Saturday, December 17, 2005

I'm Not Sure They Want To Be Reminding Us Of Nixon In 2006...

GOP leader: Cox would reconsider Senate race if Pirro quits

AP Political Writer

December 16, 2005, 12:14 PM EST

ALBANY, N.Y. -- Edward Cox, a son-in-law of the late President Richard Nixon, will consider resuming his campaign for the Republican nomination to challenge Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton if Jeanine Pirro quits the race, a top party leader said Friday.

Cox, considered Pirro's main competition for the Senate nomination, halted his campaign in October on the day that Republican Gov. George Pataki endorsed Pirro's candidacy. But, in recent days, a host of party leaders have called on the Westchester County district attorney to end her struggling campaign and run instead for state attorney general. Pirro has refused to heed that advice.
I'm fairly certain that, as the corrupt practices of the Bush administration are revealed in a mounting heap of crap, that the New York GOP wants people to remember there was yet another corrupt Republican president who spied on his own people and ran an illegal war in a country we had no business being in.

It's seems there's no end to the people in this clown car...

Friday, December 16, 2005

Will Fitzmas Come Early This Year?

Reddhedd at firedoglake is reporting that Patrick Fitzgerald IS in DC, and IS in front of a grand jury....

The Fog Of War (Reporting)

Wayyyyyyyyyyy back in September, at the behest of my researcher and good friend, Katrina, I posted a story about the effects of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, and how you'll never read about it in the American press.

I was wrong.

And right. Comes Sydney Schanberg, talking about torture:
So what makes this a story about the press? It's because for a host of reasons, reporters and their proprietors, who surely know that torture is a constant in war, all too rarely address such subjects in detail as moral issues or issues of psychological damage to returning soldiers. Returnees, including reporters, come back with lots of mental scars. Some have to do with the ugly things they've witnessed. Others relate to heavy guilt over not being able to save a pal or leaving behind needy foreign friends when you leave the war zone.

One of the reasons the press is reluctant to report graphically and in depth about the torture and brutishness of war is the fear of backlash from readers or viewers who don't want to see or hear about war's true-life destruction. In television dramas or at the movies, audiences are not threatened by depictions of slaughter and gore, because they can dismiss it as the magic of special effects.

But whatever the press's reasons or rationalizations for not discussing subjects like torture with greater candor and pictorial force, they don't pass the test of being honest with the public. I've written often about how we in the press don't live up to the mantra we keep intoning as our raison d'ĂȘtre: "the public's right to know."

Why shouldn't we tell people more about terrible things that happen regularly in our world? What's the point in not doing so, now that there's an Internet peering into every hamlet on the planet, looking at matters bright as well as dark?

Readers or viewers can always turn the page or switch to another channel if a story upsets them. And I'm not talking about gratuitous depictions of violence, just about real happenings.
Soldiers don't kill soldiers. People kill other people. People live with the consequences of those actions for the rest of their lives, while the generals and politicians who send them off to war can sit around their fireplaces sipping sherry (or near beer, in the case of certain redneck Presidents), and fulminate about their successes, distract themselves from their failures, and ignore the very real damage they inflicted on people, enemies, allies, but also and more important, fellow citizens.

Go read the article here. The press ought to be reporting on this instead of whether Jessica Simpson's shirt was too low cut for a family Holid...Christmas concert.

New York Dems Must Contend With Their Own "Pirro"ette

Dems urge Suozzi to let ‘fat cat’ go
Suozzi asked to cut ties with billionaire who vowed ‘holy war’ on gubernatorial candidate Spitzer


December 15, 2005, 9:42 PM EST

Democratic leaders from across the state are urging Thomas Suozzi to renounce the billionaire "Republican activist" who has pledged to raise money for the Nassau county executive's possible 2006 gubernatorial primary against Attorney General Eliot Spitzer.

Suffolk Democratic Chairman Richard Schaffer and his Schenectady County counterpart, Robert Brehm, circulated an e-mail to Democrats throughout the state Wednesday. They criticized Suozzi's relationship with Kenneth Langone, the Home Depot co-founder, and called him a "corporate fat cat."

"Ken Langone is a man who has showered radical Republicans across the country with campaign donations," Schaffer and Brehm wrote, asking the Democrats to sign on to a letter they plan to send Suozzi asking him to disassociate himself from Langone. They expect at least 25 to do so.

"As we all know, politics is a tough game and sometimes makes for strange bedfellows. But do we really think that Tom Suozzi -- a lifelong Democrat -- should be working with this man to bring down the AG?"

Suozzi's campaign manager, Kim Devlin, said the letters were "typical insider clubhouse politics."

"No one can question Tom Suozzi's Democratic credentials," she said.

While the Democratic leaders did not ask Suozzi to back off challenging Spitzer, the party favorite for governor, their message indicates that Langone, 70, of Sands Point, is likely to become a major campaign issue.

