The Beltway Bandit

An online journal of politics, culture, and sports

Saturday, September 27, 2003

TOO COWARDLY TO ANSWER -- Secretary of State Colin Powell is usually thought of as a honest and decent man. Politically, at least, it must be said that he cannot no longer be called either. Recently, he met with the editors of the New York Times to discuss Iraq. The meeting did not go well and was very brief.
Americans and others in the world are glad that Mr. Hussein has been removed from power. If Iraq can be turned into a freer and happier country in coming years, it could become a focal point for the evolution of a more peaceful and democratic Middle East. But it was the fear of weapons of mass destruction placed in the hands of enemy terrorists that made doing something about Iraq seem urgent. If it had seemed unlikely that Mr. Hussein had them, we doubt that Congress or the American people would have endorsed the war.

This is clearly an uncomfortable question for the Bush administration. Yesterday, Secretary of State Colin Powell met with Times editors. Asked whether Americans would have supported this war if weapons of mass destruction had not been at issue, Mr. Powell said the question was too hypothetical to answer. Asked if he, personally, would have supported it, he smiled, thrust his hand out and said, "It was good to meet you."
It's a fair question. Claerly, this administration is no longer prepared to answer fair questions.

Friday, September 26, 2003

KERRY CONDEMNS GOP T-SHIRTS -- Senator John Kerry [D-MA] has sent an e-mail condemning racist, homophobic, and offensive messages on t-shirts sold at a Republican convention.
"I need you to join me in showing we reject the divisive politics some in the GOP are passing on to a new generation of Republicans," Kerry wrote in the e-mail Thursday, also posted on his campaign Web site.

The e-mail includes a photo of the shirts. One says, "No Muslims No Terrorism." Another has a photo of black filmmaker Spike Lee and the message, "Bring back the blacklist." A third shows a photo of lesbian TV personality Rosie O'Donnell and her partner with the line "Mr. (?) and Mrs. (?) Rosie O'Donnell." Another says, "The Clinton Legacy" and shows the World Trade Center after a plane crashed into it.

Kerry's e-mail said the T-shirts, from a company called Ocents, were displayed and sold at the College Republicans National Convention in Washington in July.
This sort of thing is typical of the Republican party. They don't want to scare the soccer moms in suburbia by endorsing this sort of bigotry, but it is encouraged with a wink-and-nod [and sometimes more than that] so the slime of America know the good ol' GOP is on their side.

ARIZONA BUSHFIRE -- A new poll reveals that just one-third of Arizonans want Mr Bush to serve a second term in the White House, with 44% opposing him. The rest are undecided. This is significant news, as Arizona is a state Mr Bush actually won legally in 2000, beating Al Gore by six percentage points. Right now, early as it is, the state seems very winnable for any plausible Democratic candidate for president. More bad news for Mr Bush. More good news for the human race.

ROBERT PALMER IS DEAD -- The British pop singer died last night in Paris, France of an apparent heart attack at the age of 54. [Thanks to Adriana for the tip.]

THREE DIFFERENT ANSWERS ON IRAQ AND WMD
On 2/23/01 and 2/24/01 Secretary of State Colin Powell said, "I think we ought to declare [the containment policy] a success. We have kept [Saddam] contained, kept him in his box....he has not developed any significant capability with respect to weapons of mass destruction.. He is unable to project conventional power against his neighbors... He threatens not the United States." When asked on 9/25/03 why the Administration said Iraq was an imminent threat in light of these previous statements, Powell, National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice, and President Bush gave three separate answers.

BUSH CITES 9/11 AND "CHANGED CALCULATIONS"

"Yes, the Secretary of State said the same thing, as well, that Saddam was a threat. Nine-eleven changed my calculation. It made it really clear we have to deal with threats before they come on our shore. You know, for a long period of time we thought oceans could protect us from danger, and we learned a tough lesson on September the 11th. It's really important for this nation to continue to chase down and deal with threats before they materialize, and we learned that on September the 11th." -
Bush 9/25/03
Source: http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2003/09/20030925-8.html

CONDI CITES "NEW INFORMATION," ADMITS POWELL WAS RIGHT

SAWYER: A quote - Feb. 24, 2001, from Secretary Powell. He says that Saddam Hussein has not developed any significant capability with respect to weapons of mass destruction. Was he wrong then?
RICE: As this story unfolded and you'll notice that's very early in the administration, we began to get important reporting, for instance, on the fact that in 1998 Saddam Hussein was diverting maybe $500 million in illegal funds from oil revenue by the period of 2002, not - $3 billion in illegal revenue. Yes, the story unfolded. The intelligence estimate on which the president acted said that Saddam Hussein had chemical, biological weapons and was pursuing nuclear weapons, and if left unchecked on the nuclear front, would have them by the end of the decade. That's the report on which he acted.
SAWYER: I didn't think I was going to get you to say the secretary was wrong. Not surprised.
RICE: No, he was not.
SOURCE: http://www.abcnews.go.com/sections/GMA/Politics/GMA030925RiceIntvu.html

POWELL FLATLY DENIES PREVIOUS COMMENTS

Powell claimed on 9/25/03 "I did not say [Saddam Hussein] didn't have weapons of mass destruction" even though on 2/24/03 he said "[Saddam] has not developed any significant capability with respect to weapons of mass destruction."'

Thursday, September 25, 2003

TRIUMPH OF THE PHONIES -- What with the creation of this phoney "jobs czar" by Mr Bush to oversee development of a pro-employment strategy for the administration [one job created already!], look forward to more empty gestures on this subject. Mr Bush's handlers are keen to present him as someone very interested in the the health of the economy and full employment. The "jobs czar" is one jab in that direction. Another is picking a fight with China over currency devaluation--something dear to the heart of U.S. manufacturers. But none of it means anything. This administration has no real or substantive plans to increase employment and doesn't even have an idea about how to start on something like that.

It reminds me of an exchange from the old "Yes, Prime Minister" television show which aired on BBC-TV back in the 1980s. The Prime Minister is working on a scheme to improve employment in depressed northern England and two senior civil servants are discussing the scheme at lunch:
Sir Arnold: "I presume the Prime Minister is in favour of this scheme because it will reduce unemployment?"
Sir Humphrey: "Well, it looks as if he's reducing unemployment."
Sir Arnold: "Or looks as if he's trying to reduce unemployment."
Sir Humphrey: "While as in reality he's only trying to look as if he's trying to reduce unemployment."
Sir Arnold: "Yes, because he's worried that it does not look as if he's trying to look as if he's trying to reduce unemployment."
That is this administration to a tee. Mr Bush has no plans to reduce unemployment. No ideas. No schemes. Nothing. All he has is a plan to look as if he's trying to reduce unemployment. Just as all he has is a plan to look as if he's trying to battle terrorism. It's the triumph of the phonies.

