A President from New York?

The New York Times looks at all the possible Presidential candidates from New York:

Imagine that it is two years from now, summer of 2008. The national party conventions are over. The nominees: Democrat Hillary Rodham Clinton, Republican Rudolph W. Giuliani and the Reform Party candidate, Michael R. Bloomberg.

What’s wrong with this picture? It’s implausible, but the very fact that it is considered within the realm of possibility — to say nothing of another Republican in the mix, Gov. George E. Pataki — is remarkable, given that no New Yorker has come close to the top office since Geraldine A. Ferraro ran for vice president in 1984. And not one has been elected president since 1944, when Franklin D. Roosevelt won a fourth term.

Has New York changed to become a spawning ground of presidential hopefuls? Has the nation changed to embrace its brand of politics? Is this New York-centric vision merely another example of self-delusion and news media hype?

They have a point that there are many New Yorkers with a chance at the White House. I just have two words to say to them: “Elliot Spitzer.” He wasn’t mentioned in the article and 2008 will probably be too early, but Spitzer may be the New Yorker who would make the best President. (Kerry/Spitzer in ’08?)

Frank Rich On the Downfall Of George Bush (And Tom Cruise)

Frank Rich practically gives two columns for the price of one today. He begins in telling how Bush is returning to the Gulf Coast “to try to make us forget the first anniversary of the downfall of his presidency.” He goes from the downfall of Bush following Katrina into both Bush’s own foreign policy failings and the downfall of Tom Cruise which I noted last week:

What’s amazing on Katrina’s first anniversary is how little Mr. Bush seems aware of this change in the political weather. He’s still in a bubble. At last week’s White House press conference, he sounded as petulant as Tom Cruise on the “Today” show when Matt Lauer challenged him about his boorish criticism of Brooke Shields. Asked what Iraq had to do with the attack on the World Trade Center, Mr. Bush testily responded, “Nothing,” adding that “nobody has ever suggested in this administration that Saddam Hussein ordered the attacks.” Like the emasculated movie star, the president is still so infatuated with his own myth that he believes the public will buy such nonsense.

As the rest of the world knows, the White House connived 24/7 to pound in the suggestion that Saddam ordered the attacks on 9/11. “The Bush administration had repeatedly tied the Iraq war to Sept. 11,” Thomas Kean and Lee Hamilton write in “Without Precedent,” their new account of their stewardship of the 9/11 commission. The nonexistent Qaeda-Saddam tie-in was as much a selling point for the war as the nonexistent W.M.D. The salesmanship was so merciless that half the country was brainwashed into believing that the 9/11 hijackers had been Iraqis.

To achieve this feat, Dick Cheney spent two years publicly hyping a “pretty well confirmed” (translation: unconfirmed) pre-9/11 meeting in Prague between Mohamed Atta and a Saddam intelligence officer, continuing to do so long after this specious theory had been discredited. Mr. Bush’s strategy was to histrionically stir 9/11 and Iraq into the same sentence whenever possible, before the invasion and after. Typical was his May 1, 2003, oration declaring the end of “major combat operations.” After noting that “the battle of Iraq is one victory in a war on terror that began on September 11th, 2001,” he added: “With those attacks, the terrorists and their supporters declared war on the United States. And war is what they got.” To paraphrase the former counterterrorism czar Richard Clarke, this was tantamount to saying that the Japanese attacked us on Dec. 7, 1941, and war with Mexico is what they got.

Were it not so tragic, Mr. Bush’s claim that he had never suggested a connection between the 9/11 attacks and Iraq would be as ludicrous as Bill Clinton’s doomed effort to draw a distinction between sex and oral sex. The tragedy is that the country ever believed Mr. Bush, particularly those Americans who were moved to enlist because of 9/11 and instead ended up fighting a war that the president now concedes had “nothing” to do with the 9/11 attacks.

