Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Murtha: Pelosi's First Big Mistake

Americans had a chance to send some strong messages to Congress when we voted. We voted to end congressional corruption and the Iraq war. We didn't vote against one or the other. We voted against both.

The Democrats have chosen to ignore the message about corruption, so they will have to be reminded. We want ethics reform, new lobbying rules, the elimination of money-laundering through PACs. We do not want corrupt politicians in leadership positions.
John Murtha, by absolutely every account, is one of the most corrupt Democrats in Congress. He has been watch-listed by CREW, which cites a host of offenses, including influence-peddling through his brother's defense lobbying company.
Murtha's ethics problems go back years, as this Abscam video shows. In his 1980 meeting with undercover FBI agents, Murtha says he'll wait a bit before taking a $50,000 bribe, but wants money deposited in banks and other companies in his home district. Here is some of the transcript, provided by columnist Jack Anderson in 1980:
"You give us the banks where you want the money deposited," offered one of the bagmen.
"All right," agreed Murtha. "How much money we talking about?"
"Well, you tell me."
"Well, let me find out what is a reasonable figure that will get their attention," said Murtha, "because there are a couple of banks that have really done me some favors in the past, and I'd like to put some money in....["]
The full transcript is here and it is damning. The full video of Murtha's Abscam interview is available on-line.
Google Video (53:40)

Monday, November 06, 2006

Nicaragua: Rapid Count Suggests Ortega Win

Old U.S. foe set to become new Nicaraguan president

The Grupo Cívico Ética y Transparencia, a chapter of Transparency International in Nicaragua, has released its rapid count data from Sunday's presidential election. The data shows FSLN candidate Daniel Ortega winning the election with about 38% of the vote. According to Nicaraguan electoral law, a candidate must win at least 40% of the vote, or 35% with at least 5% more votes than the closest competitor, to avoid a run-off. The runner-up in the election is Eduardo Montealegre, of the ALN party, with about 29% of the votes, or substantially less than would be required for a run-off election.

According to the Grupo Cívico's data, therefore, Ortega has won the election and will be Nicaragua's next president. The margin of error in its results is +/- 1.7%.

The rapid count results are:

Daniel Ortega (FSLN): 38.49%
Eduardo Montealegre (ALN): 29.52%
José Rizo (PLC): 24.15%
Edmundo Jarquín (MRS): 7.44%
Edén Pastora (AC): 0.40%

The official count is proceeding slowly, with just 15% of the votes counted by mid-morning on Monday. In that count, Ortega currently has 40% of the vote, and Montealegre has 33%. None of the international observer groups monitoring the elections have noted serious problems thus far.

Rasmussen: 48 All & 4 Toss-Ups in Senate

As campaigning draws to a close today, Rasmussen Reports has filed its final Senate tally, which shows toss-up elections in Missouri, Montana, Tennessee and Virginia. Democrats must win three of those four states to take control of the Senate. Most pollsters give Tester the edge in Montana, where incumbent Conrad Burns has largely fought a campaign against himself - embroiled in the Ambramoff scandal and committing one political faux pas after another.

That leaves Missouri, Tennessee and Virginia. Polls indicate that James Webb, who consistently leads Virginia Senator George Allen by a few points, has the best chance for victory. Tennessee polls are all over the place - some show Bob Corker with a 12-point lead over Democrat Harold Ford, while others give him an edge of only a few points. Our sense is that circumstances on the ground favor Ford. Corker was not the Republican base's choice in the primary, and GOP turnout may be lower than most pollsters expect. In Missouri, McCaskill and Talent continue to run neck and neck, meaning the battle will come down to GOTV, which probably gives Talent the advantage.

It would be pointless to make predictions about these three races. If one was flipping a coin, the chances it would come up heads at least twice in three tosses are 50%. Less than a year ago, most pollsters gave Democrats virtually no chance of taking control of the Senate, and most people would have been content just to see Rick Santorum's despicable career ended. It's a measure of how much the political climate has changed that today Democrats have an even chance of winning control.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Ted Haggard Fired by Church

Update: In a statement written by Haggard and read to the New Life congregation Sunday morning, he said, "The fact is I am guilty of sexual immorality, and I take responsibility for the entire problem. I am a deceiver and liar there is part of my life that is so repulsive and dark that I have been warring against it all of my adult life."

The following statement was released by the New Life Church in Colorado Springs this afternoon:

November 4, 2006

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE New Life Church Colorado Springs, Colorado

We, the Overseer Board of New Life Church, have concluded our deliberations concerning the moral failings of Pastor Ted Haggard. Our investigation and Pastor Haggard's public statements have proven without a doubt that he has committed sexually immoral conduct.

The language of our church bylaws state that as Overseers we must decide in cases where the Senior Pastor has "demonstrated immoral conduct" whether we must "remove the pastor from his position or to discipline him in any way they deem necessary."

In consultation with leading evangelicals and experts familiar with the type of behavior Pastor Haggard has demonstrated, we have decided that the most positive and productive direction for our church is his dismissal and removal. In addition, the Overseers will continue to explore the depth of Pastor Haggard's offense so that a plan of healing and restoration can begin.

Pastor Haggard and his wife have been informed of this decision. They have agreed as well that he should be dismissed and that a new pastor for New Life Church should be selected according to the rules of replacement in the bylaws.

That process will begin immediately in hopes that a new pastor can be confirmed by the end of the year 2006. In the interim, Ross Parsley will function as the leader of the church with full support of the Overseers.

A letter of explanation and apology by Pastor Haggard as well as a word of encouragement from Gayle Haggard will be read in the 9:00 and 11:00 service of New Life Church.

Friday, November 03, 2006

If This Was Clue, We'd Have a Winner

Pastor Haggard in the Male Prostitute's Apartment with the Methamphetamine

Haggard Says He Bought Meth & Threw It Away

Ted Haggard's story just became a little weirder, after he was interviewed outside his home by a Colorado reporter. Haggard said he bought methamphetamine from Mike Jones, but threw it out because "I knew it was wrong." He admitted to phoning him for the drug.

He said he first met Jones when he went to him for a massage. He was placed in contact with the male prostitute through a "referral" from a Denver hotel.

Haggard denied having sex with Jones and said, "We're so grateful that he failed the polygraph test this morning."

(Kudos to the CNN reporter in this video, who kept a straight face after watching the interview.)

YouTube video (3:16)

Ted Haggard's Fantasies & Sexual Practices

In an interview with Denver's KHOW radio station, former male prostitute Mike Jones said evangelical leader Ted Haggard told him his fantasy was to have an orgy with college guys, from 18 to 22 years old. Certainly, Haggard had plenty of access to such a group.

Via Good Morning America
YouTube video (4:56)

Jones also told KHOW this morning that he and the minister practiced oral sex on each other, and that they had only engaged in "something else" (presumably anal sex) once. Jones said he was the one wearing the condom during that encounter.

Meanwhile, PageOneQ dug up an ad for Mike Jones' services. Is this part of the War on Christmas?

Is Ted Haggard the Final Nail in the Republican Coffin?

The overnight revelation by a New Life church pastor that Ted Haggard had, in fact, admitted to some of the allegations of homosexual encounters and/or methamphetamine use is huge. Haggard is president of the National Association of Evangelicals, which boasts 30 million members. He was known to be an ardent Bush supporter. He was invited, at the president's personal request, to the signing of the partial birth abortion legislation on November 3, 2003. This is from an e-mail Haggard sent far and wide about the invitation.

Well, on Monday I was in the World Prayer Center and my cell phone rang. It was one of the special assistants to President Bush calling from the White House. It turns out that when the President was reviewing the list of those attending the signing of the partial birth abortion ban, he asked why I wasn't attending and asked that they call me. So the White House staff got onto the phones and were calling the NAE Washington office, our church office and my cell phone at the same time trying to see if I could come to the signing.

