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The Gross National Debt

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

--AZ-Sen: Jon Kyl
--AZ-01: Rick Renzi
--AZ-05: J.D. Hayworth
--CA-04: John Doolittle
--CA-11: Richard Pombo
--CA-50: Brian Bilbray
--CO-04: Marilyn Musgrave
--CO-05: Doug Lamborn
--CO-07: Rick O'Donnell
--CT-04: Christopher Shays
--FL-13: Vernon Buchanan
--FL-16: Joe Negron
--FL-22: Clay Shaw
--ID-01: Bill Sali
--IL-06: Peter Roskam
--IL-10: Mark Kirk
--IL-14: Dennis Hastert
--IN-02: Chris Chocola
--IN-08: John Hostettler
--IA-01: Mike Whalen
--KS-02: Jim Ryun
--KY-03: Anne Northup
--KY-04: Geoff Davis
--MD-Sen: Michael Steele
--MN-01: Gil Gutknecht
--MN-06: Michele Bachmann
--MO-Sen: Jim Talent
--MT-Sen: Conrad Burns
--NV-03: Jon Porter
--NH-02: Charlie Bass
--NJ-07: Mike Ferguson
--NM-01: Heather Wilson
--NY-03: Peter King
--NY-20: John Sweeney
--NY-26: Tom Reynolds
--NY-29: Randy Kuhl
--NC-08: Robin Hayes
--NC-11: Charles Taylor
--OH-01: Steve Chabot
--OH-02: Jean Schmidt
--OH-15: Deborah Pryce
--OH-18: Joy Padgett
--PA-04: Melissa Hart
--PA-07: Curt Weldon
--PA-08: Mike Fitzpatrick
--PA-10: Don Sherwood
--RI-Sen: Lincoln Chafee
--TN-Sen: Bob Corker
--VA-Sen: George Allen
--VA-10: Frank Wolf
--WA-Sen: Mike McGavick
--WA-08: Dave Reichert


You've Come This Far - So Read more & Comment!

posted by RenaRF at 5:58 AM 0 comments links to this post
Saturday, October 21, 2006

(Cross-posted at Raising Kaine and Daily Kos)

It's really interesting sometimes when things come together organically.  As many here know, I have a big funk band that performs from as far north as Baltimore, MD to as far south and west as Harrisonbug, VA.  After a full day of work yesterday, I left my office in Silver Spring MD and headed up to Ellicott City MD, to a nightclub just outside of Baltimore and not even remotely close to my home.

I had finally paid the band, packed up gear, and gotten into my car by 2am.  I walked through my front door at 3am.  I'm not 22 any more - that kind of a long day takes its toll.

As I finally went to bed at a little before 4am (it takes me a while to unwind after gigs), I set my alarm for 9 the next morning.  There was work to do with only 17 days remaining before the midterms.  Follow me over the fold, and I'll tell a little bit about the day and how it came together with Molly Ivins' most recent column.

(All photos courtesy of Lowkell - thank you!)

There seemed to be two options today: work literature drops or work the Webb/Moran booth at Clarendon Day, a big event in Arlington VA.  Of course - anyone could have also phone banked, but I opted for Clarendon Day for a few reasons.  One, it's more personal than the literature drop and I had planned participate in a local literature drop tomorrow; two because it's more personal than the phone banking and I do that from home on weekday evenings; and three I wanted to see Ingrid Morroy's (imorroy here on dKos) band The Constituents play at Clarendon Day.  So I dragged unhappily out of bed, scraped the sparkles and makeup off my face, washed the smoke from the nightclub out of my hair, left Mr. RenaRF to utterly fend for himself and headed to Arlington.

The first thing that was cool was that I saw a lot of the people I met at the fundraiser (diary here) on Wednesday night.  While I was a total stranger to them before Wednesday, my attendance and subsequent diary had a lot of them coming up and giving very wonderful feedback about the event, the write-up, and the response from the Daily Kos community (YOU!).  So - y'all made me look good and for that I really thank you.  :-D

Clarendon Day is a big event.  There are many food and beverage vendors, bands, and crafts available.  They shut down the streets for it, and today was a beautiful clear October day with about a 70 degree temperature.  Perfect.

I got to the Webb/Moran tent - VERY big tent with LOTS of people.  When you walked into the tent itself and stood behind the table with all the information for Webb and Moran and more local candidates, you looked directly at the Allen/O'Donohue tent (O'Donohue is challenging Moran in VA-08).  Where we had anywhere from 10-15 volunteers at any given time, Allen's small tent seemed to have about 5.  It's tough being a Republican in blue Arlington, and I tried not to look all self-righteous for ONCE having the advantage as a Democrat.

Exactly halfway between the two tents was a crosswalk that people would use if there were traffic on the street - that was the invisible line as far as I was concerned.  If they stayed on their side and I on mine, peace would prevail.  It was unspoken that we didn't potty-mouth Allen at this event (THAT was hard).

I started out behind the table, handed out stickers and yard signs and answered questions to those who were more inclined to ask them.  I stickered myself up - round Webb stickers on one leg, round Moran stickers on the other, and a full-sized Webb bumper sticker across my butt.  

Shameless?  You bet.

Then I slowly fanned out - first within proximity of the tent respecting the DMZ of the crosswalk, and then deeper into the festival itself (both campaigns were at one extreme end leaving a lot of territory to cover).  I ran into Tom O'Donohue, who was there campaigning for himself.  I used the Webb literature to do a maleodramatic mock show of hiding my face from him as I walked by, and he came over and talked to me.  He was a nice enough guy in person - I have no idea what he stands for nor do I care, and I let him know that in a nice way - and ensured him that I would be voting a straight Democratic ticket on November 7 and working with every spare moment of my life between now and then to get others to do the same (somewhere one of Webb's or Moran's staffers has a picture of this conversation).

The day was pretty much like that - striking out, coming back to the tent, etc.  I saw a few Allen stickers but MUCH fewer than those who wore Webb stickers.  And a general, unscientific observation:  The Allen sticker-wearers all looked like they should be vacationing in the Hamptons.  Very white, quite wealthy-looking, etc.  One Allen supporter had stuck a sticker to their DOG (e.g., Allen supporters torture animials - hah).  When they encroached on the DMZ I and others would pleasantly and verbally move them back.  :-)  Ingrid's band was great as well - a real treat today.

(Note the Webb stickers on the band members - Ingrid also totally pimped Webb while she was up there!!)

So I'm exhausted.  I go back to my car at about 4pm and listen to a voicemail from my very liberal mother wanting to know how the gig went and how the Webb stuff went.  So I called her back - and this is where Molly Ivins enters the picture.

My mom and I were chatting about Webb's chances, Dem's chances, etc.  She is fearful (as am I) that Dems are getting generally complacent with 17 days to go.  She urged me to check out Ivins' column, and I have done so.  It's worth a read and some excerpting.

The whole column, titaled Election Day Still a Long Way Off, can be found here.

