Bush Priorities

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

Analyses of the Bush budget are starting to appear all over cyberspace, and it is sobering. If you want to get a bead on some of the President’s priorities, consider the following:

Job training: Federal vocational and adult education cut 35% (from 2.1 billion to 1.4 billion); Assistance to workers displaced by NAFTA cut to zero — the unions are not happy . . .

Education: 38 of 65 government programs (including programs dealing with alcohol abuse, the arts, dropout prevention, school counselors, smaller learning communities, school reform, and school leadership) eliminated, including Even Start literacy program . . .

Veterans: Fails to solve problems with health care benefits — in fact, it makes things worse (e.g., doubles the prescription co-pay for veterans). The VFW is unhappy . . .

Housing: Funding for housing voucher program cut by $1.6 billion

Crime and "First Responders": Cut from $481.9 million to $97 million

Rural Development: The budget would cut $239 million from rural business and industry loans, $269 from a rural broadband loan program, and $199 million from rural water and wastewater grants.

What gets priority? Programs to encourage teens to abstain from sex (doubled to $270 million), to promote marriage ($240 million, plus another $120 million to research further programs on marriage promotion) and to promote responsible fatherhood. ($50 million)

Well, you get the idea. You can read more here and here.

Now, all this is good news to Bush’s conservative base. The problem is that the conservative base is going to vote for Bush anyhow. How will Bush’s priorities play to the crucial swing/independent vote?

You Won’t Have Dean to Kick Around Anymore

Ken AshfordElection 2004Leave a Comment

Daily Kos is reporting the latest Zogby poll numbers. Since Zogby was the poll that predicted a Kerry win in Iowa, these numbers may be worth looking at. Since Dean is running a distant third or fourth in Arizona, Missouri, Oklahoma and South Carolina, and given his financial problems, I predict he will be yesterday’s news on . . . oh . . . Thursday. Anyone agree?

Goodbye, Dick?

Ken AshfordElection 2004Leave a Comment

Okay. She’s a gossip columnist, and not a very good/reliable one. Yet, the "buzz" is out.

A well-placed source says that the president will “most likely” drop Dick Cheney from his re-election ticket and his first choice for a replacement is former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani.

Read about it here. There’s also talk of Bush-McCain ticket.

This could be verrrrrry interesting . . . .

A Split Decision

Ken AshfordElection 2004Leave a Comment

The following is a partial transcript of Joe Lieberman’s congratulatory telephone call to Carolina Panthers head coach John Fox.

LIEBERMAN: Coach Fox? Joe Lieberman here – was that a great game or what? You bet it was!

COACH FOX: Uh, thanks Joe, but I really don’t think…

LIEBERMAN: Well Coach, based on what I saw tonight, I’d say you just scored a split decision for the NFL Championship!

COACH FOX: Joe – we lost. They beat us.

LIEBERMAN: Now Coach, you and I both know that the odds makers didn’t expect this, did they? As a matter of fact just yesterday, the Vegas line had you losing by seven points.

COACH FOX: Well, that’s true, yes…..

Read the whole thing at Citizen Smash

The Memory Hole

Ken AshfordWeb RecommendationsLeave a Comment

I’ve been a fan of www.memoryhole.org since they took an electonically redacted DOJ document, unredacted it, and posted it. (The document was an internal DOJ study which was highly critical of its own minority hiring practices. The DOJ heavily redacted the most incriminating parts, and posted it on its website. Someone was able to remove the electronic redactions, and it appeared on The Memory Hole).

The site also has rare 9/11 footage and police transcripts, the Bush-Hitler ads from "Move On", and other hard-to-find stuff.

Anyway, they now have some unofficial "alleged" photos of Saddam’s capture, including him being pulled from the hole.

Neglecting Intelligence, Ignoring Warnings…

Ken AshfordBush & Co., IraqLeave a Comment

The Center for American Progress has compiled a "cheat sheet" of sorts — a chronology of the Bush Administration’s failure (refusal?) to listen to intelligence agencies who said the case for war was weak.

Nothing new in it for some of us, but it’s all compiled in one place (PDF version; hyperlinks to sources). Flawed in some respect, because it relies (at times) on "unnamed sources", but still — most of it can’t (or shouldn’t) be ignored. I present it without further comment.

Brokered Convention?

Ken AshfordElection 2004Leave a Comment

I was prepared to predict Kerry as the nominee, but poll numbers from the February 3 states give me pause.

Naturally, Edwards is on top in South Carolina. But it’s these OTHER states that surprise me. For example, Kerry and Clark are in a statistical dead heat in Arizona. And Clark and Edwards both beat out Kerry by a significant margin in Oklahoma.

