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Archive for July 21st, 2008

The Wrecking Crew

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on July 21st, 2008 4:41 am by HL

The Wrecking Crew
The Wrecking Crew: How Conservatives Rule Coming soon: The Wrecking Crew: How Conservatives Rule by Thomas Frank, the author of the bestselling and must-read book, What’s the Matter with Kansas?

In his previous book, Frank explained why working America votes for politicians who seem to favor the rich. Now, in his new book, Frank “examines the blundering and corrupt Washington those politicians have given us,” according to the book jacket.

What's the Matter with Kansas? How Conservatives Won the Heart of America “Casting back to the early days of the conservative revolution, Frank describes the rise of a ruling coalition dedicated to dismantling government. But rather than cutting down the big government they claim to hate, conservatives have simply sold it off, deregulating some industries, defunding others, but always turning public policy into a private-sector bidding war. Washington itself has been remade into a golden landscape of super-wealthy suburbs and gleaming lobbyist headquarters–the wages of government-by-entrepreneurship practiced so outrageously by figures such as Jack Abramoff.”

The bottom line: “It is no coincidence that the same politicians who guffaw at the idea of effective government have installed a regime in which incompetence is the rule.”

Is Obama Close to Picking His Running Mate?
Several weeks ago on Political Insider, I suggested the first week of August might be the best time to unveil running a running mate.

First Read: “If Obama plans to name his running mate before the Olympics, he’s probably got to be close to a decision, because he’d have to name the running mate in the week he returns from his overseas trip. Time’s running out for Team Obama if they want a big pre-Olympics VP rollout. So maybe he’s a lot closer than we all realize, and maybe these gym stops are well, you know…”


Conventional wisdom watch: McCain edition

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on July 21st, 2008 4:40 am by HL

Conventional wisdom watch: McCain edition
Conventional wisdom wellspring even-the-liberal Jonathan “war is good for children and other living things” Chait of the New Republic still sorta wants to have a beer with John McCain. Well, de gustibus and whatevs. He also says a McCain presidency would be the end of the Rove era. Lie is a harsh word. Perhaps he’s already started on the beer.

Even-the-liberal Jonathan Chait of the New Republic wants to have a beer with John McCain

Eight years ago, I was a hard-core liberal McCainiac. Here was a Republican saying things no other Republican would say and fighting, Teddy Roosevelt-style, to wrest his party from the hands of the plutocrats who controlled it.

Today, he is none of these things. … McCain not only claims not to have altered his views for political convenience, he has preposterously made his alleged refusal to do so the central theme of his campaign.

Yet, somehow, I still feel some pangs of affinity for the old codger. Where Bush is peevish, entitled, and insecure, McCain’s charming, ironic, and self-deprecating. Bush’s path to public life was trading on his father’s name to run a series of business ventures into the ground before being handed a baseball team. McCain’s was an episode of awe-inspiring perseverance*

As opposed to, well

Yes, people put far too much stock in the candidates’ personalities. (I’d vote for an obnoxious, pampered phony who shared my beliefs over a charming war hero who didn’t.)

I’m sure that’s a comfort to whoever else might be running.

It’s understandable that Chait wants to leave the last eight years behind – no matter how quickly you managed to sneak out of your A-list war when the buffet table came crashing to the ground, everyone knows you went as George Bush’s date – but desperation is just not attractive

The Bush presidency is like being married to a sociopath. A McCain presidency would be more like being married to a drug addict — however badly he behaves, he could always sober up.

um. Sure thing, champ.

Which, sadly, is where things move from simple self-delusion to something a bit less factual than that:

The best aspect of a McCain presidency is that, while it would probably follow the policies of George W. Bush, it would put an end to the politics of Karl Rove.

I’m guessing he’s sure of this because McCain has Rove’s entire campaign apparatus working for him he’s up to his ass in lobbyists the Rove ad team at the RNC are funding and producing “independent” smear ads against his opponent McCain is actually moving towards George Bush on the issues Jonathan Chait says so, and he’s (to quote fellow war enthusiast Judith Miller of the Times) always f*cking right. For instance: earlier this month, he triumphantly recalled a prediction from early February

I really need to start blogging my predictions. I’ve been telling people for weeks that Rick Davis’s firing [Davis, parenthetically, wasn’t actually fired] was inevitable. Chris Orr and I were even planning to start an office betting pool on when he’d be gone. It happened even faster than I thought.

Anway, let me now go on the record to say that another McCain staff shake-up is, if not inevitable, very likely. McCain’s staff is just too factionalized to remain stable unless McCain is consistently winning. And Schmidt is a Bush 2004 veteran who lacks the deep emotional ties to the candiate that other McCainiacs have. I predict that at some point, probably just before or just after the convention, there will be a move to “Let McCain be McCain,” and new boss Steve Schmidt will be replaced with either John Weaver or Mike Murphy, to try to recreate the magic of the 2000 campaign.

How’s that working out so far?

The elevation of Steve Schmidt — who worked closely with Karl Rove — at Mr. McCain’s headquarters represented a sharp diminishment of the responsibilities of Rick Davis, who has been Mr. McCain’s campaign manager since the last shake-up nearly a year ago.