Spitzer is suing Langone, a former board member of the New York Stock Exchange, for fraud in connection with a $187.5-million pay package given to the NYSE's former chief executive, Richard Grasso. In New York magazine this week, Langone was quoted as saying he wanted to start a "holy war" against Spitzer by funding a Suozzi candidacy.
I'm going to add my voice to the chorus: Tom, you gotta get this guy out of your camp, now. The stench of your candidacy, whether you win or not, will destroy the political machine you have so carefully built over the past decade. You have a great shot at the gubenatorial nod in 2010, should Spitzer fail, and undoubtedly stand a better chance for a Senate nomination in 2008 to replace Chuck Schumer (who may have his own windmills to tilt at by then).

You have an amazingly bright future ahead. Don't fuck it up.

UPDATE: Meanwhile, Jeannine Pirro is looking at even worse news, according to workingfamiliespartyman:
A new Quinnipiac poll finds that Westchester District Attorney Jeanine Pirro would be trailing Mark Green (D) and Andrew Cuomo (D) if she were to join the race for New York Attorney General. Green would lead Pirro, 43% to 35%, while Cuomo would beat Pirro, 49% to 32%.

In the Senate race, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY) leads Pirro, 62% to 30%.
I'd say "LOL!", but it's almost too pathetic...

Probable Scenario For Tonight's Transit Talks and Strike

Updated for reality check

After running thru my head all the past civil service work actions and the recent contretemps between Roger Toussaint and Peter Kalikow, I'm ready to map out what I believe will happen tonight and for the rest of the weekend:

1) There won't be a strike tomorrow morning. Bargaining will go down to the wire, at which point Toussaint will ask for the clock to be stopped. There has been movement, significant movement, the last two days from both sides.

OK, nailed this one full stop.

2) Talks will adjourn around 6AM (just in time for the morning news programs to cover it live), a quick press conference announcing some progress, and the representatives will get some sleep.

Ditto here.

3) Now, here's the tricky part: transit service will be fine for the morning commute. What I haven't worked out in my head yet is how angry the TWU is right now. It's possible commuters in NYC will get sandbagged by a late morning or even afternoon strike. I doubt it, but I don't think Kalikow's comments today, a clear message from Governor George Pataki (who's campaigning in New Hampshire when he should be at the bargaining table already) will soothe the TWU any. Dumb move, Pete.

However, I believe there will be no walk out tomorrow. The TWU wouldn't want to risk the wrath of the population of the city, who generally support them right now.

I'm going to give myself 3/4 credit here. There is no strike per se, unless you ride one of the (formerly) private bus lines, which have operated without a contract for three years. I should point out that the union leader three years ago was Roger Toussaint, and he held a sixteen day walkout with this local.

4) Any strike that does happen will start either Friday night, or on Saturday. This will hammer the city's economy: the busiest shopping day of the Christmas season, the last Saturday before Christmas AND a bunch of tourists hitting town. From a PR standpoint, this seems to be the perfect opportunity to strike.

Bang on, as the strike is being rolled out over the weekend.

5) How long any strike lasts is anybody's guess, but the Taylor Law sanctions are pretty clear, and while I wouldn't put it past the TWU to challenge them all the way to the Supreme Court, my thinking is that they'll settle no later than Tuesday, probably Sunday night.

Still up for grabs.

So I've got my walking shoes ready, despite the snow and sleet.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Bush Is Running Out Of Time

Bush's Path Forward Has Many Ifs

Published: December 15, 2005
WASHINGTON, Dec. 14 - It took a thousand days after he ordered the invasion of Iraq for President Bush to describe in considerable detail his strategy for transforming the country and the region, and to lay out the benchmarks that he said Wednesday would lead to "complete victory."

Yet in four recent speeches and an accompanying strategy document he has made his case, some of his aides concede, just as his ability to control events in Iraq may be about to erode.

American officials fully expect that for months after the Iraqi election on Thursday the American ambassador in Iraq, Zalmay Khalilzad, will remain the critical behind-the-scenes power in the creation of a factious coalition to run the country.

But it is the longer term - the next year - that worries many of Mr. Bush's advisers and the United States military. Amid insurgent attacks and warnings of civil war, the government may take months to form, and many officials wonder whether that lag will distract the Iraqis from leaping the hurdles that Mr. Bush wants them to clear before he will begin withdrawing American forces next year.

Taken together, Mr. Bush's speeches and document lay out just how high those hurdles are: building a new government strong enough that "terrorists and Saddamists can no longer threaten Iraq's democracy," Mr. Bush said; strong enough to make sure terrorists cannot use Iraq as a place to plot attacks against the United States; and with an Iraqi security force strong enough to protect its own people.

In the speeches, Mr. Bush has been cautiously optimistic. He has acknowledged, however, that almost nothing in Iraq has gone according to plan in these past 33 months.

