Challenging Politics, Media & Culture


Obama without a Church? Hillary without Michigan? McCain and Bush without cameras? Has the country gone nutso and have the diversions that led to the creation of WagTheNews hit a new low?

Today we ask: what if the three candidates acquired a new level of honesty, authenticity and candor?

What if Obama came out immeditely and said about Reverend Wright,"what the hell is he talking about, the Obamas need to find a new Church and fast"... instead of using Wright's wrongs as a chance to educate us about race?

What if Hillary said after losing every contest in March, "damn, Obama has caught on like lightning so let's forget that pledge against campaigning in Michigan and Florida, and let the voters decide"... instead of trying to claim victory in two states that have an asterik next to their results?

What if McCain said, "I know the President has the lowest approval ratings ever, but you have to respect the office, and as long as he's in office, I won't ignore he's the President"... instead of clandestine meetings barring photographers from showing the two men hugging?

The truth is the three candidates stop short of being honest, hoping for controversies to blow over (Obama), hoping for a magical turnaround in the results (Clinton), and hoping to take Bush's neocon fundraising machine (McCain) to the bank.

The spectacle may not shift voters, but it does add to the hypnosis that voters feel, spoken and unspoken. And hypnosis is not good for democracy. Hypnosis of the masses gives the powerful the benefit of the doubt. Hypnosis de-sensitizes the masses so when domestic surveillance is revealed, most people question it until their next text message comes through. Hypnosis makes us turn the page when we see a no-bid contract to private companies that under-arm our troops. And hypnosis makes us feel powerless when we learn that foreign entities are in charge of American ports.

So when a candidate of any type doesn't take an issue head on or tries to talk his or her way out of the controversy of the day, the public throws up its hands and says, "wake me up after Labor Day when I can start paying attention." And that's how democracy suffers.

In 1863, President Lincoln spent 2-3 minutes on 10 sentences and 272 words delivering the Gettysburg Address to re-define the purpose of the Unioin fighting the Civil War.

Back then, Lincoln told how a Gettysburg battle should signal "a new birth of freedom", an everlasting freedom in the form of "government of the people, by the people, for the people."

Today, the people are treated like morons with short attention spans, and for good reason. Leaders have learned how to avoid authenticity. They know the best way to keep us from noticing is to overkill issues that don't have anything to do with the mission, call them smokescreens. Unlike Lincoln, today's leaders need an injection of honesty to lead the country to the next "new birth of freedom" for all of us.                                          6/1/08


Bush Fishing in New Orleans

Mike Huckabee and the NRA. Katrina and the NBA. Hillary and Karl Rove. Barack Obama and George Bush. What does the NBA have to do with the others? Tonight, as pro basketball showcases a do-or-die final game between San Antonio and New Orleans, the backdrop behind the excitement is not an accident. Adoring center court, a banner reads "Where Caring Happens." A stunning comementary for the world to see almost 3 years since the Katrina and the fallout over failed government. 

The NBA knows how to make New Orleans feel hope, feel that we're not leaving them behind, feel that compassion is more than a slogan, even if it is. The GOP could take a page from the NBA's playbook on caring. Swift Boating season has begun. From Israel where Bush linked Obama with appeasment of Hitler. To the U.S. where Rove cited numbers showing Hillary Clinton a bigger threat to a McCain presidency. This from a man who cooked numbers before, during and after the U.S. War in Iraq. But the most shocking and dangerous comments came from Pastor Huck, who after hearing a loud crash during an NRA speech said, not joked, but said the noise was Obama falling off a chair as he dodged a gun aimed at him.

Compare this to Willie Horton. Compare it to Swift Boating a war hero. But make no mistake, this was Aw Shucks Huck auditioning for McCain's Vice President's job. As Hillary questions the electability of Obama in November, Huck and company suggest Obama would face bullets when stating Obama "just tripped off a chair. He was getting ready to speak and somebody aimed a gun at him, and he dove for the floor." The NRA meeting was in Louisville, Kentucky,  close enough to Memphis, some 40 years after Martin Luther King, Jr. was gunned down during the last Presidential election Civil War of '68.

The Clintons haven't had to go that far, but rest assured, this safety issue is one reason why Hillary won't go quietly into the night. She's sticking around incase Obama slips, or more seriously, if Obama falls off a chair dodging a gun, or worse, a bullet. Obama knows history, from the racist criticism to the shots heard from afar. It's no wonder Obama made the earliest request ever for Secret Service protection, last May, a full 18 months before the general election and long before the first taste of success in Iowa 8 months later.

Huckabee said his comments were not intended to be offensive. This coming from a former Pastor, former Governor and former Presidential candidate. Everything said is intended. It was no mistake. Inciting hate is the furthest thing from compassion. as Democrats do the democratic thing and go the distance through every state, the Republicans have yet to show it's true Dixie colors. The GOP is so out of touch with America, that even the NBA resemles the tone of Americans as the place "Where Caring Happens."                                                        5/20/07


Hillary Clinton knows exactly what she's doing. She and her campaign have relied on Bill Clinton and Geraldine Ferraro to throw tear gas into the momentum of Barack Obama. And now, before black newspaper publishers, she is being praised for apologizing for her operative's comments. Butshe didn't apologize. It's a non-apology, apology. A
first grader knows an apology starts with "I'm sorry" and ends with what they did wrong. But Hillary's "apology" for Bill's comments fall far short. "I want to put that in context. You know I am sorry if anyone was offended. It was certainly not meant in any way to be offensive."'
The Clinton's know when the damage is done, the smear is accomplished, and the usefulness of its people is complete. The Clinton's have an endless arsenal of Ferraro-types just waiting in the wings to fall on the sword when the campaign needs something done. Call them "Hillary's Hit Men" and "Hillary's Hit Women." Bill's slander of Obama came after a big Obama win in South Carolina. By linking the Obama victory to Jesse Jackson's South Carolina Primary wins in 1984 and 1988,  Bill was infliciting doubt to white Americans yet to vote in their important primaries, including Super Tuesday which kept his wife's campaign alive.
Bill Clinton and Geraldine Ferraro each made comments to marganalize Obama. Bill was winking to fence-sitting whites and Hillary actually perpetuated the sham during her non-apology, apology. "We can be proud of both Jesse Jackson and Senator Obama." As long as the Clinton campaign continues to use Jackson's name in the same sentence as Obama's, it's marganializing Obama to voters. 
If Bill was speaking in code to whites, Ferraro was speaking blatantly the women voters who keep rescuing their candidate. Ferraro said Obama would not have made it this far if he were white. News flash to Geraldine, you wouldn't have been chosen to run with Walter Mondale if you weren't a woman! Ferraro's slanderous comments make the prospect of party unity a faraway dream. Again Hillary gives the non-apology, apology. "I certainly do repudiate it and regret deply that it was said." Not more deeply than do Obama and his millions of supporters including women.
Hillary benefits from the words of an ex-President and those of the first woman to run on a Presidential ticket. The fact that blacks have long supported Bill Clinton is obsolete. Whatever connection Bill had to blacks, whether in reality or in the movie "Primary Colors",  Hillary can't stand on her own on race. New York blacks didn't vote for Hillary because of her. Those voters have a long history of supporting the Democrat, usually by a 9 to 1 margin. Hillary's NY win wasn't because of a black voter love affair with her. It was because she was married to Bill and she was the Democrat. 
Hillary's campign has stooped to shameless tactics. Her lack of apologizing for her Iraq vote set the stage for a third place finish in Iowa. Runner-up John Edwards knew his Iraq vote was a mistake and apologized early. Hillary has never had to apologize. Not for her husband's mis-judgments ("right wing conspiracy"), not for giving George Bush the keys to War in Iraq (it was a vote for diplomacy), and certainly not for anything her campaign operatives say and do to win.
Just imagine if Obama were to question Hillary's credentials just because she's a woman. Those who stick by Hillary for one reason should reflect on their decision on why they support her. If it's for any reason other than her ability to lead, they should be ashamed.                                                                        3-14-08


Edwards Appeals for Labor Support

Why hasn't John Edwards caught on like we had hoped? Why haven't more Democrats turned to clear and decisive vision for the future? How can't seven years of the Bush-GOP failure make Americans take Edwards and launch him to victories in any of the caucuses and primaries? If change is what Americans want, they are backing candidates who use the word "change" in slogans and posters but who can't be trusted to follow through the way Edwards would. 

Is Edwards too truthful? Do voters think change will come through negotiations with corporate power? If so the elecorate is saying one thing (change) but in reality, really wants the change to occur as business-as-usual in Washington. This is an outrageous contradiction and a sorry state of Americans attention span. 

Unless Edwards pulls a South Carolina miracle (or Obama and Hillary touch a third rail), his supporters will have to choose between Hillary's tough style and Obama's smooth vision. The trend points to Clinton picking up more of Edward's supporters than Obama. Since Iowa, Edwards has gone from 30% to 17% and now 5% in Nevada. As he's lost 25%, Obama has gained 7% between Iowa and Nevada(38% to 45%) while Clinton has gained 21% (29% to 50%) in just over two weeks. This makes the Clinton-Obama head-to-head a dead heat going into South Carolina in a week and Super Tuesday February 5th.

The Edwards campaign can remain on life support through February 5th, but at some point if the trend continues, he'll either withdraw, or hopefully suspend his campaign waiting for a front runner to self destruct. In the meantime, Hillary and Obama will find new ways to differentiate themselves to the voters beyond race, gender and style. Issues will return, decisions made in the buildup to war, votes taken and not taken, and who can better stand face to face with world leaders, let alone the Republican nominee in November.

The "race" debate provides insight in the role campaign surrogates will play. Bill Clinton will not sit idle, no matter what pundits suggest or Democratic insiders whisper. Shelving Bill during Al Gore's closing days remains a debatable losing strategy. The Clinton's will never reflect back at this time and wonder whether the use of a popular ex-President and spouse should have remained subservient, subordinate or invisible. Bill's public profile allows Hillary to have her tender moments while having someone raise harsh realities and strategic doubts about an Obama Presidency.

As Edwards has learned, Americans call for change but haven't supported the most serious challenge to the status quo in this campaign.                                                                 1/19/08



Back in 1988, a memorable Saturday Night Live skit positioned Michael Dukakis (Jon Lovitz) debating George Bush (Dana Carvey). After then VP Bush blabbered "Stay The Course...1,000 Points of Light," he's told he still had 1:20 left to answer. More blabbering of "Stay The Course...1,000 Points of Light." And when Bush finally stopped, Dukakis looked into the camera and said incredulously, "I can't believe I'm losing to this guy?" In 2008, Democrats won't be lamenting like Dukakis. Not any of them. Don't be fooled into thinking Iowa's tight races mean the Democrats and Republicans are running neck and neck. Just listen to Edwards, Clinton, and Obama. Coherent leaders with vision. Then try to endure Huckabee, Romney and Guiliani. Those three can thank the writer's strike from being shellacked by late night television. 

These Republicans don't need comedy writers or Jon Stewart to make fun of them. They are fully capable of going where no candidate should. Take the Sunday morning talk shows. Edwards is passionate and believeable in taking on Washington's establishment. Hillary beats a steady drumbeat even as Bill ad libs. Obama, while low-key to a fault, still conveys vision for the future. Which makes the contrast on the Republican side so laughable. Mike Huckabee, the Andy Taylor of candidates, seems one sentence away from saying, "Well golly Gomer, I'm running for President of THE United States."

Run as he does, the Huckster can't hide from his view on taxes, morality and the world. He credits the liberal New York Times, when it's convenient, for challenging Romney on taxes. When pressed by "Mr. Beltway" Tim Russert for getting a "D" and an "F" on raising taxes, Huckabee sounds like a New Deal Democratic saying it's legit to raise taxes when money improves education or highways. FDR would be proud. 

On foreign affairs, Huckabee the Statesman knew something happened in Pakistan this week and was well scripted with rehearsed facts about the country. But immediately after the assasination, he failed to realize Pakistan's martial law ended two weeks ago. And to prove he's no student of history, even 21st Century history, he surmised American troops could do in Pakistan what Pakistan can't do for themselves. 

What's even more dangerous is how Huckabee uses Pakistan to try to rile up Iowa voters by linking the assasination to our own borders and his need for racial profiling. Just in time for Thursday's caucuses, Huck played the anti-immigrant card while indirectly slapping McCain.  Do these guys read the same cliff notes when it comes to world affairs. Huck was oh so concerned for the Iowa farmer when he linked the assasination to their real world concerns. "How does this event in Pakistan effect the people in Iowa?" Not sure if it was a question or rhetorical statement.

Onto religion and Huck the Preacher says with a straight face, "I've been asked about faith more than any person running for President." Tell that to the man who held a news conference to talk all things Mormon. Mr. Christian can't hide from his 1998 remark about making America Christ-land. "I hope we answer the alarm clock and take this nation back for Christ." The "Christian Leader", self-proclaimed in his latest Iowa TV ad, was speaking  to the Southern Baptist Convention and feels since he was speaking to that group, what he said was okay. Huck is such a welcoming Christian that he would have no problem appointing atheists to his cabinet, in fact he says he probably had some working for him as Governor. Not that there's anything wrong with that. 

If it's the economy stupid, Huckabee's double-speak would cause a national crisis from Wall Street to Farm Town USA. He proposes sending the illegals home within a 120 day window before they can apply to return. Millions of them. All of them, even their American-born, American-citizen kids. And although  he once has said sending them back would collapse the American economy, today he says don't worry, "all of them aren't going to go back on the same day."

Once again, Huckabee shows that Republicans love advocating for getting government off our backs but just can't help themselves talk about everybody's personal lives. From gay marriage, sin, deciding when life begins, punishing abortion doctors, viewing homosexuality as deviant..."an abberation like pedophilia, sadomasochism and necrophilia." But they'd probably be welcomed in his cabinet too, right?

Just look at the GOP competition and you can see why Huckabee caught lightning in a bottle in Iowa. Whatever the outcome, trust the Republicans to keep showing Americans how out-of- touch they are with the rest of us. And look forward to the return of Jon Stewart and company to reflect their high-jinx night after night, from here to November. But even without comedy writers, come November, a Democrat, any Democrat, will not be repeating the SNL Dukakis line "I can't believe I'm losing to this guy."                        12/31/07 


Bush and the Yawning Boy

The seven year haze is finally coming clean. The national numb that started with hanging chads and Florida's miscount, Supreme Court politics and a defeated-victor in Al Gore. The rush to war, the excitement of the media to have something to cover, the lobbying of the nation's war machine to use the arms it convinced average Americans to buy. The mortgaging of our future at the expense of hundreds of thousands of changed lives. The cesspool of public opinion towards America the Beautiful and the shitstorm that followed the Bush War. Secret prisons and known torture centers. Diversions stirred by Rove, Libby and Cheney outing a CIA operative, hiding caskets and coffins, being no-shows to every single funeral and challenging opposition in the name of patriotism.

A midterm that was supposed to put politics aside and correct the mayhem of arrogance. All the while, Americans watch like it's a sporting event, getting involved until American Idol reappears, and then casting away their individual power as easily as it is to change to another 500 channels.

The trusted media consolidating, with experience pushed aside, leaving a muckraking void that our country won't fully realize until the last of the Donaldson's are gone.

While Christmas shopping in the late 90's, radios tuned to impeachment proceedings. Yet today, barely a hint of prosecuting this Administration for War Crimes, Crimes Against Humanity, and Crimes We Not Yet Know. Americans live in a sleep-state, awaken like adrenelin, but then passified back to a coma-state amid planned confusion by our lost leaders.

Yes, life is confusing, yet very cozy for a country that has not been asked to sacrifice. SUVs are put up for sale, not when it's harm to the environment is clear. Not when their guzzling useage is linked to dead soldiers. But only when the paycheck calls for $100 to fill 'er up. SUVs with "Support Our Troops" bumper stickers. And no one thinks that's a crime!

We're onto Iowa, then New Hampshire and at first blush it's cliche to say, "Is this anyway to elect a President?" In this crowded field, there's more money spent and raised, raised and spent, than appears in federal aid to cities and towns that are cutting back your services or taxing you locally. In this crowded field, personality separates souls, nuance creates a gap between who will win and who will lose. And small towners, salt of the earth Americans, will make a resounding call to wake up the rest.

Front runners who are on the ropes. The media pronounces an early winner and then, not surprisingly, the see-saw of public opinion creates electoral chaos. Candidates walk a fine line saying what they must to get elected by each party's extreme voters attending caucuses and casting a primary ballot. 

The media once again tired of all this war-stuff....try to steer the topic to the economy during Sunday pundit talk shows. When in the end, it will be the war for Democrats (Obama/Edwards) and abortion for Republicans (Huckabee). And each side's undedecideds chime in, get swayed or stay true to themselves by judging the last seven years as a complete failure and the desire or dream to change it up.(Clinton, Giuliani, Romney, McCain).

Where will you be come January? Paying attention to what Iowa screamed? 4 years ago, the majority laughed about Howard Dean's famous scream. Would we be facing a war without end and all that comes with it had we stopped for a second and not laughed at Dean? 8 years ago, enough Americans voted for Bush for that aw-shucks "I can have a beer with him" mentality. Would we be facing a generation of debt and an embarrassing image had we just thought we could have a beer with Gore?

Where will you be in January. Where will the country be in November?                                                       12/15/07


Image:The Endless Summer.JPG

Until now, unless you live in Iowa or New Hampshire, the closest you've come to Presidential politics was receiving one of those personal letters from a candidate asking you for money. But summer's ending, it's back to school and all the Presidential aspirants hope you treat them with more respect than Rodney Dangerfield on campus. Most Americans, and probably a majority of whom will be deciding our next President, have yet to dip their toe into the race. Polls reflect the strength of a candidate's fundraising or, vice versa, a candidate's fundraising strength reflects the poll results. Those on the inside hoped to get through summer without touching the third rail while raising as much money as possible and still coming off as a common folk.

But all that will be changing as summer ends, candidates start differentiating more, and the public moves past George Bush and starts deciding who's next. Regardless of party affiliation, every candidate will distance themselves from President Bush, his Cabinet, any remaining ties to the White House and any new Bush or Republican embarrassment including airport bathrooms.

The question now is whether campaigns know how to reach down and grab the public's attention. A lot has changed since 2004 and a lot has not. Internet politics seem to reinforce a surfers beliefs more than it sways the surfers opinion. Web journalism is bound to uncover news as video sharing will slam any and all missteps right into the mainstream news. Mainstream, for its part, has shown as much ability to educate the public on a candidate as that candidate's own web site. Mainstream follows the polls, stacks their newscasts in the order a candidate currently stands, and leaves little to no time for thoughtful conversations, either from front runners or those looking to catch fire. 

Political ads will continue to be the love-hate for the American electorate. The ads are expensive (candidates hate that), seem disingenuous (public hates that), and are no longer the be-all, end-all (consultants hate that) to convincing the voter who to choose.

Before the internet, conventional wisdom held that the way we elect Presidents would barely change. That's the problem with conventional wisdom, it reflects the status quo and is often buried under a rock as a sea change is coming. Chances are we won't have an information technology revolution between now and November 2008, but don't be surprised if in the time of speedy innovation, we're introduced to some sort of enlightenment that helps the best candidate shine alone.

The country needs it, needs a breakthrough of ingenuity from the White House, needs a unifying leader, through a process that is totally transparent. The country needs to lay down their swords, cross party lines and help create a renaissance of thought. America, six years past a crossroad, has lost its standing within its borders and outside, among its friends and amid its growing enemies.

Yes summer is ending. A summer of Rove & Gonzales, a bathroom scandal & investigations of Alaska's Republicans, a bridge collapse and questions of national spending priorities. Reports on Iraq are due, the prospect of White House investigations will loom, and the public, trying to cut through politics as usual, will be making the most important decision since 1968, when Presidential politics were deciding "do we stay or do we go now?"                         8/31/07 



The Amercian public deserves credit. Eight months since the midterms gave Democrats a voice, it's the masses who are going to determine the next move forward in the American War in Iraq. You can count on President Bush and Congress to keep debating bills to re-direct, re-deploy, or remain in Iraq. But the pace and strength of this turning tide of American unrest makes the November elections seem rather quaint. 

The war has proven one thing about leadership in America. The resolve to get America back to its prideful place and respect in the world will be led not by President Bush and Congress. Today's leadership, today's push to our new way forward, rests with ordinary Americans who have gained a stronger, clearer and concise voice since November. The public has done more to connect the dots, blown past the "Wag the Dog" diversions, and ignored the  personalities, power and the politics. The American majority is merging with a growing number of military and their families who will motivate the next moves.

You can see it in the headlines. Anti-war groups see a swell in enrollment from military wives, usually the last bastion of support for the troops. A husband and wife fight his fifth re-deployment. Another man and his girlfriend pay a hitman to shoot out his knee to disable a return to Iraq. And now Iraq's own Prime Minister, the man America put all kinds of faith in says his Iraqi forces is ready to lead his country "any time" American forces want to withdraw. These anecdotes, while separate, are not going unnoticed by the American public.

For President Bush, he is the last man standing at a party. Everyone else has walked out the door. The President watches from his balcony as the masses stream further and further away. His inability to lead, prove he's right, demonstrate his vision to Americans has him paralyzed. As days turn to weeks which turn to months, there is one reasonable, populist and apolitical move America must take: freeze the re-deployment of future American troops to Iraq. Keep them home. All of them. Don't wait for this failure in leadership to concoct another plan. American troops in the United States must stay here. Otherwise Bush will have the ammo to keep the endless war afloat.  

As for the Presidential race, whatever deal was cut in 2004 between Bush and John McCain has turned into "The Curse of the Bam-bush-o. McCain had his chance to be a true maverick and team up with fellow heroic veteran John Kerry as his #2. But McCain said no to Kerry, embaced the President and was likely promised the Bush political machine's help in 2008. Some help. McCain lost his front runner status, can't raise cash and has dropped more staff than a little leaguer drops the fly ball. This past week's political cartoon said it best: The McCain Mutiny. Team Bush was supposed to channel resources and fundraising to get McCain elected. Instead, the link to Team Bush has helped submerge McCain into quicksand. McCain has fallen and he can't get up. Blame the war or immigration. But it is Bush policies that has ker-plunked McCain.

It wasn't supposed to be like this. But it shows how Americans have left the past behind, how an unpopular and unjust war has motivated the public, and how ordinary citizens see through political heirs like Bush, and the presumed heir-apparents like McCain.                         7/15/07


In a Seinfeld episode, George Costanza is haunted by his former gym teacher-turned homeless man named Mr. Heyman. Before being fired for giving George a wedgie, Heyman would call George "Can't Stand Ya" in place of his last name "Costanza." Today Hillary Clinton has a nation filled with Mr. Heyman's, singing the same chorus "Can't Stand Ya." Will it keep her from winning the Democratic nomination and general election? Probably. Unless a third party candidate can do for Hillary, what they've done in the past for her husband Bill.

In a poll released this week, 52% of Americans wouldn't even consider voting for Hillary Clinton for President. Even if she survives strong primary challenges, the outlook is bleak for her to win the general election. The only way Clinton can become President is for a strong third party candidate to emerge in purple swing states or Republican red ones. 

She's seen it happen before. Twice before. Bill Clinton became President without winning the majority of votes. In 1992 he won just 43%. In 1996, it was 49%. Both times, third party candidate Ross Perot gave Clinton the victory. Hillary needs another Ross Perot.

In 1992, Clinton beat Bush-Quayle 43-37% with Perot taking a strong third with 18.9% of the popular vote. If Perot didn't run, Bush would have won re-election with a majority. Clinton would have won just one or two states, Arkansas and perhaps New York, which would have become a toss up. Clinton's impressive electoral victory (370 to 168) would have become a near record landslide for Bush, 499-39. For perspective, Reagan beat Carter with 489 electoral votes, he trounced Mondale with 525, and Nixon embarrassed McGovern with 520 electorals. Perot was the only thing standing in the way of Clinton being added to that hapless group of Democrats.