Haggard also claimed to participate in weekly conference calls with the White House. The NAE publishes a regular newsletter, which it encourages its 45,000 member churches to place in their Sunday bulletins. Here is an excerpt from the latest edition (PDF):

The fate of the Republican Party’s political dominance depends in large measure upon how evangelicals vote this November 7. Making up over one-third of the GOP, polls show that evangelicals still remain the most supportive group, but at levels significantly below that they were in the 2002 and 2004 elections.

Evangelicals have, in just a few short weeks, been hit by the Foley scandal, the revelations of David Kuo's book and now by the Ted Haggard scandal. Separately, each of those events might not have weighed very heavily on the elections. The weight of all three, however, will be crushing to evangelical voters who must now decide whether it's worth the effort to vote, much less for Republicans, on November 7.

We noted with some amusement yesterday that National Review Online's The Corner included 189 (yes, we counted them) references to John Kerry on its home page, but had not one reference to Ted Haggard. Is there any question which story will have a greater impact on the elections?

In this tense election climate, the timing and magnitude of the Haggard scandal could not be worse for Republicans. It may very well be the final nail in the coffin as election day quickly approaches.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

KKTV: Haggard Admits to Allegations!

Update 1: Text of e-mail message sent by pastor Ross Parsley

Update 2: Voice-mail messages released - Haggard buying drugs

In a stunning overnight development in the Ted Haggard sex scandal, Colorado Springs' KKTV is reporting that the besieged minister has admitted to some of the allegations made against him:

After a day of whirlwind controversy surrounding New Life Church and its leader Ted Haggard, who went on administrative leave earlier Thursday, the acting Senior Pastor, Ross Parsley tells KKTV 11 News that Pastor Haggard has admitted to some of the indiscretions.

Thursday morning, Mike Jones went on a Denver radio talk show and said Pastor Haggard paid him for sex over the past 3 years. Jones also claims Haggard did drugs with him. Pastor Parsley says Haggard admitted that some of the allegations are true, but not all of them. The church is not saying what Haggard admitted to.

Haggard initially denied the allegations and said he did not know Mike Jones.

Update 1: The Ross Parsley statement was sent out via e-mail late this evening to members of the New Life Church:

From: Pastor Ross Parsley Mailed-By:
Date: Nov 2, 2006 10:59 PM
Subject: Update from Pastor Ross

Dear New Lifers and friends of New Life Church,

Many of you have expressed concern about today's news regarding our pastor. Thank you all for your prayers and support, and for your concern for our church family.

As you've likely heard by now, Pastor Ted has voluntarily placed himself on administrative leave as New Life's senior pastor to allow our external board of overseers to work effectively. Below is the statement that we released to the media on Thursday afternoon.

Since that time, the board of overseers has met with Pastor Ted. It is important for you to know that he confessed to the overseers that some of the accusations against him are true. He has willingly and humbly submitted to the authority of the board of overseers, and will remain on administrative leave during the course of the investigation.

Update 2: The voice-mail messages have now been released to Colorado's KUSA, and reveal that Ted Haggard was requesting methamphetamine from Mike Jones. The transcripts of the voice mail messages and analysis by a voice recognition expert have been published by KUSA.

The first voice message, left on August 4 at 2:18 p.m., says:

"Hi Mike, this is Art. Hey, I was just calling to see if we could get any more. Either $100 or $200 supply. And I could pick it up really anytime I could get it tomorrow or we could wait till next week sometime and so I also wanted to get your address. I could send you some money for inventory but that's probably not working, so if you have it then go ahead and get what you can and I may buzz up there later today, but I doubt your schedule would allow that unless you have some in the house. Okay, I'll check in with you later. Thanks a lot, bye."

The second voice message, left on August 4 at 5:10 p.m., says:

"Hi Mike, this is Art, I am here in Denver and sorry that I missed you. But as I said, if you want to go ahead and get the stuff, then that would be great. And I'll get it sometime next week or the week after or whenever. I will call though you early next week to see what's most convenient for you. Okay? Thanks a lot, bye."

Ted Haggard used the name "Art" in his dealings with Jones. His middle name is Arthur.

Video: Haggard on Homosexuality

This is from the documentary "Jesus Camp."


We've decided the Bible is the word of God. We don't have to have a general assembly about what we believe. It's written in the Bible. Alright? So we don't have to debate about what we should think about homosexual activity. It's written in the Bible. [closeup] I think I know what you did last night. If you send me a thousand dollars, I won't tell your wife. If you use any of this, I'll sue you.

Ted Haggard, pastor of the New Life Church and president of the National Association of Evangelicals stepped down today after the Denver Post published allegations of a three-year, sexual affair with a male prostitute and methamphetamine use.

YouTube video (0:42)

The Ecstasy of Ted Haggard

Too cute to be straight?

Ouch. One of the nation's most influential wingnuts has been outed, as a practicing homosexual and ecstasy user, according to the Denver Post. We're talking Ted Haggard, president of the National Association of Evangelicals, which claims to represent 45,000 churches and 30 million followers who receive a pro-Republican mailer in their church bulletins every week. Haggard is pastor of the New Life Church in Colorado Springs, with 14,000 members.

He was personally invited by President Bush to attend the signing of the partial birth abortion legislation and had a 56-minute, private "sit-down" in the Oval Office afterwards. (Is that what they're calling it these days?)

Haggard was outed by a male prostitute who says he and the good reverend had a three year sexual history, claims to have a letter and voicemail from Haggard and says the minister used methamphetamine in his presence.

Haggard has stepped down from his posts at the NAE and New Life Church, pending an internal investigation.

Arizona Senate Seat Up for Grabs?

Here's an ad Jim Pederson began running in Arizona in early October. Looks like it's working. As we reported below, he has a 4 point lead over Republican incumbent Jon Kyl in early voting. The Democrats are buying up all available air time for last minute advertising that could push Pederson over the top in his Senate challenge. This is not a race any pollster seriously thought was competitive. The implications for toss-up races in Missouri, Virginia, Tennessee and Montana are enormous.

YouTube video (0:29)

Quiet Week is Bad News for Republicans

Surprising Dem strength in Arizona senate race

When the Republicans have nothing more than a flubbed line from John Kerry to hang their hopes on, you know the situation is desperate. It's actually been funny to watch them blow it out of all proportion and their reaction confirms our sense that Rove is slipping. Our best guess is that the affair was a net loss for Republicans, because a) it kept the discussion on Iraq and b) the American public doesn't fetishize the army as Washington does. This is one of those Beltway things that the public doesn't relate to very well. Meanwhile, Republican candidates started talking about Iraq, which is absolutely kryptonite to their campaigns, when any smart pollster would have advised them to keep their mouths shut.

When Seymour Hersh talks about American soldiers gunning down a soccer team in Iraq, the public's sense is not to blame the soldiers, or Hersh for reporting it, but Washington for putting our soldiers in this mess. The outrage over Kerry's remarks is feigned by "Anal Cyst" Limbaugh, a long line of Republican candidates and the cadre of non-volunteers at NRO, and, yes, the public knows the outrage is fake. Bottom line: the issue has further demoralized Republican voters and will negatively affect turnout.

The news cycle abhors a vacuum, and, as we said, when there's nothing more than Kerry to talk about for two cycles, you know it's a quiet week. Meanwhile, Democrats have started pouring money into the Arizona senate race, where early voting has shown surprisingly strong turnout for Democrat Jim Pederson. The National Journal reports via its blog:

Why AZ? Here's a memo from pollsters Paul Harstad and Chris Keating the DSCC will release today: "According to our October 29 to 31 survey of 745 likely Arizona voters, fully 30% of the Arizona electorate has already voted. We expect that perhaps up to two-fifths of the voters in this election will vote early or by absentee ballot. In our October 8 to 31 tracking polls (since early voting started) we have interviewed a total of 594 early voters. Among these early voters, Jim Pederson is leading Jon Kyl by 4 points: 44% for Pederson compared to 40% for Kyl, with 4% for other candidates and 12% refused. This 4% Pederson lead is all the more remarkable since registered Republicans and Democrats are equally likely to have voted early, and in fact there are more Republicans than Democrats in this early-voting sample of 594 respondents."

