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November 21, 2003 PERMALINK
Chalabi, Chalabi, He's Our Man!
(posted Nov. 21 12:30 AM ET)

One week ago, LiberalOasis argued that the new plan to hand over power in Iraq was not actual democracy.

Iraqi self-determination was not the plan. Giving the Shiite majority too much control meant not enough control for Bush, and not enough power for Bush crony Ahmed Chalabi.

But yesterday, a somewhat buried NY Times headline appeared to prove LO wrong: „Sensing Shiites Will Rule Iraq, U.S. Starts to See Friends, Not Foesš.

The piece made it seem like LO unfairly mistrusted those well-intentioned Bushies:

[Bush Administration] officials said that fears of an Iranian-style ų and Iranian-influenced ų theocracy in Baghdad have faded because it has become clear that Iraq's Shiite population is not a monolithic bloc and not necessarily dominated by Tehran.

"Our basic position is that as we get to know more of Iraqi society, we're more comfortable with a democratic process, and if that emerges with a predominant Shiite role, so be it," said an administration official.

"There's been a steady education process here."

Leave aside the ignorant, condescending nature of the remarks Ų „We thunk all them Shee-ites were terrorists. Guess what? They‚re not!š

Leave aside the apparent admission that before now, they really didn‚t intend to permit real democracy, and wanted to rig the process.

If they came around, they came around, right?

If it means Iraq‚s new government will be -- and be seen as -- legit, and if that leads to the end of attacks on US soldiers, then kudos to Bush, right?

Not so fast∑

What starts off as the positive evolution of Bushie thinking soon reveals itself as just another ruse.

The NYT article goes on to acknowledge that the Bushies are still not quite comfortable with a government led by the majority Shiite population:

American officials say that the main fear concerning a Shiite government in Iraq is more external than internal.

Some of Iraq's neighbors∑are said to be worried that a new Shiite-ruled nation in their midst might inflame their own restive Shiite populations.

(Fair enough. Regional stability is important to consider.)

If that came to pass, some Arab diplomats say, neighboring countries might end up encouraging the Sunni minority in Iraq to rebel against the government in Baghdad ų as some Sunnis are already doing.

(Bloody civil war would be bad. Good point.)

Another possibility, some in the administration say, is that Iraq could evolve toward a political compromise forged by the exile Ahmad Chalabi ų a secular Shiite.

Mr. Chalabi might manage to stitch together pro-Iranian groups, Kurds and others into a government.

A top administration official predicted recently that in that event, Mr. Chalabi∑could become the first Iraqi prime minister.

Why of course! Chalabi is the perfect solution! And he‚s available! How convenient.

Much like tax cuts are peddled as the phony answer to any domestic problem, Chalabi is now positioned as the phony answer to any Iraqi problem.

Furthermore, this whole notion planted in NYT that the Bushies suddenly discovered that Iraqi Shiites were not all radicals, and really could handle „democracy,š is complete bunk.

The neocons were making the same arguments back in April, while on their „post-warš victory lap.

So why the bogus line?

By pretending to have some sort of epiphany about Iraqi Shiites, they hope to shake up the international community CW, and be seen as altruistic, not manipulative.

Which would be brilliant, if they didn‚t completely reveal themselves with the painfully strained attempt to prop up their boy at the same time.

It may well be true that the Shiite majority can handle democracy. But the Bushies still have no intention to give them the chance to prove it.

QUICK HIT

Stop The Boondoggle Energy and Medicare Bills

Click here to easily contact your representatives through True Majority, and tell them to stop both the energy and Medicare bills.

*** Share your thoughts at The LiberalOasis Soapbox ***

November 20, 2003 PERMALINK
Is Wesley Clark Reading LiberalOasis?
(posted Nov. 20 1:45 AM ET)

After his Meet The Press appearance this Sunday, LO said Clark did a „very good jobš but:

Clark also didn‚t say anything on MTP that would cause a stir.