In 1996, Ross Perot wasn't as in '92 but he again made Clinton the winner. Clinton beat Bob Dole by 8.2 million votes. Perot's 8.08 million votes weren't enough to change the popular vote outcome. But a closer examination of the electoral votes, shows why a strong third party candidate turned the election. Had Perot not run, Dole would have won 11 more states (New Hampshire would have been a toss up if Perot sat out). Dole would have won Florida (25 electoral votes), Pennsylvania (23), Ohio (21), Missouri, Tennessee, Wisconsin and Washington (11 each), Oregon (7), Nevada (4), Arizona and Kentucky (8 each). Do the math: if Perot didn't run, Dole would have won 129 more electoral votes, beating Clinton 288-250, making it a larger victory than Bush beat Kerry in '04 (286-251).

While Perot helped the Democrat, Ralph Nader handed George W. Bush the election in 2000. Without Nader, Al Gore would have flat out won New Hampshire and Florida. As it turned out, Florida received all post election spotlight where Bush beat Gore by just 537 votes. Nader won 97,000 votes, handing the state's 25 electoral votes and the election to Bush. But Gore could have avoided "hanging chads" and court appeals if he had just won New Hampshire. Gore lost the Granite State by 7,000 votes. If Nader didn't run, Gore would have captured enough of Nader's 22,000 votes to give him 4 crucial electoral votes and the election.

In 2004, Nader had less direct impact on the outcome. Bush beat Kerry 50.7% to 48.2%. The closest state Nader played spoiler was in New Mexico where Kerry lost the popular vote by 6000. Had he won all of Nader's 4000 votes, Bush still would have carried the 5 electoral votes by 2,000 votes.

In the last three out of four elections, a strong third party candidate played a role in the outcome. Debates rage over how much of a role. Many third party voters would have likely stayed home and not voted had it not been for a third choice. Plus, regardless of exit poll results, the jury is out whether Perot or Nader took a disproportionate number of votes from either of the major candidates. But a third party candidate could benefit someone like Hillary Clinton and high negatives.

In this week's Mason-Dixon poll, Clinton's high negatives were everywhere. 60 percent of independents, 56 percent of men, 47 percent of women and 88 percent of Republicans were talking like George Costanza's gym teacher saying, they "Can't Stand Ya." 

A strong third party candidate is the only way for any candidate to overcome a majority of negative feelings. But there's one problem for the establishment. With Republicans scarred by the American War in Iraq, and the prospect of Hillary as the Democratic nominee, that third party guy just might win the whole darn race.                                     6/30/07




Hillary Clinton in a Tank
This is no time to elect the next President. Summer is blooming, vacations are kicking in and our President is barely holding on as his Administration falls further apart.

The best and the brightest of those running treat each day, each photo-op and each Iowa visit like we're all paying attention. Truth be told, this summer dance isn't for us. If you have a bubble, sorry to burst it. The summer lovin' campaign is for money. Raise the most and voters believe you can win. Being seen as a winner elevates your poll numbers. And the higher your polling the more money you raise. Around and around it goes. The Lion King showed us the Circle of Life. This is the "Circle of Life or Death" for every candidate.  

So in between milking cows, meeting farmers in barns and having tea in living rooms, the candidates are on the phone using up all their minutes, blowing past friends and family plans, and looking for the most powerful networks. Campaigns have all sorts of systems, from index cards to computer databases, with names and personal nuggets of people like you, perhaps with dough to donate. For a candidate, there's a script, talking points and the "ask." Dialing for Dollars is how we elect our leaders. The Iowa photo-op is the foreground; raising more money is always the background. It lasts infinitely longer. Hours. Days. Everyday.

Somewhere in the middle (or at the end) are the voters in Iowa and New Hampshire. They take their first-in-the-nation responsibilities pretty seriously. Big money doesn't always sway them. In fact it could hurt if the money drives a wedge between their lives and the lives of the candidates. Iowa and New Hampshire voters know they're being played but still show up every four years like it's the Olympics, only election style.

For the masses, we watch and wait like rubber-necking at a car wreck. History tells us some candidates will flame out. We want to be watching when they do. Some never gain traction in the polls. Some never get their message across. Some just can't get the warchest inflated. What the masses like to see is a self-winnowing process, where candidates fall apart, leaving just a few standing. This makes it easier for voters to pay attention to a few options rather than a stage full. Sometimes, a third party candidate can stand out.

Current events like the "American War in Iraq" and immigration reform will keep some candidates in the race longer than normal. The wide open field, without a President or Vice President running for re-election, will help spread money to lesser knowns. And the cluster of early primaries will help underdogs stretch their budgets, hoping for a miracle in February without having to worry about the long and expensive primary campaign into June.

So enjoy summer, whether you live in Iowa, New Hampshire or another 48. The field will still be there come Labor Day. This is the calm before the fall. And even in the fall, there will likely be a stageful of hopefuls, calling you, knowing something about you, and asking you for a check.           6/17/07


President George Bush is actually acting Presidential. He's off to Europe for a summit. He's sparring with Russian President Putin over missiles. He's talking about curing AIDS and ending global warming. What in God's name is happening?

The American War in Iraq seems "so yesterday" for the White House. In its place: meetings in Berlin between Bush and the Big Eight industrialized countries. Among the leaders will be lameduckers who lined up on opposite ends of Bush's War.

But the talk in Berlin will feel chilly, like the Cold War, as the United States wants to build a missile defense system in Poland and the Czech Republic. Putin says not so fast. Do it and I'll point Russian missiles right down the barrel of Europe. Ah, Reagan Republicans must love this stuff. If you're eager to see Bush and Putin together in Berlin, just wait till Bush hosts Putin in the United States on the eve of our country's birthday of democracy and independence, July 1-2.

Seriously (as if talk of missiles isn't serious), is it hypocritical for the U.S. to plan a missile system in Europe while we demand Iraq, North Korea and everyone else to disarm and welcome in democracy? The world has seen the U.S. launch a pre-strike on Iraq. Who among them should believe Bush when he says our msisiles are for defense?

Putin lives in two worlds, one in which Russian is embraced by the free-world for shedding communism. The other Russia keeps a distance from the free world, rattles its saber to excite our enemies and to keep precious recources flowing from Iran and the likes. A chess match in a Cold War-light mode.

On the humanitarian chess board, May 31, 2007 may go down in history for this President as a pivot point. Bush ended last week calling for a gi-normous U.S. commitment to fight AIDS. World AIDS. Just four years after promising $15 billion, he's now asking Congress to double that and find $30 billion. The difference in people-terms is startling: $30 billion would treat 2.5 million people in 15 countries. It's Kennedy-esque.

Turn now to global warming and you wonder if Cheney, Rove and company have left town two years early. Perhaps it's because Al Gore made a movie or the Supreme Court ruled the EPA can determine car emissions impact on global warming. Bush has finally committed a specific target date for cutting U.S. emissions in the next 10-20 years. "In recent years, science has deepened our understanding of climate change and opened new possibilities for confronting it,” he said. 

So what's going on with Bush? Two years before he leaves office, his poll numbers are as low as they can go (they can't go lower, right?). Bush even called on economic sanctions to force Sudan to stop killing Darfur.

Who cares why he's embracing reason. Whether it's legacy building, an olive branch to fundamentalists and environmentalists or a way to bring humanity to the GOP. The Republican Party is in desperate need of a human transfusion before moderates go to vote. All of this love for humanity  may be more symbolic and visionary than actionable, but we've been demanding a pulse of leadership from Bush for all too long.

Now as he flies to and from Europe, let's see if he can use the flight time to apply the same course changes to his messed up War in Iraq.   6/4/2007


Bush Pays Tribute to Fallen U.S. Troops 

On this Memorial Day, we suddenly understand what President George Bush is up to. He's creating more heroes. The problem is, the heroes are being killed in America's War instead of being praised in person in hometown parades.

Memorial Day is the rare moment when we see our leader face to face with reality. It's the closest Bush comes to attending a service for any of the 3600 servicemen and women gunned down or blown up in Iraq. The tidiness of the ceremony resembles the absence of coffins the American public has seen during the past 4+ years. This tidiness has sanitized images of this war and continues to shield the American public from reality at a time citizens should be demanding more from its leaders.

The American death toll in Iraq has risen like no two month period before. April was bad, May is worse. We all watch our own democracy at work in the form of failure. Democrats and Republicans failed to hold Bush to the Midterm Mandate. This failure to drive the issue past a threatened Presidential veto shows America that the politicians we have are mostly all the same. We've endured all the promises of change, the louder voices of reason, the Administration leaning back on its heels instead of pushing its one dimensional agenda on the world. But for the Democrats and Republicans to cave instead of forcing Bush to veto tough legislation, shows their continued obedience to Bush and their fear of standing out, standing ahead, and standing strong to the nation.

Bush used this renewed bravado to prepare Americans for a deadly August. The negative expectation coming from our leader is the equivalent of telling the terrorists to "Bring It On." If the terrorists were NOT planning an August attack, they are now. What kind of terrorists would they be if, when told we EXPECT attacks in August, they sit back and not come through? Bush wants us to be positive, but he's the one putting forth the assumption of a bloody August 3 months early!

The problem with Bush's leadership all along is he has had no vision for peace. Instead of preparing Americans for a bloody August, shouldn't he be the one proud of his efforts, of his surge, of his new initiatives to secure Baghdad, of his daily quoting of General Petraus? It's as if he finally knows the end is near. But truly he's not preparing us for a bad August, he's getting us set for a bad finale'. Bush has already said the end will not resemble a signing ceremony on a ship. We all know it will look a lot more like the choppers leaving Vietnam. And just like the restrictions on showing caskets returning to America, bet the house that we'll see few images of Bush's imminent retreat from the streets of Baghdad and beyond.     5/28/07 


Worst President in History 

Unlike any President before him, George Bush could care less who follows him in office. There's no VP waiting to step in and continue the Bush Revolution like his dad did after Ronald Reagan's 8 years of Morning in America. And it's too bad for the country.

Bush thinks he's fighting against the Democrats but the truth is he's taking out his one-sided policy on his fellow Republicans. And soon, it will catch up to them. The President has drawn a line in the sand by denouncing any timetable to end the Iraq War. America's line in the sand was the midterm elections, but Bush and the Republicans have paid no attention to this mandate. Bush, Dick Cheney, Karl Rove, Robert Gates and Condoleezza Rice flaunt their power by ignoring options to strengthen our national security. But sooner or later, American troops will pullout. The question is, will it be because President Bush changes his mind or because his faithful Republicans turn on their leader and finally take the side of the American majority.

Either way, the GOP is sunk. The decision to bring home the troops rests primarily with Bush, since the Senate is really 50-50 because of Joe Lieberman's support of the war. So when the decision to withdraw finally comes, either Bush will flip-flop (fat chance) or Republican lawmakers will rebel (start an office pool on the date). Either way, the President and the GOP will be exposed as stubborn, single-minded people who showed no leadership when America needed it most.

Democrats will reap the benefits of being on the right side of the most divisive issue to face the United States since the Cold War and Vietnam.

Bush has had endless opportunities to be the hero even after squandering the post 9/11 goodwill of the world. Even after abuses at known and secret prisons around the world. Even after Texas-style bravado of "Bring Them On" and "Mission Accomplished." Even after the negligent care of troops in the field and returning soldiers to the VA.

WagTheNews encouraged Bush to take over the Super Bowl halftime show to say "mistakes were made" and "we ask for the world's support." The world was watching. In one pronouncement, Bush could have recaptured the leadership of the nation and perhaps the world. Instead we endured another musical act. 

Bush's policies are forcing Republicans to be loyal, even as their support and votes will come back to bite them in the upcoming election.

The bottom line is at some point, Republicans running for re-election to Congress and Republicans running for President will turn against Bush's war policy. The country will ask where was that leadership the past four years or at least since November 2006. The country will correctly view these Republicans as political opportunists and cast them away. Far away.

It will happen. It won't be prettty. And it could usher in a new generation of Democratic leadership in Washington and around the nation.     5/17/07



Mission Not Accomplished 

Senator Joe Lieberman is in another pickle. He supports the Iraq War, President George Bush and the Surge. But as a Jewish American, could Lieberman also support similar strategies and results in Israel? If he does, he'll find himself a loner once more.

Israel didn't waste time in handing out its verdict. Not even a year since rockets blasted Israel and Lebanon, an independent commission, headed by a retired Israeli judge appointed by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, found Olmert and company made "serious failures" in fighting Lebanon, failures similar to those of President Bush in Iraq. 

Olmert "made up his mind hastily (Bush too), despite the fact that no detailed military plan was submitted to him (Bush too) and without asking for one...a serious failure in...judgment, responsibility and prudence (Bush too)." And that was for just the first three days of the war. As Paul Harvey says, "the rest of the story" about the rest of the war will be issued by the commission soon.  

We know how Bush would react to such a commission, he'd ignore the findings. Still, we call on Bush to name a retired judge to gauge his handing of the War in Iraq. And we don't want a member of the Federalist Society.

As America is led by Mr. 30%, Olmert's approval is between 2-3%, less than even the margin or error! It's clear Israelis don't need a midterm election, Congressional hearings and leaks to the media to make up their minds. Israelis disappoved of Olmert's reaction to the death and capture of a few soldiers. 34 days worth of ping-ponging rockets between northern Israel and southern Lebanon, Hezbollah was still standing. Not even a year later, Olmert may not survive the week.

How does Israel get to deal with failed leadership so quickly while the United States languishes for years? Maybe it's Israel's history living amidst violence and enemies lined up at every border. That country does't mess around with security. America color-codes its warnings and Karl Rove crafts a message of Mission Accomplished. So many, including mainstream media, take the bait.

Now, it's the fourth anniversary of Bush landing on an aircraft carrier and declaring the end. But with every ending, there is a beginning. Since victory was declared May 1, 2003, more Americans have died, more Americans have been sent overseas and more Americans have returned home to face life and family as just shells of themselves, physically and emotionally. 

It should be criminal for Bush to veto the war spending bill with a timetable for troop withdrawal to begin October 1st. It's even worse for him to do it with a pen given to him from a father of a soldier. For every pen of support, there are thousands writing disapproval. One day Bush will be graded, if not for war crimes, than for failure in judgement, leadership and responsibilty. It's happening in Israel. It will happen here.                             5/2/2007


Bush Pez 

Every four years, on January 20th, the President puts his hand on the bible, raises his right hand and repeats these words. "I do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States." These 35 words provide hope the President will do the right things.

But has George Bush lived by the oath? When you examine the oath and layer the words over Bush's actions, there's mounting evidence he has not.

George Bush is faithful, if nothing else. So let's give him a pass on "faithfully execute the office of President...." But from here, the promise of the oath goes south.

George Bush has probably served close "to the best of my ability." No one ever said he was a brilliant man, from his ping-ponging military record and drunk driving conviction to work in the oil industry. In Texas, he teammed up with Karl Rove to win the Governor's race, supported government money to religious organizations and executed a record number of criminals. But America was hoping Bush would bring to Washington his popularity he showed by winning re-election as Governor with 7 out of every 10 votes. Political populism in the heart of Texas is not like compromising in Queens, Columbus, Des Moines or Seattle.

In the six-plus years as Commander in Chief, the examination of George Bush and his oath focuses squarely on "preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States." Simple yet powerful promises. Promises put to the test with unprecedented challenges after 9/11. A time when Americans and the world needed a leader to change the world. Bush took his promise, re-wrote history and changed the world for the worse.

To abide by these three principles, "preserve, protect, and defend", a President must be truthful or suffer the consequences. Bush has lied for years, broken the trust and faith of Americans at a time we needed him most. Bush and his allies believe they have not told a lie, which in itself is a lie.

The house of cards began with Iraq's phony arsenal of weapons. The cards are now collapsing over the White House, America and the world. Lies, deceit and conspiracy have manufactured the feel-good dramatic rescue of Private Jessica Lynch and the chest pounding bravery of football warrior Pat Tillman. The government spewed the lies, the media bought and elevated them, and patriotism never felt better.

The lies, deceit and conspiracies escalated in the name of national security. The public first accepted them, then wrestled with them, and now is in full revolt over them. The war sprouted secret CIA prisons around the world, inhumane interrogation of inmates, timelessly holding suspects, and the lawless wiretapping of citizens. All the while, the public's skepticism grew and grew through the midterms until Americans said "enough already." No sooner was Bush ordered by November voters to change his tune, that he and his Attorney General turned their attention to shaping America's law enforcers into an arm of the religious right.

One problem with lying is that you cannot do it just once. Lies breed lies, and when Bush leaves office in January 2009, his lies will have become so pronounced and damaging, that America and the world will spend years unraveling fact from fiction. A far cry from the promising oath of our President taken at when the world was looking for a leader.           4/24/07


 Bush McCain Hug

Could John McCain's military experience actually be hurting him and his Presidential campaign? Did McCain's time as a prisoner of war taint his view of Iraq? At a time when the Americans are head over heels with a troop pullout, could McCain's service be leading him to lose at all costs? To put it blunt, what if the conventional wisdom is all wrong about John McCain's military experience, and John McCain is the last person America should turn to as its next leader?

McCain's war record speaks for itself. A decorated former Naval aviator, captured in North Vietnam who served 5 1/2 years as a P.O.W. McCain won hearts and votes as a political pragmatist, connecting with voters with his refreshing independent streak. That was 8 years ago when McCain was running against George Bush. It all came to a screeching halt in South Carolina over dirty politics and talk of a black offspring.  

McCain's fall is reminiscent of an aging baseball fan in "Damn Yankees." Joe Boyd made a deal with the devil, gave up his retired life sitting by the radio so he could join his beloved Washington Senators as slugger Joe Hardy and finally beat the Damn Yankees to win the pennant. Today McCain is the Washington Senator who gave up his soul as a populist outsider to play with George Bush and his team.  

The soul exchange happened in 2004 when John Kerry asked McCain to team up and be his running mate. All signs said it could happen and it would work. Imagine two decorated war veterans on the same team and the leadership it would send to America and the World. Instead McCain snubbed Kerry and came out stronger than ever for Bush. That deal paved the way for Team Bush to help Team McCain for the '08 run.

Much is made of McCain's war service. Nothing can take away the debt America owes him. But 40 years later, the world is different. American voters must not give McCain and his war judgement a free ride. American voters must not handle questions of McCain's leadership with kid gloves. If heroism and service were met with blind faith, John Glenn would have been a two-term President like Dwight Eisenhower.

Instead McCain must be judged as a man stuck in his ways. A free-thinker who made his deal with the devil. Perhaps it was to differentiate from Hillary Clinton. Today, McCain's deal leaves him alone, the only candidate stuck with carrying the water for George Bush's policies.

McCain says setting deadlines for withdrawing troops would backfire. Maybe, maybe not. America deserves a Plan B. Eisenhower was all about plans as a General. JFK penned the words "choices, choices, choices" during exhaustive cabinet meetings during ther Missiles of October. For McCain, we already see what type of leader he would be on the one issue he's riding his campaign for President.

"I have no Plan B. If I saw that doomsday scenario evolving, then I would try to come up with one. But I cannot give you a good alternative because if I had a good alternative, maybe we could consider it now."   4/15/07


Today everyone can agree the War in Iraq was waged by either faulty intel or flat-out lies. Judging by President Bush's low poll numbers, the majority of Americans believe the Bush Administration was lieing all the way to Iraq. 

Lies led to more than 3,000 Americans dead, thousands injured, and tens of thousands stranded in a foreign land doing Bush's dirty work. "That's a fact, Jack" was the refrain from the movie "Stripes." Sadly Iraq is not a Hollywood comedy about soldiers practicing in peacetime. Another fact, Jack, is the War will always be the biggest issue in the Presidential campaign. Don't believe it's healthcare. Don't pretent it's jobs. It's the War. Today, tomorrow and in November 2008.     

Between now and then, we'll be deluged with campaign speeches, rhetoric in the form of saber-rattling between the Republican White House and the Democratic Congress. But what America sorely needs is a compelling, passionate, and perhaps insurgent voice from a State House. One Governor, fed up with the lies, fed up with the rising deathtoll, fed up with playing by the rules of engagement. One Governor to say, "hell no, we won't go!" and do it in the name of patriotism and leadership. 

It's the Governors who historically led the state militia, the state National Guards, calling them up to suppress riots and sandbag overflowing levvies. These Weekend Warriors signed up for the National Guard for the nobelist of reasons. College education, money for their families, giving back to their local communities in times of emergencies. But today, there's a larger percentage of National Guard and reservists on the frontline than in any war in U.S. History. 43 percent in Iraq and 55 percent in Afghanistan. The Defense Department calculates 183,366 National Guard members and reservists on active duty nationwide, with 300,000 dependents left behind to fend for themselves. 

Governors are playing roulette betting nothing disasterous will occur within their borders as their weekend warriors are serving in Bush's War. Guards used to serve "one weekend a month, two weeks a year." But 9/11, Iraq and the shortage of troops has Guard members serving 2 year stints. Not what they signed up for.

 At the same time, Governors are being stripped of any authority over their residents. In 1990, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld a law in the Montgomery Amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 1987, the year Bush One was in office. It reads "a governor cannot withhold consent with regard to active duty outside the United States because of any objection to the location, purpose, type, or schedule of such duty. 

Presidential power over the Guard was further strengthened with the John Warner Defense Authorization Act of 2007. Now a Governor is no longer the sole commander in chief of the National Guard during emergencies within the state. The President of the United States can take control of a states National Guard units without the governors consent. The nation's Governors protested to no avail. 

So which Governor would take a stand and challenge the law again. If 70% of Americans think the War is rotten from the core, why wouldn't one Governor get behind public opinion? That way the next Weekend Warrior to die, will do it at home, protecting their families and friends from a major disaster instead of overseas, dying on a battleground formed by lies, deceit and deception.    4/7/07


 Toy Soldier Hostage and Evil Bert 

The gamesmanship between Congress and the White House would actually be fun if we didn't have 100,000+ American troops waking up and falling asleep in the middle of Iraq's Civil War. The brave soldiers are doing their part, even as their own support dwindles for President George Bush and his Dr. Strangelove team of war strategists.

But at home, the American public is once again being lulled to sleep by its leaders. "Three Cheers" for the Democrats, who finally got their act together at a time when the public was starting to wonder if they forgot the Midterm Mandate. "Three Cheers" for the Democrats, who were able to put their own Presidential campaigning aside and unite on these historic votes. "Three Cheers" for the Democrats, whose leaders told the President to "calm down" and "work with us." 

All this cheering is comforting, it even helps Americans feel reason and responsibility are taking hold in the United States. But we're all just one word away from saying "I can't believe they did that!" The word starts with the letter "H" and it's history on our country cannot be forgotten. HOSTAGES.

Back in 1979 we all woke up to the news that some radicals raided the U.S. Embassy in Tehran, capturing 52 Americans. It shocked Americans in a way we weren't shocked again till the Challenger explosion in '86 and then September 11th, 2001.

One reason we haven't heard about "Prisoners of War" or "Hostages" is these terrorists don't want the hassle, don't have the overhead and don't need to create one location for American forces to focus. Instead these terrorists strike at random, from shadows of a road, through the dagger of a smile.

But as Bush crash-lands his final years in office, we're approaching the time in a President's term when our enemies can strike and prove a President inept at effectively responding. For Carter it occurred 444 days before he left office. Get out your calendars. Bush's 444 days start this November.

