Friday, August 11, 2006
Stories like this -- charging that the Bush team wanted bomb-detection funding cut from the Department of Homeland security -- don't appear from nowhere:
The administration's most recent budget request also mystified lawmakers. It asked to take $6 million from Homeland S&T's 2006 budget that was supposed to be used to develop explosives detection technology and instead divert it to cover a budget shortfall in the Federal Protective Service, which provides security around government buildings.This story was quickly funneled to the AP (or the writer was working on it already in connection with another story) and released in a quick hurry, just as the White House is trying to use the bomb plot for maximum political advantage.
Sens. Judd Gregg, R-N.H., and Robert Byrd, D-W.Va., the top two lawmakers for Senate homeland appropriations, rejected the idea shortly after it arrived late last month, Senate leadership officials said.
Their House counterparts, Reps. Hal Rogers, R-Ky., and Sabo, likewise rejected the request in recent days, Appropriations Committee spokeswoman Kirsten Brost said. Homeland said Friday it won't divert the money.
Likewise, this depiction of DHS is hardly flattering:
Homeland Security's research arm, called the Sciences & Technology Directorate, is a "rudderless ship without a clear way to get back on course," Republican and Democratic senators on the Appropriations Committee declared recently.And the nice irony? The Bush administration fought the creation of the Department of Homeland Security, agreeing to it only after being continually prodded by Democratic senators led by -- Joe Lieberman.
"The committee is extremely disappointed with the manner in which S&T is being managed within the Department of Homeland Security," the panel wrote June 29 in a bipartisan report accompanying the agency's 2007 budget.
Rep. Martin Sabo, D-Minn., who joined Republicans to block the administration's recent diversion of explosives detection money, said research and development is crucial to thwarting future attacks and there is bipartisan agreement that Homeland Security has fallen short.
"They clearly have been given lots of resources that they haven't been using," Sabo said.
Technorati Tags: George W. Bush, war on terror, Homeland Security, DHS
Technorati Tags: war on terror, color alert, al Qaeda
The Wars At Home
It is, as they say, to soon to tell. However, one thing that Republicans might want to be wary over is that the Democrats seem much more aggressive in pushing back on the GOP playbook from the two most recent elections:
The events have emboldened Democrats to challenge Bush more forcefully onIt's interesting to see how the local New York tabloids framed the storylines.
national security issues, especially Iraq.
"This latest plot demonstrates the need for the Bush administration and the Congress to change course in Iraq and ensure that we are taking all the steps necessary to protect Americans at home and across the world," said Senate Minority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.).
The Post noted Democrats being on the defensive:
Democratic candidates from Connecticut to Ohio were under fire as weak on terror yesterday amid news of the massive air-attack plot that was busted up in London.Meanwhile, the Daily News focused on the Democrats' aggressiveness in charging that the White House and GOP were playing politics over terror:
Embattled Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman, running as an independent after losing the Democratic primary, used the arrests to attack primary winner Ned Lamont for advocating withdrawal from Iraq.
"I'm worried that too many people, both in politics and out, don't appreciate the seriousness of the threat to American security and the evil of the enemy that faces us - more evil or as evil as Nazism and probably more dangerous than the Soviet Communists we fought during the long Cold War," he said.
Democrats accused the White House of amping up its terrorism rhetoric after an anti-war Senate candidate won in Connecticut because it knew the London terror busts were imminent.However, ABC's political tipsheet, The Note, picked up another example of the Democrats intent at playing real hardball -- and taking advantage of a clear GOP fumble in sending out a direct mail piece signed by Rudy Giuliani:
"When you consider that the White House and Republicans in Congress have politicized the war on terror and the Iraq war since their inceptions, it certainly raises some questions that they need to answer," said Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee spokesman Bill Burton.
One Democratic operative working on 2006 midterm election strategy offers this Frank-Rich-column-in-the-making timeline to The Note this morning.This should be a fun politics-watching year.
A profile in politicizing terror:
Wednesday: Weeks after the White House learns that the London terror plot will be uncovered, Cheney says Lamont victory will encourage "al Qaeda types."
7:42 a.m., Thursday: The White House announces that the threat level has been raised to 'Red.'