The shift was approved by Mr. McCain after several of his aides, including Mr. Schmidt, went to him about 10 days ago and warned him that he was in danger of losing the presidential election unless he revamped his campaign operation, two officials close to the campaign said.

The move of Mr. Schmidt is the latest sign of increasing influence of veterans of Mr. Rove’s shop in the McCain operation. Nicolle Wallace, communications director for Mr. Bush in the 2004 campaign (and in his White House), has joined the campaign as a senior adviser, and will travel with Mr. McCain every other week.

Greg Jenkins, another veteran of Mr. Rove’s operation who is a former Fox News producer and director of presidential advance in the Bush White House, was hired by Mr. Schmidt last week after a series of what Mr. McCain’s advisers acknowledged were poorly executed campaign events.

but at least Karl Rove isn’t directly involved

Mr. Rove, who was Mr. Bush’s senior political adviser until he left the White House last year, was said by Mr. McCain’s advisers to have offered advice in recent days to Mr. Schmidt and others on how to get Mr. McCain’s campaign on track, but has stayed mostly on the periphery. Mr. Rove is aware, his associates said, that his own legacy could be helped should Mr. McCain win the presidency.

but, you know, probably just until Mr. Murphy and Mr. Weaver get there

Republican circles have been awash with rumors for weeks now that Mr. McCain would seek to bring Mike Murphy, a longtime friend and adviser who helped direct his 2000 campaign for the White House, back into the fold. Mr. McCain’s advisers, noting the deep tensions between Mr. Murphy and many of the people in Mr. McCain’s inner circle — including Mr. Davis and Mr. Schmidt — said such a development was highly unlikely.

Similarly, Mr. McCain’s aides said it was unlikely that John Weaver, another longtime McCain friend who left in the midst of the last shake-up, would return. “Not enough bayonets to make me do this,” Mr. Weaver said in an e-mail response to a question.

Whatevs. So not the point.

Beneath his wildly fluctuating ideological positions, McCain is an establishmentarian Republican. Unlike Bush, he cares about elite opinion. He is comfortable sharing power in the traditional postwar style rather than monopolizing it. He might not be another Teddy Roosevelt, but right now another Gerald Ford doesn’t look so bad.

The idea that McCain could establish a reputation as a maverick by standing up to his party on numerous issues, win back his party’s support by abandoning nearly all his heterodoxies, then prevail by portraying himself as an unwavering man of principle is nauseating. Yet somehow the idea of a McCain presidency itself doesn’t terrify me. What can I say? Bush has lowered my standards.

Four more years of Bush/Rove? Candidate’s not an honest man? Ain’t no thing, dude. The reason our “liberal” media has a sneaking tendresse for John McCain is that they’re convinced John McCain wants to have a beer with them.

*tru dat. Imagine what Admiral McCain’s unpopular academically- and behaviorally-challenged son (the grandson of Admiral McCain) had to overcome to get into the naval academy. Someone qualified with no connections, that’s what. Well, I’m sure they managed to find some other way into the Vietnam War.


Blowing the Whistle On Voting Machine Fraud

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on July 21st, 2008 4:39 am by HL

Blowing the Whistle On Voting Machine Fraud

Remember Diebold?

A leading cyber-security expert and former adviser to Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) says he has fresh evidence regarding election fraud on Diebold electronic voting machines during the 2002 Georgia gubernatorial and senatorial elections.

RawStory reports that a whistleblower became suspicious of this:

The first red flag went up when the computer patch was installed in person by Diebold CEO Bob Urosevich, who flew in from Texas and applied it in just two counties, DeKalb and Fulton, both Democratic strongholds. … The whistleblower said another flag went up when it became apparent that the patch installed by Urosevich had failed to fix a problem with the computer clock, which employees from Diebold and the Georgia Secretary of State’s office had been told the patch was designed specifically to address.

Are these election results a coincidence? [more …]

Incumbent Democratic Sen. Max Cleland, who was five percentage points ahead of Republican challenger Saxby Chambliss in polls taken a week before the vote, lost 53% to 46%. Incumbent Democratic Governor Roy Barnes, who led challenger Sonny Perdue in the polls by eleven points, lost 51% to 46%. However, because the Diebold machines used throughout the state provided no paper trail, it was impossible to ask for a recount in either case.

Cyber-security expert Stephen Spoonamore took a look at the patch that the whistleblower provided.

Individuals close to [Attorney Cliff] Arnebeck's office said Spoonamore confirmed that the patch included nothing to repair a clock problem. Instead, he identified two parallel programs, both having the full software code and even the same audio instructions for the deaf. Spoonamore said he could not understand the need for a second copy of the exact same program — and without access to the machine for which the patch was designed, he could not learn more. Instead, he said he took the evidence to the Cyber-Security Division of the Department of Justice and reported the series of events to authorities. The Justice Department has not yet acted on his report.

This apparently isn't the kind of election fraud that excites the Justice Department. The Department loves to chase after people who vote twice, but investigating the rigging of voting machines? They must have better things to do.

Spoonamore has credentials.

