by relying on effective poll-worker training and sophisticated election administration, our states have ensured the integrity of the process while allowing every eligible citizen to cast a ballot.

We also reject the oft-used argument that voters not registered in advance should be effectively barred from voting as punishment for not heeding existing deadlines. While it’s true even E.D.R. states have deadlines in place for registration by mail, we firmly believe that missing a deadline should not prevent interested and engaged parties from being able to register in person on Election Day. We are committed to leaving no voter behind, including first-time voters, newly naturalized citizens and those who may have recently changed addresses.

When it comes especially to voters ages 18 to 25 — a demographic often absent at the polls — a recent study by Demos projected that in Iowa, Election Day registration could result in a 10.7 percent increase in voting among that group.

Other beneficiaries are registered voters inadvertently removed from the rolls, newlyweds who just changed their names and people who, because of whatever mix-up, are asked to cast a provisional ballot instead. In same-day registration states, these folks don’t leave the voting booth wondering if their ballots will count equally alongside their neighbors’.

Legislatures from Hawaii to Massachusetts to North Carolina are taking serious steps toward putting Election Day registration into effect. And the need for this critical reform did not escape the notice of Congressional leaders who recently introduced a proposed Count Every Vote act, with an added provision for Election Day registration nationwide.

Though one of us is a Republican and one is a Democrat, we can attest that political affiliation isn’t relevant here: this is a policy that is good for voters, regardless of party, and good for our democracy. When it comes to elections, America is best served when all eligible voters cast their ballots — even those who missed the registration deadline.

Ben Ysursa and Matthew Dunlap are the secretaries of state for Idaho and Maine, respectively.

Hoo boy...

MSNBC covers our eTreppid Governor.

May 10, 2007

Aid and Comfort?

An Incline Village resident takes aim at the charge that Harry Reid is committing treason and giving "aid and comfort" to the enemy by saying the war in Iraq is lost. After a brief essay on the brayings of the neo-cons and their cries of "Sedition! Treason!" our intrepid writer, Ed Gurowitz, concludes:

Let's look at that. It seems to me that the only ones who can say for sure whether Reid's statement gave aid and comfort to the enemy are the enemies themselves. But on more than one occasion Bin Laden and other Al Qaeda higher-ups have been reported to have said that the U.S. presence in Iraq and the prolonging of the war there is to their benefit - that's the only testimony I know of that speaks directly to what "aids and comforts" the enemy. They don't need to win, they may not even want to win - as long as we are there and they are the underdog, they gain political traction in the jihadist world, so it seems reasonable to think that anything that prolongs the war and the U.S. presence in Iraq aids the enemy and probably gives them comfort - they certainly seem more comfortable than we are.

So on the one hand we have Sen. Reid, Speaker Pelosi and the Democrats saying the war is lost and insisting on a plan for getting our troops out of harm's way so that as few as possible die in service of a lost cause, with the ancillary benefit that Al Qaeda would lose whatever it gains from our being there. On the other hand, we have the president and the neocons in deep denial insisting on an open-ended commitment to a war they have no plan for how to win or how to get out of. And we have the enemy saying it's to their advantage that we stay there and they benefit from it.

So who's giving "aid and comfort?" And who should resign?

Nice op-ed. Read it all.

Better Know a Candidate - Hillary to be on KJFK today

Late notice from Pam duPre:

Sorry for the late notice, but if you can, be sure to tune in to KJFK Progressive Radio TODAY at 3 PM when Senator Hillary Clinton talks with Reno's own Christiane Brown! 1230 on your AM dial!

And tell your friends...

Better Know a Candidate - Richardson on C-SPAN

This just popped into my inbox from Steve Platt, chair of the Carson City Dems:

My videographer buddy with C-SPAN just called to let me know that some of the footage he shot of Bill Richardson at Comma Coffee on April 30, will air tonight at 9pm PT on C-SPAN2. Also parts of the April 30 Comma Coffee event with Governor Richardson will be aired on CSPAN this Sunday evening, May 13 as a part of it's "Road to the White House 2008" series. The "Road to the White House 2008" is a weekly C-SPAN show that looks at the electoral process in the United States and the candidates, issues and events shaping the 2008 presidential race. It airs Sundays on C-SPAN at 3:30pm, 6:30pm PT & 9:30pm PT. For more details go to http://www.cspan.org/.

Around the Internets

DRAT! I was working on a Better Know a Candidate post on Energy and I deleted it before posting. I'll have it to you in a day or two. In the meantime...