A hostage crisis would rally Americans, but after day one, not around our leader. Our hearts would pour out to the hostages and the troops. Our anger would be directed at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Republicans would line up with Democrats to bring our troops home immediately. It's one thing to be sitting ducks in a Civil War. It's another to watch events unfold, knowing full well they were all created because of lies and deceit by Bush, Cheney, Rove and the rest. Imagine how soon impeachment proceedings would start, once the hostages were freed?                     3/29/07



Will the 30% of Americans supporting President George Bush please stand up? It's important for the majority of us to see what a Bush backer looks like. We see it in the form of Dick Cheney, Alberto Gonzales and Karl Rove. We see it in the House vote where even more than 30% backed Bush and voted against the winning Democratic plan...a plan to fund the troops like never before, both financially and with compassion of a pullout.

We also see Bush's support on the '08 Presidential trail. McCain, Romney, Giuliani, Brownback, Hunter, Thompson (but not Hunter Thompson). Their gospel reads "Support the President" equals "Support the Troops." But how deep is that love of Bush, troops and our country?

What would this group of conservative, GOP panderers do if and when Dick Cheney can no longer serve out his term? Who among these candidates would step up and serve Mr. Lameluck? Is there a statesman in the House (or Executive Office Building)? They already believe in Bush's Troop Build-up. They defend it everyday. They could step into the VP job without having to change any of their briefing papers. Sadly, that GOP support stops when rubber meets the road. Not one GOP contender would race to the Oval Office any sooner than January 2009. For all the time they spend on the campaign trail, dissing Democrats, praising the President, and trampling over the midterm mandate, not one of these GOP wannabees would come to Bush's rescue. Not one.

Cheney has already blown through his HMO co-pay and flex spending limit. He recently was back in the hospital complaining of leg pain. How appropriate it was his "left" leg causing him discomfort. Cheney no doubt had better results than the men and women returning to nearby Walter Reed, without legs or lives they left with. The aging VP will be a regular at GW Hospital for the rest of his term for follow-up tests on a blod clot.

Imagine the political landscape if Cheney doesn't last through November 2008. Imagine the opportunity for a candidate to start looking Presidential even before the first primary. These GOP's are most alligned with Bush on the troop buildup through their own words:

John McCain- " A substantial and sustained increase in U.S. forces in Baghdad and Anbar province is necessary.

Rudy Giuliani- "I support what the president asked for support to do."

Mike Huckabee- "I'm going to have to trust the people over there sucking that sand into their lungs and putting their boots on the ground every day, that they may know a little more about it than those of us who don't have the stack full of intelligence reports to look at."

Duncan Hunter- "The number of troops that we've got...is still less troops than we had last December."

Mitt Romney- "I believe that so long as there is a reasonable prospect of success, our wisest course is to seek stability in Iraq, with additional troops endeavoring to secure the civilian population.

Tommy Thompson- "We should give this opportunity a chance to work."

Six men wanting to lead the nation. Six men with the same mandate as the current leader. Six men, who embrace lameduck pride and bravado, instead of the voice of the nation. If you needed any foreshadow as to how these six men would lead, let's hope we never see it, whether it's as Bush's #2 or America's #1.         3-26-07 



Scooter Libby will be sentenced in June. If he spends any time in prison, he'll be freed on January 20, 2009 when President Geogre Bush issues a pardon on W's final moment in office. The whole mess is a CIA a-go-go for the Bush family. And Senior can't be too pleased with his son.

Consider first President Bush and his history as CIA director. Before Junior became President, his papa said in 1999, "I have nothing but contempt and anger for those who betray the trust by exposing the name of our sources. They are, in my view, the most insidious of traitors."

Government traitors get sentenced to death. Is Papa advocating a death sentence for Libby? Will Papa remind Junior that Scooter "exposed the name of our source." If Papa preaches death, then he'll have to advocate a similar sentence for more White House higher-ups.   

White House reaction to the verdict is another reminder that Bush and company are not working for the American people. Junior "was saddened for Scooter Libby and his family." Dick Cheney believes "Scooter has served our nation tirelessly and with great distinction through many years of public service." Touching, oh so touching, in a white collar way. Who's sad for the American troops either dead or facing a dead end? Who's worked more tirelessly- Libby the Leaker or troops fighting a war for the wrong reasons, against the wrong country, and against the wrong enemy. Bush and Cheney didn't get it before the verdict. Calling him "Scooter" and elevating him to patriot status proves they don't get it after the verdict.

Libby becomes the highest ranking White House official to add felon before his name since Iran-Contra 20 years ago. Both have ties to the Bush family. After Senior Bush lost re-election in 1992, he quickly pardoned the then-highest ranking convict Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger. Lame duck status has its advantages.

The Bush family lives by the CIA and it will die by the CIA. Whatever the agency did for Senior's career to catapult him to VP and then President, the leak case will be equally part of Junior's legacy. That's because no one believes Libby acted alone. He worked for Cheney Almighty and everyone knows you don't call-out a CIA operative without the dirty politics of Bush, Cheney & Rove behind it.

Now that Libby is going upstream, Judith Miller and the New York Times should be next. What were they thinking when they were handed a "scoop" of national security proportions? Did editors really think it was the result of Miller's journalism integrity? Did the Times or Miller ever think they were being "played" by the great Karl Rove orchestra? Did they succumb to White House pressure because the Times printed Joe Wilson's famous Op-ed exposing no WMD connection between Iraq and Niger? Miller helped spin the Bush lies of Iraq, leading Congress to play dead and hypnotizing the American public behind the armor of patriotism. She should stand before a jury of her peers.

In the end, jurors didn't buy Libby's memory lapse and nailed him for lying to the grand jury, lying to the FBI and obstructing justice. By nightfall, GOP loyalists are bound to be spinning this felony conviction as a victory. After all, Libby was acquitted on another count of lying to the feds. These days, Republicans will take a victory anyway they could get one. 3/6/2007


American Idle

We wouldn't trust our auto mechanic the way we trust President George Bush. Imagine how many times you'd put up with Mr. Goodwrench saying "mistakes were made" before grabbing your keys and driving away. No one doubts the difficulty of managing a war. For most of us, it's hard enough to navigate between work and family, responsibilities and dreams. But we elected one President and 535 leaders to direct our nation's future, at home and abroad. We grabbed those car keys at the midterm elections but since then, we keep returning to Mr. Goodwrench.

What kind of America do we envision? What place in the world do we see? What issues are most vital for our focus, not day to day, but long range vision? Our government negates our outrage by confusing us, creating a diversion of attention, in the day to day of running the nation. By November 2008, we will have a choice, not of ideas and ideals, but of personality once again. Those personalties will be wrapped around ideas, but we need someone whose ideas are wrapped around their personality. Who has their eye on the future, well beyond 2008? Who among us is demanding more from our leaders? How many of us spend the days chewing up, debating and spitting out what mainstream media hands us each day?

Bush deceived us, trampled our trust, raped, yes raped, the American public of the truth. And now we live in a country which has lost its way. It starts at the top and is like water in the sand. It is in every nook and cranny inside this White House and across the country. The cast of characters should be on the FBIs "10 Most Wanted" poster. They ALL raped America, from Cheney to Rove, Rumsfeld to Wolfowitz, Ashcroft to Gonzales. They make Rice look respectable and make Powell look like the Pope

But what they've truly done is break our spirit. Sure we have Pelosi, Reid and Presidential candidates from both parties showing contrast to the Bush White House. But the "gang that couldn't shoot straight" has sucked the hope out of Americans, perhaps even more than Osama Bin Laden did on 9/11. The shame of the midterms is that the 2008 Presidential campaign started the next day. We went from debating and debunking Bush, taking away his keys, and driving our cars into a Jiffy Lube for instant gratification. But you don't always get the best service for $19.95 and the Democrats find themselves in a box as they try to differentiate from their primary competittors. It all confuses Americans in just a different way.

We deserve more. We deserve a higher conversation, a think-tank of patriots from across the spectrum. A meeting of the minds, locked in a room in Richmond or Gettysburg or Springfield. Locked away without lobbyists, without policy aides, without cable news channels. Locked away to come up with a Post-Preamble. What does America stand for and how will we interact first within our borders and then outside. Those who wouldn't celebrate this are those with money to influence, power to broker and shady folks who have had the keys to our cars all too long. It's time to return to keys, drive away and never look back.   3/17/07  


Would it be cruel and unusual punishment to assign inmates to fight the war on terror? Right now the United States houses the most prisoners in the world. More than 2.2 million people are serving time in federal and state lockups. By 2011, inmates will cost U.S. taxpayers $27.5 billion, $12.5 billion to operate prisons and another $15 billion to build new ones.

For inmates, everyday is Groundhog Day, more Bill Murray than Punxatawny Phil. Sleep, eat, light work, physical activity, routine and restrictions. Day after day.

President George Bush is calling for 21,500 more troops to stabilize Iraq. The Pentagon now says it will take 28,500. Democrats unable to unify over war spending will now make a distinction between Iraq and Afghanistan, knowing full well the American public supports the war on Bin Laden's terror but not the Civil War in  Iraq.

Look at the reality. American forces are depleted and over-stretched. Three years later and they still lack adequate armor to fight Iraqi insurgents. The weekend warriors of the National Guard and their families sacrifice far more than anyone should be forced to. And returning troops with physical and emotional scars have been treated worse than illegal immigrants. 

It's time to turn to criminals wasting away in United States prisons to face off against criminals of the world. Not all 2.2 million. Let's start with something. Certainly there are hundreds of thousands of trainable inmates willing to trade their 20-year to life sentences into the chance for freedom.   

This plan is a modern day version of  the 1967 box office hit "The Dirty Dozen" starring tough guys Lee Marvin, Ernest Borgnine, Telly Savalas, Charles Bronson and Jim Brown. In the movie, 12 American soldiers, all convicted of capital crimes, are trained and ordered to destroy a target.

Sure the ACLU would cry foul and prisoner rights groups would file suit. But President Bush, Vice President Cheney and all the good folks at Homeland Security have already curtailed and undermined basic rights of all American citizens in the name of national security. It's time these civil rights violations impact inmates too. 

The business community would gladly sponsor inmate batallions, movie producers and Oprah would line up with offers, the inmates would get a heroes send-off like no other. After all, the more inmtes who serve in Afghanistan and Iraq, the fewer law-abiding men and women need to serve a third tour of duty, all of whom just wanted free college tuition and a chance to serve their hometowns during floods and natural disasters.

Bush wants troops- here they are. Americans want a war on crime-here you go. Someone will have to deal with the prison lobby which helps fuel fear across American cities and benefits from billions in ballooning budgets.

In the movie, Major General Worden, played by Borgnine, summed it up for the criminal army. "This war was NOT started for your private gratification, and you can be damned sure it's not being run for your personal convenience, either! "   3/2/07 



This week takes the cake for White House smokescreens and diversions. The Scooter Libby verdict draws near- the Vice President flies the coop. Does the White House believe they're pulling another fast one? As Libby prepares for the worst, his former boss and co-conspirator Dick Cheney is as far away as one can be without leaving the planet. 

No sooner did closing arguments begin than the VP did the only practical thing: pack the bags, board a plane and get to another time zone, and fast. The last thing Cheney wants or the White House needs is for the Commander of Leaks to be within a soundbite of the United States when Libby's fate is sealed.

So Cheney barrels off to Austrailia, the country that is the least relevant one on the world stage today. Nothing against the Aussies but the country hasn't been tearing up the talk shows and wasn't behind the American election revolution of 2006. Any tennis fan knows that when daytime strikes Austrailia, we're fast asleep. Those Austrailian Open matches are always seen live at 2am in the States. So there's Cheney being seen but not really heard, half a world away.

Cheney and company thought they'd need just a few days away, knowing full well that Libby is toast. But while they planned for Cheney to be back by now, the jury is taking longer than even the guilty assumed it would. So here's Cheney making a surprise detour to Pakistan without any notice. The American media has learned nothing about trusting this Vice President. Not only did he hand the New York Times a crap of lies about WMD and the truth about Valerie Plame and her CIA role, but now he coaxes the media not to disclose his secret Pakistani visit under the pretense of security. When George Bush visited Pakistan, no such security request was ever made. Cheney's people may be on trial for media manipulation, but they get the latest laugh by duping the mainstream once again.

In Pakistan, Cheney scolds Pakistani President Musharraf for not squashing the Taliban and Al Qaeda. After Cheney left, Musharraf proudly scolded the U.S. saying "Pakistan does not accept dictation from any side or source." They don't accept dictation, but please don't forget that 10 billion in U.S. aid at the door!

The trial gets delayed as one of the 12 jurors is excused for, ironically, being exposed to media accounts. Cheney can't stand it but still can't return to the U.S. just yet. So here comes surprise visit number two: across the border to Afganistan for an unscheduled visit with President Karzai.

How many trips, how many days will Cheney stay far, far away from Washington and the Libby verdict? Cheney has a trump card in his briefcase. A snowstorm in Afganistan has grounded flights so his meeting with the Afgani leader is on hold. Cheney will be praying for more snow because he's running out of airfields to land at.

But wait, there's something even better than snow, something to divert any attention from the pending Libby verdict. "I heard a loud boom,” Cheney exclaimed as terrorists tried to blow him up this morning. This attack will certainly keep the attention focused on good versus evil and couldn't have been staged any better had Karl Rove been involved. Now regardless of the Libby verdict, the true terror threat is at Code Red in Afganistan, the place most Americans wanted U.S. military attention all these years.

Isn't it amazing that we've gone full circle back to the home of Al Qaeda and Bin Laden. Isn't it amazing that we've gone full circle from 9/11 to Afganistan to faulty intel of WMD to the Iraq invasion to Joe Wilson outting Bush, to Cheney and Libby outing Wilson's CIA wife to thousands of American deaths to the midterm revolt to Libby's trial, Cheney's diversion overseas, an attack against Cheney in Afganistan. Whew. You can't make this stuff up.

Two questions: do you think Cheney brought his hunting rifle along, and has anyone seen Harry Whittington lately?   2/27/07 



 Bush: You Forgot Poland

The midterm elections put a happy face on Americans. The outcome repressed and erased much of the unspoken guilt bleeding from sea to shining sea. Afterall, Americans can now say they don't support President George Bush, the Iraq War, illegal prisons, torture, suspended civil liberties, leaks of CIA agents, macho talk like "Bring It On!" and "Mission Accomplished" and the Republican blind eye of governnance and accountability. But while Americans sleep soundly, the rest of the world is pulling out faster than a teenager's promise in the backseat of a Chevy.

Tony Blair is no longer standing side-by-side Bush in his quest for world dominance. As Bush tries to add 21,000 troops to Iraq, Blair is pulling out 1600 British troops. Hmmm..1600. The address where George and Laura live. Let's just say the numerical coincidence is England's parting shot to Bush. Blair stood by Bush through 9/11 (an easy call) and the Iraq War (a co-conspirator who also knew there were no WMD). His days are numbered after announcing he'll step down by next year.

Another Prime Minister casualty with Bush's fingerprints around his throat is in Italy. Just nine months after taking office as Italian Prime Minister, Romano Prodi saw the writing and resigned.

What does England and Italy have that America doesn't? Geography for one; Governments with balls a close second. The two counties live within enemy missile range which must make its citizens a bit more jumpy at what they see going on in Iraq and now Iran. We've admired the public speaking qualities of Blair, especially his style while debating in Parliament, live on television, face-to-face with his critics. If George Bush ever faced non-hand picked audiences, it would be a train wreck worthy of a reality TV show. 

When Prodi took over Italy's shaky government, expectations and excitement were high. Troop buildups was a concern, but not enough to make Prodi touch the third rail. No Italian troops were engaged in Iraq. 2,000 are in Afganistan. What made Italians really crazy was the United States plan to expand a military base in Northern Italy. That was just too much for even his far-left coalition members, who abstained from a key vote, leading to this Prodi's unexpected resignation. Prodi stood by the U.S. even as he was going down. “To change course would be a hostile act against the United States.”

In the United States, those calling for a timetable for troop withdrawals are called weak, unsupportive of our troops, killers of a democracy in progress. So how can Blair, a loyalist to Bush, have no trouble bringing his troops home, with a timetable, in the coming months. Blair's PR line doesn't stick- that the British troops are in Southern Iraq and not in the raging civil war around Baghdad.

Bush ends another day seeing his allies either running for cover or listening to its citizens. Add Denmark and Lithuania to the pull out frenzy; the Danes will  withdraw 460 soldiers, Lithuania may bring home its 53 solidiers. Which leaves the question of what allies are left and Bush's response to  John Kerry during their first Presidential debate in 2004: "Well, actually, he forgot Poland."    2/22/07 



Bush's Middle East Peace Plan

The world is watching American democracy and it's been moving as slowly as poaint drying. The week ended with a split decision in Congress. The House scolded President George Bush's Iraq War and the Senate failed to even bring it to a vote. Ever since the midterms, lawmakers have had their eye on one easy vote: Knowing everything you know, are you for the war or against it? Lawmakers have their eye on 2008 whether running for re-election or running for President. They need an easy vote, not the ones based on faulty intel. Look at the commotion over Hillary Clinton's vote for the war. Instead of apologizing, she'll stick to her soundbite that her vote was based on Bush's lies and it's the President who should apologize. Her peers don't want to be in that box, so they were looking this week to be clear, defined, and smart about where they stand. It's that simple.

What's also simple is how easy Iran has been playing George Bush. It's abit naiive to think any differently. Remember the great comic capers of our time. Paul Newman playing cards on a train in "The Sting", Abbott and Costello playing cards on a train in "Buck Privates" ("Little Joe!"). They knew what they were doing all along and they knew their prey would bite. The "startling news" we woke up to one day that Iran was helping the insurgents was in the making for many years. To add to instability and fuel the world's hatred for the United States, Iran set the trap and have been waiting for some time now for the United States to take the bait. Don't you think Iran WANTED to get caught? Bush and company treat it like they've been working overtime and cracked some kind of complicated scheme. Iran wanted the world to know they were playing Bush.

The timing of linking Iran to Iraq is no coincidence either. But again, it's not Bush who is orchestrating this. Iran is doing the choreography. This past week, the U.S. helped disarm North Korea of its nukes to the tune of $250 million dollars. If North Korea folded for a quarter billion, Iran is holding out for more. After all, North Korea threatened Japan and the Far East, but Iran poses to be more of a nusiance by threatening to de-stabilize many more countries in the oil-rich Middle East.

The Bush team is spinning the Iran link wildly, hoping it will turn American public opinion for the troop buildup. But whatever Bush knows, experts know it's more complicated. “I just don’t think we have a very acute understanding of the internal workings of the regime in Iran,” said Patrick Clawson, an Iran expert at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.      2/17/07 


Just say the whole world was watching. Just say the world cared about American football as much as Joe Six Pack. Just say the world bought into the hype surrounding the Indianapolis Colts and the Chicago Bears. From sea to shining sea, from Mexico to Canada, from Afganistan's caves to Iran's scientific labs, from North Korea to Kosovo, from Somolia to Darfur, from Venezuela to Cuba, from the Palestinian state to Israel and from Iraq's capital to its oil refineries (Insert your favorite hot spot here). The whole world was captivated by the Super Bowl. Just make believe.

So what did the United States put forth at this time of crisis, corruption and civil wars? Commericals touting consumption, interrupted briefly by six second performances on a football field by 22 men in tights, pads and helmuts butting heads.

President George Bush had the world's stage on Super Bowl Sunday and he probably was eating munchies, checking into storm relief efforts in Florida, and smiling that he made it through another January as President. Did it occur to Bush, Cheney, Rove, Rice or any number of White House cronies that this was THE MOMENT George Bush could have used to improve and define his legacy. This was THE MOMENT George Bush could put meaning behind his message. This was THE MOMENT George Bush could have flashed back to September 11, 2001, and in one fell swoop, mobilize America, our allies and perhaps even our enemies into a new world order?

Bush oversees the most powerful organized nation in the World. The telecommunications industry in America is beholden to his power. Telcoms need his Administration to loosen regulations so they can print more money. Billions of dollars haven't been enough to quench their thrists. So the President didn't need any permission to seize this moment, take over halftime, and address the world. Imagine what that would have been like? Halftime without a musical act, wardrobe malfunction or a seven second delay.

Bush could have told the world he mis-calculated. He had the best intentions and they went South. If he knew then, what he knows now, he would have enlisted our allies, listened to all the U.S. intel that was pointing to NO weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, said Saddam was a menace, but first things first- we all have to find Bin Laden. Then and only then would the near trillion dollar expense and the thousands of lost lives have been considered to topple Saddam. Having already found Bin Laden, Bush could have shown the world America had one voice, and then asked the world to get on our backs, and follow our lead. It could have ensured Republican leadership in the United States for generations.

The Super Bowl could have been a shining moment for George Bush. But instead, it was another lost opportunity. As announcers talked endlessly about the leadership of two coaches off the field and the leadership of two quarterbacks on the field, it was again George Bush's lack of leadership, creativity and vision that is the lasting memory for the world. Within days, most Americans will forget who even won the Super Bowl. They'll be talking about Prince's halftime show and the best and worst commercials. But more importantly, they'll be talking about a President facing the world, with renewed  stubborness, arrogance and no way out of his Super Blunder.       2/4/07



Bush Resigns

Second terms. Escalating Wars. Heightened scandals. Falling public opinion. Republican infighting. Coincidence or history repeating itself? Two milestone are left in comparing the two worst scandals in American history. A Vice President resigns and a President impeached. Not only is this possible, but it can happen in a flash. 

For the first time in 80 years, the White House has no heir apparent in the form of the Vice President becoming the frontrunner. This time it's because the Veep has already assumed the role of Commander in Chief while the sort-of-elected President has been mis-directed by the Cold War hawks waiting to rumble.

We've written for months that after the '06 midterms, the White House will find a way to ease Dick Cheney aside, perhaps citing failing health, and install a public-looking good guy as the #2. Unless George Bush picks Donald Rumsfeld or John Ashcroft, the selection will make Americans feel better about the GOP.

Changing Veeps will leave the Bush Impeachment as the final act in this 8 year production. Ask yourself, what will it take for the public and the Congress to turn on Bush in such a way as to throw him out of office before January 2009. Read, watch and listen and you see the impeachment landscape already forming.

Congress appears to be waiting in the weeds right now. No one wants to raise the heat this soon. After all, the Democrats just took control and are focusing on their promised gameplan. Bush appears thoughtful to those who pity him. He waited and waded through December to define his war plan, ignored the Iraq Study Group, got input from all his tried and true federal agencies, made a pitch to the American people for more troops, unleashed Cheney to a friendly Sunday talk show before doing his own bit of product placement on 60 Minutes.

In the meantime, more American troops are killed, including the largest contingent of American higher brass. First a chopper is hit, then insurgents dressed in American uniforms, driving American vehicles, and speaking English, are waved into our compound where gunfire leads to kidnapping and more American deaths.

The battle cry of giving Bush one more chance for this charade to work is akin to the final Bush Death March. History tells us how this will end. And it's not with Condeleeza Rice bringing the region together.

Richard Nixon lasted less time after his re-election than George Bush has, even tough Vietnam was ending and the Iraq War is getting reinforcements. The Watergate break-in preceded Nixon's re-election landslide by nearly 5 months. Two months later, in January '73, aides Liddy and McCord are convicted in the break-in conspiracy. Three months later in April resignations galore: Haldeman, Ehrlichman and Attorney General Kleindienst. Within weeks, nationally televised hearings. In June '73, John Dean reveals he talked about the cover-up at least 35 times with Nixon. Days later, Watergate prosecutors find a memo detailing plans to break into the psychiatrist of Pentagon Papers defendant Dan Ellsberg. At the same time, we learn Nixon recorded all conversations in his offices for the past 2 years. Nixon stops taping, refuses to turn over tapes, and initiates the Saturday Night Massacre not even a year after re-election. In October '73, Vice President Spiro Agnew resigns after pleading no contest to income tax evasion charges. Weeks later in Nov '73, Nixon declares "I am not a crook" but can't explain an 18 1/2 minute gap in a subpoenaed tape. Leave it to Chief of Staff  Alexander Haig to precede Hillary Clinton in theorizing "some sinister force" erased the segment.  By July '74, Congress had had enough. The House Judiciary Committee passed the firsts of three impeachment articles and on August 8, 1974, Nixon became the first U.S. President to resign.

