Saturday, September 30, 2006

Both The Wash Post and the NY Times Put The Predatorgate Cover-Up Story on Page A01 Above The Fold

Front-page news tomorrow - House Republican leadership covered up a sex scandal with underage House pages. The Post story is here and the Times story is here. The lede in the Times story is priceless:

WASHINGTON, Sept. 30 — Top House Republicans knew for months about e-mail traffic between Representative Mark Foley and a former teenage page, but kept the matter secret and allowed Mr. Foley to remain head of a Congressional caucus on children’s issues, Republican lawmakers said Saturday.

The Post story discusses the fingerpointing among the GOP House:

Yesterday's developments revealed a rift at the highest echelons of House Republican ranks a month before the Nov. 7 elections, and they threatened to expand the scandal to a full-blown party dilemma.

The Post article goes on to say that with NRCC chairman Tom Reynolds' statement that he had told Speaker Hastert about the sexually explicit emails Congressman Foley had sent to underage House pages, Reynolds

signaled he was unwilling to take the fall alone amid partisan attacks that were becoming increasingly vituperative. The Democratic National Committee yesterday issued a statement asking "Why Did Tom Reynolds Cover Up Congressman's Sex Crimes?" It continued: "While the shocking [online] exchanges produced an immediate uproar that cost Congressman Foley his job, at least one member of the House Republican leadership had known about the situation for months and did nothing about it: . . . Reynolds."

Republican insiders said Reynolds spoke out because he was angry that Hastert appeared willing to let him take the blame for the party leadership's silence.

A House GOP leadership aide, who spoke on the condition of anonymity for fear of losing his job, said that Reynolds realizes he has taken a shot at his leader but that it is understandable.

"This is what happens when one member tries to throw another member under a bus," the aide said.

So now that the Republican leadership have turned on each other, it is quite possible that Republican members may turn on the Republican leadership:

Republicans fear the scandal, coming in the wake of indictments of three GOP congressmen this year, might add to the public's unrest at the party's image and conduct, and some House members yesterday joined in the chorus of dismay and scorn.

"I don't think it will be just conservative voters that will shake their heads when they hear about this," said Rep. Jim McCrery (R-La.).

"As the author of laws designed to protect children on the Internet, I was appalled at the recent revelations that a member of Congress engaged in reprehensible behavior toward young people connected to the congressional page program," said Rep. Mike Pence (R-Ind.). "Congress should thoroughly investigate this matter and, in cooperation with law enforcement authorities, support all proper legal action."

And of course there is the political fall-out:

Rich Galen, a Republican political strategist, worried that voters might lump Foley's name with former representatives Robert W. Ney (R-Ohio), Tom DeLay (R-Tex.) and Randy "Duke" Cunningham (R-Calif.), all of whom were forced to resign or were indicted amid various scandals this year.

"This sense of entitlement that members of Congress can do anything to anyone or for anyone has got to end," Galen said.

Chuck Todd and John Mercurio of Hotline Blog, noting that ABC News turned up a shitload of evidence in their 24 hour investigation of Foley that the House leadership couldn't find in nearly a year, predict the strategy Democrats will use to make the sex scandal/cover-up hurt Republicans in November:

No doubt, every member of the House GOP leadership that knew of this Foley problem before this week regrets not pursuing a more thorough investigation. But isn’t the argument Democrats will now make when reviving the “culture of corruption” tagline (or even a “culture of arrogance of power” tagline) is that the House GOP leadership just doesn’t have the capacity or the intellectual curiosity to investigate questionable activity, whether it involves a member of their own caucus or more serious public policy concerns like the war in Iraq?

That sounds about right to me.

In the meantime, while the Republican leadership points fingers of blame at each other and tries to get their stories of who knew what when straight, the American people deserve an independent investigation free from the kind of political pressure that GOP leadership will no doubt be putting on House Ethics Committee Republicans to whitewash this mess away.

Democratic on House Page Board Disputes NRCC Chairman Tom Reynolds

NRCC Chairman Tom Reynolds said in a statement today that the House Page Board investigated the Foley matter earlier this year. But the Democratic member of the House Page Board, Dale Kildee (D-Michigan), says Reynolds is lying:

Congressman Dale Kildee (D-MI), the Democratic Member of the House Page Board, released the following statement today:

"As the Democratic Member of the House Page Board, any statement by Mr. Reynolds or anyone else that the House Page Board ever investigated Mr. Foley is completely untrue.

"I was never informed of the allegations about Mr. Foley's inappropriate communications with a House Page and I was never involved in any inquiry into this matter.

"The first and only meeting of the House Page Board on this matter occurred on Friday, September 29 at approximately 6 p.m., after the allegations about Mr. Foley had become public."

The Republican rats are all trying to cover their asses post haste now that the Foley sex scandal has exploded into the news. The stories are changing by the minute and Speaker Hastert, House Majority leader Boehner, and NRCC Chairman Reynolds are up to their necks in their own lying bullshit.

It's time for an independent investigation. It's obvious these lying weasals can't be allowed to investigate themselves.

Can't you see a Republican-led investigation of the Foley matter eventually finding the fault was all Bill Clinton's?

NRCC Chairman Reynolds Says Hastert Did Know About Rep. Foley's Sexually Explicit Emails To Underage Boy

The Washington Post reported this morning that Speaker of the House Denny Hastert denied knowing that Representative Mark Foley (R-Fl) had sent an underage boy sexually explicit emails. House Majority Leader John Boehner told the Washington Post last night that he had told Hastert about the allegations against Representative Foley in the spring of this year but then Boehner later called the Post back to say he couldn't remember if he had told Hastert or not.

But now National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Thomas Reynolds (R-NY) has released a statement saying he had told Hastert about the emails:

WASHINGTON Sep 30, 2006 (AP)— Rep. Thomas Reynolds, head of the House Republican election effort, said he told Speaker Dennis Hastert after learning a fellow GOP lawmaker sent inappropriate messages to a teenage boy.

Reynolds, R-N.Y., was told months ago about e-mails sent by Rep. Mark Foley and is now defending himself from Democratic accusations that he did too little. Foley, R-Fla., resigned Friday after ABC News questioned him about the e-mails to a former congressional page and about sexually suggestive instant messages to other pages.

The boy who received the e-mails was 16 in summer 2005 when he worked in Congress as a page. After the boy returned to his Louisiana home, the congressman e-mailed him, and the teenager thought the messages were inappropriate, particularly one in which Foley asked the teen to send a picture of himself.

The teen's family contacted their congressman, Rep. Rodney Alexander, R-La., who then discussed it with Reynolds sometime this spring.

"Rodney Alexander brought to my attention the existence of e-mails between Mark Foley and a former page of Mr. Alexander's," Reynolds, chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee, said in a written statement Saturday.

"Despite the fact that I had not seen the e-mails in question, and Mr. Alexander told me that the parents didn't want the matter pursued, I told the speaker of the conversation Mr. Alexander had with me," Reynolds said.


Democrats charged Reynolds did far too little and said more digging should be done.

"Congressman Reynolds' inaction in the face of such a serious situation is very troubling, and raises important questions about whether there was an attempt to cover up criminal activity involving a minor to keep it from coming to light before election day," said Democratic National Committee spokeswoman Karen Finney.

New York Democrats hoping to unseat Reynolds blasted the congressman, saying they call into question the Republican's values.

"Mr. Reynolds knew about these allegedly inappropriate emails from a fellow congressman to a minor for months and didn't lift a finger," said Blake Zeff, a spokesman for the state Democrats.

The whole thing smacks of a cover-up. Hastert says he didn't know about the email. Boehner says Hastert did, then he changes his story and says he's not sure if he told Hastert. Now Reynolds, fighting for his political life in a very close race (latest Survey USA poll had Reynolds leading only by two points) releases a statement defending his own actions and essentially calling Hastert a liar.

These boys need to come clean and since it is obvious they won't come clean by themselves, an independent investigator needs to be appointed to get to the bottom of who knew what when and who did what when.

This is a major scandal. It's not just a sex scandal involving a 52 year old man and underage boys - it's also starting to look like a cover-up and/or conspiracy by the Republican leadership to hide the criminal activity, keep both voters and their Democratic colleagues in the dark about the incidents and enable Representative Foley to continue sending sexually explicit emails and instant messages to underage boys.

It is just unconscionable that the same Republicans who couldn't wait to try and impeach President Clinton for lying about having consensual sex with an adult woman did nothing for months while Representative Foley continued to send these kinds of sexually explicit messages to underage boys.