HOW NOT TO WIN FRIENDS... -- and influence people. All good Americans want freedom in Iraq and everywhere else. Iraqis want freedom, too--including freedom from the violent anarchy they are now enduring. Mr Bush's speech to the United Nations on September 23 was, as I've discussed below, a dud for numerous reasons. One reason is that he just didn't know his audience well and tailor his argument to them. As I've also noted below, that's largely because his speech was written for a domestic audience, not a foreign one. And therein, argues Businesweek, lies the trouble.
Still, unilateralism and self-righteousness about America's way of life isn't the way to win friends and influence people. The White House may get a new U.N. resolution because France has now stated it doesn't want to veto it. That's not the same as getting the troops and cash Washington is seeking, however. Countries remain either unwilling or unable to make the kinds of contributions the U.S. needs. And Bush's speech isn't likely to change that.
A U.N. resolution will be cold comfort to American taxpayers who are being fleeced to prop up Mr Bush's Iraq experiment and the families of all the American soldiers who have died--and have yet to die--in Iraq.

FRAUD, BUSH-STYLE -- Senator Edward Kennedy [D-MA] has pretty much accused the Bush regime of making a fraudulent case for the Iraq War. An accurate accusation, of course, but one that drew predictable and contemptible fire from Bush partisans in the right-wing media and Rep. Tom DeLay [R-TX]. However, as Tom Oliphant points out in the Boston Globe, "fraud" is the perfect word to describe the Bush regime's case for war against Iraq.
As for the war itself, consider the facts again. The president chose March 20 as an invasion date arbitrarily, not for any reasons involving a threat to our nation that demanded an attack then, much less an attack with only Britain as a major ally. Just as arbitrarily, he chose to justify the date on the basis of supposed threats from Iraq's alleged weapons of mass destruction and "ties" to the terrorists who attacked the United States two years ago.

As the facts have unfolded in ways that make these claims, shall we say, spurious, other justifications have emerged after the fact (transforming the entire Middle East, stopping a human rights violator from his murderous ways). This is the substitution of one bill of goods with another bill of goods. The old bait-and-switch is one of the classic elements of what is called fraud with legal precision.

And lest anyone be shocked at the suggestion by Kennedy that politics was involved in all this, I invite a reading of White House guru Karl Rove's intemperate speech to the Republican National Committee early in 2002 and the subsequent use of "national security" and morphed images of Saddam Hussein to question the loyalty of Democrats in that year's ugly congressional campaigns.

Such political habits die hard -- hence Tom DeLay's reaction to Kennedy, accusing him of attacking Bush with more verve than he ever used against Saddam Hussein, or Attorney General Ashcroft's repeated equation of opposition to the Patriot Act with subversion.

Like nearly all Democrats, Kennedy is prepared to support more money for Iraq, possibly even to support something like the $87 billion Bush has requested.

The essential precondition for all this money, however, is the truth. Kennedy raised a lot of eyebrows with some tough language, but unlike the president he had the facts behind him.
What the country needs are more Democrats [and anyone else who cares to join in] speaking plainly and bluntly and bravely about the lies of frauds of the Bush regime. Once again, Senator Kennedy has done his country a service. Let's hope his fellow Democrats were paying attention.

THE POST RE-DISCOVERS JOURNALISM -- Those of us who read The Washington Post every day [whether we want to or not] have noticed a distinct change in the newspaper's coverage of Iraq and terrorism. From September 2001 until almost June 2003, the newspaper's coverage [and editorial pages] were marked largely by an almost slavish loyalty to the goals of the Bush regime and a seeming unwillingness to prominently display stories that threw significant doubt upon Mr Bush's "evidence" of WMD against Iraq. In early 2003, as the Bush regime was preparing for its inevitable invasion of Iraq, the Post buried a number of stories about the unreliability of the Bush regime's "evidence" against Saddam Hussein deep inside the paper where they were unlikely to receive much attention. Then, on May 29, 2003, that editorial decision seemed to change and the Post began to put stories filled with information that contradicted the Bush regime's Iraq policy on the front page. It was a remarkable change for The Post, but one still denied by the paper's leadership, even as it is acknowledged by Post insiders.
The Post's sluggish start, followed by its abrupt shift into high gear, was not lost on readers--including its own ombudsman. "There was a disconcerting pattern of underplayed or missed stories that were not up to the coverage that followed during and after the war," says Michael Getler, who's written critically of his paper's prewar failure to acknowledge dissenting voices.

Post executive editor Leonard Downie Jr. denies any such transformation, saying "nothing is done differently now than before." But Getler, and other Post insiders, disagree. Getler says the Post, like the rest of the press (but with a more significant impact, since it is the most closely watched barometer of the politics and mood in Washington), failed to capture adequately the transition from Osama and Afghanistan to Saddam and Iraq, a move that drastically increased dissent across the globe. "The Post is not biased," Getler says, "but in the summer of 2002 up through [the start of war in Iraq], they were not alert enough, early enough, to dissenting voices."

Downie attempts to justify the paper's prewar shortcomings on the grounds of lack of sufficient clarity and resources. "We had so much to report on all at once in the buildup to war," he says. "Now, we have an ability to focus on fewer issues because many prewar issues [such as military deployments, UN resolutions, etc.] are no longer timely." But these comments betray the work of his own national security reporters. They had the goods, but the Post editors chose not to display them.

Pincus, 70, who honed his skills and skepticism during his years reporting on Watergate and Iran/contra, blames a pack mentality and desire to please for the decision to bury his stories before the war began. "The Post was scared," Pincus says. "I believe papers ought to crusade when we're on to something." Later, he says, when things started going badly, editors were more willing to print pieces critical of the Administration. "This is a country in which it doesn't matter what you say if you succeed," he says. "But if you fail, people go back and look at why."

On August 10, Pincus and reporter Barton Gellman wrote a 5,663-word front-page report that will likely be considered the magnum opus of the intelligence fiasco, "Depiction of Threat Outgrew Supporting Evidence." In painstaking detail they summarized and revealed how Bush, Cheney et al. "made allegations depicting Iraq's nuclear weapons program as more active, more certain and more imminent in its threat than the data they had would support." Pincus says the attention focused on the article, and the dozens preceding it, show the impact a Post story can have once it hits the front page.
One day, I hope, the story of The Post's cooperation with the Bush regime [and the specific parts played by Mr Downie and Editorial Page Editor Fred Hiatt in the cooperation] will be told in toto by a paper insider. The Post's shameful non-coverage of Iraq in 2002 and the early part of 2003 infuriated its readership and led to some dissent within the paper itself. Why did this happen and how did it come about? And what part did the politics of Mr Downie and Mr Hiatt play in the decision to cooperate with the Bush regime's invasion of Iraq? I'm pretty sure I'm not the only person who would like some answers to those questions. For years I've known The Post does not deserve its reputation as a liberal newspaper; it is, in fact, a mostly-moderate conservative paper. Nevertheless, I was surprised by its disgraceful cooperartion with the Bush regime. I, for one, can never think of The Post as I once did. I just don't trust the paper the way I did before.