Put me in the depressive Dems camp. We always look good going into the last two weeks, until we get hit with that wall of Republican money (though I do think Ohio is beyond political recall at this point for the R's). Of course, both sides always complain about unfair advertising, but I must admit that almost all political advertising strikes me as ludicrous and I don't notice the D's looking simon-pure. A little shading, a little emphasis here and there -- I'm hard to shock on political ads, but I do get more than miffed when they take the truth and just stand it on its head.

Reading that made me think of my own personal sense of anticipation and positive energy in the two weeks prior to the 2004 Presidential election.  We all know how that worked out.

I'm the one who has been writing for two years that the American people are fed up with the war in Iraq and with the Bush administration's lies and incompetence. I'm the one that keeps beating the Washington press corps about the head over how out of touch it is. I'm the one who has been insisting there's a Democratic tide out here, and that the people are so far ahead of the politicians and the media it's painful to watch.

So how come I'm not thrilled? Because I watched this happen two years ago -- same rejection of the Iraq war, same disgust with Bush and Co., same understanding Republicans are for the rich, period, same polls showing D's with the lead going right into Election Day. And the same geographic gerrymander and same wall of money in the last two weeks. I'm not close to calling this election, and I'm sure not into celebrating anything yet.

My emphasis added.

I don't know what it is - but I am also fearful.  I don't now that I would cite the same reasons, but the sense of unease is similar.  Remember - The Democrats have to win where they win by a margin that sufficiently exceeds the ability of the Republicans to cheat.  I believe that is possible in just enough races to shift the balance of power back to the Democrats, but not if we start believing our own poll numbers.  Kerry's poll numbers indicated he was going to win... until he lost.

I'm going to continue to beat this drum.  There are two things critical to regaining power:

1. Money
2. Get out the vote

As Caville and Roemer both said at the Wednesday fundraiser, we have to out-work them.  We have to want it more than they do.  It's going to take more than each one of us, individually, did in 2004.

So I'm not worried about the fear and unease, because it will make me work harder.  Webb's not going to lose this because I (and many many others) were unwilling to give our time.

So what did YOU do today?  Grassroots stories would be great - inspiring and encouraging to others who may need a friendly nudge.

Update [2006-10-21 18:48:26 by RenaRF]: Please check out aimeeinkc's diary for GREAT ideas on how you can do stuff to help Dems take back power.


You've Come This Far - So Read more & Comment!

posted by RenaRF at 12:16 PM 0 comments links to this post
Thursday, October 19, 2006

(Cross-posted at Raising Kaine and Daily Kos)

"Bloggers just sit on their butts behind their computer screens.  They spend their time just talking to each other and that's fine - but they're talking to a small audience."

Although not a word-for-word quote, this was something I heard at a fundraising event I went to last night.  Bear with me - the whole evening was quite positive - but that interchange (which I will detail below the fold) stood out as the key mobilizing challenge for me and, hopefully, for anyone who reads this diary.

Follow me over the fold.

I have to provide you with context for the quote, and to do that, I have to go through the event.  Please bear with me.

Last week, I got an invitation to attend a fundraiser hosted in the home of a prominent Arlington-area couple (Arlington Virginia).  The invitation said that both Tim Roemer and James Carville would be the guest speakers at the event, and they were.  I'm fortunate enough that I had the money to attend what would be considered a pricey event.  I had always intended to make a sizable donation to add to my other donations, and what the hey - this way I could make the donation and get to stargaze a bit.

The event was sponsored by the Arlington County Democratic Committee, which falls in Virginia's 8th Congressional district.

See that big green area of the 8th?  That's primarily Arlington County and Alexandria City.  That's NOT where I live - if you go up into the off-shooty area north and west, as far as you can possible go and still be in the 8th, that is where I live.

So with that as a context, let me begin.  Arlington County has a healthy and active Democratic party.  In other words, it's always been super-blue.  Where I live, it's more pale blue, but still blue (and hopefully gaining in blueness).  I've been to some of these types of fundraisers before, specifically for Mark Warner and Tim Kaine.  Everyone knows everyone at these things, except me.  That's no problem - I set my mind to go, give my money, mingle, and meet some like-minded folks IRL.

This event was no exception - didn't know a soul.  When I told people that I lived in Reston, I might as well have been telling them that I lived in France.  Don't get me wrong - the reception was enthusiastic.  I'm in the 8th as are they, and we're all pushing and pressing in the final days to overcome George Felix Allen and get Jim Webb (DONATE) into the US Senate.

It was uncharacteristically warm last night, and the overwhelming number of bodies in the house (which was a beautiful home, by the way) made it quite sticky.  So I wandered out onto the patio and engaged the bartender (shocker - I find the bartender first!) in a conversation while I eat my lovely complimentary appetizers.  The bartender is a young guy.  I'd put him at about 22.  He was a volunteer from the Young Democrats - ALL the staffers were volunteers from the Young Democrats.  He was a funny, bright and open young man who clearly shows a sense of urgency around pushing  Jim Webb (DONATE) over the hump.  Being heavily involved in the campaign, his message was clear: Voter turnout will decide this race.  Period.  Given that Northern Virginia is any one of a number of shades of blue, voter turnout in this area especially is critical.  Key to that crucial goal is on-the-ground volunteers.  I couldn't agree more.

From there I went back into the big, airy living room (did I mention that the house was beautiful?) and sat down with my glass of Chardonnay.  A lovely outgoing woman sat next to me.  Meet Ingrid Morroy, Arlington's elected Commissioner of Revenue.

That's Ingrid on the right.  We got chatting.  In her eyes, of course, there are two big issues critical to getting Jim Webb (DONATE) elected on November 7 - money and turnout.  Again, there was a sense of urgency in our conversation.  It was a feeling like we are so close - the smallest things in terms of donations and GOTV volunteering will make the difference.  Again, I couldn't agree more.

I had a small, purse sized notebook with me, and when we had a break in our conversation, I pulled it out and readied myself for the high-visibility speakers.  I can't remember who asked me if I was a reporter - but I told them that I wasn't, but that I was a blogger and had every intention of writing up the evening.  This turned us to the subject of blogs, and I was asked where I would post this - I told them I hoped to post it at Daily Kos and Raising Kaine, time permitting.  Everyone knew Raising Kaine - lowkell has done an outstanding job of bringing in those who are not especially in the blogosphere.  Some had heard of Daily Kos, but you could tell it was not a place where any (that I could identify) spend their time.  Ingrid, however, was absolutely all for the blogs and for posting this at Daily Kos.  I told her that I had hoped it would encourage those with even a small amount of money who live in districts where a Democrat doesn't need the funding to throw some of that money at Jim Webb (DONATE).  She wholeheartedly agreed - every dollar is going to make or break the difference.