Here Is The Text Of One Of The Mark Foley Instant Messages To A House Page

The email's that Mark Foley sent to House pages that have been reported in the press are pretty tame compared to some of the instant messages he sent. Here is a very graphic example of Congressman Foley's deviancy, courtesy of Maf54 is Mark Foley's IM name (Maf are Foley's initials):

Maf54 (7:37:27 PM): how my favorite young stud doing
Xxxxxxxxx (7:37:46 PM): tired and sore

Maf54 (7:39:32 PM): you need a massage

Xxxxxxxxx (7:41:57 PM): ugh tomorrow i have the first day of lacrosse practice
Maf54 (7:42:27 PM): love to watch that
Maf54 (7:42:33 PM): those great legs running
Xxxxxxxxx (7:42:38 PM): haha…they arent great

Maf54 (7:46:33 PM): did any girl give you a haand job this weekend
Xxxxxxxxx (7:46:38 PM): lol no
Xxxxxxxxx (7:46:40 PM): im single right now
Xxxxxxxxx (7:46:57 PM): my last gf and i broke up a few weeks agi
Maf54 (7:47:11 PM): good so your getting horny
Xxxxxxxxx (7:47:29 PM): lol…a bit
Maf54 (7:48:00 PM): did you spank it this weekend yourself
Xxxxxxxxx (7:48:04 PM): no
Xxxxxxxxx (7:48:16 PM): been too tired and too busy
Maf54 (7:48:33 PM): wow…
Maf54 (7:48:34 PM): i am never to busy haha
Xxxxxxxxx (7:48:51 PM): haha
Maf54 (7:50:02 PM): or tired..helps me sleep
Xxxxxxxxx (7:50:15 PM): thats true
Xxxxxxxxx (7:50:36 PM): havent been having a problem with sleep though.. i just walk in the door and collapse well at least this weekend
Maf54 (7:50:56 PM): i am sure
Xxxxxxxxx (7:50:57 PM): i dont do it very often normally though
Maf54 (7:51:11 PM): why not
Maf54 (7:51:22 PM): at your age seems like it would be daily
Xxxxxxxxx (7:51:57 PM): not me
Xxxxxxxxx (7:52:01 PM): im not a horn dog
Xxxxxxxxx (7:52:07 PM): maybe 2 or 3 times a week
Maf54 (7:52:20 PM): thats a good number
Maf54 (7:52:27 PM): in the shower
Xxxxxxxxx (7:52:36 PM): actually usually i dont do it in the shower
Xxxxxxxxx (7:52:42 PM): just cause i shower in the morning
Xxxxxxxxx (7:52:47 PM): and quickly
Maf54 (7:52:50 PM): in the bed
Xxxxxxxxx (7:52:59 PM): i get up at 530 and am outta the house by 610
Xxxxxxxxx (7:53:03 PM): eh ya
Maf54 (7:53:24 PM): on your back
Xxxxxxxxx (7:53:30 PM): no face down
Maf54 (7:53:32 PM): love details
Xxxxxxxxx (7:53:34 PM): lol
Xxxxxxxxx (7:53:36 PM): i see that
Xxxxxxxxx (7:53:37 PM): lol
Maf54 (7:53:39 PM): really
Maf54 (7:53:54 PM): do you really do it face down
Xxxxxxxxx (7:54:03 PM): ya
Maf54 (7:54:13 PM): kneeling
Xxxxxxxxx (7:54:31 PM): well i dont use my hand…i use the bed itself
Maf54 (7:54:31 PM): where do you unload it
Xxxxxxxxx (7:54:36 PM): towel
Maf54 (7:54:43 PM): really
Maf54 (7:55:02 PM): completely naked?
Xxxxxxxxx (7:55:12 PM): well ya
Maf54 (7:55:21 PM): very nice
Xxxxxxxxx (7:55:24 PM): lol
Maf54 (7:55:51 PM): cute butt bouncing in the air
Xxxxxxxxx (7:56:00 PM): haha
Xxxxxxxxx (7:56:05 PM): well ive never watched myslef
Xxxxxxxxx (7:56:08 PM): but ya i guess
Maf54 (7:56:18 PM): i am sure not
Maf54 (7:56:22 PM): hmmm
Maf54 (7:56:30 PM): great visual

Maf54 (7:57:05 PM): i always use lotion and the hand
Maf54 (7:57:10 PM): but who knows
Xxxxxxxxx (7:57:24 PM): i dont use lotion…takes too much time to clean up
Xxxxxxxxx (7:57:37 PM): with a towel you can just wipe off….and go
Maf54 (7:57:38 PM): lol
Maf54 (7:57:45 PM): where do you throw the towel
Xxxxxxxxx (7:57:48 PM): but you cant work it too hard….or its not good
Xxxxxxxxx (7:57:51 PM): in the laundry
Maf54 (7:58:16 PM): just kinda slow rubbing
Xxxxxxxxx (7:58:23 PM): ya….
Xxxxxxxxx (7:58:32 PM): or youll rub yourslef raw
Maf54 (7:58:37 PM): well I have aa totally stiff wood now
Xxxxxxxxx (7:58:40 PM): cause the towell isnt very soft
Maf54 (7:58:44 PM): i bet..taht would hurt
Xxxxxxxxx (7:58:50 PM): but you cn find something softer than a towell i guess
Maf54 (7:58:59 PM): but it must feel great spirting on the towel
Xxxxxxxxx (7:59:06 PM): ya
Maf54 (7:59:29 PM): wow
Maf54 (7:59:48 PM): is your little guy limp…or growing
Xxxxxxxxx (7:59:54 PM): eh growing
Maf54 (8:00:00 PM): hmm
Maf54 (8:00:12 PM): so you got a stiff one now
Xxxxxxxxx (8:00:19 PM): not that fast
Xxxxxxxxx (8:00:20 PM): hey
Xxxxxxxxx (8:00:32 PM): so you have a fetich
Maf54 (8:00:32 PM): hey what
Xxxxxxxxx (8:00:40 PM): fetish**
Maf54 (8:00:43 PM): like
Maf54 (8:00:53 PM): i like steamroom
Maf54 (8:01:04 PM): whats yours
Xxxxxxxxx (8:01:09 PM): its kinda weird
Xxxxxxxxx (8:01:14 PM): lol
Maf54 (8:01:21 PM): i am hard as a tell me when your reaches rock
Xxxxxxxxx (8:01:23 PM): i have a cast fetish
Maf54 (8:01:27 PM): well tell me
Maf54 (8:01:32 PM): cast
Xxxxxxxxx (8:01:44 PM): ya like…plaster cast
Maf54 (8:01:49 PM): what happens
Maf54 (8:01:58 PM): how does that turn you in
Xxxxxxxxx (8:02:02 PM): i dont know
Xxxxxxxxx (8:02:04 PM): it just does
Xxxxxxxxx (8:02:08 PM): ive never had one
Xxxxxxxxx (8:02:16 PM): but people that have them turn me on
Xxxxxxxxx (8:02:27 PM): and if i had one it would probably turn me on
Xxxxxxxxx (8:02:29 PM): beats me
Xxxxxxxxx (8:02:32 PM): its kinda weird
Xxxxxxxxx (8:02:50 PM): but along with that i like the whole catholic girl look….thats our schools uniform
Maf54 (8:03:02 PM): ha thats wild
Xxxxxxxxx (8:03:14 PM): ya but now im hard
Maf54 (8:03:32 PM): me 2
Maf54 (8:03:42 PM): cast got you going
Maf54 (8:03:47 PM): what you wearing
Xxxxxxxxx (8:04:04 PM): normal clothes
Xxxxxxxxx (8:04:09 PM): tshirt and shorts
Maf54 (8:04:17 PM): um so a big buldge
Xxxxxxxxx (8:04:35 PM): ya
Maf54 (8:04:45 PM): um
Maf54 (8:04:58 PM): love to slip them off of you
Xxxxxxxxx (8:05:08 PM): haha
Maf54 (8:05:53 PM): and gram the one eyed snake
Maf54 (8:06:13 PM): grab
Xxxxxxxxx (8:06:53 PM): not tonight…dont get to excited
Maf54 (8:07:12 PM): well your hard
Xxxxxxxxx (8:07:45 PM): that is true
Maf54 (8:08:03 PM): and a little horny
Xxxxxxxxx (8:08:11 PM): and also tru
Maf54 (8:08:31 PM): get a ruler and measure it for me
Xxxxxxxxx (8:08:38 PM): ive already told you that
Maf54 (8:08:47 PM): tell me again
Xxxxxxxxx (8:08:49 PM): 7 and 1/2
Maf54 (8:09:04 PM): ummmmmmmmmmmmmmmm
Maf54 (8:09:08 PM): beautiful
Xxxxxxxxx (8:09:38 PM): lol
Maf54 (8:09:44 PM): thats a great size
Xxxxxxxxx (8:10:00 PM): thank you
Maf54 (8:10:22 PM): still stiff
Xxxxxxxxx (8:10:28 PM): ya
Maf54 (8:10:40 PM): take it out
Xxxxxxxxx (8:10:54 PM): brb…my mom is yelling
Maf54 (8:11:06 PM): ok
Xxxxxxxxx (8:14:02 PM): back
Maf54 (8:14:37 PM): cool hope se didnt see any thing
Xxxxxxxxx (8:14:54 PM): no no
Xxxxxxxxx (8:14:59 PM): she is computer dumb though
Xxxxxxxxx (8:15:01 PM): it makes me so mad
Maf54 (8:15:04 PM): good
Maf54 (8:15:08 PM): haha
Maf54 (8:15:11 PM): why
Xxxxxxxxx (8:15:23 PM): cause she cant do anything
Maf54 (8:15:31 PM): oh well
Xxxxxxxxx (8:15:41 PM): she couldnt figure out how to download a file from an email and open it
Maf54 (8:15:53 PM): haha
Xxxxxxxxx (8:16:14 PM): and she only does it like a million times a day
Xxxxxxxxx (8:16:16 PM): oh well
Xxxxxxxxx (8:16:18 PM): whatever
Xxxxxxxxx (8:16:53 PM): well i better go finish my hw…i just found out from a friend that i have to finish reading and notating a book for AP english Maf54 signed off at 8:17:43 PM.”

How's that for fucked up? And Foley was the co-chair of the House committee on missing and exploited children.

Sounds like he did his share of exploiting.

GOP Leadership Did Know About Congressman Foley's Sexual Emails To Pages

Via Political Wire, Roll Call reports that

At least four Republican House Members, one senior GOP aide and a former top officer of the House were aware of the allegations about Foley that prompted the initial reporting regarding his e-mail contacts with a 16-year-old House page. They include: Majority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio), National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Tom Reynolds (N.Y.) and Reps. Rodney Alexander (R-La.) and John Shimkus (R-Ill.), as well as a senior aide to Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) and former Clerk of the House Jeff Trandahl.

It's one thing if the GOP leadership learned of Foley's behavior and took action to stop it. If that were the case, then I would say the scandal is limited to one sick individual who took advantage of his position of power to abuse children, but at least the people above him took responsiblity and put a stop to the criminal behavior.

It's another altogether if the Republican leadership knew about these emails for a year and did nothing to stop Foley. It's even worse if they knew about these emails for a year and left Foley as co-chair of the House committee on missing and exploited children.

