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* LIBERALOASIS EXCLUSIVE *
As mentioned in The New Republic, click here for an exclusive interview with presidential candidate Howard Dean.

May 23, 2003 PERMALINK
Tax Cut Noose (For Dubya)
Plus, "Slacker Friday" Mailbag
(posted May 23 12 AM ET)

It's weak that the media is letting Dubya get away with spinning the tax cut plan, that he recently derided as "little bitty," as a huge victory.

But in the big picture, this is exactly what Democrats need.

By claiming victory, Bush owns the '03-'04 economy. Period.

Fox News' Mort Kondracke laid down the marker:

This is supply-side, trickle-down, Republican economics. And we'll see if it works.

Bush has no grounds to make any excuses if it doesn't work.

And he has no grounds to blame the Democrats if it doesn't work.

So it's all on him now.

Couldn't have said it any better.

Thankfully, this eliminates LiberalOasis' initial concern -- that an earlier vote by the Dems would leave them on the hook too, taking away an attack line for '04

There's also some worthwhile, even-handed analysis on the fallout from MSNBC's Tom Curry.

And with that, LiberalOasis is taking an Altercation-inspired "Slacker Friday," as there are a couple interesting letters to share.

FROM THE MAILBAG

Earlier, a rural reader said LO had it wrong on Dems embracing gun control.

Another rural reader echoes the criticism:

I too live in a rural area (in West Virginia). You have no idea how powerful this issue is here.

It is THE issue, and Democrats stir this pot at their peril.

Just to give you an idea of what is at stake here:

During the 2000 campaign, Republicans assured the voters that they would protect their 2nd amendment rights. Democrats did not, making gun control an issue.

The result was predictable:

While almost 60% of the voters voted for a Democrat for governor, many of these voters split their ticket and Bush won the Presidential race in the state by almost the same margin over Gore...

...This time around, the Democrats should make it a point to adopt [Howard] Dean's position as the standard party line, and should emphasize it heavily in rural areas like these.

Many here are not happy about Bush and his economic policies, but if guns become an issue again, we might as well crown Bush Emperor.

There are other ways to address gun violence...

Another reader says LO was off-base when it suggested that the new "weak dollar" policy was akin to a Hail Mary pass:

A Hail Mary? Au contrair, mon-frere.

This is, for once, the Bush Administration acting in accordance with basic macro principles, rather than flouting them as it usually does.

Macro says, in a recession, spend a lot of money, or give it to people who will spend it quickly.

What do they do? Try to give a lot of money to the people who will spend the least.

Now, for once, they're doing something reasonable. Weak dollar, more exports, fewer imports, both help domestic interests.

There is this question of people's decisions to hold dollars, and there may be some action in interest rates, but there's no reason to believe it'll reach Carter-like proportions.

For that to happen, we would need a combination of people really losing confidence in the US economy.

Say, because we had a leader who continued to act against the interests of the economy.

And a huge deficit - especially if it were spent on things like, say, weaponry, rather than investments in infrastructure that would spur the economy later...

...how likely is it that both those things will occur?

May 22, 2003 PERMALINK
How I Learned To Love The Nuke
(posted May 22 1:30 AM ET)

One of the many ways Bush is bad for our national security: His love affair with nukes.

The affair is not new. Propping up the nuclear industry was an early priority for the Administration.

Just a few months into the term, Cheney was positioning nuclear power as pro-environment:

We have...mastered one form of technology that causes zero emissions of greenhouse gases: nuclear power.

Fortunately for the environment...20 percent of our electricity today is generated by nuclear power plants.

But the government has not granted a single new nuclear power permit in more than 20 years...

If we're serious about environmental protection, then we must seriously question the wisdom of backing away from what is, as a matter of record, a safe, clean, very plentiful energy source.

Except for that little nuclear waste problem. And the occasional accident. And that terrorism thing.

After a little campaign cash (as if that was necessary) the nuke industry won Cheney's endorsement for more plants in his energy task force report back in '01.

That report has finally led to a nasty energy bill that would, among many things, subsidize six new nuke plants.

(Thankfully, the legislation has been roundly attacked and is not expected to pass Congress.)

(UPDATE May 22 11 AM ET -- PIRG's NewEnergyFuture.com has more on the bill, and a easy way to contact your Senators.)

But the nuke love doesn't end there.

Defense Secretary Rumsfeld is on the verge of winning congressional support to research "low-yield" nuclear weapons.

Apparently, we're having a real hard time winning wars these days.

In fact, Bush love nukes so much, he doesn't care who gets them.

We haven't made the needed effort to round up the loose nukes lying around the former Soviet Union.