Then Alfonso Lopez, Governor Tim Kaine's Director of the Virginia Liaison Office in Washington, D.C., stepped up and began the introductions.  He thanked everyone for coming and underscored the fact that this election required people to do more than just give money to succeed - they had to GOTV.  He introduced Larry Roberts, Counselor to Governor Kaine who in turn underscored the GOTV message (seeing a pattern here?).  Roberts then introduced the first guest speaker, Tim Roemer, current President of the Center for National Policy, member of the 9/11 commission, and former Representative from Indiana's Third district.

Roemer was an excellent speaker - very engaging, very focused on putting Democrats into Congress this election cycle.  He's been travelling all over the country on behalf of Democrats, keynoting fundraisers and doing what he could do.  A few key highlights of his talk:

He told a funny story about when he first ran for Congress.  He said that people always confused him with then-Governor of Indiana Evan Bayh.  So Roemer's at some state fair, by himself, handing out brochures trying to drag down votes.  As he's standing there, a man comes up to him and says:

"Governer Bayh!  It's great to see you here!  If there's anything I can ever do to help you, let me know."

To which Roemer said:

"You know, you can help me.  You can make sure you get out and vote for Tim Roemer for Congress."  Heh.

He also related a story about Flight 93 that I had heard before, but not quite in this way.  I found it remarkable.

He told about the Flight 93 passengers and how they seemed to think, immediately following the hijacking, that they were going to Cuba.  As they were making calls, however (and we all know this story), they found out from their loved ones that they were likely not going to Cuba - that their plane had been hijacked and was going to be flown into buildings.  Then, faced with this dire information, they did what Americans have done for 230 years: They voted.  They took a vote and decided that they were going to do whatever it took to take back that airplane or die trying.

They voted.

Finally, he made an obvious point (at least obvious to anyone reading this) but in a way that really resonated.  He talked about the 41 9/11 Commission Report recommendations, and about how only half of those have been implemented.  Of those half, they have executed poorly.  And he asked: if you have two children, is it OK for the government to say that it will educate only one of them?  When your trash is picked up, is it ok if half of it is left at the curb?

I really thought that was a common-sense way to underscore the ineptitude of the Bush administration and the Republican Congress in a way that Joe Voter could fully understand.

And then it was on to James Carville.  Let me digress by saying that, for a relatively small man, his presence dominated the room for the whole of the evening, whether he was speaking or not.

What was powerful about James Carville was not necessarily what he said - it was the power and conviction with which he said it.  At times he was downright angry:

He was absolutely incensed at a Dick Cheney quote from Rush Limbaugh's show.

Cheney: "Things in Iraq are going remarkably well."

[audible groans in the room]  Carville said that what made him angry was the utter contempt with which that statement was made by Cheney.  Cheney knows its not going well - and the majority of Americans believe it's not going well.  Yet he goes on Limbaugh's show and shows utter contempt for every American by saying this.  I definitely thought he had a point - an obvious one - but I spend most of my time thinking Cheney's an asshole without necessarily communicating to others that he is a contemptuous asshole.

Then he told the story of the Cuban Missile Crisis that many have heard, but some may not, so I'll summarize:

In 1962, the U.S. was engaged in a game of chess with the Soviet Union, who were planning to put missiles in Cuba, a mere 90 miles from the U.S.

Then Presdient John F. Kennedy sent Secretary of State Dean Acheson to France to enlist the support of the French people.  In a meeting with the legendary Charles DeGaulle, President of France, Acheson asked for France's support.  As the meeting continued, Atchison started to pull some documents out of his briefcase.  DeGaulle stops him - Acheson indicates that he has photos - proof - that Cuba was planning to have these missiles.  Whereupon DeGaulle famously said:

"I don't need proof.  I have the word of the President of the United States." (paraphrased)

Carville then stated passionately that the word of the POTUS today is "literally meaningless" and "discarded".

And with that, the event was over.  Tim Roemer was incredibly gracious and stuck around to answer questions.

Now - let me say that I was taking copious notes during the remarks by the speakers generated interest.  I caught sideways glances, not unfriendly ones, that looked askance.  I was amused with the idea that someone might have thought I was "legitimate" press.

With that as a backdrop, I mentioned above that Tim Roemer stuck around to answer questions.  There was a small respectful group gathered around him, and I went to join in to hear what was being asked and what was being said.  Mr. Roemer was underscoring the critical importance of the GOTV effort in Virginia this year.  He was basically relating his experiences with the Republican GOTV effort and said that, about two weeks before the election, a local Republican canvasser would knock at someone's door.  And that canvasser would be the coach of the soccer team that the household's children played on.  The canvasser would address them by name, ask after their children, and then ask how they would vote and pitch his case for his candidate.  Then he would come back right before the election and ask how they were going to vote.

I can't remember who said it, but earlier in the evening this point was made:  "We have to out-work them.  We have to want this more than they do."

At this point I chimed into the conversation talking about the Netroots and the blogosphere and how much emphasis they are placing on the GOTV effort.  That's when I got "the comment". (NOTE: The comment was made by another person like me - a donor and attendee - he was NOT affiliated with Roemer or Carville - just your average guy attending a fundraiser)  I want each of you to understand, however, that this was in no way said scornfully - rather, it was just put out there as common knowledge:

"Bloggers just sit on their butts behind their computer screens.  They spend their time just talking to each other and that's fine - but they're talking to a small audience."

Not this time.  HELP ME prove this guy wrong.  If you've given money, do more.  Google your candidate and find the address and phone number for the campaign office.  Call it.  Show up there if possible.  Demand that they put you to work.  If you live in an area where the Democratic candidate is safe and there isn't need or organization for GOTV, go to ActBlue Netroots page and make a donation, no matter how small.  Consider giving to Jim Webb - he needs it.  Allen is saturating the airwaves with negative and misleading ads.

You also can phone canvass, even if your district or area is not competitive (e.g, you have an uber-safe Democrat running).  Take Markos' advice and participate in MoveOn's Calls for Change.

Out-work them.  It's what will make or break this election.

A special note for No. VA and DC area Kossacks:

Webb for Senate
1916 Wilson Blvd, Ste. 304
Arlington, VA 22201
Two short blocks from Courthouse Metro Station on the Orange Line
(703) 778-4080

Show up there - the canvassing I've done has been the result of just showing up.  If you DO show up, though, be sure you take the phone number as you may have to call them to let you in.  Demand they put you to work.  Do more than you thought you could do - it's what will make the difference.

We have 19 days.

Update [2006-10-19 13:10:46 by RenaRF]: Edgery has left this comment below - FULL of information about Webb efforts across VA.


You've Come This Far - So Read more & Comment!

posted by RenaRF at 11:30 AM 0 comments links to this post
Sunday, October 15, 2006

(Cross-posted at Raising Kaine and Daily Kos)

So poor Mr. RenaRF has been working a lot lately.  It's a good thing - as a contractor, if the work's there, he takes it and tries to book a backlog that will keep him busy into the foreseeable future.  Unfortunately, sometimes the backlog is SO huge that he has to work weeks straight.  The last few weeks have been like that.