Unfortunately for Republicans, the Roll Call report says the latter is the case. The House Majority Leader knew about these emails to the pages, the senior aide to the Speaker of the House knew about these emails to the pages, the chairman of the Natinoal Republican Congrssional Committee knew about these emails to the pages. Roll Call reports Democrats were not told about the emails.

This is the Republican braintrust in the House of Representatives we're talking about here who knew that one of their members was sending emails of a sexual nature to underage boys and seemingly did nothing to stop him.

This scandal really threatens to engulf Republicans at the worst possible time before the midterm elections. Tom Reynolds, the NRCC chairman who was alerted early about Foley's emails to pages, is in a tough battle for his own seat despite his Namthesque guarantee that Republicans will hold onto their majority in the House this year. If I were his opponent, I would be cutting ads right now on this scandal asking just what Tom Reynolds knew about Mark Foley's behavior, when he knew it, and what he did about it. And the ad would end like this:

"How can we trust Tom Reynolds to be our congressman in Washington when he can't even be trusted to stop a fellow congressman in his caucus from abusing underage boys? Isn't it obvious thatthe NRCC chairman cares more about maintaining a majority for his party than doing what's right for children?"

I'd like to see the pushback from Reynolds on that ad.

This is one of the major issues Dems need to be pushing in the next few weeks, along with the NIE report that states the Iraq war is making the U.S. less safe in the war on terror, the Woodward book that reports Bush/Rummy/Cheney completely fucked up the post-invasion phase of the war through their arrogance and incompetence and the bipartisan House report that tied convicted GOP superlobbyist Jack Abramoff to the White House nearly five hundred times over a four year period.

Let's see RNC chair Ken Mehlman deal with those fires. Considering he's implicated in the Abramoff scandal himself, we might not actually see him for a while. And considering he's had to quell rumors about his own sexuality, I bet he won't be the go-to guy to quell the Foley underage sex scandal either.

Hastert/GOP Leadership Covered Up Foley Pedophilia?

This sounds prettty bad:

Six-term Rep. Mark Foley (R-Fla.) resigned yesterday amid reports that he had sent sexually explicit e-mails to at least one underage male former page.


The resignation rocked the Capitol, and especially Foley's GOP colleagues, as lawmakers were rushing to adjourn for at least six weeks. House Majority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) told The Washington Post last night that he had learned this spring of some "contact" between Foley and a 16-year-old page. Boehner said he told House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.), and that Hastert assured him "we're taking care of it."

It was not immediately clear what actions Hastert took. His spokesman had said earlier that the speaker did not know of the sexually charged e-mails between Foley and the boy.


At the Capitol Hill signing ceremony for the commissions bill, a GOP campaign priority, reporters asked Hastert only about Foley. "He's done the right thing," Hastert replied. "I've asked John Shimkus [R-Ill.], who is head of the Page Board, to look into this issue regarding Congressman Foley. We want to make sure that all of our pages are safe and our page system is safe. None of us are happy about it."

ABC News reported yesterday that it had interviewed Foley, 52, about excerpts of instant messages provided by current and former pages under the age of 18. ABC reported that Foley, under the AOL Instant Messenger screen name Maf54, made repeated references to sexual acts and body parts. Foley's spokesman did not respond to a Washington Post request for comment on the ABC report.

Rep. Rodney Alexander (R-La.), who sponsored the page from his district, said he had learned of some of the online exchanges from a reporter some months ago and passed on the information to Rep. Thomas Reynolds (R-N.Y.), chairman of the House Republican campaign organization, the Associated Press reported. Alexander said he did not pursue the matter further because "his parents said they didn't want me to do anything."

Carl Forti, a spokesman for the GOP campaign organization, said Reynolds learned from Alexander that the parents did not want to pursue the matter, AP reported.

Shimkus said in a statement last night, "in late 2005, I was notified by the then Clerk of the House," that Alexander had told the Clerk "about an email exchange between Congressman Foley and a former House Page. I took immediate action to investigate the matter."

Okay, so let's get this straight. They've known about Foley 's sexual email exchanges as far back as late 2005 and all they did is "investigate the matter." How long did it take to investigate? What did the investigation turn up? What was done about Representative Foley's actions.

This is a real scandal. The "Do Nothing" Republican leadership apparently knew it had a pedophile in its membership and it did nothing to put a stop to his criminal behavior.

We need an independent investigation of this matter straight away. The American people deserve to know if the Republican leadership cared more about its majority in the House than it did about the safety of the teenagers who worked as House pages.

Friday, September 29, 2006

Allen/Webb Tied In New Poll

Bad week for Senator Allen:

NEW YORK - Incumbent Republican Senator George Allen and Democratic challenger Jim Webb are tied in the latest MSNBC/McClatchy poll conducted by Mason-Dixon. Each candidate received the support of 43 percent of likely voters in Virginia with 2 percent supporting a third candidate and 12 percent undecided.

The results represent a rapid change in support for Allen, who was once not only thought to be a safe bet for re-election but perhaps a candidate for the 2008 Republican presidential nomination.


In July, Allen looked like a safe bet to hold the seat. He led Webb by a 16-point margin, 48 percent to 32 percent in a survey by the same pollster, Mason-Dixon. Allen’s lead shrunk to 4 points, 46 percent to 42 percent, earlier this month.

The race isn't over, of course, and I fully expect Senator Allen to come back and win this thing. But he's going to have spend his entire warchest to do and even then, it looks like it's going to be close.

Couldn't have happened to a more deserving guy.

Rothenberg Updates Senate/House Races: Good News For The Dems

All but one race moved toward Democrats:

In the Senate, we moved two races:
-Pennsylvania from Lean Takeover to Likely Takeover
-Tennessee (Open) from Clear Advantage for Corker to Narrow Advantage for Corker

In the House, we moved seven races and dropped two seats:
-Florida 16 (Open) added to the list as a Pure Toss-Up (pending additional news)
-Arizona 8 from Lean Democrat to Democrat Favored
-Georgia 8 from Democrat Favored to Lean Democrat
-Wisconsin 8 (Open) from Lean Republican to Toss-Up/Tilt Republican
-New York 24 (Open) from Lean Republican to Toss-Up/Tilt Republican
-Pennsylvania 10 from Toss-Up/Tilt Republican to Pure Toss-Up
-Ohio 1 from Toss-Up/Tilt Republican to Pure Toss-Up
-Dropped from the list: Lousiana 3 and Ohio 6

The pending news in the Florida 16 is whether Republicans can replace Representative Mark Foley, the Congressman who resigned today because of a possible illict relationship with a 16 year boy.

Chris Cilliza just said on Hardball that Dems may only need to pick up 12 House seats because Republicans may not be able to replace Foley's name on the ballot in the Florida 16, Republicans have been forced to run a write-in campaign in the Texas 22 (Tom Delay's old seat), and the GOP pulled all its money/support out of the Arizona 8 district (Jim Kolbe's old seat) because Randy Graf, a very conservative candidate, won the primary and the NRCC thinks he can't win.


Think about what has happened here this last week. Rove and Mehlman were expecting to hit Dems over and over on the national security/terrorism issue, get the Congress to pass a detainee bill and a domestic spying bill that they could use against Dems in attack ads, and keep the 9/11 anniversary momentum rolling their way.

But instead an NIE saying the Iraq war is making America less safe in the WoT was leaked to the NY Times, the Woodward book comes out saying the administration was completely in denial about the insurgency/troop levels in post-invasion Iraq, a bipartisan House report is released tying members of the administration, including Karl Rove and RNC chairman Ken Mehlman, to Abramoff hundreds of times, and Representative Mark Foley resigns in a pedophilia/sex scandal on the last day of the Congressional session.

So much for the 9/11 anniversary momentum.

There are no guarantees where this thing is going, but let's say this for now. Given where the numbers were a few weeks ago and looking at them now, the GOP has brought a few of its disgruntled voters back into the fold but the overall dynamic of the election remains very negative for Republicans.

And there's just 40 days to go. Can the GOP turn the numbers around at the district and state levels? They've got a lot of cash on hand for negative ads and I know they're not going to save it the way John Kerry did back in 2004. They're going to shoot the works and see what happens.

But so far, it's not working.

Republican Congressman Resigns After Emails To 16 Year Old Are Revealed

Mark Foley (R-Fl) has resigned his seat in Congress just 39 days before the midterm elections. Here's Cilliza in the Washington Post:

Foley has represented the 16th District since 1994 and has regularly been mentioned as a potential candidate for statewide office. He was a candidate for the U.S. Senate briefly in 2003 before dropping out, citing his desire to spend more time with his parents.

His abrupt decision to step down from his seat comes one day after ABC News reported the existence of e-mails sent by Foley last fall to a 16-year-old boy who formerly served as a congressional page. In the messages, Foley reportedly asked the boy what he wanted for his birthday and requested that the boy send a photo of himself to Foley. (The St. Petersburg Times caught up with the boy some time ago but waited to report on it until today.)

Foley's departure is likely to create havoc for Republicans in the district. The biggest question is whether Republicans can replace Foley on the ballot. If not, Democratic candidate Tim Mahoney, who has been running a credible (if longshot) challenge to Foley, will see his chances immediately improve.

The district carries a Republican tilt -- President George W. Bush won it with 54 percent in 2004. But given the controversy and press attention likely to engulf Foley, this seat could well emerge as a late-breaking opportunity for Democrats.

This district had not been considered in play before. Is it now?

UPDATE: Hotline Blog reports that the AP write-up of the story says the GOP can replace Foley on the ballot. That would make a Dem pick-up in the district a lot less likely.

Big Brother Bush Now Has The Power To Detain You Indefinitely, Torture You and Convict You On Hearsay Evidence

All he has to do is call you an "enemy combatant" and you can disappear from view for a long, long time. The Washington Post has the details:

The military trials bill approved by Congress lends legislative support for the first time to broad rules for the detention, interrogation, prosecution and trials of terrorism suspects far different from those in the familiar American criminal justice system.