A REAL JOBS PLAN -- The New Republic is impressed with the first substantive domestic policy plan presented by the campaign of General Wesley Clark.
Clark proposes to scale back $100 billion in upper-income tax cuts over the next two years. He would devote that money to: homeland security, easing the fiscal predicament in the states, and offering a tax credit for businesses who hire new workers. The first two positions are very solid. The third is hard to judge--one tax expert told me it all depended on the details of how the credit is designed.

The most important thing to come out of Clark's speech is that it demonstrates his commitment to Clinton-esque economic policies. After all, if there's one thing Clinton did well, it was devise progressive, politically salable policies to promote growth. Clark's position paper also mentions that he supports free trade--an issue he had not previously addressed. This speech augers very well for Clark's ability to craft strong domestic policy positions.
Indeed. The unemployment rate and our jobless "recovery" are areas of major political weakness and embarrassment for the Bush regime and any Democrat worthy of the nomination will make the pain felt by the middle class and working poor [and solutions to that pain] a centerpiece of his or her campaign.

NEW POLL HAS BUSH BELOW 50% -- A new NBC/Wall Street Journal poll reveals Mr Bush with support of less than 50% of the electorate. This is certainly not fatal for Mr Bush's re-election prospects. Bill Clinton, for example, polled much lower than 49% at times during his first term. What's interesting about the spate of new polls that are negative for Mr Bush is that they reveal his support to almost be in a free-fall, with massive drops from his immediate post-war highs in the 70s. Of course, those post-war numbers were illusory and unsustainable, but these new polls show that his support has dropped below his normal level [when the nation is not at war] of around the mid-50s to around 50 percent overall. And the problem is that the public does not trust that Mr Bush knows what he is doing in Iraq or the economy.

There is a fundamental concern in the populace about how things are going economically and in Iraq and a belief that the Bush regime does not have any plans for either of these problems. Meanwhile, the failure to find WMD in Iraq and the belated admissions from the administration that Saddam Hussein had nothing to do with the attacks of September 11, 2001, has called the Bush regime's credibility into question. [Long after it should have been called into question, of course, but that's another matter.] With his policies in shambles and his credibility in question, even some members of the mainstream media have begun to take notice of public criticism of Mr Bush and his administration. The Democrats, shamefully complicit in too many of Mr Bush's atrocioius decisions, have found their spines and are routinely heaping abuse on members of the administration, such as Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz or Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, who dare to appear on Capitol Hill. And even some members of the Republican party on the Hill have begun to question the administration, especially in regard to the cost of policing and reconstructing Iraq.

It appears to me that these new, low poll numbers for Mr Bush are not a mere bump in the road to his re-election, but a serious problem for his administration--one they will be grappling with until November 2, 2004.

BUBBLE BOY IN THE WEST WING -- The New York Times worries that Mr Bush, a man utterly lacking in intellectual curiousity, has completely closed himself off from criticism and independent news sources. Welcome to the party, Gray Lady. Some of us have known about this for years.

KAY REPORT: ANOTHER DUD -- After promising for months that the report from right-wing Bush loyalist David Kay would prove the existence of a massive Iraq WMD program, officials are now conceding that David Kay will report finding no WMD in Iraq.
An early draft of an interim report by the American leading the hunt for banned weapons in Iraq says his team has not found any of the unconventional weapons cited by the Bush administration as a principal reason for going to war, federal officials with knowledge of the findings said today.

The long-awaited report by David Kay, the former United Nations weapons inspector who has been leading the American search for illicit weapons, will be the first public assessment of progress in that search since President Bush declared an end to major combat on May 1.

Mr. Kay's team has spent nearly four months searching suspected sites and interviewing Iraqi scientists believed to have knowledge about the country's nuclear, biological and chemical weapons programs.

The officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said that Mr. Kay and his team had not found illicit weapons.
Expect this dismal finding by the Bush regime to be countered by unsubstantiated assertions from the administration and its servants in the right-wing media that "the stuff is out there somewhere" and that "weapons programs" existed in Iraq. It's important to recall that the Bush regime and British Prime Minister Tony Blair did not promise us evidence that Saddam Hussein had once possessed chemical weapons [we all knew that already], but that Iraq still possessed those weapons on the eve of the Iraq War and that Saddam had the capability to deliver those weapons to almost any target in the world. That is what the Bush regime told the world and that was the justification for going to war. Remember that.

IT'S ALL ABOUT RE-ELECTION -- If you thought Mr Bush's speech to the United Nations was pitiful--and it appears many Americans did [the ones who took any notice at all]--there might be a reason. Mr Bush's speech contained so little useful detail and did so little to encourage international cooperation on Iraq, that it left many baffled. Why, when it is so clear that the Bush regime needs all the help it can get in Iraq and that such help is urgently desired by the administration, did Mr Bush make such a weak pitch for such assistance. The reason, as is normal with this administration, had everything to do with domestic politics.
Bush's rhetorical maneuvering room was limited in other ways. Faced with the worst approval ratings of his presidency, Bush designed his speech to appeal to a domestic audience. But the president's conservative base, long skeptical of the United Nations, would not approve of an explicit acknowledgment of a broad U.N. role in Iraq. Bush limited his comments on potential U.N. aid to programs that bring broad bipartisan support, such as UNICEF and the World Food Program.
The view around the world appears to be that Mr Bush brought this disaster on himself and deserves to pay the price for it. Absent a real committment from the Bush regime to internationalize control of Iraq before turning it over to a truly representative government, the rest of the planet appears content to allow Mr Bush to burn in a bonfire of his own making. Hard to blame them, really.

OUR SOLDIERS BECOMING "FRANTIC" -- There is no plan for Iraq, that much is clear. It is especially clear to our soldiers in that country, some of whom are increasingly desperate about their mission.
We are slowly becoming frantic. I hear people saying they are going to begin hurting themselves or others if they can't go home. The helplessness our soldiers are feeling is indescribable, it is past the point of "suck it up and drive on." We just want somewhere to drive on to.
Don't ask Washington. The chickenhawks who got us into this mess have not the slightest idea how to get us out.

