Blogs

Bush Says Administration is "Constantly" Changing Course

| Mon Oct. 23, 2006 8:15 PM EDT

Yesterday, on ABC's This Week, George Stephanopoulos asked George Bush about the Baker Commission's recommendation to find an alternative to the two strategies on the table for Iraq--"cut and run" or that of the administration's long-time coveted tagline "stay the course." Earlier this month, I wrote about the Baker Commission reporting that splitting Iraq into three sections was the only other alternative. The president told Stephanopolous that the administration has never had a "stay the course" mentality.

We've never been 'stay the course,' George. We have been -- we will complete the mission, we will do our job, and help achieve the goal, but we're constantly adjusting to tactics. Constantly.

(Read the full transcript here.)

Hmmm…Really? Think Progress provides a great rundown of the many times Bush has drilled "stay the course" jargon into the minds of the American people. Although, no surprise, at other times this has certainly been a chameleon administration, at least when it comes to marketing the war on terror, which has changed names at least 7 times from the "war on terror" to "GWOT" to the "global struggle against the enemies of freedom" to its latest incarnation "the struggle for civilization."

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Some Officials May Not Be That Upset Over A North Korean Nuclear Test

| Mon Oct. 23, 2006 2:50 PM EDT

What doesn't make the news (for example, that Senate investigators recently accused Grover Norquist of major fraud) is more significant than what does, these days. Think Progress points out today that a little bombshell buried in a Washington Post story has gone unnoticed: "Some senior officials even said they were quietly rooting for a [North Korean nuclear] test, believing that would finally clarify the debate within the administration."

The story, "Rice Sees Bright Spot In China's New Role Since N. Korean Test," is about Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's claim that China is becoming "more of a partner on issues of importance to the United States." And, as Think Progress points out, Post reporter Glenn Kessler believes that Rice may be one of the officials who believes that North Korea's nuclear test was a "plus" for the U.S.

Here is an illuminating timeline on North Korea's nuclear program.

Desperate Republicans Try Sex

| Mon Oct. 23, 2006 12:41 AM EDT

They've got to know they're in trouble when they're scraping the bottom of barrel this hard to come up with muck to throw at Democrats. Trying to tip the scales in a tight New York House race, the Republican National Committee has been running an ad declaring that the Democratic candidate called a phone-sex line and left taxpayers with the bill. Strictly speaking, it's true: there was a phone call placed from the hotel room of candidate Michael Arcuri, a county district attorney, to a 1-800 fantasy line. Billing records show it lasted all of one minute, cost $1.25 - and was followed immediately by a call to the state Department of Criminal Justice Services, which has nearly the identical number. It was so obviously a misdial that Arcuri is threatening a libel suit, and seven television stations have refused to run the ad.

But that's minor-league mud-slinging compared to the efforts of several GOP candidates to link their opponents to pedophilia! Yep, you read that right: since Nancy Pelosi marched in a gay pride parade that included the icky North American Man/Boy Love Association, and California candidate Charlie Brown (no kidding) supports the ACLU who sometime, somewhere filed a suit on behalf of the same NAMBLA, they are ipso facto advocates of sodomizing teenage boys. I could have sworn that was some other politician...

"Worst Congress Ever"?

| Mon Oct. 23, 2006 12:30 AM EDT

OK, that title on the current Rolling Stone cover story comes off a tad hyperbolic - and the subhead, "How our national legislature has become a stable of thieves and perverts" doesn't exactly suggest nuance. But Matt Taibbi, the newest aspirant to Hunter S. Thompson's long-vacant spot as the mag's most scathing political commentator, does a depressingly effective job of making his case. It won't make you want to get out and vote Democrat. It'll make you want to give up on government altogether.

Fresh GOP Scandal Escalates, DOJ Searches Nguyen's HQ, Home

| Sat Oct. 21, 2006 10:46 AM EDT

First Tan Nguyen was a no-show at his own press conference yesterday. Then the Justice Department searched the Republican candidate's headquarters, his home, as well as the house of a staffer, leaving with boxes of evidence from each. As Vince reported yesterday, Nguyen, an immigrant from Vietnam who is trying to unseat 5-time representative Loretta Sanchez, has denied having any knowledge of the letter sent to 14,000 Orange County residents saying that immigrants who vote face jail time.

No one seems to believe him, and his party is in full retreat: the feds called for a search warrant, county republicans have called for him to withdraw, and Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, whose bid for re-election relies in part on Orange County remaining a Republican stronghold, has denounced the candidate and is scheduled to meet with Hispanic leaders in the county today. Republican Secretary of State Bruce McPherson, whose in a tight race for re-election, announced yesterday that he'll send a voter information letter next week to all those who were sent false information by the Nguyen campaign.