President Bush's argument that the government requires extraordinary power to respond to the unusual threat of terrorism helped him win final support for a system of military trials with highly truncated defendant's rights. The United States used similar trials on just four occasions: during the country's revolution, the Mexican-American War, the Civil War and World War II.

Included in the bill, passed by Republican majorities in the Senate yesterday and the House on Wednesday, are unique rules that bar terrorism suspects from challenging their detention or treatment through traditional habeas corpus petitions. They allow prosecutors, under certain conditions, to use evidence collected through hearsay or coercion to seek criminal convictions.

The bill rejects the right to a speedy trial and limits the traditional right to self-representation by requiring that defendants accept military defense attorneys. Panels of military officers need not reach unanimous agreement to win convictions, except in death penalty cases, and appeals must go through a second military panel before reaching a federal civilian court.

By writing into law for the first time the definition of an "unlawful enemy combatant," the bill empowers the executive branch to detain indefinitely anyone it determines to have "purposefully and materially" supported anti-U.S. hostilities. Only foreign nationals among those detainees can be tried by the military commissions, as they are known, and sentenced to decades in jail or put to death.

At the same time, the bill immunizes U.S. officials from prosecution for cruel, inhumane or degrading treatment of detainees who the military and the CIA captured before the end of last year. It gives the president a dominant but not exclusive role in setting the rules for future interrogations of terrorism suspects.

Amazing. Just amazing. Giving a proven liar and torturer these expanded powers is absurd.

But of course the real reason why the administration needed to pass this before the midterms is so that they can get immunity for all the torture they have ordered in the past.

Now nobody can touch them and try them as war criminals.

Even though they are war criminals.

Will The Woodward Book Keep Iraq In The News?

I watched the 8:00PM repeat of The Colbert Report last night. During the segment known as "The Word," Colbert said he couldn't remember what the word was and began searching through different newspapers to see if the headlines would jar his memory. He saw the Clinton/Wallace blow-up, the Condi/Hillary "smackdown" and some other meaningless tabloid stories but nothing that helped him remember "The Word."

Later it turned out "The Word" was Iraq.

No wonder Stephen couldn't find anything in the news to help jar his memory. The news media relegates all the Iraq stories to page A20.

But Bob Woodward, the official court stenographer of the Bush administration, has a new book about the Iraq war coming out called "State of Denial" and The New York Times front-pages that story:
WASHINGTON, Sept. 28 — The White House ignored an urgent warning in September 2003 from a top Iraq adviser who said that thousands of additional American troops were desperately needed to quell the insurgency there, according to a new book by Bob Woodward, the Washington Post reporter and author. The book describes a White House riven by dysfunction and division over the war.

The warning is described in “State of Denial,” scheduled for publication on Monday by Simon & Schuster. The book says President Bush’s top advisers were often at odds among themselves, and sometimes were barely on speaking terms, but shared a tendency to dismiss as too pessimistic assessments from American commanders and others about the situation in Iraq.

As late as November 2003, Mr. Bush is quoted as saying of the situation in Iraq: “I don’t want anyone in the cabinet to say it is an insurgency. I don’t think we are there yet.”


Robert D. Blackwill, then the top Iraq adviser on the National Security Council, is said to have issued his warning about the need for more troops in a lengthy memorandum sent to Ms. Rice. The book says Mr. Blackwill’s memorandum concluded that more ground troops, perhaps as many as 40,000, were desperately needed.

It says that Mr. Blackwill and L. Paul Bremer III, then the top American official in Iraq, later briefed Ms. Rice and Stephen J. Hadley, her deputy, about the pressing need for more troops during a secure teleconference from Iraq. It says the White House did nothing in response.


Vice President Cheney is described as a man so determined to find proof that his claim about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq was accurate that, in the summer of 2003, his aides were calling the chief weapons inspector, David Kay, with specific satellite coordinates as the sites of possible caches. None resulted in any finds.


The book describes an exchange in early 2003 between Lt. Gen. Jay Garner, the retired officer Mr. Bush appointed to administer postwar Iraq, and President Bush and others in the White House situation room. It describes senior war planners as having been thoroughly uninterested in the details of the postwar mission.

After General Garner finished his PowerPoint presentation — which included his plan to use up to 300,000 troops of the Iraqi Army to help secure postwar Iraq, the book says — there were no questions from anyone in the situation room, and the president gave him a rousing sendoff.

But it was General Garner who was soon removed, in favor of Mr. Bremer, whose actions in dismantling the Iraqi army and removing Baathists from office were eventually disparaged within the government.

Leaving aside Bob Woodward's own "state of denial" about his relationship with the members of the Bush administration for the moment, this book comes out at the wrong time for the administration.

Already trying to quell the furor over an NIE report that says the Iraq war is fomenting terrorism and making the United States less safe in the war on terror, now the administration is going to have to deal with Booby's book tour and appearances on the Sunday talk shows/cable shows for the next week or so where the storyline is the administration completely fucked up the post-war phase of the Iraq occupation.

The administration is desperate to move the political conversation away from Iraq toward anything else. They would prefer to talk about terrorism, of course, since they think that conversation gives them a political advantage come November, but frankly they would even talk about the health benefits of playing mah jong if they could avoid the Iraq war conversation.

So how do they turn the conversation away from Iraq? As Colbert noted in yesterday's show, the news media is already predisposed to giving the war little to no coverage. 68 American military personnel have died this month, but rarely outside of the Lou Dobbs Show do those casualty numbers get reported. The New York Times and The Washington Post still cover the war, but they rarely place the stories on pages where people are actually going to read them.

The Bush administration has had to do little else but provide some dog and pony shows over domestic surveillance or detainee rights in order to get the news media to forget completely about Iraq and cover what the administration wants them to cover. The NIE report changed that somewhat. Booby's new book will continue that trend. But it remains to be seen for how long. The news media are like little dogs eager to follow the bouncing ball wherever it goes and you know that Karl Rove and Ken Mehlman (Abramoff's favorite guys) have a whole month of bouncing balls for the news media to eagerly follow in October.

That aside, the details in Woodward's book about just how much the administration fucked up the post-invastion are horrifying. That anyone, even the most ardent Bush apologist, would take these fucking guys and girls seriously about anything, is beyond me.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Roll Call: Abramoff Team Had 485 Contacts With White House


Hundreds of contacts between top White House officials and former lobbyist Jack Abramoff and his associates “raise serious questions about the legality and actions” of those officials, according to a draft bipartisan report prepared by the House Government Reform Committee.

The 95-page report, which White House officials reviewed Wednesday evening but has yet to be formally approved by the panel, singled out two of President Bush’s top lieutenants, Karl Rove and Ken Mehlman, as having been offered expensive meals and exclusive tickets to premier sporting events and concerts by Abramoff and his associates.

In total, the committee was able to document 485 contacts between White House officials and Abramoff and his lobbying team at the firm Greenberg Traurig from January 2001 to March 2004, with 82 of those contacts occurring in Rove¹s office, including 10 with Rove personally. The panel also said that Abramoff billed his clients nearly $25,000 for meals and drinks with White House officials during that period.

Rove, Mehlman, and other White House officials have denied having any close relationship with Abramoff, despite the fact that Abramoff was a “Pioneer” who raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for Bush’s White House campaigns.

“The documents depict a much closer relationship between Mr. Abramoff and White House officials than the White House has previously acknowledged,” committee staff wrote in a three-page summary that accompanied the report. Reps. Tom Davis (R-Va.) and Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), chairman and ranking member of Government Reform, this summer subpoenaed e-mails and billing records from Greenberg Traurig and other firms, including Alexander Strategy Group, which was run by one-time aides to former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Texas). They examined more than 14,000 pages of documents from Greenberg Traurig, including 6,600 pages of billing records and 7,700 pages of e-mail.

It's as if Jack Abramoff actually worked at the Bush White House.

Somebody ought to ask RNC Chairman and confirmed bachelor Ken mehlman about these allegatios the next time he shows up on a Sunday talk show to spew lies and bullshit.

And I know Rove doesn't talk to the press unless he's quoted anonymously, but perhaps Tony Snowjob can be asked about this report?

NRCC Chair Barely Leads His Own Race

National Republican Congressional Committee chairman Tom Reynolds (R-NY) guaranteed the Grand Old Ruling Party would maintain power in the House of Representatives after the November midterms just last week.

Today, Survey USA released a poll showing Reynold's own race against his Democratic challenger is in a "dead heat." Political Wire sums it up:

In New York's 26th congressional district, a new SurveyUSA poll shows Rep. Tom Reynolds (R-NY) in a "fierce fight" with challenger Jack Davis (D). Reynolds holds a statistically insignificant 45% to 43% lead with Christine Murphy (G) drawing 8% support.

In 2004, Reynolds defeated Davis 56% to 44%.

Key findings: "Reynolds gets 62% of Republican votes. Davis gets 64% of Democrat votes. 31% of Republicans, and 24% of Democrats, cross over to vote for the other party's candidate. Independents favor Davis by 12 points, but Green Party candidate Murphy gets 20% of the Independent vote."

You know, if I were Tom Reynolds, I'd want to make sure I was going to win my own race before I started making Namathesque guarantees about the midterms.

Cuz' it sure would be embarrassing if Reynolds lost his own seat on the night his guarantee was put to the test.

Majority of Iraqis Want To See Americans Killed

This is what 2,709 American military personnel and counting have given their lives for?

WASHINGTON (AP) - About six in 10 Iraqis say they approve of attacks on U.S.-led forces, and slightly more than that want their government to ask U.S. troops to leave within a year, according to a poll in that country.


The poll, done for University of Maryland's Program on International Policy Attitudes, found:

_Almost four in five Iraqis say the U.S. military force in Iraq provokes more violence than it prevents.