NON-STOP FAILURE -- The Bush regime told us repeatedly that Iraq would be able to pay for its own reconstruction. That, of course, was yet another lie. But before reconstruction can even begin to take place, the country must be policed and order restored--something the Bush regime has failed to do. Desperate for help from an international community it has previously scorned, the Bush regime has been making the rounds, seeking troops and money to lighten the American burden in Iraq. No such luck.
Bush's failure to win a promise of fresh soldiers in meetings with the leaders of India and Pakistan -- aides said the president did not even ask -- increased the difficulty the United States will have in assembling another division of foreign troops in Iraq, which senior Pentagon officials say is the minimum needed to relieve overstretched U.S. forces.

In testimony on Capitol Hill today, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said, "We're not going to get a lot of international troops with or without a U.N. resolution. I think somewhere between zero and 10,000 or 15,000 is probably the ballpark."

And Peter Pace, the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, warned that more National Guard and Reserve forces could be activated if the third foreign division -- 15,000 to 20,000 troops -- is not secured within the next six weeks.
Iraq is Mr Bush's tar baby and it will sink his administration. Let us hope for all of our sakes, that it does not sink the rest of us, as well.

Wednesday, September 24, 2003

DAILY DOONESBURY -- Making Iraq more jihad-friendly.

MAX CLELAND ON THE NEW VIETNAM --
The president of the United States decides to go to war against a nation led by a brutal dictator supported by one-party rule. That dictator has made war on his neighbors. The president decides this is a threat to the United States.

In his campaign for president he gives no indication of wanting to go to war. In fact, he decries the overextension of American military might and says other nations must do more. However, unbeknownst to the American public, the president's own Pentagon advisers have already cooked up a plan to go to war. All they are looking for is an excuse.

Based on faulty intelligence, cherry-picked information is fed to Congress and the American people. The president goes on national television to make the case for war, using as part of the rationale an incident that never happened. Congress buys the bait -- hook, line and sinker -- and passes a resolution giving the president the authority to use "all necessary means" to prosecute the war.

The war is started with an air and ground attack. Initially there is optimism. The president says we are winning. The cocky, self-assured secretary of defense says we are winning. As a matter of fact, the secretary of defense promises the troops will be home soon.

However, the truth on the ground that the soldiers face in the war is different than the political policy that sent them there. They face increased opposition from a determined enemy. They are surprised by terrorist attacks, village assassinations, increasing casualties and growing anti-American sentiment. They find themselves bogged down in a guerrilla land war, unable to move forward and unable to disengage because there are no allies to turn the war over to.

There is no plan B. There is no exit strategy. Military morale declines. The president's popularity sinks and the American people are increasingly frustrated by the cost of blood and treasure poured into a never-ending war.

Sound familiar? It does to me.

The president was Lyndon Johnson.
That was then. This is now.

IRAQIS: NO TO SADDAM AND BUSH -- The Bush regime and its servants in the right wing media are very proud that a new poll reveals two-thirds of Iraqis believe the removal of Saddam Hussein is a good thing. No doubt. Actually, I'm surprised it isn't a bit higher than that. After all, the man was a savage Stalinist dictator who tortured his country for 30 years. What's more interesting to me is how that same poll reveals something the Bush regime would not want discussed. The poll showed that
Iraqis in the capital still maintained a great deal of skepticism about the motives of the United States and Britain, and residents said they held France and its president, Jacques Chirac, in higher regard than President Bush and Prime Minister Tony Blair, who supported the American military action.

Chirac's favorability rating was 42 percent to Bush's 29 percent and Blair's 20 percent.

The poll results also showed that Baghdad residents were nearly evenly divided on whether the American-British occupation authority headed by L. Paul Bremer was doing a good job running the country, with 28 percent giving it a positive rating and 25 percent saying it was doing a poor job...
This is pretty much what I expected. Of course Iraqis are happy Saddam is gone. Who isn't? It's everything after that which has been a colossal cock-up. The Iraqis know how bad it is now, but without a greater knowledge of the self-interest and mendacity rampant in the Bush regime, they have no idea how bad it could [and probably will] be.

ANOTHER DISGRACE IN IRAQ -- Via The Agonist, we learn of a lawsuit alleging the involvement of a major U.S. defense contractor in Iraq and elsewhere in the international sex trade.
Middle-aged men having sex with 12- to 15-year-olds was too much for Ben Johnston, a hulking 6-foot-5-inch Texan, and more than a year ago he blew the whistle on his employer, DynCorp, a U.S. contracting company doing business in Bosnia.

According to the Racketeer Influenced Corrupt Organization Act (RICO) lawsuit filed in Texas on behalf of the former DynCorp aircraft mechanic, "in the latter part of 1999 Johnston learned that employees and supervisors from DynCorp were engaging in perverse, illegal and inhumane behavior [and] were purchasing illegal weapons, women, forged passports and [participating in] other immoral acts. Johnston witnessed coworkers and supervisors literally buying and selling women for their own personal enjoyment, and employees would brag about the various ages and talents of the individual slaves they had purchased."

Rather than acknowledge and reward Johnston's effort to get this behavior stopped, DynCorp fired him, forcing him into protective custody by the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Division (CID) until the investigators could get him safely out of Kosovo and returned to the United States. That departure from the war-torn country was a far cry from what Johnston imagined a year earlier when he arrived in Bosnia to begin a three-year U.S. Air Force contract with DynCorp as an aircraft-maintenance technician for Apache and Blackhawk helicopters.
You will recall that Mr Bush mentioned his desire to destroy the international sex trade in his speech to the United Nations General Assembly yesterday. We'll see how much he really cares.

THINGS ARE GOING SO WELL IN IRAQ... -- that the Bush regime will soon be forced to call up thousands of reservists to serve in that country.
Marine Corps Gen. Peter Pace, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said more reservists could be called upon if other countries do not soon pledge thousands more troops to form a third multinational division in Iraq.
Yeah, after that pugnacious and belligerent speech at the United Nations yesterday, I'm sure the rest of the world will be falling all over itself to bail us out in Iraq.

ANTI-BUSH VOTE GROWS -- According to a new poll from the American Research Group, more Americans disapprove of how George W Bush is doing his job than approve.
George W. Bush's job approval ratings have dropped to the lowest of his presidency according to the latest survey by the American Research Group. Among all Americans, 47% say they approve of the way Bush is handling his job and 48% disapprove. The percentage of Americans saying that they disapprove of the way Bush is handling his job has doubled since May. When it comes to Bush's handling of the economy, 45% of Americans say they approve and 52% say they disapprove. Bush received his highest job approval ratings in October 2001 when 89% of Americans approved of the way he was handling his job (8% disapproved) and 73% approved of the way he was handling the economy (11% disapproved).

Among Americans registered to vote, 45% approve of the way Bush is handling his job as president and 51% disapprove. As for Bush's handling of the economy, 45% of registered voters approve and 53% disapprove.

