Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Rep Sweeney (R-NY) Is A Wifebeater

Gee, this seems like a bigger story to me than the Faux Kerry Flap:

CLIFTON PARK -- The wife of U.S. Rep. John Sweeney called police last December to complain her husband was ``knocking her around'' during a late-night argument at the couple's home, according to a document obtained last week by the Times Union.

The emergency call to a police dispatcher triggered a visit to the couple's residence by a state trooper from Clifton Park, who filed a domestic incident report after noting that the congressman had scratches on his face, the document states. No criminal charges were filed.

Gaia M. Sweeney, 36, told a trooper that her husband had grabbed her by the neck and was pushing her around the house, according to the document.


The Times Union confirmed several months ago, through multiple law enforcement sources, that State Police had responded to the Sweeney residence in early December to investigate a domestic dispute. The sources confirmed that Sweeney had scratches on his face when a trooper arrived, but they provided no additional information about the incident.

In the past 10 months, at least three news organizations, including the Times Union, have filed formal requests seeking disclosure of police records about the incident. State Police denied those requests and, according to agency sources, ordered that all inquiries about the matter be directed to headquarters, where officials have declined comment.

Early Tuesday, copies of the document obtained by this newspaper were provided to State Police headquarters and to Sweeney's offices in Washington, D.C., and Clifton Park.


The alleged incident at the couple's home off Kinns Road took place at the end of a tumultuous year for Sweeney. Less than two weeks earlier, his son, John J. Sweeney, then 19, pleaded guilty to felony assault charges for his role in a fight that left another young man with skull factures and blurred vision. The younger Sweeney initially faced the prospect of spending up to 15 years in prison, but a plea deal gave him youthful offender status and a sentence that included four months of weekends in jail and community service.

Sweeney, 51, has blamed his political opponents for his son's prosecution on felony charges.

Sweeney, btw, is the same guy with the DWI's in his past who showed up drunk at a frat party and took pictures with the frat brothers Animal House-style.

Now he's trying to hide a domestic abuse incident that occurred two weeks after his punk son pled guilty for kicking the shit out of some guy and fracturing his skull.

Nice Republican family values, huh?

And this guy wants to get re-elected because Democrats are immoral?

Give me a fucking break.

WSJ/NBC Poll: Dems With a 52%-37% Generic Ballot Lead For The Congress

The story is here.

Also a New Cook Political Report/RT Strategies poll gives Dems a 13 point generic ballot lead.

Six days to go and the polls still look good for Dems. Of course the mainstream media is convinced the "Kerry flap" is going to snatch defeat out of the jaws of victory for Dems. But let's all remember that people aren't pulling the lever this year for Senator Kerry. They're voting in 60-70 contested House races and 11 contested Senate races. Is anybody not going to vote for Claire McCaskill in Missouri because of something John Kerry said (or didn't say, for that matter, since Dick Armey and Matt Dowd, both "good Republicans," told Tweety Bird Matthews on Hardball tonight that the preznit is misconstruing Kerry's words for effect)?

I just don't see it. What I do see is a manufactured Republican controversy, just like I saw one last Friday when Lynne Cheney accused Wolf Blitzer of being unpatriotic and anti-Bush on CNN. It's a last ditch attempt by Rove and Mehlman to change the subject away from the real war to some phony one and rev up the base.

I guess we'll know in just a few days if it worked.

(H/T to Political Wire)

There Goes The News Cycle For Today

It's all John Kerry all the time tonight.

Regardless of whether Repubs are taking Kerry out of context or not or creating a "fake controversy" in which they can flaunt their "fake outrage," John Kerry really just needs to shut the fuck up and go away. He blew a golden opportunity in '04, time has passed him by and now he has as much chance of getting elected president as I do - which is none.

Senator Kerry labors under the delusion, however, that he can make a credible run at the White House and that's why he's out there campaigning for Dems and giving speeches and "mispeaking" and giving Repubs an opportunity to use the politics of distraction to turn the news cycle away from Iraq, the economy and other important issues of the day. He fell into their trap and has managed to lose an important news cycle for the Dems just when everything was going very, very well for them.

Still, in the long view, this "controversy" probably doesn't mean much other than we're in the last week of the campaign and the Repubs are unloading with everything they've got. And why not? They don't want to lose power and risk jail time when the subpoena power comes out.

So like Atrios said
, call me when the fake controversy is over.

UPDATE: I forget to mention that Josh Marshall has a great take on the "Republican outrage apparatus." Check it out and note all the things Josh lists that the preznit really ought to apologize for.

Polls Show Leads For Dems In Senate races

Good news for Dems - A CNN poll shows Democrat James Webb leading Republican Senator George Allen among likely voters in Virginia 50%-46% (confirming two recent polls - Rasmussen and a DSCC poll - that showed Webb taking the lead.)

The CNN polls also show Claire McCaskill with a lead over Republican Senator Jim Talent in Missouri in the registered voter model, 51%-43% (though the race is deadlocked at 49% among likely voters), New Jersey Democratic Senator Bob Menendez leading his Republican rival Tom Kean Jr. 51%-44%, and Democrat Sherrod Brown cruising over Republican Senator Mike DeWine in Ohio 54%-43%.

The one bad spot for Dems - CNN finds Republican Bob Corker has a 52%-44% lead over Democrat Harold Ford Jr. among registered voters, though the lead slips to 47%-45% among likely voters.

In a just released Quinnipiac University poll, New Jersey Democratic Senator Bob Menendez has a 49%-44% lead over Republican Tom Kean Jr. The Q poll finds 6% undecided and 12% who might change their votes before election day.

A West Chester poll finds Democrat Bob Casey Jr. easily beating Man on Dog Santorum in the Pennsylvania Senate race, 50%-39%.

If Webb knocks Allen off in Virginia, McCaskill beats Talent in Missouri and Menendez holds on to his seat in Jersey, Democrats would seem to have enough to retake power in the Senate 51-49 as Republicans look like they are already losing their Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Montana and Ohio seats.

With 7 days to go, the races are still volatile (especially New Jersey), so nothing is assured here. But with three recent polls showing Jim Webb beating George Allen by 4 or 5 points, I am almost ready to believe Webb can win that race. Allen has thrown everything at him, including releasing excerpts from Webb's military novels that are sexual in nature and claiming they show Webb's sexual perversity and/or misogyny, and still Allen seems to be losing ground in the race. Webb's campaign is running more commercials on the air than Allen's and the DSCC is ready to pump as much money into the race as needed to beat Senator Macacawitz (as Maureen Dowd called Allen last week.) Here's hoping - I can't think of a guy in the current Senate races who's more deserving of defeat than Allen (except for Man on Dog Santorum, but he looks to be done already.)

Of course, Dems must also actually win the other races that are considered shoe-ins, and a recent Rasmussen poll had the Montana race getting closer (Democrat Tester has a 4 point lead on Republican Burns) and the Cook Report did move the Maryland Senate race from Lean Democrat to Toss Up because of the quality campaign Michael Steele is running. And then, there's always that matter of the October/November Surprise changing the election dynamic. Or just that November 7th Diebold Surprise.

Sheesh - seven days to go and the polling numbers just keep coming. But nothing really matters but votes counted and as we saw in the Miami Herald over the weekend, the electronic voting machines are still changing Democratic votes to Republican, so maybe none of this shit matters and that's why Rove, Cheney and Bush are the only people on the GOP side confident about Election Day.

UPDATE: The Cook Report made 12 changes to their House Ratings list - all moved the way of Dems:

AZ-05 Hayworth Lean Republican to Toss Up
CA-11 Pombo Lean Republican to Toss Up
CO-04 Musgrave Lean Republican to Toss Up
CO-05 Open Likely Republican to Lean Republican
IA-01 Open Toss Up to Lean Democratic
KS-02 Ryun Likely Republican to Toss Up
MN-01 Gutknecht Lean Republican to Toss Up
NE-03 Open Likely Republican to Lean Republican
NH-02 Bass Lean Republican to Toss Up
OH-02 Schmidt Lean Republican to Toss Up
WY-AL Cubin Lean Republican to Toss Up
CA-50 Bilbray Likely Republican to Lean Republican

The Cook Report also changed two Governor Ratings - also the way of the Dems:

AK Open Lean Republican to Toss Up
ID Open Lean Republican to Toss Up

Geez, when Dems have shots to win the governor's mansions and/or congressional seats in Red States like Idaho, Wyoming, Kansas and Alaska you know things are looking bad for Repubs. I hope Rove's got a fifty state strategy when it comes to cheating with the Diebold source code - it looks like he's gonna need it.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Pat Buchanan: "I Think Dems Win Both Houses Of Congress"

He said it tonight on Hardball. While the House prediction is not all that extraordinary, the Senate prediction is.

Last week Pat thought the nasty ads GOPer's unleashed on Harold Ford were the end of the Dem's chances to take back the TennesseeSenate seat. He also thought the George Allen campaign's use of sexual excerpts from Jim Webb's military novels might put Allen over the top with suburban women in Northern Virginia.

