Thursday | August 01, 2002

Loyal to a fault

During Bush's 2000 campaign, Cheney was charged with interviewing vice presidential candidates. He went through the motions of interviewing a half dozen top Republicans, before concluding that he, Cheney, was the best option. Bush happily went along with that underwhelming recommendation.

Now that the administration faces its "Cheney problem", it is fun to wonder whether Bush is bitter about his decision. This is not to imply that Cheney is under fire. If there's one thing that Bush has shown (and I admire this) is that he's loyal to a fault. While his administration is more nakedly political than even Clinton's, Bush has shown time and time again that personal trust and loyalty trumps all political considerations.

Some argue that Bush simply cannot admit to making a mistake, thus he sticks with Ashcroft, White, Pitt, and O'Neil even as the press, pundits, and congressmen scream for their resignations. Bush is clearly incapable of admitting a mistake, but his loyalty goes deeper than simple CYA. It is genuine. Perhaps the only part of Bush that isn't stage managed or reek of hypocrisy. How else can anyone explain Army Secretary White? He would've been long-gone in any other administration.

So Cheney soldiers on, fundraising away, steering far clear of any reporters, SEC investigators, or Judicial Watch process servers. Bush will defend Cheney to the death, but one can't help but wonder if Bush ever regrets taking his friend's VP recommendation.

    09:27 AM | Link | Comments (3) | Email this post



Torch in trouble

NJ Sen. Bob Toricelli is in a statistical dead heat with his Republican rival. The poll is partisan (R), but still, it is clear that Toricelli's ethical problems are plaguing his campaign.

Toricelli was "severely admonished" by the Senate Ethics Committee for accepting thousands of dollars in gifts from a campaign supporter. Now, the committee refuses to release any documents from its investigation beyond the final report. This is a mistake. While it may help Toricelli and the Dems in the short term, it smacks of hypocrisy -- how can Dems demand the SEC release documents of its Harken/Bush investigation, or of the Cheney energy task force, when they refuse to play by the same rules?

    09:01 AM | Link | Comments (0) | Email this post


Wednesday | July 31, 2002

Can Kansas go Dem?

A Mason-Dixon poll shows that Democrat Kathleen Sebelius leads all three of her potential rivals by double digits. It would be highly unusual for reliably GOP Kansas to go Dem, but Sebelius has an unheard-of unfavorable rating of only 4 percent. Whether she can hold those numbers after the GOP primary remains to be seen.

Sebelius 46
Knight 34

Sebelius 49
Shallenburger 33

Sebelius 44
Kerr 32

In the GOP primary:

Knight 32
Shallenburger 27
Kerr 18

    02:00 PM | Link | Comments (1) | Email this post



US PR blitz

There is no doubt that the US has taken an image hit abroad -- what with the Bush Administration's unilateralist tendencies, opposition to just about every bilateral treaty on the books. Then there's the constant belligerance, beating of the war drums, one-sided "peacemaking" in the Middle East, attempted overthrow of democratically elected governments (Venezuela), ridiculous vendettas (Hussein and Castro), simple-minded rhetoric ('axis of evil'), support for undemocratic governments (Egypt, Saudi Arabia), etc., etc. I could go on, but you get the point.

So, how to fix this problem? If you're an enlightened leader, you could work within the framework of international institutions (such as the UN) to work together with other nations, pooling resources in the pursuit of the common good. The US could be a true mediator in international conflicts, maintaining more than a sembleance of neutrality.

Here's a crazy idea -- the next time a treaty banning torture makes its way through the UN, the US shouldn't try to derail it.

Heck, endording peace might be enough.

But the Bush Administration can't be bothered by all that. So it created its own internal Public Relations agency to handle the task.