10:54 a.m. (CDT): The President announces, on his way to a Wisconsin fundraiser for congressional candidate John Gard, that the arrests in London are "a stark reminder that this nation is at war with Islamic fascists who will use any means to destroy those of us who love freedom, to hurt our nation."
12:26 p.m.: The RNC sends out a fundraising email penned by Rudy Giuliani saying "In the middle of a war on terror, we need to remain focused on furthering Republican ideas more than ever before. Please make your commitment felt with a financial contribution for $500, $250,$100, $50, $35 or $25 to the Republican National Committee today."
2:53 p.m.: Bush official celebrates the terror plot. The AFP reports,"'Weeks before September 11th, this is going to play big,' said another White House official, who also spoke on condition of not being named, adding that some Democratic candidates won't 'look as appealing' under the circumstances."
4:22 p.m.: The RNC follows with a statement attempting to elevate the war on terror above those who would crassly use it for politics sake: "On a day when American authorities are working with our allies to stop a global terror plot, instead of focusing on political attacks, we should focus on the fact that we are at war and need every tool to win the War on Terror."
Technorati Tags: Republicans, Democrats, war on terror, bomb plot
Thursday, August 10, 2006
Left? Right? Whatever!
In addition to regular paleo-con TAC founders Pat Buchanan and Scott McConnell, contributors include classic conservatives (Phyllis Schlafly); libertarians (Nick Gillespie and Lew Rockwell); ex-Republicans (Kevin Phillips); ex-neocons (Michael Lind); liberals (Nicholas Von Hoffmann); crunchy cons (Rod Dreher); new-breed (Ross Douthat); truly brilliant academics (Andrew Bacevich and James Kurth, both of whom I had the pleasure of traveling with during my recent venture East) and many more.
While of obvious interest to those who consider themselves of "the right", everyone interested in the future direction of politics and political philosophy should give this issue a read.
The TAC guys were especially wise to make all the contributions available online. This should spark some good political bar-room discussions for quite some time to come. If only the war(s) weren't distracting certain various other magazines from putting together this type of forum.
Technorati Tags: conservative, liberal, The American Conservative
I Didn't Realize...
Meanwhile, this headline, "U.S. Posts Code-Red Alert; Bans Liquids" looks like it was taken straight out of Dr. Strangelove:
General Jack D. Ripper: He said war was too important to be left to the generals. When he said that, 50 years ago, he might have been right. But today, war is too important to be left to politicians. They have neither the time, the training, nor the inclination for strategic thought. I can no longer sit back and allow Communist infiltration, Communist indoctrination, Communist subversion and the international Communist conspiracy to sap and impurify all of our precious bodily fluids.The terrorists have managed to succeed where the Communists failed. In forcing us to ban liquids, they have managed to "sap" us of our fluids...
Meanwhile, the unprecedented decision to go up the color-code ladder forces one to ask these questions:
Kaffee: Did you order the Code Red?(This exchange is particularly striking if one picture VP Cheney in the Nicholoson/Col Jessup role.)
Col. Jessep: I did the job I...
Kaffee: [shouting] Did you order the Code Red?
Col. Jessep: [shouts]
You're goddamn right I did!
Technorati Tags: war on terror, London, parody
Say It Is So, Joe!
Reason's Tim Cavanaugh comes not to praise Lieberman -- but to bury him:
It's too bad that his support for President Bush's war in Iraq provides such an easy explanation for the downfall of Sen. Joe Lieberman (D-CT). The pious prig from the Nutmeg State is almost the perfect Murder On the Orient Express figure: There are so many reasons to wish him ill that the real challenge shouldn't be finding suspects, but settling on just one. To have Lieberman's Iraq stance become the default reason for opposing him (among Republicans, of course, it's also been the only reason for supporting him) is just too easy.The Post's editorial page supports Lieberman -- and my buddy Dan Gerstein has been doing some tough work for him. But I always knew there was something about the guy that didn't quite sit well with me. Cavanaugh nails the particulars from the libertarian perspective down cold.
Lieberman is possibly the least libertarian member of the United States Senate: An infinite-state liberal who always found ways to oppose Social Security reform (which he allegedly supported), an absurd moral scold who co-sponsored the "Silver Sewer Awards" with William Bennett, a values buttinski who couldn't resist attaching himself to Terri Schiavo's feeding tube, he was in the final analysis nothing but a fake, a tartuffe, a figure able to puff enough gas into every opportunistic action to make it seem like an example of high principle.