But now Buchanan says he's hearing that Jim Webb has caught up to George Allen in the Virginia Senate race (see Josh Marshall with news that Webb is actually ahead in a soon-to-be released independent poll) and Ford has caught up to Corker in the Tennessee Senate race, putting the Senate back in play for Dems.

In addition, Hotline Blog reports that two internal DSCC polls show both Webb and Ford surging ahead of their Republican opponents.

So with eight days to go, the Senate looks to still be in play for both parties and maybe, just maybe, the dirty advertising and nasty politics GOPer's used in Tennessee and Virginia have backfired against Republicans.

We'll see. I must admit, I'm a bit dubious that the nasty ads and negative campaign tactics won't work. They've ALWAYS worked in the past and I can't seen them NOT working this time around.

But I hope I'm wrong. If the negative campaigning and dirty ads actually backfire against the party that unleashed them, that just might make future elections a little less superficial and issue-less.

UPDATE: Rasmussen has Webb up over Allen 48%-46% in his latest poll, 51%-46% when leaners are added in.

Also, Majority Watch has released their latest polls in the 60 most competitive House races and the results show a Blue Wave. Mike McL at the Daily Kos says based on the Majority Watch polling, Dems will have 240 seats to 193 with 2 ties in the House. Kos, however, offers a cautionary notes about the Majority Watch poll:

I can't tell whether the Majority Watch polls are too optimistic for our side, or merely reflective of a terrible environment for Republicans. As with any poll, take with a grain of salt. And considering this is a new, untested polling operation, doubly so.

I'd say the Majority Watch polls are a little too optimistic for my taste. But, you never know until the actual voting is done, right? Maybe Majority Watch is right on with their polling. Or maybe Rove's right and the GOP holds onto power in both chambers. I guess it all comes down to whose got the Diebold source code and how many Democratic votes get changed into Republican ones.

SECOND UPDATE: Charlie Cook says there are no signs that the Blue Wave is abating. Cook sees the GOP losing 20-35 seats in the House and 4-6 in the Senate.

U.S. Army Provides Weapons For Insurgents

The New York Times reports that Senator John Warner, chairman of the Armed Services Committee, asked the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction "to examine whether Iraqi security forces were developing a logistics operation capable of sustaining the hundreds of thousands of troops and police officers the American military says it has trained." The Times says

The answers came Sunday from the inspector general’s office, which found major discrepancies in American military records on where thousands of 9-millimeter pistols and hundreds of assault rifles and other weapons have ended up. The American military did not even take the elementary step of recording the serial numbers of nearly half a million weapons provided to Iraqis, the inspector general found, making it impossible to track or identify any that might be in the wrong hands.

Exactly where untracked weapons could end up — and whether some have been used against American soldiers — were not examined in the report, although black-market arms dealers thrive on the streets of Baghdad, and official Iraq Army and police uniforms can easily be purchased as well, presumably because government shipments are intercepted or otherwise corrupted.

In a written response to the inspector general’s findings, the American military largely conceded the shortcomings. The military said it would assist the Iraqis in determining the spare parts and maintenance requirements for the weapons. The military also said it has now instituted a “process to accurately issue weapons by quantity and serial number listing.”

Because the inspector general is charged only with looking at weaponry financed directly by the American taxpayer, the total of lost weapons could end up being higher. The Government Accountability Office and the Pentagon inspector general are expected to look at weapons financed by all sources, including the Iraqi government.

So basically the United States Army is providing weapons for insurgents, militiamen and/or people involved in sectarian violence at American taxpayer expense.

Nice, huh?

With 100 dead American military personnel this month and with the sectarian violence in Iraq returning to scary levels after a brief respite for the end of Ramadan, you have to wonder how much of the bloodshed occurring in Iraq is being perpetrated by people armed with American weapons.

It's just another example of the incompetence of this administration that they don't know where the weapons they're supposed to be providing for Iraqi security forces are ending up. Just the way they didn't know Saddam's weapons dumps would be looted after the Fall of Baghdad. Or the the way they didn't know an insurgency would develop when they tried to occupy a Muslim country for a few years. Or the way they didn't understand the divide between Sunni and Shia might mean their unicorn fantasies for democracy in Iraq could never be achieved.

Sheer incompetence by Bushie and Cheney and Rummy and Rice and the rest. If these fuckers were running a major corporation instead of the U.S. government, they would have been fired from their jobs long ago (and given generous severance packages instead of Medals of Freedom.) But here we are, four years into the worst foreign policy debacle in United States history (yes, it's worse than Vietnam), and these people are still running things to their heart's delight and to the detriment of any American stationed in Iraq and millions of Iraq civilians.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

NBC's Chip Reid Says Foley Scandal Is Going To "Widen"

From the Huffingtonpost:

On Sunday's The Chris Matthews Show, NBC Congressional Correspondent Chip Reid dropped a bomb during Matthew's "Tell Me Something I Don't Know" segment. "I'm going to be a little cryptic here," Reid began, then added, ""the Mark Foley scandal investigation is going to widen a little bit." Reid is referring to the House Ethics Committee Investigation of sexually explicit messages sent from former Congressman Mark Foley (R-FL) to teenage pages over the last several years. Investigation of Foley's relationship with the pages, as well as whether GOP House leadership covered up or ignored knowledge of Foley's attention to pages, is still ongoing and has included appearances before the Ethics Committee of everyone from Hill staffers to House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-IL).

Pat Buchanan said something similar yesterday on MSNBC about another shoe dropping in the scandal.

Whatever's going to drop in the Foley scandal, you can bet it's a Republican involved. If there were a Dem stalking the underage pages (or for that matter, trying to cover something up the way the GOP leadership did), you can bet the House Republican leadership would have already done their vocal best to get that news out there and make sure people around the country know that the scandal is "bipartisan" in nature.

So whatever's coming, if indeed anything is coming, it's going to be bad for Republicans. The question is, will it come before the November 7th election?

I have my doubts that news organizations will break a new angle on the Foley scandal in the last week before the midterm election for several reasons. ABC News Political Director/Wanker Mark Halperin told Bill O'Reilly on FOX News last week that

Members of the “old media” are too liberal and should “prove to conservatives that we understand their grievances.”

When O’Reilly pointedly asked him if he believed major news organizations — including ABC — had a liberal bias, Halperin repeated the right-wing talking point that the media is trying to suppress Republican turnout. He told O’Reilly, “If I were a conservative, I understand why I would feel suspicious that I was not going to get a fair break at the end of an election. We’ve got to make sure we do better, so conservatives don’t have to be concerned about that.”

Halperin isn't the only member of the "old media" to have internalized the bullshit wingnut criticism that members of the press are "too liberal" and biased against conservatives. You'll notice that Wolf Blitzer took extra special pains today to replay his Friday interview with Lynne Cheney in which the VP's wife accused Blitzer and CNN of hating the Bush administration, conservatives and America and defend himself against Mrs. Cheney's accusations. Conservatives are notorious for playing up the "victim role" and claiming everybody's out to get them and while that argument is mostly bullshit (sorry wingers, the only thing press people care about is a) ratings and b) money - that's why both CNN and MSNBC look like Fox-Lite so much these days), members of the old media have definitely internalized the message and will tread carefully this last week before the election so as not to be accused of trying to throw the election to Dems. Heck, the NY Times held the NSA spying story for after the 2004 election for that very reason, though they gave some other oblique excuse for why they held the story back.

So that's the first reason why I think the Foley scandal won't "widen" before the election as Chip Reid cryptically suggested it might on the Matthews show.

Another reason is that the Ethics Committee isn't going to issue a report or even an interim memo on the investigation until after the election and with only a few people absolutely in the know about the findings, it will be difficult for anything to leak.

The final reason may be the most important: Republicans CANNOT allow the Foley scandal to widen this close to the election without the party imploding on election day as a result. The GOP has seen some modest gains in some polls since the depths of the Foley scandal in early October, but if they take another hit in a sexual scandal involving underage pages or the covering up of sexual activity and/or messages to underage pages by members of the GOP leadership in the last week before the election, they will stand to lose 40 seats in the House and 7 in the Senate. They absolutely CANNOT allow anything else about the Foley matter to break before the election, even if it means having to commit murder to keep the news secret (and I wouldn't put murder past them, frankly - the Republican and sitting Congressman running for Nevada governor threatened the woman he sexually assaulted several weekends ago in Vegas.)

But we'll see. As the NBC Congressional reporter, Reid has a good idea what's going on up on the Hill. Buchanan may also be a reliable source on this matter because he was so pissed off about the way the GOP leadership handled the Foley incident throughout that when he says another shoe is going to drop in the scandal, he may want it to drop, even if it takes out people on his own side.