Although Mr. RenaRF is not especially a football fan, if he's not working I'll watch the football game at home (Washington's my team - long may they suck).  The last two Sundays, however, he's been working.  Two Sundays ago I just watched the game in my empty house, shrieking and scaring the cats.  Yesterday, though, I decided to watch at least the first half at a nearby watering hole with lots of sports screens.

That's where I met Mr. NASCAR.

I'm bar people - if you are also bar people, you know exactly what I'm talking about.  I went through undergrad and the portion of grad school that I finished working at bars, and a great percentage of that working behind the bar.  Mr. RenaRF and I are musical and have a band - which also puts us in bars a lot.  You know those women who won't show up to a happy hour until WAY after it started because they don't want to be there if they don't know anyone?  I'm not one of those.

So yesterday, I made my way up to the bar near my home to eat some lunch (the food is good in this place - lots of surprisingly healthy choices) and watch the game.  I walked in and sat myself down at the bar in front of the screen that would be showing the Washington/Tennessee game.  I ordered - the seat to my right and to my left was, initially, unoccupied.

As kickoff approached, however, the bar filled in.  A very nice retired gentleman sat at my left.  Two guys walked in and took the seats to my right.  One of them was funny - he had a hysterically ridiculous Washington-themed old-style soft helmet he wore.  Quite the conversation piece.

Both of them looked like hard-working guys.  The kind of guys you would expect don't wear suits and work way harder than their paycheck rewards.  Mr. NASCAR had a shirt on that had the Washington logo as well as NASCAR insignia.  For those of you who don't know, Joe Gibbs, Washington's coach, left football to start a NASCAR team.  He was very successful at this.  So Washington fans who are also NASCAR fans tend to group the two together.

So, in the commercial break before kickoff, the local CBS affiliate ran George Felix Allen's latest debacle where he picks out Webb's words about Washington (of the political, not football variety) needing more revenue (DUH), which of course becomes a "Jim Webb will raise your taxes" scare tactic.  The commercial then cites the cost of a tax increase ot the "average" Virginia family (totally squirrelly - I hope someone debunks those figures and soon), and concludes with "can you afford to lose that revenue?" or something like that.

I see it and I'm pissed.  Fresh from my canvass earlier, I still had Webb stickers in my purse.  I theatrically threw my napkin down and said "that's IT!"  I opened my purse and pulled out my 20 or so Webb stickers and proceeded to affix a few to my Washington jersey (which I wear for good luck - may need to rethink its effectiveness).

Funny hat dude isn't playing.  In a totally nice and conversational way he says, "oh no - politics, bars and football don't mix."  I wasn't offended, but I also didn't give a shit.  They fit in MY world.

Funny Hat dude's friend, though, is intrigued.

Mr. NASCAR: "Where'd you get those?"

Me: "I've been canvassing for Jim Webb.  I got them at the campaign office."

Mr. NASCAR:  "Door to door?  Man - you're brave."

Me: "Not really.  You'd be amazed how many people support Webb and went out of their way to let me know they supported him.  It was a lot of fun, and I'll be doing it every weekend between now and the election."

A pause.  We're watching the beginning of the game, attention elsewhere until the next commercial break.  I decide that canvassing is a state of mind as opposed to a mere activity occurring over a set period of time.  One can canvass, informally, in a bar.

Me: "Are you registered to vote?"

Mr. NASCAR: "Yeah.  I haven't missed a vote since I moved here 15 years ago."

I pause, he continues.

Mr. NASCAR: "I've always voted Republican.  My dad was a Republican, my grandfather a Republican.  But not this time.  I'm voting for whoever the challenger is this time.  I'm tired of it - sick of the whole thing - the lying, the decisions.  We have to get ALL of those guys out."

Me: "Where do you live?"

Mr. NASCAR: "In Sterling."

Me: "So you're in Frank Wolf's district?"

Mr. NASCAR: "Yeah.  I don't even know who's running against him but I'll vote for him [whoever is running against Wolf]."

Me: "She.  Judy Feder is running against Wolf.  Will you vote for Jim Webb?"

Mr. NASCAR: "Yep.  Like I said - all of those guys have to go and since both of mine are Republicans, I'm voting Democrat for the first time in my life.  It's time."

NOTE: The conversation is paraphrased but I've captured the important points.

So... What we have here is kind of a mixed bag.  Mr. NASCAR wasn't especially becoming a Democrat.  Rather, he was in the "throw the bums out" camp.  Had the bums been Democrats, he would have voted Republican.  Since the bums are Republicans, he's voting Democrat.

I'll take it, and I was encouraged.  This bar, and especially football people, always strike me as very "real" people.  Not that other people aren't - but where I live, most of the bars and restaurants are populated with very high income people.  The sports tend to bring out a greater mix.

Mr. NASCAR was serious, and barring a personal catastrophe (God forbid), he'll be at the polls on November 7 and pushing the button (we e-vote here - shudder) for Judy Feder and Jim Webb.

Do I smell a growing backlash?  I sure hope so - keep the faith, folks.  There are opportunities when you least expect it to convince and show your dedication, and to receive some level of validation in return.

Update [2006-10-17 0:25:39 by RenaRF]: The comments have been great - many are wondering how many NASCAR Kossacks we have, so I've updated this with a poll. Enjoy!


You've Come This Far - So Read more & Comment!

posted by RenaRF at 12:10 PM 0 comments links to this post
Saturday, October 14, 2006

(Cross-posted at Raising Kaine and my blog)

No - really!  I did!


Now get your mind out of the gutter.  I know what you were thinking when you clicked on this diary.  You probably even went and turned down the lights a little and got a glass of wine in preparation for reading this diary, didn't you...

But I lost my canvassing virginity today.  Follow me over the fold.

I have to admit, I almost lost my canvassing virginity two weeks ago.  I had gotten an email from the Judy Feder (DONATE) campaign (D-VA 10) that they needed canvassers for Judy and for Webb (DONATE).  Although Judy's not in my district (I'm in VA 08), the campaign office was very close to my house and I showed up.

Unfortunately, there were NO other canvassers that showed up that day.  Having never done it before, and feeling a bit intimidated and somehwat fearful, I declined.  I really wanted to go out with someone who had canvassed before, someone who could show me the ropes.  Kind of a grass-roots GOTV buddy.

So I woke up today and got dressed and decided to head to Webb's main campaign office in Arlington.  My goal was not to canvass - I wanted to pick up yard signs and spread them all over my home town (Reston) where they were disappearing at a rapid pace.

Now - I've volunteered for campaigns before.  I've done informational tables, handed out information at polling places, done phone canvassing, worked on database projects to focus specific messages for specific audiences, all of that stuff.  But never the shoe-leather door-to-door canvassing.