Arizona hasn't been on anyone's list of competitive states. This news will strike fear into the hearts of Republican candidates across the nation.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Limbaugh to Interview Bush Today

It's hard to think of anything less presidential the president could do than sit down for an interview with Rush Limbaugh, one of the pioneers of hate radio. Yet, the AP is reporting that's just what Bush has planned for the day. The president and first lady have pulled out all the stops, as they hurry around the country to try to keep subpoena power from falling into the hands of an adversary Congress. Given the public's disgust with recent Limbaugh comments on Michael J. Fox, will this interview backfire? We'd like to think so.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Is Bob Corker Tall Enough to be Senator?

The Fox News interview with Bob Corker last Sunday really set us to thinking. Far be it for us to use a man's physical attributes against him, but is he tall enough to be Tennessee's senator?

Wendi Thomas, a Memphis columnist, has wondered about Corker's height as well:

Height shouldn't matter, but it does. Corker says he's 5 foot 7 inches tall, but when I met him at a debate, we stood just about eye to eye. And I'm 5-1. On a good day. With thick socks and heels.

Here's our best guess at how he'd look posing with French President Jacques Chirac, who is 6 foot 3 inches tall.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Gary Wills on Faith-Based Government

How Bush launched an anti-smoking campaign in Iraq

Historian Gary Wills, a professor of history at Northwestern and Pulitzer winner for Lincoln at Gettysburg, provides an excellent summary of the extent to which, for the first time ever in America, the Bush administration has brought religion into government. His article appears in the latest issue of The New York Review of Books.

The right wing in America likes to think that the United States government was, at its inception, highly religious, specifically highly Christian, and even more specifically highly biblical. That was not true of that government or any later government—until 2000, when the fiction of the past became the reality of the present.

Some of the details of Bush's promotion of religion are well-known. Wills breaks the categories down: faith-based justice, faith-based social services, faith-based science, faith-based health and faith-based war. The latter category includes this sad anecdote:

Those recruited to serve in the CPA were asked if they had voted for Bush, and what their views were on Roe v. Wade and capital punishment. O'Beirne trolled the conservative foundations, Republican congressional staffs, and evangelical schools for his loyalist appointees. Relatives of prominent Republicans were appointed, and staffers from offices like that of Senator Rick Santorum. Right moral attitude was more important than competence.

That was proved when the first director of Iraqi health services, Dr. Frederick Burkle, was dismissed. Burkle, a distinguished physician, was a specialist in disaster relief, with experience in Kosovo, Somalia, and Kurdish Iraq. His replacement, James Haverman, had run a Christian adoption agency meant to discourage women from having abortions. Haverman placed an early emphasis on preventing Iraqis from smoking, while ruined hospitals went untended. This may suggest the policy on appointments that put Michael Brown in charge of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, but the parallel is insufficiently harsh. Chris Matthews brought it up on his television show while interviewing the Washington Post reporter who had covered the CPA in Iraq, Rajiv Chandrasekaran, who said, "There were a hundred Browns in Iraq."But there were Bible study groups in the Green Zone.

Unfortunately for all of us, tales of Bush's incompetence are no longer surprising. Faith-based incompetence from the president is what we've come to expect.

5' 7" Bob? Really?

FoxNews provided this interesting, er, perspective on Bob Corker yesterday.

We can't help wondering if the point of Harold Ford's parking lot offensive was to give us this perspective.

There are some very humorous ideas one could think of for background music, if one wished to respond to Corker's "jungle drums" ad in kind.

Calling the GOP Base to Vote

Jesus' General at Patriot Boy is on a roll. He's put together a get out the vote ad for candidates George Allen (welcome to America, Macaca), Conrad Burns (little Guatemalan man) and Bob Corker (jungle drums in Africa). It will be hard for Move On to top this.

YouTube video (0:57)

Sunday, October 29, 2006

A Quiet Week Ahead?

When George Allen starts doing book reports on Jim Webb's novels and peddling them to the media via Drudge, you can pretty much assume the campaigning is almost over. With any luck, this will be a quiet week ahead, as the campaigns go dark with their GOTV operations. The last few days have been remarkably devoid of news that has much political significance.

Nothing interesting popped out of the Sunday news shows. A few people are still kicking Rush around, but the general public lost interest in that issue late last week. The airwaves are likely to be saturated with negative ads all week, but it appears that everyone's cards are pretty much on the table now and all that remains is for any undecided voters to make up their minds. There are still rumors of more Foley-related disclosures, but we've heard that before and anything new is unlikely to affect more than one race. The timing of Conrad Burns' indictment is unclear and there's a slight chance that could hit the fan this week.

There's not much that could sway the most likely outcome of the November 7 election at this point: House to the Dems; Senate to the Republicans.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Kicking Off With the Chicks

No better way to start the weekend than with our gals, the Dixie Chicks. Here they are singing the national anthem at the January 26, 2003, Super Bowl.

YouTube video (2:10)

Public Interest in Limbaugh Feud Over

Judging by the Alexa traffic ratings for Rush Limbaugh's web site, public interest in his feud with Michael J. Fox peaked on Thursday, October 26, and is now over. It's time to move on. There are only 11 days left until the election. Don't waste them beating a dead horse.

Friday, October 27, 2006

The Worst Congress Ever

"A stable of thieves and perverts"

Rolling Stone's contributing editor Matt Taibbi presents a devastating report card on the do-nothing Congress. Laziness is just a part of it:

In the Sixties and Seventies, Congress met an average of 162 days a year. In the Eighties and Nineties, the average went down to 139 days. This year, the second session of the 109th Congress will set the all-time record for fewest days worked by a U.S. Congress: ninety-three. That means that House members will collect their $165,000 paychecks for only three months of actual work.

What this means is that the current Congress will not only beat but shatter the record for laziness set by the notorious "Do-Nothing" Congress of 1948, which met for a combined 252 days between the House and the Senate. This Congress -- the Do-Even-Less Congress -- met for 218 days, just over half a year, between the House and the Senate combined.

The problems run much deeper, of course, and include rampant corruption, plus an institutional failure to act as a check on the executive branch. Taibbi lays out what it takes to become the worst Congress ever in five easy steps.

If you want the short version, watch the interview Taibbi did with Amy Goodman this morning on Democracy Now!

Are Corker's Racist Ads Too Subtle?

Jesus' General, over at Patriot Boy, thinks he might know how to help Bob Corker:

I'm worried that the ads Tennessee senatorial candidate Bob Corker and the RNCC are running might be a bit too subtle. Sure, the jungle drums and the "he's after our white women" pitch are cues most people would get, but I'm not sure the audience they're trying to target will catch on. Those good old boys ain't none too bright.

He's put together a new Corker ad that makes it all a bit clearer.

YouTube video (0:50)

Dixie Chicks "Shut Up and Sing" Opens Today

NBC refuses to run ad

The Dixie Chicks' powerful documentary, "Shut Up and Sing," opens today in New York and Los Angeles, and it's already stirring up controversy as NBC refuses to run a Chicks ad. According to the Hollywood Reporter:

In a press release issued late Thursday, the Weinstein Co. said that NBC had rejected a spot for the docu, which opens today in New York and Los Angeles, because the spot included material that "disparages President Bush."

Golly. There's not a lot that NBC could air these days if they won't let people disparage Dubya. The good news is that all the other networks have approved the spot.

Movie trailer (YouTube - 2:30)

Limbaugh: All About Ratings

Ever wonder what would possess a man to willfully make himself the butt of national jokes or distort himself into a cruel caricature of a human being? Money. And in show business, ratings equals money.

Rush Limbaugh will milk his "dispute" with Michael J. Fox for all it's worth, not because he believes a word coming out of his own mouth or because he's ideologically driven, but because it's good for ratings. Here's what's happened with his web site, which has nearly tripled in page views over the past two days according to Alexa's data. The same thing is probably going on with his radio show. People can't resist a freak show, and Rush's is free.