A Taste of Immortality

I must admit that the day we set the clocks back to standard time is one of my favorite days of the year for some of the very reasons Nora Ephron cites at Huffingtonpost:

We have today. The day we set the clocks back. And although I'm against the concept in principle, I have to say that today is the most delicious day of the year. It's the twenty-five hour day. All right, you have to go around the house and change all the clocks, and there are so many of them - even the one on the oven somehow has to be changed. But that leaves a good 57 minutes that's just a bonus, a gift, a delicious way to make things last just a little longer, 57 minutes when you can stay in bed, or catch up on your reading, or watch that thing you Tivo'd, or walk in the park, or see the show at the Met, or go down to 23rd Street for frozen custard. You can do anything at all, you can do nothing at all. And somehow, for today at least, it feels like immortality.


More Polls

Democrat Bob Casey pulls away in a new Temple/Inquirer poll on the Pennsylvania Senate race, leading "Man on Dog" Santorum by 16 points.

Republican Jim Talent and Democrat Claire McCaskill are tied in the latest Research 2000 poll of the Missouri Senate race, 47%-47%.

A Newsweek poll
released yesterday shows Dems with a 14 point generic ballot lead and 50% of Americans saying they want Democrats to control Congress and 35% saying they want Republicans to control the Congress.

(H/T to Political Wire, my favorite political website on the Internets.)


Recent Rasmussen and NY Times polls showed the New Jersey Senate race tied, but a Research 2000 poll conducted for The Bergen Record gives Democrat Bob Menendez a 48%-42% lead over his Republican challenger, Tom Kean Jr:

The poll found voters believe Kean is more trustworthy by a 49 percent to 36 percent ratio, and they personally like Kean more than Menendez, 48 percent to 33 percent.

But even among people who consider Kean more trustworthy, 35 percent are voting for Menendez, apparently because other factors are more important.

Thirty percent of voters said the Iraq war was the most important issue in deciding their vote, compared with 10 percent who said corruption. Voters also want to see Democrats rather than Republicans control Congress -- by a margin of 18 percentage points, 53 percent to 35 percent.

To control the Senate, Democrats need to pick up six seats nationwide and not lose any. Menendez occupies the only vulnerable Democratic seat, political handicappers say, and both parties have spent millions of dollars on ads here in recent weeks.

Basically, New Jersey voters think Menendez is a sleazeball but the Republican-led Congress and the Bush administration are even bigger sleazeballs and they want to seem their power curtailed.

I guess it will come down to turnout. Given that it's New Jersey, I suspect Democratic turnout will be better than the GOP GOTV operation, but with Republicans throwing over $3 million dollars into negative ads for this last week of campaigning in both the Philly and New York television markets, the race could go either way.

Up in Maryland, The Cook Report changed the Senate race between Democrat Ben Cardin and Republican Michael Steele to Toss Up from Lean Democrat, but a new Washington Post poll released today shows Cardin with a fairly hefty 11 point lead, 54%-43%. Notice too that Cardin is polling above 50%, always a good sign for a candidate.

Menendez, on the other hand, is polling well under 50% in New Jersey, which seems to underscore just how vulnerable he is in his race.

If I had to guess, I'd say Cardin is going to win the Maryland race (and Republicans may know this too because they haven't thrown any money into the state despite claims by the GOP that Steele has a real shot to beat Cardin and take a "must win" Senate seat away from Dems) while the Menendez/Kean race is going to come down to the wire and and any last minute gaffe, allegation or ad could possibly swing the race one way or another. Which means Menendez must use the vast resources of the New Jersey Democratic Party and his own superior campaign fund advantage to paint a vote for Kean as a vote for Preznit Bush, Vice Preznit Cheney, the Republican-led Congress, and more of the same in the Iraq war and the class war against the middle and working classes.


From Josh Marshall at Talking Points Memo (reposted in full):

RNC Chief Ken Mehlman accepted political contributions from gay porn king?

Last week, you'll remember, the RNC, headed by Ken Mehlman, was running that race-baiting 'bimbo' ad against Rep. Harold Ford (D) down in Tennessee. One of the barbs in that ad was the claim that Ford had taken political contributions from "porn movie producers."

But it seems there is plenty of porn movie producer money to go around.

It turns out that the Republican National Committee is a regular recipient of political contributions from Nicholas T. Boyias, the owner and CEO of Marina Pacific Distributors, one of the largest producers and distributors of gay porn in the United States. This recent article on Marina Pacific's new marketing campaign from XBiz, a porn industry trade sheet, notes that, in addition to producing its own material, the "company acts as a distribution house to hundreds of lines, mostly gay, 40 of which can be purchased only through MPD."

The company actually seems to be a trendsetter in the industry. As Boyias recently noted, "We have always modeled ourselves after a Fortune-style company. They are the models of exceptional customer service. We have formed strategic alliances with our vendors and customers alike, offering them tools and marketing to assist them in succeeding with their business models. Our one-on-one interpersonal relationships have never been duplicated in the distribution industry."

Some recent releases include "Fire in the Hole", "Flesh and Boners", even a "Velvet Mafia" series.

FEC.gov lists Boyias as contributing to the RNC three times in 2004 and two times in 2005. The NRCC got a little too. But only $250.

The FEC records list Boyias as either "self employed" or as owner and CEO of NTB Inc. But the California Secretary of State's website lists Boyias' NTB, Inc as located at 7077 Vineland Ave, which turns out to be the same address where Marina Pacific is located. So I'm pretty sure we're dealing with the same guy.

So, Ken Mehlman, for porn producer money before he was against it, I guess.

(ed.note: Let me say, for the record, that I consider pornography not only a legal but a morally unobjectionable product. People in that industry have as much right to participate in the political process as anyone else. And it's difficult for the head of a political committee or a candidate in a political campaign to know the background of every contributor. But hypocrisy blows. And on this issue, as on others, Ken Mehlman's a hypocrite.)

There you have it. RNC Chairman and confirmed bachelor Kenny Boy Mehlman loves the gay porn and the gay porn producers because it means money for the Republican National Committee (and perhaps free movies too) while he hits Harold Ford Jr. for allegedly accepting campaign contributions from porn producers.

As Josh writes in his post, this wouldn't be an issue if Mehlman and the RNC hadn't decided to take so many Congressional and Senate races into the gutter with their ads decrying Democratic opponents as "morally bankrupt" and "sexually perverse."

Somebody in the mainstream media needs to call Kenny Boy on his hypocrisy. And accepting money from gay porn producers while condemning Ford for allegedly also accepting porn producers' campaign contributions isn't Mehlman's only foray into the area of hypocrisy. As noted often on the Internets, Mehlman is a closeted gay man who helped run the homophobic 2004 GOP presidential campaign and directed anti-gay activists in Ohio to place the marriage amendment issue on the 2004 ballot. Mehlman has yet to be outed in the mainstream media, but John Arovosis of AMERICAblog says Mehlman's sexual orientation is fair game because

"Mehlman has already said publicly that the gay issue is fair game for politics. If it is fair game, then the same rules apply to him."

Arovosis opines that in addition to Mehlman defending George W. Bush's anti-gay policies, "the Republican National Committee makes no bones about using gaybashing to help Republican candidates."

"The GOP has made it perfectly clear that gays and lesbians and their relationships are a threat to the fabric of American society. As American citizens and voters, we have the right to know if Ken Mehlman's so-far-undisclosed relationships are posing such a threat or not," wrote Arovosis.

Ken Mehlman - a holier than thou hypocrite who hits others for being "morally bankrupt" and "sexually perverse" while he takes money from gay porn producers and lives a "Do as I say, not as I do" lifestyle.

Saturday, October 28, 2006


Wonkette on the sentencing of former Bush aide, David Safavian, to 18 months in prison:

We can’t even remember what this particular dude did — Abramoff something, bribes, etc. — but White House budget office guy David Safavian is off to federal prison for a year and a half.

It would be awesome if a new federal prison (Abu Ghraib) was opened up just to accommodate convicts from the Bush Administration and 109th Congress.

And since dunking a guy's head in water until he almost drowns isn't really torture ("It's a no- brainer" according to Vice Preznit Cheney), maybe Safavian can get a little wet around the eyes and nostrils while he's in prison?

Friday, October 27, 2006

Washington Post Calls The GOP On Their Dirty Ad Campaigns

From Page A01:

On the brink of what could be a power-shifting election, it is kitchen-sink time: Desperate candidates are throwing everything. While negative campaigning is a tradition in American politics, this year's version in many races has an eccentric shade, filled with allegations of moral bankruptcy and sexual perversion.

At the same time, the growth of "independent expenditures" by national parties and other groups has allowed candidates to distance themselves from distasteful attacks on their opponents, while blogs and YouTube have provided free distribution networks for eye-catching hatchet jobs.


The result has been a carnival of ugly, especially on the GOP side, where operatives are trying to counter what polls show is a hostile political environment by casting opponents as fatally flawed characters. The National Republican Campaign Committee is spending more than 90 percent of its advertising budget on negative ads, according to GOP operatives, and the rest of the party seems to be following suit.


Most harsh Democratic attacks have focused on the policies and performance of the GOP majority, trying to link Republicans to Bush, the unpopular war in Iraq and the scandals involving former representative Mark Foley and former lobbyist Jack Abramoff. That is not surprising, given that polls show two-thirds of the electorate thinks the country is going in the wrong direction. And studies show that negative ads can reduce turnout; Democrats hope a constant drumbeat of scandal, Iraq and "stay the course" will persuade conservatives to stay home on Nov. 7.