One long paragraph to show how a President becomes undone and a country says the party is over. Nixon was hiding a break-in for political gain. Bill Clinton was hiding an affair for personal gain. Bush can't hide his agenda anymore. What's left is for America to take back power and throw the President out.            1/28/07



Andy Rooney - Opinion, News Commentary and Video on CBSNews.com

The Bush "60 Minutes" interview should have started with this disclaimer: "The following interview is being conducted by a lightweight reporter who will ask "yes" and "no" questions, will not follow up on insufficient answers and has failed to pass off the interview to more scrutinizing reporters. CBS News does not apologize for this. It's more a reflection of the state of journalism in America."

Where was Mike Wallace when America needed him?  The reason CBS was chosen for this Sunday night sit-down was because it was Scott Pelley. A virtual love fest for George Bush, just days after delivering news to 21,000 more American families that he's escalating a war with no end.

It's too late for Bush to work a miracle. He sticks to the script conneting 9/11 with Iraq, even as he denies he ever made such a connection. "If we were to start withdrawing now, we'd have a crisis in our hands in Iraq. And not only in Iraq, but failure in Iraq will embolden the enemy. And the enemy is al-Qaeda and extremists." Even the few Americans barely paying attention know Bush and his policies are already emboldening the enemy, already encouraging more recruits, more suicide bombers. 

Bush told of specific mistakes he's made. "Abu Ghraib was a mistake. Using bad language like, you know, "bring them on" was a mistake. I think history is gonna look back and see a lot of ways we could have done things better. No question about it. (Troop levels?) Could have been a mistake."

The most distressing dot that Bush won't connect is his policies causing more of the world to hate the United States. But no quote shows how far removed he is from reality than this: "I think the Iraqi people owe the American people a huge debt of gratitude, and I believe most Iraqis express that. I mean, the people understand that we've endured great sacrifice to help them. That's the problem here in America. They wonder whether or not there is a gratitude level that's significant enough in Iraq.

Telegram to Iraqis! No one in America expects you to show us gratitude for dismantling your country. No one in America wonders whether your level of saying "thanks" is significant enough.

Bush says "we've got people criticizing this plan before it's had a chance to work." Mr. President, with all due respect, Americans have trusted you, given you enough time and rope to see your plan through. The country even returned you to a second term to finish what you started. Your citizens failed to criticize you enough in the course of your plan. The honeymoon of public opinion is officially over.

For Pelley, a man who wanted Dan Rather's chair as much as any of the other also-rans, his interview techniques let the President off the hook time and again. When referring to the failure to find weapons of mass destruction, Pelley didn't even ask a question, but tried to show what an average folk he is. "You had to be angry as hell." Which garnered the captivating reply: "Yeah, I wasn't happy." Nice work.

Pelley had no follow up for Bush's gushing over Cheney as "a great vice-president" or for Rumseld doing "a really fine job as Secretary of Defense." No follow-up, even though those two Bush loyalists were plotting this Iraq invasion, knowing there would be unneccesary American casualties, the moment Bush won election in 2000.

In the end, words that go from Bush's brain to his mouth are so sadly ironic, you can't help but sit stunned when he's asked that Barbara Walters-type question, "what would you say to Iran's President about meddling in Iraq?"  

"I'd say, first of all, to him, "You've made terrible choices for your people. You've isolated your nation. You've taken a nation of proud and honorable people, and you've made your country the pariah of the world.....You've defied international accord. And you're slowly but surely isolating yourself." 

Terrible choices. Isolated nation. Country the pariah of the world. Defied international accord. Isolating yourself. If that's not a best self-description of President Bush and his White House, then I'm a founding member of the Scott Pelley fan club.     1/15/07



 President Bush’s Address to the Nation on Iraq 
Once again, they think we're idiots. Trust us, trust us, trust us. This time, we're trusting ourselves. In the Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing room, GOP Senator Chuck Hagel called President Bush's plan a “dangerous foreign policy blunder.” Dem Senator Russ Feingold said it's “quite possibly the greatest foreign policy mistake in the history of our nation.”
So today as the White House was selling its plan to ship another small town's worth of service men and women to Iraq, the sound of incompetence was heard loud and clear. The setting- Capitol Hill. The space-familar hearing rooms. The subjects- what's left of the Bush War Machine, Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Secretary of State Condeleeza Rice. This duo has experience and perspective, right? Then how do you account for the Homer Simpson-like "duhs" that were seen in bubbles over their heads.
They've read about world history growing up. Studied it in school. As adults they turned to politics and power. They watched Vietnam before, during and after. They lived through illegal wars with strange American bedfellows in the 1970's and 80's. They watched the iron curtain crumble. Saw Superpowers shrink. Propsered through peacetime of the 90's. Where did all his perspective lead them?  They ignored clear warnings about 9/11 and watched the worst terror attack to hit the United States. They should be in jail.
Instead they get to play dress-up, and appear before cameras, the nation and the world with no clue as to how this whole mess will end. They have access to every bit of intelligence, but when asked today how long these extra troops will be in Iraq, they had a big fat "DUH."
Rice tried to put our minds at ease. "I have met Prime Minister Maliki...I saw his resolve. I think he knows that his government is, in a sense, on borrowed time, not just in terms of the American people, but in terms of the Iraqi people." A government on borrowed time. She could have been talking about her boss and our country.
It's one thing hearing the debate ring louder and louder in the United States. But how were Bush's demands of Iraqi accountability greeted in Iraq? Today, Maliki was a no show at his own news conference. Not even a "no comment." Showing loud and clear that Iraq's installed leader HAS learned a thing or two from America's lame duck President.      1/11/07


Bush Google Parody

For a clear vision of what failed leadership looks like, one needed to just tune into to primetime television Wednesday night. President George Bush standing alone trying to convince the world he's got more bright ideas.

Bush calls for more troops four years too late. Bush calls for Marines to knock down those nutty insurgents and, are you sitting down, those foreign al-Qaida fighers in Iraq. There's that link again . Bush calls for mo money to fund all these troops, even though Iraq's oil profits were to foot the bill and then some. Bush calls on embedding U.S. advisers in the Iraqi security forces. Maybe then we'll learn who used all those cell phone minutes at Saddam's execution.

Iraq is expected to do their part. But we know what that will look like. Will someone tell them that 90% of life is just showing up. We can't even expect them to do that. Their country in a full scale civil war. If U.S. troops can't stop random attacks, how will the rag tag bunch of Iraqi slackers ever do the trick?

The only regime shakier than Iraq's is the one holed up at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Republicans have long now abandoned their over-confident leader. The nation is made of thoughtful Democrats and Republicans who had the good fortune of not being up for re-election last November. Those lucky GOPs resemble Democrats these days but no one is calling them cowards or unpatriotic. Where's a Swift Boater when you really need to out a coward?

Let's hope the country doesn't fall for the Bushites spin that this plan is some new direction, a new way forward. Already we know the mainstream news is all aflutter about the Presidential Speech. They've set the bar so low that Bush should come out ahead. The networks are using language supplied by the White House, with no perspective that it was that language (Mission Accomplished, With Us or Against Us) that helped convinced lawmakers and the general public to fall asleep and trust the President.

This time, Americans populace is ahead of the game. Web sites, bloggers and millions of voters who won't be fooled again. Ad the President said himself, "Fool me once, shame on-shame on you. Fool me-you can't get fooled again."     1/10/07



Bush Cheney Wizard of Oz Parody 

Say what you will about Vice President Dick Cheney. The man knows how to survive. See the photos of Cheney during the all-week tribute to Gerald Ford? A young Cheney actually looked subordinate to the 1970's. Today, Cheney looks like a caricature of himself. Try telling the difference between the Veep and the actor playing him on Saturday Night Live. 

Today as we enter a New Year, it's time for the GOP to ceremoniously dump him. Cheney has outlived his political usefulness. Chosen to add bulk to George Bush in the 2000 Presidential campaign, Cheney provided age and wisdom, politics and national security to the Texas Governor. He also knew where the bodies were buried in DC and around the world.

But now the future of the Republican Party hangs in the balance of Cheney's presence. For the first time since 1928, the sitting White House will be sitting out the next Presidential race. Unless Jeb Bush decides to run for President in '08, it'll be the first election since the 70's when a Bush either wasn't running or wasn't adjacent to the race.

Do you really believe the Bushites will let their legacy be carried out by McCain, Romney or Giuliani? In the coming months, Cheney will find a way to bow out gracefully, if even just to GOP insiders. Bush will find a new Veep who will instantly become a Republican front runner in the GOP sweepstakes. Do you really think Bush forgets McCain's epic battle in 2000 and the black baby smear it took to defeat him in the South Carolina primary? McCain may be reaching out to conservatives, but the evangelicals would much rather rubber stamp a Bush clone, especially given the time he'll have to show independent leadership from Bush between now and primary season.

While Democrats do what they tend to do, beat each other down, the GOP will reflect from the midterms and get a disciplined plan on how to retain the White House. The first step is creating a viable candidate from inside the White House. The next step is finding a date for Cheney to step down.     1/1/07



 As George Bush gets closer to plunging another 20,000 United States troops into Iraq's civil war, the world gets set to face life after Saddam Hussain. Saddam's pending execution is unlike any death sentence the world has seen in decades. Saddam may have ruled with terror, ordered the execution of his detractors and baited the United States into thinking he supplanted the former Soviet Union as our new Cold War enemy.

But will his execution be hailed worldwide as the execution of Nazi war criminals in 1946. Is there a difference between what Saddam did and what the Nazis did? Saddam ruled in modern times just like dozens of other leaders. Many of those leaders have been aided by democratic countires like the U.S. and its allies. But Saddam will be put to death as the latest diversion to the Bush War in Iraq. Never mind that Saddam's crimes were, in part, retaliation to plots to kill him.

At this time of civil war, Saddam's execution will only heighten the insurgency against a democratic foundation finding little traction in Iraq. In the way the Bush War has helped recruit a new generation of terrorists, Saddam's execution will elevate him from former leader, to convicted killer to a forever martyr. Just what the world needs at it tries to straighten out the mess caused by Team Bush-Cheney-Rove.

What would it look like if somehow, someway Saddam's life was spared? Would it make the free world look like wimps? Would it give more power to terrorists who don't believe Americans can stomach a long-lasting war of the ages? Or would it give pause to a world amid confusion, from the Middle East to Africa, from the former Soviet Republics to the Mexican-US border?

In one fell swoop, President Bush can take the biggest step since Neil Armstrong, by advocating, yes advocating life for Saddam Hussain. In one fell swoop, it would unite America behind a President whose approval rating has done nothing but slipped. It would show the world that the Decider has compassion, and more importantly, has some understanding of leadership, perspective and a longer worldview. In short, it would mean leadership, something Bush has not shown in a long, long time.

If Gerald Ford opposed the Bush War, which is coming out after his death, where do you suppose Bush's father stands? Our current leader is holding onto his black and white view of the world, as former American leaders are talking from their graves that George the Second is a crazed moron.

If execution of Saddam is a just reward, what will history want to do with George Bush when his final judgment is made?    12/29/06



 Bush Lost in Translation

Was President George Bush suffering from a stroke during today's "news" conference? Senator Tim Johnson sounded more coherent as he pardoned himself from the microphones and made his way to the hospital last week. We were not so fortunate today.

President Bush showed America and the world a new level of attention deficit disorder. His newser was sprinkled with cliches', campaign stump phrases, arrogance, delusion, and hypocrisy.

Years after declaring "Mission Accomplished," Bush spent the past few weeks "staying the course," exploring a "new direction forward", "we are winning" to today's tie, draw or stalemate, "we're not winning and we're not losing."

Bush said the year-long civil war, ahem, "sectarian violence", is "one aspect of this war that has not gone right." He failed to mention all the other areas of what hasn't gone right: waging a war on phony intelligence, without proper troop levels, without adequate armour for troops, without plans to deal with roadside bombs, a blind eye to wasteful and corrupt no-bid contracts, falsely relying on Iraq oil revenue to pay for the war, extended deployments for weekend warriors, three-thousand American and nearly a million Iraqi civilian deaths, demanding democracy, ignoring ethnic strife...shall we go on?

Today the President went on record that he'll be ignoring the recommendations from the Iraq Study Group. The United States won't change its military goals or leave Iraq. "Victory in Iraq is achievable," the President declares even though the rest of us are done with the testosterone laced, cold war rhetoric. 

Why does Bush cling to a black and white outcome in Iraq? Why is he advocating more troops when the mere presence of existing ones is fueling violence? Is this what we can expect from Bush as he faces a Democratic Congress one month from now?

Today Bush talked of working with Congress on a host of domestic issues. He prides himself of bi-partisan spirit from his days as Texas Governor to now. But that spirit ends with Iraq.

“The most painful aspect of my presidency is the fact that I know my decisions have caused young men and women to lose their lives.” 

The most painful aspect of the Bush presidency is that he was ever allowed to run the country in the first place.   12/21/06



"All the News That's Fit to Print" was unfit this Sunday. Was it because of the hellish few years the paper and the world has faced? It's tough stuff dealing with plagiarism and then Judith Miller's conspiracy as a GOP pawn that convinced Americans that war with Iraq was good. Thanks to Frank Rich who did more to set the Bush record of misjudgment straight than 365 episodes of "The Daily Show." In between, we've seen the Times shine with a five year 9/11 retrospect that was second to none. The newspaper even raised the bar by adding gay nuptials to the Sunday marriage page. And why not. Kinky Friedman campaigned in Texas that gay marriage is an equal rights issue: gays have equal rights to be just as miserable as the rest of us.

But it was still glaring, surprising and self-servingly time-saving to read the front section of the New York Times on Sunday December 17th. One hard news story on the front page. ONE. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas ordered early elections to try to break the stalemate with Hamas.

The feature laden front page is one thing.  But what happened inside? 32 pages usually devoted to international and national news, plus interesting NYC-metro pages and a world-famous obit. But on this Sunday, a day devoted to a cup of java, Church and a $5 cover price (the price missing for some reason on this day) we were greeted with ads, full page ads, several full page ads, a total of 23 full page ads. Two thirds of the Sunday Times was junk and other pages were dominated with more ad space. Furs, Watches, Jewelry, Gift Cards, Skin Enhancers, Clothes, more Watches, the Survivor Finale', yet more Watches, again Watches for a fourth time, more Clothes, Hi-tech, more Clothes with a cute dog, more Gift cards, a Cell phone, a Bank, a fifth Watch ad, a sixth Watch ad covering 2 pages this time, BMW, Diamonds, Medical device company, and another Cell phone.

Perhaps this is what it takes to employ many of the best journalists in America. Sellout a week before Christmas. It's a week when Congress if off, the Supreme Court is on vaca, the elections are long over, and the White House mulls over desperate plans to end the Iraq War. But Christmas week has served as a litmus for second term Presidents. Reagan faced the music of Iran-Contra and Clinton heard the roll call of Impeachment as shoppers were decking the halls. For all their griping about the liberal media, Bush, Cheney and Rove were given a free pass from today's Sunday Times. Take a day off thy Fifth Estate. The lives of  hundreds of thousands of troops from around the world lie awake tonight wondering if the mess this White House created will come to an end anytime soon.    12/18/06



Not since the hospitalization of Vito Correlone has so much been riding on the health of one man. South Dakota Democrat Tim Johnson slurred his speech, was rushed to the hospital and may have suffered a stroke.

Prayers go out to Johnson and Johnson (Tim and wife Barbara) but you could also say God bless America. Johnson's health points to the fragile majority the Democrats hold in the U.S. Senate ever since the anti-war rally on November 7th.

Could this be part, any part, of the Republican strategy to keep control of the Senate? Laugh if you must, but George Bush, the White House and the GOP are grasping for any hope to keep their crusade alive.

Will the GOP be sending super-sized french fries to Senate Democrats? Will K-Street lobbyists be encouraging Senate Democrats to take up tobacco? Will Karl Rove look to Russia for advice and find some way to poison a Senate Democrat? 

This Administration was hellbent on desecrating the Constitution and the Geneva Conventions by invading our privacy and torturing prisoners, hellbent on killing innocent American Servicemen and women in a war built-up on lies, hellbent on dividing the nation and the world while it mandated democracy, or else.

The health of Senate Democrats is vial, but their health is not equal. 20 Senate Dems living in Republican-controlled states mean the difference between a new direction for America and business as usual for Bush and company.

Those Democrats are Daniel Akaka and Daniel Inouye in Hawaii, Evan Bayh in Indiana, Barbra Boxer and Dianne Feinstein in California, Kent Conrad and Byron Dorgan in North Dakota, Amy Klobuchar in Minnesota, Chritopher Dodd and Joseph Lieberman in Connecticut, Tim Johnson in South Dakota, Patick Leahy (and Independent Bernie Sanders) in Vermont, Bill Nelson in Florida, Ben Nelson in Nebraska, Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse in Rhode Island, Harry Reid in Nevada, John Tester in Montana, and Claire McCaskill in Missouri.

Vito Corrleone survived the night because of the heroic acts by his yet-to-be-made son Michael. For the good of America and the world, say a prayer for our leaders, so men and women abroad have a fighting chance to come home alive.   12/14/06



George Bush and Dick Cheney are starting to resemble the fictious characters in the television sitcom "The Office." The Bush and Cheney characters are well-known to us. In the TV series, Michael Scott is the feeble leader at the Scranton branch of the Dunder-Mifflin paper company. His self-proclaimed #2 is Dwight Schrute, a power-hungry co-worker who would blow the place up if it meant being in charge. While George and Michael are likeable yet incompetent leaders, their #2s Dick and Dwight are dangerous.  All four are in denial. All four believe they can motivate. All four have no clue the rest of us are laughing. On TV, the joke's on them; in real life, the joke's sadly on us.

Bush and Cheney are lost. They've had years to come up with solutions to their war. But instead of acknowleging their goals, vision and methods were mis-guided, mis-managed, and mistaken, Bush is waiting for some advice from inside his own Administration. Both parties have given the President enough outs to end a baseball game. The summer polls, the midterm elections, the American death toll, and now the Iraq Study Group. A bi-partisan, collegiate-named Study Group served 79 counts of advice the White House basically declared dead on arrival. Why take suggestions from both political parties when the White House can direct what they'll be seeing. Bush prefers to get his advice from people he's hired: the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the State Department, the Treasury Department and the National Security Council. 4 groups alligned to the White House. 4 groups who will avoid placing blame, and instead rubber-stamp whatever notion Bush has this time. Are we to believe any information coming out of this Administration regarding Iraq? Blue states and red states say not anymore.

Bush is looking for an early Christmas gift from the American public when he addresses the nation in the next few weeks. But what he'll really be doing is re-packaging a set of lies when he says he is looking for a new way forward. Bush and Cheney want one thing: a victory. Years ago, victory meant spreading democracy across the Middle East. Instead Bush spread a civil war. Victory is as undefined today as it was all along. What a travesty for the tens of thousands of American troops stationed in the middle of it all. They believed in Bush; now they watch the Commander in Chief fire the Defense Chief. For Bush, victory was always black and white, "You're With Us or You're Against Us,"  "Mission Accomplished", all with no historical perspective. Bush never learned that when one side experiences victory, the other side is usually planning a dangerous response.

Bush has lost the nation and the world. He will use the last few weeks of GOP control as his final days as Emperor George. By late January common sense will be arriving in huge doses to DC. Bi-partisan common sense. With Bush still looking to go his own way, with his own partisan, internal advice, America is on a collision course pitting a lameduck President full of arrogance with an American public ready to move a new way forward, but only a lot faster.    12/11/06



Cohen and President Clinton at The Pentagon, September 1997.

Bottom line: a Democrat should have been nominated and confirmed to lead the Defense Department. Instead Robert Gates received a free ride. It shows once again that Congress has no guts. Democrats and Republicans on the Hill caved in to President Bush and the recent resignations by war architects Donald Rumsfeld and Michael, ahem, John Bolton. The White House threw their two polarizing figures under the bus in hopes that the next Defense Secretary would get approved. It worked.

Americans, whether Democrat or Republican, blue state or red, should have demanded a new approach to lead the DOD. A bold move would have been an authentic response to getting whipped in the November elections. A bold move would have shown Americans that the United States is serious about fixing the mis-steps of the past 6 years. A bold move would have shown the world there's a new vision in town. And a bold move would not be without bi-partisan precedent.

On this day, December 5th, in 1996 President Bill Clinton nominated Republican William Cohen to run the Defense Department. Few Presidential cabinet appointments have ever crossed party lines. Cohen made a living being a GOP, but had flashes of independence. As a Congressman during Watergate, Cohen was one of the first Republicans to break ranks and vote for a Nixon impeachment. Gates is imbedded in GOP philosophy, propaganda and lies. Gates was a problem to Democrats during Iran-Contra, got a licking when he was nominated to run the CIA, but now gets a love-fest by the Senate committee while Americans are dying each day. Democrats didn't even make the White House work at a bi-partisan approach, didn't even wait a day for the Iraq Study Group's findings, didn't even wait to see the group's recommendations to garner whether Gates was the right person to implement the new plan. The Senate rushed this nomination through, at a time when Americans have shown a keen awareness that nothing is right, and everything wrong, in Washington.

How do you drive to work listening to the hearings on the radio, and drive home the same day and hear Gates got approved? In a time of lies, mistrust and civil war, how does American democracy ram an important nomination through in the time it takes to clear e-mails, have a meeting, eat lunch, go to the bathroom and return to rush hour traffic? Congress has shown once again its true colors. Rock the boat to a point, get mad about being left out of decisons, threaten hearings when voters are making up their minds, but return to normal as soon as the public loses interest. After the election, Congress proves it just wanted to return to its land of cozy deals and ignore the American mandate.

By choosing a Democrat to run Defense, Bush would have shown he gets the bigger picture. End the war, save lives, make peace. Did the idea ever come up, did Democratic power-brokers ever raise it, was there ever a Plan B to Gates that the public deserved to hear?

Clinton chose Cohen after getting hammered in the midterms. Clinton said Cohen was the right guy "to secure the bi-partisan support America's armed forces must have and clearly deserve." Once again, Bush failed to respect history.   12/6/06



Bush's To-Do List 

Shame on any of us who question whether our vote matters ever again. The 2000 election was one thing. And look where the result left the United States. In 2004, wishy-washy voters elected to stay the course and let President Bush finish what he started. And look where that left the United States. The 2006 elections have been just as dramatic, even though Bush wasn't even on the ballot.

Like potential energy locked up in a bottle, the American people were waiting it out for months and years. But after ineptitude at staging a war, winning a war and leaving a war, the Bush Administration has gone from the authority in the U.S. to a weak understudy.

How did this happen and how did it happen so fast? Perhaps the nation wasn't as asleep as we all believed. Perhaps voters were waiting in the weeds, waiting for a chance to scream out that they had enough.

Whatever it was, the echoes from the November 7th election are screaming from rooftops right now. The election showed the emperor with no clothes. The nice-guy image that carried Bush through 6 years as head of state has shown it's too little to lead a nation thirsty for a world with more order. The White House, through its manipulation of the media, lies to Congress, and law-breaking tactics, wakes up to the realization that it cannot spin its way to harmony, that it cannot lie its way to a majority, and it cannot smear its way to victory.

In less than a month, the White House has been forced to do what Americans have been screaming for it to do for years: Up or Out in Iraq. Bush under-estimated the resistance in Iraq and under funded the troops from the United States. Now he faces leaving Iraq embroiled in civil war.