It's all too bad for Republicans, who are dying a slow death in the strangle-hold of Limbaugh's fat grip. He's done more for Democrats in this election than the Foley scandal ever could.

Instant Messaging to Victory

Mark Fiore does it again. Don't miss his Flash animation, "GOP 2.0 - Instant Messaging to Victory." This new GOP instant messaging software enhances your political perversion experience, lets you keep track of all the people in your influence peddling network, and offers other nifty features!

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Michael J. Fox on CBS. What an Interview!

"If bringing the message means the messenger gets roughed up a little bit, I'm happy to be that guy"

Katie Couric adjusts Fox's microphone after he accidentally kicks it off. Will Rush Limbaugh accuse CBS of staging this moment?

Wow. What an interview. Please watch this Katie Couric interview with Michael J. Fox from CBS. Fox is an incredibly powerful and astute spokesman for Parkinson's research and has indeed not, as he put it, just been plucked off the apple cart.

From the transcript:

KC: Rush Limbaugh, I contacted him because I wanted to fairly represent what he was saying because he believes that that clip was played and his real issues were not represented. So he told me, I called Rush Limbaugh and he told me, "I believe Democrats have a long history of using victims of various things as political spokespeople because they believe they are untouchable, infallible. They are immune from criticism". He went on to say "Michael J Fox is stumping for Democrats in the political arena and is, therefore, open to analysis and criticism as we all are."

MF: Well, first thing, he used the word victim, and in another occasion, I heard him use the word “pitiable. And I don’t understand, nobody in this position wants pity. We don’t want pity. I could give a damn about Rush Limbaugh’s pity or anyone else’s pity. I'm not a victim. I'm someone who’s in this situation. I'm in this situation with millions of other Americans, whether it’s like I said, for Parkinson’s, or Alzheimer’s, or ALS, or diabetes or spinal cord injury or what have you. And we have a right, if there’s answers out there, to pursue those answers with the full support of our politicians. And so I don't need anyone’s permission to do that. As far as democratic politics go, you know it’s kind of funny, because the argument that I heard from that quarter, was first, that I was manipulating it, that I was a con-man essentially, and I didn’t have the symptoms and was putting them on, so I was perpetrating fraud. And when he backed off then, then it became that I was a dupe of the, a shill for the Democrats, that I was being exploited. And the truth is, I've been involved with this issue since 2000. And in the meantime, separate and apart from my political involvement, I've started a foundation that’s raised $85 million for research and is the second leading fundraiser for Parkinson’s research after the federal government. And um, you know, I'm not a Johnny-come-lately. No one plucked me off the apple cart to come and do this. I mean, I believe in this cause. I’ve put a lot of my life and energy into it, and we're serious about it.

YouTube video (10:10)

National Review Online Gets Aramaic Right, Then Wrong

NRO sells out its readers for 30 pieces of silver

It's always interesting, and disappointing, to catch a cover-up or a lie in the making. After Jim Caviezel recorded his commercial about stem cell research, speaking Aramaic, people naturally wondered what he'd said.

Rush Limbaugh's translation was the oddest:

CAVIEZEL (in Aramaic): You know now. Don't do it. Vote "no" on two.

As one might expect of a blog with a well-educated and diverse readership, National Review Online came up with a transcription and translation very quickly, provided by a student of Aramaic:

Happened to be reading the Corner this evening in between sporadic bouts of translating Aramaic (actually Syriac, but same difference) for my grad studies. What Caviezel said was "l'bar nash b'nashak", or "the son of man with a kiss". Which isn't even a complete sentence, but whatever.

The reference, obviously, was to a biblical passage in which Jesus asks Judas, "Would you betray the Son of Man with a kiss?" But something had gone awry. Caviezel, or the commercial's editors, had chopped off the first part of the quote.

We have independently confirmed with an Aramaic scholar that the transcription and translation provided by the student are accurate, and that the first part of the quote was in fact lopped off.

What happens next in the story of the Caviezel quote is fascinating. The Washington Times (nobody's paragon of journalistic excellence) reported that it had the "exclusive" translation:

When presented with Mr. Fulco's translation, which was confirmed by several other Aramaic scholars, the group agreed to release the exact translation exclusively to The Times.

"It means 'You betray me with a kiss,' which means Amendment Two is a betrayal because it is deceptive," Ms. Ruse said. "It promises one thing and delivers another."

Suddenly, the word "betray" had inserted itself into the translation, although its Aramaic equivalent was nowhere to be found in the transcription, which the Times confirmed as "le-bar nash be-neshak," exactly what the Aramaic student had provided.

Back we go to the National Review, which suddenly changed its translation to match that of the Washington Times:

The Corner can end all suspense and officially confirm that in the commercial airing in St. Louis tonight Jim Caviezel says in Aramaic, "You betray me with a kiss." (Which is what a few readers, including one Aramaic student told The Corner last night.)

Actually, it wasn't what the Aramaic student told The Corner, and it isn't the proper translation. But, there you have it. The National Review sold its readers and its credibility for 30 pieces of silver, or its equivalent in whatever political capital might have been gained by lying about the quote.

Chris Matthews on GOP Racism

Speaking on MSNBC yesterday, Chris Matthews emphatically accused the Republicans of using racist tactics in Tennessee. From his comments:

These are racist ads. This ad running in Tennessee is not rough, it's racist. There's a difference between tagging the other side, having some fun with them, making them pay for their mistakes in the past, but you should never make a person pay for being a certain race. And that's what this is about. It crosses the line.

YouTube video (1:50)

The GOP's recourse to racism in Tennessee is more than a little disheartening, as Americans are trying to find a way to united warring ethnic groups under our rule in Iraq. This isn't just Bob Corker. It's the Republican National Committee ("bimbo ad"), the Republican National Senate Committee ("Fancy Ford") and Corker's own campaign ("jungle drums").

This is about much more than partisan politcs. We will be the first to denounce Democrats for racism if examples are brought to our attention. This blog has repeatedly denounced Democrat Jim Webb for trying to justify sexist comments he's made in the past. As a nation, we simply can not survive in this atmosphere of hate, perpetuated by commentators like Rush Limbaugh, Ann Coulter and Sean Hannity, and carried forward by politicians like Bob Corker. It is tearing our society to shreds and it's high time Americans said "enough."

When Republicans Run Amok: Jungle Drums on Anti-Ford Radio Ad

By our count, this is the third Republican ad with racist overtones in Tennessee. The Republican National Committee paid for the first one, the "bimbo ad" that has been widely denounced for race-baiting. The Los Angeles Times reported on October 24:

A new Republican Party television ad featuring a scantily clad white woman winking and inviting a black candidate to "call me" is drawing charges of race-baiting, with critics saying it contradicts a landmark GOP statement last year that the party was wrong in past decades to use racial appeals to win support from white voters.

Critics said the ad, which is funded by the Republican National Committee and has aired since Friday, plays on fears of interracial relationships to scare some white voters in rural Tennessee to oppose Democratic Rep. Harold E. Ford Jr.

The second, in our opinion, is a web site funded by the National Republican Senate Committee called "Fancy Ford." The site reveals the shocking news that Ford spent $3,100 in 60 visits to the U.S. House Members' Dining Room in 2005, or about $50 per visit. Would the NRSC have thought anything was amiss if a white-skinned House member dined well? We doubt it.

The third was reported yesterday by TPM's Election Central. A new radio ad endorsed by Bob Corker lays out the differences between himself and Ford. (Ford studied UPenn while poor Bob stayed home to study in Tennessee, etc. We kind of doubt Bob was Ivy League material, but that's beside the point.) Whenever Ford's name occurs in the ad, jungle drums can be heard in the background. Whenever Corker's name occurs, a sort of bland, angelic music is played. The TPM article about the ad is very interesting, and recommended reading. Listen to the ad here (MP3).