As I got out at the Webb office in Arlington, I waited at the door of the building (we had to be let in) with another lady who was also volunteering for the Webb campaign.  I went upstairs with her, following one of the campaign staffers.  I got into a conversation with both of them about the near miss I had at canvassing two weeks prior when the volunteer turned to me and said:

"I'm going out to canvass right now.  I've only done it once before, but you can come with me if you want."

I looked at my clothes - definitely not canvassing clothes.  My jeans and top were certainly appropriate enough, but I was wearing black leather boots with about a 2 1/2" heel on them.  But - you know what?  They're pretty comfortable boots.  So I decided: here's a person who's going to go out and canvass by herself offering to take me along and show me the ropes.  If you want to get involved, you can't let the fact of uncomfortable shoes get in the way.  So I was off.

On the street, Julie (my canvassing buddy) let me know the first address we would hit on our canvass.  She knew the area (Arlington) really well, and I told her I would simply program the address into my navigation system and see her there.  She walked across the street to her car, I got in mine, and we were off.


Julie gets in her car and I in mine.

And we were off.  The area we were going to canvass was in North Arlington.  Now for those unfamiliar with the area, Arlington itself is QUITE blue, and North Arlington is very affluent.  I was kind of all warm and glowy inside as I drove to the first address, glad to finally get this activity under my belt so I could more confidently do it on my own in the days and weeks to come.


On the road to the first address in my canvass.


My trusty nav system in my marvy Hybrid wasn't going to let me get lost.

Before we started, Julie and I sat on the curb and discussed what, specifically, we were going to do.  She showed me the voter information sheets she had which gave the street address, the name of the home's owner(s), and their date of birth.  We were simply to do the following:

1. Verify that they were the person listed on the sheet
2. Ask "If the election were held today, who would you vote for for Senate?  For the House?
3. What issues are most important to you?
4. Would you be interested in volunteering?

Those are the ones were supposed to get through.  The list we were working from was of registered voters, which is good becuase the registration deadline passed on October 10.  We also had additional information about the reisdent's polling place and how to submit an absentee ballot.  All of the selection options had a bar code after them, and we were simply to highlight the bar code with yellow highlighter.

We were ready.

We visited a LOT of houses and, remarkably, many people were home.  The first three or four houses we visited from our list all identified themselves as Democrats and Webb supporters.  Their issues ranged from Education to Pro-Choice to the Iraq War to Health Care.  After these first few, we had a lot of houses where no one was home.  We simply left some Webb (DONATE)  and Moran (this was his district) information tucked into the door seal and pressed on.

The most interesting house, however, we hit about half way through.  It was a nice gentleman, mid-40's, who had a beautiful house.  When he answered the door, we identified ourselves and he stepped onto his front porch.  In talking to him, we learned that he was a reigstered Republican who identified himself as totally undecided on the Senate race.  He had definitely been following it - he knew the candidates and high points of either campaign.  One of the first things he said was this:

"You're campaigning for Webb?  has he gotten over that article he wrote about women in the military?"

Now I want you to know - he was NOT confrontational.  The question seemed genuine - he was curious that two women were out actively campaigning for Webb after what he'd seen on the Allen ads.  I told him:

"That was in 1979, and he has apologized for the article."

My canvassing buddy, Julie, chimed in here:

"Let me tell you - I served in the military for 20 years, was one of the first women accepted to the ROTC program and Jim Webb's my man."

I added:

"You know, it's impossible to think that a person has no regrets about something they've said or done in their past.  This was his distant past.  Not only has he owned up and apologized for it, he opened more Navy billets to women as Navy Secretary then anyone before him."

NOTE: Shout out to the dKos community for writing about this so that I knew about it in one of Lowkell's excellent diaries.

He asked also about the economy, and wanted to know what I thought about that.

"Well, people who live in this area might say that the economy is doing well.  But if you go to the grocery store and ask one of the porters how they feel about the economy, you're going to get a different view.  Although Northern Virginia is one of the few areas that has experienced a nominal percentage growth in real wages over the past six years (.3%), the majority of Americans are seeing their real wages shrink.  Health care gets more expensive, the increased fuel prices of summer hurt them, and their wages aren't keeping pace with inflation.  The disparity between those at the top end of the income scale and everyone else is becoming a canyon.  And I don't think the top end of the income scale will constitute a majority at the polls, and the average middle class voter is feeling pinched."

He asked us where Webb stood on the immigration issue.  We didn't know specifically - so we told him we didn't know and we said that the campaign would send him more information about that subject.  I found that interesting - it really relieved me that I didn't have to know every nuance of every issue - I could just say "we'll have Webb's campaign send you information about that.  Thank you for the question."

Finally, we talked about the Iraq War.  Our prospective Republican-leaning-Democrat voter is most disturbed about the Iraq War.  Julie spoke for us this time.

"Jim Webb came out very early against the prospect of a war in Iraq and he's for a phased redeployment of troops out of Iraq to areas such as Qatar, Kuwait, UAE.  He wants to get our troops out of the line of fire and let the Iraqis attend to their government."

The voter thanked us, reminded us to definitely send that information, and indicated that he really wasn't happy with the Republican party these past three years and would think very hard about how he would cast his vote.

I believed him.  And I thought we really helped him with simple, human face-to-face contact and a sincere attempt to advocate for the person in which we believed.

The day pressed on and we got some people and didn't get others, chatted a bit about voting and reminded people to vote, left literature, and wore out our shoes.  After almost three hours of stomping around, Julie and I parted ways.

If you haven't canvassed before, let me tell you: it was an alltogether pleasant experience.  I didn't relish the idea of going door-to-door - I was worried about getting doors slammed in my face and getting hostile reactions.  I didn't get any of that (though I'm sure it's happened).  It was SO positive, in fact, that I'll be canvassing every weekend between now and the election, including tomorrow.  I'm confident enough now to go out either by myself or to be someone else's first-time buddy.

One closing note: Finding information about the canvasses in your areas isn't always easy.  Hell - finding the address for Webb's Arlington campaign office took some effort.  But do that - find your local campaign office and show up.  See what they need.  And go out of your way to canvass.  If you have an experience like I did, you'll see that it really puts you IN the process in a way I had not previously experienced.  It's talking with voters - with people who vote, and participate, and seeing how and where they live and listening to what they have to say.  It was /awesome.


Julie!

Many thanks to Julie, who was motivated to start canvassing over the summer when she heard the "macaca" comment and could only think of her son's best friend, and American born of Indian descent.

[editor's note, by RenaRF] DMOmaha points out in the comments that s/he also has a canvassing diary up - give it a visit!


You've Come This Far - So Read more & Comment!

posted by RenaRF at 6:04 PM 2 comments links to this post
Thursday, October 05, 2006

(Cross-posted at Daily Kos, My Left Wing and ePluribus Media)

I have a pretty intense schedule.  I'm constantly here and there - going from my office to a meeting, from a meeting to home, from home to gig.  My Sirius satellite radio is a boon, because I can listen to cable news coverage (CNN) even though I can't watch it.  It helps me feel pretty current on what's dominating the headlines.