When it comes to the economy, 40% of Americans rate the national economy as very good or good and 59% rate the national economy as bad, very bad, or terrible.
Once again: Bad news for him. Great news for the rest of the planet.

JOBS FOR THE BOYS. THEIR BOYS -- Worried that the country's lackluster economy and jobless "recovery" [can it really be called a recovery if it doesn't create jobs?] are increasing the likelihood that many of them will be out of jobs themselves, Republicans are unveiling a jobs-creating economic package in Congress this week. And it is just what you might suspect.
Instead of coming up with fresh legislation, the package strives to tie together a litany of bills that have either been plodding their way through the legislative process or have stalled altogether.

Still, the initiative, while largely cosmetic, could give the majority party a politically helpful aura of fresh leadership on a major domestic issue.

By renewing the push for these bills as part of a jobs package, Senate Republicans will accomplish two major goals: Giving their agenda a kick as the session nears its close, with mid-to-late November still a target date and addressing what is now a top concern for voters and lawmakers facing reelection, the high unemployment rate.
In other words, it is not your job or my job they're worried about, it is their own jobs. This is a jobs-for-right-wing-Republican-members-of-Congress-worried-about-re-election-and-wishing-to-look-as-if-they-give-a-crap-about-the-average-American package.

Glad we got that straight.

SUPER GENIUS -- A Swedish man tried to smuggle exotic and dangerous snakes through Australian customs by strapping the animals to his legs. No, really.

AMERICANS DOWN ON IRAQ WAR -- Americans are increasingly doubtful of Mr Bush's motivations in going to war against Iraq, his plans for mastering the post-war situation, and the resources demanded of the United States to win the peace., according to a new Gallup poll released September 23, 2003.
A new CNN/USA Today/Gallup Poll finds continuing erosion of public support for the U.S. intervention in Iraq, to the point that Americans are now about evenly divided over whether the Iraq situation was worth going to war over. Americans are also divided in their evaluations of the job George W. Bush is doing as president. According to the Sept. 19-21 survey, just 50% of Americans today believe that the situation in Iraq was worth going to war over; 48% disagree. Just 50% approve of the Bush's overall job performance; 47% disapprove.

Support for the Iraq mission has contracted since late August when 63% felt it was worth the military effort mounted by the United States. That figure fell to 58% in early September before tumbling to 50% in the latest poll. Today's figure is much lower than the high point of 76% registered on this in April when major combat was still underway. But it is not too different from the level of public support found in January, several months before the war started.
Support for the war has dropped most drastically among young men and, to a lesser extent, older men. Now, men and women support and oppose Mr Bush's Iraq policy in roughly equal proportions.

Tuesday, September 23, 2003

LEAVING THE COUNTRY -- The Dixie Chicks told a London audience last year that they were embarrassed to be from the same state, Texas, as George W Bush. They were called traitors and worse by the community of country music fans and artists. Country radio stations banned their music from the airwaves in a throwback to the blacklisting of the 1950s. Now, the Chicks are striking back. They no longer consider themselves country music artists, but part of the rock and roll scene. Welcome to your new home, Chicks. You were too good for that other bunch anyway.

TO BE OR NOT TO BE -- The Bush regime placed reliable neocon David Kay in charge of producing a report that would "prove" Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction, irregardless of the evidence. Even that does not seem to be working, as Joshua Micah Marshall demonstrates:
David Kay is in charge of our effort now, with some 1,500 inspectors and analysts and experts. He will provide an interim report later this month, and I am confident when people see what David Kay puts forward they will see that there was no question that such weapons exist, existed, and so did the programs to develop one.
--Colin Powell, Meet The Press, September 7th, 2003

David Kay is not going to be done with this for quite some time. And I would not count on reports. I suppose there may be interim reports. I don't know when those will be, and I don't know what the public nature of them will be.
--Condi Rice, Press Briefing, September 22nd, 2003
And still more blood falls into the water. But will the mainstream media continue to ignore the smell of it?

DEMS WANT HEARINGS ON HALLIBURTON CONTRACTS -- Finally flexing their partisan muscles and asking all the questions that should have been asked much sooner, Senate Democrats today demanded hearings on the subject of no-bid contracts in Iraq being handed out to corprorate friends of the Bush regime. A letter from Senators Frank Lautenberg [D-NJ] and Joseph Lieberman [D-CT] to Senate Government Oversight Committee Chair Susan Collins accuses the Bush regime of handing out billions of dollars in no-bid contracts to companies like Halliburton--Dick Cheney's old firm.
Among the contracts awarded to Halliburton is one from the US Army Corps of Engineers to rehabilitate Iraq's oil fields which has ballooned to some 1.25 billion dollars, up from 700 million dollars just a few weeks ago, wrote Lautenberg and Lieberman, top Democrat on the Committee and a candidate for the White House.

The rapidly rising costs are particular troublesome as White House seeks tens of billions of dollars from Congress for Iraq's continued reconstruction, the lawmakers said, because the closed-door bidding process encourages "favoritism and collusion."

"Halliburton billed the American people 300 million dollars over one weekend," said Lautenberg, a New Jersey Democrat, in a separate statement.
Smells like an election issue to me.

IRAQ WAR EVEN MORE COSTLY THAN YOU THOUGHT -- The House Democrats on the Budget Committee released a report today detailing that the Iraq War and occupation could cost the nation "more than $400 billion if U.S. troops have to stay in the country for years to come."

SOLDIERS IN IRAQ UNIMPRESSED BY U.N. SPEECH -- The American soldiers in Iraq were left somewhat underwhelmed by Mr Bush's speech to the United Nations today.
"I wasn't particularly impressed with anything he came up with," said Staff Sergeant Jason Dungan of the U.S. Army's 4th Infantry Division, based in deposed Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein's hometown of Tikrit.

"He just brought up some old issues."

Addressing the U.N. General Assembly, Bush said evidence of Saddam's brutality uncovered after the U.S.-led war had justified the invasion, which was not sanctioned by the United Nations.

Bush called on the world to work together to rebuild Iraq, but soldiers were disappointed he said nothing that offered them hope of a speedy end to their long tours of duty.

"We've been out here for six months, and it looks like we're going to be here for another six months more," said one soldier as he ate dinner in a huge tented "chow hall" at a U.S. base in one of Saddam's former palaces in Tikrit.

"That's it. It's a done deal, so nothing he (Bush) says makes a blind bit of difference to us."
Not exactly a ringing endorsements from the troops in the field. The Bush campaign might want to think twice about using any of that "Misson Accomplished" footage from the U.S.S. Abraham Lincoln back in May. The Democrats will probably be able to counter with plenty of footage of their own--of troops in Iraq bitterly denouncing their Commander-in-Thief.