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Jesus Responds to Michael J. Fox in New Ad

Well, that didn't take long. Jesus didn't like the Michael J. Fox ad and, just like Rush Limbaugh, he's said so. In Aramaic.

OK, so it wasn't Jesus himself. It was Jim Caviezel who played Jesus in The Passion of the Christ.

Jesus, or, uh, Caviezel, speaks to us in his boyhood Aramaic about stem cell research. His words?

"L'bar nash b'nashak."

In case you've forgotten all the Aramaic you ever knew, it means "the son of man with a kiss."

Jesus doesn't have to use verbs, or even make sense. He just has to show up every once in a while and put sick people in their place.

YouTube video (1:01)

Update: We've received word that Jesus will be doing ads for the NRA next. Like Moses. Some difficulties are expected in translating "assault weapons" into Aramaic.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Botero Does Abu Ghraib

What do Botero's pudgy, comic figures have to do with Abu Ghraib? The 50 or so paintings and drawings he did on the subject were exhibited last year in Italy and Germany. They're on display now at the Marlborough Gallery in New York. Bloomberg reports:

In a couple of canvases, the bulbous figures appear in the mournfully familiar pyramid of naked, hooded bodies on a spotless cellblock floor, hands and feet shackled by rope bracelets. In several works that isolate one or two inmates in ignominious positions, flesh bursts out of pink, red or green bra and panties or diapers.

Other canvases depict men being sodomized with a broken stick, suffering a rain of urine or cowering before green attack dogs that are combination wolf, bull and stegosaurus.

You can see 25 of the paintings and drawings here.

Senate Looking Bleaker for Dems

Republicans mount racist attacks on Harold Ford

There's no good news for Democrats this week about Senate races. The Montana race, which looked like an easy pick-off for Democrats just a few weeks ago, has tightened, and Tester barely holds the lead, according to Rasmussen.

The states where Democrats are virtually assured of winning seats from Republicans are Ohio, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island. Wins in those three states would give the Dems 48 Senate seats, assuming they hold on to New Jersey. To take control, they would have to win three of the following four races: Missouri, Montana, Tennessee and Virginia.

Of those, we're guessing Democrats will only win Montana. The Republican incumbents in Missouri and Virginia have weathered the campaign well, with Missouri's Senator Jim Talent displaying a remarkable prowess for public debate. His challenger, Claire McCaskill, is a second-rate candidate and political hack who, let's face it, just doesn't belong in the Senate. In Virginia, Democrats have fielded a Republican Lite candidate, Jim Webb, who hasn't demonstrated much political agility in the field and won't do much to change the direction of the country. Both McCaskill and Webb are weak Democratic candidates whose voices won't be missed in the national discourse.

On the other hand, Democrat Harold Ford of Tennessee is superior in all respects to his opponent and deserves to win his election. Whether we want to talk it about it as a nation or not, the outcome of this election will depend on Ford's race. The negative ads ("Fancy Ford" is a good example) are obliquely racist, and Republicans obviously understand all too well that success in Tennessee will hinge on turning out their trailer park base.

(This graphic is taken from a National Republican Senate Committee web site. The message? Black men shouldn't dine well.)

Monday, October 23, 2006

Limbaugh Mocks Michael J. Fox

Liposuck 200 pounds off, stuff him in black cocktail dress and you'd never know the difference between Rush Limbaugh and Ann Coulter. The market for hate politics has turned bearish and Rush is getting desperate. More at Crooks and Liars.

Jon Stewart on Republican Paranoia

It's not just Republican congressman Curt Weldon who sees a sinister hand behind investigations into his apparent influence peddling. The entire GOP apparatus, from George Bush to Bill O'Reilly, believes there's a massive, international conspiracy to turn Congress over to Democrats.

YouTube video (3:20)

Robert Dreyfuss on Democracy Now!

Amy Goodman interviewed Robert Dreyfuss on Democracy Now! this morning. Watch it for an excellent summation of his views about a coup in Iraq, or read the Asia Times article we suggested.

From the transcript:

Now there are rumors all over the place, in Washington, in Baghdad, in other places, that there are forces trying to come up with a non-democratic solution, some sort of coup d'etat, some sort of military takeover that would oust the elected government. It could be done under a constitutional fig leaf, let's say, if Maliki were to resign in favor of some junta of national salvation. It could be done in the middle of the night by some enterprising colonel or general, where the United States would look the other way.

I don’t think any of this could happen without American support, but I do know that there are a number of people inside the Baker commission, within the U.S. government, in the CIA and elsewhere, who are thinking about this.

Audio/video links and transcript at Democracy Now!

Bad News for Webb: He Needs Women Voters

According to a Washington Post article this morning, Democrat Jim Webb's chances of ousting Republican Senator George Allen will depend on women voters.

We return to the postulate we formulated after the Webb/Allen Meet the Press debate: A racist Republican can win, but not a sexist Democrat. Webb has consistently attempted to justify his sexist comments throughout his campaign, on Meet the Press and more recently on CNN's Situation Room. The Democratic party and Democratic bloggers have done Webb a grave disservice. They could have told him months ago to stop justifying himself and simply apologize.

It's bad luck for Webb that women will have the last word in the Virginia race. Nowhere, and especially not in the South, is it ever appropriate, nor has it ever been appropriate, to publish remarks about "horny women." Webb just can't get that through his thick head.

(The graphic below is from a truly idiotic web site sponsored by the NRSC, with a Halloween theme.)

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Required Reading: "A Coup in the Air"

Would a military coup in Iraq solve Bush's problems?

Writing in today's Asia Times, Robert Dreyfuss discusses the signs that Iraq is headed for a coup and military dictatorship. Dreyfuss writes in a well-researched article called "A Coup in the Air":

Of course, no coup will happen at all - no general or colonel would dare try - without, at the very least, a wink and a nod from the CIA, the US military, or Khalilzad. And most likely, it would take significantly more than a wink, something like explicit support and promises of assistance.

But, according to my reporting, that is precisely what is being discussed in Washington, even among the inner councils of Baker's Iraq Study Group, the realist (that is, anti-neo-conservative) commission set up last spring to figure out what to do about Iraq.

Salah Mukhtar, a former top Iraqi official who served as Iraq's ambassador to India and then Vietnam in the period just before the US invasion of Iraq, is not a spokesman for the Iraqi resistance. But he is very well plugged in to the thinking of that country's insurgent leaders. When I spoke to him this week by telephone, he assured me the resistance was well aware that elements in the Bush administration might be planning a coup. According to him, the main focus of such a coup - even one fostered by the United States - would be to mobilize the Iraqi Army against the Shi'ite militias.

The United States is not good at wars against insurgents because, Rumsfeld's protestations to the contrary, they require large numbers of troops. The Pentagon's rule of thumb is 10 troops per insurgent, and all the technology in the world doesn't change that basic rule of insurgent warfare.

The United States is quite good, on the other hand, at counter-insurgency by proxy, providing training, weapons and advice behind the scenes to ruthless dictatorships. A coup in Iraq would permit the U.S. to draw on its ample experience from Latin America during the Cold War. It would absolve the U.S. from all responsibility to Iraqis once the coup has been completed. In short, it would be the most expedient and cynical of all options that are on the table for Iraq.

Make no mistake: A new military dictatorship in Iraq will be one of the bloodiest affairs the world has ever witnessed. The complications arising from warring ethnic groups, rival international interests, a surfeit of arms and deteriorating health conditions practically guarantee that more than three million Iraqis will eventually lose their lives in the ensuing chaos.

Sadly, all Americans will bear the judgment of history and the ire of the Muslim world for that death toll, yet we will have no voice in making the decision to abandon democracy for dictatorship in Iraq, a decision that will be made covertly, without our informed approval, as part of a domestic political calculus to rescue President Bush and the Republicans from the tragic mess they've created.

Weller Accuses Congressman of Drinks with 21-Year-Old

Weller story gets weirder

Republican congressman Jerry Weller (IL-11) has informed the congressional Ethics Committee that a colleague once invited a 21-year-old intern to his home for drinks. His campaign spokesman, Steven Shearer, said the campaign obtained that information from reporters who phoned to ask about Weller's rumored involvement with a teenage congressional page.