So here’s the open question: Regardless of the nominee, is a down-to-the-convention horserace good or bad for the Democratic party/Bush? After all, it keeps the media spotlight on the Democratic message for a while. On the other hand, it may show the party to be disjointed and unified (at least until the convention where, inevitably, everybody will be onstage heartily endorsing the nominee). Thoughts?

Finally! A REAL War Against Terrorism . . .

Ken AshfordWar on Terrorism/TortureLeave a Comment

CNN reports:

WASHINGTON (CNN) — The U.S. military is planning a spring offensive against remnants of the Taliban and al Qaeda fighters in Afghanistan, a senior Defense Department official has said.

Authorities have ordered troops, supplies and logistics into place to carry out the operation, the official said Wednesday, without detailing whether the new offensive would require more troops.

The news comes amid increased violence in Afghanistan and on a day in which the U.S. military said it thinks it will find Osama bin Laden and fugitive Taliban leader Mullah Mohammed Omar in eastern Afghanistan.

The manhunt for bin Laden is now in its third year but a military spokesman said confidence is high that he will be captured.

Call me jaded. Call me cynical. But I find the timing of this funny. If this were done a year ago (instead of Iraq), it would be "old news" by election time.

The Blame Game

Ken AshfordIraqLeave a Comment

It seems (for most of us, anyway) that the WMD question is resolved — Iraq had none. But other questions remain . . .

Was our intelligence bad? Or was our intelligence "messaged" by the Bush Administration in order to make its case to the American people?

Kenneth Pollack of the Brookings Institute (and author of "The Threatening Storm: The Case for Invading Iraq") examines this issue in this month’s Atlantic magazine. Highly recommended reading to all.

[For those too busy to read it, Pollack answers BOTH questions in the affirmative, but has much more to say on the subject]

Notes from New Hampshire

Ken AshfordElection 2004Leave a Comment

For what it’s worth . . .

I was raised in New Hampshire. My mother still lives there, and she’s just as much a political hound as I am. By way of background — she’s a registered independant, but always votes Republican (she’s a Republican of the McCain stripe, rather than the Bush stripe).

She’s just emailed me her take on the primary there, based on her political intuitions as well as those of her friends. She’s predicting a Dean victory. Not a victory in the sense that he will get more votes than Kerry, but a victory in the sense that he will come extremely close to Kerry. Within 3 or 4 points, she says. She also thinks Clark will do terribly.

Fox News Misinforms (Subtitle: Duh!)

Ken AshfordRight Wing and Inept MediaLeave a Comment

According to a University of Maryland study:

Those who receive most of their news from Fox News are more likely than average to have misperceptions. Those who received most of their news from NPR or PBS are less likely to have misperceptions. These variations cannot simply be explained as a result of differences in the demographic characteristics of each audience, because these variations can also be found when comparing demographic subgroups of each audience

The study found that:

23% of the people who got their news from NPR or PBS were misinformed about the Iraqi War (for example, they believed that "most of the world" supported the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq)

55% of the people who got their news from CNN were misinformed.

80% of the people who got their news from Fox were misinformed.

The interesting stats come in when you factor out people’s political leanings. For example:

78% of Bush supporters who get their news from Fox were misinformed

whereas . . .

Only 50% of Bush supporters who get their news from PBS or NPR were misinformed.

The full study can be read here

This May Explain It . . .

Ken AshfordIraqLeave a Comment

Bush-ites are proud to point out that Bush’s military budget is strong and robust, compared to Clinton — who "slashed" it. The best response to that is to point out that even though Bush was CoC, it was essentially "Clinton’s" military that won the Iraqi War. That shuts them up (sometimes).

But there may be other reasons to explain the different budgetary priorities assigned to the military by Clinton and Bush. Although the military, under Clinton, researched ABM technology, they didn’t throw needless dollars into activating a pie-in-the-sky missile defense system that doesn’t work, as the Bush administration seems destined to do. As this article in the Washington Post points out . . .

Dean Implosion

Ken AshfordElection 2004Leave a Comment

After seeing Dean poke fun at himself on Letterman’s Top Ten list last night, I was willing to give Dean a pass for his histrionics Monday night, and suggest that the jokes about him are becoming a little unfair. But then I read this piece by MSNBC’s Howard Fineman, which begins:

Like the Challenger explosion, the faltering of Howard Dean’s campaign will occupy crash-site investigators for years, maybe decades. How did a guy who rose to front-runner with such a powerful message — the war is wrong, the political system needs profound reform — get so sidetracked between Thanksgiving and the Super Bowl?

The analogy to the Challenger explosion is appropriate. It looks like Dean, too, tends to implode when things get cold. Worse than that, Iowa doesn’t look like a fluke; Dean appears to have a fundamental design flaw — the guy just seems to be lacking an O-ring or two.

Read more of Fineman’s analysis