How much did your vote matter? The Hadley memo, the Rumsfeld memo, Bush's trip to Iraq, the convenient leak that the Iraqi government  isn't up to governing, and now John Bolton, the man representing the United States at the United Nations is out. Bolton was named when Congress was in recess thus bypassing a Republican-controlled Senate confirmation. Now with the Democrats in charge of the Senate, eveyone knew Bolton was never getting "re-confirmed."

How much did your vote matter? Bush couldn't even ramrod Bolton through in the remaining weeks of GOP control of the Senate. The writing isn't just on the wall for Bush, it's on the floor, the ceilings and in the sky too!

Bush is criticizing obstructionists in the Senate, a Senate led by the GOP. If the Senate had more obstructionists the past 6 years, fewer Americans would be dead, fewer iraqi civilians would be dead, and America's place in the world would be strong.

If Bush thinks he's got obstuctionists in the Senate today, wait until January. Bush will either figure it ot, or go kicking and screaming as he fires one loyalist after another in the days, weeks, months and years ahead.    12/5/06



As Americans count down the days before Christmas, it's a reminder of President Bush's advice after 9/11. Don't Worry, Be Happy, Go Shopping. This month, it's the season for giving, and Bush and his White House will be getting their due. In the days ahead, Bush will resemble the nervous Ebenezer Scrooge when the character faced the 3 ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Yet to Come. Bush faces the ghosts of Wars Past, Present and Future. When he is met by those ghosts, will Bush be able to survive and learn from the revelations he'll see? Scrooge saw clarity and became a compassionate man. It may not be so easy for Bush. 

In just two days, the bi-partisan Iraq Study Group reveals ways to clean up President Bush's ill-conceived, poorly executed, illegal piece of fiction. The White House knows the clock is striking 12, that this week the Administration sits alone in its bunker. They wasted worldwide support after 9/11 and lost the nation even before the midterms.

None of this is stopping the White House from insulting our intelligence yet again. Bush and his band of merry partridges have tried to orchestrate the news by dilluting the findings of Iraq Study Group. This bi-partisan group of 10 has worked for months, interviewing experts in an attempt to have an exit plan that makes sense for Americans and the Iraq that we've left in civil war. Even though the group is led by Bush croney James Baker, the White House is trying to confuse Americans with an overkill of information.

Nothing was more humorous than the Rumsfeld Memo. Are we to believe that one day before Americans voted, the Defense Secretary sat down to write a memo, saying his war was not working and needed a major course correction? Are we to believe that one day before the election, Rummy formulated 21 options to improve Iraq? One option Rumsfeld suggests is straight from the mouth of Democratic Representative John Murtha, a suggestion blasted by the White House during his bloody, but successful election. Remember, Bush claims he and Rummy held several talks about his job, and Bush was already interviewing Rummy's replacement.

The release of the Rumsfeld memo has nothing to do with his legacy. Everyone knows his legacy is and will always be the architect for the Bush War. The release of the memo was a blatant attempt to seize the findings of the Iraq Study Group before they're released Wednesday, and to make innovative ideas appear to originate inside the White House.

So the last few days were about the Bush team baragging Americans with memos and ideas just as Bush returned from Iraq. National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley piled on with his own scribe doubting the Iraqi leadership. The American public, after doing its duty on November 7th, is now more focused on the holiday season. Americans have shown they see through the Bush spin.

This week will provide another vision for the future, and will show who's leading and who's standing in the shadows.  ready to steal any idea that sounds good. In "A Christmas Carol", Scrooge comes through in the end, and helps save the life of a crippled boy near death. This week with the world watching America's democracy at work, perhaps Tiny Tim's famous line will ring out: "God bless us, everyone!" 12/4/06



President Is Hard Work


We all know the networks were asleep as President Bush was building his ficticious case for invading Iraq. He lost Osama bin Laden, saw the futile chase through the Afganistan caves getting costly, watched his post 9/11 appeal starting to tank, and was urged by his inner circle to go for the pot of gold in Iraq. Take down Saddam Hussain and grab the billions of dollars in Iraqi oil.

Years later and an historic lost midterm election, Iraqis are dying in droves. Not from American, British or Polish fire. Iraqis are killing Iraqis in a way Americans killed Americans in the 1860's. In those 4 years, the North and South lost more than 200,000 in action, 600,000 overall, and wounding another 400,000 more. Then and now, we call that "The Civil War".

Those of us shining a spotlight on the mainstream media's ineptitude have written for months that Iraq has escalated into an all out Civil War. Americans also turned the corner by September of this year. Polls revealed the vast majority ignored the Bush spin and believed for themselves that Iraq had turned into a Civil War. 61% in an NBC poll, 65% in a CNN poll and 72% in a Gallup Poll. Those poll numbers held firm in November when more Americans voted Democrat than any other political party and returned Congress to sanity.

These pol numbers and the midterm results provided cover to NBC, who this week, declared Iraq in a "civil war." Had NBC suddenly woken up? Had their leaders finally believed what the rest of us had been spelling out all year? Was NBC feeling guilty for being asleep during the Bush War buildup? Was the network kneeling in contrition for laying low when it had the responsibilty to be shouting out? 

NBC, just like every other television network, was more concerned with waving the flag and making money. Easy for them; they weren't sending masses of employees or close family members to the front. At least CBS was still going after Bush's war record, even if they did overshoot when they didn't need to, and succumbed to the GOP political machine and the anti-Dan Rather sentiment. FOX news hasn't helped, by intimidating the traditional media into not calling a spade, a spade. Instead FOX has defined the parameters of the mainstream media's language, and along with Bush, have seeped into the decison making at NBC, ABC and CBS.

Execs at CBS, still reeling and playing catch up in the public's eye, pooh-poohed NBC "civil war" pronouncement saying "it's a political statement, not a news judgment." ABC stated the obvious when it remarked about NBC, "It was their decision to make."

The networks know where their bread is buttered. While fewer and fewer Americans rely on network television for its real news, the networks news divisons have been hijacked by entertainers and beancounters. The networks spend millions trying to relax regulations limiting their scope. They lobby Congress and the Federal Communications Commission for permission to buy more of America's media, reaching a greater percentage of American households. They boast that the more they own, the more differentiated the voice the public will have. But we all know that's the network lie.

The reason the networks have layed so low on Iraq, Bush and all the lies is that they can't piss off the feds, for fear they'll lose support for buying up more and more stations, owning more than one media property in a city. Networks don't have to tell their employees to undercover a failed Presidency. It does so by cutting back staff, buying out veteran gatekeepers with perspective and who have a calling to be a journalist. Networks are left with ambitious youth out of J-School, who bring their one dimensional view of life into editorial meetigns, with no understanding of depth, perspective or the real role of jornalism.

If you need anymore proof, just look at which program NBC decided to declare the Iraq chaos a "civil war." The Today Show, not the Nightly News, not Meet the Press, not Dateline. The Today Show made the pronouncement, a program  known more for celebrity interviews, recipes, musical performances and Willard Scott's birthday wishes.     12/1/06



As American pundits and pols debate the similarities of the Iraq War and Vietnam, more Americans and civilians are dying.

 Campaign 2004

The debate is ridiculous, a smokescreen to real life. "Is Iraq another Vietnam?" is a waste of time. Even if an exact answer was extracted, what difference does it make? The answer is as valuable as "Ginger or Mary Ann?" The answer doesn't end the debate. President Bush and his band of liars benefit by the debate, even encourage it. The Iraq-Vietnam debate diverts attention to the real pressing issue, what to DO in Iraq.

Bush's recent visit to Vietnam fueled the debate once again, and lulled the mainstream media into mindlessly writing and squawking about the Iraq-Vietnam similarities once again. Is it that hard for the media to realze they're playing into the Bush White House PR plan? Mission Accomplished. For every dateline from Vietnam, was a missed opportunity to focus on WHY it was Bush's first tour of duty to Vietnam and SHOULD we be electing President's who know more about Gilligan's Island than the real world?

The real question worth debating is this: What if Bush served in Vietnam? What if, instead of sidestepping his responsibility and relying on Dad the his GOP cronies for help, what if Bush wasn't hiding beneath a bunk bed with the Alabama National Guard from May-September 1972? Would Bush have dealt with Iraq any differently? Would Bush have had world history on his side and been leader enough to tell the Cheney-Rove-Rumsfeld (should we go on?) trifecta that he has his own vision? Does Bush regret not getting his hands dirty with the troops in Vietnam, not seeing first hand the realities of war, not forming his own opinion of right-wrong, good-bad, with us or against us?

By losing the midterm, Bush no longer has a mandate for deciding when American troops will leave Iraq. By losing the midterm, Congressional Republicans have no authority to hide waste and corruption with no-bid contracts to reconstruct Iraq. By losing the midterm, Bush will either get behind the American movement for endng the Iraq War or be seen as a crazed warmonger.

Bush's first visit to Vietnam waited till after the midterm electons, leaving him with two final years in office to either figure it out the hard way, or go down in history as the worst President in United States history, even worse than the ineffectiveness that led to the Great Depression. Sorrowfully we know the answer. When Bush touched down in Vietnam, he stuck to the script of free trade. How funny that he threatened Asia to buy outdated, gas guzzling cars or else. That's one way to unify North and Southeast Asia. Make them open their ports to America's cars or we won't buy their products made at slave wages by many of the world's poor and exploited.

Bush also talked about a Vietnam that has changed drramatically. How would he know? His only impression of Vietnam is through the eyes of his band of liars. Before you can say something has changed, it's helpful to have an accuate picture of what it had been. Bush has no world perspective other than what he's been told by one dimensional Republicans,.

Maybe there is one similarity between Iraq and Vietnam that doesn't need anytime to debate. In the 60's and 70's, the U.S. backed war killed more than one million Vietnamese. That death toll of innocent Iraqi's is within Bush's reach.    11/24/06



Within hours of an historic "thumpin'", President Bush mystified America and the world by sacking his loyal Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. The timing is beyond bizzare. The move extends the look into Bush's Brain. It's not a pretty sight either.

Bush could have avoided this Democratic onslaught if he canned Rummy a long time ago. There were many opportunities to bring fresher eyes to Defense, thus helping Bush, the GOP and our brave troops abroad. Fire Rumsfeld when no weapons of mass destruction were found in Iraq. Fire Rumsfeld when Iraqis didn't welcome US troops with flowers. Fire Rumseld when troops complained about inadequate body armour. Fire Rumsfeld after an American serviceman openly questioned him in front of TV cameras. Fire Rumsfeld after Bush's re-election victory over Kerry in 2004. Fire Rumsfeld when Democrats called for it. Fire Rumsfeld when the GOP asked. Fire Rumseld when Bush's base said to.

But there was no better time to fire Rumsfeld and avoid the Democratic "thumpin'" as when respected United States military veterans, mainly retired Generals, called on Bush to do it last spring.

Bush, Cheney, Rove and company didn't think it would ever be necessary. They didn't think the American people would ever get their collective acts together, drop their remotes, turn off American Idol to pay attention to the truth.  Bush and company didn't think the truth would galvanize across America, didn't think Americans would see through the layers of lies. Even at today's announcement, Bush still asserted that Iraq is linked to terrorism. The President was amazed not at the media, the critics or the Democrats. Bush thinks Americans are stupid. "I thought when it was all said and done, the American people would understand the importance of taxes and the importance of security. But the people have spoken and it's time for us to move on."

The quote is the latest in a long line of arrogant leadership by Bush. In those words, the President of the United States says Americans don't understand the importance of security. If they had, he believes, they wouldn't have rejected dozens of Republicans this mid-term. When will Bush realize it is HE who doesn't understand, HE who bungled the build-up to war, HE who turned worldwide sympathy and support into worldwide hatred towards America, HE who broke laws overseeing domestic spying, secret prisons, inhumane treatment of prisoners, HE who made post-September 11th political.

And it's all been political. Dumping Rumsfeld today of all days. As Democrats, the nation and the world were celebrating liberation from tyranny. Bush politicized the war and now can't even see the truth. Anyone with half of Bush's Brain would have seen the opportunity to sack Rummy a long time ago and fortify suburban support for struggling Republicans. Today Bush says he and Rummy agreed "after a series of thoughtful conversations" that it was time for fresh eyes. Mis-managing the war has now extended to mis-managing this election for the GOP.

By blowing this strategy, Karl Rove is exposed as beatable, exposed as a guy who really didn't win the White House in 2000, shown to be the guy who only won in 2004 because a few counties in Ohio hated gays kissing. Rove is the emperor without clothes, a political hack who wins by dividing the nation. He has no role in unifying the nation.

The Democrats didn't make the world less safe by winning big. That was the latest scare tactic Bush laid out as Americans headed to vote. Democratic victories from coast to coast show the world that the US is more than a guy named Bush. Karsten Voigt, the coordinator of German-American relations in the foreign ministry, sums up the Democratic blitz. “This shows that the reality is far more diverse and multi-faceted. I hope it will lead to a diminution of anti-American prejudice.”

And that, inevitably, makes the world safer beginning right now.     11/9/06





Larger viewGovernor Tim Pawlenty
The National Republican Party is shuttering for a slew of reasons. Losses in the Senate, the House, and Governor's offices from coast to coast. But what the GOP will have to face day-in and day-out for the next two years has more to do with its showcase of the 2008 Presidential election.


This summer, the GOP chose Minneapolis-St. Paul as the site of its next national convention. The strategy looked good a few weeks back. Bring the GOP's national stage to the Midwest, to a state with heavy democratic roots, one that has transitioned from a blue state to a purple one.

But purple returned back to blue as Minnesota turned away countless Republicans and nearly threw a popular sitting Governor out of office. Incumbent GOP Governor Tim Pawlenty's 1 point win over Democrat Mike Hatch is one of the few GOP brightspots. Minnesota Democrats sent a message this election. They took back control of the State House of Representatives for the first time in six years, maintain control the Senate and won every major office in state government, defeating two incumbents. 

Pawlenty has been part of the national GOP talk circut, positioning himself as a player in the future of the Republican Party. Four years ago, it was a phone call from Vice President Dick Cheney who talked Pawlenty out of running for the U.S. Senate. Cheney and company wanted Norm Coleman to challenge liberal Paul Wellstone, a tight race as Wellstone's plane went down 10 days before the '02 election.

The payback for Pawlenty has been endless Bush-Cheney visits, fundraisers and a national role as Vice Chairman of the National Governor's Association. Then, low and behold, the nationals chose Minneapolis-St. Paul as the site of the 2008 National Republican Convention. Heck, there's even a website waiting for Pawlenty to run for higher office. "Future home of www.pawlentyforpresident.net."

Exit polls show why Pawlenty was having such a tough time. Pawlenty lost confidence among the richest voters. Just days ago Pawlenty was winning big, 50-33% among voters making over $75k, and winning 50-42% among voters making over $100k. Election day exit polls showed Pawlenty losing among the wealthy.

The national GOP will be dealing with losses in the Senate, House and State Houses across the United States. But the poor showing among Minnesota Republicans leaves the national GOP with egg on its face, in a state that returned Democratic and blue.    11/8/06



These desperate final days of the 2006 election have Americans acting like its judging the pie eating contest at the State Fair. And the politicians are eating it up. It's the rush, the high, the climax that political power lives for. Politicians and their aides can't sleep and brag about it. They comb the web, take calls from any lunatic with a nibble of truth and then go to work. Over the years, the final 72 hours before an election is the most manipulative time of the campaign. Reporters looking to make news, take a morsel of truth and run with it, never mind there's no time for a candidate to correct a half truth, or to enlighten the public when that lie is exposed. It's the main reason we're seeing allegations of sex, the Nazis, adultery and more. Throw it out there, see what sticks, and maybe a fence-sitting voter will be swayed. God help us.

What Americans can't be deceived about any longer is why this election is so hotly contested. Not since Iran-Contra has a government gone this far to lie to its people. In the 1980's, President Reagan and his gang broke laws, and sold arms to terrorists, and used the money to pay for the release of hostages. This time around, its even worse. Within a year of first being "elected", President Bush was suffering from staggering low approval ratings, his Administration was lost in August 2001, he was a depressed President at his Texas ranch with no vision for the future. September 11th vaulted Bush to heroic heights, in an accidental way. As Bush waited to enter a classroom in Florida to read "The Pet Goat" to school kids, he recalled in december 2001, "I was sitting outside a classroom waiting to go on and saw an airplane hit the Tower. And I said 'There's one terrible pilot'." Since then, America has suffered from one terrible President.

But after being told, "America is under attack", Bush sat here, doing nothing, mobilizing no one, making no orders, no directives and providing no leadership.  

Leadership. The Republican Party has none of it, even though Republicans have controlled both houses of Congress, the Executive and the Judiciary branches of the United States government. Forget who voted for the Iraq War and who didn't. That vote was based on totally fabricated information. Useless information. If you voted for war, you were likely caught up in America's patriotism and the Bush lie machine. 

The bigger reason why the Republicans must lose in a landslide is 9-11. Not the attacks, but how the United States has failed to respond to the recommendations by the 9-11 Commission. A bi-partisan group of 5 Democrats and 5 Republicans. Five years after the attack, and years after the commission issued its report, the United States government, led by Republicans across the board, has not implemented the findings of the 9-11 Report.

The public has known since September 11, 2001 that our country doesn't have enough agents who speak Arabic. So why after five years, and all the money in the world going towards Homeland In-Security, does the United States have just 33 FBI agents with limited proficiency in Arabic? None of the 33 working in areas dealing with international terrorism.

Just one percent of the FBI's 12,000 agents have any familiarity of the language. You better believe US companies making billions on government contracts in Iraq have found ways to attract employees who speaks Arabic, Urdu, Farsi and other languages of the Middle East and South Asia. The private sector outbids the US government, even though its the government that's entrusted by those private companies to make sure their workforce is safe in Iraq.

Bush banked on the Iraq war to keep American support in his favor. Now, with the war going nowhere but down, and Bush not running for re-election, Americans can see the truth about the Bush's failed leadership, and just as important in this mid-term election, the failed leadership of the entire Republican Party. "The Pet Goat" is a story of a girl's pet goat which eats everything in its path. Parents want the goat gone, but girl defends it. In the end the goat is a hero when it butts a car robber into submission.

In real life, Bush and the Republicans deserve to be rammed into submission for their 3000 and counting deadly sins.    11/5/06




Turn back the clocks and you'll recall the major reason Al Gore stopped fighting for the Presidency after he won the popular vote on November 7, 2000. After 36 days of lawsuits and court decisions, Gore conceded the White House to George Bush. In that concession speech, Gore accepted "the finality of this outcome." At the time, the country was burnt out of court challenges, scenes of ballots being examined, and interviews with Florida election officials. What foolish reasons to give up the fight. Gore quit "for the sake of our unity of the people and the strength of our democracy." It's hard to think the country would have become any more divided than it is today.

In the land of instant gratification, 24-hour shams of credible news organizations, and a public too unwilling to get dirty for democracy, the United States got what it deserved: a wimpy Democrat not ready to fight the fight, and a dopey-looking  Republican who promised $1.3 trillion in tax cuts over 10 years. Was it that hard to envision what Bush would do, after the GOP gained control of the White House and Congress for the first time in over 45 years?

Yes, there's no greater lapdog than the American public. 51 million people knew better, but many still begged for the Gore challenge to go away in November and December of 2000. The American public is more able to choose the next American Idol than it is to endure the process of democracy. The American people have more patience for a 20 week game show to play itself out each and every week, than it is to embrace 36 days of important political infighting.  When given the chance to stand up, be counted, literally counted, Americans would much rather cast their vote, go on their merry way, and then ask for an instant outcome.

The hijacking of a Presidential Election seems quaint compared with the hijacking of our country. Back then, voting irregularities called "butterfly ballots" gave Pat Buchanan 3,407 votes in Palm Beach County, as residents confused Buchanan's circle for Gore's. Buchanan's Florida coordinator thought his guy won only 400-500 votes in Palm Beach, "1,000 would be generous." The way the Bush operatives bored us to death in 2000 during the recount, is the way they did it again in the build-up and susequent ill-advised, poorly-planned, and deadly-executed war in Iraq. 

Bush won Florida by .009%. That's NINE-THOUSANDTHS OF A PERCENT. Knowing what we know now, was it worth everyone going to sleep? In Bush's acceptance speech on December 14, 2000, he pledged to "seize the moment." He seized it alright, and America is paying for it, with a country more divided today than if Al Gore said, "Tough shit, I'm fighting for what 51 million Americans want me to fight for. The direction of our country."      10/23/06



Give Americans credit. They made up their minds. Not long ago, Red States were laughing as Democrats lost their sense of purpose. They linked Hollywood, gay marriage and weakness right on the Democrats doorstep. Conservatives were watching with patriotic fervor as Blue States were turning Purple before their eyes. The GOP sensed a mandate behind their ever popular President George Bush. Nothing was going to stop them. Except themselves. And that day is, remarkably, here.

Bush Resigns

The White House lied about Iraq instead of laying the true foundation for its goals. Was Bush, Cheney and Rove so worried that if Americans knew their ultimate goal, Americans would say no. If Bush thought God was on his side, why worry that Americans wouldn't support his views? What was so harmful for Americans to know Bush wanted to change the Middle East forever, wanted to secure oil to feed America's thirst, wanted to spend trillions on building up the United States military, wanted to compromise civil liberties and treatment of prisoners in the name of 9-11. If Bush and the White House knew they were right, knew hey had divine intervention, knew the world would welcome America as democracy prophets, why lie?

Bush and the White House squandered worldwide support after 9-1-1. Even with Republican control of the Senate and House, Bush blew it big time. Remember, prior to 9-11, the Bush Presidency was a disaster. No direction, no vision, no leadership. Those three facts were the foundation of the White House. 9-11 overshadowed this deficiency, and it was just a matter of time that Bush's strong image at Ground Zero would disintegrate. You can't run away from who you are and what you stand for. And today, Americans have caught up with this.

Americans have known for some time that the Emperor has no clothes. But the White House zealots barely convinced voters in 2004 that a vote against Bush, was a vote for the terrorists. Two years later, moderate Americans look to their shoes when asked, "what were you thinking" when voting for the GOP in '04. This time around, they won't be fooled again. Pity the Republicans who took the spotlight the past 6 years in support of  Bush and his worldwide assault. Pity the Republicans who supported the lies, the spin and the dismantling of American values. Pity the Republicans who divided the country into two colors and into "us versus them." American voters are ready for payback. 

It was easy for many Americans to blame the likes of the Dixie Chicks for speaking out and punishing the group by not buying CDs and concert tickets. But as Americans wake up, they realize the lyrics were right on. The American Revolution is a runaway train. One American who woke up is journalist Bob Woodward who finally returned to reporting with his latest book "State of Denial."  Today Senate races nationwide are looking to send Democrats back to power as conservatives weigh in with disgust towards this White House. In the next six weeks, every trip Bush and the White House Liars take will be out of desperation. Whether it's to campaign for Republicans, meet with world leaders, or to visit their local neighborhood politician consultant fast at work crafting feel-good commercials that are a waste of money.

Americans won't be snowed any longer.       10/2/06



Axis of Oil

How many diversions will the White House throw at American voters between now and Election Day? Let us count the ways. The George Bush faithful are already busy trying to cloud the issues. Their hope is to divert attention from the War, their War, and keep control of the Senate and House for another two years. But voters with any sense of Bush's failed Presidency will not go into hiberntion the way they did on previous Election Days. Not even falling gas prices will give voters Election Day octane to re-elect as many Republicans to Congress. The White House will still beg, plead and manipulate. One ploy is the free fall at the pumps. No sooner did the polls open on Primary Day this week than gas prices came crashing down to the $2.20s. How convenient.

You may want to believe other factors were at hand for cheap Texas tea. Fewer hurricanes, a cease fire in Lebanon, OPEC's "generosity" by producing more oil. If that makes you sleep better, be a believer. At this rate, we'll be paying $1.50/gallon by November and gay marriage scare tactics won't even be needed by Karl Rove.