The Morris Daily Herald in Weller's home district reports:

With the Mark Foley page scandal looming over Washington, Shearer said Weller felt it appropriate to inform the committee even though nothing illegal appears to have occurred. Unlike congressional pages, who are high school juniors who help out at the Capitol, interns are college students who work in offices."It seems a little strange that a congressman would do that with a 21-year-old," Shearer said. "In light of everything going on, we were just letting them know."

Given that the age of consent in every country on the planet, including Madagascar, is 21 years of age or younger, it is not clear how Weller's allegation might relate to the Ethics Committee investigation. If Shearer's story is correct, reporters phoned up to ask about a case that would not fall under the committee's purview, somehow confused Jerry Weller with the congressman who invited the adult intern for drinks, and convinced him their information was credible enough to warrant him phoning the Ethics Committee to report something he'd heard third-hand about a non-existent crime.

Does anybody buy this story?

Michael J. Fox Ad in Missouri

Claire McCaskill's campaign in Missouri began running an ad that features Michael J. Fox last week. Transcript:

As you might know, I care deeply about stem cell research. In Missouri, you can elect Claire McCaskill who shares my hope for cures. Unfortunately, Senator Jim Talent opposes expanding stem cell research. Senator Talent even wants to criminalize the science that gives us a chance for hope. They say all politics is local, but it's not always the case. What you do in Missouri matters to millions of Americans. Americans like me.

YouTube video (0:37)

David Kuo on Colbert Report

David Kuo, author of Tempting Faith: An Inside Story of Political Seduction, appeared on the Colbert Report last Wednesday, October 18. Here's a brief excerpt from the exchange with Stephen Colbert.

Colbert: Why'd you write this book?

Kuo: Because I think someone had to point out that Jesus and George W. Bush are different people.

Colbert: OK, maybe so. I'm not confused about whether George W. Bush is God, ok, but clearly God hired George W. Bush.

YouTube video (6:09)

David Kuo launched a blog at Beliefnet on October 13, where people from many faiths are discussing his book tour experiences (including an encounter with a "teamster" who had been given a question by Cheney's chief of staff), ideas about a fast from politics, the relationship of religion to the state and other topics.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Rep. Jerry Weller Denies Sexual Involvement with Page

Republican congressman Jerry Weller (IL-11) issued a statement yesterday denying sexual involvement with teenage congressional pages, according to the Chicago Sun-Times. Weller said a page or intern sponsored by his office was subject to questionable behavior by another congressman.

His campaign manager, Steve Shearer, told the newspaper:

We believe we have now gotten to the bottom of this and other reporters who have researched this agree -- that what we have been told is that a page or intern who was sponsored by Cong. Weller was inappropriately invited to a social event with another congressman.

Shearer said that "wild rumors" circulating in the blogosphere "is a new way of political assassination," and that there were no facts to back up any story about Weller.

According to Shearer, the page in question is male and Weller has not been contacted by any investigative agency. It was unclear from his account whether the congressman had prior knowledge of the incident or had contacted authorities, such as the special ethics subcommittee, about it. The committee had previously issued a letter asking all congressmen to interview former pages and report their findings. The FBI is also reportedly interviewing both male and female pages.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Internet Afire with New Page Scandal Rumors

Rumors began circulating on the Internet yesterday evening that Republican congressman Jerry Weller (IL-11) will be named soon in a third congressional page scandal that may involve a 16-year-old girl. None of those claiming to have information about the congressman have posted a source or other evidence so far.

Most of the rumors track back to this diary on DailyKos, which names the congressman directly.

Gonna have to trust me on this, but I have fantastic information that Weller R-IL (11th District) is the next one coming down in the page scandal. Can't reveal source.

Another post by blogger ArchPundit claims to have three sources, all different from that of the Kos diarist. ArchPundit writes:

Sometime, probably in the next 48 hours though I'm betting sooner than later, an Illinois Congressional race is going topsy turvy. It's another pick-up for Dems. If you are observant around the net you'll find the information. Mobilization is already occurring around the state to get ground troops.

The Chicago Tribune refused to endorse his candidacy this morning, citing concerns about a conflict of interest between his congressional work and his marriage:

His wife is a leading member of Guatemala's Congress and the daughter of a former Guatemalan dictator who has been accused of war crimes, yet Weller continues as vice chair of a House subcommittee on the western hemisphere.

Weller also appears to have performed a favor for a campaign contributor when he hand-delivered a letter to the Belizean prime minister about a matter in which the contributor was involved.

Rep. Jerry Weller (left) with President Bush.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Senator Larry Craig Denies Reports of Homosexuality

Republican Senator Larry Craig of Idaho denied reports of homosexual encounters yesterday to Washington state's Spokesman Review newspaper, calling them "completely ridiculous." The Review reported:

Craig, who is married, denied the allegations through his staff, saying they "have no basis in fact." Sid Smith, spokesman for the Idaho Republican, said it would be hard to independently check Rogers' sources, adding, "saying you have anonymous sources doesn't seem very convincing to me."

A lawsuit "isn't out of the question," but Craig hasn't considered it at this point, Smith said. "That would be taking it a little more seriously than it deserves," he added.

The allegations surfaced yesterday through gay activist blogger Mike Rogers, who published them on his web site and in a nationally broadcast radio interview with Ed Schultz. Rogers said he is confident about his information, telling the newspaper, "I have never been wrong, and in this, you can't be 99 percent right. It's 100 percent or nothing."

On his website, Rogers writes:

I have done extensive research into this case, including trips to the Pacific Northwest to meet with men who have say they have physical relations with the Senator. I have also met with a man here in Washington, D.C., who says the same -- and that these incidents occurred in the bathrooms of Union Station. None of these men know each other, or knew that I was talking to others. They all reported similar personal characteristics about the Senator, which lead me to believe, beyond any doubt, that their stories are valid.

Rogers said the issue is one of hypocrisy, not lifestyle. Craig has voted against numerous legislative initiatives for gays, and supports a constitutional marriage amendment. His home state of Idaho is one of the most conservative in the nation.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Bush: Iraq is a Mess

Bill O'Reilly of Fox News interviewed President Bush this morning and broadcast the interview on his television show, popular with older Americans, this evening. Discussing the division of Iraq into autonomous regions, Bush said:

Dividing is basically saying there's gonna be three autonomous regions will create, Bill, a situation where Sunnis and Sunni nations and Sunni radicals will be competing against Shia radicals, the Kurds will then create problems for Turkey and Syria and you've got a bigger mess than we have at this point in time which I believe is gonna be solved.

Who knew O'Reilly would get a scoop? Iraq is a mess.

Chapter 1 of "Tempting Faith"

The first chapter of David Kuo's controversial new book, Tempting Faith: An Inside Story of Political Seduction, is on-line at ABC News.

The excerpted chapter deals with his childhood and first experiences with religion. Kuo's style is lean, honest and eminently readable. For years the religious scene in the United States has been dominated by the shrill, obnoxious, self-serving voices of those who capitalize on faith, turning Christianity on its head to vile and unnatural uses, the voices of men like Gary Bauer, James Dobson, Donald Wildmon, Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson. Kuo's voice is refreshingly gentle and meek, the small still voice that speaks after the storm.

Highly recommended.

CNN Poll: 64% Now Oppose Iraq War

According to a new CNN poll, 64% of the American public now opposes the Iraq war. The poll, with a margin of error of +/-3%, was conducted from October 13-15. Respondents were asked "Do you favor or oppose the U.S. war in Iraq?"

That's the highest number yet registered in this particular poll, up 2% from two weeks ago and 10% since June. Asked whether they approve or disapprove with the way George W. Bush is handling the situation in Iraq, 64% said they disapproved.