_About 61 percent approved of the attacks - up from 47 percent in January. A solid majority of Shiite and Sunni Arabs approved of the attacks, according to the poll. The increase came mostly among Shiite Iraqis.


The State Department, meanwhile, has also conducted its own poll, something it does periodically, spokesman Sean McCormack said. The State Department poll found that two-thirds of Iraqis in Baghdad favor an immediate withdrawal of U.S. forces, according to The Washington Post. McCormack declined to discuss details of the department's Iraq poll.

It's time to get the fuck out of there and make the people who created this mess pay.

Another Allegation Against Allen

The people who say they've heard Senator George Allen use the 'n' word to refer to African Americans in the past just keep coming out of the woodwork:

Pat Waring, 75, of Chesterton, Md., first brought her story to MSNBC when she contacted us in a direct phone call. We then conducted a series of interviews. Waring says that at a sports match in the late 1970's, Allen repeatedly use the ‘n’ word to describe blacks.

"I just didn't think in the late 70's people would be so ugly and so overt about it and so public," Waring said.

Waring says that in 1978, she and her then-husband, Robert Michael Schwartz, had just moved to Charlottesville, Va. Friends from the time confirm that Schwartz was a Ph.d. candidate at the University of Virginia, an avid rugby player and the volunteer coach of the school's rugby club team.

MSNBC has also confirmed Pat Waring worked in a doctor's office and came to some of the rugby games. Waring says there is one game, from either the fall of 1978 or the spring of 1979 that she will never forget.

"I heard to my left, the ‘n’ word, and I heard it again, and I looked around and heard it again,” she said. “And there was this fellow sitting on the ground. He was putting on red rugby shoes, it is seared in my brain, believe me. And he was kind of showing off I guess, but he was telling a story about something or other and in the story was a lot of ‘n’ words. So, I got out of the bleacher and I went over and I said young man, I am the coach's wife and if you don't mind, would you please not use that word. And he in essence told me to buzz off.”

Waring said when she learned the man using the slurs was George Allen, son of the Washington Redskins coach, she was “crestfallen.”

“I thought, ‘My god this just can't be. He can't just sit there in front of all of these people,’” Waring said. “There were people all over the place. And he was talking loudly or I never would have heard him."

Waring says the incident has stayed with her because of the ‘n’ word, because Allen's father had been coach of the Washington Redskins in the 1970's and because she is a lifelong Redskins fan.

Allen's campaign denied the latest allegation. They've denied all of the allegations.

But the allegations keep coming.

Election Update

The NY Times frontpages an article that says Democrats suddenly have a chance to win six seats from Republicans in the Senate and take back power from the GOP.

I'm not convinced, as the NJ Senator Bob Menendez looks to be very, very vulnerable for Dems right now, Lieberman remains ahead in his race against Ned Lamont and I have a feeling he is going to start caucusing with Republicans if and when he wins and the GOP will be throwing shitloads of money into the close races like Tennessee, Virginia, and Missouri that could still turn the tide in the last days of the campaign.

Still, it is nice to see an election story these days that doesn't start with "And Republicans are more confident that they will retain control of..."

Cilliza and VandeHei of the Washington Post write about the OH-06 district, an open Democratic seat in a farily conservative area of Ohio that once was considered a prime pick-up opportunity for the GOP but now is considered "safe" for Dems. Cilliza and VandeHei claim dwindling Republican fortunes in OH-06 are a "microcosm" for what has happened around the country so far this election season:

Ask Republicans where they see takeover opportunities this fall and they will rattle off seats such as Georgia's 8th District -- held by Rep. Jim Marshall -- Iowa's 3rd or even the open at-large seat in strongly Democratic Vermont. But none of those races look particularly dire for Democrats at the moment, as many Republican strategists privately acknowledge.

Republicans' receding chances in the Ohio 6th provide a microcosm of this trend.

According to the Post, Republicans are being forced to play defense and throw money into saving their own vulnerable seats instead of throwing money into potentially vulnerable Democratic districts. The result is a very small number of Dem seats that Republicans have a realistic chance to pick-up in November and a very large and still expanding number of Republican districts Democrats have the chance to win.

We'll see. The latest poll numbers continue to show the election trending toward the Dems, at least on the state and district level. Here's a taste of some of those numbers, via Political Wire:

CQ Politics has moved the Tennessee open race (R) to No Clear Favorite from Leans Republican. Rep. Harold Ford Jr., the Democratic candidate, is running a nearly perfect campaign and his Republican opponent, Bob Corker, is suffering from some ethical problems.

Debbie Stabenow
, Democratic Senator from Michigan is on her way to a blow out. The GOP once thought they could possibly pick up her seat.

Rick Santorum remains down in the Pennsylvania race. A Republican poll has Santorum trailing by 9 points.

Maria Cantwell
has a 9 point lead over her Republican opponent, Mike McGavick, in Washington State according to a Republican poll. That race was once thought to be competitive too, particularly since the Republican candidate had a lot of money to throw into the race. But so far, it hasn't developed that way.

Now the WSJ/Zogby poll is out and it says the GOP is on track to keep control of the Senate, but for some crazy reason the poll isn't accounting for a Dem takeover in either Montana or Rhode Island - both realistic possibilities. So take that poll with a grain of salt.

All in all, not terrible numbers considering the shifting conventional wisdom in Washington that Dems have already blown the midterm races (as Republican strategist Ed Rollins told Lou Dobbs last night on CNN.)

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Dems Look To Sweep All Statewide Offices In Both New York and Arkansas

From Political Wire:

Arkansas Democrats are on their way to a sweep of all statewide offices, according to a new SurveyUSA poll.

For Governor, Mike Beebe (D) beats Asa Hutchinson (R), 55% to 40%. Democrats also lead in races for Lieutenant Governor, Secretary of State and Attorney General.

Democrats are also quite confident about sweeping all statewide offices in New York.

Of course that Republican candidate for State Attorney General in NY, the one who's currently under state and federal investigation for trying to set up an illegal wiretap on her husband with former NYPD Commissioner Bernie Kerik's help, could still win her race.


Pirro and Kerik Cooked Up Illegal Wiretapping Scheme

Bernie Kerik, former NYPD commissioner/close Giuliani associate, and Jeanine Pirro, former Republican senatorial candidate/current candidate for Attorney General, are in a bit of trouble with the Feds according to WNBC TV:

ALBANY, N.Y. -- NewsChannel 4's Jonathan Dienst has learned Jeanine Pirro, the Republican candidate for New York Attorney General, has been under state and federal criminal investigation.

Dienst reported these allegations center on whether Pirro illegally spied on her own husband, Albert Pirro, while she held the office of the Westchester District Attorney.

The sources said that court authorities wiretapped conversations that appear to show that while preparing for a statewide run for office, Jeanine Pirro was desperate to prove her husband was cheating on her.

She came under the scrutiny of six different law enforcement agencies, including the New York Police Department, the city's Department of Investigation and prosecutors in the Bronx and Westchester.

According to documents now in the hands of several defense attorneys, Pirro and the former New York City Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik were apparently talking about planting a hidden device aboard her husband's boat. Her possible motive may have been to see if he was having an affair.

Sources told NewsChannel 4 that in one conversation, Pirro complained that one of Kerik's employees was reluctant to board Albert Pirro's boat.

Jeanine Pirro suggests, "We can just simply say, if there is an issue, that I am redecorating it for our anniversary.” She complains that Kerik’s man is, “uncomfortable with that.”

Kerik responded by saying, “But Jeanine, I’m having the same f------g problem with everybody. Everybody is panic stricken because it’s you. I’ve gone out on a limb. I had two other people looking at this. It’s a problem.”

Pirro said, “What am I supposed to do, Bernie? Watch him f--k her every night? What am I supposed to do? I can go on the boat. I’ll put the f-----g thing on myself.”

Minutes later, Kerik called a contact at Giuliani Partners, former Mayor Rudy Giuliani’s consulting firm, asking him to find a recording device, according to documents.

Sources said the FBI and Justice Department have been asked to look into whether Pirro and Kerik also might have violated federal laws.

In the wiretapped conversations, Pirro appeared to discuss how her husband’s alleged indiscretions hurt her politically.

Without her husband, sources said she told Kerik, “I move into the governor’s mansion.” That’s an apparent reference to her aspirations for higher office, the documents said.

Lobbyist Albert Pirro was convicted of tax fraud in 2000 and has fathered a child out of wedlock. He was investigated for allegedly leaking information from his wife’s Westchester district attorney's office to the mob, which he has denied. To date, no charges have been brought.

Twice this summer, he has been ticketed for speeding in his Mercedes.

Jeanine Pirro decided not to seek re-election in Westchester, and first put her name in the race for the Senate. However, she dropped out in her bid to go against Sen. Hillary Clinton and switched to the Attorney General’s race.

However, according to documents, when speaking to Kerik in the summer of 2005, Pirro apparently belittled a run the attorney general job, saying it’s a “been there, done that kind of thing.”

Some of the conversations with Kerik were recorded because Kerik’s phone was tapped in 2005, as part of an unrelated corruption probe. Kerik ended up pleading guilty to two misdemeanor charges in June to receiving gifts from a construction firm investigated for having mafia ties.

Pirro currently trails Democrat Andrew Cuomo in the race for attorney general.

As for Kerik, his legal troubles appear to be mounting. NewsChannel 4 has revealed that Kerik remains under investigation for more than $1 million missing from a jail charity when he was city corrections commissioner.

And Pirro wants to be top law enforcement officer in NY State?

Well, I guess if Giuliani can tap a mafia associate to run the NYPD and George Bush can tap him to run the Department of Homeland Security, Republicans can nominate a criminal to be their attorney general candidate.

BTW, I can't remember if it was the NY Daily News or AM New York, but I read this week that Bernie remains quite close to Saint Rudy despite Kerik's legal troubles.

It's nice to see Rudy's so loyal to his former consilgiere.