But voters won't be asleep in the next 6 weeks. Democrats are mobilized with hope of taking back Congress and several Governor's seats. Lawn signs in unfamiliar yards, fundraisers in uncharted living rooms, and Democrats with a message, yes finally a message, that can't be mangled by even their most novice of candidates. Democrats are not alone and that fact will make Bush's final two years unbearable. Moderates, the group that loves to sway with the wind each Election, are finally motivated to vote against Bush War Supporters (BWS).

So that leaves the Republicans and guess where they'll be on Election Day? Republicans, especially the RINOs (Republican In Name Only), will be renting movies, going to dinner, and turning in early. For them, the neighborhood polling place is a symbol for their failed decisions the past six years. They had all the moxie and faith after 8 years of the Bill Clinton. They rallied behind morality, as if gays were encroaching on their country club lives. They wanted to make more money, even though the Clinton years made them richer than ever. And they prayed, man did they pray, for a Christian mandate for the United States and the entire world, even if Christianity is a minority religion worldwide. So come November, the last place these Republicans will be seen is inside their friendly neighborhood polling place. (Added benefit for us: quicker lines at the polls!). The polling place, whether in an elementary school gym or a community center, is Ground Zero for these sorry zealots. The spot where they chose George Bush, and their mandate that put America in the Woldwide breakdown lane.  Republicans won't bear the emotionality of returning to the place that their zeal helped screw America and the world order. These Republicans elected George W. twice (okay really just once) and by showoing up to vote for a GOP puppet (BWS) will be all too much for this group. Watch for Republican turnout to be an all-time midterm low.

Then what? What should we expect after November's midterm. If the numbers, the momentum and common sense continues like it is today, and Democrats take over Congress, Bush stands a chance of being impeached.

 Even if Bush survives, he'll face the first true test of questoining by the House and Senate, questioning that will come years too late, failed leadership that led to lies, deaths and thousands of families whose lives have been changed forever.     9/15/06



Four hijacked jets crashed across the Northeast United States the morning of September 11, 2001. A sucker punch to America. The U.S. finally victimized on its own soil. The world rallied while American's emotions ranged from shock, anger, revenge and sadness. Normal went away. In its place, a stirring inside the American mind, heart and fragile psyche. 

Does anyone recall life before the attacks? Does anyone remember the burning issues facing our nation on September 10th? Was America that self-absorbed, that isolated, and that trusting of public officials? WagTheNews did some checking. Osama Bin Laden made the news hours before the worst terror attack on the U.S. Not in the headlines. But buried in the second to last sentence in a 722 worded story in the New York Times. Back then, the Taliban controlled 90% of Afganistan. Bin Laden needed to make sure he had a safe haven, protection and Taliban support in Afganistan after his plans unfolded on 9/11. So on September 9th, Bin Laden's assasins posed as photographers and set off an explosive planted in a video camera or a belt worn by a suicide bomber. Killed was the leading anti-Taliban rebel chief. Mission Accomplished.

"If the would-be assassins were indeed Arabs, as the United Front asserted, the fact would lend credibility to those who contend that foreigners, including Osama bin Laden, are playing an ever bigger decision-making role among the Taliban," was how the New York Times put it. 

If the U.S. government had connected the dots, and deciphered intelligence data in time, there's no telling how many lives could have been saved. While the government was ignorant to terror, the American public too was far away from reality, trusting its leaders that the extensive and expensive intelligence agencies was protecting the homeland. So without a terror alert, what was the American public digesting from the media? The stories pre-9/11 show how isolated the U.S. was. How oblivious and naive America's media was too. How incapable the U.S. government was at identifying and warning its citizens of potential harm.

Here's what WagTheNews discovered about September 10, 2001, events that appeared in print on the morning of 9/11. 

No international story captured any deep importance except for the Israel-Palestinian violence/truce-talks, and that's been going on for years. America's psyche, it's imagination and it's place in the world was dormant. The news was more a variety show, examining culture of  morning television and the debate over school dress codes and high schoolers revealing too much skin. New York City was in the middle of a Mayoral race, while Elizabeth Dole planned to announce her Senate bid to replace Jesse Helms.

Then, it was the economy (stupid), with key lawmakers talking of a possible deal to revive a "darkening economic outlook."  

Scientists urged a bigger supply of stem cells, while there were calls for strict arsenic limits (after the Bush Administration had suspended the standard).

Overseas, a Baltic Army Officer was selling 100-grand worth of high-grade uranium and a teacher was charged 30 years later for a Canada to Cuba hijacking.

Maybe the United States is days away from catching Bin Laden. Perhaps all the unwarranted spying the U.S. government has done will reap benefits. Maybe the growing distrust of the American public, from faulty intel of Iraq's WMD to prisoner abuse, will turn around with Bush being appreciated for being a wartime President, even with his flaws. And maybe not. But one thing is certain. Americans may want to retreat and live a life of isolation, being as far from reality as the country is geographically from the rest of the world. But 9/11 showed us that 9/10 was a mirage, a fantasy, that real life WAS going on all around the world, but Americans didn't demand to see it or pay attention to the clues.    9/11/06 Re-printed from 5/20/2006



After years of Presidential hibernation, George Bush is finally working this summer. The leader, who enjoys nap time and R&R, is being steered towards the working class. Maybe putting in a few more hours of actual work will open his eyes, make him see the world beyond his black and white vision, and observe how his actions lead to reactions. Let's hope so.

Every August of his Presidency, Bush has ventured from 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue to his 1,600-acre Crawford ranch . He's spent more time here in August than most of us take off from work in a full year. During the infamous summer of 2001, when regional FBI offices were warning DC that Al Qaeda was sure to attack the U.S. using planes, when his presidency was in shambles and his popularity spiralling to new lows, Bush spent 27 of the 31 hot August nights at his Texas ranch. During 2002, as Bush was hunting bin Laden, planning the phoney sales job of invading Iraq, and lining up innocent American military and civilian forces for his March on Baghdad, Bush again spent 27 of 31 August days at is ranch. After invading Iraq in 2003, Bush upped his Crawford love-in by spending 29 of 31 nights in the heart of Texas, as he did again in August 2005. Outside of 2004, when Bush was running for re-election and spent 13 days in Crawford, the President has used August in Crawford as a symbol of inaction, ineffectiveness and outright Presidential malaise.

But this year is different. Spurred on by combat in Lebanon, a stronger alliance with Israel, a new Chief of Staff in the White House, and Karl Rove fighting for GOP survival nationwide in dozens of midterm districts, Bush's handlers are seizing the moment to invent the "Involved President."

Come hell or high water levels, Bush will not be seen vacationing during this year's Katrina, will not be seen taking on anti-war emblem Patty Sheehan, will not be seen for twenty-something days cutting brush, riding horses, and popping wheelies on his bike. This August, Bush will vacation for just 10 days in Crawford. Then expect to see him fundraising for desperate Republicans running for their lives, talking to foreign leaders about war, civil war and the war on terror. 

Bush will still squeeze in some "alone time". His summer reading list includes two books about Abraham Lincoln, a President who took an unpopular stand, presided over the United States' Civil War, and brought a bloody nation together. Perhaps Bush will learn a lesson in leadership this August. Bush has yet to acknowledge history, which as we know, repeats and repeats itself.               8/6/06



Woods Repeats as British Open Champion 

Just when you thought the Bush Administration hit rock bottom, comes more chaos, spanning more countries, and threatening to dilute and endanger more American troops around the world. The latest Bush embarrassment centers on Lebanon, and the radical Hezbolah miltia which instigated Israel into an all-out offensive. Hezbollah is backed by Iran, a country led by Shiites. Iran's Shiite's used to be against Iraq's Sunnis, whose leader was then-President, turned hunger-striking inmate Saddam Hussain. As the United States toppled Hussain and the Sunnis, Mr. Bush propped up the Iraqi Shiites. Mr. 29% has lost any leverage he ever had in world diplomacy. The Iraqi Shiites and the Iranian Shiites, both in power, now have a common foe: Israel. Well done Mr. Bush, you finally unified two countries. 

It comes as no coincidence that the Mideast bombings erupted as Bush was in Europe for the failed G-8 summit. The G-8 was like organized crime gone bad. It was like bringing together the Five Families in "The Godfather" to devise a plan to divide territory and share the wealth and power amassed by the Corleone's. And just like in the movie, there was no breakthrough, only bloodshed and gangland murders.

Bush's call for world-wide democracy is now an all-out joke. Americans know it, laugh at late night comics and shake their heads each morning looking at the headlines. But this is dangerous laughter. The laughter dilutes the seriousness facing U.S. troops, now more hated than ever in Iraq, now more diluted than ever in Afghanistan, now facing illegals at the Mexican border and an all-out Israeli invasion in Lebanon.

The juxtaposition to all this was dramatic. While bombs drop in Iraq, Lebanon, and Israel, kinder, gentler virtues were seen in England and France. Two American athletes captured two prestigious titles on European soil, the British Open and Tour de France. Athletes live to make millions of dollars for hitting a golf ball and riding a bike. Soliders die to protect such freedoms.  On September 7, 1940, newsman Edward R. Murrow's dead panned delivery alerted the world that "London is burning." 95% of Americas could care less back then, and didn't want a war with Germany. Nearly four years later, Americans woke up and took on the Germans.

On June 6, 1944, Americans staged the largest seaborne invasion in history involving nearly three million troops crossing the English Channel from England to Normandy, France. Try that Tiger Woods or Floyd Landis. Today, American sports victories in England and France seem so unimportant compared with the unending web of death and destruction, and the new world order that has terror, religious sects and America's arrogance unifying our ememies.      7/23/06





News that violent crime is rising in the United States has civic leaders, community groups, neighborhoods and victims pointing to traditional root causes. But one connection to America's murderous summer is getting zero attention: the War in Iraq.

No doubt druggies, gang bangers and career criminals have plenty of ammo to commit crimes without anyone's help. But today America is self-defined as "A Nation at War." And in war, we kill or be killed. We mobilize weekend warriors, who signed up to serve in the National Guard for an assorted reasons: money, camaraderie, volunteerism. We debate the phoney pre-war build-up, snoop on Americans private lives from phones to banks, we "out" a noble CIA career spy at a time she was working on gaining real intel on Iran, the country throwing gas (and high oil prices) on the latest war in Lebanon.

President Bush simplifies the world as either with us, or against us. It's the clearest battle line. Criminals in America's cities and heartland aren't watching pundits advancing their careers on 24 hour cable babble. But rest assured, criminals play off the war, the simplicity of life and death, kill or be killed. It is the tone Bush presents to the American public and the world at large; whether it's during campaign stops, United Nations lectures, visits with world leaders, or the endless Republican pulpits of the Senate and House.

In Washington, D.C., the pulpit of failed national leadership, there have been 14 murders in 13 days. Cops declared their city a crime emergency. Killers are using more guns, firing more rounds and leaving behind crime scenes that often stretch for blocks. Lt. Robert Glover says it's beyond reality. "I wish we could just wave a magic wand and say, 'Stop killing each other.' "

Cops see the latest FBI statistics, stats that show murders in the U.S. jumping almost 5 percent last year while overall violent crime was up 2.5 percent. The upsurge is among juveniles, the nation's young who are growing up with only the images and talk of war, with only the world view of us versus them, kill or be killed.  

Mayors and crime experts believe America is distracted by the war, that federal resources for crime fighting are being diverted to homeland security. The next generation will grade this one, for spending money on homeland security but diluting America's neighborhood security.

Crime fighting programs work as the 1990's proved. But the one difference is that the White House didn't commit a crime by taking it's eye off America's neighborhoods when wars, famine and terror struck around the world. Today, Bush sees it as black and white. You want money to go after terrorists aborad or terrorists at home? he's banking our future on his mis-guided crusade in Iraq, while more and more crime occurs at home.             7/15/2006


Joe Lieberman is in trouble and he's willing to take down the Democratic Party. Lieberman has thrown a stink bomb into the political landscape. If he doesn't win the primary August 8th against Ned Lamont, Lieberman says he'll collect signatures and run as an Indepedent. In a state that heralds true-blue Indy Lowell Weicker, Lieberman's ploy is not only laughable, but it's dangerous.

Democrats from Coast to Coast are running this November on a central theme: President Bush's ill-conceived, ill-planned, and ill-executed War in Iraq. That makes Lieberman vulnerable since he'll go to his grave backing Bush's War.

Bush made a memorable Web-Gem as he tried to strengthen his case that Saddam had already deceived the West by stockpiling weapons of mass destruction. Bush's quip: " Fool me once, shame...shame..shame on..you." (long pause) "Fool me- can't get fooled again!"

Now Lieberman is trying to either fool us, or fool himself. Neither will work. The man ran an inept race for Vice President in 2000, visiting Minnesota on Election day when his role was to turn out the Jewish vote in Florida, the state that determined the election. The man ran an incompetent race for President in 2004. Lieberman is hoping to scare the be-Jesus out of Connecticut voters by saying 'fine don't vote for me next month, I'll run anyway and either win or divide the vote and have a Republican win.' This scare tactic is boiler room politics, and Connecticut voters must not take the bait.

This is the ultimate in hutzpah. Perhaps any other U.S. Senator could get a bye on this one. But Lieberman was so close to the White House (or at least the Executive Office Building). He endured the campaign trail, defined himself as an alternative to the GOP, took on Dick Cheney in debates. Then after Bush's 2005 State of the Union speech, Bush walked down the Senate aisle, stopped and hugged Lieberman, and kissed him for his war support. Lieberman's repsonse was that he "didn't kiss him back." What Lieberman forgot was that he already had sex with Bush by voting for the War. The kiss was just their cuddle time.

It's still a mystery. How does a U.S. Senator, involved in the last two Presidntial races against George Bush, break ranks and supports the war with Mr. 29%? How does a U.S. Senator who debated Dick Cheney, stumped for Al Gore, make speech after speech with Demoratic values, go so far off the reservation? 

Veteran Democrats will stump for Lieberman in the next month. But if Lieberman fails in the primary, how hard will the Democratic establishment support Lamont? Hillary Clinton and John Kerry say they're going with whoever is the Democratic nominee.  

Lamont is hoping for the Bush backlash to continue. ''I'm not sure, in a year where people are fed up with Washington, having a bunch of Washington politicians travel the state for Joe Lieberman will help at all,'' said Lamont campaign manager Tom Swan. ''It would only reinforce the idea that Joe is more about Washington than Connecticut.''         7/6/2006





A bizare bit of diplomacy played out at Graceland. Call it pay back for supporting the poorly conceived, poorly planned and poorly fought war in Iraq. Japan's Prime Minister in town on his farewell tour and President Bush comes up with an idea. Thankful for Japan's support of the war (without sending any Japanese troops) and knowing the Prime Minister is a crazed Elvis fan, the President tells his handlers "We're going to Graceland." Once again, Bush comes up with a bright idea and no one in his inner circle even blinks.
Let's be fair. Even world leaders who screw up need some downtime. In a week that saw the U.S. Supreme Court rule against Bush's tribunals and GITMO, more GIs accused of raping and killing innocent Iraqis, 60 dead in the worst attack since Iraq formed a new govrenment, the Tailiban expands into Somalia, Bin Laden's latest message in a strong voice, gas prices rise just in time for an American driving holiday (so much for "energy" Independence Day), everyone needs a little Viva Las Vegas.
No one should be surprised to see what followed. With the world running wild, Bush must have been wondering "What was I thinking?" With cameras rolling, Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi sings Elvis, hugs Elvis heirs, holds Elvis' wallet, wears the King's sunglasses, thrusts his hips and arms ala Elvis and injects Elvis lyrics into his idle chatter. Bush called the scene a "most unusual experience." He could have been talking about his entire Presidency and his war in Iraq.
The real oddity is Koizumi leaves office in September, and could visit Graceland at anytime. He could probably buy the whole tourist trap. Instead, Bush's idea leads to another embarrassment at a time when Mr. 29% is trying to build credibility. A former White House foreign policy aide was equally confused. "Frankly, I think the bureaucrats on both sides were a little bit perplexed, if not aghast" by the Graceland trip.
The White House is in such denial, in such need of a freaky photo op, so out of touch with America's psyche that they go along with the Bush plan to place the President in Graceland with a Prime Minister who is an Elvis groupie. Afterwards the President said, "I knew he loved Elvis. I didn't realize how much he loved Elvis."
No other President has ever toured Graceland while in office, while in a war, while approval plummeted to 29%, while Americans were dying by the day. And for good reason! The King's lifestyle of booze, drugs and women doesn't resemble the GOP platform at any of its conventions of the past, oh say, 200 years! 
Bush eventually cut off the Koizumi's performance, clapping the prime minister on the shoulder and firmly shaking his hand in a none-too-subtle message that the curtain was about to fall.
At some point Bush must have realized he screwed up again. In a moment reminiscent of September 11, 2001, when Bush continued to read to school kids even after knowing the 9/11 attacks were underway, Bush was down for the count. This time, the White House handlers woke him up. With Elvis still ringing in their ears, the Bush tour ran over to another Memphis landmark, the National Civil Rights Museum, next door to the Lorraine Motel, where the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was killed. There, the civil rights leader Benjamin Hooks showed the prime minister, Mr. Bush and Laura Bush to Room 306, where Dr. King died. The visit was so last-minute that Mr. Hooks was at a dental appointment Friday morning when he received a phone call from the White House, asking him to serve as guide.
By then, the Graceland idea that sounded good for a vacationing July 4th family, was clearly the latest piece of evidence that America is being run, not by a leader with vision, but by a fraternity flunky looking for some fun.
As Elvis would say, "Thank you. Thank you very much."                     7/1/2006
Dan Rather
Face it. The way you view Dan Rather has everything to do with your politics, your disdain for the media and your own helplessness. Face it. Dan Rather was right. Face it. You bought into the powerful, bought into their lies, and bought into their character assassination of a great newsman. You deserve what's coming next. Don't believe it? You will.

Rather became the face of television news, lasting longer than Murrow, Cronkite or anyone else since. Early on, he reported from tornado alley, breathlessly confirmed the death of President Kennedy in Dallas, and took on President Nixon before and during the Watergate scandal. He was a working-man's journalist, and he will be the last one to do it. End of story. Today's glamour of the anchor seat makes television news look more like Entertainment Tonight than any legacy of Murrow or Cronkite. Rather wasn't stylish or warm, like his counterparts Tom Brokaw and the late Peter Jennings. Rather was a hard news guy and got blasted for trying to adjust before our eyes. He wore sweaters, was forced to accept freaky co-anchor Connie Chung and ended his newscasts by proclaiming "Courage."

Rather made everyone work harder. Made Brokaw and Jennings chase him around the world covering important news. At 74, Dan Rather has fuel in the tank. No one has more perspective of the world's events. No one took on lying politicians when it grew fashionably politically incorrect to do so. No one tested the limits more, like the time Rather pissed off first President Bush during a satellite interview, got mugged in New York City by someone mysteriously asking him, "Kenneth, what's the frequency?" and then getting the fork stuck in him during second President Bush's 2004 re-election campaign.. The problem with the "60 Minutes II" story wasn't the apparent mistakes by not authenticating documents. The problem was CBS News tried to prove a story that everyone in America already knew as fact: that current President Bush hid under a Texas National Guard desk to avoid active duty 30 years ago. The backlash handed Bush his re-election as much as gay marriage and Ohio did. The country knew that John Kerry was more of a patriot on his worst day than George Bush was on his best day. But the CBS story on Bush's military record gave conservatives the ammo it needed to wag the dog, divert from Bush's inferior military record, and Swift Boat Rather's career. 

At CBS, Rather was taken off the anchor desk, and promised "substantive work" by CBS after 44 years at the network. Instead CBS couldn't sever ties fast enough after naming Katie Coric as the next Voice of God. CBS was classless as it offered Rather an office but no work. What a way to treat an icon who earned the network billions, saved its reputation from extinction, remained strong as then CBS Chairman and egghead look-a-like Lawrence Tisch slashed the news budget, lost NFL football, and lost a number of major affiliates. Rather's ratings didn't stand a chance. 

Today, CBS News boss Sean McManus plays the role of the cowardly lion, never meeting with Rather face to face but providing phony praise. Rather leaves without even clearing out his office. The network has removed its contents and will send them to their former idol. There are enough idiots to go around at CBS and they worked from the top down, not the bottom up.  There's former President Andrew Heyward who was promoted from within, always afraid he'd lose his job and never pushed back to his superiors. There's 60 Minutes Executive Producer Don Hewitt who kicked, screamed and carried on like a freakin' baby when the network wanted to expand 60 Minutes long before anyone ever heard of 4 nights of Dateline NBC. His lack of support for 60 Minutes II was apparent. And then there's another old geezer Mike Wallace who called on Rather to resign, as if Wallace had never been blasted for his stories, his slanted reporting and his tactics. CBS Corporation's Chief Executive Les Moonves, whose light-weight wife anchors CBS's excuse for a morning program, said he was sorry about the bitter departure of newsman Dan Rather. "I'm sorry it ended the way it did. There was no bigger role for him to play anymore," Moonves said. 

One of Rather's many allies summed it up best, when describing CBS leadership. "We're dealing with a bunch of classic idiots."            6/22/2006


Bush: One of Worst Disasters to Hit U.S.


In typical American fashion, some people are starting to pull for the underdog. Americans see themselves as winners, but there's nothing like a sick dog to give us a dose of empathy. How else can you explain the growing number of headlines asking if President Bush is rebounding from years of failure.


It goes like this: Bush blows off worldwide good-will after 9/11, exposes his ADD and allows Bin Laden to flee while he turns to invading Iraq. In between he lies to the American people and the world, props up Iraq like a Superpower his father faced, outs a CIA operative who, by the way, was also a covert agent to monitoring Iran's real nuclear projects, brings down his chief ally in Tony Blair, spends hundreds of BILLIONS of dollars fighting a war he said would be paid for by Iraq's own oil, flexes his macho with "Bring It On" which only incite the insurgents and casts the Presdident as a gloating loser. In the meantime, the U.S. loses track of Public Enemy Number One, finds Public Illusion Number 10, spares the life of 9/11 hijacker Number 20 and orders coffins for 2,500 U.S. troops fighting in wars with no clear vision, no clear definition for victory and no way out.

Fast forward to today and you'd think America's mainstream media was saving a sick dog from the gas chamber. Headlines are making their way into print: Is Bush making a rebound? Bush hosts Congressmen in his private residence. Bush talks one-on-one talks with Congressman. Bush and his wife give private tours to Congressman and wife. What's really happening is that the mainstream media is running out of ways to keep reporting the truth. They've written that Bush is a liar, has no ability to listen to opposing views, sees the world as black and white, and believes the majority of Americans who now reject his leadership can be swayed back to his side with a dose of good news. Bush forgets that if it hadn't been for the worst terrorist strike in United States history, he wouldn't have had the Presidential glow, wouldn't have enjoyed a jump in popularity, and wouldn't have been invited back to a Texas bar-b-que, let alone a second term in the White House.

So just in time for Father's Day, the President, father of two free-spirited young women, is being positioned by his relatively new Chief of Staff as a consensus builder. Americans see through this. Bush's motives are one fold: save the Grand Old Party from a Grand Ole Annihilation in November.