PUBLIC HAS LITTLE FAITH IN BUSH'S IRAQ -- The American public in increasingly skeptical that Mr Bush's Iraq folly will turn out well for the United States. To wit, 58 percent of respondents say they do not think that President Bush has a clear plan for bringing the situation in Iraq to a successful conclusion, according to the poll by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press.

What's worse for Mr Bush, 63 percent say that Bush has not explained clearly his plans for resolving the situation in Iraq. Seventy percent believe the United Nations should play a bigger role in Iraq and 51% are willing to reduce American authority in Iraq in order to get the U.N. involved. Even more interesting is that only 36% of the public support's Mr Bush's call for an additional $87 billion spending in Iraq, while 57% oppose it. [That leaves Mr Bush open to some very potent attacks from Democrats in Congress and on the presidential campaign trail about spending massive amounts of money to rebuild Iraq, but doing little or nothing to rebuild the American economy.]

The percentage of people who think the Iraq invasion will help in the war on terror has declined from 65% in May to 54% today.

DEAN RAGES IN BOSTON -- When it comes to the Bush regime, Governor Howard Dean [D-VT] is not one prone to understatement. Here is just a snippet of what he said during an appearance in Boston today:
"Democracy itself is at stake in this election. The extreme right wing has shown nothing but contempt for democracy."
...
Americans "are no longer willing to allow the further depletion of our nation's treasury through tax cuts for this administration's wealthiest contributors."
...
Americans are "no longer willing to accept an administration lying to the American people about the reasons for sending our sons and daughters and brothers and sisters to die in a foreign land."
Extreme? Yes. Accurate? Unfortunately.

SHORTER CHIMP -- You could go and read through the entire transcript of Mr Bush's speech at the United Nations today [it's about six or so printed pages long] or you could just rely on my fair summation of the speech. Here it is in a nutshell:
Invading Iraq was brilliant because Saddam was a mean guy. Everything is going great. But just in case it isn't going great, you must hand over billions of dollars and thousands of soldiers to me. You will have no control over how that money is spent and how those soldiers are used. You should be grateful I'm even making these demands of you. Now give me the loot and shut the hell up.
FOX News will call it the greatest speech ever given by a human being on this planet. Back in the real world, however, it won't convince anyone.

NO HATE CRIME -- I hate George W Bush. I admit it. In a weird, savage way, I'm even proud of it. It's not a good thing to hate, but I've never encountered a politician in the democratic world so clearly worthy of contempt and derision as George W Bush and since he happens to hold the office of President of the United States [however he came about that], hating the man seems to me to be a rational decision. Fortunately, I'm not the only one who thinks so. Today's must-read article is Jonathan Chait in The New Republic. A small sample:
To be a liberal today is to feel as though you've been transported into some alternative universe in which a transparently mediocre man is revered as a moral and strategic giant. You ask yourself why Bush is considered a great, or even a likeable, man. You wonder what it is you have been missing. Being a liberal, you probably subject yourself to frequent periods of self-doubt. But then you conclude that you're actually not missing anything at all. You decide Bush is a dullard lacking any moral constraints in his pursuit of partisan gain, loyal to no principle save the comfort of the very rich, unburdened by any thoughtful consideration of the national interest, and a man who, on those occasions when he actually does make a correct decision, does so almost by accident.
There's more and it is good. Go read all of it now.

JET BLUE SNOOPS SUED -- The bad news is that Jet Blue airlines passed secret information about its passengers on to a firm doing contract work for the Defense Department. The good news is that they are being sued for doing it.

CA WILL GET ITS CRAZY "ELECTION" -- The recall is on.

HE IS NOT KIDDING -- "I appreciate people's opinions, but I'm more interested in news.... And the best way to get the news is from objective sources, and the most objective sources I have are people on my staff who tell me what's happening in the world."
--George W. Bush to Fox News, September 22, 2003

BELTWAY BANDIT NFL POWER POLL: WEEK 3 --Is the top spot in the Beltway Bandit Power Poll cursed? First Tampa Bay and now Buffalo has been unable to defend its week-to-week title. No one said domination of the best power poll on the Internet was going to be easy. The King is dead. Hail to the King.

01. Kansas City Chiefs [3-0]: QB Trent Green, TB Priest Holmes, and RS Dante Hall are not just defeating opponents, they are embarrassing them. The Chiefs look a lot better than anyone else does right now. Dick Vermeil's three-year plan is right on schedule. [+1]

02. Tampa Bay Buccaneers [2-1]: Throttled Atlanta last Sunday, holding Falcons QB Doug Johnson to less than 100 yards passing and expensive WR Peerless Price to less than 50 yards receiving. The Buc Bullies are back. [+1]

03. Seattle Seahawks [3-0]: Scoring 14 points in the fourth quarter to win a last-second division victory over the Rams shows this team has got guts, as well as talent. [+1]

04. Indianapolis Colts [3-0]: Now WR Reggie Wayne is Peyton Manning's go-to guy? If this offense develops another weapon, it might just be unstoppable. [+1]

05. Denver Broncos [3-0]: I'm still not sure Denver has beaten any good teams, but it's hard to argue with an undefeated record and a 21-point victory over the Raiders. [+1]

06. Miami Dolphins [2-1]: That Dolphin defense everyone expected to see was on display Sunday night, as the 'fins squashed the previously unsquashable Buffalo offense. Miami is still inconsistent, but appears to be improving. Appears to be. [+10]

07. Buffalo Bills [2-1]: If anyone else can handle the Bills offense as well as Miami did, Buffalo might be in a spot of trouble. Fortunately for them, I don't think too many teams have the talent on defense that Miami does. [-6]

08. Tennessee Titans [2-1]: Steve McNair, the world's toughest quarterback, rallied his team and the Titans crushed the Saints. McNair is now only the fifth quarterback to throw for over 20,000 yards and rush for more than 3000 yards. What a soldier. [+1]

09. New England [2-1]: Tough win over the Jets leads to still more injuries for Head Coach Bill Belichick's banged-up crew. Depth on defense is almost gone. [-2]

10. Minnesota Vikings [3-0]: The Vikes have won their last six games, but QB Daunte Culpepper and WR Randy Moss are injured. With them, the Vikes are as mighty as their namesakes. Without them, they are Poland, circa 1939. [+2]

11. Carolina Panthers [2-0]: Bye week allowed defensive linemen to build up their appetite for their next opponent/victim. [No change]

12. Pittsburgh Steelers [2-1]: Barely beat the Bengals. No points for that. [-2]

13. New York Giants [2-1]: The G-man can play a lot better than they did in the second half against the Redskins. Want proof? Check out the first half against the Redskins. Dallas this Sunday is a must-win game. [+5]