What The NIE Tells Us About The Iraq War

Here is Andrew Sullivan - a supporter of the Iraq war - on what the declassified portions of the National intelligence Estimate on Iraq means for how the U.S. should be fighting the war. Basically it comes down to this either fight the war with tens of thousands of more troops and finally secure the country or pull the fuck out:

It's an excruciating read. Here's my summary: we've made real progress against the organized professional leadership of al Qaeda. Everywhere else, we've lost ground. One reason we've lost ground - both strategically, ideologically and politically - is because of the bungled war in Iraq, which has produced the worst of all worlds: an ineffective occupation that doesn't bring democracy, has turned the image of the U.S. into Abu Ghraib, and has inspired many more decentralized and dangerous Jihadists across the globe. As a supporter of the war in Iraq, it's clear that over three years later, it has spawned more terrorism, and is now causing more innocent deaths on a daily basis than Saddam's vile regime. Whether this was inevitable or a function of the way it was conducted will be debated for decades. But this much we know: it was conducted dreadfully anyway, on the cheap, and without even minimal strategic intelligence and care. At this point in time, there's no way to spin this except as a fiasco that has obviously made us less safe right now and in the immediate future. The only arguments the Bush administration has left is that in 2050, historians may regard it as a turning point, and that leaving now would be even worse. The first argument is pathetic; the second argument is true but only underscores their unforgivable recklessness.

The NIE further concludes that our continued ineffective presence in Iraq is spawning more terrorism, and that our departure would also be a huge morale boost to the Jihadists and foment even more hell. Great. (What the war has done to increase Iran's power and potential danger is not addressed in the sections I've read. But it surely adds to the negatives.) What's clear to me is that we therefore have a gamble ahead of us: do we withdraw from Iraq in some way - either completely or to Kurdish areas - or do we seriously try and get the occupation right? At this point, I'd say the argument is very finely balanced. Obviously, the first step must be to get rid of the people so far responsible for the Iraq disaster. Until Rumsfeld is dismissed, we have no hope for any improvement. General Casey needs to be fired as well, along with several other military leaders who have presided over this mess. For the first time in this administration, we need some accountability. Then we have a decision to make. Do we have the troops necessary to make this work? Or do we not? If we need a draft, do we have the guts to say so and debate it?

My own view is that we should either drastically up the ante in Iraq - by adding tens of thousands of new troops in a serious, concerted attempt to provide order for the first time; or we should withdraw. Anything in between continues the same worst-of-all-worlds nightmare. We knew occupying a Muslim country would be a very high-risk venture. Which is why it had to be done with overwhelming force, meticulous planning, and an equally painstaking political strategy for the aftermath. We know now that Rumsfeld and Cheney just wanted to bomb the crap out of the place to prove they had more testosterone than the Democrats and to scare a few leaders in the Middle East. But the time for their amateurism is over. Either get serious or leave, guys. And make up your mind soon.

I wrote this on August 28, 2006:

They should either fight the war right or get the fuck out. Half-assing the war isn't working and people are dying, both Americans and Iraqis, as a result. I was never for this war and I have always thought it was a mistake. But I have also said over and over, if you are going to fight it, fight it right. Or don't fight it at all. One or the other.

But instead the administration half-asses it and calls critics of their efforts "defeatists."

Gee, who's really leading us toward defeat?

Sullivan is a lot more eloquent and expansive in his writing, but the points are the same: either fight the war right or get the fuck out.

And since the administration doesn't seem capable enough to fight it right, it's time to get out.

Rice Vetted EPA Press Releases That Falsely Claimed Downtown Manhattan Air was Safe To Breathe After 9/11

And the reason Rice had the EPA lie about the safety of the air in and around Ground Zero after 9/11? She wanted Wall Street to reopen!!! The NY Post (via Atrios) has the story:

September 24, 2006 -- Condoleezza Rice's office gave final approval to the infamous Environmental Protection Agency press releases days after 9/11 claiming the air around Ground Zero was "safe to breathe," internal documents show. Now Secretary of State, Rice was then head of the National Security Council - "the final decision maker" on EPA statements about lower Manhattan air quality, the documents say.

Scientists and lawmakers have since deemed the air rife with toxins.

Early tests known to the EPA at the time had already found high asbestos levels, the notes say. But those results were omitted from the press releases because of "competing priorities" such as national security and "opening Wall Street," according to a report by the EPA's inspector general.

The chief of staff for then-EPA head Christie Todd Whitman, Eileen McGinnis, told the inspector general of heated discussions, including "screaming telephone calls," about what to put in the press releases.

The notes come from a 2003 probe into public assurances made on Sept. 16, five days after the 9/11 attacks. They tell how a White House staffer "worked with Dr. Condoleezza Rice's press secretary" on reviewing the press releases for weeks.

Whitman said through a spokeswoman Friday that she never discussed her press releases directly with Rice. She also defended her collaboration with the White House.

Now-retired Inspector General Nikki Tinsley told The Post her auditors tried to question the head of President Bush's Environmental Quality Council, but "he would not talk to us."

Calls and e-mails to Rice were not returned.

Wow - so the competing priorities for the Bush administration were the health of hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers vs. the interests of the investor class.

It's no surprise to see which side the administration came down on.

By changing the language in the EPA press releases to make it sound like the air around Ground Zero had been tested and deemed safe, Condi Rice deliberately, callously, and directly affected the health and lives of thousands upon thousands of New Yorkers who were subsequently exposed to toxins and noxious materials in the area.

Of all the members of the Bush administration, Rice is the one figure who is still given the "kid glove" treatment by the news media and the public.

Given her culpability in the EPA press release debacle, it's time for that kid glove treatment of Dr. Rice to end.

She ought to have her murderous ass hauled up before House and Senate committees under subpoena and be forced to honestly address these allegations until the American people hear the truth out of her.

So Much For The Sunny, Optimistic View Of Things

The following two grafs from David Sanger's NY Times article about the newly declassified portions of the National Intelligence Estimate memo ought to be made into Democratic campaign commercials and played in districts and states all acorss this land:

WASHINGTON, Sept. 26 — Three years ago, Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld wrote a memo to his colleagues in the Pentagon posing a critical question in the “long war’’ against terrorism: Is Washington’s strategy successfully killing or capturing terrorists faster than new enemies are being created?

Until Tuesday, the government had not publicly issued an authoritative answer. But the newly declassified National Intelligence Estimate on terrorism does exactly that, and it concludes that the administration has failed the Rumsfeld test.

Everybody got that now? We are creating terrorists and sympathy for terrorism within the Muslim world faster than we are killing or capturing terrorists:

The intelligence report bears none of Mr. Bush’s long-range optimism. Rather it dwells on Mr. Rumsfeld’s darker question, which he put cheekily as, “Is our current situation such that ‘the harder we work, the behinder we get?’ ”

Tuesday’s declassified report asked a more subtle version of that question. It notes that while democratization might “begin to slow the spread’’ of extremism, the “destabilizing transitions’’ caused by political change “will create new opportunities for jihadists to exploit.’’

And while Mr. Bush talks often of transforming the Middle East, the report speaks of the “vulnerabilities’’ created by the fact that “anti-U.S. and antiglobalization sentiment is on the rise and fueling other radical ideologies.’’

The result, it said, was that other groups around the world are radicalizing “more quickly, more widely and more anonymously in the Internet age.’’

In short, it describes a jihadist movement that, for now, is simply outpacing Mr. Bush’s counterattacks.

“I guess the overall conclusion that you get from it is that we don’t have enough bullets given all the enemies we are creating,’’ said Bruce Hoffman, a professor of security studies at Georgetown University.

And we are creating enemies because the Bush administration has decided that the only tool it has in its War on Terror toolbelt is military force and intimidation.

Ask yourself where the country would be today if the Bush administration had finished the mission in Afghanistan, an invasion for which we had world-wide support, and completely eradicated the Taliban and dismantled the Al Qaeda terrorist network instead of invading Iraq and taking down Saddam on the false pretense that he had weapons of mass destruction that he was about to unleash on the United States and was partly responsible for the 9/11 attacks.

Just imagine.

Instead, we have an Afghanistan rapidly being retaken by the Taliban and an Iraq that has slid into a low-level civil war and United States that has stretched itself militarily, politically and financially to accomplish these two failed missions.

And don't forget, we're about to start a third in Iran.

It's a mess and instead of truth and facts we get spin and optimistic bullshit from the boy king and his merry band of public relations boys and girls.

About all these stupid fuckers can do is spin stuff.

Thankfully, the spin is starting to lose its effectiveness as the gravity of the situations in both Iraq and Afghanistan become too clear for all but the most ardent Bush apologist to ignore.

Immigration Measure Stalls

Sometimes it's nice to hear somebody in the Republican Party tell the fat, corrupt GOP leadership to take their cynical, manipulative bullshit and shove up their fat, corrupt asses. John Warner is essentially doing just that:

WASHINGTON (AP) — Republican leaders in the House and Senate were blocked Tuesday by a senior GOP senator in their efforts to add immigration, handgun and Internet gambling measures to a defense bill.

Sen. John Warner, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, rejected appeals from Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist and House Speaker Dennis Hastert to use his bill on military pay raises as a vehicle for their pet measures.

Warner said in a memo to Frist he is "firmly opposed" to including unrelated bills in the defense bill. Two other Republicans also oppose the add-on bills, Warner said.

Hastert had insisted on adding to the defense bill a measure the House passed last week that would make it easier to detain and deport illegal immigrants who are members of violent criminal street gangs.

"Cracking down on gangs might be divisive in San Francisco, but it's not in the rest of America," Hastert said in a reference to House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, who represents the city by the bay. "It's my hope the Senate will live up to its word so that we can send this measure to the president for his signature."

The speaker also wanted to use the defense bill as a vehicle for a House measure allowing judges to carry handguns and bolstering courthouse security in response to the murder of a Chicago federal judge's husband and mother last year.