One think tank report concluded that:

Around the world, from Western Europe to the Far East, many see the United States as arrogant, hypocritical, self-absorbed, self-indulgent, and contemptuous of others.
True, true. Truer words were never said. But PR isn't going to fix this problem. The US under Bush is arrogant, hypocritical, self-absorbed, self-indulgent, and contemptuous of others. And no amount of press releases or propaganda broadcasts can ever cover that up.

    09:10 AM | Link | Comments (0) | Email this post



CT gov race tightening

Connecticut Gov. John Rowland, previously thought unbeatable, is seeing his lofty lead in the race erode. The sinking economy, which has hammered nearly every sitting governor, is taking its toll on Rowland, who has seen his lead shring from 28 points in late May to 17 points today.

Rowland is still above the critical 50 percent line, so he's still the probably winner of the race. However, poll results indicate this may become far more competitive by the time November rolls around. Bush's approval ratings in the state have plunged to 59 percent, while Rowland's approval ratings have dropped to 1996 levels. Also, the number of Connecticut residents who approve of “the way things are going in Connecticut today" is dipping.

If Republicans face competitive races in places like CT, a state with a popular GOP governor, their prospects in November may be far worse than hoped.

    08:58 AM | Link | Comments (0) | Email this post



Survey USA -- cheap polls for TV

The SF CBS affiliate breathlessly reported last night that Bill Simon had pulled ahead of Davis in the CA governor's race. This new "lead" was about 1/2 a percentage point, well within the margin of error. But the real story is not the poll results, which run counter to every respectable non-partisan poll taken thus far, but the veracity of the polling company itself -- Survey USA.

The Toricelli campaign offered this devastating critique of the poll and its methodology (computerized response audience polling):

Social scientists have been sharply critical of CRAP polls for several justifiable reasons. One problem is the identity of the respondent. Your five year old can punch the keys on the telephone and voice her opinion, or your favorite uncle from Tulsa who happens to be around when the phone rings can have his say as well. Who really knows who’s on the other end of the phone? Real survey researchers call the practice the uncontrolled selection of respondents, and it can be a real source of error. It’s tantamount to standing on the street corner and haphazardly asking questions of anyone who happens by…
A quick Google search indicates that Survey USA targets its services mostly to low-budget local television news stations, and even promises same-day turnaround on polls (which should automatically ring alarm bells). The results bear witness -- poll predictions were 21 points off in the Texas senate primary, and 19 points off the California guvernatorial primary.

(I got the Toricelli link from MyDD's excellent critique of a Survey USA poll for the Texas governor's race.)

    08:42 AM | Link | Comments (0) | Email this post


Tuesday | July 30, 2002

Contract the Yankees

As baseball teeters on the edge of yet another work stoppage, someone has finally come up with a workable solution: contract the Yankees. This is brilliant, considering the Yanks are the root of all of baseball's problems and evils.

    02:54 PM | Link | Comments (1) | Email this post



Democrats getting feisty

Top Democrats took their turns bashing Bush at the podium at the DLC's annual conference. Among the highlights:

  • Gore refused to attend after he was denied a keynote-type speaking slot. As if he deserves anything after condemning us to four years of Bush...

  • Lieberman is still taking about faith and being pro-business. Conason writes:
    Lieberman offered a rather safe, somewhat clichéd homily about cracking down on corporate crime while remaining "pro-business," and ended with an appeal to faith. He evidently believes that if the corporate crooks had prayed more they would have stolen less. For some reason he finds such displays of piety irresistible.
    Sounds good. If people want someone who will appeal to god and Wall Street, they have plenty of options on the Republican side.

  • Lieberman also whined (off-podium) that Gore lost because he abandoned his centrist roots. This may be the start of the end of Lieberman's "I won't run if Gore runs" promise.

  • Kerry, a decorated war veteran, piled on Bush's handling of the Afghan war and warned against an Iraq invasion. This is an interesting tactic -- while Kerry is essentially right, people are still under the illusion that the war has been a resounding success. It might be difficult to dissuade the public of that notion, and could backfire. Or it might be a resounding success -- draft-dodging Republicans certainly cannot accuse Kerry of being disloyal. And the public needs to hear what Kerry has to say.