From a slightly more conventional conservative stance -- and a few years old -- is a 2002 takedown from Wall St. Journal editorial writer Tunku Varadarajan:
Most of all, I detest the way in which he casts himself--a Jew--as an outsider in America. After the debate with Mr. Cheney, he thanked the American people effusively, and ingratiatingly. It was the effusiveness of a man posing as an outsider, of a man giving thanks to his generous "hosts." Consider these words, which I quote in full from his closing remarks at the debate: "If my dad were here, I would have the opportunity to tell him that he was right when he taught me that in America, if you have faith, work hard and play by the rules, there is nothing you cannot achieve. And here I am, even the son of a man who started working the night shift on a bakery truck can end up being a candidate for vice president of the United States. That says a lot about the character of this nation and the goodness of you, the American people."
These are the words of a man who went to Yale. But the man who went to Yale would like us to believe that he is akin to an immigrant. More: These are not words that bear a proletarian message. These words are about his Jewishness. And they are thanking America for welcoming a Jewish candidate into the political mainstream. These words are pandering words, playing to an imagined gallery that
would see Jews as outside the mainstream, and giving thanks to that same mainstream for letting him, a Jew, run competitively for vice president.
I'm an immigrant, and Mr. Lieberman's spiel is as unappetizing to me as a cold chicken curry. I think Mr. Lieberman's a fraud. I think he's an unctuous and fulsome fraud. He's also a dangerous fraud, because he's taken everyone in, duped them into seeing him--Joe Chameleon--as a moral wind vane. He is, truly, a moral equivocator (to use a word employed by Frank Rich), a moral opportunist, a moral social-climber.
Looking back, I refuse to believe that his criticism of Bill Clinton at the time of the president's impeachment was anything other than opportunist. Mr. Lieberman's words then strike me now as having been made with an eye on the main chance. He knew that there would soon be a new dispensation in the Democratic Party--a new dispensation in America--and he was pinning his colors to a new flag. He wanted to be the first so that he could, later, be among the powerful. How else does one explain his failure to put his vote where his mouth was?
Contrast this with his vote against Clarence Thomas, on evidence that was substantially less compelling than the evidence against Mr. Clinton, and on the basis of charges that were far less severe. No, Mr. Lieberman wasn't really pained, or troubled, or horrified by the president's behavior. He was, in fact, energized by it. He saw his own future in Mr. Clinton's past.
Pretty harsh stuff. But the irony is that, eight years later, Lieberman needed Clinton to try to (unsuccessfully, as it turned out) to pull his feet out of the fire. And, he falls victim to the "outsider" forces in Democratic politics.
Technorati Tags: Democrats, Joe Lieberman, libertarian, primary
Wednesday, August 09, 2006
Yes, it it is subjective as to what is "only" a New York blog -- as opposed to one based here, but with a more global reach. But I did my best. Suggestions and clarifications are always welcome.
There are also a couple of additions, including listing the blogs of the New York Sun, Daily News and New York Times.
The name, of course, is to differentiate it from the pro-Spitzer Blog.
Yes, as noted below, welcome aboard, Jonathan Funke (who is not to be confused with the aforementioned Tom Elliott, AKA, "The Funky Pundit").
All these Caucasian boys that insist on bringing da funk! Who do they think they are -- Cynthia McKinney?
UPDATE: Due to unforeseen circumstances, Spitzer Blog II, has been taken offline.
They've managed to get it right twice in primaries this year.
Corrupt Republican running for lieutenant governor? A sick-to-its-stomach electorate ralphed that one up last month. Who knows? Perhaps Mr. Reed's political career will be, uh, "born again" at some point in the future -- though I wouldn't bet on it, given the serious reservations demonstrated by voters.
An obnoxious overbearing Democrat with a serious case of arrested development? Bye, bye, Cynthia -- again. This is the second time in four years -- maybe this time she'll get the message? Guess she'll really have a hard time going through the Capitol building after the current session is over. I mean, she won't even have a Member's pin or anything...
Technorati Tags: Democrats, Cynthia McKinney, Georgia, primary
The Jacob Javits "Center"?