He didn‚t attack Howard Dean (or even say his name), or make any bold promises or pronouncements∑

∑the kind of biography-based, soft-edged campaign strategy he appears to be implementing won‚t dramatically alter the race in the short-term.

Since then, on Monday, Clark (intentionally?) injected some drama by going off on Fox News‚ David Asman. (link via Calpundit)

And yesterday, Clark went straight at Dean.

Dean had told reporters he‚d embark on a „re-regulationš campaign aimed at „utilities, large media companies and any business that offers stock optionsš, according to the W. Post.

Dean‚s stated rationale?

In order to make capitalism work for ordinary human beings, you have to have regulation. Right now, workers are getting screwed.

Clark responded by playing the Clinton card:

Governor Dean plans to distance himself from Clinton's economic legacy∑

∑The results in the '90s spoke for themselves∑

∑Regulation is not going to get our economy moving again. It failed in the past, it will fail again∑

∑I don't think our party can win a general election if we abandon proven policies that have worked, that were the cornerstone of our success.

The question LO has is:

Is this a calculated „stepping upš, increasing his profile and drawing debate lines?

Or is this haphazardly chasing headlines without a clear strategy?

Evidence of the latter: on Clark‚s 60 Minutes II appearance, Clark didn‚t mention Dean once. In the web-only transcript, even when prodded he did not utter it.

Still, let‚s give Clark the benefit of the doubt.

Which would mean he wants to enter the fray and draw Dean into an „Old Liberal-New Demš debate.

That would appear to be a dangerous move. The DLC tried it early on, and it backfired big.

But it‚s a different stage in the campaign, and electability questions continue to swirl in the air (for all candidates).

And surely, Clark is making a subtle electability argument: do you want to go into ‚04 with a guy running on „re-regulationš?!

Although, it seems unlikely that‚s the language Dean will stick with.

So far, he only used it once in a late night interview.

It was not found in Dean‚s big Enron Economics speech that followed the interview:

Over and over, I [have] heard the same questions:

If our country is so rich, why am I barely getting by?

If our country is so strong, why are we being made to feel so afraid?

If our country is so powerful, why do I feel so powerless?∑

∑We stand here today for all those who believe that when our government serves only the big corporations, it betrays everything our country represents∑

Today, economic power is being concentrated into fewer and fewer hands.

But we can check the power of mega-businesses that make decisions which affect millions of us.

And yesterday‚s retorts from his staff also avoided the „re-regulationš word:

So, if Clark can manage to make this a Clark-Dean race (still a big "if"), liberals will have a gut check to take: who would run best?

-- A candidate who confidently (recklessly?) articulates liberal principles in innovative ways.

-- Or a candidate who would run on the tested (tired?) moderate messages of the Clinton years.

*** Share your thoughts at The LiberalOasis Soapbox ***

November 19, 2003 PERMALINK
Anti-Gay Backlash?
Don‚t Buy The Hype
(posted Nov. 19 12:30 AM ET)

Following the landmark MA court decision deeming a marriage ban against gays unconstitutional, the fears of a anti-gay backlash are inevitable.

The media is already repeating over and over that, in one poll, 59% oppose gay marriage, up from 53% this summer.

And the Right is already prepared use this to push hard for an anti-gay constitutional amendment, in an attempt to motivate the base in 2004.

Backlash concerns were already making the rounds in the aftermath of the summer‚s US Supreme Court decision protecting gay sex.

But LiberalOasis argued otherwise back in August.

In sum, a close look at the polling does not indicate a mass antipathy to gay unions, but a „squishyš segment of the population that gives contradictory responses depending on the wording of the question.

The squishy segment was quite evident in this Gallup poll from Sept.:

Do you think gay or lesbian couples should or should not be allowed all the same legal rights as married couples in every state, or does it not matter to you?