  • Edwards and Gephardt will speak today. Edwards, particularly, is looking to boost his '04 chances by garnering the support of the centrist DLC. Thus, many expect him to deliver the speech of his life.

  • Gov. Dean's absence is curious. He is the only presidential aspirant, other than Gore, absent from the convention. Yet his message of fiscal conservatism and social liberalism would appeal strongly to DLC-types.

    08:18 AM | Link | Comments (1) | Email this post


Monday | July 29, 2002

Maryland Guv race competitive

Republicans are licking their chops, hoping to win the governor's race in overwhelmingly Democratic Maryland. The Republican candidate, Robert Ehrlich, has made inroads with black voters by nominating an African American running mate, while the state's poor economy is affecting Democrat Kathleen Kennedy Townsend.

It's early in the race, and it's hard to see how Townsend can lose this race. But it confirms that nothing can be taken for granted this election cycle. There will be more competitive races nationwide than most election observers predicted.

    02:13 PM | Link | Comments (2) | Email this post



"Inside out" in Iraq

If you want proof the US military opposes any invasion of Iraq, simply watch as it leaks every possible war plan to the NY Times. The latest is the "Inside Out" plan, that would have the US simply take and occupy Baghdad and a few key cities, and then wait for a leaderless Iraq to collapse. The goal would be a quick and decisive victory, appeasing recalcitrant allies wary of a long, drawn-out conflict.

Would it work? Probably. Unlike many real pundits, I don't think the US would have any trouble defeating Iraq. I don't think the US would have any trouble defeating anyone. The question has always been should the US become a belligerent, threatening, offensive, first-strike nation -- the type of nation it accuses Iraq of being. And does the US want to take the diplomatic hit, creating resentment and anger in our allies and creating new future enemies and terrorist groups. (Remember, Al Queda rose from the ashes of the Gulf War.)

Of all strategies discussed, this "Inside Out" seems to be the riskiest, highest-casualty of all. The plan advocates a quick strike on Iraq's major cities. Since none (other than Basra) are adjacent the Gulf or international borders, that would mean an airborne assault -- an inherently dangerous military maneuver. There have been few successful airborne assaults in the history of warfare. The Nazis invaded Crete from the air, and then swore off the tactic after taking horrific casualties. US forces made some relatively small scale airborne landings during D-Day with mixed results.

Since then, the US hasn't attempted the tactic. It's easy to see why -- broken ankles and other injuries plague even the most controlled training exercises. Jumpers can get spread out over large distances, forcing dangerous regroups in the dark of night. And lumbering transport planes (or helicopters, in the case of the 101st Air Assault Division) are easy targets for anti-aircraft fire. Take down one C-130, and you suddenly need body bags for 92 paratroopers and five crew members.

Any and all such problems are compounded when dropping paratroopers in an urban center. Watch Black Hawk Down for a primer on urban warfare. True, superior US firepower will kill a lot more Iraqis than Americans, but the cost for both sides would be horrific. And Iraq has learned its lesson well -- it won't try to stop the US in the open desert. You can bet his troops are prepared for grueling house to house urban combat.

Finally, it is difficult to resupply troops dropped in the middle of hostile territory. Airdrops are inadequate for the long-term operations of a large fighting force. Apparently the hope is that the Iraqi government quickly collapses, but that is neither a certainty, nor would it even guarantee the cessation of hostilities (e.g. lawless Somalia). Air dropped troops are extremely poorly equipped. Not only do they have a small and finite amount of ammunition, but they also lack much of the heavy weaponry they would need for extended operations. Food and water would be in scarce supply. They would enjoy air superiority, but that advantage is actually lessened in an urban core, where buildings provide hostile forces with ample cover and where the fog of war increases the likelihood of friendly fire incidents.