CNN cut into coverage of the White House Press Briefing by Tony Snow given earlier today.  At the time that I was driving, a woman's voice asked a question and then engaged in an exchange that literally had me pumping my fist and yelling "YES!!" in my car.  I was getting really strange looks from the cars around me, but I couldn't contain myself.

Follow me.

The question was this:

Q Okay. Does the President agree that the leaders should be under oath, to say everything that they knew?

Doesn't seem like much?  Well, if you ask me, it was a setup.  Because here is the answer and the series of questions that followed:

MR. SNOW: The President is not flyspecking. I'll tell you, you can decide whether you think people need to be put under oath. What I've said is, you need to find out all the facts. So you figure out the appropriate way to do it. But we're just not going to get into procedural stuff like that. It's not appropriate.

Q The President is very aggressive in calling for thorough investigations of things like leaks or --

MR. SNOW: And that's what we've called on.

Ha!!!  Tony started to talk over this reporter's question, but it continued:

Q But when it comes to something that affected actual people's lives in a demonstrable way, he won't get into the details of how it should be pursued?

This was when Tony started to sound a tad PO'd.

MR. SNOW: Now, wait a minute. Number one, I don't believe that the President has ever gotten into saying, well, we need to get to the bottom of this, and we need to have people testifying under oath -- I don't believe he's ever gotten into that level of detail, walking through these things. What the President says, you've got to find the truth. The Justice Department is conducting an investigation. Presumably, they will do what they think is necessary to get the truth. The Ethics Committee is committing an investigation. Presumably they're going to do what they think is necessary

Q So from the podium, on the President's behalf, would you call for all the leadership to say everything that they know, come forward --

MR. SNOW: I would -- what we say is, you've got to get the facts out. And that's it. So you can figure out exactly --

Q Publicly?


MR. SNOW: I just said it -- I believe -- yes, we're public.

Woo hoo!!  Such a fabulous question that literally connects the dots of this administration's selective use of investigations, laws, morals, values etc.  That reporter simply called the administration on its bullshit and pointed out, in stark relief, the sheer hypocrisy.  It was a beautiful thing.

And Tony Snow is really full of shit when he said, in his I'm-Tony-Snow-and-I'm-better-than-you peevish kind of way, that the President has not selectively asked for investigations or that people be placed under oath.  Of course the President and the administration have used investigations or the threat of investigations to ensure that people remain "in line".  Let's take just a cursory look at that whopper of a nose-grower, and when and where this pressure has been applied.

From a March 5, 2006 Washington Post article:

The Bush administration, seeking to limit leaks of classified information, has launched initiatives targeting journalists and their possible government sources. The efforts include several FBI probes, a polygraph investigation inside the CIA and a warning from the Justice Department that reporters could be prosecuted under espionage laws.

-snip-

President Bush has called the NSA leak "a shameful act" that was "helping the enemy," and said in December that he was hopeful the Justice Department would conduct a full investigation into the disclosure.

-snip-

Bush administration officials -- who complain that reports about detainee abuse, clandestine surveillance and other topics have endangered the nation during a time of war -- have arguably taken a more aggressive approach than other recent administrations, including a clear willingness to take on journalists more directly if necessary.

Target?  The media, really.  This was intended to put them on notice that if they reported leaked information, they would be the target of a Grand Jury.  Beneficiary?  BUSH.  Even a mild seed of concern planted by the administration and its willingness to push these investigations would cause, at a minimum, greater caution on the part of journalists and, at worst, a total squelching of the free press.

A May 16, 2006 article on the ABC Blotter reinforces the investigatory willingness of Bush and his lackeys:

FBI Acknowledges: Journalists' Phone Records are Fair Game

Brian Ross and Richard Esposito Report:

The FBI acknowledged late Monday that it is increasingly  seeking reporters' phone records in leak investigations.

"It used to be very hard and complicated to do this, but it no longer is in the Bush administration," said a senior federal official.

-snip-

...FBI officials did not deny that phone records of ABC News, the New York Times and the Washington Post had been sought as part of a investigation of leaks at the CIA.

Target?  The media again - a stronger signal this time.  Beneficiary?  BUSH.

Every time one of Bush's illegal actions has turned up in the press, Bush "welcomes" investigations.  What better way to continue breaking the law than to put those who would call you on it in front of a Grand Jury and/or in jail?

Here are the issues where Bush has not directly called for an investigation:

The events leading up to 9/11, 2001

Remember the teeth pulling it took to get an investigation into this?  The administration would have you believe that they were all for the truth and their eventual (so they claim) exoneration from fault.  But those who remember know that Bush fought the 9/11 investigation tooth and nail.  Only the public and very emotional demands of the Jersey Girls brought any investigation at all.

Target? Government past and present; terrorists.  Beneficiary?  Everybody.  The point is and was to learn who did what and who didn't do what so that the same mistakes would not be repeated.

The monumental failed response to Hurricane Katrina.

As people continued to be found, dehydrated and trapped in their homes in the days and weeks following Hurricane Katrina, Bush loudly and strongly decried the practice of "finger pointing".  From Talking oints Memo:

MCCLELLAN: As I have indicated, this is not a time for politics. This is a time for the nation to come together for those in the Gulf Coast region and that's where our focus is. This is not a time for finger-pointing or politics. And I think the last thing that the people who have been displaced or the people who have been affected need is people seeking partisan gain in Washington.

Fingere-pointing would, apparently, include an investigation.  None have been called for by the Bush administration to this date, 13 months after the hurricane struck.

Target?  Bush administration, State of Louisiana's government, local New Orleans government.  Beneficiary?  Everybody.  Lessons learned that led to the loss of life in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina would and still could go a long way to better equipping America to respond to emergencies and disasters.

The Mark Foley scandal

What?  What's that you say?  This is a legislative and not an executive issue?  Go pick your nits elsewhere.  This Congress has been nothing more than an extension of this administration, and the hubris has leaked over.  Like a child does from a parent, Congress has learned its behavior from the Bush administration.  The failure to call for immediate, meaningful and independent investigations is imperative.  None of those things have truly happened.

Target?  Congress.  Beneficiaries?  Everybody.  Keeping our young people safe isn't politics - it's just the right thing to do.


You've Come This Far - So Read more & Comment!

posted by RenaRF at 5:41 PM 1 comments links to this post
Sunday, October 01, 2006

Cross-posted at Daily Kos, My Left Wing and ePluribus Media

I watched 60 Minutes tonight.  I try to catch it, but miss it about as often as I watch it, unfortunately.  Tonight, however, I wanted to hear Woodward's interview with Mike Wallace as it happened.

The teasers you've been seeing in the news regarding the interview were true.  The soundbites are all there.  But there's a bit more than that, so I've transcribed the interview (which wasn't overly long) and will present it after the fold with a little bit of commentary to close it out.

Make the jump.

CBS also has some of this content online.  All emphasis in the transcript is strictly mine.