Experts say that in the past, negative ads were usually more accurate, better documented and more informative than positive ads; there was a higher burden of proof. Stanford's Iyengar thinks that is still true for candidate-funded messages, which now require candidates to say they approved them. But it is not true when the messages are produced by political parties, shadowy independent groups or partisans posting on YouTube.

"You're going to see more of this sensational, off-the-wall stuff," Iyengar said. "If you get people disgusted, they might withdraw from politics, and that's the real goal these days."

In other words, a desperate GOP is saying and/or doing anything to desperately try and disqualify their Democratic opponents and desperately cling to the vestiges of power and stave off opposition subpoena power and oversight.

The key word is desperate.

Democrats, meanwhile, are hitting Republicans on the issues.

On the Wednesday edition of Hardball
, the Washington Post' John Harris, MSNBC's Chris Matthews and The Hill's A.B. Stoddard criticized Democrats for not having "the stomach" to run the kind of nasty, negative, bullshit ads that Republicans run all the time. Here's the transcript:

JOHN HARRIS, WASHINGTONPOST.COM: Chris, it‘s working. I wrote this book, as you know, “The Way to Win,” and a lot of Democrats say look, you know, Republicans are just tougher than us. They wring their hands, they whine. The fact is it‘s true. And you can see in the polls that this kind of very tough attack does have impact.

MATTHEWS: I have heard it read a couple of years ago, somebody said it‘s not that the Democrats don‘t know how to make these ads, they just feel they have gotten above it, that this is really bad stuff. It‘s like they are like Michael Corleone. They have gotten out of the business of running dirty ads. The Republicans are still in that business. They say, look, I have left that behind. That‘s the Democrat‘s attitude. We‘re not going to run that kind of campaign. Is it the mentality?

HARRIS: I think they just don‘t have the stomach for it.

MATTHEWS: That‘s another way of putting it.

So there you have it. The professional punditocracy thinks Dems should also be running negative personal attack ads instead of issue-oriented ads. Harris said the personal attack ads work and all he seems to care about is what works in politics, not what's right or moral or ethical. So for Harris (and his book co-writer, ABC News wanker Mark Halperin) you do whatever you have to do to win, even if it means cheating, stealing, lying and smearing, and it's all all right in the end as long as you win at the ballot box.

No wonder the country's so fucked up. These guys actually admire the Rove/Mehlman smear machine and want more bullshit attacks ads and scorched earth politics.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Last Throes

Billmon says it right.


AP-Ipsos poll gives Dems a 19 point lead over Republicans in the generic Congressional ballot, a pick-up of 9 points in the last two weeks.

Diageo/Hotline poll gives Dems an 18 point lead in the generic Congressional ballot, up 5 points from last month.

A Reuters/Zogby poll, a FOX News poll, and a Pew poll all give Dems an 11 point generic ballot lead.

Larry Sabato (via Political Wire) predicts a 21-26 seat pick-up for Dems in the House and a 4-6 seat pick-up in the Senate. Sabato says the second to last week is the time for underdog candidates to make their move in the race or forever hold their peace.

If Sabato is right in his analysis, it is getting awfully late for Republicans.

96 American Military Personnel Dead This Month In Iraq

The Pentagon announced that 4 marines and one sailor were killed in Anbar province today, bringing the monthly total of U.S. military casualties in Iraq to 96 - the fourth highest month of the war. And it's only the 26th of October.

The good news is, the preznit told reporters at a press conference yesterday that we now have "benchmarks" for progress for the Iraqis to meet. The bad news is, if the Iraqis don't meet the benchmarks, nothing happens.

The preznit also made it clear yesterday that he was "flexible" about changing tactics in the war but made it clear that he would not support a sweeping strategic revision that is being contemplated by the Iraq Survey Group or urged by members of Congress in both parties.

In other words, we will "stay the course" in Iraq, although we will no longer use those words. And when Bush says he's flexible, he means he's flexible in how people will agree to do what it is he wants them to do.

Nothing like having a spoiled brat for a preznit.

Well, with any luck, the spoiled brat will have to get along with some new playmates come January - ones with subpoena power who will force him to have to get along and compromise, no matter what his mommy tells him.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

So Much For The Gay Marriage Wedge Issue

Republicans were hoping a New Jersey Supreme Court decision on same-sex couples that was announced today was going to help the Grand Old Pervert party use the gay marriage wedge issue in the closing weeks of the midterm election campaign against Democrats. Judging from this report from the Associated Press, it looks like Republicans are shit out of luck on that count:

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) -- New Jersey's Supreme Court has ruled that same-sex couples are entitled to the same rights as heterosexual couples, but that lawmakers must determine whether the state will honor gay marriage or some other form of civil union.

So sad for Republicans. Everything seems to be going wrong for them this year. Now even the liberal activist judges aren't coming through for them.

Oh, well - I guess they can always just keep churning out the racist ads against Harold Ford Jr. in Tennessee (You know, like: "Hey, Tennesseans - Ken Mehlman and the RNC say Harold Ford loves the white women...")

GOP Scandal of the Day: "Tough on Illegal Immigrants" Jim Gibbons (R-NV) Hired An Illegal Immigrant As A Housekeeper/Babysitter

Remember, in the world of the Grand Old Party, it's always "Do As I Say, Not As I Do":

Nevada gubernatorial candidate Rep. Jim Gibbons (R-NV) is under fire for employing an illegal immigrant for several years as a housekeeper and babysitter, reports KLAS-TV. One of Gibbons’ main issues has been getting tough on illegal immigrants.

"The woman, Patricia Pastor Sandoval, says she worked for the Gibbons' for years and the family occasionally made her hide in the basement to keep her illegal status a secret."

My favorite part of the story? Gibbons made the nanny hide out in the basement and live with the mice. Nice, eh?

Gibbons has had exciting few last weeks, btw. You'll remember that he was also accused of sexual assault by a 32 year old Las Vegas cocktail waitress a few weekends ago and that there are both 911 tapes and video footage from the casino bar where they were drinking.

Jim Gibbons - just another example of Republican Family Values.

(H/T to Political Wire)

UPDATE: Taegan Goddard at Political Wire also posts that the New York Times is reporting that Congressman Rick Renzi (R-AZ) is under federal investigation for having "introduced legislation that benefited a military contractor that employs his father." The Times reports that the inquiry into Congressman Renzi is a preliminary one and that "no search warrants had been issued, suggesting that investigators had yet to determine whether there was a basis to open a formal investigation or empanel a grand jury."

Gee, the GOP scandals just keep coming these days: There's Foley, Abramoff, Weldon, Hayworth, Alexander, Wilson, Ney...

SECOND UPDATE: Josh Marshall notes that this is actually the second criminal probe into Renzi. He's also being looked at for a shady land deal.

As Atrios says, we only have a few more hours to talk about these Grand Old Party corruption stories before the New Jersey Supreme Court releases an opinion on same-sex marriage that is sure to set the media into a frenzy talking about how "gay marriage" may just yet win the election for the Republican Party.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

WSJ/NBC News Poll Shows Wave Election

So say both Stuart Rothenberg and Charlie Cook.

First, Rothenberg, via First Read:

Roll Call's Stuart Rothenberg predicts a wave bigger than what we saw in 1994 based on the latest NBC/Wall Street Journal poll and the fact that "the problems hounding Republican Congressional candidates... are far more challenging than anything Democratic Congressional candidates faced in 1994."

Now Cook's analysis:

WASHINGTON - Another week has gone by and little has changed. The Republican Party still seems to be headed toward a very tough election.

In the House, Republicans are most likely to see a net loss of 20 to 35 seats, and with it their majority. In the Senate, the GOP could lose at least four, but a five- or six-seat loss is more likely. A six-seat change tips the chamber into Democratic hands.


Since 1994 is the most recent of these "wave" elections, when all politics is hardly local, compare the most recent NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll, conducted October 13-16 among 1,006 registered voters nationwide, with the comparable NBC/WSJ poll from October 1994. President Bill Clinton and the Democrats were in the hot seat, headed toward a 52-seat loss in the House and an eight-seat Senate defeat.

In the October 1994 NBC/WSJ poll, 39 percent of voters thought the country was headed in the right direction, compared with 48 percent who said it was on the wrong track -- a nine-point lead for wrong track. In the recent poll, just 26 percent said right direction and 61 percent said wrong track; a net difference of 35 points, significantly worse than 1994.

The October 1994 poll gave Clinton a job approval rating of 48 percent and a disapproval rating of 43 percent, a five-point difference. This month, just 38 percent approved of President Bush's performance compared to 57 percent who disapproved, a net disapproval of 19 points. Again, it's significantly worse than 1994.

In the poll taken 12 years ago, 24 percent approved of the job Congress was doing and 67 percent disapproved, a net disapproval of 43 points. In last week's poll, just 16 percent approved of Congress and a whopping 75 percent disapproved, a 59-point net disapproval.