In 1995, Spoonamore received a civilian citation for his work with the Department of Defense. He was again recognized for his contributions in 2004 by the Department of Homeland Security. Spoonamore is also a registered Republican and until recently was advising the McCain campaign.

Spoonamore figures he'll lose his government contract as a result of making this information public.


Thread

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on July 21st, 2008 4:38 am by HL

Thread
I hate flying, myself.

Signed,
Not Atrios

Fresh Thread
In a plane.


Scary Politics in Alabama: How the GOP Framed Gov. Don Siegelman

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on July 21st, 2008 4:37 am by HL

Scary Politics in Alabama: How the GOP Framed Gov. Don Siegelman
Once a popular governor of Alabama, Siegelman was framed in a crooked trial and sent to prison by the corrupt Bush administration.

McCain Has No Clue on Tech Issues
Obama has positions on broadband access and using the Internet as a tool to increase government accountability. McCain? Big nothing.


Maliki Goes Obama’s Way While NYT and WP Wait–For What?

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on July 21st, 2008 4:36 am by HL

Maliki Goes Obama’s Way While NYT and WP Wait–For What?
As of 9 pm Saturday night, the nation’s major newspapers are weirdly reticent about Prime Minister al-Maliki’s striking (make that extremely striking and indeed extraordinary) statement to Germany’s Der Spiegel that a timetable for US withdrawal from Iraq makes sense:…


Netroots Nation Sunday Blogging

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on July 21st, 2008 4:35 am by HL

Netroots Nation Sunday Blogging
San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom just introduced the concluding speaker here at Netroots Nation, Van Jones (two ridiculously good-looking guys, by the way). First time I’ve heard Newsom speak in person. He is indeed high-wattage, a policy wonk with a…


Obama’s mini state department

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on July 21st, 2008 4:34 am by HL

Obama’s mini state department
The discipline and organization of the Obama campaign is truly remarkable…

Gore wouldn’t serve in Obama WH
Gore wouldn’t serve in Obama WH


McCain Aide Scheunemann Linked To Bush Library ?Cash For Access? Scandal

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on July 21st, 2008 4:33 am by HL

McCain Aide Scheunemann Linked To Bush Library ?Cash For Access? Scandal
Earlier this month, the Sunday Times caught longtime Bush associate Stephen Payne on tape offering access to top Bush administration officials in exchange for “six-figure donations to the private library being set up to commemorate Bush’s presidency.” Payne, who is now being investigated by the Homeland Security Department and the House Oversight Committee, made the […]

randyweb.jpgEarlier this month, the Sunday Times caught longtime Bush associate Stephen Payne on tape offering access to top Bush administration officials in exchange for “six-figure donations to the private library being set up to commemorate Bush’s presidency.” Payne, who is now being investigated by the Homeland Security Department and the House Oversight Committee, made the offer to Kazakh politician Yerzhan Dosmukhamedov, who is also known as Eric Dos.

The Times reported that Dos had previously worked with Payne to arrange a 2006 visit by Vice President Dick Cheney to Kazakhstan. Dos claims that in exchange for arranging Cheney’s trip, “a payment of $2m was passed, via a Kazakh oil and gas company, to Payne’s firm.” Payne denies that any such arrangement existed.

But the Times reports today that Payne may be lying about his business dealings and that the money may have been funneled through a sister company to Payne’s lobbying firm:

The Sunday Times, however, has discovered the existence of a channel through which funds from the Kazakh government could have been readily transferred.

A sister company to WSP, Worldwide Strategic Energy (WSE), of which Payne is also president, has a subsidiary, Caspian Alliance, which is the sole US representative for KMG.

The Times reports that a top adviser to Sen. John McCain, lobbyist Randy Scheunemann, has direct ties to the company that is alleged to have funneled the funds:

In a further link, Randy Scheunemann, chief foreign policy and national security adviser to John McCain, the Republican presidential candidate, was listed in the WSE brochure as part of its executive team. Scheunemann and Associates, his lobbying firm, is reported as having represented the Caspian Alliance in 2005.

At the undercover meeting last week, Payne said Scheunemann had been “working with me on my payroll for five of the last eight years”. When confronted over the link to KMG, Payne declined to comment.

During his trip to Kazakhstan, Cheney ignored the country’s bad record on human rights and declared his “admiration for what has transpired here in Kazakhstan over the past 15 years.” Earlier this month, Payne told an undercover Times report that Cheney was more interested in what Kazakhstan “could do on energy” than “making them toe the line on human rights.”


In Immigration Cases, Employers Feel the Pressure

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on July 21st, 2008 4:32 am by HL

In Immigration Cases, Employers Feel the Pressure
A three-year-old enforcement campaign against employers who knowingly hire illegal immigrants is increasingly resulting in arrests and criminal convictions, using evidence gathered by phone taps, undercover agents and prisoners who agree to serve as government witnesses.

Detainee’s Trial in Military System Begins Today
GUANTANAMO BAY, Cuba — Nearly seven years after President Bush declared an “extraordinary emergency” that empowered him to bring terrorists before military judges, Osama bin Laden’s former driver is scheduled to go on trial Monday in the first test of whether that system can dispense fair and…