Again, I believe the US would eventually succeed, but at what cost? The number of dead would be horrific, the enmity the US would breed amongst ally and foe alike is hard to imagine. The US would transform itself from an agent for world peace to the world's most belligerent state.

If the US had ample justification for an attack, and war was inevitable, the best strategy would be to land marine and airborne troops in Basra, capture the region's oil fields, and starve Hussein of his oil revenues. Then bomb his infrastructure until the nation submits. But there is no current justification, other than some vague and self-destructive vendetta against Hussein. The military wants none of a Iraq invasion, and the world community is still presenting a united front against the US. As such, the administration should heed the Pentagon's wishes and maintain the status quo.

    08:24 AM | Link | Comments (0) | Email this post


Friday | July 26, 2002

Cheney above the law

I'll let this Judicial Watch press release speak for itself:

Judicial Watch, the public interest group that investigates and prosecutes public corruption, today reported that security staff at The White House threatened a process server with arrest over his attempt to serve Vice President Cheney with a complaint filed against him by Judicial Watch on behalf of shareholders of Halliburton. It is a crime to interfere with service of process.

According to an affidavit of due diligence filed in the case, the process server attempted to serve the complaint on the Vice President at The White House and was told by a security officer that he would not accept the “papers” for the Vice President. According to the process server’s sworn statement, the security officer said that “if I dropped them [the federal court summons and complaint], he would arrest me.” The attempted service was made on July 22, 2002.

No lawyer for Vice President Cheney has contacted Judicial Watch to accept service on the Vice President’s behalf.

“We have served many a lawsuit on Bill Clinton, Al Gore, and Hillary Clinton when they were in The White House. The Clinton White House accepted the papers. Never before have our process servers been threatened with arrest. If this Bush-Cheney White House is serious about corporate corruption and responsibility, it would not allow the Vice President to improperly hide behind White House security to evade service of process in the Halliburton securities fraud litigation, and it would not threaten the process server with arrest,” stated Judicial Watch Chairman and General Counsel Larry Klayman.

    04:50 PM | Link | Comments (1) | Email this post



Demographics favor dems

It's not even close. All the major demographic shifts in the United States favor the Democrats. As the following two stories note (via MyDD), Republicans face virtual extinction.

First is Dick Morris, who simplifies matters a great deal:

House Democratic Leader Dick Gephardt’s (D-Mo.) expected endorsement of earned amnesty for illegal immigrants underscores the most fundamental fact of American politics today — the Republican Party is running out of white people.
True, ethnic minorities are almost exclusively Democratic constituencies (two exceptions: Cuban Americans and Vietnamese). And their rising numbers will turn the West, Southwest and Florida into reliably Democratic states within the next ten years or so. Morris is usually smarter, but he's playing an idiot in this case -- arguing that the GOP can reverse the trend by naming a black to the top of the ticket. He's shocked (shocked!) that the Condi Rice and Powell appointments haven't done more to endear the GOP to blacks. It'll obviously take much more than symbolic gestures, or the token minority. It'll take real shifts in ideology.

But as I've said, Morris simplifies. There are many demographic trends indicating the arrival of Democratic dominance in national politics. In an excerpt of their forthcoming book, authors John Judis and Ruy Teixeira isolate the following demographic trends:

  • In the 50 most populous counties, Gore bested Bush 54-42 percent.

  • While Bush enjoys an advantage in rural areas, those areas are shrinking as a percentage of the nation's population (a 17 percent decline in the past 40 years).

  • While Bush won a decisive majority of those who attend church regularly, their numbers are shrinking. In 1972, 18 percent of Americans never attended church. The number was 30 percent in 1998. Non-church goers represented 27 percent of voters in 2000, and they vote overwhelmingly Democratic.

  • Women support for the Dems is increasing rapidly, accelerated by the emergence of the working woman and modern feminism. Nearly 60 percent of women voted Dem in 1990.