Participants in some of the briefings he has received in the Situation Room in recent weeks say that acknowledgment is in keeping with the far more somber tone of the briefings. Military commanders have described possible situations that range from the best case - drawing American troops down to about 100,000 before the American elections in November - to keeping them at far higher numbers if the new Parliament turns to chaos, civil war threatens, or political leaders are assassinated.
So basically, there is no strategy or plan.

Mr. Bush, this isn't jazz: a riff is inappropriate, praying that the problems go away.

Write Your Own Caption!

What I Find Funny About This Story....

Is the Pentagon spying on Americans?

Secret database obtained by NBC News tracks ‘suspicious’ domestic groups

By Lisa Myers, Douglas Pasternak, Rich Gardella and the NBC Investigative Unit
Updated: 6:18 p.m. ET Dec. 14, 2005


Still, the DOD database includes at least 20 references to U.S. citizens or U.S. persons. Other documents obtained by NBC News show that the Defense Department is clearly increasing its domestic monitoring activities. One DOD briefing document stamped “secret” concludes: “[W]e have noted increased communication and encouragement between protest groups using the [I]nternet,” but no “significant connection” between incidents, such as “reoccurring instigators at protests” or “vehicle descriptions.”
OK, about a week ago, I posted this story about Patricia Arndt:
While most of her friends and neighbors are amusing themselves with Christmas decorations and holiday gifts, Patricia Arndt is fretting over far more serious matters.

The single mother from Medford, NY has been unexpectedly pulled from the inactive Army reserve and ordered to report for active duty by Feb. 5.

As Christmas nears, Arndt, 43, is trying to sell the Medford home she says she will not be able to keep on an Army salary of approximately $60,000 a year, and is searching for someone to care for her 13-year-old son, Shane. She expects to train for an 18-month tour of duty that could take her to Iraq or Afghanistan.
Now, I basically pulled that story from Newsday, and added some information to it that I had knowledge of.

I can't prove it, because my site meter doesn't log that far back (hey, I'm cheap, a'ight?), but I logged a visit directly from the Pentagon.

Here's the weird thing about it: according to the information created by that visit, it originated from a Google search of "Arndt Individual Ready Reserve".

At the time I posted that article, my blog appeared nowhere in the results list! So I'm trying to figure out how the Pentagon was informed I had posted that piece (it appears on a Google search now, by the way, and you check it by using the box down below), a day or two after it was up?

Does the Pentagon have some bizarre form of Google, a sort of "sooper sekrit Gugle" that allows a more thorough search engine?

If so, can I have a few go-rounds on it? :-)

tags technorati :

Why Is This A Surprise?

Large Turnout Reported as Iraqis Vote Under Tight Security

Published: December 15, 2005

BAGHDAD, Iraq, Dec. 15 - In a day remarkable for the absence of large-scale violence, millions of Iraqi voters, many of them dressed in their best and traveling with other family members, streamed to the polls today to cast ballots in a nationwide election as Iraqi leaders predicted that the vote would split almost evenly between secular and Islamist parties.

In spite of some explosions in Baghdad and Ramadi, voting appeared to be strong in many parts of the country, including in Sunni neighborhoods where many people boycotted the last election.

"The numbers are larger than the previous election," Zalmay Khalilzad, the United States ambassador here, told CNN this morning.

Iraqi and American officials said it would take about a week to compile the preliminary results of the elections. Voters in the 18 Iraqi provinces are choosing among 231 parties, coalitions and candidates in selecting members for a 275-seat Parliament. The legislators will serve a four-year term, and they will approve a president and a prime minister.

As the polls opened at 7 a.m., a mortar struck the middle of the Green Zone compound in central Baghdad, the site of the American Embassy and the offices of top Iraqi officials. About the same time, a roadside bomb exploded in Ramadi. There were no immediate reports of casualties in either blast.
"Remarkable for the absence of large-scale violence"?

Maybe this is why?
It's through midlevel al-Qaeda operatives like Abu Abdullah, who retains ties to some of his former Baathist comrades, that nationalist groups have newfound influence with al-Zarqawi. "What he's now having to do is balance the hard-line ideology with the softer line of the Iraqis within his group," says Abu Marwan. Sunni insurgent leaders say it was their insistence on voting in the October referendum that discouraged al-Zarqawi from disrupting the poll. For now, the nationalists say they will be voting again on Dec. 15, and they expect al-Qaeda to once more hold its fire. But so far no announcements have been made, and nationalist commanders are worried that al-Zarqawi may decide to go for broke this time. "The debate is being had," says Abu Baqr, the Baghdad insurgent commander. "But soon the orders have to be given."
So it's clear why there's been no violence: it's not the popularity of the election, it's the fact that al Zarqawi has held his fire in deference to his Iraqi co-horts.