Should Ų 32%
Should not Ų 35%
Doesn‚t matter Ų 32%

Focus groups also show an ambivalence. A recent W. Post piece reported:

Geoffrey Garin, a Democratic pollster, has been conducting focus groups on the subject for the Human Rights Campaign∑

∑he finds that middle-of-the-road voters "would prefer to talk about almost any other subject."

He said the issue could boomerang on Bush's efforts to come across as moderate.

"Even when they agree on the substance, voters often become uncomfortable with politicians who raise the subject," Garin said.

"While Americans certainly don't embrace the idea of gay marriage, they're uncomfortable with identifying themselves with policies that smack of discrimination and unfairness."

Chances are, swing voters will want to hear about their own issues, like jobs and the economy, not somebody else‚s issues, especially polarizing ones.

So if Bush supporters try to make marriage by gays the big issue in ‚04, perhaps the best response should be: „My opponents want to talk about gays. Apparently they don‚t have much to say about jobs.š

*** Share your thoughts at The LiberalOasis Soapbox ***

November 18, 2003 PERMALINK
Tricky Medicare Politics
(posted Nov. 18 12:45 AM ET)

Stopping the GOP Medicare boondoggle from passing Congress will be hard.

But winning the political argument will be easier, and that should be the top priority.

With the AARP standing with the GOP, and congresspeople hesitant to vote against something called „prescription drug benefitš, killing the bill is a tall order.

Killing it via filibuster, in particular, on a bill as sensitive as this is dangerous business -- especially if you don‚t have seniors loudly and unequivocally on your side.

The death of the drug benefit can then be too easily laid at the feet of the Dems, and the focus might be taken off of the more insidious provisions.

The key for Dems is to engage the senior grassroots, so that no matter what happens in Congress, seniors will know Bush and the GOP are out to screw them.

If the outcry from the seniors is loud enough that the bill dies, that‚s a bonus.

But the bill can pass and still hurt the Republicans by 2004.

Why? Two big reasons.

Seniors are dead-set against privatization (See LO‚s June 20 post), and this bill has more privatization than the earlier June Senate compromise.

And the drug benefit remains pretty chintzy.

According to yesterday‚s Wall Street Journal, „critics say it will cover about 25% of seniors‚ drug spending over the next decadeš.

That is not the comprehensive benefit seniors have been asking for all this time.

And nothing can spark resentment more than not getting what you asked for, while being told that you did.

This is also why the AARP may be in a very precarious position.

It does not appear that the AARP polled its 35M members (many who join for nonpolitical reasons) about this specific bill.

It looks like the GOP simply worked the AARP leadership.

And if the leadership has gotten ahead of its members, the endorsement, which certainly comes with serious lobbying strength, may not protect the GOP in the long-term.

One indication of this comes from Sen. Tom Harkin in UPI:

"I find this bizarre," Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, said of the AARP endorsement.

AARP had conducted three meetings in Iowa regarding Medicare, he said, including hundreds of seniors.

When those seniors were asked to show hands in support of either bill, "not one senior raised his or her hand to support it," Harkin said.

The good news is the Dems do not appear intimidated by the AARP move.

In fact, Sen. Tom Daschle and Rep. Nancy Pelosi directly took on the AARP yesterday.

They are turning to groups like the Alliance for Retired Americans and Families USA to prevent the AARP from being seen as the only voice for seniors.

The Dems are showing spine by not cracking in the face of the AARP. It‚s definitely heartening.

But they shouldn‚t think that simple legislative maneuvering is enough.

They need to talk directly to seniors, tell them what Dems stand for, remind them whose is on their side, and get them involved.

For example, encourage them to contact their House and Senate representatives and tell them they will vote against them if they support the GOP bill.

Encourage them to contact the AARP and tell them they made a big mistake.

Encourage them to attend the rally tomorrow against the bill sponsored by the Alliance, and help organize other events like it.

And don‚t stop the dialogue with seniors after the legislative process is done.

Because seniors are not sold, and if Dems show them some fight, they may well demand payback in ‚04.

QUICK HIT

Another Mystery Poll

Has anyone noticed that Dubya dropped below 50% approval in the latest CBS poll?