And we didn't exactly pull a muscle rushing to secure loose nukes in Iraq.

The poll number that the GOP loves to cite is that Dems are 50 points behind Bush on national security.

You want to start chipping away at that? Start talking about Bush's love affair with nukes.

May 21, 2003 PERMALINK
Is Dubya The Next Jimmy Carter?
(posted May 21 12:45 AM ET)

It's become cliche: Dubya learned the lesson of Poppy and will not ignore the economy.

But the opposite of ignoring is not necessarily helping.

LiberalOasis had said earlier that the strategy was nothing but "Look Busy."

Now, there may be one thing the Bushies are actively doing: weakening the US dollar.

Let's not get into if a weak dollar policy is smart. Clearly, there are arguments all around.

But it has the feel of a Hail Mary pass on a high-wire.

And John Snow isn't exactly seen as John Elway.

If Safire is right, and driving down the dollar is going to create jobs, prevent runaway deflation, mitigate the deficit without hurting foreign investment, then Bush is a genius and the Democrats can just go home.

Of course, there was another guy who tried a weak dollar policy to grow the economy: Jimmy Carter.

Didn't quite work out.

This isn't to say that weak dollar policies can never work. (Of course, real supply-siders dismiss it. Paging Jack Kemp!)

But politically speaking, if it doesn't work, the combo of "weak economy" and "weak dollar policy" makes for some devastating headlines.

Carter's economic failures were an albatross around the Dems' collective neck for twelve years.

If this belated attempt to spark growth fails miserably, start measuring the GOP's neck for an albatross.

May 20, 2003 PERMALINK
Building The Base With Bombs
(posted May 20 1 AM ET)

This is from the very first LiberalOasis column, last June:

Newsflash to White House: Every time you try to break new ground, and every time you get close to peace, someone's going to blow themselves up.

And when you shelve your peace plans when terrorists attack, you're doing exactly what the terrorists want you to do.

Worse, you're giving the militants the power to stop any and all progress.

That was when a spate of terrorist attacks led Bush to postpone a big speech laying out a vision for a provisional Palestinian state.

Now, we have another run of bombings.

These are clearly intended to sabotage the peace process, and undermine the new Palestinian Prime Minister -- whose appointment was, in large part, the result of pressure from Bush.

Will Bush stick to the peace plan? He says he will:

...we're still on the road to peace. It's just going to be a bumpy road.

And I'm not going to get off the road until we achieve the vision.

And surely you know that Bush always means what he says.

But tell that to Bush's staff.

From the NY Times:

Despite the president's hopeful words, some administration officials conceded that little could be done to sustain the delicate momentum of the peace effort if the suicide bombings of the last few days continue...

...State Department officials conceded that a carefully orchestrated timetable for Israeli and Palestinian concession...was thrown into chaos by the bombing attacks.

Allowing chaos by giving up is the same mistake from last year: "giving the militants the power to stop any and all progress."

Later in that week in late June '02, Bush eventually gave a speech, and LO remarked:

Either Bush Inc. is stocked with foreign policy amateurs, or the speech wasn't intended to create a path to peace, but was given to appease the right wing and peel off Jewish support from the Democrats.

Has anything changed?

Bush's rhetoric is still intended for domestic audiences, and in turn, for domestic political purposes:

...the recent bombings...[they give] me a chance to remind people in the region, if you're interested in moving the peace process, join us in fighting terror.

Of course, the Bushies know full well that the Arab world does not view these suicide bombings as "terror," but as resistance against occupiers.

Using the "terror" language sends a signal that Bush sees things from Sharon's perspective.

Furthermore, the US right-wing is playing an even more overt political role.

NYT reports that yesterday:

...two dozen Christian conservatives led by Gary Bauer, a former Republican presidential candidate, urged the Bush administration to "go back to the drawing board" in the Middle East and abandon the current peace plan, saying that it "could lead to a disaster" for Israel and the United States.

And from CNN's Newsnight last night, this exchange of two reporters:

JUDY WOODRUFF: Much of the President's conservative Christian base is pressuring the White House, not to be tough on the Israelis.

CHRIS BURNS: Absolutely...with the elections coming up in the coming months, that's going to be an issue...

(Some reminders on why the Christian Right cares so much about the Jewish homeland from TomPaine, TNR and The Sideshow.)

The whole strategy -- offering a serious road map, but not offering any serious follow-through -- looks like another cynical political ploy from the guys who always mean what they say.

Just so Karl can pump up the base.

May 19, 2003 PERMALINK
The Sunday Talkshow Breakdown
A weekly feature of LiberalOasis
(posted May 19 12:45 AM ET)

Answering tough questions about the resurgence of Al Qaeda apparently didn't interest anyone in the Bush Administration.