There's a reported division in the insurgents' ranks. Apparently, the Iraqi resisters of American occupation (there really is no pretty way to put what we're doing over there...I mean, 3/4 of a trillion dollars to let people vote? Cmon!) and the foreign terrorists who have been attracted by the Disneyland-like promise of killing Americans and dying for Allah have been having some friction over the direction they want the insurgency to go.

Obviously, the nationalists would prefer Al Qaeda and other terror organizations allow them to organize a nation around the Iraq flag, where the external terror groups would like nothing better than a talibanate, a puppet government that would put up an external face to the world, in particular France and Germany, that would be acceptable while the terrorists use the country as a base of operations.

This would be an even bigger coup than running Afghanistan, which on its own merits had few assets other than rugged and remote hills to hide in.

Iraq has oil. And it has production facilities. And it can make money. Osama could put his checkbook away.

Iran knows this, which is why they've been working hard trying to infiltrate the election, to the point where this week, a truck filled with ballots that have already been marked was caught at the border, an obvious attempt to stuff ballots in. Iran doesn't want Al Qaeda next door anymore than anyone else does.

So, the fact that there was relative quiet and a large voter turnout shouldn't surprise anyone. It's merely the calm before the storm:
The vote is expected to reveal a fissure of another sort, between a Shiite coalition of religious parties on one side and a mostly secular array of Shiite, Sunni and Kurdish parties on the other.

Between them are profound differences over the direction of the country and the nature of the Iraqi state, not just over how heavily it should influenced by Islam but also over the powers of the central government and the autonomy granted to local regions. Implicit in those questions, for many Iraqis, is whether the country can survive at all.

The results of the elections are likely to determine whether and to what extent the Bush administration can begin significant withdrawals of American troops next year. American officials, including Ambassador Khalilzad, are expected to take an assertive role helping the Iraqis put together what is likely to be a coalition government.
Ask yourself this question: since democracy cannot be imposed from the outside, how likely is any coalition going to hold? The Kurds can't stand the Arabic Shi'a and Sunnis, the Sunnis can't stand the Shi'a, and the Shi'a can't even stand themselves?

We really knocked down a hornet's nest, and the hornets are only just waking up.

tags technorati :

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Merry Fucking Christmas

The 12 Diseases of Christmas

Shroud of Tourin'

Buffalo Pundit reports that "[Tom] Golisano has invited him (ed note: Bill Clinton) to a Sabre’s game, and there’s lots of discussion whether this is smart or dumb for Golisano to do."

Smart. Very smart. Golisano is a dark horse candidate for the GOP nod for governor, as I've talked about elsewhere on this blog. In addition, he's uberwealthy, and has enough in his tank to make a serious run (as either an independent or the GOP nominee) for any office in the state.

I've predicted earlier on here that Golisano would abandon his gubenatorial bid (love typing that word!) in a genuflect to the Minarik, Bruno and the rest of the GOP leadership, and take up the mantle of Senate candidate, an office that probably suits him better anyway (in the unlikely event he'd actually win a race in New York).

By inviting Clinton to his box at the HSBC Arena, he's sending a couple of messages:

1) To the GOP: "I can take my money and use it as I damned well please if you aren't going to give me a seat at the table."

2) To the Democrats: "I'd be open for a shot on your ticket."

3) To Hillary: "Tell your wife I'm in the game."

Mortgage The Future, Hock The Present

Trade gap widens to record $68.9 billion
Wed Dec 14, 2005 8:45 AM ET

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. trade deficit widened unexpectedly in October to a record $68.9 billion despite a drop in the cost of imported oil, as the deficits with China, Canada, the European Union, Mexico and OPEC all hit records, government data showed on Wednesday.

Economists had expected the trade gap to shrink in October to $63.0 billion, and the surprising growth in the imbalance suggests fourth-quarter economic growth will likely be even weaker than first thought.

The Commerce Department said the deficit widened 4.4 percent from September after growing 11.9 percent the previous month.


The politically sensitive trade deficit with China widened 2.1 percent to a record $20.5 billion as imports from that country rose 4.8 percent to $24.4 billion.
I wonder when they'll start calling in their chits? I haven't seen any indication that they are preparing to, like a military buildup, but China is such a closed-end proposition, it's likely they are preparing and we can't even see it for Iraq.

New York's Big Bully "Daddy Party"

Bruno: Pirro should decide or it may be too late

December 13, 2005, 4:52 PM EST

ALBANY, N.Y. -- The state Legislature's most powerful Republican kept up the pressure Tuesday on Jeanine Pirro to give up her quest for the GOP nomination to challenge Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton and instead run for state attorney general.

State Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno said if Pirro didn't make the switch soon, it might be too late for her to do so.