*** Share your thoughts at The LiberalOasis Soapbox ***

November 17, 2003 PERMALINK
The Sunday Talkshow Breakdown
A weekly feature of LiberalOasis
(posted Nov. 17 12:45 AM ET)

Wesley Clark went on a Sunday show (NBC‚s Meet The Press) for the first time since becoming a candidate.

The interview appears to be the first component of a week-long Clark campaign kickstart.

Which includes a big ad buy in NH (to soon expand to SC and AZ), slots on 60 Minutes II and David Letterman, and a session with USA Today reporters and editors.

The kickstart started off well, as Clark did a very good job on MTP.

Calm, confident and reassuring. Handled tough questions without flinching.

But at this stage of the game, is that good enough?

Sen. John Edwards also did a very good job last week on MTP, maybe the best MTP performance of the primary season.

But it didn‚t jolt the race at all.

Why? Because when you‚re behind, it‚s harder to grab headlines and harder to get the media to give your utterances weight.

Nice appearances on MTP spark buzz early in the race, when only the insiders who generate buzz are paying attention.

Now the race is more formed, and simply stating your issue positions well doesn‚t have the same impact.

To change the current dynamic, the bar is now higher.

You need to create some drama or excitement, and make the media pay attention.

Edwards didn‚t offer any such thing on MTP, nor did he follow it up with anything dramatic.

Clark also didn‚t say anything on MTP that would cause a stir.

He didn‚t attack Howard Dean (or even say his name), or make any bold promises or pronouncements.

However, Clark is following up the interview with stepped up media activity, which is easier for him to do than Edwards or the others.

That‚s because he is the newest candidate and has the most gaps to fill in his story and agenda.

(Tim Russert, surprisingly, asked him little about issues outside of Iraq and his record in the Balkans.)

Plus, the fact that he remains at or near the top in most national polls gives the media a reason to give him another lookover.

Still, the kind of biography-based, soft-edged campaign strategy he appears to be implementing won‚t dramatically alter the race in the short-term.

But he is positioning himself as the anti-Dean.

Instead of trying to emulate Dean‚s hard-charging style, Clark isn‚t venturing far from his low-key, reasoned, military analyst demeanor.

Though he‚s learned to throw in the occasional pithy comment for sound bite purposes.

(His response that Iraq is „a messš is what made the wire, not his longer assessments of what needs to be done next, militarily and politically.)

By offering a calmer persona, he has a shot at appealing to those who worry Dean's style won't play well in the general election.

But without a plan to shake up the Dean-as-frontrunner storyline, Clark‚s strategy to position himself as a Dean alternative has an inherent weakness.

It doesn‚t take the bull by the horns. It relies on someone else screwing up.

Only Rep. Dick Gephardt and Sen. John Kerry are actively trying to take Dean out to open up the race.

Clark can only hope they pull it off.

*** Share your thoughts at The LiberalOasis Soapbox ***

The Sandbox
Guest Humor Column by Mark Spittle

The Bush-Dean Debate We'll Never See

JIM LEHRER: Thank you for joining us for the first Presidential debate between George W. Bush and Howard Dean.

The format tonight is a question to one candidate, followed by a comment from his opponent, and so on. Gentlemen, thank you for coming.

HOWARD DEAN: Thank you, Jim.

GEORGE W. BUSH: Thanks.

LEHRER: Mr. Bush, you won the coin toss for the first question.

Some of your critics have charged you with lying to the American people about the immediacy of the threat posed by Saddam Hussein in order to wage a war against Iraq that you had intended regardless.

Can you comment?

BUSH: That‚s not true, and good Americans know it. It is true that our intelligence was faulty, but in the end the Iraqi people are free.

LEHRER: Dr. Dean, care to respond?

DEAN: I sure do. In 2001 Colin Powell gave a press conference in Cairo and said, I quote now:

„Saddam has not developed any significant capability with respect to weapons of mass destruction.

