House Republican Embarrassment Watch

Ken AshfordRepublicansLeave a Comment

I try to have toleration for people with different viewpoints than me. There’s nothing I respect more than loyal opposition.

But it’s hard for me to respect conservative House Republicans. I truly feel that many of them have no concept of how our government works.

Here’s their latest foray into stupidity:

SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.

This Act may be cited as the `Congressional Accountability for Judicial Activism Act of 2004′.

SEC. 2. CONGRESSIONAL REVERSAL OF SUPREME COURT JUDGMENTS.

The Congress may, if two thirds of each House agree, reverse a judgment of the United States Supreme Court–

(1) if that judgment is handed down after the date of the enactment of this Act; and

(2) to the extent that judgment concerns the constitutionality of an Act of Congress.

SEC. 3. PROCEDURE.

The procedure for reversing a judgment under section 2 shall be, as near as may be and consistent with the authority of each House of Congress to adopt its own rules of proceeding, the same as that used for considering whether or not to override a veto of legislation by the President.

SEC. 4. BASIS FOR ENACTMENT.

This Act is enacted pursuant to the power of Congress under article III, section 2, of the Constitution of the United States.

You don’t need to be a lawyer to know how preposterously unconstitutional this is. All you need is a 7th grade civics education. And these guys (not ALL House Republicans are this way, mind you) don’t have it.

And I’m sure everyone catches the irony of an unconstitutional bill which permits Congress to decide the constitutionality of its own acts. The bill itself is the best argument for its own defeat — because obviously, those in Congress (at least, those sponsoring the bill) wouldn’t know the constitutionality of their legislation if it came up and bit them in their collective asses!

The War on Terror So Far . . .

Ken AshfordIraq, War on Terrorism/TortureLeave a Comment

Pluses:

  • Saddam Hussein out of power
  • Many dead/captured terrorists or Iraqi resistence

Minuses:

  • 550 dead American soldiers
  • 200 dead Spanish citizens
  • Lord knows how many dead innocent Iraqis
  • Lord knows how many wounded
  • No new democracies (just two police states, and a new socialist leader in Spain)
  • Bin Laden still alive
  • al Qaeda still active (obviously)
  • Taliban controls 1/3rd of Afghanistan
  • Coddling of Saudi Arabia (despite its ties to al Qaeda)
  • Coddling of Pakistan (despite admitted nuclear proliferation)
  • U.S. no longer world’s leader — it just has the most guns

You know what? I’m not impressed with Bush’s "toughness" on terrorism.

“What Can 30 Million Evangelicals Do For America? Anything We Want.”

Ken AshfordGodstuffLeave a Comment

That was the slogan on the back of the program at yesterday’s National Association of Evangelicals convention, according to the NY Times. (President Bush spoke at the convention via teleconference).

They’re wrong, in my view, but it’s scary that they think that.

Robert Schuller, who many of you probably know, sounded like the only voice of reason in the bunch. According to the NY Times, he "delivered an address gently criticizing some conservative evangelical Christians for acting as if they know the only possible route to salvation."

"What upsets me about religious leaders of all faiths is that they talk like they know it all, and anybody who doesn’t agree with them is a heretic," he said later in an interview.

"Politics is a force that pulls answers towards mediocrity," he said, "That is why when issues are politicized, I am gone."

Good man, that Schuller.

That’s A Fisk?

Ken AshfordElection 2004Leave a Comment

At the Bush-Cheney blog, they’re trying to make some inroads by pointing out Kerry flip-flops. Here‘s an example (NOTE: I’ve put Kerry quotes in italics, but otherwise, this is a cut-and-paste from the Bush-Cheney site):

Let’s go back to the Time piece for some historical reference:

TIME: What would you have done about Iraq had you been the President?
KERRY: If I had been the President, I might have gone to war but not the way the President did. It might have been only because we had exhausted the remedies of inspections, only because we had to—because it was the only way to enforce the disarmament.

Which directly contradicts what he told Rolling Stone in December:

If I were president, we would not be in Iraq today — we would not be at war.

Which is kind of hard to square with this, from the first Democratic debate in May 2003:

I would have preferred if we had have given diplomacy a greater opportunity, but I think it was the right decision to disarm Saddam Hussein. When the president made the decision, I supported him and I support the fact that we did disarm him.

Why is it so hard to square these three quotes?

In the first quote (from Time), Kerry is saying that if he had been President, he might have gone to war but only if other remedies were exhausted.

In the second quote (from Rolling Stone in December 2003), Kerry said if he were President, we would not be at war. (And why not? Clearly BECAUSE OTHER REMEDIES HAD NOT BEEN EXHAUSTED!)