Lieberman, ironically wants to launch a third party effort, because Tuesday's result is out of step from where he believes the political world is:
"I am, of course, disappointed by the results, but I am not discouraged," Lieberman said. "I'm disappointed not just because I lost but because the old politics of partisan polarization won today. For the sake of our state, our country and my party, I cannot and will not let that result stand."But is it possible that Lieberman is not merely out of step with his party, but with the political times as well?
As Brendan Miniter notes, the old politics is in fact the bipartisanship/ triangulation that reigned in the '90s:
Of course, this is President Bush's fault. In the past three election cycles--in 2000, 2002 and most notably for his re-election in 2004--the president put the Republicans on top by running a get-out-the-vote campaign. In 2004 Mr. Bush even managed to win with a record turnout, proving to both political parties that getting their voters to the polls was more important than winning over supporters of the other party. By freeing the parties from hunting for votes across the aisle, Mr. Bush has inadvertently increased both the power and the stature of the most active wings of the two parties. Ironically for Mr. Bush, the net result is the rise in recent years of antiwar activists on the left and anti-illegal-immigrant activists on the right--neither of which serves his political goals.So, actually, polarization is in. Indeed, Lieberman made something of a comeback in the late days of the campaign by emphasizing his differences with Bush -- as opposed to his agreements. However, returning to a "bipartisan" sensibility in the general election may backfire big-time. The Republicans may note how much of an old Democrat Lieberman really is -- and the Democrats may conclude that Lamont is the "real" Democrat now.
Nonetheless in the coming years we're likely to see more of the brand of politics practiced by the Club for Growth: political groups targeting members of their own party who stray too close to the political center. For the club that has meant funding conservative challengers to tax-hiking Republicans, such as Rhode Island's Sen. Lincoln Chafee. For Mr. Lieberman, it means facing a credible, self-financed antiwar candidate in Mr. Lamont.
Indeed, if anything, Lieberman's decision reminds this New Yorker of another venerable Jewish moderate senator who was rejected in an intense, bitter, primary, then ran on a third-party line -- only to lose in the general election as well.
The year was 1980 and the candidate was Jacob Javits -- a liberal Republican. He ended up losing a three-way race to Alfonse D'Amato -- who would most likely have lost to Democratic Party nominee Elizabeth Holztman were Javits not in the race to siphon off votes on the Liberal Party line.
What will happen in Connecticut?
Good question. Republican Alan Schlesinger -- a guy with serious gambling issues -- isn't exactly an ideal candidate, so it's unlikely that he will win on his own. But, the GOP certainly has to make a decision as to whether they should try to eke out a win or have their voters support Lieberman.
On the other hand, there's nothing to say that, with all Democratic organizational support in Connecticut now fully swinging over to Ned Lamont, it is quite possible that Lieberman might end up like Jacob Javits -- in third place.
(Another option -- that Connecticut Republicans convince Schlesinger to drop out and endorse Lieberman as their preferred candidate. During the primary campaign, Lieberman ruled out accepting the Republican endorsement. But now?)
As much as the incumbent senator believes in the concept of "Team Lieberman" to keep him in his seat, he should realize that 48 percent is his peak among Democrats. Many of those who voted for him in the primary may feel that he is nothing more than a, um, "Sore Loserman" and refuse to support him in general election.
Still even if he only gets 25-30 percent of Democrats, he may still be able to cobble together enough votes for a plurality.
Then again, perhaps Jacob Javits thought the same thing twenty-six years ago.
UPDATE: A veteran of New York state politics writes in:
Agreed, Robert, but there are differences. Javits had long been at war with the Conservatives and, after Jim Buckley lost in 1976, Javits' defeat was priority No. 1 for the Conservative Party. Javits was also very sick with ALS. Conservatives were energized with Reagan on the national ticket. Serious people were saying that Javits was finished long before the primary. Here, Lamont put together his own organization from scratch and came out of nowhere in the last month. Interestingly, I saw one item on NRO (I don't remember which) that pointed out that Lamont does not appear to have spent his money wastefully -- so perhaps he really is a competent businessman and was able to use some of those skills in running a campaign.UPDATE II: Since this is Kos' day to crow, let him chalk up the post-CT "winners & losers." I would also caution my conservative friends eager to mock the Kossacks for their lengthy (now-broken) losing endorsement losing streak. Don't forget a certain liberal loud-mouth who had a lengthy losing streak in managing campaigns until he broke through twenty years ago. A few years later, he managed to get Bill Clinton elected president.