„He is unable to project conventional power against his neighbors.š

A year later, the administration reversed its view without any explanation.

BUSH: That‚s not true. Not true at all.

DEAN: I‚m sorry, Mr. President, but it is true, and it means you are a lying sack of shit.

LEHRER: Well, Dr. Dean, the next question goes to you.

Your opponent, President Bush, has said that you are a radical liberal who intends on growing government on the backs of business. What is your response?

DEAN: With all due respect, my opponent has all the intelligence of a dead dog‚s dick, and twice the stink.

I‚ve made it quite clear that my positions are my own, and not the result of any ideological leanings.

LEHRER: Mr. Bush?

BUSH: What did he just say? About a dog?

I...the man‚s a liberal, Jim. I mean, he‚s just... a liberal... that‚s all.

LEHRER: Well, let‚s keep moving on then. Mr. Bush, your question. If re-elected, what would you do to repair the deficit?

BUSH: Well, Jim, I .. um... sorry, still can‚t figure out what he said there before.

Anyway, I have a different view about the deficit.

I think deficits have been misrepresented. Deficits are known to stimulate economies in some cases, and I think we are seeing that right now.

The stimulus packages I put into place during my first term will be directly responsible for both short-term and long-term economic growth.

LEHRER: Dr. Dean?

DEAN: My opponent is a fuckbrained moron who went AWOL in the military, snorted coke, drove drunk, and almost ruined the Texas Rangers.

To expect him to understand the delicacies of economics is like asking a mule to conduct an orchestra, except the mule has a better chance of coming up with Mahler than Bush has of creating any economic growth.

His policies are designed to benefit the rich, shift the tax burden onto the poor, and permanently bankrupt social programs that have benefited millions of poor and middle class Americans.

LEHRER: Well, I ...

DEAN: ... Hold on, I‚m not done.

LEHRER: Go ahead, sir.

DEAN: He is also an incompetent jackass, a repugnant blowhard, a flatulent bag of pus, and an insult to every pissfaced, dildoheaded bunghole on the planet.

LEHRER: Mr. Bush, would you care to rebut?

BUSH: ... I ... I can‚t feel my legs ....

LEHRER: Next question, then. This one is for Dr. Dean.

How do you feel your experience as governor of a small state like Vermont helped prepare you for the role of leader of the free world?

DEAN: Better than being the governor of Texas helped that pork-assed pile of dung standing over there.

His only qualifications to become President were his daddy‚s name and a photo he had of Antonin Scalia screwing some court clerk.

If my opponent were a block of cheese, he‚d be smarter than he is now.

The only thing keeping him standing is his center of gravity, and the fact that his legs are too stupid to know how to fold over.

LEHRER: Okay, final question goes to Mr. Bush.

Mr. President, if re-elected, would you seek to permanently defeat Roe v. Wade through Supreme Court appointments?

BUSH: ... so dizzy... can‚t.... can‚t feel my tongue....

LEHRER: Dr. Dean, final reply.

DEAN: I want to say to the American people that if you elect me President, I promise to put the entire Bush family on a raft with no food or water, and set them adrift in the Pacific next to a school of ravenous sharks.

And I‚ll balance the budget, too. Thank you.

LEHRER: Thank you, Dr. Dean. Good night.

BUSH: ... gurgle....

Mark Spittle is one half of the political satire duo Spittle & Ink. He is a former Washington lobbyist and congressional assistant.

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

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Alexander Pierre Luboknovich

MadKane

Michael Moore

Nothing Like The Truth

Psyclops

The Specious Report

Tammy Faye Starlite

GET BRITISH HUMOR

Lord Bonkers Diary

Private Eye

Viz

GET MEDIA(?)

Faux News Channel

Republican Press

PLAY A GAME

Life as a Blackman

BUY STUFF...