At this point in 1994, the GOP had moved into a six-point lead in the generic congressional ballot test (44 percent to 38 percent). In the latest poll, the Democrats have a 15-point lead -- 52 percent to 37 percent. Once again, much worse than '94.

Finally, in October 1994, 39 percent said their congressman had performed well enough to deserve re-election compared with 49 percent who thought it was time to give a new person a chance -- a 10-point difference. In the new poll, the same 39 percent favored re-election, but the percentage preferring a new representative was a bit lower at 45 percent, a six-point difference and only marginally better for challengers than 12 years ago.

In short, in four of the five diagnostic indicators, the situation is significantly worse for Republicans today than it was for Democrats in 1994. And in the remaining one, this year is marginally better.

Cook goes on to say that Republicans have more money than Dems but the advantage is the narrowest it's been in 20 years. Cook also writes that the vaunted "72 Hour Get Out the Vote" program is really only good for a point or two and may not be so easy to pull off this year with the Iraq war and the Foley scandal weighing down on the Republican base.

Neither prognosticator says the election is a done deal, but it sure looks bad for Republicans now and if they don't change the dynamic soon, they will lose the House and look at a 50-50 Senate.

Hastert/Reynolds Trot Their Conflicting Foley Scandal Stories Out Before Ethics Panel

NRCC Chairman Tom Reynolds spent a few hours in front of the Ethics Committee today talking about his role in the Foley scandal cover-up but refused to comment on his repeated public assertions that he warned Speaker of the House Denny Hastert about the allegations against Congressman Mark Foley last spring. Hastert appeared before the Ethics Panel as well today and told reporters "I answered all the questions they asked to the best of my ability."

Uh, huh. Boy, there's no Clintonesque legalese in that Hastert response, right?

Anyway, here we are, 14 days away from the election, and the Foley scandal is still in the news.

And just wait until Mark Foley gets out of "rehab" on Halloween and starts the Larry King/Oprah circuit.

Weldon Brings Out The "Star Power"

Via Hotline Blog, here's the Philadephia Inquirer on Representative Curt Weldon's attempts to get his flagging campaign going:

It could have been a classic campaign media event. Jim Bunning, the famed Phillies pitcher turned senator from Kentucky, had arrived to lend his star power to embattled U.S. Rep. Curt Weldon.

Except there were no television crews, no radio reporters, and few fans.

Bunning told his baseball stories to 200 Republicans on an isolated rural estate Sunday. "I've been to lots of these, but this is the first one I've attended that isn't on a paved road," he told the Republican rally in Chadds Ford.

The very private affair was a fitting symbol for a campaign under siege.

With two weeks to go before Election Day, Weldon is faced with the challenge of rallying his troops while avoiding media - and questions about the FBI probe of his daughter Karen and longtime political sponsor Charles P. Sexton Jr.

The probe has thrown his reelection to an 11th term into doubt. "I don't know what genie he pulls out of a hat" to win, said G. Terry Madonna, the Franklin and Marshall College pollster.

Since when is Jim Bunning "star power"? Seriously, I think Bunning is so decrepit and senile these days that about all he can do is control his bowels - but only as long as he concentrates.

If Weldon is bringing out Jim Bunning to get his campaign going again, he really is in trouble.

Rep Hayworth (R-AZ) Uses Convicted Bookmaker As A Stand-In For A Campaign Debate

From the Arizona Republic:

A J.D. Hayworth representative whose remarks at a candidates forum last week sparked a walkout from the event once coordinated betting for a criminal gambling ring, court records show.

Hayworth campaign representatives said Monday that they did not know Jonathan Tratt's criminal history before sending him to a debate to fill in for the Republican congressman seeking re-election in District 5.

Tratt, who told the scores of attendees at Temple Beth Israel that the Christian congressman is a "more observant Jew" than some audience members, pleaded guilty to promotion of gambling in 2001.

The charge, a Class 5 felony, was reduced to a misdemeanor to which Tratt agreed to plead guilty.

As part of his sentence, Tratt was placed on probation for a year and forced to pay a $40,000 fine to the attorney general's Anti-Racketeering Fund.

Hey - so what if Hayworth's hiring mobsters. This is Arizona we're talking about here. Hell, Joe Bonnano retired in this area. Vegas is right around the block. So what's a little bookmaking among GOP campaign operatives? I mean, even Ralph Reed's in the bookmaking business these days! Not that Reed's a mobster or anything. And even if he is, he's a "mobster for the Lord."

UPDATE: Hayworth, btw, is only leading his opponent by 1 point in the latest poll (though it is a Democratic poll, so take it with a grain of salt.)

Abramoff, Foley Scandals Still Swirl

US News and World Report says the FBI is looking to nab another member of Congress and his aides in the Abramoff probe.

The Washington Post
reports that Speaker Hastert's chief of staff Scott Palmer testified for six hours before the House Ethics Committee looking into the Foley scandal. Speaker Hastert is expected to testify himself before the committee this week. The Post says yesterday's meeting suggests the panel may be nearing the end of its investigation into the matter and the committee could issue its findings before the election (though I'm highly dubious about that.)

The midterm elections are in two weeks and Republicans are desperately trying to get back on message and start calling their Dem opponents "cut-and-runners" and "terrorist appeasers" but it's so hard to do when members of the party keep getting embroiled in sex and finance scandals.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Midterm Update

A new Gallup poll shows Dems with a 13 point lead on the generic ballot. That spread matches the lead the GOP enjoyed over Dems in 1994 when Democrats were swept from power by a Republican tidal wave.

CQPolitics changed ratings on 14 congressional races last week (13 House races/1 Senate race). The changes "weighed heavily in the favor of the Democrats." For the first time this election cycle, Democrats are rated as having the edge in more House districts than Republicans. Neither party has sewed up the 219 seats needed for a majority, but all 19 seats rated as toss-ups by CQPolitics are Republican-held seats.

National Journal's Chuck Todd writes that Democrats look poised to win the 15 seats they need to retake power in the House and could possibly win a lot more.

A new Washington Post/ABC News poll finds that independents are supporting Democratic candidates over Republican candidates 59%-31%. Bush's approval rating stands at 37% in the poll, down from 39% two weeks ago and 42% from September. Dems lead in the generic ballot for the Congress 54%-41%.

An interesting side note: only 25% of those surveyed in the Post/ABC News poll say they are getting ahead in the economy. Another 25% say they have fallen behind, 50% say they are treading water and are just able to maintain their standard of living. In the survey, Republicans enjoy the support of only those who say they are getting ahead - and that would only be 25% of the people polled. No wonder Bush and the Grand Old Pervert party aren't enjoying the fruits of Dow 12,000+. A large majority of Americans aren't benefiting from it.

Cook Political Report/RT Strategies Poll has Bush at 37% approval, down 4 points in the last two weeks. Dems enjoy a 49%-37% lead over Republicans in the Registered Voter model (RV) for the generic congressional ballot. In the Likely Voter model (LV) Dems lead 57%-35%.

With two weeks to go, it looks like Republicans haven't made any inroads into the Dem leads at either the generic ballot level or the state or district levels.

I guess the plan must be to "cheat like a motherfucker" this November.

ABC News Covers The Possibility Of Vote Fraud In The Midterms

Last Monday, writing about the latest poll numbers from the district and state levels that showed the Republican party getting trounced on election day, I noted that after trying to run the national security/anti-tax/cultural wedge issues gameplan and failing, the only thing left for Karl Rove to do was to "cheat like a motherfucker" and dare the media to call him on it.

In the past, the news media wouldn't have called Rove on it, of course. Accusations of voter fraud, ballot box tampering or electronic voter machine manipulaton were "tinfoil hat" territory. But this year, given the coverage Lou Dobbs and Jack Cafferty have given to the issue on CNN and the frequency with which it shows up on the cable and network news shows, I'm starting to think that if Rove and Mehlman think they'll get away with massive fraud in 25-35 districts and a few close Senate races (which is probably what they will have to do to win), they might have another thing coming.

Just this morning, ABC News is front-paging a story about electronic voter machine manipulation on its website. ABC News tells how Cheryl Kagan, a former Maryland Democratic legislator, was anonymously mailed three computer disks with the secret-source code for vote counting on Diebold machines. Diebold told ABC News that the codes on the disks were unusable for vote manipulation because they were old, but

ABC News has obtained an independent report commissioned by the state of Maryland and conducted by Science Applications International Corporation revealing that the original Diebold factory passwords are still being used on many voting machines.

The SAIC study also shows myriad other security flaws, including administrative over-ride passwords that cannot be changed by local officials but can be used by hackers or those who have seen the discs.

The report further states that one of the high risks to the system comes if operating code discs are lost, stolen or seen by unauthorized parties — precisely what seems to have occurred with the discs sent to Kagan, who worries that the incident indicates the secret source code is not that difficult to obtain.

"Certainly, just tweaking a few votes in a couple of states could radically change the outcome of our policies for the coming year," she said.