14. Oakland Raiders [1-2]: This is your last chance, Oakland. Get your act in gear or prepare to share the Beltway Bandit Power Poll cellar with the likes of San Diego and Detroit. [-6]

15. Baltimore Ravens [2-1]: Brutal defense and a terrific running back is a winning combination. Big challenge coming up, though: Priest Holmes and the Chiefs. [+7]

16. Washington Redskins [2-1]: I've taken some criticism for not ranking the Skins higher, but I was right about these guys. They're talented, but not ready for prime time. A brain transplant might help. [+1]

17. St. Louis Rams [1-2]: Now Marshall Faulk out for at least a month? Uh-oh. [-4]

18. San Francisco 49ers [1-2]: Couldn't even get in the end zone against a team that gave up almost 300 yards rushing to one guy the week before. [-4]

19. Green Bay Packers [1-2]: Okay, losing to the Vikings does not look so bad anymore, but losing to the Cardinals? What the hell was that? Shut down TB Ahman Green and you should beat the Packers. [-4]

20. Philadelphia Eagles [0-2]: At least no one else got injured during the bye week. Next up: Buffalo Bills in Buffalo. Better hope they're not angry after the Miami loss. [-1]

21. Dallas Cowboys [1-1]: Used bye week to rest up for the Giants. Can the Tuna do it twice to his old team? [+2]

22. Cleveland Browns [1-2]: Defense and QB Kelly Holcombe finally show signs of life. The heat is off…for one more week. [+5]

23. New Orleans Saints [1-2]: No team gets less from more than the Saints. This team just sucks right now and Head Coach Jim Haslett should be polishing up his resume. Probably a good idea not to mention the last two or three years, though. [-3]

24. Atlanta Falcons [1-2]: Boy, do these guys need Mike Vick back or what? [-3]

25. Houston Texans [1-2]: Have looked more like a second-year team the last two weeks. [-1]

26. Arizona Cardinals [1-2]: I'm not sure beating Green Bay is as impressive as it used to be, but any win is a sign of progress. [+5]

27. New York Jets [0-3]: Testaverde showing some sign of life, but there is just no running game and no offensive playmakers. They really miss Pennington and Coles. [-1]

28. Detroit Lions [1-2]: Only missing a running game and a defense. [No change]

29. Jacksonville Jaguars [0-3]: QB Mark Brunell and TB Fred Taylor are still playing like pros, but they're the only ones. [No change]

30. Cincinnati Bengals [0-3]: Continuing to lose close games, but at least they're close, which is more than can be said for the last two teams. [No change.]

31. San Diego Chargers [0-3]: Marty Schottenheimer's crew of has lost eight of their last ten games. They're not even competitive right now. Prediction: This will be Marty's last year as a NFL head coach. [-5]

32. Chicago Bears [0-2]: Found out how not to lose: Don't play. [No change]

HE GIVETH, HE TAKETH MORE -- To the surprise of absolutely no one who has been paying attention the last three years, Mr Bush's tax cuts are putting the country deeply in debt, favoring the wealthy over the working poor and middle class, and creating a massive future burden for American taxpayers.
President Bush's tax cuts will put a trillion dollars in people's pockets over six years, but because the government is spending far more than it is taking in, the president's policies also mean that Americans face a much larger future tax bill — or equally large cuts in government spending — to balance the government's books.

For each dollar of tax cuts, federal borrowing to finance the tax cuts, the war on terror and routine government operations will total $3.60 over six years, Congressional Budget Office data show.

From 2001 to 2006, Americans will get tax cuts that average $3,593 a person, while the per capita share of the national debt will increase by $13,000 from 2002 through 2007. About a fourth of this year's record budget deficit, estimated at $480 billion, will finance tax cuts. Money the government borrows must be repaid eventually through either future taxes or cuts in spending...
...
The government is basically borrowing $1,000 in your name and then handing you $250 of it," said Robert McIntyre, director of Citizens for Tax Justice, a labor-backed research group in Washington. "The net effect is to leave you deeper and deeper in debt."

The costs and benefits of the cut-taxes-and-borrow policy vary widely depending on how much one makes, according to Citizens for Tax Justice. The group's tax calculations are widely respected, even by those who disagree with its assertions that the tax system favors the rich.

In a report to be released this morning, Citizens for Tax Justice estimates that the 26 million taxpayers on the middle rungs of the income ladder, those making $28,000 to $45,000, are especially hard hit by federal borrowing.
...
Only the top 1 percent income group comes out ahead, the analysis found.
Yes, it really is that bad. Please read the entire report from the good people at Citizens for Tax Justice.

SHAHEEN IS FOR KERRY -- It's very good news for Senator John Kerry's [D-MA] presidential campaign when former New Hampshire Governor Jean Shaheen not only endorses his candidacy but becomes the national chair of his entire campaign.
Shaheen, the most sought-after Democrat in the state, had steered clear of the presidential race to focus on teaching. Her endorsement of the Massachusetts senator was no surprise given that her husband, Bill Shaheen, is running Kerry's New Hampshire campaign.
...
She said Kerry has the best combination of leadership and experience on national security and domestic issues, and that he really understands the importance of small business to New Hampshire's economy.

''John Kerry is one of those people who really understands what's at the heart to making the economy work,'' Shaheen said.
...
Shaheen shattered the glass ceiling in 1996 when she was elected New Hampshire's first female governor and its first Democrat in 16 years. She made it onto Al Gore's short list of potential White House running mates in 2000. And last year, she came close to being the first Democrat elected to the Senate from New Hampshire in nearly three decades.
After leading the New Hampshire polls for several months, Senator Kerry is now trailing Howard Dean [D-VT] in that critical state and he needs something to bolster his campaign. The news that he can beat Mr Bush in a head-to-head matchup and Governor Shaheen's support might just punch Senator Kerry's ticket for a while.

JMM INTERVIEWS AMBASSADOR WILSON -- That's Joshua Micah Marshall of Talking Points Memo interviewing Ambassador Joe Wilson, the man who blew the lid off the Bush regime's lies about Iraq's non-existent nuclear weapons program. Read the interview in part one and part two. It's long, but worth it.

HACK RECONSIDERS CLARK -- David Hackworth, the influential and self-desrcibed "voice of the grunt" has taken a few nasty shots at General Wesley Clark over the last few years, especially on the issue of Kosovo. Since then, however, Mr Hackworth has reconsidered his opinion and now writes of General Clark:
He is insightful, he has his act together, he understands what makes national security tick – and he thinks on his feet somewhere around Mach 3. No big surprise, since he graduated first in his class from West Point, which puts him in the super-smart set with Robert E. Lee, Douglas MacArthur and Maxwell Taylor.