Warner balked at both, saying he wanted to keep the defense bill bipartisan at a time when U.S. troops are at war. Warner said that he, along with Democrats and at least two other Republicans, would not sign off on it or any other "out-of-scope" bills that were added.

"There are not even sufficient signatures to affect a partisan Republican" defense bill, he said.

You know what, Denny? If you want to pass your immigration measures, put 'em in an immigration bill and try and pass the whole fucking thing.

Leave ancillary bullshit out of the military pay raise bill.

GOP Fails At Passing It's "Values Agenda"

What will the evangelical right say about this?

WASHINGTON — Scrambling to pass anti-abortion legislation before they recess for fall congressional elections, House Republicans on Tuesday won passage of a bill that would make it a federal crime to evade one state's parental consent laws by taking a minor to another state for an abortion.

But in a mark of the majority party's struggles with its "values" agenda, Senate Republicans may run out of time to vote on the measure before lawmakers leave town at the end of the week.

That would leave Republicans with few trophies to show their socially conservative base as they try to motivate voters in the final six weeks of the fiercely contested 2006 campaign.

Some strategists fear that failure to win final passage of the bill could hamper efforts to spur turnout of a reliably Republican voting bloc — which might mean the difference in key races around the country.

"This could be a problem," said Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the Susan B. Anthony List, an anti-abortion group that is working to mobilize female voters opposed to abortion in six states seen as central to the fight for control of Congress.

To be fair to the Republican majority, they've been very busy trying to legalize torture and Soviet-style interrogation tactics, so they haven't been able to focus so much on the "values agenda."

But hey, elect them again in the fall and I'm sure they'll get right around to the "values" stuff as soon as the finish extending Bush's tax cuts for really rich folks, killing the estate tax for even richer folks, and "reforming" Social Security, medicare and other entitlement programs that rich folks don't need so much.

In other words, values voters, they'll never get around to passing your "values agenda" because they take you for granted and don't really give a shit about much other than saving Steve Forbes some money on his tax bill as my friend nyc educator puts it.

But every two years, they sure make it look like they care about you "values voters," don't they?

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

How Does This Help The Bush Administration?

Well, the Bush administration quickly released a 4 page excerpt of the 30 page NIE report that was leaked to the NY Times last weekend that said the Iraq war was helping to increase terrorism.

I don't see how it helps them. The overall message remains the same: the Iraq war is fueling terrorism and radicalizing many in the Islamic world. But you can read it for yourself and decide.

Wash Post Covers The Allen Racism Story...

...and runs it on Page B01. No new allegations here, but they have Stu Rothenberg assess the damage that macacagate, the "I'm not Jewish/Oh, all right - I am Jewish" controversy and now the allegations that Allen repeatedly used the 'n' word has done to Allen's political future:

Stuart Rothenberg, an independent analyst who edits the Rothenberg Political Report, said the senator is caught in a media frenzy that threatens his campaign and his consideration of a possible run for president in 2008.

"Every day, the campaign is about who George Allen is or what he said," Rothenberg said Monday. "It keeps him totally off message. He's constantly responding to charges and criticisms and his own stumbles."

Hotline blog knows just what might fix Allen's ailing campaign - negative ads aimed at his opponent - and documents the "rage" many in the Allen campaign are feeling over the furor:

One prominent Allen supporter we talked to is full of rage. His argument is that this freeding frenzy is profoundly unfair. That Salon is a liberal publication with an agenda. That James Webb's remarks about ethnicity and women have been virtually ignored. That the press is ignoring the contradictions in the story of one of Allen's accusers. That the press is giving literally millions of dollars worth of free media oxygen to Webb's campaign. That the press is betraying its elitism -- its gut-level desire to drive Allen to an early political grave. But this supporter worries most about the effect of these stories on conservatives. Redstate keeps up the fight, but the Weekly Standard's article is more indicative of Beltway opinion.

How can Allen win? He'll go negative on Webb. In a vacuum, negative ads move the chains. But right now, to borrow a football metahpor, Allen has had poor field position for several quarters and can't seem to convert on third downs.

To break out of the metaphor, almost: Changing the momentum of the game is just a lot harder when your own negative ratings are rising.

It's going to get really, really muddy. As Hotline notes, that's the only way George Allen can survive. Luckily for Allen, the man who kept a noose on his desk by his Confederate flag, he's got no problem doing dirt to somebody.

One final note on Allen: Professor Larry Sabato, who stated last night on Hardball that he knows for a fact that George Allen has used the 'n' word in the past to refer to black people, attended the University of Virginia at the same time as Allen. They both graduated in 1974. Presumably Sabato knows for a fact that Allen used the 'n' word because he has heard him use it.

Monday, September 25, 2006

More People Come Forward To Claim Allen Is A Racist

Salon published a story today that alleged Virginia Senator George Allen regularly used the 'n' word to refer to black people back in the 70's. The allegations were made by three former football teammates of Allen. Allen's campaign denied the charge and pulled some other former teammates out of the woodwork to back up the senator.

But Larry Sabato, a professor at the University of Virginia and one of the premier political scientists in the country (you'll often see him quoted in AP and Reuters articles on politics) told Chris Matthews on Hardball tonight that he knows for a fact that Allen has used the 'n' word in the past. Sabato wouldn't tell Matthews how he knows Allen has used the 'n' word, but from what I gathered watching the tape, either Sabato himself heard Allen use the 'n' word or has heard from another unimpeachable source that Allen has used it.

In addition, The New York Times has another source who also claims to have heard Allen use the 'n' word to refer to blacks:

Christopher Taylor, an anthropology professor at Alabama University in Birmingham, Ala., said that in the early 1980’s he heard Mr. Allen use an inflammatory epithet for African Americans. Mr. Taylor, who is white and was then a graduate student at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, said the term came up in a conversation about the turtles in a pond near Mr. Allen’s property. According to Mr. Taylor, Mr. Allen said that “around here” only the African Americans — whom he referred to by the epithet — “eat ‘em.”


Mr. Taylor, the Alabama professor, said he was “kind of taken aback” by Mr. Allen’s language because it was their first meeting and Mr. Allen knew he was talking to a graduate student in anthropology. “Most of us are antiracist,” Mr. Taylor said.

Still, Mr. Taylor said, he did not give Mr. Allen “a moral lesson.” Mr. Taylor said he had come to pick up an Australian shepherd puppy and left with the dog.

The Associated Press covers the Allen campaign's denial of the initial allegations made by three of Allen's former teammates, including Dr. Ken Shelton, a North Carolina radiologist who is white, and picks up one of the more disturbing allegations Shelton made against Allen:

During a deer hunt with Allen in the early 1970s, Shelton said, Allen asked whether black families lived in the area before stuffing a female deer’s head into the mail box of a black household.

“George insisted on taking the severed head, and I was a little shocked by that,” Shelton said.

“This was just after the movie “The Godfather” came out with the severed horse’s head in the bed,” Shelton told the AP.

Given the racist epithet he tossed at an Indian man working for his opponent's campaign, the bizarre response he had to being asked if he had any Jewish ancestry, and the charges made by his sister that Allen reguarly abused members of the Allen family including breaking his one brother's collarbone and throwing his other brother through a sliding glass door for not going up to bed on time, along with his affinity for flying the Confederate flag and his alleged use of the 'n' word in the past (with five people now claiming they have heard Allen use it), I think we can officially say Senator Allen is, to paraphrase Lynne Cheney, "a very bad man."

If there's any justice in the universe, this very bad man will lose the election and be forced to crawl off into political oblivion with the knowledge that his own racism ended his political career.

But I'm not holding my breath.

National Review Embraces Soviet-Style Torture

From Andrew Sullivan:

The pro-torture magazine proclaims victory. By "torture," I mean the KGB-perfected hypothermia treatment, and the "long-time-standing" technique used by the North Vietnamese against John McCain himself. These practices are now endorsed by NRO. Notice how NRO doesn't even concede that "waterboarding" is now out of bounds. It is only an "apparent" exception. How does a law allow for something "apparent." Aren't laws supposed to be clear? Not in countries where the rule of law is determined by the will of one man, the Caesar.

Can you imagine what conservatives of the Cold War era would say if they knew that National Review would one day be supporting the American government's use of methods developed by Stalin and the North Vietnamese? It is one thing for a conservative magazine to endorse the torture of prisoners detained without due process and unable to challenge their detentin in court, i.e. the torture of many innocents, as has already been documented in abundance. It is another thing for it to pretend it isn't pro-torture, and that it is merely endorsing "coercive interrogation" for those proven guilty in a court of law. But NRO's principles remain intact: whatever the Leader says. The vandalism of conservative principles and the rule of law continues.

Sully's right - conservatism these days boils down to whatever Dear Leader says and whatever helps keep the party in power.

Thus the latest conservative campaign to legalize torture and call critics of the policy "soft on terrorism."

Senator Allen Used "N" Word In College

From "macaca" to "Okay, my mother was raised a Jew even though yesterday I took immense offense to the question at the Senate debate and said she was raised a Christian as far as I know" to using the 'n' word. Salon has the story:

Sept. 24, 2006 | WASHINGTON -- Three former college football teammates of Sen.
George Allen say that the Virginia Republican repeatedly used an inflammatory racial epithet and demonstrated racist attitudes toward blacks during the early 1970s.

"Allen said he came to Virginia because he wanted to play football in a place where 'blacks knew their place,'" said Dr. Ken Shelton, a white radiologist in North Carolina who played tight end for the University of Virginia football team when Allen was quarterback. "He used the N-word on a regular basis back then."

A second white teammate, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he feared retribution from the Allen campaign, separately claimed that Allen used the word "nigger" to describe blacks. "It was so common with George when he was among his white friends. This is the terminology he used," the teammate said.

A third white teammate contacted separately, who also spoke on condition of anonymity out of fear of being attacked by the Virginia senator, said he too remembers Allen using the word "nigger," though he said he could not recall a specific conversation in which Allen used the term. "My impression of him was that he was a racist," the third teammate said.