  • So, how come these drug kingpins aren't going to jail? Oh, that's right, this drug is "legal" and therefore only those who "abuse" it are criminals, not the ones who push it.
  • Dean Heller is full-on with the talking points in this Ely Times article
  • Retail isn't looking good. Even Wal-Mart is tanking. But, but, but...I thought the economy was booming!
  • I'm confused. Wasn't Dr. Manning supposed to start last February at the Lahontan Dental Clinic in Silver Springs? This article says he is in negotiations to partner with a Dr. Nelson.

Some tips for the new Lyon County Manager

Nancy Dallas shares her thoughts on the backgrounds of the four finalists for Lyon County Manager and makes it clear that being capable has nothing to do with the job.

Former County Manager Steve Snyder didn’t last for more than 10 years because he accomplished great things for this county. He survived because he knew the political currents, political players and how to use them.

In my opinion, the three commissioners voting for the dismissal of Kristaponis will see to it that her successor will not be a “Type A’, pro-active personality. The next Lyon County Manager will be an individual these three feel will bend to their politically motivated vision for this County. Actual qualifications for the position will take a second seat to this fact.
And she offers some words of advice:
Don’t forget to “stay in your Yerington office”. One of the major reasons given for your predecessor’s dismissal was, “she’s never in the office.”

Don’t forget to be aware of the vast regional differences and fears.

Be very selective on where you decide to live, eat and drink.

Don’t be too aggressive on moving County services to centralized locations.

Respond to what individual commissioners ask you to do – don’t worry about formalities, regulations or statutes.

Get to know the ‘local political powers’ and treat there [sic] wishes nicely.

Remember the above and decide whether you really want to move this county forward – or simply want to survive in a well-paying job for 10 years.

For the sake of Lyon County taxpayers, I sincerely hope the ‘winner’ of the race can do both…in spite of the Commission.
Well said.

May 8, 2007

The worst article yet on the Nevada Caucus

This article in the Boston Globe has got to be the worst article I've read on the Nevada caucus. Full of stereotypes about Las Vegas and Nevada in general, replete with errors as to which candidates have been to Nevada, which ones have opened campaign offices (they say only Richardson has - uh no), and not being aware that the Republicans have already moved their caucus date to the same date as ours.

I bet they pronounce it Na-vah-da too.

He winked at the Queen???

Oh. Dear. Gawd.

Look, I am no adorer of the British monarchy. I understand they are people just like us. BUT. Queen Elizabeth II is the British Head of State and should be treated accordingly. And that means that she be treated with all decorum, not made a joke of in public, especially not by OUR Head of State. But not our George. I saw this video on Keith Olbermann last night (click on icon to see it in full screen). I mean, honestly! She's not your dottering aunt, George.

Keith Olbermann can't figure out what she says. A commenter over on YouTube thinks she said "Wrong year." Sounds about right to me.

Eighteen more months of this.

May 4, 2007

If you love your Uncle Sam . . .

I found this video via a circuitous route. NV Mojo pointed me to Laura Linger's blog (her brother was killed in Iraq on May 3rd). I found this video in her archives and wanted to share it with you. Deja vu.

This is getting ridiculous

Looks like Florida has moved its primary up to January 29, 2008. Honestly, I think it just might take an act of Congress to resolve this. Just as we have a national General Election day, maybe it's time to switch to a national primary day, perhaps in June? I know, I know, the Constitution leaves conduct of elections to the states, but that need only apply to state and local contests. For federal offices, the Constitution and the federal government makes the rules so why not a national primary for president?

However, I'd prefer we could go with my idea of having regional primaries that rotate every four years.

Either way, this front-loading of primaries cannot be good for us and the decision-making process that we all need to be going through.

On Edit: 8:07 pm - Howard points me to this article in The Onion. You know, these days it's getting harder to tell parody from real news.

Rhode Island Votes To Move 2008 Primary To Tomorrow

PROVIDENCE, RI—The Rhode Island legislature has passed a law moving the state's presidential primary to tomorrow, forcing candidates from both parties to hastily revise their schedules and platforms.

"I love Rhode Island, always have—especially the people," said Sen. John Edwards while being briefed on Rhode Island politics aboard a plane bound for Providence. "Just because it's a small state doesn't mean it's not important. Frankly, I've always believed Rhode Island, or the 'Ocean State,' as I prefer to call it, should be much bigger—an issue on which my opponents have remained curiously silent."

Former Gov. Mitt Romney announced his intention to release a 10-point plan addressing the issues that most deeply affect Rhode Islanders, as soon as he and his staff figure out what those issues are.

May 1, 2007

Four Years


Oh, crap, we all know what today is. Fight your despair. Help a vet or their families. May I recommend Fisher House?

A Fisher House™ is "a home away from home" for families of patients receiving medical care at major military and VA medical centers. The homes are normally located within walking distance of the treatment facility or have transportation available. There are 37 Fisher Houses, with four more in construction or design. Learn more about Future Houses.

Peace.