The ABC News story then relates the Princeton University study that showed how votes on a Diebold machine - the Accuvote TS - could be manipulated within seconds by introducing a virus into the machine. Again, Diebold argues that they're machines have been updated and made more secure, but cybersecurity expert Stephen Spoonamore is quoted in the ABC story as saying that

Diebold's "system is utterly unsecured. The entire cyber-security community is begging them to come back to reality and secure our nation's voting."

ABC News says computer glitches also can happen on machines without any malicious intent by a hacker and notes how a 100,000 votes were added to machines in Texas and how memory cards went missing in Maryland. The story finishes this way:

Many are concerned about how the confusing technical issues will be handled by poll workers, who tend to be senior citizens and who are not necessarily tech-savvy.

Electronic voting machines were supposed to be the solution to the paper ballot problems from the 2000 presidential election. But to many critics, America's voting system has gone out of the frying pan and into the fire.

It sure sounds like allegations of electronic vote manipulation, voter fraud and/or voting problems have gone from tinfoil material to front page news. If Rove and Mehlman are counting on the Diebold Corporation (or one of the other electronic voting machine companies) to secure the election for them this year, they may find that some in the media - specifically Dobbs and Cafferty at CNN - are going to be willing to look into the matter and if there is fraud or manipulation, call them on it.

How different that is from 2004 when anybody who claimed there might have been vote-tampering in Ohio was treated like he/she had just defecated in public.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Poll Updates

New Jersey Democratic Senator Bob Menendez is starting to look like he's going to hold off his GOP challenger, Tom Kean Jr. A new Monmouth University poll has Menendez leading Kean 48%-39%. The previous Monmouth University poll had Kean with a six point lead. And the best news for Dems: Menendez's voters are more committed to him than Kean's supporters are for him.

If Menendez can hold onto this seat, Democrats only need to take 6 Senate races in order to win back control of the Senate. While that's not an easy task, it certainly is a lot easier than having to win seven out of a possible 8 vulnerable GOP seats if Menendez hands the New Jersey seat to the GOP.

And the surprise news of the day: an independent poll has given Paul Hodes a 48%-39% lead over Representative Charlie Bass (R-New Hampshire.) Best news for Dems in this poll: Bass' unfavorable rating (40%) is nearly as high as his favorable rating (43%.)

I'm still dubious about this Bass poll but it's possible the negative environment for the GOP is taking a toll on Bass up in New Hampshire. Still, I think the Bass seat is rated a fairly long shot for a Dem pick-up.

UPDATE: Teagan Goddard notes that CQPolitics moved Bass' seat from Likely Republican to Lean Republican last week.

Given the way the poll numbers have been moving in Jersey over the last month (Menendez has been ahead in all but one poll and trending up while Kean is trending down), at what point does the NRSC and the RNC pull out of New Jersey completely. In order for Republicans to truly compete with Dems in the state, they have to air ads in both the New York and Philly markets. I read somewhere that the GOP would have to throw about $7 million into the state over the last two weeks to really make the race competitive. With Republicans playing defense in so many other races and needing a fast infusion of cash in Virginia, Missouri and Tennessee, I bet they take a pass on the Jersey race real soon.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Okay, But What's The Mission?

From CNN:

President Bush met with senior generals in Washington Saturday for face-to-face discussions on the war in Iraq.

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld joined Gen. John Abizaid, the head of U.S. Central Command; Gen. Peter Pace, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs and, via videolink from Baghdad, Gen. George Casey, the top U.S. commander in Iraq, for the White House summit.


In his weekly Saturday radio address, broadcast after the meeting, Bush said the U.S. military's strategy on the ground is under constant review.

But he emphasized: "There is one thing we will not do: We will not pull our troops off the battlefield before the mission is complete."

Okay, but what is the mission these days? It's not the "flowering of democracy" thing anymore, since it has become increasingly obvious that the only thing flowering in Iraq these days is sectarian bloodshed.

It's not ridding Saddam of WMD's, since he didn't actually have any, or extracting revenge upon a 9/11 terrorist collaborator, since Saddam had nothing to do with the 9/11 attacks.

It's not trying to make Iraq a more peaceful, less bloody place by removing a bloodthirsty dictator, since removing Saddam the Strongman has actually made the place a whole lot bloodier.

So what exactly is "the mission" these days? I mean, besides trying to use the WoT as a political cudgel against Democrats and other war critics?

And anyway, the political cudgel thing isn't working so well for Bush and company anymore.

I guess the only other mission Bush could be desperately trying to complete is the "SAVE HIS LEGACY" mission.


It's a helluva legacy. Not even the right-wing smear machine can rewrite that and blame it on Clinton.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Another GOP Sex Scandal

This time it's about sexual harrassment:

Rep. Rodney Alexander (R-La.), already enmeshed in the ex-Rep. Mark Foley (R-Fla.) page scandal, now faces a new controversy as a former staffer has sued his office for sexual harassment.

Elizabeth Scott, Alexander's former scheduler, claims that Royal Alexander, the Congressman's chief of staff, "engaged in a course of misconduct" that included "inappropriate sex-based comments, ogling and touching" and "sexual advances," according to Michael Hoare, Scott's attorney. Scott told the Congressman of his aide's alleged improper behavior but the Louisiana Republican took no action to correct the situation, Hoare said....

Scott said she was demoted from her position as scheduler to staff assistant by Royal Alexander in May 2006 when "she complained of possible sex discrimination" by him. She met with the Congressman shortly after that and informed him about the alleged improper behavior by his chief of staff, according to Hoare. Rodney and Royal Alexander are not related.

Scott eventually left the office at the end of June, saying it was "intolerable" for her to work there any longer.

The Rodney sexual harrassment scandal comes on the heels of the Foley page scandal/GOP House leadership cover-up, the Heather Wilson (R-New Mexico) "not actual child-fucking" scandal, the Jim Gibbons (R- Nevada) attempted rape and murder scandal, and the various Abramoff/Delay/Ney and Randy "Duke" Cunningham defense contracting scandals.

Gee, it's hard to keep track of all these things without a scorecard.


The administration's Iraq war policy is a fucking mess. If you want proof, just take a look at a rundown of today's Iraq war headlines, courtesy of Mike at Crest. If you want specific evidence, take a look at this article that explains how Sadr owns his own city in Iraq now:

BAGHDAD, Iraq -- The Shiite militia run by anti-American cleric Muqtada al-Sadr seized total control of the southern Iraqi city of Amarah on Friday in one of the boldest acts of defiance yet by one of the country's powerful, unofficial armies, witnesses and police said.

Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki dispatched an emergency security delegation that included the Minister of State for Security Affairs and top officials from the Interior and Defense ministries, Yassin Majid, the prime minister's media adviser, told The Associated Press.

The Mahdi Army fighters stormed three main police stations Friday morning, planting explosives that flattened the buildings, residents said.

About 800 black-clad militiamen with Kalashnikov rifles and rocket-propelled grenade launchers were patrolling city streets in commandeered police vehicles, eyewitnesses said. Other fighters had set up roadblocks on routes into the city and sound trucks circulated telling residents to stay indoors.

Fighting broke out in Amara on Thursday after the head of police intelligence in the surrounding province, a member of the rival Shiite Badr Brigade militia, was killed by a roadside bomb, prompting his family to kidnap the teenage brother of the local head of the a-Madhi Army.

The Mahdi Army seized several police stations and clamped a curfew on the city in retaliation.

The United States military now admits its vaunted "security plan" to take the battle to the insurgents in Baghdad has failed. The sectarian violence grows worse by the week. The militias grow more powerful, the Maliki government has become the punchline to a joke. The Army is now reassessing its strategy as the country waits to hear what plan James Baker's Iraq Strategy Group will come up with to help extricate the United States from this foreign policy debacle.

It seems quite clear that the Iraq war is a failure and the United States has suffered only its second military defeat in its history.

While nearly everybody seems to understand these sad facts now, the members of the administration, the preznit and the vice preznit specifically, do not. VP Cheney told Rush Limbaugh this week that the overall situation in Iraq is going "remarkably well." The preznit spent much of yesterday at a fundraiser for embattled Republican Congressman and alleged choker of his mistress Don Sherwood calling Democrats "defeatists" and "cut-and-runners." But the Washington Post says members of his own party are going to give him a dose of reality come November 8th that may just help him pull his head out of his oblivious ass:

The growing doubts among GOP lawmakers about the administration's Iraq strategy, coupled with the prospect of Democratic wins in next month's midterm elections, will soon force the Bush administration to abandon its open-ended commitment to the war, according to lawmakers in both parties, foreign policy experts and others involved in policymaking.

Senior figures in both parties are coming to the conclusion that the Bush administration will be unable to achieve its goal of a stable, democratic Iraq within a politically feasible time frame. Agitation is growing in Congress for alternatives to the administration's strategy of keeping Iraq in one piece and getting its security forces up and running while 140,000 U.S. troops try to keep a lid on rapidly spreading sectarian violence.