It was Bruno's public advice two weeks ago that kicked off the current drive by some key party leaders to get Pirro to end her stumbling Senate campaign that has had difficulty raising money and trails badly in the polls.

On Monday, the state's county GOP chairmen, meeting in Albany, said the Westchester County district attorney should take Bruno's advice and switch races.

"I remain a candidate for U.S. Senate, but I greatly respect the opinion of the county chairs and their confidence in my abilities as a statewide candidate," Pirro responded.

On Tuesday, during an interview with Albany's WROW-AM radio, Bruno said Pirro should make up her mind "sooner rather than later, because later may be too late."

Bruno said there was already "frustration" among some party leaders that Pirro hadn't already acted.

"These people are not going to sit there just watching and waiting," Bruno said.
Is beating up women who run for office a trope for the NY GOP? Remember Rick Lazio practically manhandling Hillary Clinton during the Buffalo debate in 2000?

We note that Rick Lazio and Joe Bruno orchestrated that campaign as well. Maybe Ol' Joe should shut up and let Jeannine run the race as she sees fit, cuz Joe? Your track record is abysmal.

tags technorati :

Three Reasons I Think There Will Be A Transit Strike

1) Transport Workers Union President Roger Toussaint tore up what he said was the lawstui filed by the Corporation Counsel (and Eliot Sptizer, as state Attorney General) under the state's "Taylor Law", which specifically forbids strikes by municipal and state employees.

This law has never been tested seriously before. In fact, back in 2003 when the contract was last negotiated, the Corporation Counsel won an injuction from a judge imposing a million dollar fine for the first day of the strike, two million for the second, three for the third and so on, plus a $25,000 for each striking member. The contract was quickly settled.

I think this time we're about to see just how constitutional this law is, which gives the city and state a very heavy advantage in any labor negotiation.

2) From the New York Times: "Ms. Weingarten stepped up her call for Schools Chancellor Joel I. Klein not to keep the schools open in the event of a transit shutdown.

"Since transit negotiations generally go down to the wire, most students, parents and educators would not know if there is a strike until they wake up Friday morning," she wrote to Mr. Klein. "To say there will be chaos on the first day of a transit strike is an understatement."

The chancellors' office said it still planned to keep schools open, with the starting hour delayed two hours, should there be a strike."

Randy Weingarten was at the rally held outside of the Hyatt Regency last night in support of the TWU (and Roger Toussaint). While she cannot overtly call her members out on strike (and thus invoke Taylor Law sanctions on her union), a sick-out seems to be the message here.

3) From the Taxi & Limousine Commission:"All For-Hire Vehicles and Commuter Vans licensed by the TLC will be authorized, for the duration of the emergency, to pick up passengers without pre-arrangement for the purpose of providing Group Ride service. This shall include the pick-up of passengers by street hail at any location within the City of New York."

OK, sounds reasonable, except you need cab drivers to enforce this. Trouble is, some of the larger cab driver associations (they can't call them unions, since driver's are contractors) have said they will sit out any strike. Why?

What the TLC proposes is basically zone pricing. If I pick you up in Zone A, and stop for a few other passengers, and you're going to Zone B, and them to Zone C and D, I've lost money on my fares, not to mention that with gasoline so expensive, I've now got a lower profit (you'd think a group would be a better profit, but not in this case), plus the added traffic to deal with.

Not a happy circumstance, by any means. Add to this that most cabs operate in Manhattan south of 96th Street, which will have mandatory car-pooling (four passengers or more per vehicle), and you can start to see that cab drivers are going to get a bit shafted where in a true capitalist society, they should be making a windfall profit.

So the combination of the apparent defiance of Toussaint, and the support of at least two key groups, leads me to suspect I'll be hoofing it a lot this next week or so.

tags technorati :

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

What The GOP Did

Weld wins GOP straw poll for governor, Faso gains support

Associated Press Writer

December 12, 2005, 5:04 PM EST

ALBANY, N.Y. -- Former Massachusetts Gov. Bill Weld on Monday won a nonbinding straw poll of GOP candidates for New York's governor that was weighted toward counties with strong Republican turnouts. But John Faso's bid, framed as a more socially conservative alternative, attracted an equal number of county party bosses.

Each campaign claimed victory in the vote that revealed a tangible split in the Republican ranks over who will run for governor in 2006. One goal of Monday's meeting of Republican leaders was to find a consensus candidate to raise money and take on Eliot Spitzer, the current attorney general and only announced Democratic candidate, who has strong leads in the polls and in fundraising.

Pirro Urged to Drop N.Y. Senate Bid

Associated Press Writer

December 12, 2005, 5:44 PM EST

ALBANY, N.Y. -- New York's Republican Party county leaders recommended Monday that Jeanine Pirro abandon her struggling campaign to challenge Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton and instead run for state attorney general.

