Monday, October 08, 2007

Sept. 22-October 2, 2007

The Democrats Death Wish
(Part IV)

Here's a little quiz.

What two words best explain Al Gore's loss to George W. Bush in 2000?
Answer: Ralph Nader

What two words will explain why we end up with a Republican President again in 2009?
Answer: Hillary Clinton

Yes, I'm on that jag again. And I will stay on it until Democrats either put that gun to their heads and pull the trigger in November 2008, or wise up.

I spent the weekend bombarded with Hillary, who blitzed the major Sunday talk shows. I listened to every word she said and, more importantly, how she framed those words. Which was, as usual, an exercise akin to decoding old speeches by Alan Greenspan.

“When I'm elected President we will not have troops in Iraq at levels they are there today,” she declared.

Hmmm... let's diagram that sentence. Why did she add “at levels they are there today,?” You know. I know. Everyone knows why she slipped that in.

Because, she's already triangulating for two years down the road, should she win the Presidency. I guarantee you a year after she's sworn in there will still be over 100,000 US troops in trespassing in Iraq -- and she'll be talking about the importance of maintaining a permanent presence.

When asked why she didn't keep her promise to get us out of the Iraq war she will remind us that all she promised was that we would not have the number of troops Bush had in Iraq at the time. When she uttered those words Sunday there were 165,000 US troops in Iraq. So, she will crow, she did kept that promise, and she will shamelessly make a virtue out of having 65,000 fewer troops in Iraq then, even though up to 40,000 of those troops would have been removed as purely a military necessity before she even took the oath of office. (“Yes, but I didn't replace them, did I?” she will chide reporters cheeky enough to press the issue.)

But never mind. Don't lose a wink of sleep over such a prospect, because she won't get that far. If Hillary becomes the Democrats' standard bearer in 08, Rudolf Guliani will be your next President. And you can take that to bank.

I remember back in 2000 watching Democrats flock to another narcissistic candidate, Ralph Nader. Everyone was tired of politics as usual, and Al Gore was as usual at it got, at least back then.

So Democrats and Independents in large number gravitated to Nader – a guy who, at the end of the day was little more than Ross Perot in drag. He couldn't win and he didn't. What could do though was lose the White House for Democrats, which he did.

And so here we are again. Only this time it's not a fringe candidate like Nader that endangers all things progressive. This time it's a heavyweight, a real pro, a seasoned veteran of politics as usual, Hillary Clinton. A candidate apparently able to garner enough votes in her own party to win the nomination, but so unpopular among the population as a whole that she can't possibly win a general election.

Hillary Clinton supporters, what the hell is wrong with you people? Are you stuck on stupid? Do you miss the “As the Clintons Turn” soap opera so much you are willing to lose the the White House again just for the slimmest chance of getting it back on the air? Maybe you're like Paris Hilton and Britney Spears groupies – emotional captives of the dame of American drama queens.

Hillary supporters are among the first to denounce the polarization of American politics of the Bush years. How ironic that is, since Hillary is herself one of America's most polarizing politicians. In fact, a Hillary candidacy would be far more polarizing than GW Bush's first run for the White House. After all, Bush was less known and consequently had racked up lower negatives when he first ran. For better and worse the nation knows Hillary, and polls show that 40% of likely voters know they don't like her.

Come on guys, don't do it. Don't fall for Hillary's phony-baloney, no-truth in packaging, bull. She's the Anti-Christ of the Democratic party. She's a Venus Fly Trap for liberal suckers. She's the Eva Peron of American politics. She's a shill for some of the nation's most avaricious special interests -- who have an extra special interest in your pocketbook.

Hillary is every inch as corrupt as Tom DeLay ever was. She's just been more artful in getting away with it. Do you think it's just the strangest of coincidences that every time a Clinton is running for high office they get caught running with sleaze bags and criminals?

For Clintons, An Unwelcome Echo

Talk about déjà vu. Pressed by questions about a scandal-tarred fundraiser, a candidate named Clinton decides to return hundreds of thousands of dollars. The politician's operation promises to conduct criminal background checks on big fundraisers in the future. And it leaks its decisions at night after a busy day in hopes of burying the news and minimizing the damage.