Democrats can also see the sick dog lying in the road. All they need to do to capture November is not screw up the next 5 months. Easy enough, but the party on the sidelines has forgotten how to win big, and nothing can assure their faithful that they'll capitalize on Bush's failures.  6/18/2006



One week after the United States paid tribute to its military, Americans are back to their way of life, enjoying freedom, griping about the daily change in gas prices, and looking forward to summer. Yes, life is back to normal. Americans are unfamiliar with what to do next. After supporting President Bush through the build-up of the Iraq War, and trusting him when he declared "Mission Accomplished", the daily dose of reality has shifted public opinion and put the President's approval in the 29% tank. But with Republicans controlling Congress, there's no leadership to lead the American people beyond the poll. It's as if Americans have made up heir minds, and any further revelations of lies, broken promises and distrust have nowhere else to go. 
So it's not surprising that the latest Iraq flash point may end up just another flash in the pan. Let's hope not. The morning of November 19, 2005 started just like any day. Allies and Superpowers were voicing opposition to the war. The President was heading to China to try to diffuse tensions over Iraq. Italy's new Prime Minister had just called the war a ''grave error.'' A pair of suicide bombers wearing explosive belts ripped through two Shiite mosques, killing 70 and hurting 100 more. Hours earlier two suicide truck bombs struck a hotel in downtown Baghdad.
But on that same day, U.S. forces stand accused of doing something un-American. Witnesses say a small group of U.S. Marines went on a killing spree in the desert city of Haditha. Going door to door killing 24 civilians: men, woman and children. Who knows if President Bush knew of the massacre that day. Either way, his quote that day summed up how out-of-touch he's been with the realities of this war. "We will stay in the fight until we have achieved the victory that our brave troops have fought for.''
Few of us know what it's like to fight in a war, what troops see, what they fear, how they respond. Did this group have a different reality from the rest of us? Does war do that to normal people? We'll get Congressional hearings, bring the military before the public, point fingers of blame. But will anyone lay blame at the doorstep to the White House? Will Bush take the ultimate rap for putting Americans in a no-win situation? Or will this dance between Bush and the American people continue, through smokescreens and talk of troop levels, withdrawal dates and more death and destruction?     6/4/2006


What does it mean to be an American? Taken literally, it describes entire continents, from South America, Central America, Mexico on up to Canada.
But you don't hear natives of those countries calling themselves "Americans." That distinction, and song (God Bless America) belongs to U.S. citizens.
Americans may have the title, but find themselves confused in defining their place in today's world. 
Americans like to repeat "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness." But what really sets us part? Is there one thing that truly unifies us? The past six
years reflect an un-unified America. In that span, America held two close Presidential elections; one with a disputed outcome, the other with record
turnout for both the winner and loser. The Iraq War further divided the country. But today polls show a shift towards unity- the majority of Americans
are fed up with the War, political corruption, and President Bush.
Defining oneself by what it --isn't-- still leaves the question half answered: what does it mean to be an American?
The modern day definition is usually tied to wars. Americans stand for democracy, and will go to war to instill democracy in faraway lands. That makes us
unique, if not imperial. But consider non-military ways we define ourselves.
Americans are allowed to take on our government. It's a "government of the people, by the people and for the people."  We speak freely in public, over the
airwaves, face to face with leaders without fear of jail. We assemble outside walls of power and we take away the keys when leaders let us down.
But to the rest of the world, Americans are like the Emperor with no clothes. Our new economy is based on expanding our markets around the world. It doesn't
matter if they don't eat McDonald's, don't wear dungarees, don't watch Sex and the City. Because of America's might, it's military success of long ago,
America's current leaders espouse our way or the highway. What gives America this air of superiority? Winning World Wars, landing the first man on the
moon, beating the Soviet Union into extinction? It's good for the world that all those events happened, but America doesn't want to be defined by its military,
does it?
Still at a loss for defining what it means to be an American? With a loss for words, it'll be up to the rest of the world to define who we are and that's not good.
Americans need to take the time to have meaningful discussions on it's self-definition. Without dialogue, Americans will never reach an age of Enlightenment or
an American Renaissance. Americans will remain content and isolated in their expensively designed entertainment centers. For them, "life, liberty and the
pursuit of happiness" will mean watching American Idol, voting on their cell phones and going to bed early, fat and fast asleep.       5/29/2006


The conviction of Enron's leaders makes Gray Davis this decade's Walter Mondale. Mondale spoke the truth when, running against Ronald Reagan in the 1984 Presidential campaign, said taxes must be raised. He turned out to be right, but lost almost every state. Now, Davis is the sooth-sayer, knowing Enron was manipulating energy prices, but getting recalled as California's Governor. Imagine trying to solve California's energy crisis without politics, big money and secret meetings undermining you? The crisis was manufactured by the Texas-based power company Enron. The same company that donated the most money to the Bush Presidential campaign. The same company led by Kenneth Lay who met with Vice President Dick Cheney, then met secretly with prospective California Gubernatorial candidates. Lay and Enron manipulated the market to make $500 million in one year, a ten fold increase. For this, he's going to jail without passing "GO."
Lay not only manipulated the markets, he successfully conspired to take down democracy. If it weren't for Enron, Davis wouldn't have been recalled and Arnold Schwarzenegger would not have been elected. It was ripe for the taking in the spring of 2001.
In April 2001, Vice President Dick Cheney met with Lay to discuss the Bush National Energy Policy. Lay made 8 recommendations, of which 7 were accepted. Between the Cheney meeting and the final energy draft released a month later, Lay helped put California in GOP hands. 
Davis had just signed legislation to create a state power authority that would buy, operate and build power plants instead of from out-of-state companies. After getting what he wanted from Cheney, Lay, whose company was just five months away from disintegrating, organized a secret Beverly Hills meeting with prospective Gubernatorial candidates Arnold Schwartzenegger and former L.A. Mayor Richard Riordan, powerful business leaders, and junk bond king Michael Milken. Former Laker star Magic Johnson was invited but didn't show. The attendees were handed a four-page plan called “Comprehensive Solution for California.” It called for an end to federal and state probes into Enron’s role in the California energy crisis and called on consumers to pay multibillion rate increases to end the crisis.
One writer described how zany this meeting was: "For Schwarzenegger and the others who attended the meeting, associating with...Ken Lay...during the peak of California’s power crisis...could be compared to meeting with Osama bin Laden after 9-11 to understand why terrorism isn’t necessarily such a heinous act."
Davis didn't know what hit him. Five days later on May 29, 2001, Davis was on his knees meeting with President Bush, begging for federal help. Davis knew Enron and others were manipulating California's power market, turning obscene profits and holding consumers hostage. Bush told Davis to solve it himself. 
Lay's conviction was predictable. A year after Davis was recalled, details went public of two other companies ordered to refund California (Williams $8 mil, Reliant Energy $13.8 mil)  for creating an artifical electricity shortage by deliberately shutting down power plants in California, thus driving up the price of electricity in California. 
Davis was once characterized as “perhaps the best trained governor-in-waiting California has ever produced.” Elected in 1998, re-elected in 2002 but less than a month later, faced a recall election.  Davis made education a priority, presided over the 5th largest economy in the world and invested mightily in the state's infrastructure and health care.  But it was the energy crisis that was Davis' undoing. Davis did what he could to offset the GOP and Enron. He used his power to fast-track the building of 24 new power plants, adding thousands of megawatts of new electricity to California’s energy grid. 
As Democrats look to take back the White House in 2008, there should be a place on the ticket for Davis, who spoke out early and often about corporate greed. It wasn't just California energy prices that were manipulated. It was a mild-mannered leader who knew better but lost his job.


A lifetime ago a Vice President of the United States was taking on a television character. Dan Quayle, the man who did more for the potato industry and spelling bees, dove head first into Murphy Brown, the liberal leaning TV newswoman played by Candace Bergen. Murphy was pregnant and didn't reveal who the father was. Elden the painter, Miles the News Executive, certainly not mild mannered-married Jim Dial. So with little else for a VP to do in those days, Quayle took on unwed mothers and made a national event out of Murphy's pending pregnancy.
Fast forward. Elden is dead, Bergen's a lawyer and Quayle is a blip in history. 
Today it's the musical trio The Dixie Chicks who once again have the ears of the nation. The leading Chick, Natalie Maines, took a shot across the bow 10 days before the U.S. invaded Iraq. It was a time of unease in the US, the halfway mark between 9/11 and the Bush re-election. It was a time when Americans favored the President as opposed to today's cross section of disgust in Bush. So it took Maines, of all people, to admit there's an elephant in the room, something unusual for a country musician.
On stage in London, Maines said, "Just so you know, we're ashamed the president of the United States is from Texas." Not that he's our President, just that he's from Texas! What followed dropped the Dixie Chicks from the hottest group to deadwood. Radio stations pulled their music, the Bush News Channel stirred the pot, and death threats were made against the singer. Within 2 days, Maines made a post on her website saying her words "were made in frustration" on the eve of war, and "one of the privledges of being an American" is freedom to speak your mind. Two more days later, Maines apologized to President Bush for being disrespectful of his office but hoped for an alternative "before children and American soliders' lives are lost." No such luck.
The Dixie Chicks' new CD hit the stores this week. "Taking the Long Way" doesn't make any apologies. Instead it strikes back at the heart of the blackballing the Chicks endured for the past 3 years.  Now that Mr. 29% is losing support even among his core conservatives, the musicians' words don't stand out as much today. It's as if Americans caught up to Maines and now see that their trust in their leaders was blind. Thousands of Americans are dead, tens of thousands are hurt and crippled as they return home with shattered lives and broken families. 
The reason Bush is at 29% and the Dixie Chicks have a re-birth is how they approached their situations. Where the Chicks met the war head on, the same cannot be said for Bush. The President's unrealistic approach to Iraq coaxed Americans to stay asleep. The devastating results serve as a wake up to the population that 30 years after Nixon resigned, the government is not always right. Bush sold the war on faulty intel, oversold victory onboard an aircraft carrier, and brought reporters before grand juries for telling the American public the truth (except for Judith Miller) about weapons that never existed, Joe Wilson and Valerie Plame, Guantanamo Bay, secret European torture prisons, no bid contracts to rebuild Iraq, and Iraq oil money to pay for the war. 
The Chicks are the latest musicians to release anti-war music. Bruce Springsteen, Neil Young, Pearl Jam and even Paul Simon are reflecting (or leading) the truth to Americans. Gauging the tenor in Washington, don't be surprised if Maines, Bruce or Neil are brought before a grand jury, asking where they received their material; was it leaked from government insiders.
Music, like many aspects of pop culture, are closer to the feelings and sensibilities of ordinary citizens. A generation ago, Murphy Brown vs. Dan Quayle did manage to raise the level of debate about unwed mothers and their real life struggles. Today, the voice of reason is not likely to go away, as long as details keeping coming out on Iraq, tensions rise with Iran and Osama Bin Laden keeps releasing videotapes to say "ha, ha, you can't catch me."    5/24/2006


Four hijacked jets crashed across the Northeast United States the morning of September 11, 2001. A sucker punch to America. The U.S. finally victimized on its own soil. The world rallied while American's emotions ranged from shock, anger, revenge and sadness. Normal went away. In its place, a stirring inside the American mind, heart and fragile psyche. 

Does anyone recall life before the attacks? Does anyone remember the burning issues facing our nation on September 10th? Was America that self-absorbed, that isolated, and that trusting of public officials? WagTheNews did some checking. Osama Bin Laden made the news hours before the worst terror attack on the U.S. Not in the headlines. But buried in the second to last sentence in a 722 worded story in the New York Times. Back then, the Taliban controlled 90% of Afganistan. Bin Laden needed to make sure he had a safe haven, protection and Taliban support in Afganistan after his plans unfolded on 9/11. So on September 9th, Bin Laden's assasins posed as photographers and set off an explosive planted in a video camera or a belt worn by a suicide bomber. Killed was the leading anti-Taliban rebel chief. Mission Accomplished.

"If the would-be assassins were indeed Arabs, as the United Front asserted, the fact would lend credibility to those who contend that foreigners, including Osama bin Laden, are playing an ever bigger decision-making role among the Taliban," was how the New York Times put it. 

If the U.S. government had connected the dots, and deciphered intelligence data in time, there's no telling how many lives could have been saved. While the government was ignorant to terror, the American public too was far away from reality, trusting its leaders that the extensive and expensive intelligence agencies was protecting the homeland. So without a terror alert, what was the American public digesting from the media? The stories pre-9/11 show how isolated the U.S. was. How oblivious and naive America's media was too. How incapable the U.S. government was at identifying and warning its citizens of potential harm.


Here's what WagTheNews discovered about September 10, 2001, events that appeared in print on the morning of 9/11. 

No international story captured any deep importance except for the Israel-Palestinian violence/truce-talks, and that's been going on for years. America's psyche, it's imagination and it's place in the world was dormant. The news was more a variety show, examining culture of  morning television and the debate over school dress codes and high schoolers revealing too much skin. New York City was in the middle of a Mayoral race, while Elizabeth Dole planned to announce her Senate bid to replace Jesse Helms.

Then, it was the economy (stupid), with key lawmakers talking of a possible deal to revive a "darkening economic outlook."  

Scientists urged a bigger supply of stem cells, while there were calls for strict arsenic limits (after the Bush Administration had suspended the standard).

Overseas, a Baltic Army Officer was selling 100-grand worth of high-grade uranium and a teacher was charged 30 years later for a Canada to Cuba hijacking.

Maybe the United States is days away from catching Bin Laden. Perhaps all the unwarranted spying the U.S. government has done will reap benefits. Maybe the growing distrust of the American public, from faulty intel of Iraq's WMD to prisoner abuse, will turn around with Bush being appreciated for being a wartime President, even with his flaws. And maybe not. But one thing is certain. Americans may want to retreat and live a life of isolation, being as far from reality as the country is geographically from the rest of the world. But 9/11 showed us that 9/10 was a mirage, a fantasy, that real life WAS going on all around the world, but Americans didn't demand to see it or pay attention to the clues.    5/20/2006



Even if you could care less about pro sports, there's nothing like the excitement of the playoffs. After enduring 80 to 162 games, true blue sports addicts get to overdose this time of year. Their spouses ask incredulouly, "You mean the season isn't over YET?" Every night another playoff game or two, in both basketball and hockey. You may not care about either sport in the dead of winter or the warmth of spring. But you should. This is the best reality TV, with drama, muscle and heart.

In a span of 2 hours last night, three UNDERDOGS came within a shot of pulling off an upset trifecta. It's easy to think there's no need to watch these games. All year the favorites amassed the best team, the best record, the best superstars and the home court or home ice advantage. But something happens to the underdogs this time of year. The favorites get tight, the underdogs gain composure.

In Edmonton, the city that watched The Great Gretsky championship years, fans are waking up hoarse, again.

 Michael Peca

Their team was the last to make the playoffs, barely being good enough to play on. But the last team in, crushed the best team of all, the Detroit Red Wings in the first round. In the next round, Edmonton lost the first two games, but out of nowhere won the next four to advance again. Last night they clinched in front of their screaming fans. Wonder if they'll be the underdogs a third time.

Basketball followed the script too.

Cleveland has young superstar LeBron James. James would be finishing his sophomore year of college had he not entered the NBA straight from high school. After losing the first two games to far tougher Detroit, (Red Wing fans close your eyes!), Cleveland won three in row, including last night's shocker in front of Detroit's home crowd. It's the first time all season Detroit has lost three straight and now faces an elimination game in Cleveland tomorrow night.

In Texas, the battle doesn't include Bush or Cheney. San Antonio, though the favorite, has slept through their series with Dallas

San Antonio competed in their very own Survivor episode last night, holding on for another day as Dallas missed a shot at the buzzer to win and advance. Dallas could wrap it up tonight in front of their home fans.

Underdogs work harder. Few of them coast into the playoffs, usually needing the final few weeks to make the post season. That means the last two weeks of their season is just like the playoffs. Win or go home. You COULD turn in early, but then you'll wake up, see the score and have regrets all day. That'll be your lesson for the next night. The playoffs is a time to lose sleep, and watch the unexpected happen. The next time someone tells you a favorite is a lock to win, take the odds and say to yourself, "That's why they play the game."    5/18/2006



Saudi Arabia, the land of oil and sand, is telling newspaper editors to knock it off. No, the Saudi press isn't asking probing questions at news conferences. No, they're not reporting on leaks from inside the Palace. And no, they're not making fun of their leader the way Jon Stewart franchises every Presidential mis-step.

In Saudi Arabia, it's about the women and man's power to control them. In a land where all media is either state-owned or state-run, women cannot vote, cannot run for municipal office and cannot drive. But there's another example that Saudi women have not 'come a long way baby'. 

Last night as President Bush was outlining his plan to tighten U.S. borders, Saudi King Abdullah sat face-to-face with his editors to share his breaking news. The King told editors to stop publishing pictures of women because the photos could lead young men astray. Obviously he hasn't caught American TV lately. Photos of women have sprouted up in Saudi papers in recent months, but the women are always shown wearing the traditional Muslim headscarf.

Not any more. The King said "One must think, 'do they want their daughter, their sister, or their wife to appear in this way'? Of course, no one would accept this. The youth are driven by emotion ... and sometimes they can be led astray. So, please, try to cut down on this." 

The King is considered a quiet reformer, having ventured away from Saudi conservatives since taking office in August. But he's clamping down. He also called on editors to stop printing stories that portray Saudi Arabia in a negative light. It's one thing for Americans to distrust Saudi oil moguls, the constant change in gas prices and the Saudi connection to 9/11. But it's another for Saudi citizens to get a birds eye view of themselves. "Don't write anything that can be harmful to the country. Some reporters, they want to stand out and they end up going too far and this should not be allowed to happen."

So what's worse in 2006. A far-away country, with deep ties to the United States, continuing to suppress the rights of women under the cloak of tradition. Or a government spying on reporters, to learn who's leaking information that turns out to repulse a majority of Americans and leads to the world lining up against our form of democracy?       5/16/06



It's way too soon for President Bush to be managing his legacy. But this much is true: Bush will be remembered for unity in the days after 9/11, as the President who acted on wrong intel to justify an invasion of Iraq, as the President who watched Katrina from his TV while his cronies in charge squabbled like turkeys. That's no legacy, that's 29%. 
Things could change by January 20, 2009. Look what happened on Inauguration Day 1981 when Iran freed 52 American hostages. But one wonders what will Bush hear from those closest to him on Inauguration Day 2009, as he drives away from the Capitol having watched the next President get sworn in. Will Laura Bush tell him, "You did a lot of good, George, a lot of good." Insert Jed for George and you have one of the parting lines in the final episode of "The West Wing" last night. The show has been on the air for seven years, mirroring real time politics. From the final years of the Monica-induced Clinton term to the disputed 2000 election to 2004 when more Americans voted for the winner and loser of a Presidential election than ever before. 
"The West Wing" was decidedly left-leaning, with sanctimonious President Bartlet leading the nation, coaxing world leaders, and always asking his staff, "What's next?"
For President Bush, 'what's next' cold power his approval below 29%. Bush doesn't have to worry about "The West Wing"; he has to figure out 'The Right Wing.' Tonight he takes a step off the immigration ledge when he addresses the nation. Bush will call on the deployment of what's left of the the National Guard in the U.S. to patrol the US-Mexico border. The decision comes as conservatives see America spending like a drunken sailor, ignoring their mandate to make gay marriage illegal, and allowing amnesty for millions of illegals living in the U.S.
Liberals hit Bush on the war abroad, conservatives are killing Bush on everything else at home. "What's next?" Al ot more headaches and loneliness.
After the midterms, even party faithfuls will start distancing themselves from the President, in order to line up behind GOP Presidential candidates. There are no coattails so expect the GOP to treat Bush like a man n a closed elevator with bad breath. Pretty soon, Mr. Bush will find himself very much alone, as a lame duck, with only his friends and family beside him. It won't be long for Laura Bush to try to help salvage her husband's legacy. But with Bush's approval rating dipping below Tom Cruises', he already finds himself as lonely as the Maytag repairman.
In the final "West Wing," Bartlet did what every President has done at the 11th hour: pardon or commute the sentences of criminals. Nixon helped Hoffa, Ford pardoned Nixon, Carter had Patty Hearst, Reagan helped SteinbrennerBush aided Caspar Weinberger, and Clinton excused Marc Rich. In "The Right Wing," GW may have the chance to help Scooter Libby, Jack Abramoff and perhaps even Barry Bonds. Between now and then, this President will have few mandates.

In the end, will anyone say of this President, "You did a lot of good, George, a lot of good."? As famous songwriter Jackson Browne wrote, "Time running out, time running out."    5/15/06


Zacarias Moussaoui has the American way of life to thank. A way of life he railed against throughout his trial. A way of life he grew to detest, a way of life that led him to flight school, a way of life he hated so much he pledged to die trying to terrorize it. “America, you lost. … I won” he blurted out after his life was saved.
It turns out just one juror kept Moussaoui from death. Where else do you "win" by losing 11 to 1? That's a landslide, a decisive margin of victory for everything we live by, from America's pasttime to American Idol.
So what does it say to our way of life that a terrorist's life gets spared because one lone juror couldn't be persuaded by a group of his/her peers? Does the system work? Does it provide the proper safety nets to avoid 12 Angry Men (and women) running wild during deliberations?
Of the three terror charges Mossaoui faced, a unanimous vote on just one would have resulted in death. The three votes were 11-1, 10-2 and 10-2. Imagine the frustration during deliberations as most jurors were convinced the government proved its case, yet the holdouts had as much power, if not more.
Jury rooms are not quite so peaceful. For anyone who has served on a criminal case, you know the potential for a holdout. One person who during the course of their simple and uneventful life now gets a chance to be heard. When that one person stands alone from a group of 12, usually it's because they want their own place in history, big or small, and nothing will get in their way. Rememer, Moussaoui will never be heard from again, dead or alive, so perhaps that one holdout juror thought more about him/herself, than about the facts that 11 of his/her peers saw so clearly.
The holdout was never ID'ed either to the general public or to the rest of the jurors. Their ballots were anonymous and ongoing discussions didn't 'out' the holdout.
The jury foreman told the Washington Post, "I felt frustrated because I felt that many of us had been cheated by the anonymity of the 'no' voter. We will never know their reason.... Our sense was this was a done deal for that person and whoever that person is, they were consistent from the first day and their point of view didn't change."
It turns out Moussaoui's testiomony had little impact on the jury, they didn't fall for his lawyers' claims of mental illness. They just thought Moussaoui was bizarre. "I think most of us found Moussaoui to be intelligent, smart, crafty and a great manipulator."
So who wins? Moussaoui lives while the United States appears lawful and compassionate. Or does it show the world the U.S. justice system is all screwed up?         5/12/06


Just when you thought the public would be de-sensitized to anything shocking coming from the White House, it turns out WagTheNews was right all along. The government is spying on not just suspected terrorists, but more of us, and perhaps all of us.
The National Security Agency, headed by CIA Director-dead-in-the-water nominee Michael Hayden, has been collecting phone records of innocent Americans. One unnamed source (soon to be outed, polygraphed and fired) said the goal was the creation of a database of every phone call ever made within the United States' borders. Will Americans chalk this up to a necessary invasion of privacy in time of war? Will the public fall in line behind Bush who says it's a small price to pay to eavesdrop on terrorists living, and plotting in the United States?
Bush's polling is so low he's lucky there isn't a Democratic majority in Congress. He'd certainly be facing calls for impeachment by now. Let's examine the scorecard of trust.
Guantanamo Bay torture
Secret Prisons in Europe
Niger connection
Valerie Plame leak
Joseph Wilson smear campaign
Fall of Baghdad-Mission Accomplished
Not enough troops to secure Iraq
Inadequate armor or US troops
US underestimates insurgents
Domestic Spying
Insufficient info on Iranian nukes
Plame was undercover looking at Iranian nukes when outed
Today's bombshell was exposed by the journalistic juggernaut USA Today. Even USA Today, home of color pictures and front page charts, is getting into the Pulitzer Prize act. Journalists are now picking the low hanging fruit.

The NSA said it did not listen to the phone calls (who could, there are millions of them!), but secretly obtained information on numbers dialed by "tens of millions of Americans" and used it for "data mining."  For a government that couldn't connect the dots before 9/11, didn't have sufficient translators to siphon through the clues of conspiracy before 9/11, now they have a vast network that rivals MATCH-dot-COM. Imagine what single men and women could do with all that "mined data"?