The poll was conducted after the publication last Thursday, October 12, of a study in The Lancet which determined that about 650,000 Iraqis have died as a result of the U.S. invasion. The study's results do not appear to have significantly swayed public opinion, either because they were not widely publicized or because the public believed George Bush's assertion that the methodology was not credible.

Battle for the Senate: Virginia Now a Toss-Up

According to this morning's Rasmussen Reports, the Virginia senate race has narrowed, with incumbent Republican George Allen now leading by just 3 points. In the Rasmussen count of senate races, that leaves Democrats and Republicans now tied at 48 all, with four toss-ups: Missouri, New Jersey, Tennessee and now Virginia. Democrats will have to win at least three of those tight races to take control of the Senate.

Rasmussen's latest poll shows Allen leading Webb 47 to 44%, marking a 3-point shift since October 1 polling when Allen led by a larger 49 to 43% margin. About 17% of poll respondents said the Foley scandal was "very important" in their decision, suggesting Webb may have picked up some support after the Foley scandal that he lost after his sexist comments were widely publicized.

At this moment, Democrats are favored to take Republican seats in Pennsylvania, Montana, Ohio and Rhode Island. Republicans have reportedly written off Pennsylvania and Ohio. The only Democratic seat threatened in the November election is New Jersey.

In Missouri, Democratic candidate Claire McCaskill dropped 2 points following her Meet the Press debate and is still locked in a statistical dead heat with incumbent Jim Talent. Whatever benefit she may have gained from the Foley scandal may have been negated by her poor showing on MTP.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Reichen Lehmkuhl and Lance Bass Accept HRC Awards

Here are the videos of Reichen Lehmkuhl and Lance Bass accepting their Visibility Awards at the Human Rights Campaign's national dinner last week. The HRC is one of the most powerful lobbying groups in Washington, and certainly the most powerful for LGBT rights.

Lehmkuhl is a retired captain of the U.S. Air Force and the winner of "Amazing Race." He said his number one priority is to end discrimination against gays in the military. He recently published a book called Here's What We'll Say: Growing Up, Coming Out, and the U.S. Air Force Academy.

Lance Bass was a member of the 'N Sync band.

YouTube videos:
Lehmkuhl (7:51)
Bass (2:46)

Rev. Barry Lynn on the White House "Judas Moment"

The Rev. Barry Lynn, Executive Director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State and an ordained minister in the United Church of Christ, discusses the White House's betrayal of conservative Christian groups in this interview with Keith Olbermann. The sordid, backroom dealings of the White House Office of Faith-Based Initiatives have been detailed by David Kuo, in his book Tempting Faith, to be released on October 16. Kuo describes how White House officials constantly mocked conservative Christians behind their backs.


I don't think that most of the people who would consider themselves religious right members or conservative evangelicals have any idea that within Karl Rove's office they are being referred to as nuts or ridiculous or any of the other language. You know a lot of religious right leaders say to me that I'm either the biggest thorn in their side or the biggest enemy in their midst and sometimes things even more impolite but all I do is argue with them on the merits of issues. But to have the top leaders of the White House refer to them with this kind of language becomes a Judas moment, a moment where they feel betrayed and they're going to feel betrayed as this story gets out more and more.

YouTube video (5:01)

The Santorum Meltdown

We all know old "man-on-dog" Rick Santorum's a nut, but it's nice to have video evidence. This footage is taken from the October 12 Pittsburgh debate between Santorum and his Democratic challenger Bob Casey. Rick gets testy whenever the question of his state residency, and the huge sum he charged Pennsylvania tax payers to cyberschool his children, comes up. You can practically see the steam coming out of his ears as Casey goads him on. Santorum is at least 14 points behind in the polls. You can see why.

YouTube video (2:35)

Polls, Polls and More Polls

Let's not lose our heads. Yes, the political environment looks good for throwing some bums out of Congress, perhaps good enough to give Democrats majority control of the House, but still not good enough to win the Senate. Recall that at least one pollster, Rasmussen, hasn't found any partisan shift or shift of evangelical votes after the Foley scandal. Remember that Jim Webb in Virginia still hasn't come to terms with his sexism and probably never will, and he's making no headway in his campaign. Recall that Claire McCaskill gave a pitiful performance in her Meet the Press debate last Sunday. Remember that we're talking about Democrats, who, given the slightest chance to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory, will do so every time, versus Republicans, who play an admirable end game with an awesome machine for turning out votes where they count.

We're back to toss-up status in the Tennessee senate race, where Democrat Harold Ford's lead over Bob Corker has narrowed, after briefly moving into a more comfortable zone. In the Rasmussen count, that makes 49 Republican seats, 48 Democrat seats and three toss-ups in Tennessee, New Jersey and Missouri. Democrats have to win all three to take control of the Senate. Again, one could almost weep for the lost opportunities. If Democratic blogs had taken Jim Webb to task early on and insisted that he humble himself over his sexist comments, Virginia might be in play now. If Democrats had coached Claire McCaskill for her Meet the Press debate, she might have a runaway lead this week. Anyway, the Senate is looking worse post-Foley than it did before.

The House, on the other hand, is probably better. If you want to add some sparkle and sunshine to your day, take a look at Charlie Cook's "National Overview" at the Cook Report:

Category 5 Hurricane Heads for House GOP

This is without question the worst political situation for the GOP since the Watergate disaster in 1974. I think a 30-seat gain today for Democrats is more likely to occur than a 15-seat gain, the minimum that would tip the majority. The chances of that number going higher are also strong, unless something occurs that fundamentally changes the dynamic of this election. This is what Republican strategists' nightmares look like.

This Democracy Corps memo (pdf) is brightly optimistic, but don't expect us to vouch for anything with James Carville's name on it. Carville is to political analysis what Wayne Madsen is to investigative reporting.


We do not often get to write such a report — changes so large over such a short period that they certainly portend a whole new playing field for the November election . . . The end of the Congress — with the increased pessimism and anger about Iraq and the Foley scandal and subsequent partisan brawl — has moved voters to shift their assessments of the parties and their votes. The 1994 election broke at the end; this one just broke. The shift is evident on every indicator — party, Bush, war, intensity and morale. The shift this poll shows in the Republican held seats reflects a dramatic change nationally in the generic congressional ballot. On Monday, Democracy Corps will release a report that shows that a 5-point swing on average to the Democrats in the ten media polls conducted in October. The Democratic vote, stuck at 49 percent for months, suddenly jumped to 53 percent in the last two weeks. We highlight these findings this Friday afternoon because Democrats and progressives need to think radically differently about the 2006 battle — in this three-week window. In 1994, the race shifted dramatically at the end, but Democrats have a chance to consolidate gains large enough to affect congressional control over this decade. That means allocating resources and finding new resources to lock in the gains, as the Republicans move their much greater resources up to the new barricades.

Sound analysis or a sales pitch for Carville's services? We rather expect it's the latter.

Friday, October 13, 2006

David Kuo Launches Blog

David Kuo has launched a new blog at Beliefnet, a moderate Christian website, called "J-Walking" (the J is for Jesus.) His first post was logged yesterday at 7:17 pm and describes some elements of his faith, concluding, "Check back soon because we are going to get off to a quick start... trust me." A bio on the same page mentions his work at the White House, his family and his membership in the Association of Professional Bass Fishermen.

Kuo is the author of Tempting Faith: An Inside Story of Political Seduction, which contains shocking revelations about the White House, extremist religious leaders and the Office of Faith-Based Initiatives. The book is scheduled for publication on October 16.

Beliefnet also features a blog by Jim Wallis, author of God's Politics and another critic of extremist religious groups. Wallis wrote, in a blog post this morning:

The release of God’s Politics simply revealed what was already there—a large and growing constituency of faith-inspired people who had felt unrepresented by a small group of narrow, vitriolic, and partisan religious voices. That they feel their voice is now being heard is one of the greatest satisfactions for me. The best thing I hear after God's Politics events from so many people is, "I don't feel alone anymore." As I say at almost every stop, “The monologue of the Religious Right is finally over, and a new dialogue has just begun.” Now all our voices are changing the conversation. Amen.