Are the first and second quotes "direct contradictions" as the Bush campaign claims? Hell, no. They’re consistent!

In the third quote, Kerry talks about his support of Bush’s decision to disarm Saddam Hussein. That’s a different subject altogether from the decision to go to war. It IS possible to support disarming Saddam Hussein, and still be opposed to the Iraq War.

Is this the best they can do???

Don’t These Guys Know How To VET?

Ken AshfordBush & Co.Leave a Comment

You know, if I were to do Bush Embarrassment Watches, I’d do nothing else in my life but post here. But this one is too good to let go:

Last Labor Day, Bush announced that he was creating a new office — the Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Manufacturing and Services. In doing so, he noted that that the U.S. had "lost thousands of jobs in manufacturing . . . some of it because production moved overseas." The position was intended to help with those issues. The announcement was followed by months of delay, and Democratic criticism for the delay.

So who did Bush (finally) plan to nominate? A guy named Raimondo, who is a longtime board member of the National Association of Manufacturers. Michael E. Baroody, the group’s executive vice president, called Raimondo "a class act who understands manufacturing and understands public policy."

But Kerry’s campaign, tipped off about the impending nomination several hours earlier, hastened to distribute news reports that Raimondo’s firm, Behlen Manufacturing Co. of Columbus, Neb., had laid off 75 U.S. workers in 2002, four months after announcing plans for a $3 million factory in northwest Beijing.

Result?

Seventy-five minutes after the administration announced a news conference with Commerce Secretary Donald L. Evans to name the official, an advisory went out saying the event had been "postponed due to scheduling conflicts."

Yeah, right. Full story here.

What’s Wrong With The Iraqi “Constitution”

Ken AshfordConstitution, IraqLeave a Comment

According to the people at Gun Owners of America, the Iraqi interim constitution is flawed because it omits the right to keep and bear arms.

Look, I’m more pro-Second Amendment than many of my liberal colleagues, but a bad idea is a bad idea. And freedom to have guns in Iraq is a bad idea.

Yes, the report is in WorldNetDaily, but I believe it anyway.

“Just Don’t Get TOO Creative . . .”

Ken AshfordElection 2004Leave a Comment

You can go to the Bush-Cheney site here and create your own custom color Bush-Cheney poster.

They even let you insert your own "custom text" into the poster. Well, not really. I wasn’t able to insert MY "custom text" (heh heh heh).

Play around with it and you’ll see what I mean.

Special Interests Favor Who?

Ken AshfordElection 2004Leave a Comment

For a while, Kerry was tagged as being in the pocket of "special interests". Then it all died down. Good thing, too, because . . .

The Center for Responsive Politics reports that "nearly half of Kerry’s biggest financial supporters contributed more money to Bush than to Kerry himself through Jan. 30 of this year . . . In all, nine of Kerry’s top 20 donors favor Bush with their contributions." Read all about it here.

Bush Weak On Nuclear Terrorism?

Ken AshfordWar on Terrorism/TortureLeave a Comment

This article in Foreign Affairs begins:

President George W. Bush has singled out terrorist nuclear attacks on the United States as the defining threat the nation will face in the foreseeable future. In addressing this specter, he has asserted that Americans’ "highest priority is to keep terrorists from acquiring weapons of mass destruction." So far, however, his words have not been matched by deeds. The Bush administration has yet to develop a coherent strategy for combating the threat of nuclear terror.

The article sets forth "a new doctrine of ‘Three No’s’: no loose nukes, no new nascent nukes, and no new nuclear states", all of which the Bush administration’s efforts are (according to its author) far from what they could be. Despite the opening paragraphs, it’s not a slam-Bush piece, and I don’t present it as such. Just something to mull over, and perhaps lose sleep over.

Blame the Media

Ken AshfordBush & Co., Economy & Jobs & DeficitLeave a Comment

This is still premature and third-hand, but according to Josh Marshall, the President today blamed the economic downturn during the run-up to the war on . . . you guessed it . . . the media. In other words, if that damned media hadn’t reported on Enron, Worldcom, and the uncertainties about going to war, then everything would be fine!

Bush on Letterman

Ken AshfordBush & Co., War on Terrorism/TortureLeave a Comment

The Bush line — which we have heard often — is that we learned on 9/11 how dangerous the world is. And that was why there was a marked shift in Bush’s foreign policy after 9/11.

It holds water, except for one problem: David Letterman.