The President reacted with instant dramatics. He dropped everything and popped up before cameras at the White House. Of course, he didn't directly address the collection of phone records. To face it head on would force him to admit it's going on. Instead, Mr. 29 percent said  that "new claims" had been raised about surveillance. He said all intelligence work was conducted "within the law" and that domestic conversations were not listened to without a court warrant. Wait, the NSA said no calls were listened to. Now the President said none were listened to without a court warrant. Which is it? Even if we believe the Administration acted within the rules this time, they did so ONLY because they got paddy-wacked last time out, with the President retroactively getting court permission.

Bush didn't miss the chance to cite chapter and verse the reason Americans are being snooped on. "The privacy of all Americans is fiercely protected in all our activities. Our efforts are focused on Al Qaeda and their known associates." Get ready for the terror alert to be raised to orange any minute now.

Democratic Senator Patrick Leahy of Vermont, a state with a lot of trees and probably poor cell phone reception, was right on when he asked rhetorically, "Are you telling me that tens of millions of Americans are involved with Al Qaeda?" 

Some Republicans must not be up for re-election in November because Senator Jeff Sessions of Alabama defended the program. "It's not a wiretapping program, it's simply a compilation, according to the report here, of numbers that phone companies maintain."
Maybe there is a silver lining. If Americans were smart, they'd buy stock today, right now in AT&T, BellSouth and Verizon. Those three companies have cooperated with the NSA.  Only Qwest said uh-no. If so much snooping is going on, the value of phone company stock has to be more valuable. Buy low. And don't sell until 2008.        5/11/06


She was thrust into the limelight on election night 2000. Secretary of State Katherine Harris took control, made decisions, and helped deliver Florida and it's crucial electoral votes to George Bush. No matter that exit polls and every network news anchor projected Al Gore the winner. Harris did what the Bush campaign couldn't do alone. She certified Bush's 537 vote win.. Since then, her makeup choices reminded Americans of Tammy Faye Baker.


She took a New York rabbis advice and encouraged Ag officials to explore "Celestial Drops" to cure citrus-canker disease. It didn't work. And now she's being told 'don't let the door hit you on the way out.' Is that anyway to thank Katherine Harris?

Instead of hero-worshipping Harris until the President's term expires, the Grand Old Party is telling Harris the party's over. Harris is currently a member of the U.S. House of Representative.

Never mind Percy the dog ran against her in the 2002 Republican primary as a write-in candidate.


Never mind a man tried exercising his "political expression" when tried running her over with his car.

Six years after the Battle of the Chads, she wants to move to the Senate. She has the money, the support of the conservative base, and a comes from a famous Florida family. But Bush may be the one family that matters right now. Florida Governor and First Brother Jeb Bush says "I just don't think she can win."

Hey, it's not like the President's numbers are riding high. Why is the GOP establishment so reluctant in getting behind Harris? The canker cure is water under the bridge. Harris once alarming people there was a terrorist plot that never existed can't amount to much. Her management style ticks off staff but what politician isn't headstrong? Isn't that an asset to governing?  

What makes Harris such a slippery candidate is her entanglements with the DC lobbying scandal. A scandal that could do in Republicans nationwide this midterm. In February, a DC defense contractor pleaded guilty to bribing a California Congressman. The contractor made $32,000 in illegal campaign contributions to Ms. Harris, plus treated her to a $2,800 dinner at a fancy DC restaurant. Try spending that much the next time you go out.

Soon after, advisors of both President Bush and Governor Bush encouraged Harris to withdraw from the Senate race. Harris seemed willing, realizing her candidacy could hurt the entire Republican ticket. Her staff set up a news conference to announce she's done. But Harris, who started listening more to her spiritual advisor than campaign staff, changed her mind. She reportedly said God wanted her to stay in the race and become a U.S. Senator.

Will Harris be a stronger candidate by bucking the Bush family? Or will voters take revenge against her for her role in electing Bush in 2000? One thing is certain: for Katherine Harris, riding the coattails is a two way street. What got her elected will also get her tossed aside.      5/10/06



How much does it cost to mail a letter from Iran to the United States? Over the weekend, Iran wrote a lengthy letter to President Bush offering new ways to resolve the stalemate over Iranian nukes. It was the first letter from an Iranian leader to a U.S. President since 1979 and we all remember what happened that year. Iran treated their jottings like a therapy session and analyzed the roots of the problems with the West, naming Israel and musing that Western-style democracy had failed humanity.


Someone call Dr. Phil. 

This letter was immediately dismissed by the U.S. government. But should it? Couldn't this be the start of an international pen pal friendship? Forget shuttle diplomacy. We can be excited scribes like the characters in You've Got Mail. Maybe Iran really isn't interested in becoming a nuclear player. Maybe Iran really isn't interested in destroying Israel. Maybe Iran really isn't interested in poking the United States in the eye. Yeah that's it. Iran wants us to respond to their nuclear buildup, not with sanctions, soldiers, missiles, but with pen, paper and postage.

This pen pal thing could catch on. First Iran, then Hamas, North Korea, and that pesky Venezuela. Let's throw in Castro while we're at it. Stamps to Cuba would be cheap. Writing letters would seem so much more civilized. And better yet, much less expensive than showing military might. Imagine if pen pals became the norm. Instead of lobbying scandals involving defense contractors and Congressmen, there would be investigations surrounding lobbyists for Bic, Papermate and the U.S. Postal Service.

Of course, that's all wishful thinking. We don't need a lobbyist to tell us what's going on with Iran. Like Bin Laden's invitation a few months back for a truce, Iran is playing games with the United States. And the timing coincides with the world's most powerful countries meeting at the United Nations this week to attempt to find unity in dealing with Iraq, Sanctions could be coming against Iraq if only China and Russia were on board.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said "This letter is not the place that one would find an opening to engage on the nuclear issue or anything of the sort. It isn't addressing the issues that we're dealing with in a concrete way."

There is one thing Iran taught us with the letter. It rambled for 16 pages in Persian. When translated, it was 18 pages in English. Maybe Iran can send their version of Miss Landers to the United States and show us where we're wasting two pages worth of words.    5/9/06


In the five years since 9/11, the most successful example of espionage is seen in Mission Impossible III which opened this weekend. Since 2001, President Bush promised to fix breakdowns in American intelligence. The Office of National Intelligence now oversees 16 U.S. spy agencies, including the CIA. But where are we today? More turmoil. Bush's nomination of General Michael Hayden to lead the CIA marks the third director the agency would have since 9/11. It's the most telling report card to measure how the President is failing to fix U.S. intelligence problems.
All this intel turnover (watch for more resignations and firings) is not good at home or overseas. It signals that the United States can't fix decades of intelligence power struggles. It shows the world that even the worst terrorist attack on U.S. soil isn't enough for politicians to unite and fix glaring gaps in spying.  The changing of the guard signals a bandaid fix to problems that call for real leadership.
If times were more certain, this game of musical chairs would take up the last few minutes on the Sunday morning talk circut.  Those really interest would be inside the Beltway. But public opinion for both Bush and Blair are at all time lows, short-circuting their message. It's no coincidence firings are occurring at the same time in the U.S. and Britain. Both Bush and Blair have lost the confidence at home. The two leaders are shuffling their staffs to re-ignite their vision. But the public has made up its mind about their leaders, their roles in the build-up to the Iraq War, their flawed pre-war assessment on Iraq's WMD, their over confidence of winning in Iraq. Nothing short of capturing Bin Laden will sway public opinion.
It's not just the usual suspects lining up against the two leaders. For Blair, his own Labor Party, now third after local elections, demands Blair set a timetable for stepping down. Blair will only say he'll step down before the next election in 2010. For Bush, his popularity has dipped to crisis levels. The President's  strongest supporters, his conservative base is now jumping ship. Not as publicly as Blair's Labor Party. But when private research firms call conservatives at home, after dinner, to ask their opinion, they are now ripping the President. Conservatives are the reason Bush's popularity has plunged to the low 30s.
Terrorists revel in this sort of failed leadership. When insurgents get encouraged, it's bad for allied troops.  No longer are American troops in danger only in Iraq, but now in Afganistan, the place where the allied forces enjoyed worldwide support after 9/11. The latest example was last Friday when 10 U.S. soldiers were killed in a chopper crash in Eastern Afganistan. The U.S. and Tailaban dispute how it happened. It doesn't matter. The important thing to remember is that a chopper went down, killing Americans, giving the terrorists reason to act like heroes.
President Bush now wants to close the Guantanamo Bay detention center. This comes days after a U.S. jury spared the life of terrorist Zacarias Moussaoui. Jurors took their job seriously, left their hearts outside the jury room, and in essence said the the Bush Administration over-reached in believing Moussaoui was the 20th hijacker. He may be a terrorist, training to fly a jet into something, but he had less to do with 9/11 than the government has made us believe for 4+ years.
This leaves both Bush and Blair to take control they only way they could right now: re-tool their staffs and re-work their message. In Britain, Blair fired Foreign Secretary Jack Straw and replaced him with Environmental Minister  Margaret Beckett. Beckett is in over her head today  as she enters the United Nations to start negotiations on Iran's nuclear ambitions.
Back in the U.S., Porter Goss is out at the CIA and General Hayden is in. A leader who weathered the storm after 9/11, inaccurate WMD, wiretaps and a costly (billions) yet ineffective technology upgrade known as Trailblazer.  How's that for a resume? 
Morale is one thing. A CIA drained of many experienced officers is another. The CIA is also shaken by internal investigations. Hiring a General trusted by the White House raises a cautionary note about him as head of the CIA. "He's shown he's willing to throw out his own principles on civil liberties to please the president."
But what about brass-knuckled spying, like in Mission Impossible? Hayden's experience is all about technology and not about people. Yet General Hayden would start the job with almost no direct experience at the C.I.A.'s central task of recruiting and running foreign agents. He would have to convince the civilian spies that he was not part of a Pentagon plot to take over their agency. And as the principal deputy director of national intelligence, he would very likely be viewed as representing the new central bureaucracy that is resented at the C.I.A. for downgrading the agency's importance.
"In the wake of the Iraq war, it has become clear that official intelligence analysis was not relied on in making even the most significant national security decisions," Paul R. Pillar, a senior C.I.A. analyst who retired last year, wrote in the March/April issue of Foreign Affairs.
"Our intelligence is now devoid of credibility," in the words of David Kay, who as the special adviser to the director of central intelligence led the search for unconventional weapons in Iraq in 2003 and 2004. "We as a nation must address that, or Iraq is prologue to a much more dangerous time than anything we have ever seen."
May 1st marked three years since President Bush proclaimed Mission Accomplished on board the deck of a US aircraft carrier. Today, both Bush and Blair face the grim prospect of Mission Impossible.    5/8/06






Weeks later, as Americans got past the publicity of Opening Day and the Bonds book, nothing has happened to protect baseball's integrity.


Today as Bonds approaches Ruth and then Aaron for the career home run record, it’s clearer than ever that he cheated to get there. Forget the Bonds spin of his superior conditioning and the witch hunt against him. The latest book by credible newspaper reporters shows the depth of Barry Bonds’ deceit. In Game of Shadows, Bonds turns to steroids because he’s jealous of the hero-worshipping surrounding Mark McGwire and his single season home run pursuit. So after that 1998 season and continuing the next few years, Bonds is taking a variety of illegal and undetectable drugs to add strength, improve eyesight, and smash McGwire’s homer run record. Bonds doesn’t dispute any of the book’s facts, but files suit for damaging Grand Jury testimony being leaked. Score one for a government leaker who must be a baseball fan.




While fellow sluggers embarrass themselves and the game in front of Congressional hearings, Bonds keeps a low profile last year, missing most of the season claiming “injury”. But it’s more likely Bonds wasn’t hurt. By not playing, Bonds avoided the spotlight, and hoped for the steroid dust to settle. The strategy was working until this spring.


Bonds has co-conspirators in this. His team and Major League baseball. The San Francisco Giants, saw him bulk up before the ’99 season. The Giants were a year from opening a new ballpark so the team had no interest in learning whether their superstar was a super-user. Then after the ballpark opened in 2000, the team did background checks on Bonds’ three personal trainers. The team did nothing when they found steroid links among a trainer, a gym and Bonds.


In real life, Bonds would have been fired by now. He’d have gone through the company’s employee assistance program, given some warnings, and then sent packing. But in baseball’s make-believe world, neither the Giants nor Major League Baseball will fire or suspend Bonds. There’s only one way to save the season from ruin. Barry Bonds should get “injured” again, then retire. And he should do it before he surpasses the Babe. 


On March 29, Mitchell said the investigation would be independent and include "all persons who we believe have relevant information." The question now is: will Mitchell get to those people before Bond's round the bases a few more times?   5/5/2006



It's certainly early to be forecasting the next Presidential election in 2008. Many world events could shift public opinion, from another terror attack, a downturn in the economy, or the capture of Osama Bin Laden. But one thing is certain. For the first time since 1952, a sitting President or Vice President will NOT be running for the White House. This leaves a major uncertainty for the GOP. And the party in power doesn't like to hand over the reins to just anyone. 
Look for this to change. Soon after the midterm elections, when Republicans either hold onto Congress or lose control, the 2 sitting ducks in the White House will lose whatever political chips they now barely hold. As McCain and company further distance themselves from Bush's low popularity, the White House will play a major role in shaping it's own legacy and continuing what it started. The only way to accomplish this is to move Dick Cheney aside, handpick the next VP, and install him/her as the GOP frontrunner in 2008. 

Don't look for this to happen before the midterms. The White House won't change course so soon, for it old appear they're admitting mistakes. But once the midterms are over, look for rumblings inside and outside the White House for Cheney to move out.
The question: who is willing to be Bush's next VP, and could that person show an an independent streak while still supporting the President's policies? Hmm, independent but supportive of the President. Who could that be?
Back to 1952, with no incumbent running for President, popular General and Republican Dwight Eisenhower won the first of his two Presidential elections, winning 55% of the popular vote and 84% of the electoral vote against Adlai Stevenson. In 2008, could another popular General, Colin Powell, follow in Eisenhower's shoes? If history has a say, it's a lock.
But the on-going Iraq War has nothing in common with the end of WWII, and Powell will not be celebrated like Eisenhower. History could either repeat itself, or history might appear in the form of Hillary Clinton. 2008 will be one for the record books.  5/4/2006 



Americans are spending all their energy debating immigration, port security and the scope of Presidential powers. But these last few weeks point to the serious and unspoken hole in homeland security. And it has nothing to do with our homeland but everything to do with our security.

With rising gas prices comes the political finger-pointing, the half-baked solutions and the Johnny-come-lately calls for conservation. But there's nothing that will come close to Americans pent up anger than if (or when) our largest supply of oil is interrupted.

Polls point to Americans belief that another terror attack on U.S. soil is not just possible, but probable. But what happens if that attack is against Saudi Arabia, America's #1 supplier of oil? Former CIA Director R. James Woolsey says if the next attack is against Saudi Arabia's oil refineries, crude oil prices could double from $73 a barrel today to easily surpassing $150 a barrel for more than a year.


 Do the math: if gas costs about $3/gallon today, what would we do if it reached $6/gallon? The auto industry would be crippled, the industries that support cars such as rubber, glass, metal, and plastics would go under too. Jobs would be lost, real estate would plummet, lives would be ruined. 


Even without that scenario, Americans chose not to see the vicious cycle we're in. It's one thing for soccer moms in SUVs to gripe about oil company profits and the price at the pumps. But who among us realizes where our $3/gallon ends up? It's not just to Exxon and Mobil, but to established Middle Eastern regimes that restrict women's rights, have poor education systems and fail to invest in their societies. Are we sure money we pay to our oil suppliers isn't being funneled to terrorist groups? No one cares to go there. 

Who's responsible? Woolsey echoes the view of WagTheNews: "If you want to see who's paying for all that, next time you pull in to fill up, turn the rear view mirror a little bit so you can look at yourself for a minute as you get out with your credit card."

What will it take for Americans to wake up and connect the dots?   5/3/2006 



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As the White House, Congress and the American public cope with high gas prices, solutions and finger pointing are running amok on Capitol Hill.

Democrats criticize a failed energy policy, citing oil company profits. Some Republicans want to give citizens a $100 check. One fact the White House doesn't want repeated is how their energy policy was conceived.

In March 2001, the American Petroleum Institute e-mailed the Energy Department proposing language for a Bush policy on energy regulations. In a stunning move that again calls into question lobbyists' influence on this Administration, the White House barely edited API's language when devising it's energy initiatives.

API suggested "any substantive action by an agency that promulgates or is expected to lead to the promulgation of a rule, regulation or policy, including, but not limited to, notices of inquiry, advance notices of proposed rule-making, notices of proposed rule-making, and guidance documents."

Two months later on May 18, 2001, the Bush executive order states that it applies to "any action by an agency . . . that promulgates or is expected to lead to the promulgation of a final rule or regulation, including notices of inquiry, advance notices of proposed rule-making, and notices of proposed rule-making."

33 words with barely an edit. Has the American public become de-sensitized to the power of lobbyists? Or have voters already made up their minds about who's helping them and who's hurting them at the pumps.   5/2/2006



Workers of the world unite! Or could a planned walkout by the immigrant community backfire? It all depends where it occurs and what services are curtailed to the non-immigrant population. Some food processing companies have closed for the day, to show support for their workforce. No American will go hungry because of this.

But what happens if the walkout spreads beyond the agriculture business? What if Americans, not patient when the line at Starbucks makes them late, get a surprise jolt by an expanded walkout? Take cabbies, a profession with a growing immigrant population. If drivers choose to idle their engines, how will people react? Cab companies may not be as sympathetic as food giants. And white business people will be left stranded at airports, hotels and at curbside pickups. It's not life or death, but it cause grumbling for the self-important left looking for a ride.

Americans truly don't know the depth for how immigrants shape our lives. They think of the stereotypical jobs such as dishwashers in restaurants, but fail to see their significance in schools, hospitals and public service.

Congress is closing it's blinds at the Capitol today, eager to debate gas prices than the prospect of a guest worker program or the deportation of 11 million illegals.

Today's walkout will seem less like a one-day strike than an extension of last month's marches and demonstrations. The marches up to today have humanized the immigration debate. Today's walkout gives the White House more ammunition to convince House Republicans to relax their position and support the Senate bill allowing illegals to pursue the American dream.    5/1/2006 



Three short months ago, President Bush declared in his State of the Union address that Americans are addicted to oil. But unlike most addiction, the President gave us an out, he enabled us. All he asked was for the United States to reduce our dependence on foreign oil within 20 years. 20 years.

Leadership comes in all shapes and sizes but to see politicians, both Republican and Democrat, using high gas prices as the latest feeding frenzy to get the electorate excited (and diverted from other issues) is a joke.

You don't need to be an interventionist to take more aggressive steps to stop an addiction.

Gamblers turn to Gambler's Anonymous. Alcoholics turns to AA. Eaters find support in Weight Watchers. And smokers have the patch.

So why do leaders accept the 20 year solution to solve our addiction to oil? Could it be those leaders don't really want us to wean ourselves. Of course they don't. In fact, in the President's SOTU address, he never asked us to sacrifice and change our behavior. He just called on new technology and new forms of fuel to feed our wasteful consumption. Even Dick Cheney has said "Conservation may be a private virtue but cannot be a public policy." Not when oil is in his blood.

So it's up to a Americans to take a stand. Here's another case where the American people will lead lawmakers to a new standard. The voice of Darren is sounding the alarm. While driving his 15 mpg truck on a 6 hour trip recently, his tank need $100 to fill up. Upon return, he downsized his vehicle of choice and is now driving a 55mpg car. In his own words, 'You can't drive a truck like it's a car.'

If Darren could do this overnight, why are our leaders telling us it'll take 7300 nights?    4/26/2006



Nothing like a water cooler story to get politicians stirred up. Forget immigration reform (until the May 1st boycott, that is). Spending over $40-60 to fill your tank is the next biggest thing. So as Congress returns from its two week vacation perk, everyone's talking about the high price of gas, and politicians are doing what they do- taking notice after the fact.

President Bush is calling on the Federal Trade Commission, the Justice Department and the Energy Department to investigate whether the price of gasoline has been unfairly manipulated.

Journalists should be keeping track of what President Bush wants to investigate, and what he doesn't. Gas prices-yes. authentic WMD info-no. CIA/prison leak/Pulitzer Prize story-yes. CIA/Valerie Plame ID leak-no. It's no surprise Mr. Bush is seizing high gas prices for this week's message. The public is steamed, his approval ratings are low, and gas prices are a gift from the political heavens for him to show leadership. This is his "9/11" of the midterms.

No one should be surprised gas prices are high. It's not even surprising Americans need to point a finger at someone to blame for $3/gallon. But Americans have no one else but themselves to blame. Driving is like spending- we're out of control and no one wants to budget. The headlines will be government probes, but what about government taking meaningful measures to reduce consumption? That's not the American way. No one wants to be told how to live. 

So it's up to individuals to slow down, to car pool, to drive less. But for every conscientious objector are many more who cannot pull in their reigns. Americans are not just obese in the waist, they're obese at the pumps.

Not even a war has effected the way most Americans drive, or what we drive or how fast we drive. We could pull out of the Middle East today if it weren't for the natural resource we need to fuel our economy, to fuel our addiction, to fuel our waste.

What we need are days to come together. Monday is "innovation day", a day when companies get rewarded for inventing a new system to curb reliance on foreign oil. Tuesday is "slow down day", a day when we all drive 10 mph slower, even if it means we all get there later.

Americans have shown NO national unity to conserve. We hear freedom it's our right, our freedom to drive whatever vehicle we want, go however far we want to go, and at whatever speed we want.

Does price gouging occur, sure. Will there be examples plastered on the news of gas station's in trouble, yes. Rest assured the crackdown at the pumps will help make Americans sleep better.  The impression that someone, in this case politicians, are hard at work cracking down on gas stations, will make us feel like our complaints are being heard. If prices reach the predicted $3.25, $3.50 and perhaps $4 during the summer, there promises to be new investigations. All along, the public will have a choice to go about its disgruntled way, or embrace change. Which do you think will happen?     4/25/2006



April comes to an end and the media is both under fire and on fire. Cable talk show hosts and political pundits weigh in on the latest polls showing President Bush at an all-time low. Republican strategists argue tactics to help the President rebound. With the war in Iraq, the potential conflict with Iran, and political scandal dogging the Republicans, the White House turned to what it could control: cleaning it's own house. Scott McClennan's departure as White House Press Secretary was likely not his choice: the Republican conservative base is livid with the message coming out of the White House. As a nod to those concerns, the White House made McClennan the sacrificial lamb and told him he's leaving.

This move, soon after a new Chief of Staff was installed, is intended to communicate with the conservative voters that the lights are on at the White House. It is a simple move to acknowledge to the Republican base that this year's midterm elections are important. The Republicans hope this move will shift the focus from losing the daily message on Iraq, to bolstering the next few months for the Republicans.

The biggest sign the White House is awakening is the shifting, at least publicly, of White House policy adviser Karl Rove. Rove will concentrate more on politics than splitting his duties between politics and policy. As if the two are distinguishable for the GOP at this point. Either way, Rove getting back to the midterms is sweet news to the conservatives, who fear losing control of Congress in November.

Journalists must stay on top of the White House message, looking for shifts in public comments from a new Press Secretary. Newsies must also keep tabs on Karl Rove. If Rove is focusing on politics, journalists must analyze the most important seats up for re-election this fall. Are the Republicans inventing a new message? Will the GOP distance themselves from President Bush? Will Democrats capitalize on fundraising and low GOP poll numbers?

Will any of these moves resonate with the electorate? It's far too soon to say. Candidates running in September and November are spending most of their time raising money, fortifying their war chests when the general public is paying little attention to their races. As summer heats up the skies, look for campaigns to begin their television assaults. Not all at once, but enough to start laying the groundwork for each side's message for the fall.   4/20/2006