Introduction:

WALLACE: President Bush's former Chief of Staff Andy Card said that the Bush Presidency will be judged by three things: Iraq, Iraq and Iraq.  Bob Woodward of Watergate fame reports that he has just completed his third book on the Bush Presidency - State of Denial, it's called.  Woodward spent more than two years, interviewed more than 200 people including most of the top officials in the Administration and he came to a damning conclusion - that for the last three years the White House has not been honest with the American public.  

WOODWARD: It is the oldest story in the coverage of government.  The failure to tell the truth.  

WALLACE: When you say the Bush Administration has not told the truth about Iraq, what do you mean?

WOODWARD: Probably the most prominent example is the level of violence.  

[Cut to tape of (presumably) insurgent gunfire and activity in Iraq]

WALLACE: [Voiceover]: Not just the growing sectarian violence - Sunnis against Shias - that gets reported every day.  But attacks on US, Iraqi and Allied forces.  Woodward says that's the most important measure of violence in Iraq and he unearthed this graph, classified as secret, that shows those attacks have increased dramatically over the last three years.  [On screen in a graph with an upward trend from May 2003 to May 2006]

WOODWARD: Getting to the point now where there are 8, 900 attacks a week.  That's more than 100 a day.  Four attacks an hour.  Attacking our forces.

[Cut to tape of Woodward working at computer]

WALLACE [Voiceover]: Woodward says the government had kept this trend secret for years before finally declassifying the graph just three weeks ago.

[Cut to tape of The Decider entering a room full of adoring, clapping people]

WALLACE [Voiceover]: And Woodward accuses President Bush and the Pentagon of making false claims of progress in Iraq.  Claims contradicted by facts that are being kept secret.  For example, Woodward says an intelligence report, classified Secret by the Joint Chiefs of Staff concluded in large print that "the Sunni Arab insurgency is gaining strength and increasing capacity, despite political progress".  And "insurgents retain the capabilities to...increase the level of violence through next year.  [The report graphic is show with a date of May 24, 2006 as these quotes are read]  But just two days later in public the Defense Department said just the opposite.  "...Violent action will begin to wane in early 2007."

I think that this is key takeaway number one.  Woodward had the secret chart, it clearly showed the trend from 2003 to 2006, and the classified report by the Joint Chiefs said that violence would continue to rise into 2007.  Yet the Pentagon released its own unclassified "survey" making the last statement in the quote in direct contradiction to what it knew to be true in private.

WALLACE [to Woodward]:  What are we supposed to make of that?

WOODWARD: The truth is that the assessment by the intelligence experts is that next year - now next year is 2007 - it's going to get worse.  And in public you have the President and you have the Pentagon saying "no no - things are going to get better".  Now.  There's public, and then there's private.  But what did they do with the private?  They stamped it Secret. No one's supposed to know.  Why is that secret?  The insurgents know what they're doing - they know the level of violence and how effective they are.  Who doesn't know?  The American public.

That's key point number two.  The only people it makes sense to hide this information from is the American public.  It's not, as the Administration would have you believe, a means of protecting sources and methods or some other balderdash they spew.  It's a matter of keeping us in the dark to keep themselves in power.  Period.  So simple, and so obvious once pointed out so clearly.

WALLACE: President Bush says, over and over, as Iraqi forces stand up, US forces will stand down.  The number of Iraqis in uniform today, I understand, is up to 300,000.  

WOODWARD: They've stood up from essentially zero to 300,000.  This is the military and the police.

WALLACE: But US forces are not standing down.  The attacks keep coming.

WOODWARD: They've stood up, and up and up, and we haven't stood down.  And, it's worse!

[Cut to tape of John Negroponte]

WALLACE [Voiceover]: John Negroponte knows it's worse.  He's the US director of National Intelligence, and according to Woodward, Negroponte thinks the US policy in Iraq is in trouble.  That violence is now so widespread that the US doesn't even know about much of it, and that the killings will continue to escalate.  

WOODWARD: He was the Ambassador there in Iraq and now he sees all the intelligence.  I report he believes that we've always, going almost back to beginning, miscalculated and underestimated the nature of the insurgency.

WALLACE [interrupts]: Why?  Why?

WOODWARD: There is the feeling, how can a bunch of guys running around putting improvised explosive devices in dead animals and by the side of the road in cars, cause all this trouble?  

[Cut to tape of Rumsfeld, Joint Chiefs, Gen. John Abizaid]

WALLACE [Voiceover]:  Woodward reports that a top General says Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has so emasculated the Joint Chiefs that the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs has become "the parrot on Rumsfeld's shoulder".  And according to WOODWARD: another key General, John Abizaid, who's in charge of the whole Gulf region, told friends that on Iraq, Rumsfeld has lost all credibility.  

WALLACE [to Woodward]: Now what does that mean, that he doesn't have any credibility any more?

WOODWARD: That means that he cannot go public and articulate what the strategy is.  This is so important.  They decide that Secretary of State Rice will announce what the strategy is.  This is October of last year.

[Cut to tape of Rice giving testimony]

RICE: Our political military strategy has to be to clear, hold and build.  To clear areas from insurgent control, to them securely, and to build durable national Iraqi institutions.

WOODWARD: Rumsfeld sees this [the testimony] and goes ballistic.  And says now wait a minute.  That's not our strategy.  We want to get the Iraqis to do these things.  Well it turns out George Bush and the White House like this definition of the strategy [Rice's] so it's in a Presidential speech he's going to give the next month.  Rumsfeld sees it.  He calls Andy Card the White House Chief of Staff and says "take it out - take it out.  That's not our strategy.  We can't do that."  Card says "it's the core of what we're doing."  That's two and a half years after the invasion of Iraq.  They cannot agree on the definition of a strategy.  They cannot agree on the bumper sticker.

Key point number three:  These bozos have willingly marched us into a war that they can't agree, among themselves how to win.  Mr. RenaRF likes to use the phrase "it's like watching monkeys trying to f--k a football."  I think that visual fits perfectly.

WALLACE: General John Abizaid, commander of all US forces in the Middle East, you quoted him as saying privately a year ago that the US should start cutting its troops in Iraq&.  You report that he told some close Army friends "We've got to get the F out."  And then, this past March, *General Abizaid visited Congressman John Murtha on Capitol Hill.

WOODWARD:  John Murtha is, in many ways, the soul and the conscience of the military.

Gotta interrupt here.  I don't have a key point yet - but that is, without a doubt, one of the most elegant and apt things I have heard said about John Murtha.  

[Cut to tape of Murtha making a statement]

WOODWARD: And he came out and said "we need to get out of Iraq as soon as it's practical."  And that sent a 10,000 volt jolt through the White House.  Here's Mr. Military saying we need to get out.  And John Abizaid went to see him privately.  This is Bush's and Rumsfeld's commander in Iraq.  And John Abizaid held up his fingers, according to Murtha [Woodward holds up thumb and index finger about 1/4 inch apart], and said "we're about a quarter of an inch apart.  We're that far apart."