State GOP Chairman Stephen Minarik said no vote was taken but that was the consensus of the county leaders. Rockland County Chairman Vincent Reda said the support for a Pirro switch was "overwhelming."

Pirro issued a terse response.

"I remain a candidate for U.S. Senate, but I greatly respect the opinion of the county chairs and their confidence in my abilities as a statewide candidate," said Pirro, a high-profile Westchester County district attorney.
Again, an interesting battle appears to be shaping up in the New York GOP, one that could cleave the party into the ultraconservative wing under Faso and Bruno, and the more moderate suburban party under Pirro and Weld. It also kicks Golisano to the curb, at least for governor.
County Leaders Wonder About Right Turn

Published: December 13, 2005
ALBANY, Dec. 12 - As Republican county leaders gathered on Monday to create a plan to retain their hold on the New York governorship in 2006, the choice facing them was not unlike the choice facing national Democrats: to appeal to their base, or cleave to the middle.

There is tension between the more conservative leaders from upstate and the more liberal leaders representing suburban voters outside New York City. And there is concern that in trying to reach out to Democratic voters, as Gov. George E. Pataki did in his successful campaigns, the party has steered from its base and clouded its message.

Fifty-six county chairmen and chairwomen met at the urging of the party chairman, Stephen J. Minarik III, who had hoped to have a consensus candidate for governor by now and a clear picture of the party's statewide ticket.

But in a closed-door meeting, 23 of the county leaders backed William F. Weld, a former Massachusetts governor running for the same job in New York.

Another 23 backed John J. Faso, a former Assemblyman. Mr. Faso is seen by some as more conservative but has a fiscally focused style similar to that of Mr. Weld.

Two voted for Randy A. Daniels, the former secretary of state. Eight voters abstained and six chose not to attend, including two powerful leaders from Long Island.

Michael St. Leger, chairman of rural Madison County, said he believed that in the race for governor, the party needed "a candidate who can keep the traditional upstate Republican base, yet appeal to a more moderate position downstate or in the larger metropolitan areas."

In other words, sort of a George Pataki 2.0.

"We need a candidate with that kind of appeal across the state," Mr. St. Leger said of the current governor. "I think it's a difficult thing to accomplish, but the right candidate can do that."

John LiGreci, chairman of Sullivan County and a Weld supporter, said: "I believe that right now every party is a little different than it was 10 or 15 years ago. Right now, if you were to be a liberal Democrat, you probably would not fare very well in New York. If you were to be an ultraconservative Republican, you would not fare very well. You have to either be a moderate Republican or a moderate Democrat."

Others, like Assemblyman Patrick Manning, who is running for governor but got no votes on Monday, saw it differently. Mr. Manning said that his party is at a crossroads, torn between Rockefeller Republicans and Reagan Republicans. And he said he wants to take a hard right.

"The days of Democrat-Lite are going to be over at the end of this election, and hopefully it's at the hands of rank-and-file Republicans who are demanding it," said Mr. Manning, who at 6 feet 11 inches bills himself as the nation's tallest elected official.

John Spencer, a former Yonkers mayor who is a long-shot candidate for the Senate, said that a more ideologically committed candidate could win statewide.

Mr. Spencer, another conservative Republican, said: "It's like a false sense of blue. Because over 10, 15 years, there hasn't been a conservative Republican choice to redden it up, so to speak."
(I quoted extensively to avoid the dreaded "Times archive syndrome")

See, Faso would be an acceptable candidate to the rural, upstate voters, whose thought processes mimic red state philosophies (or orangutans, but that's probably an insult to orangutans). But Weld would have a Rolodex that includes his having been a Pioneer in the 2000 Bush campaign (contributing or raising at least $100,000 for that race). Tough to beat that kind of money. A primary for either party would mean shunting valuable resources from the general election against Eliot Spitzer (or vice versa, if the Dems have one), and would leave a depleted state party war chest for the race against Hillary.

I'm thinking the Senate race will shape up more as an early Democratic primary for President: if the GOP can make the Senate race close, suddenly the Democratic presidential race becomes more than a one horse entry. If Hillary can dominate her opponent, then it settles any unease that Dems might have about Hillary being unable to maintain the liberal base while trying to appeal to even more moderates.

That's not to say the liberal base is any slam dunk, but it wouldn't take much to shore that up.

So the outcome? I predicted yesterday that Tom Golisano will be asked to run against Hillary for Senate. I estimate he'll need to spend about $100 million to have any significant impact in her standings, but he has that kind of money, plus he'd attract an awful lot of carpetbagged money from conservative groups outside New York interested in watching Hill squirm.

I think Pirro will be made an offer. Lieutenant Governor?

The Wheels Are Finally Falling Off The Busheviks

Diebold CEO resigns after reports of fraud litigation, internal woes

John Byrne

The chief executive officer of electronic voting company Diebold who once famously declared that he would "deliver" Ohio for President Bush has resigned effective immediately, RAW STORY has learned.