Agitproperties

EcoMall

Global Exchange

Green Pages

Green People

Hybrid Car Dealers

Real Goods

Responsible Shopper

...OR DON'T

AdBusters

Boycott Action News

Buy Nothing Day

GET OFF THE GRID

Back Home

Building Green

Home Power

Off-Grid Living

Solar Panels for Energy

Source for Renewable Energy

GET FUNDING

Ford Foundation

Pew Charitable Trusts

Soros Foundation

Tides Foundation

GET PR

Communication Works

Douglas Gould

Fenton Communications

Hauser Group

McKinney & Assoc.

The SPIN Project

Spitfire Strategies

GET CAPITAL GAINS

Calvert Foundation

Domini Social Investments

Greenmoney Journal

Parnassus Investments

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AFL-CIO

SEIU

UAW

GET LAID SAFELY

Advocates for Youth

Nat'l Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy

Planned Parenthood

Scarleteen

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Center for Reproductive Law & Policy

NARAL Pro-Choice America

GET ABORTION

National Network of Abortion Funds

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Alley Cat Allies

Animal Rescue Site

ASPCA

Best Friends

Stop Declaw

Wildlife Waystation

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American Islamic Congress

The Ba'hai Faith

Buddhist Peace Fellowship

Catholic Worker

Center for Progressive Christianity

Center for the Study of Islam and Democracy

Interfaith Alliance

Liberals Like Christ

Noble Causes

The Religious Left

The Right Christians

Shalom Center

Sojourners

Tikkun

Unitarian Universalists

United Church of Christ

Universal Life Church

GET GODLESS

About Atheism

American Atheists

Infidels

GET ANN COULTER

Ann Coulter Is a Bitch

Anti-Coulter

CoulterWatch

Dr. Limerick's Slannder

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American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee

Anti-Defamation League

Human Rights Campaign

NAACP

Nat'l Conf. for Community and Justice

National Council of La Raza

National Urban League

NOW

GET JUSTICE

ACLU

Brennan Center for Justice

EarthJustice

Lambda Legal Defense

Mexican American Legal Defense

NAACP Legal Defense

National Asian Pacific American Legal Consortium

Native American Rights Fund

NOW Legal Defense

Southern Poverty Law Center

GET RADIO

AnShell Media

Bush Recession Radio

Democracy Now

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Guy James

i.e. America Radio

Meria Heller

Mike Malloy

New Black City

Radio Free Exile

Radio Left

Radio Nation

Randi Rhodes

Ski Anderson

Peter Werbe

GET AMERICAN

Americans for Democratic Action

Campaign for America's Future

Americans United for the Separation of Church and State

People For the American Way

GET SOMEONE ELECTED

Democratic National Committee

Emily's List

MoveOn.org PAC

Progressive Majority

21st Century Democrats

Young Democratic Candidates Network

GET PRESIDENTIAL

Wesley Clark

Howard Dean

John Edwards

Dick Gephardt

Al Gore

John Kerry

Dennis Kucinich

Joe Lieberman

Carol Moseley Braun

Al Sharpton

GET PRESIDENTIAL BLOGS

Dem Watch

Wesley Clark Weblog

Dean Nation

Howard Dean in 2004 (R. Klau)

Mousepads, Shoe Leather and Hope

One Father for Dean

RI for Dean

John Edwards News Network

Gephardt Grassroots

See Dick Win

CT for Kerry

John Kerry's Unofficial Blog

Dennis Kucinich Blog & News

Texans For Joe

GET ORGANIZED

Dem Party Meetup

Clark Meetup

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Edwards Meetup

Gephardt Meetup

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Kerry Meetup

Lieberman Meetup

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Sharpton Meetup

GET VPs?

Max Baucus

Evan Bayh

Joe Biden

Bill Bradley

Max Cleland

Tom Daschle

Gray Davis

Richard Durbin

Russ Feingold

Dianne Feinstein

Bob Graham

Gary Hart

Mary Landrieu

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Gary Locke

John McCain

Jim McGreevey

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Nancy Pelosi

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Tom Vilsack

Mark Warner

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