Shelton also told Salon that the future senator gave him the nickname "Wizard," because he shared a last name with Robert Shelton, who served in the 1960s as the imperial wizard of the United Klans of America, a group affiliated with the Ku Klux Klan. The radiologist said he decided earlier this year that he would go public with his concerns about Allen if a reporter ever called. About four months ago, when he heard that Allen was a possible candidate for president in 2008, Shelton began to write down some of the negative memories of his former teammate. He provided Salon excerpts of those notes last week.

On Sunday morning, Salon spoke with David Snepp, a spokesman for Allen's Senate office, to ask for a response to the recollections of the three former teammates. E-mail and phone messages were also left for Bill Bozin, a spokesman for the Allen campaign, and Dick Wadhams, the campaign manager. Though Snepp indicated that the campaign, and probably Wadhams, would respond, eight hours later no one in the Allen camp had replied to Salon. Chris LaCivita, a consultant to the Allen campaign, hung up when a Salon reporter reached him mid-afternoon Sunday. Additional attempts to contact the campaign were unsuccessful.

Yeah, I bet I know why nobody from the Allen campaign wanted to talk about the allegations - because it takes a while to come up with a bullshit excuse and/or a response. I assume they'll smear the former teammate Shelton who went on the record. I assume they'll also seek out the other two anonymous teammates and threaten/cajole them into changing their stories. And then of course they'll magically appear with a dozen or so African-Americans with oblique connections to Allen's past at a press conference and tell everybody how much Allen loves the African-American people and how he wanted to march with Dr. King but couldn't get away from football practice. Something along those lines.

But the damage is done.

Allen's affinity for the Confederate flag back in high school (he wore a Confederate flag pin in his yearbook photo), his calling a Webb aide "macaca" (a slur against African immigrants in some European cultures akin to the 'n' word), and his bizarre response last week to a question about possible Jewish ancestry (which turned out to be true), have all left serious questions about Allen's character. Allen may still beat Democratic opponent James Webb in the Virginia Senate race (although the latest two Allen controversies have taken the heat off Webb for his own controversial past writings about women in the military.) The latest poll showed Allen with a four point lead over Webb, although no new polls have been released since either the "Jewish controversy" or the 'n' word allegations. But Allen was also supposed to be a serious contender for the 2008 GOP nomination. He was considered to be an heir to the George W. Bush legacy (although why anybody would want that is beyond me.) Given the recent controversies and Allen's handling of each, I would seriously doubt he gets any support in '08.

And it is quite possible that Allen's political career may not even survive past November 7th. Look for more dirt to emerge on Allen's opponent Webb. The only way Allen can hang on is by turning attention back to Webb. He had succeeded at that by turning people away from his "macaca" comment and toward Webb's allegedly misogynistic writings back in the 70's about women in the military. But now two more controversies have put some very negative attention back on Allen.

Howard Fineman and Charlie Cook both said last week on Hardball Allen would win the Senate race unless he screwed up one more time and gave Webb the opening he needed to garner more support. Between the "Jewish controversy" and the 'n' word allegations, Allen has given Webb two screw-ups. Let's see if Webb can take advantage and finish off the Grand Wizard of Virginia.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

So Much For The Iraqis Taking Over After We Leave

So many of the administration's claims about Iraq have been myth. There was the claim that Saddam had WMD's (debunked by David Kay and the Iraq Survey Group), there was the claim that Saddam had ties to Al Qaeda (debunked by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence's report), there was the claim that the Iraq war is making the United States more secure in the war on terror (debunked by the National Intelligence Estimate report leaked to the NY Times and Washington Post yesterday.) Now there is another Bush administration myth debunked by the Associated Press tonight - that the Iraqi troops are going to be capable of taking over the security of Baghdad after the Americans leave:

The plan was simple: Iraqi troops would block escape routes while U.S. soldiers searched for weapons house-by-house. But the Iraqi troops didn't show up on time.

When they finally did appear, the Iraqis ignored U.S. orders and let dozens of cars pass through checkpoints in eastern Baghdad — including an ambulance full of armed militiamen, American soldiers said in recent interviews.

It wasn't an isolated incident, they added.

Senior U.S. commanders have hailed the performance of Iraqi troops in the crackdown on militias and insurgents in Baghdad. But some U.S. soldiers say the Iraqis serving alongside them are among the worst they've ever seen — seeming more loyal to militias than the government.

That raises doubts whether the Iraqis can maintain order once the security operation is over and the Americans have left. It also raises broader questions about the training, reliability and loyalty of Iraqi troops — who must be competent, U.S. officials say, before America can begin pulling out of Iraq.

Last week, for example, Sgt. 1st Class Eric Sheehan could barely contain his frustration when he discovered that barriers and concertina wire that were supposed to bolster defensive positions had been dragged away — again — under the noses of nearby Iraqi soldiers.

"(I) suggest we fire these IAs and get them out of the way," Sheehan, of Jennerstown, Pa., reported to senior officers, referring to Iraqi army troops. "There's nothing we can do," came the reply.

U.S. soldiers from the 4th Squadron, 14th Cavalry Regiment eventually blocked the road again while Iraqi troops watched from a distance.

Some Americans speculated the missing barriers were dragged off to strengthen militia defenses in nearby Sadr City, a sprawling Shiite neighborhood that is a stronghold of anti-U.S. cleric Muqtada al-Sadr.

"They've been doing this all week. They're working against us," said Sheehan, who resorted to waking up the senior Iraqi officer at the checkpoint to complain — futilely.

During another mission, Iraqi soldiers were suspected of looting the house of a wealthy resident, U.S. troops said.

Some Americans said they had seen much better Iraqi troops in the northern cities of Mosul and Tal Afar, which have more Kurdish soldiers. They have been disappointed by the performance of units committed to the Baghdad fight.

What a mess.

Turning "Victory" into Defeat in Afghanistan

Afghan President Hamid Karzai criticized American efforts in Afghanistan in a Meet The Press interview with Tim Russert:

“After the initial success in throwing out terrorism, the Taliban and their international sponsors in less than a month and a half in 2001, ... expectations went very high, in Afghanistan especially,” he said.

But that “made us forget one thing: While we had thrown terrorism away from Afghanistan, we had really not gone after their sources, their training grounds. ... And we are now paying for that.”

“The international community must take a much tougher action,” he added. “The international community must go to the sources of terrorism.”

Karzai suggested that the United States had taken its eye off Afghanistan, distracted by its fighting in Iraq, where it has spent hundreds of billions of dollars. Meanwhile, Afghanistan’s infrastructure remains in shambles and its new democratic institutions are under assault, fueling discontent among ordinary Afghans, he said.

finds an Afghanistan teetering on the brink of disaster:

Not long after NEWSWEEK's visit, U.S. and Afghan National Army forces launched a major attack to dislodge the Taliban from Ghazni and four neighboring provinces. But when NEWSWEEK returned in mid-September, Sabir's fighters were back, performing their afternoon prayers. It is an all too familiar story. Ridge by ridge and valley by valley, the religious zealots who harbored Osama bin Laden before 9/11—and who suffered devastating losses in the U.S. invasion that began five years ago next week—are surging back into the country's center. In the countryside over the past year Taliban guerrillas have filled a power vacuum that had been created by the relatively light NATO and U.S. military footprint of some 40,000 soldiers, and by the weakness of Afghan President Hamid Karzai's administration.

In Ghazni and in six provinces to the south, and in other hot spots to the east, Karzai's government barely exists outside district towns. Hard-core Taliban forces have filled the void by infiltrating from the relatively lawless tribal areas of Pakistan where they had fled at the end of 2001. Once back inside Afghanistan these committed jihadist commanders and fighters, aided by key sympathizers who had remained behind, have raised hundreds, if not thousands, of new, local recruits, many for pay. They feed on the people's disillusion with the lack of economic progress, equity and stability that Karzai's government, NATO, Washington and the international community had promised.

NATO officials say the Taliban seems to be flush with cash, thanks to the guerrillas' alliance with prosperous opium traffickers. The fighters are paid more than $5 a day—good money in Afghanistan, and at least twice what the new Afghan National Army's 30,000 soldiers receive. It's a bad sign, too, that a shortage of local police has led Karzai to approve a plan allowing local warlords—often traffickers themselves—to rebuild their private armies. U.N. officials have spent the past three years trying to disband Afghanistan's irregular militias, which are accused of widespread human-rights abuses. Now the warlords can rearm with the government's blessing. Afghanistan is "unfortunately well on its way" to becoming a "narco-state," NATO's supreme commander, Marine Gen. Jim Jones, said before Congress last week.

And what does the administration think about all this? Here's Dick Cheney talking to Russert on Meet The Press just two weeks ago about Afghanistan:

Afghanistan was governed by the Taliban, one of the worst regimes in modern times, terribly dictatorial, terribly discriminatory towards women. There were training camps in Afghanistan training thousands of al-Qaeda terrorists. All of those training camps today are shut down. The Taliban are no longer in power. There’s a democratically elected president, a democratically elected parliament and a new constitution and American-trained Afghan security forces and NATO now actively in the fight against the remnants of the Taliban. We are much better off today because Afghanistan is not the safe haven for terror that it was on 9/11.

When Russert tries to get Cheney to acknowledge that NATO forces and the American troops in country do not have enough resources to secure the entire nation and that the Taliban has mounted a comeback, Cheney refuses to agree, saying instead that NATO is "heavily engaged" and taking it to the Taliban forces in battle after battle.

No wonder things are going so badly in both Iraq and Afghanistan. One of the main architects of policy is delusional. There's no acknowledgement that the situation has worsened over the past few years. It's as if Cheney lives forever in the aftermath of the Afghan "victory" and the initial fall of Baghdad. It's all beautiful, it's all roses, it's all victory. And any news/facts/government reports to the contrary never break through the bubble of delusion.

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