In October 2000, presidential candidate George Bush appeared on Lettermen, where they had (in parts) a surprisingly serious discussion. Here’s one account:

So Letterman then asked Bush about the terrorist murder of 17 U.S. sailors in Yemen. Seriously.

"If I find out who it was, they’d pay a serious price," Bush said of the bombing. "I mean a serious price."

"Now, what does that mean?" Letterman asked, a follow-up Bush doesn’t often get when he’s asked about such bravado.

"That means they’re not going to like what happened to them," Bush said, and the crowd went wild.

"Now are you talking about retaliation or due process of law?" Letterman asked.

"Heh-heh," Bush said. "I’m talking about gettin’ the facts and lettin’ them know we don’t appreciate it and there’s a serious consequence … And I’ll decide what that consequence is."

Macho man, huh? But, in all fairness, a fitting response.

Eventually we learned . . . before Bush was even sworn in . . . that the Cole bombing was the dirty work of Osama bin Laden. But, alas, there was no "serious consequence" until after 9/11.

I raise this so that readers will keep in mind — that when Bush says that "9/11 changed things" (and he will say it), he’s blowing smoke. If Bush on the Letterman show is to be believed, he was prepared to act as soon as the facts were in. And the facts were in by the time he was "elected". And tough-talking Bush didn’t act.

Wait! What?!?

Ken AshfordWar on Terrorism/TortureLeave a Comment

CNN is reporting this:

WASHINGTON (CNN) — Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden might be preparing to move from Pakistan to Afghanistan, according to sources with access to the latest U.S. intelligence.

U.S. intelligence found signs of a network of al Qaeda couriers and safe houses on the Afghan side of the border, sources said. Such a network could be a sign bin Laden might be planning to flee Pakistan.

We (apparently) know where he is, we (apparently) know where he is going to . . . no disrespect to our fighting forces, or even President Bush, but I can’t believe we can’t get this guy.

Bad Numbers for Bush

Ken AshfordElection 2004Leave a Comment

Yes, it’s waaaay too early. Yes, much can change. But the latest polls show that Bush has the uphill battle, as opposed to Kerry — 57 percent want a change from Bush. The money paragraph from MSNBC:

Kerry’s advantage on many key issues was large. The Democrat currently has double-digit advantages over the president as the person best able to handle the economy (Kerry leads Bush by 12 percentage points), Social Security (16 points), education (12 points), the budget deficit (15 points) and health care (20 points). On only one major issue is Bush preferred to Kerry: the war on terrorism, where the president has a 21-point advantage.

Well that explains why Bush (and his supporters) don’t want to talk about anything but the war on terrorism.

Update: And how did I miss this, from Gallup?!? — holy crap!!:

. . . Bush is barely ahead in the states he won four years ago by more than five percentage points (which Gallup calls "red" states). He leads Kerry by just 50% to 47%. In the "blue" states, which former Vice President Al Gore won by margins of more than five percentage points, Kerry leads Bush by a substantial margin, 55% to 42%. In "purple" states — where the margin of victory for either candidate in 2000 was five percentage points or less — Kerry also leads by a substantial margin, 55% to 39%.

Heh.

Plame Affair Gets Interesting

Ken AshfordCrime, Plamegate, RepublicansLeave a Comment

According to today’s Newsday:

WASHINGTON — The federal grand jury probing the leak of a covert CIA officer’s identity has subpoenaed records of Air Force One telephone calls in the week before the officer’s name was published in a column in July, according to documents obtained by Newsday.

Also sought in the wide-ranging document requests contained in three grand jury subpoenas to the Executive Office of President George W. Bush are records created in July by the White House Iraq Group, a little-known internal task force established in August 2002 to create a strategy to publicize the threat posed by Saddam Hussein.

And the subpoenas asked for a transcript of a White House spokesman’s press briefing in Nigeria, a list of those attending a birthday reception for a former president, and, casting a much wider net than previously reported, records of White House contacts with more than two dozen journalists and news media outlets.

What juicy clues! What questions this raises!

Who was in the "White House Iraq Group" (Josh Marshall found out: Karen Hughes, Mary Matalin and James R. Wilkinson; legislative liaison Nicholas E. Calio; and policy advisers led by Rice and her deputy, Stephen J. Hadley, along with I. Lewis Libby, Cheney’s chief of staff.

Who was the "former president" and why are his birthday party attendees relevant?

What’s the common thread between those events and the press secretary’s statement in Nigeria??

I’ll go out on a limb — it was Mary Matalin. She was part of the Iraqi Group, it’s quite likely she attended Bush 41’s birthday party, she has many media contacts (including, undoubtedly, Novak), and she left the White House shortly after the Plame thing happened.