So the Bushies skipped out on Sunday.

Which pretty much left the tough questions for Saudi spokesman Adel al-Jubeir.

Jubeir hit three shows yesterday, and was hit extremely hard by Meet The Press' Tim Russert, and, to a lesser degree, by Fox News Sunday's Tony Snow.

(His third appearance was CNN's Late Edition.)

For the most part, the aggressive questions were fair ones.

But the overall effect was to oversimplify the Saudi issue, and carry water for the Rumsfeld-Perle-Gingrich faction -- which wouldn't mind some Saudi Arabia regime change.

Some examples of Russert's relentless line of questioning, which at times verged into unprofessional indignation:

-- ...there's growing anger against Saudi Arabia across this country, and in Congress...

...And the suggestion is that Saudis are playing a double game...the kingdom bet that if they could vent all the anger against the Americans that they would be spared...

...Is there a double game being played...?

-- ...you have a lot to explain...[Saudi Interior Minister] Prince Nayef after September 11th, said this:

"We put big question marks and ask you committed the events of September 11 and who benefited from them. Who benefited from events of 9/11? I think they [the Zionists] are behind these events."

That's outrageous.

-- This is what a top Saudi Arabian religious leader [did]...He prayed to the Muslim God to "terminate" the Jews, whom he called "the scum of humanity, threats of the world, prophet killers, pigs and monkeys."...

...Is he still preaching?

-- The problem is this. We hear you say that and then we see evidence of the opposite.

The problem with Russert (and Snow) is that in his drive to make Jubeir dance, he fails to inform and educate his American audience.

You'd never know that:

-- The Saudi royal family is "fractured."

The hard-line Prince Nayef, whose quotes were thrown at Jubeir all day, does not necessarily speak for the whole ruling family -- although he is reportedly an ally of the de facto ruler Crown Prince Abdullah.

(Late Edition briefly touched upon the "split" in the royal family.)

-- Saudi Arabia lacks "a well-functioning government," and is wracked with poverty, making any crackdown difficult, regardless of will.

-- Al Qaeda wants to destabilize the Saudi government, and the Riyadh attack potentially serves that end.

-- Similarly perhaps, the neocons are itching for a US-Saudi "showdown."

In fact, according to the Kansas City Star:

[GOP Sen. Conrad Burns] said the [Riyadh] bombings showed that Americans must reduce its dependency on Saudi oil by helping Iraq develop its enormous reserves or turning increasingly to Russia, Central Asia and the Caspian Sea.

Indeed, some view Washington's approach to Iraq, in part, as an attempt to hedge its bets.

-- And in a seeming paradox, the Bush family's connections to the House of Saud may be severely complicating the effort to expose Saudi connections to Al Qaeda.

That's a fairly knotty set of factors to untangle.

Jubeir is not going to shed light on any of this.

His job is to gloss over as much of the division within his country as possible, while emphasizing that Al Qaeda is out for both our governments.

Nevertheless, self-righteously dressing down Jubeir on TV, without fully airing all of rest that goes into the US-Saudi relationship, doesn't even begin to get at what is really going on.

The Sandbox
Humor by John Cougarstein

NEWSFLASH
Religious Right Decries Iraq War

WASHINGTON, May 3 -- Leading religious conservatives said today that war with Iraq has wrongly opened to door to Communism and prostitution, leading to a breakdown of the moral underpinnings of Iraqi society.

Their dismay followed reports that the first independent newspaper published in Iraq was by the Communists, and Iraqi prostitutes had returned to sell their services on the street.

At a news conference organized by the Christian Coalition, President Bush's former rival Gary Bauer noted, "When Saddam was in charge, the Communists were underground and the hookers were decapitated. We shouldn't have been dropping bombs. We should have been taking notes."

Sen. Rick Santorum echoed the comments, "Once you have pinkos and sluts banging each other, before you know it, the liberals will be crying out for a Department of Prostitution. And then how can you crack down on the rampant man-on-dog action? It's constitutionally impossible."

Noted role model Bill Bennett also expressed indignation. "Prostitution is wrong and we can't let it fester. I mean, I go to prostitutes. Have since I was a boy. But I keep it under control. Just a few hours from time to time so I can relax. But I never use my wife's money. It's on my dime and nobody gets hurt. If you can't handle it, you shouldn't do it. And nobody in Iraq can handle it."

President Bush was busying regaling his aides on how cool it is to fly an F-18, and could not be reached for comment.

For more Cougarstein, check out The Cougarstein Ramble and download Cougarstein songs at Iuma.com

**************

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