It is very difficult to predict how the 11% that stayed with Javits [in the general election] would have split if they had to. NY Times polls had Holtzman up significantly on D'Amato and Javits running around 20%, while less crooked polls had D'Amato up narrowly but also Javits with 20%. So my recollection is that the Javits vote that melted away didn't go overwhelmingly to Holtzman. Even then, Holtzman's abrasive personality did not play well outside of the City.
The Republicans have themselves a first class mess in that their candidate, as you point out, is a disaster...Perhaps he and Jack Abramoff can compare notes on how to deal with Native Americans. Schlesinger has too big an ego to withdraw and it would be even worse if he did and the Republicans nominated Lieberman since Lieberman makes Lincoln Chafee look like Tom Coburn.
UPDATE III: My New York pal Jonathan Funke (can there be a cooler name?) on his recently revived blog, has a couple of insights on last night's events. Of particular note, is the slightly-overlooked loss (in comparison to the Lieberman and McKinney stories) of Michigan moderate Republican incumbent Rep. Joe Schwartz to state rep. Tim Walberg, who was backed by the Club for Growth. This could be evidence of a growing anti-incumbent wave -- which could adversely affect Republicans come November. At the same time, this also speaks to Brendan Miniter's point noted above: Right now, one wonders whether the center can hold. The bases of both parties seem intent on exerting greater ideological purity among party standard-bearers. (Corrected to reflect Schwartz's home state.)
UPDATE IV: If true, I can't imagine Lieberman seeing this as being helpful.
Technorati Tags: Democrats, Joe Lieberman, Iraq, Ned Lamont
Tuesday, August 08, 2006
This strikes me as being pretty accurate. Furthermore, I don't think this is a "too-cute-by-half" bit of advice that Scarborough is giving Democrats. He's been disgusted with the GOP Congress -- particularly on spending -- for some time. While supporting Bush on "War on Terror" grounds, he's irritated that the party has wandered away from its own philosophical moorings and has totally surrendered the concept of being the part of "reform."
"I spent most of 1994 fighting Republican bureaucrats on the local, state and federal level who did everything in their power to elect my very moderate opponent in the GOP primary. A week before the primary, the Republican Congressional Committee campaign director let me know that I might as well give up. 1994 would be the year of the Moderate.
"Within a few months of that conversation, scores of right-wing, knuckle-dragging, spear-carrying conservative barbarians like myself ran through our moderate Democratic opponents like Barry Bonds through a bottle of roids. It was ugly.
Darting to the base was the ticket to victory for the Party of Reagan.
"Fast forward twelve years and now we find many making the same misguided arguments, except this time they are giving their stupid advice to Democrats generally and Connecticut voters specifically.
"Ned Lamont may be a pencil-necked geek, as Imus claims, but he is the type of candidate that will bring out the Democratic base in an off-year election. That is especially true this year because George W. Bush is even more unpopular than Clinton was when the GOP swept into power.
"My advice to Democratic voters this year is 'Go left, young man!'
"There may be hell to pay in 2008, but for now the only thing that should matter to you is seizing control of Congress. Do that for the first time in a decade and then you can start worrying about swing voters in the suburbs."
He may well want to see Republicans get a good spanking this time around.
Regardless, his viewpoint strengthens my gut feeling of why why a Lieberman loss could well augur a GOP headache a couple of months from now.
Technorati Tags: Democrats, Joe Lieberman, Joe Scarborough
More Hard-Core Sh*!
I mean with lyrics like, "High tea in the parlour/Makes the ladies hollah" and "Our homies in lock for insider-tradin'", how can you resist?
Technorati Tags: You Tube, prep, tea partay
Et Tu, TNR Readers?
There could hardly be a more pro-Lieberman periodical than TNR. The magazine was an early -- and lonely endorsee of his presidential campaign in 2004. Former editor Peter Beinart wrote a strongly-impassioned article of support earlier this week (subscription required).
Yet, apparently, to no avail.