In 1997, the pol, of course, was Bill Clinton and the tainted money came from folks such as John Huang, Charlie Trie, Johnny Chung and Pauline Kanchanalak. A decade later, it's Hillary Rodham Clinton's turn to write refund checks to deflect attention from a bundler named Norman Hsu. Few American political families in modern times have proved as adept at raising money -- or as practiced at the art of giving it back if it comes with too much baggage...The Hsu case illustrates the challenges for Hillary Clinton in defining her past. (Full Story)

Oh, I know what the Hillary people will say... “She didn't know.” Well, as a retired journalist let me tell you how she could have known -- had she wanted to. It's called Lexis/Nexis, a comprehensive online database of all news stories (Nexis) and civil and criminal legal cases, (Lexis.) One search.. just one search of Hsu's name on that database would have told Hillary, not only all she needed to know about Hsu to shun him, but enough to turn his ass into the authorities in California where he was a fugitive and convicted of fraud.

Now, you gotta know that the well-oiled, well-financed Clinton machine has a fully-paid subscription to Lexis/Nexis. No respectable campaign would be without one, if for no other reason, to do opposition research. So, if she didn't know, it was because she didn't want to know.

Even the people Hillary surrounds herself with are not what they seem. They are as politics as usual and Washington as usual, as it gets. They are after the power, and they'll say anything, promise anything – like ending the war in Iraq – to get it.

Since I know most Hillary Moonies won't go off and do their own independent research I will end by pasting in a piece from Salon Magazine that illustrates what I just said. (Article trimmed for length.)

Former Clinton officials lobby for amnesty for FISA lawbreaking

The bipartisan appendages of the Beltway system work to provide amnesty for both private and governmental lawbreakers.

"It is hard to count the number of high Clinton officials who, like Gorelick, have spent the last six years getting rich selling their contacts and influence by working on behalf of lobbying and other clients to pursue legislation directly at odds with the political beliefs they pretended to have and will, once they are back in power, pretend again to have."

By Glenn Greenwald, Salon

Sep. 22, 2007: Following up on Jim Risen's NYT article this week reporting that Congressional Democrats appeared likely to agree to some form of retroactive immunity for telecom companies which illegally enabled the Bush administration's warrantless eavesdropping on Americans (thus compelling dismissal most of the remaining lawsuits challenging the illegality of the eavesdropping), Newsweek's Michael Isikoff and Mark Hosenball reported the same thing:

Congressional staffers said this week that some version of the proposal is likely to pass -- in part because of a high-pressure lobbying campaign warning of dire consequences if the lawsuits proceed.
The Newsweek article sheds further light onto the reasons for its likely passage:

The nation's biggest telecommunications companies, working closely with the White House, have mounted a secretive lobbying campaign to get Congress to quickly approve a measure wiping out all private lawsuits against them for assisting the U.S. intelligence community's warrantless surveillance programs.

The campaign -- which involves some of Washington's most prominent lobbying and law firms -- has taken on new urgency in recent weeks because of fears that a U.S. appellate court in San Francisco is poised to rule that the lawsuits should be allowed to proceed.

Among those coordinating the industry's effort are two well-connected capital players who both worked for President George H.W. Bush: Verizon general counsel William Barr, who served as attorney general under 41, and AT&T senior executive vice president James Cicconi, who was the elder Bush's deputy chief of staff.

Working with them are a battery of major D.C. lobbyists and lawyers who are providing "strategic advice" to the companies on the issue, according to sources familiar with the campaign who asked not to be identified talking about it. Among the players, these sources said: powerhouse Republican lobbyists Charlie Black and Wayne Berman (and) former deputy attorney general Jamie Gorelick (whose law firm also represents Verizon) ...While Gorelick claimed she is not specifically lobbying, she "confirmed that she is providing 'strategic advice'" to Verizon for obtaining immunity. But all of these firms and individuals are working in unison on behalf of telecoms, using the influence they acquired and the contacts they developed while working in government to pressure lawmakers to give their clients what they want:

It is not, obviously, a revelation, but this practice of government officials leaving and then being paid to use their contacts to shape legislation on behalf of corporate clients is the sleaziest practice there is in Washington. Can't Jamie Gorelick find a way to earn a living without engaging in the lowest form of legalized influence-peddling on behalf of law-breaking telecoms which now want a bill which would almost certainly, in effect if not explicitly, also bar any accountability for Bush officials who broke the law when eavesdropping on Americans? (And it is worth remembering here that Qwest, unlike Gorelick's client, followed the law and refused to comply with the administration's demands to allow spying on its customers without warrants, even in the face of threats that they would lose government contracts).