  • Women likely to support Dems are also the fastest growing group of women -- single working women. These women backed Gore 67-29. They currently make up 30 percent of all women. College-educated women backed Gore 57-39. Those women most likely to back Bush -- homemakers and those living in rural counties -- are shrinking as a percentage of all women.

  • Democrats can count on 75 percent of the minority vote in national elections. And we are growing rapidly -- 10 percent of the electorate in 1970, 20 percent in 2000, and if trends continue, 25 percent in 2010.

  • Highly skilled, educated professionals back Democrats 52-40. In the 1950s, this group comprised 7 percent of the US population, today it is 15 percent. These Democrats are socially liberal, economically moderate. In other words, the so-called New Democrats. (Incidentally, this group really scares the GOP because unlike other traditional Democratic constituencies, they have $$$$).

  • Post-industrial regions of the country have become increasingly Democratic (Gore beat Bush 53-44 in these regions) -- places like the California Bay Area, Chicago and Boston metro areas, and parts of Virginia, North Carolina, and Florida. And while these regions boast high percentages of core Dem constituencies, such as professionals and minorities, they also deliver majority votes from white working class voters.

  • Those post-industrial regions are some of the fastest growing in the country. They comprise 44 percent of the national vote, and have grown 22 percent between 1990 and 2000.
These trends are not just hypothetical. They have born fruit the past three election cycles.

Bush's popularity was at, what, 176 percent in November 2001, less than two months after 9-11. Yet the Democrats staged a near-sweep of races in the 2002 elections, including the two gubernatorial contests in Virginia and NJ (both previously held by Republicans). The Dems captured over a dozen mayorships from the GOP in some of the nation's largest cities (including LA, San Antonio and El Paso), as well as two state legislatures (NJ and WA). They captured every single big city mayor's office in supposedly Republican Ohio. The Dems did not lose a single office they controlled. Indeed, the only race of national import won by the GOP was the NYC mayor's office, and the GOP candidate was a turncoat Dem.

If it was just the minority vote, the Dems wouldn't be poised to take the Maine governorship. And the entire Northeast wouldn't be reliably Democratic (or REALLY liberal GOP). The trends are real, and they are ALL working against the GOP. How they react to the challenge will be interesting, but regardless, it will have to consist of far more than a vice-president Powell.