"The board of directors and Wally mutually agreed that his decision to resign at this time for personal reasons was in the best interest of all parties," the company's new chairman said in a statement.

O'Dell's resignation comes just days after reports from that the company was facing imminent securities fraud litigation surrounding charges of insider trading. It also comes on the heels of a RAW STORY interview with a Diebold insider, who raised new allegations of technical woes inside the company, as well as concerns that Diebold may have mishandled elections in Georgia and Ohio.


In a story last week, RAW STORY recounted allegations made by a Diebold insider who said he/she had become disillusioned after witnessing repeated efforts by the firm to evade meeting legal requirements or implementing appropriate security measures, and who alleged that Diebold had put corporate interests ahead of the interests of voters.

“I’ve absolutely had it with the dishonesty,” the insider said. Blasting Wally O’Dell, the current president of Diebold, the whistleblower went on to explain behind-the-scenes tactics of the company and its officers.

“There’s a lot of pressure in the corporation to make the numbers: `We don’t tell you how to do it, but do it.’ [O’Dell is] probably the number one culprit putting pressure on people,” the source said.

The whistleblower also questioned whether the company or its subsidiaries had mishandled a 2002 Georgia gubernatorial election and voting in Ohio this year.
Is Patrick Fitzgerald eventually going to open this case up for a cursory look?

It seems to me that a company capable of manipulating its stock price is capable of ensuring (for a price, of course) the results of at least one election that could alter the course of American history for generations to come.

That price? The "Help America Vote Act", of course.

Monday, December 12, 2005

So...If you REALLY Feel Like Doing Something About The War In Iraq...

National War Tax Resistance Coordinating Committee
Very simply, it is refusal to pay some or all of federal taxes that pay for war. In the U.S. war tax resisters choose to refuse some or all of their federal income tax and/or the federal excise tax on local and long distance telephone service. Income taxes and excise taxes are deposited by the government into the general fund and at least half of those monies help to pay for the military budget, including all types of weapons of war and weapons of mass destruction.

Individuals take many roads to war tax resistance: some are protesting a particular war; some find it against their religious convictions to knowingly support war; some are horrified by massive U.S. military spending while human needs go unmet; some are or would be conscientious objectors if called to military service and, therefore, feel they cannot in good conscience pay for something they would refuse to do themselves. Most war tax resisters are motivated by a combination of reasons such as these and actively work for peace in many other ways too.

War tax resistance is an act of civil disobedience with a long history in the U.S. The most well-known war tax resister was Henry David Thoreau. While those of us who refuse to pay war taxes believe — and some cite in international law — this refusal is just and imperative, the federal government, through the Internal Revenue Service, considers refusal to pay these taxes illegal, and there are potential consequences through the IRS collection system. For most of us who resist, the dire consequences of voluntarily paying for war are far worse that what the IRS and government can do to us individually.
Hm. Interesting.

I'd heard what I believed to be urban myths about this during Vietnam, but it's nice to see that it actually exists. For me, I'd want to balance this idea with the thought that my taxes buy things other than war. I'm going to give this some thought.

For those of you who think that it would be a bad idea to bring down the wrath of the IRS on your head for not paying taxes, there's a "war resistance lite" scheme.

Another Piece of the Bird Flu Puzzle Falls Into Place

It's not a matter of if, but of when:
Death toll from bird flu hits 70 as Thai boy dies
Fri Dec 9, 2005 11:21 PM ET

By Panarat Thepgumpanat and Maggie Fox
[...]The death of the 5-year-old boy from the central province of Nakhon Nayok, 110 km (70 miles) from Bangkok, took Thailand's bird flu death toll to 14 out of 22 known cases since the virus swept through large parts of Asia in late 2003.

It was not certain how the boy caught the virus, which usually strikes those in close contact with infected fowl or their droppings. The boy, who died in hospital on Wednesday, was not known to have had direct contact with chickens.

"We believe that the boy contracted the virus from his surroundings because, although his family does not raise chickens, there are chickens raised in his neighborhood," said Thawat Suntrajarn, head of the Health Ministry's Disease Control Department.
While there's some relief to be had from the fact that there are chickens raised in the boy's neighborhood, my eyebrow was raised from the fact that the boy's family did not raise chickens, nor was there any known direct contact between the chickens and the boy.

Meaning the disease might now be airborne, a development that scientists have feared for a long time.

The National Geographic channel had a marvelous program last night called Race Against The Killer Flu (likely it will be rebroadcast many times), in which the striking piece of information was the speed at which this particular virus mutates.

All viruses, based on unstable RNA, will mutate and often. That's why there's no cure for the common cold, and why flu vaccines have to be updated annually. This particular virus, the H5N1, mutates at an alarming rate.