It is hard to count the number of high Clinton officials who, like Gorelick, have spent the last six years getting rich selling their contacts and influence by working on behalf of lobbying and other clients to pursue legislation directly at odds with the political beliefs they pretended to have and will, once they are back in power, pretend again to have. Gorelick, needless to say, is an enthusiastic contributor to the Hillary Clinton campaign (as well as to Joe Lieberman's). She'll undoubtedly be a leading candidate for Attorney General in the next Clinton administration (perhaps serving along with Clinton supporter and "foreign policy expert" Michael O'Hanlon). Telecom lobbyist Donilon is also a maxed-out Clinton contributor.

It is hard to overstate how much of a priority FISA immunity is for the Bush White House, and for obvious reasons. Ironically, they were actually proposing the same sweeping retroactive immunity language back in September of 2006 when the Republicans controlled both houses of Congress, but they could not get the Congress to pass FISA legislation. With the Democrats in control of Congress, and Democratic Beltway influence-peddlers like Gorelick working with them, their chances of obtaining such legislation are now plainly enhanced, and according to both Risen and Isikoff/Hosenball, they are likely to obtain some form of retroactive immunity now that Democrats control Congress. There are reasons -- good reasons -- why the current Congress is more popular among Republicans than Democrats.

Betray Us, Indeed !
But Who Really
Betrayed Us?

Whoa! How about that ad. Quite the little brouhaha, huh?

So, what's up with all that, anyway?

On the right we have the GOP-propaganda machine making hay off the MoveOn ad as fast as it can, and doing well at it, as it usually does.

On the left – well, that's a lot harder to explain, because there's no longer a single left, but two;
Democrats, as my crusty old country uncle used to say, “don't know whether to shit or go blind -- so they walk around all day with one-eye closed farting.”

Hell, 23 of Dems actually voted with the Republican Senators yesterday to condemn the ad. Prez candidates, Obama and Biden went into hiding, not voting at all. Hillary voted “No,” another attempt to fade the blood stains on her hands from her vote authorizing the war four years ago. (Seemed like the smart political thing to do at the time.)

Now establishment Democrats are furious with MoveOn for running that ad. Not because they disagree with the sentiment or message, but because it deflated the tidy little cloakroom soufle' they were cooking up with “moderate” Republicans. (You know, the same “moderate” Republicans who've been filibustering every effort to wind down Bush's war in Iraq.)

The ad hit like a bunker-buster, collapsing those “bipartisan” efforts – which, had they succeeded would not have ended the war anyway. What they would have done, had they succeeded, is provide incumbent hacks in both parties an all-purpose legislative doodad to dangle in front of voters back home.
  • Dems would claim their success proved they were doing something to end the war.
  • Repubs would use the same legislation to prove they were not in lockstep with the most unpopular President since Nixon.
It would have been another of Washington's version of a “win-win.”

And, as viewed from the nitrous oxide-filled halls of Congress, the whole thing seemed to be going along swimmingly before the MoveOn ad ruined everything. Hell, even Republican voters were warming up to this ineffective Democrat-controlled Congress:

Republicans approve of a Democratic controlled Congress significantly more than do either Democrats or Independents. (Full Story)

But the ad screwed up their plan. To which I say, so what?

And that's exactly what every Democrat in Congress should have said as well -- so what? Dicking with troop rotations was not what we sent to Washington to do when we voted them in last November, now was it? No. We sent them there to end this abortion of a war, and sooner rather than later.

But the flap did much more than just expose a phony, baloney legislative three-card monty routine. That ad, and the commotion it caused, exposed nothing less than a political tectonic split on the left.

Like pack ice breaking up, it broke off a section carrying establishment Democrats, leaving the rest of us on a separate sheet. And the two seem to have begun floating further and further apart with increasing speed. With each passing day communication between the two sheets become harder and harder. We now no longer can talk to each other. Now we shout.

Where they are going I cannot say. All I know is that it's not the same direction our sheet is heading. And where might that be? Don't know.

All I can way with certainty is that common sense tells us one of them headed for oblivion.