    04:36 PM | Link | Comments (1) | Email this post




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Poll Watch

Incumbent in italics

SENATE

Alabama 7/17
Sessions (R) 45
Parker (D) 33

Arkansas 6/26
Hutchinson (R) 51
Prior (D) 43

Colorado 6/25
Allard (R) 43
Strickland (D) 42

Georgia 3/18
Cleland (D) 54
Chambliss (R) 30

Illinois 5/5
Durbin (D) 49
Durkin (R) 32

Iowa 7/1
Harkin (D) 50
Gangske (R) 41

Kentucky 6/25
McConnell (R) 51
Weinberg (D) 33

Louisiana 5/22
Landrieu (D) 62
Cooksey (R) 25

Maine 6/25
Collins (R) 45
Pingree (D) 33

Michigan 4/4
Levin (D) 53
Raczkowski (R) 27

Minnesota 7/23
Wellstone (D) 42
Coleman (R) 46

Missouri 7/9
Carnahan (D) 48
Talent (R) 40

Montana 4/26
Baucus (D) 57
Taylor (R) 24

New Hampshire 7/3
Smith (R) 40
Sununu (R) 52

Sununu (R) 37
Shaheen (D) 33

Smith (R) 35
Shaheen (D) 35

New Jersey 6/19
Torricelli (D) 44
Forrester (R) 36

North Carolina 4/18
Dole (R) 62
Bowles (D) 27

Oklahoma
No polling available

Oregon 5/13
Smith (R) 49
Bradbury (D) 33

Rhode Island
No polling available

South Carolina 6/29
Graham (R) 52
Sanders (D) 36

South Dakota 7/17
Johnson (D) 43
Thune (R) 45

Tennessee 7/3
Alexander (R) 49
Bryant (R) 37
No general election numbers

Texas 7/2
Cornyn (R) 28
Kirk (D)36

Virginia
Warner (R) unopposed

GOVERNOR

Alabama 5/17
Siegelman (D) 35
Riley (R) 42

Alaska 3/15
Ulmer (D) 36
Murkowski (R) 51

Arizona
Salmon (R) 32
Napolitano (D) 33
Mahoney (I) 7

Arkansas 6/26
Huckabee (R) 50
Fisher (D) 37

California 7/11
Davis (D) 41
Simon (R) 34

Colorado 5/9
Owens (R) 59
Heath (D) 20

Connecticut 7/17
Rowland (R) 45
Curry (D) 30

Florida 7/2
Reno (D) 45
McBride (D) 18

Bush (R) 53
Reno (D) 37

Bush (R) 49
McBride (D) 31

Georgia 3/12
Barnes (D) 46
Perdue (R) 31
Lance (Lib.) 5
Garrett (G) 2

Hawaii 6/9
Hirono (D) 35
Case (D) 22

Hirono (D) 32
Lingle (R) 47

Case (D) 24
Lingle (R) 50

Idaho
No polling available

Kansas 7/31
Knight (R) 32
Shallengurger (R) 27
Kerr (R) 18

Knight (R) 34
Sebelius (D) 46

Shallengurger (R) 33
Sebelius (D) 49

Kerr (R) 32
Sebelius (D) 44

Illinois 5/5
Ryan (R) 45
Blagojevich (D) 46

Iowa 6/30
Vilsack (D) 43
Gross (R) 41

Maine5/21
Baldacci (D) 48
Cianchette (R) 12
Flanagan (I) 7
Carter (G) 4
Jenkins (I) 4

Maryland 7/24
Townsend (D) 47
O'Malley (R) 44

Massachusetts 7/1
O'brien (D) 31
Reich (D) 19

Romney (R) 51
O'Brien (D) 28

Michigan 7/29
Blanchard (D) 30
Bonior (D) 22
Granhom (D) 38

Posthumus (R) 39
Blanchard (D) 45

Posthumus (R) 30
Bonior (D) 52

Posthumus (R) 37
Granholm (D) 40

Minnesota 6/27
Pawlenty (R) 26
Penny (I) 25
Moe (DFL) 25
Pentel (G) 5

Nebraska
No polling available

Nevada
No polling available

New Hampshire 6/19
Benson (R) 39
Keough (R) 24
Humphrey (R) 19

Hollingworth (D) 22
Benson (R) 44

Hollingworth (D) 37
Humphrey (R) 21

New Mexico
No polling available

New York 6/6
Cuomo (D) 32
McCall (D) 32

Pataki (R) 49
Cuomo (D) 25

Pataki (R) 49
McCall (D) 25

Ohio 5/10
Taft (R) 51
Hagan (D) 29

Oklahoma 5/7
Largent (R) 38
Orza (D) 24
Richardson (I) 24

Oregon
No polling available

Pennsylvania 7/24
Fisher (R) 36
Rendell (D) 49

Rhode Island
No polling available

South Carolina 6/9
Peeler (R) 39
Sanford (R) 26
Condon (R) 15

Hodges (D) 42
Peeler (R) 47

Hodges (D) 42
Sanford (R) 49

Hodges (D) 42
Condon (R) 34

South Dakota 6/28
Rounds (R) 52
Abbott (D) 31

Tennessee
No polling available

Texas 6/17
Perry (R) 43
Sanchez (D) 32

Vermont
Racine (D) 35
Douglas (R) 27
Hogan (I) 5

Wisconsin 6/19
McCallum (R) 24
Barrett (D) 24



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