Just a month ago, it was reported that the virus would require a pig to mutate into the mammalian form. Now it turns out that it can mutate in any mammal, including humans. Five tigers died from exposure to the avian flu in a zoo in Southeast Asia this fall.

It's coming. It's just a matter of when.

More On The Wascally Wepubwiccans

Clinton Challenger Not Ready to Drop Out

Associated Press Writer

December 11, 2005, 7:27 PM EST

ALBANY, N.Y. -- Jeanine Pirro, one the state's highest-profile district attorneys, won't immediately end her campaign to challenge Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton in 2006 even if GOP leaders ask her to, a top aide said Sunday.

"The rumors and speculation that Jeanine Pirro is dropping out of the Senate race tomorrow are false," said Pirro campaign spokeswoman Andrea Tantaros.

Tantaros refused to comment on what might ultimately happen with the Republican's struggling campaign.

GOP chairmen from counties across the state are scheduled to meet Monday in Albany and could endorse a request from the top Republican in the state Senate that Pirro drop her U.S. Senate bid and run for state attorney general instead.

The New York Post, quoting unidentified Republicans, said Pirro didn't want to bail out yet because fundraising was easier as a Clinton opponent than as a candidate for state attorney general. Tantaros disputed the report, saying that was not driving the Westchester County district attorney's continued Senate campaign.
I hadn't considered that Pirro might be using the opportunity to build up a war chest (I got a solicitation from Hillary this weekend that should have clued me in...imagine, here's someone who should win in a walk against any opponent the GOP can throw up against her and has a rumoured 10:1 fund raising advantage over Pirro (Golisano may be the only opponent who can match her funding, and that's his own money), and she's looking for nickle-and-dime money (altho I did get a spiffy yard sign and a bumper sticker).

And then it hit me: she can save money for her Presidential bid in 2008.

But back to the GOP. The county leader meeting today should be interesting, and I've got a wacky prediction to make:

Jeannine Pirro will step aside tomorrow to run for AG. William Weld will run for Governor. Tom Golisano will challenge Hillary for the Senate.

A related note:
Levy backs Spitzer for Gov.

December 8, 2005

ALBANY - If Nassau County Executive Thomas Suozzi is wondering how difficult it would be to garner support for his possible bid to become governor next year, all he has to do is look to the county next door.

Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy was one of five Democratic county executives throughout the state who announced yesterday they will endorse Attorney General Eliot Spitzer in his run for governor.
Interesting turn of events, one designed to knock Suozzi and his nascent (but methodical) political machine out of the governor's race.

So I'm going to make yet another bold prediction here: Suozzi will challenge Peter King (the biggest bastard Bushevik in New York State anyway, and that says a lot from a state that's produced George Pataki and Rudy Giuliani) for Congress next year.

And win. Big.

Bubble Boy

Bush in the Bubble

He has a tight circle of trust, and he likes it that way. But members of both parties are urging Bush to reach beyond the White House walls. How he governs—and how his M.O. stacks up historically.

By Evan Thomas and Richard Wolffe


President Bush has always shown an admirable ability to ignore the Washington pundits and make fun of the chattering classes. Yet his inattention to Murtha, a coal-country Pennsylvanian and rock-solid patriot, suggests a level of indifference, if not denial, that is dangerous for a president who seeks to transform the world. All presidents face a tension between sticking to their guns and dealing with changing reality. History suggests it can be a mistake to listen too closely to the ever-present (and often self-aggrandizing) critics. But likewise, the idea that any president can go it alone is, to say the least, problematic.

Clearly, George W. Bush's role model is not his father, who every week would ride down from the White House to the House of Representatives gymnasium, just to hear what fellows like Murtha were saying. Nor is the model John F. Kennedy, who during the Cuban missile crisis reached out to form an "ExCom" of present and past national-security officials, from both parties, to find some way back from the abyss short of war. Nor is it Franklin Roosevelt, who liked to create competition between advisers to find the best solution. Or Abraham Lincoln who, as historian Doris Kearns Goodwin writes in her new book, "Team of Rivals," appointed his political foes to his cabinet.

Bush likes to say that his hero is Ronald Reagan, a true-blue conservative who knew his own mind. But Reagan also knew when to compromise, and when he got into trouble early in his second term, he reached out for help, making a moderate, former senator, Howard Baker, his chief of staff. The chance that George W. Bush will give a top White House job to an establishment moderate (say, Brent Scow-croft, his father's national-security adviser) is about the same as that Texas will become a province of France.
Hm. Where have I seen a plaint like this before about Bush...???
While President Bush likes to project an image of strength and courage, the truth is that in the presence of his large financial contributors he is a moral coward – so weak that he seldom if ever says “No” to them on anything – no matter what the public interest might mandate.
From an Al Gore speech, given on Jan. 15, 2004 at the Beacon Theatre in New York City.

Prescient man, that President Gore.

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