Clark was so brilliant, he was whisked off to Oxford as a Rhodes scholar and didn’t get his boots into the Vietnam mud until well after his 1966 West Point class came close to achieving the academy record for the most Purple Hearts in any one war. When he finally got there, he took over a 1st Infantry Division rifle company and was badly wounded.

Lt. Gen. James Hollingsworth, one of our Army’s most distinguished war heroes, says: “Clark took a burst of AK fire, but didn’t stop fighting. He stayed on the field till his mission was accomplished and his boys were safe. He was awarded the Silver Star and Purple Heart. And he earned ‘em.”

It took months for Clark to get back in shape. He had the perfect excuse, but he didn’t quit the Army to scale the corporate peaks as so many of our best and brightest did back then. Instead, he took a demoralized company of short-timers at Fort Knox who were suffering from a Vietnam hangover and made them the best on post – a major challenge in 1970 when our Army was teetering on the edge of anarchy. Then he stuck around to become one of the young Turks who forged the Green Machine into the magnificent sword that Norman Schwarzkopf swung so skillfully during Round One of the Gulf War.

I asked Clark why he didn’t turn in his bloody soldier suit for Armani and the big civvy dough that was definitely his for the asking.

His response: “I wanted to serve my country.”
Sounds like a good description of a man who should be President of the United States of America. But what of General Clark's ability to fix the current catastrophe in Iraq? Mr Hackworth thinks thusly:
He says he now wants to lead America out of the darkness, shorten what promises to be the longest and nastiest war in our history and restore our eroding prestige around the world.

For sure, he’ll be strong on defense. But with his high moral standards and because he knows where and how the game’s played, there will probably be zero tolerance for either Pentagon porking or two-bit shenanigans.
But what of the criticism General Clark has received from Mr Hackworth and others?
No doubt he’s made his share of enemies. He doesn’t suffer fools easily and wouldn’t have allowed the dilettantes who convinced Dubya to do Iraq to even cut the White House lawn. So he should prepare for a fair amount of dart-throwing from detractors he’s ripped into during the past three decades.

Hey, I am one of those: I took a swing at Clark during the Kosovo campaign when I thought he screwed up the operation, and I called him a “Perfumed Prince.” Only years later did I discover from his book and other research that I was wrong – the blame should have been worn by British timidity and William Cohen, U.S. SecDef at the time.
And what sort of President does Mr Hackworth think General Clark would be?
At the interview, Clark came along without the standard platoon of handlers and treated the little folks who poured the coffee and served the bacon and eggs with exactly the same respect and consideration he gave the biggies in the dining room like my colleague Larry King and Bob Tisch, the Regency Hotel’s owner. An appealing common touch.

But if he wins the election, don’t expect an Andrew Jackson field-soldier type. Clark’s an intellectual, and his military career is more like Ike’s – that of a staff guy and a brilliant high-level commander. Can he make tough decisions? Bet on it. Just like Ike did during his eight hard but prosperous years as president.
Glad to have you aboard, Mr Hackworth.

NOT WITH YOU, MR BUSH -- "Please tell me whether you agree or disagree with George W. Bush on the issues that matter most to you." Forty-six percent agree and 51% disagree. No good news for the Chimp in the latest USA Today/CNN Gallup poll.

CHIMP SPEAKS TO THE WORLD -- The first words out of the Chimp's mouth on the dais at the United Nations was that New York was turned into a battlefield two years ago. Unbelievable. Why not don a fireman's helmet while you're at it, Chimpy? The atrocities of 9/11/01 have nothing to do with Saddam Hussein and even the Bush regime has been forced to admit that in recent days. This speech might sell in Indiana [which, I suspect, is the real purpose of it], but it isn't going to cut any ice with foreign governments, who have gotten nothing but the back of Mr Bush's hand for the last three years.

THINGS GET DUMBER -- Darrell Issa, the right-wing ex-con who is behind the drive to recall Governor Gray Davis [D-CA] is now urging people to reject the recall if both to Republican candidates, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Tom McClintock, stay in the race to the end. The nightmare scenario for the Republicans would be the removal of Gray Davis, but a victory for Lieutenant Governor Cruz Bustamante, who is now narrowly leading the polls over Mr Schwarzenegger. So which Republican should bow out?
While most Republicans aren't naming names, it's clear that it's not Schwarzenegger, the Hollywood action hero who's brought his boundless star power to the race, whom they're suggesting drop out.

"Since Arnold Schwarzenegger is the only viable anti-tax candidate on the ballot," said Todd Harris, a spokesman for the actor, "my guess is that this was Congressman Issa's nice way of putting pressure on Sen. McClintock to avoid turning Sacramento over to Cruz Bustamante."

Issa said that McClintock, a strong conservative, has admitted to him that it was unlikely he could win a one-on-one race for governor.

"It's incumbent for the one who can't get to a majority to drop out," Issa said. "If Tom is still in the same position, with about half of what Arnold has, he's the one who will have to make the hard decision."

But McClintock doesn't sound like a man getting ready to bail out of the recall replacement race. In an e-mail message sent to supporters Monday, he reminded them that Republican leaders had urged Ronald Reagan to step aside in the 1966 governor's race to clear the GOP primary field for San Francisco Mayor George Christopher, a more moderate candidate.

"Reagan declined. The rest is history," McClintock wrote, urging his backers to raise $800,000 for a last-minute TV ad blitz. "Did Reagan stay in because of blind personal ambition? I think not! I believe Ronald Reagan felt it would be wrong to walk away from his principles and from those who believed as he did in those same principles."
State Senator McClintock is slowly rising in the polls and it is hard to believe a candidate rising in the polls would drop out of the race. What's more, I'm not sure how many of Mr McClintock's supporters would flock to the candidacy of Arnold Schwarzenegger anyway. The Terminator is regarded by most California Republicans as too liberal on sex, guns and gays, and too likely to raise taxes.

CLARK, KERRY TOP BUSH IN NEW POLL -- According to a new USAToday/CNN/Gallup poll, General Wesley Clark [D] and Senator John Kerry [D-MA] are ahead of Mr Bush in a head-to-head matchup. The other major Democratic presidential aspirants are bunched up behind General Clark and Senator Kerry, but not too far behind.

Monday, September 22, 2003

KILLER JANKLOW IS "SORRY" -- That's right, Congressman Bill Janklow says he's "sorry" for killing a motorcyclist last month in a traffic accident. Prosecutors say Congressman Janklow was speeding and ran a red light. He faces manslaughter charges in the killing. Sorry indeed. Sorry excuse for a Congressman.

DRUDGE REPORT SAYS... -- FCC Chairman Michael Powell [son of Colin Powell] is leaving government soon. Good riddance.