Despite the editors of the magazine, New Republic readers (at least the ones who took the time to respond to the survey) apparently dislike Lieberman with the same intensity as the Daily Kos "net-roots" folks:
In general, variants on the word "enable" dominate the Lieberman discourse. "When Lieberman compromises on drastic regressive changes to our system he is not a moderate," says gibsonp. "He becomes an enabler of right wing extremists." georgiepowl agrees: "[Lieberman] is a Bush-enabler. He hasn't stood against Bush on anything important in six years." MDWooldridge puts it most concisely: "Lieberman=Cheney Enabler."If, indeed, Ned Lamont upsets Joe Lieberman, the hole it will illustrate within the formal Democratic Party will be only marginally more interesting than the one it will expose between the more traditional liberal punditocracy and the rising Lefty blogger class.
Other complaints arise, too. Many center on Lieberman's pledge to run as an independent should he lose the primary. "I don't like to all out campaign against Lieberman in the Blogosphere," avers webbhaymaker, "but when Lieberman declared that he would run as an independent ... I lost my respect for him." Reader hustveit agrees: "The independent-candidacy was the real corker for me; not only a really risky move for this reliably blue-state but strategically it was foolish beyond words." And gea1434 feels Lieberman's been irritating for years, but his "vow to run as an independent was only the last straw. I mean, if your problem is your standing with Democratic base voters, do you really think it's a good idea to vow that you don't give a hoot about the primary results?"
Technorati Tags: Democrats, Joe Lieberman, liberals, primary
Monday, August 07, 2006
More Than Just A Cup A Joe?
While the primary certainly has implications for Democrats, it might raise more problems for the GOP than one might think.
Consider that Saturday's W. Post also carried a story discussing how much Republicans are running from Bush.
Running from the incumbent president was one of the major signals in '94 that the coming election was going to be a difficult one for Democrats.
And it's not just on domestic issues.
These Republicans have hardly broken with Bush. Talent and Kennedy, after all, have invited him into their states this year to help raise hundreds of thousands of dollars for their campaigns. But their tactics are representative of the diverse ways, large and small, that Republican candidates are trying to put distance between themselves and the president and his most unpopular policies.If Lieberman does indeed lose on Tuesday, this race may turn out to be the campaign that opens up the floodgates for criticism -- not of the Iraq War, per se -- but those who have given Bush something of a free pass on the handling of the war.
Last week, Maryland GOP Senate candidate Michael S. Steele caused a tempest with his comments knocking Bush for the Iraq war and the administration's handling of Hurricane Katrina.
The contrast could hardly be sharper from the last two election cycles, when most Republican candidates were happy to be identified with Bush, confident that his popularity with conservatives would boost their own prospects. This year more closely resembles 1994, the last time a party's president and congressional leadership were simultaneously held in such low regard. Voters that year evicted Democrats from their 40-year control of the House.
That includes a whole lot of Republicans. Congress is supposed to be an independent and co-equal branch of government with the presidency/executive.
The GOP-led Congress, so interested in "oversight" when Bill Clinton was in office has completely, as the saying goes, "lost the plot" with the Bush administration.
Don't be surprised if a Lieberman loss emboldens Democrats -- but also scares Republicans across the country too.
Technorati Tags: Democrats, Joe Lieberman, Iraq
Some Thoughts from Canton...
Over on my blog, I posted some thoughts on this past weekend's NFL Hall of Fame induction ceremony.
As for the Hall of Fame Game, the Raiders were awful, even though they beat the Eagles 16-10. The Raiders starting defense looked invisible, as the Eagles starting offense moved the ball down the field with ease. The Raiders starting offense was exactly that: offensive.
I just wonder if Sebastian Janikowski can kick 70 yard field goals, because the Raiders might need a lot of them this year.
Technorati Tags: Oakland Raiders, Philadelphia Eagles, NFL
Ney Says Nay
Don't think that fellow Abramoff-implicateee Ralph Reed's loss in the Georgia lieutenant governor primary didn't have some impact on Ney's decision.
Technorati Tags: Republicans, culture of corruption, Bob Ney, Jack Abramoff
Back In The U.S.A.
Much thanks to Mark and Ed for their provocative (to say the least) posts over the last week. I've asked them to drop a post or two here today if they so wish, while I work on getting rid of (dim) sum jet lag!
Good to be back!