With an Alexa traffic ranking of 3,412, Beliefnet has far more visitors than websites on the extreme religious fringe, like the American Family Association (, which ranks only 55,092 . Both Kuo's and Wallis' blogs use Haloscan commenting.

Stay tuned. This is getting really interesting . . .

White House Reassuring Religious Leaders Over Kuo

The National Journal is reporting this morning that the White House office of public liaison and Karl Rove's office have been busy phoning religious "leaders" to reassure them over the David Kuo book. The book, Tempting Faith: An Inside Story of Political Seduction, contains devastating allegations that the White House ridiculed conservative Christians, while using them for political gain. It will be released on October 16.

But it is unclear whether the White House can do much to limit the damage if Kuo's allegations are widely reported. In many cases, these religious groups were established to further the political agendas of their founders, and "membership" consists of nothing more than a mailing list of publication subscribers and a donor list. Donald Wildmon's American Family Association, for example, bases its membership numbers on nothing more than web site hits. Plying gullible Christians for donations, the owners of these enterprises receive substantial salaries for themselves and their families, plus high-level political access as they work to turn out voters for the Republican party.

The relationship between these men and the Republican party is symbiotic. Republican leaders at the highest level lend credibility to the owners of conservative groups, which they use to solicit donations, in return for votes. As in any symbiotic relationship, one organism could not survive without the other. Kuo has previously accused the religious "leaders" of complicity in the White House's abuse of its Office of Faith-Based Initiatives, saying they didn't care because they are not concerned about social issues such as poverty.

It is therefore not surprising that the owners of these groups have been quick to denounce David Kuo's book. James Dobson of Focus on the Family issued a statement which called the book, "little more than a mix of sour grapes and political timing." Dobson went on to say, "While Focus on the Family does not participate in the faith-based initiative program, we are allies with many who do -- and they have far different impressions of the people and events documented in Kuo's book. Our support for the program is unchanged, and we applaud the president's hard work in reducing dependency on government programs while connecting people to their communities."

Tony Perkins, the owner of the Family Research Council group, told MSNBC, "The timing comes out right before an election. It's another one of those kiss-and-tell books that we see so often."

The danger was never that James Dobson and Tony Perkins would become disillusioned with Republicans, who help them earn a living. It was that their gullible donors would begin to sense they've been duped by the parasites who feed off them, and that the well of donations and votes would run dry. Like the White House, Dobson and Perkins are doing their utmost to limit the damage.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Pollster Finds No Partisan Shift After Foley

Rasmussen Reports has found no partisan shift in its polling since the Foley affair. For polls conducted during a 7-day period ending October 11, after the time the scandal first broke, the polling agency determined that 37% of respondents identified themselves as Democrats, and 32.3% as Republicans. That is unchanged from poll results prior to the Foley scandal.

Rasmussen has seen a noticeable decrease in the number of people who identify themselves as Republicans since the 2004 elections. Two years ago, the numbers for Democrats and Republicans were virtually the same.

Rasmussen has also found no evidence so far of a shift in evangelical voter support for Republican candidates and says its polling data "suggests limited if any movement as a result of the Foley fall-out." The agency believes the scandal's biggest impact will be the time it cost Republicans, eating up at least 10 days of the final campaign push.

It is possible a national discussion about David Kuo's new book will diminish the Republicans' appeal to evangelicals, but given the highly partisan rhetoric with which some liberals, including Keith Olbermann, have already framed the discussion, that is looking increasingly unlikely.

Extremist Candidate Bachmann: Schiavo Was Healthy

You have to give Republican Michele Bachmann credit: She's all crazy all the time. The extremist candidate in Minnesota's 6th congressional district wants creationism taught in public schools, doesn't believe in minimum wage, doesn't believe in global warming and says Terri Schiavo was healthy. George Bush just loves her and has helped in her fund-raising efforts.

Fortunately, she faces a strong contender in her district: Patty Wetterling, who hit the national spotlight during the Foley scandal because of her tireless efforts to protect the nation's children after her own 11-year-old son was kidnapped and never found.

Transcript of Bachmann's Schiavo comments from a recent debate:

I would have voted in favor of protecting the life of Terri Schiavo. She was a woman who was healthy [audience laughter] and she had brain damage. There was brain damage, there's no question, but from a health point of view, she was not terminally ill.

Of all the Republican clowns running for Congress this year, Bachmann is definitely a contender for the silliest candidate award.

YouTube video (0:17)

Lancet Study Co-author on Democracy Now!

Press could easily confirm 650,000 number by talking to graveyard attendants

Speaking on this morning's Democracy Now!, Les Roberts, a co-author of the study published yesterday in The Lancet which shows 650,000 Iraqis have died as a result of the U.S. invasion, responded to President Bush's comment that the methodology was not credible:

I just want to say that what we did, this cluster survey approach, is the standard way of measuring mortality in very poor countries where the government isn’t very functional or in times of war. And when UNICEF goes out and measures mortality in any developing country, this is what they do. When the U.S. government went at the end of the war in Kosovo or went at the end of the war in Afghanistan and the U.S. government measured the death rate, this is how they did it. And most ironically, the U.S. government has been spending millions of dollars per year, through something called the Smart Initiative, to train NGOs and UN workers to do cluster surveys to measure mortality in times of wars and disasters.

Are Americans more willing now to face the tragic human death toll in Iraq? Roberts sees a significant change in how the American press and public is responding to this study, compared to a similar study two years ago.

AMY GOODMAN: Finally, Les Roberts, I saw you Upstate New York a while ago, after your first study came out, and you commented on how little it was commented on or picked up here in this country, though cited all over the world. But now you have the report out in The Lancet, and you have the President Bush responding to it, even if he is discounting it. You’ve got General Casey responding to it. What about the U.S. press looking at these figures?

LES ROBERTS: You know, I think that -- this is just my opinion -- the U.S. press sort of follows public opinion. It doesn’t necessarily lead it, except in a few circumstances, like AIDS in Africa. And the public is ready to think, “Wow, things might be going badly in Iraq.” And I don’t think the public was ready to say that two years ago.

And so, when this study came out, Tony Blair was asked three times -- I’m sorry, the 2004 study came out, Tony Blair was asked three times in the week that followed, "What do you think of this estimate that 100,000 Iraqis had died in the first 18 months of occupation?" No one asked George Bush about how many civilians had died or about our study for 14 months after the study came out. And then, when he was asked, it was just by a member of the public in a forum in Philadelphia.

And now, within about four hours of the study coming out, he was asked directly, he was forced to respond, there was a dialogue going on. So, I think that the nation, as a whole, is more ready to honestly talk about Iraq, and that’s led the press to be more able to honestly talk about Iraq.

Roberts said the press working in Iraq could easily verify the information by simply asking graveyard attendants how many more bodies are being buried now than in 2002.

Would the embedded U.S. press do anything so daring that might require a little independent research? We're not holding our breath.

Transcript, audio and video links at Democracy Now!

CNN Poll: 52% Say Bush Should Fire Rumsfeld

A CNN poll reported today reveals that 52% of the American public believes President Bush should fire Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. Only 33% of those polled said Rumsfeld should not be fired and 15% were unsure. The results mark a significant change in public opinion since CNN asked the same question in April this year, when only 39% said Rumsfeld should be fired.

Rumsfeld has come under continuous attack for flubbing the occupation of Iraq, most recently from high-ranking military officers who served there. Yesterday, a scientific study revealed that the U.S. invasion of Iraq may have caused 650,000 Iraqi deaths, as violence spirals out of control and the country descends into anarchy and civil war.

Rumsfeld was a political mentor to Dick Cheney and gave him his first big break in politics. In 1974, when Rumsfeld became Gerald Ford's chief of staff, he made Cheney his deputy.

Dennis Hastert's Other Side

A side of Hastert the world didn't see during his October 10 news conference in Illinois. What was that AP photographer thinking? We have a pretty good idea.