On the campaign trail, Democratic candidates are hammering Republican candidates for backing a failed Iraq policy, and GOP defense of the war is growing muted. A new NBC-Wall Street Journal poll released this week showed that voters are more confident in Democrats' ability to handle the Iraq war than the Republicans' -- a reversal from the last election.

Few officials in either party are talking about an immediate pullout of U.S. combat troops. But interest appears to be growing in several broad ideas. One would be some kind of effort to divide the country along regional lines. Another, favored by many Democrats, is a gradual withdrawal of troops over a set period of time. A third would be a dramatic scaling-back of U.S. ambitions in Iraq, giving up on democracy and focusing only on stability.


One point on which adherents of these sharply different approaches appear to agree is that "staying the course" is fast becoming a dead letter. "I don't believe that we can continue based on an open-ended, unconditional presence," said Sen. Olympia J. Snowe, a centrist Maine Republican. "I don't think there's any question about that, that there will be a change" in the U.S. strategy in Iraq after next month's elections.

Richard N. Haass, a former Bush administration foreign policy official, told reporters yesterday that the situation is reaching a "tipping point" both in Iraq and in U.S. politics. "More of essentially the same is going to be a policy that very few people are going to be able to support," said Haass, now the president of the Council on Foreign Relations. He added that the administration's current Iraq strategy "has virtually no chance of succeeding" and predicted that "change will come."


Sen. John E. Sununu (R-N.H.), a member of the Foreign Relations Committee, said he is open to "significant changes" in the U.S. approach and is hoping the Iraq Study Group can supply them. "I don't think anyone in the administration is pleased about the current state of affairs," he said. "I would hope that members of the administration are willing to learn from past mistakes . . . and choose a different path that would allow us to meet our objectives."

It does feel like we have come to the watershed moment in the Iraq war discussion. While Bush is still trying to use the "cut-and-run" language that he and Rove think will help tar Dems as the architects of this mess ("They lost the war for us by not having the balls to stick it out!"), it seems to me that nobody outside of the administration's wingiest apologists are buying that argument anymore. The violence is too high, the Maliki government too weak, the options for change too poor for anybody other than Bush, Cheney or Rummy to think this thing can still be won militarily.

This is a good thing. Perhaps now some "responsible adults in the Republican Party"can force Bush, Cheney et al. to deal with reality as it is in Iraq rather than the romantic fantasies they've been trying to sell to the American people.

Unfortunately the next Preznit of the United States, John McCain, wants to send in another 100,000 American troops and bring Democracy and Ponies to Iraq. So it remains to be seen whether the realists in the GOP can help Dems bring some reality to the Iraq policy or whether the boys and girls of the Grand Old Ruling Party will just try and use the Iraq war defeat as a political bludgeon against Democrats for the '08 election.

I suspect we're going to get the latter. Rove, Bush, and Cheney just can't help themselves. And history tells us, most of the "responsible adults in the GOP" just kinda go along with what they want nearly every time. if you don't believe that, take a look at how the Military Commissions act worked out.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Why Can't The Bush Twins Go?

Here's the story of a 52 year old man called up to inactive reserve who died in Iraq this week.

52 years old men. That's who we're sending to fight and die in this war that almost everbody other than the preznit, the vice preznit and Senator McCain acknowledge has been lost.

So why can't we send some of the cheeleading wingers like Jonah Goldberg over? Or the Bush Twins?

Seems to me they ought to put their asses on the line as long as 52 year old men on inactive reserve and out of the military since 1992 are being forced to put theirs on the line.

(H/T to Cunning Realist)

Even More GOP Sex Scandals and Cover-Ups

This time involving Congresswoman Heather Wilson (R-New Mexico.) Rawstory has the details. The gist is this: Wilson, just three days into her appointment as Secretary of the New Mexico Children, Youth and Families Department, had a file on her husband that alleged he had engaged in "inappropriate contact with a minor" destroyed.

Wilson now serves on the Congressional Missing and Exploited Children's Caucus and served on the House Page Board for three years beginning in 2001.

As bad as this story sounds on the face of it, there is a bright side: As Wonkette notes, at least Wilson isn't accused of "actual child-fucking."

More GOP Sex Scandals, Sexual Assaults and Police Cover-Ups

The Jerry Weller/16 year old page scandal STILL hasn't broke yet (much to Wonkette's chagrin), but I think the Republican candidate for governor of Nevada, Congressman Jim Gibbons, can hang up his silver studs and officially concede:

Perhaps it was the innocent encounter that Rep. Jim Gibbons has described. Nevertheless, the story the Gibbons campaign has been telling about what happened last Friday night at the Hughes Center differs from what Gibbons told police Saturday when they interviewed him about an alleged assault, according to the police reports released Wednesday.

Chrissy Mazzeo, 32, accused Gibbons, the Republican candidate for governor, of pushing her against the wall in a parking garage and making an unwanted sexual advance.

She said she cursed him and ran from the garage to a La Quinta Inn across Paradise Road before taking refuge in a Starbucks restroom.

There, she made the first of what police now say were three - not two as police had said - calls to 911 to report an assault. On a recording, she is heard gasping. Police have said that the gasps are laughter. In fact, she is heard telling the dispatcher that she is breathless from running.

The next day she told police she decided to drop the matter "mainly because of who he is ... I just don't want to go up against something like that." She did not recant her story, as the Gibbons campaign had claimed.

Gibbons told police that Mazzeo had slipped while walking in or near the parking garage and that he was merely helping her up. Gibbons and Mazzeo do agree that once Gibbons touched her, the hunt for her car ended and they went their separate ways.


This discrepancy, as well as others in the police reports, can only deepen a growing political problem for the five-term congressman just days before early voting begins.

Mazzeo didn't return a phone call and didn't respond when a reporter knocked on her door Wednesday. She told police she is a cancer survivor and a single mother with a 3-year-old child.

Gibbons has yet to speak publicly about the incident. The campaign hasn't produced any of the other people at the restaurant who might talk about the incident or might have seen Gibbons help the woman.

The only response from the campaign Wednesday was the following statement: "Jim Gibbons is campaigning today as scheduled in Mesquite and Laughlin. Just as Metro and several eyewitnesses in and around the restaurant have concluded, Jim Gibbons did nothing wrong or inappropriate."

Sheriff Bill Young, who originally called the episode a misunderstanding and whose department took five days to identify the woman publicly and release records of the incident, called Mazzeo's story to police "a pretty damaging report. But once an alleged victim declines to prosecute, we're pretty much done with it."

Young, who has endorsed Gibbons, also defended the department: "We weren't on a witch hunt against the congressman, but we also weren't covering up anything.

"We're not going to be dragged into the middle of it," Young said. "He's a congressman and he's in a heated political race. It's up to the parties to defend their positions from here on out."

How's that for republican family values? And here's the kicker: Representative Gibbons' wife, Dawn Gibbons, is running to replace the congressman in his district.

I wonder what it's like following the Gibbonses on their respective campaign trails?

Gibbons had been leading by 9 points in the last poll before the "unfortunate incident." Wonkette notes that the sexual assault and attempted murder allegations made by the woman against Congressman Gibbons should assure his Democratic rival, Dina Titus, a win on November 7th "If she can avoid threatening to rape and kill people between now and Election Day."


First, Foley scandal news:

CNN reports that former House Clerk Jeff Trandahl warned GOP leadership years ago about former Representative Mark Foley's "inappropriate" contact with underage pages. Trandahl is set to testify before the House Ethics Committee investigating the Foley scandal today.

Now, rumor about another potential GOP sex scandal involving underage pages, via Taegan Goddard's Political Wire:

The rumor swirling through Washington, D.C. is that a midwestern Republican congressman close to House Speaker Dennis Hastert had an inappropriate relationship with a 16 year old female congressional page. I have no details and cannot confirm, but the Washington Post's Dana Millbank hinted at the story on MSNBC on Wednesday night and Archpundit says it's about to break.

A commenter at The Daily Kos says the Republican in question is allegedly Representative Jerry Weller (R-Illinois.)

While these rumors are unsubstantiated and we don't have any evidence to suggest they're true, I will remind you that Republicans sent out to defend GOP leadership over the Foley scandal blamed the whole thing on Democratic leadership and when pressed by CNN's Wolf Blitzer for evidence that Nancy Pelosi and Rahm Emanuel were behind the leaking of the Foley news, said "Well, we don't have any evidence proving that they were behind the leaking of the scandal but we don't have any evidence that they weren't behind it either."

Ahh, the rule of law in GOP land - guilty before proven innocent, but only if you're a Democrat or a terrorist.

Anyway, I kinda hope the rumors about Representative Weller are NOT true. I would like to see the debate in this midterm election be about something more meaningful than an alleged sex scandal during these last two and a half weeks before November 7th.

UPDATE: Congressman Weller denies the rumor that he had sex with an underage page. Weller says he steered a complaint from a House page he sponsored who says he was "inappropriately invited to a social event with another congressman."

So there you have it - Weller's not the congressional page troll; Weller's making a complaint about another congressional page troll.