WALLACE: Abizaid and Murtha.

WOODWARD: [Holds up fingers again] That far apart.

Key point number four: John Murtha is not and never was playing politics iwth the war in Iraq.  We all know that - but the RWNM tried to swift boat him in this.  John Murtha  was acting directly on information he was receiving from the Generals, among them John Abizaid, the commander of all US forces in the Gulf region.  

WALLACE: You report that after George W. Bush was re-elected hi s then Chief of Staff Andy Card tried for months to convince the President to fire Don Rumsfeld.  Why?

WOODWARD: To replace him.  Because it wasn't working, Card felt very strongly, that the President needed a whole new National Security team.  

WALLACE: You write, "Laura Bush was worried that Rumsfeld was hurting her husband."  Andy Card told you, the President seemed happy with Rumsfeld, and the first lady replied "He's happy with this, but I'm not."  And later she said "I don't know why he's not upset."

WOODWARD: What's interesting is Andy Card, as White House Chief of Staff, every six weeks set up a one-on-one meeting with Laura Bush.  Set aside an hour and half, to talk about what's going on, what are the President's anxieties - smart meeting.  And in the course of these sessions the problem with Rumsfeld came up and she voiced her concern about the situation.

WALLACE: But Dick Cheney wanted Rumsfeld to stay.  Why?

WOODWARD: That's right.  Well, Rumsfeld's his guy, and Cheney confided to an aide that if Rumsfeld goes, next they'll be after Cheney.

I don't know if this is key point number five or not, but I found it interesting, the notion that Cheney would be worried that anyone would "come after" him.  It does reinforce the whole suspicion that Cheney, who is unpopular, is running the show where IRaq is concerned.

[Cut to tape of Cheney in a crowd of military personnel; Kissinger file tape]

WALLACE [Voiceover]: Cheney stunned Woodward by revealing that a frequent advisor to the Bush White House is former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger who served Presidents Nixon and Ford during the Vietnam War.  

WOODWARD: He's back.  In fact, Henry Kissinger is almost like a member of the family.  If he's in town, he can call up and if the President's free, he'll see him.

[Wallace in voiceover, split-screen with picture of Woodward and Cheney in preparation for audio tape] Woodward recorded his on-the-record interview with Cheney and here's what the Vice President said about Henry Kissinger's clout:

CHENEY: Of the outside people that I talk to in this job I probably talk to Henry Kissinger more than just about anybody else.  He just comes by and I guess at least once a month I sit down with him.  

WOODWARD: And the same with the President?

CHENEY: Yes.  Absolutely.

WOODWARD: President Bush is, I understand--

CHENEY: A big fan of his.

WOODWARD: Now, what's Kissinger's advice in Iraq, he declared very simply: Victory is the only meaningful exit strategy.  This is so fascinating.  Kissinger's fighting the Vietnam War all over again.  Because in his view, the problem in Vietnam is we lost our will.  That we didn't stick to it.

WALLACE: So Henry Kissinger is telling George W. Bush - Stick to it.  Stay the course.  

WOODWARD: That's right.  It's right out of the Kissinger playbook.

Key point number six should be obvious.  Vietnam didn't go so well for a long time before people finally got a clue.  One of the key advisors to this White House endorses and embraces a strategy that would have kept us in Vietnam.  Plus, tying in the whole Vietnam parallel is helpful, I think.

[Cut to tape of Woodward's book rolling down the production line]

WALLACE [Voiceover]: In his book, published by CBS sister company Simon and Schuster Woodward reported that the first President Bush confided to one of his closest friends how upset he is that his son invaded Iraq.

WALLACE [to Woodward]: The former President Bush is said to be in agony, anguished, tormented over the war in Iraq and it's aftermath.

WOODWARD: Yes.

WALLACE: Does he tell that to his boy?

WOODWARD: I don't know the answer to that.  He tells it to Brent Scowcroft, the former National Security Advisor.

WALLACE: You paint a picture, Bob, of the President as the 'Cheerleader in Chief', current reality be damned.  He's convinced that he's got to succeed in Iraq, yes?  

WOODWARD: Yes. That's correct. Now--

WALLACE: You believe that he believes.

WOODWARD: I do.

WALLACE: How well do you know him?

WOODWARD: I interviewed him for the first two books for hours.

WALLACE: And you know what?  There are people who are going to say "Look - Woodward is savaging President Bush because he wouldn't see him for this book."

WOODWARD: That's not true.

WALLACE: Well he didn't.

WOODWARD: He did not.  I asked, and made it very clear to the White House what my question were, what my information was.  What could he say?  That secret chart is not right?  That these things that happened in these meetings didn't occur?  It's documented.  I've talked to the people who were there.  Your producer, Bob Anderson, has listened to the tapes of my interviews with people, to make sure that it's not just kind of right, but literally right.  This is what occurred.

Key point number seven: Bush was more than willing to be interviewed for the first two books because they were largely favorable.  Knowing in advance the information and content of this book, however, Bush refused to be interviewed because he couldn't refute the information that Woodward had.

[Cut to tape of violence in Iraq, Bush chatting with soldiers]

WALLACE [Voiceover]: And Woodward says that no matter what's occurred in Iraq Mr. Bush does not welcome any pessimistic assessments from his aides because he is sure that his war has Iraq and America on the right path.

So sayeth The Decider.  Kind of makes you wonder if he's having a flashback.

WOODWARD: Late last year he had key Republicans up to the White House to talk about the war.  And said I will not withdraw, even if Laura and Barney are the only ones supporting me.  Barney is his dog.  

[Cut to Wallace, snickering]

WOODWARD: My work on this leads to lots of people who spend hours, days with the President.  And in most cases they are my best sources and there is a concern that we need to face realism.  Not being the voice that says oh-no - everything's fine when it's not.

So there you have it.  I'm sure there are nuggets in the book also.  Woodward has redeemed some level of favor with me, and I will read his book after that interview.

I also think that this totally fits all the claims of "abuse of power" and Dems should be making these kinds of charges for the next 36 days.  They now have two recent examples they can use:

Foley: A known sexual predator was reported to Republican leadership yet he was allowed to remain in his job and in contact with minors.  To protect their power, Congressional Republicans allowed a sexual predator to continue his predation for a year.

Iraq: The Bush administration selectively classifies and declassifies information to control the "knowledge agenda".  In so doing, they withold relevant information from the American public to ensure they can maintain their power.

I also wonder who in Congress has seen these classified documents and information.  Forgive my ignorance, but I just don't know which committees (Intelligence?  Armed Services?  Both?) would have access to this information and whether or not it is required to be submitted to them.  But given that Republicans control both houses of Congress (for now) and have performed virtually no oversight on these subject, I can't help but believe that real facts were ignored by leadership in an effort to maintain their hold on power.

So there you have it - thoughts are welcome!


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