How High Up Goes Climate Change Censorship?

| Fri Oct. 20, 2006 10:28 PM EDT

In September the journal Nature reported that a government agency was suppressing science on links between global warming and hurricanes. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration blocked release of a report that suggests global warming is contributing to the frequency and strength the storms, Nature said. At the time, NOAA Administrator Conrad Lautenbacher disputed the story, saying the report was only an internal document and that the agency could not take an official position on the issue. But new evidence has turned up that contradicts his claim.

According an update released by the Society of Environmental Journalists:

House Science Committee Ranking Member Bart Gordon (D-TN) on Oct. 4 released the text of a NOAA internal e-mail that seemed to directly contradict that assertion, since it said that the document had been cleared for publication by NOAA top brass. . .Gordon's letter outlines a detailed sequence of events that seems to indicate that the disputed (report) had passed clearance for publication all the way up to Lautenbacher's level, and that it was stopped when clearance was sought from political appointees at the Department of Commerce, which oversees NOAA.

We should soon see who at Commerce was responsible; NOAA must comply with Gordon's request for more info by Monday.

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Ballot Initiatives in 6 States Capitalize on Eminent Domain Outrage

| Fri Oct. 20, 2006 9:06 PM EDT

One sentiment that has cut across party lines in the past year is eminent domain outrage. Libertarians and environmentalists, Nascar dads and the NAACP, everyone seems to object to Kelo v. New London, the Supreme Court decision that allows a city to force working class neighborhoods to sell out to developers.

A year ago, at a public hearing about New London, I saw a shaggy, bearded activist in Connecticut read what sounded like beat poetry about eminent domain. Rumor had it that Urban Outfitters was selling "Kelo" shirts.

Joking aside, now developers are taking advantage of the public opposition.

I wrote a couple weeks ago how one New York real-estate magnate paid $5 million to get a few eminent domain initiatives on the state ballot. Such initiatives are on the ballot in six states that if passed would cripple environmental land-use regulation, and cost the states billions of dollars.

Called pay-or-waive schemes, they require the government to compensate landowners for new regulations that devalue their property, or waive the regulations altogether. (In Oregon, which already has pay-or-waive, property owners in the past three months filed more than $5 billion in claims).

Here's a rundown of the initiatives by state.

--April Rabkin

Twain's Frog Scores Victory Over Pombo

| Fri Oct. 20, 2006 2:50 PM EDT

Much to the likely chagrin of Rep. Richard Pombo (R-Calif.) the EPA has agreed to protect the threatened California Red-Legged Frog, according to a settlement reached this week in a lawsuit filed in 2002.

Pombo once blamed the species for causing nearly $500 million in "regulatory costs" for homebuilders and held Twain's frogs up as Exhibit A in his Threatened and Endangered Species Recovery Act, a deceptively-named bill that would eliminate mandatory habitat restrictions for any species. The settlement agreement will protect Rana aurora draytonii by prohibiting the use of 66 pesticides in and near red-legged frog habitats.

Read more about Pombo's battle against these amphibians in the name of development in Dick Russell's story in the current issue of Mother Jones.

And according to poll numbers released today Pombo is neck and neck with his Democratic opponent Jerry McNerney, with Pombo at 41 percent and McNerney at 40 percent.

Frogs should be the least of his worries.

Democratic Tidal Wave in New York

| Fri Oct. 20, 2006 2:01 PM EDT

It won't come as a surprise,but the bellwether Marist Poll in New York State out today is showing Democrats are set to sweep the state, and on pretty wide margins.For governor, Eliot Spitzer has 70 percent to John Faso's 22 percent

Former HUD Secretary Andrew Cuomo is running well ahead of former Westchester County District Attorney Jeanine Pirro, 56-36.

Hillary Clinton leads Republican John Spencer by 37 percentage points, and she gets a 58 percent approval rating from likely voters..

A majority of likely voters -- 62 percent -- in New York State intend to support a Democratic candidate for Congress. That includes non-enrolled independent voters and about one in 5 Republicans. Twenty seven percent of the likely voters will cast a Republican ballot.

Key issues: 82 percent of registered voters think the Iraq war and the war on terrorism are major factors, followed by Bush himself.

And then there is this: CQ Politics quotes an unnamed insider Republican as saying, they are trying to shore up voters painting ``fear of a Democratic majority,'' adding, "We've pretty much blown every other issue. Fear is the only motivating factor left on the table."

And the GOP is wildly trying to scare its base by painting the horrors to come should Nancy Pelosi become Speaker.

Republicans Want Republican Out in Orange County

| Fri Oct. 20, 2006 12:58 PM EDT

California's well-heeled Orange County has a long history of hostility to immigrants, but a letter aimed at scaring Latinos away from the polls, sent out by the campaign staff of a Republican congressional candidate, was too much even for the local GOP. The chairman of the county's Republican Party is calling on Tan Nguyen to drop out of the race, and the US Department of Justice is even considering filing charges, the Orange County Register says this morning. The letter, which went out to about 14,000 Latino voters, warns (falsely, of course) that it's a crime punishable by jail or deportation for immigrants to vote.