That should make us all feel better, eh?

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Really Bad News For The GOP

Charlie Cook of The Cook Report writes in his National Journal column today that these midterm elections could be a once in a generation thing and Republicans could lose 25, 30, or 35 seats in the House.

Jim VandeHei wrote in the Washington Post that Dems see a chance to take 40 or more seats in the House and are going to borrow $10 million dollars to expand their advertising into second and third tier House races.

The WSJ/NBC News poll released tonight shows the Republican Congress with a 16% approval rating and Preznit Bush with a 38% approval rating (down 1 point from two weeks ago.) In addition, 52% of those surveyed say they want Dems to take control of the Congress after the midterms while only 37% say they want the GOP to retain control. In the last 12 years this question has been asked in the WSJ/NBC News poll, neither party has garnered over 50% on the question of which party voters would like to see in power in the Congress. Just 32% of those surveyed see the Republican party in a postive light while 49% see Republicans negatively (Dems are viewed positively by 37%, unfavorably by 35%.)

Constituent Dynamics, an independent polling operation, released six new polls tonight that show New York may become "Bluer" after November 7th. All four New York races look like they will be Democratic pick-ups on November 7th:

IL-8: Melissa Bean (D) leads David McSweeney (R), 47% to 44%
IL-10: Mark Kirk (R) leads Dan Seals (D), 46% to 44%
NY-19: John Hall (D) leads Sue Kelly (R), 49% to 40%
NY-20: Kristen Gillibrand (D) leads John McSweeney (R), 54% to 41%
NY-25: Dan Maffei (D) leads James Walsh (R), 51% to 43%
NY-29: Eric Massa (D) leads Randy Kuhl (R), 52% to 40%

Finally, the Post's Chris Cilliza writes that Dems have an "anger advantage" this year that could could undo some vaunted GOP election advantages like ground operation and money. Cilliza notes that a recent Pew Poll shows this:

In 2002, 40 percent of Democrats said they were enthusiastic about voting in the fall while 44 percent of Republicans said the same thing. Four years later, 51 percent of Democrats said they were enthused while just 33 percent of Republicans said the same.

The Fix is no mathematician, but that's an 11-point increase in Democratic enthusiasm and a corresponding 11-point decrease in Republican enthusiasm -- a 22-point net swing.

Nearly six-in-ten Democratic voters (59 percent) and five-in-ten Republican voters (48 percent) told Pew that they had given a lot of thought to this year's election. Four years ago 46 percent of Democrats and 47 percent of Republicans said the same thing. At this time in 1994 -- less than a month before Republicans swept Democrats from their House and Senate majorities -- 50 percent of Republicans said they had given a lot of thought to the election while just 40 percent of Democrats said the same.

"These indications of Democratic engagement suggest that the turnout advantage the GOP has enjoyed in recent elections may not hold this November," reads a summary of the Pew poll's findings.

So while Republicans are touting their excellent GOTV machine and the shitloads of advertising money they've got to use these last two-and-a-half weeks, the Pew Poll perhaps suggests that the anger many are feeling toward both the Bush administration and the Republican-led Congress could just make those GOP advantages moot.

To the everlasting chagrin of George Bush, Karl Rove, Ken Mehlman and Mark Halperin.

We'll know soon enough. The election is just 20 days away and all the news is bad for Republicans. Whatever "October/November Surprise" Rove and Mehlman have got cooked up better be pretty good.

"And I will teach him how to avenge his father's death by the Mahdi Army"

VP Cheney told Rush Limbaugh yesterday that he thought the "general overall situation" in Iraq was going "remarkably well."

The news round-up doesn't seem to back up the Big Dick's statement. First, from the Associated Press:

BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) -- The U.S. military reported Wednesday that nine American troops had been killed in bombings and combat, raising to 67 the number of U.S. troops killed in October.

A roadside bomb killed a provincial police intelligence chief in southern Iraq early Wednesday, police said.

The eight U.S. soldiers and one Marine were killed by roadside bombs and enemy fire in and around Baghdad on Tuesday, the military reported.

Four soldiers died when a roadside bomb struck their vehicle at about 6:50 a.m. Tuesday morning west of Baghdad, the military said in a brief statement.

Three soldiers attached to Task Force Lightning, assigned to the 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, were killed and one wounded during combat in Diyala province east of Baghdad. Another soldier died around 9:30 a.m. when suspected insurgents attacked his patrol in northern Baghdad.

A Marine assigned to Regimental Combat Team 7 also died from injuries sustained during fighting in Al Anbar Province, it said.

Early Wednesday, a bomb planted on the main highway between the cities of Amarah and Basra killed Ali Qassim al-Tamimi, head of intelligence for the Maysan provincial police force, along with four bodyguards, Maysan police Capt. Hussein Karim said.


For the U.S. military, October's death toll is on a pace that, if continued, would make the month the deadliest for coalition forces since January 2005, when 107 U.S. troops died.

Now the Washington Post writing up the news from Balad, Iraq:

BAGHDAD, Oct. 17 -- Police and black-clad Shiite militiamen toting machine guns sealed off the predominantly Shiite city of Balad on Tuesday, guarding against attacks by Sunni insurgents flooding into towns just north of Baghdad, vowing revenge for four days of violence in which dozens of Sunnis were killed.

Calm largely returned to Balad by Tuesday, with Iraqi army troops forcing Shiite militia fighters out of police cars that the militiamen had commandeered for the attacks, said residents reached by telephone in the cut-off town. American troops patrolled the city and guarded one end of a Tigris River bridge that links Balad with Duluiyah, a Sunni farm town also at the epicenter of the outburst of sectarian conflict.

On the Duluiyah end of the bridge, angry Sunni insurgents gathered in force, clutching their PKC machine guns and rocket launchers, standing their tense watch. Abu Achmed, a fighter in the Islamic Army, a Sunni insurgent movement, held a machine gun but wished for more.

"If I had a nuclear bomb, I would wipe it out," the insurgent fighter, who refused to give his full name, said as he stared at Balad across the bridge. "I would level it."

Since Friday, a Shiite militia campaign of killing and expulsion targeting Sunni families served both to deepen sectarian tensions in Iraq and expose the inability or unwillingness of the Shiite-dominated government to control the attacks. The government is headed by two Shiite religious parties whose militias led the campaign, according to local residents, Shiite community leaders, police and hospital officials. Forces of the country's heavily Shiite police watched the cleansing campaign, or took part in it, the witnesses said. The Interior Ministry denied the allegation.

Militia attacks on Sunnis in and around Balad ended only when large numbers of Iraqi army troops, seen as more neutral than Iraq's police, were deployed. By Tuesday, all but four or five Sunni families had fled. Until recently, members of the town's Sunni minority had lived and intermarried peacefully with Shiite neighbors for generations.

"What shall I say to Bush, to the armed men, to Maliki?" cried Um Mustafa, sheltering in a stranger's home on the outskirts of Duluiyah, referring to Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. She was with her 11-year-old son, Mustafa, and 7-year-old daughter, Reaam. Fleeing Balad this past weekend, the family had watched Shiite militiamen dressed in black beat her pleading husband in the face with rifle butts and take him away. The next day, her phone calls traced her husband's body to the Balad hospital morgue.

"What have I done that my husband gets killed in this way?" she said. "I have Mustafa. And I will teach him how to avenge his father's death by the Mahdi Army, and take his revenge, from them."

Yeah, it sure seems like the "general overall situation" in Iraq is going "remarkably well."

It's going "remarkably well" only if you're looking to stoke generations of hatred and sectarian warfare in Iraq.

It's ironic how quickly the debate in the United States went from "We can't cut and run from Iraq" to "Omigod, this fucking thing is complete carnage."

Remember that it was just last May when Karl Rove and his RNC minions thought they could tar Dems and other war critics as "cut-and-runners" for demanding a timetable for the end of U.S. occupation of Iraq.

But now you so rarely hear anybody on the Republican side other than some of the more delusional members of the administration (like Bush, Cheney, Rummy, Rice et al.) or their apologists (like Hannity, Limbaugh, et al.) use the "cut-and-run" phrase.

And that's primarily because Americans can now see just how fucked up the situation is in Iraq and just how much it was fucked up by this administration and the Republican leadership (books like Hubris and State of Denial providing the documentation.)

And the poll numbers bear it out - CNN released a poll yesterday showing only 34% of people approve of the job the administration is doing on the Iraq war while 64% disapprove. In addition, CNN found that only 34% favor the U.S. war in Iraq while 64% now oppose the war. That's nearly two-thirds of America who have bailed on the administration's Iraq policy - the highest level yet.

The news is all bad. Americans are dying by the day, James Baker's bipartisan Iraq group is looking for a solution to this mess that the administration is too stubborn or too stupid to find, and Bush, Cheney, Rummy, and Rice remain in their various states of oblivion and denial.

In the meanwhile, October looks like it is going to be one of the bloodiest months for both Americans in Iraq and Iraqis.

And Cheney says it's going "remarkably well."

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