After a little more talk about Bush’s foreign policy failures, Rich returns to Bush’s failure in handling Katrina:

Douglas Brinkley, the Tulane University historian who wrote the best-selling account of Katrina, “The Great Deluge,” is worried that even now the White House is escaping questioning about what it is up to (and not) in the Gulf. “I don’t think anybody’s getting the Bush strategy,” he said when we talked last week. “The crucial point is that the inaction is deliberate — the inaction is the action.” As he sees it, the administration, tacitly abetted by New Orleans’s opportunistic mayor, Ray Nagin, is encouraging selective inertia, whether in the rebuilding of the levees (“Only Band-Aids have been put on them”), the rebuilding of the Lower Ninth Ward or the restoration of the wetlands. The destination: a smaller city, with a large portion of its former black population permanently dispersed. “Out of the Katrina debacle, Bush is making political gains,” Mr. Brinkley says incredulously. “The last blue state in the Old South is turning into a red state.”

Perhaps. But with no plan for salvaging either of the catastrophes on his watch, this president can no sooner recover his credibility by putting on an elaborate show of sermonizing and spin this week than Mr. Cruise could levitate his image by jumping up and down on Oprah’s couch. While the White House’s latest screenplay may have been conceived as “Mission Accomplished II,” what we’re likely to see play out in New Orleans won’t even be a patch on “Mission: Impossible III.”

Jennifer Loven Continues Reporting on George Bush

AP reporter Jennifer Loven reports that Bush visited the family home at Kennebunkport. and was greated by about 700 protesters:

What local police estimated were about 700 anti-war demonstrators marched Saturday to within half a mile of the Bush compound before being turned back at a security checkpoint. Called Walker’s Point after the family of former President Bush’s mother, the stone-and-shingle retreat covering a craggy promontory is owned by the current president’s parents.

The protesters sang, chanted, beat drums, waved signs and even played fiddles to call on Bush to bring troops home.

“Bush is fiddling while the world burns, just as Nero fiddled while Rome burned,” said Pippa Stanley, 15, of Richmond, Maine, who was helping with the backdrop for pair of fiddlers dressed in togas.

The group was loosely aligned with activist Cindy Sheehan, the mother of a soldier who died in Iraq who gained international attention when she shadowed Bush last summer while he vacationed at his ranch in Crawford, Texas.

An Associated Press-Ipsos poll this month found that only about one-third of Americans support Bush’s handling of Iraq.

Seeing a protest against George Bush was interesting but I didn’t plan on a blog post until I noted the author. I had a previous post on Jennifer Loven in March (reprinted under the fold) commending her for exposing the dishonest rhetoric common in Bush’s speeches.

Loven came under attack by the right wing in response to this article. She also has a previous history of exposing George Bush, including this report which reviewed hundreds of pages of documents released by the White House on Bush’s National Guard record noting “the records provided no evidence Bush served in Alabama.”

New Technique Doesn’t Alter Conservative Opposition to Stem Cell Research

I can’t say I’m surprised. Increasingly conservative views are based upon religious ideology rather than facts or pragmatism, and therefore are resistant to change. A Newsweek poll shows that, despite a new technique which seemed to satisfy previous conservative objections to stem cell research, support for federal funding of stem cell research remains at 48%, with 40% opposing. This is essentially unchanged from an October 2004 poll.

George Bush’s approval has also fallen slightly from the last poll in mid-August, from 38% to 36%. The economy and his handing of Iraq appeared to be responsible for the drop. Democrats lead Republicans in the generic Congressional poll 50% to 38%.

Joe Lieberman As The De Facto Republican Candidate

The Moderate Voice reviews some of the stories on Joe Lieberman which we reviewed earlier (here and here). They note Lieberman’s refusal to support other Democrats, how his campaign may help Republican candidates for Congress in Connecticut keep their seats. and how he is becoming the de facto Republican candidate. After reviewing recent events, Joe Gandelman accurately describes how Lieberman’s campaign is leaning far more to the Republican side than either Democratic or even a true Independent run:

If you look at the history of independent candidates (who usually manage to siphon vote away from one major party and help the candidate who has views less similar to the independent) they have usually (but not always) blast BOTH parties. Lieberman so far has been at war with a faction of his party — and it increasingly looks like he will be at war with much broader part of his party.

He has delivered few forceful critiques of the GOP or President George Bush and seems to be actively wooing Republicans and polls show he is picking up a huge chunk of Republican support.

This is creating a narrative for this story in the news media where Lieberman has become the de facto Republican candidate, if you read most news accounts of the race. Add to that the fact that many weblogs that support Lieberman are sites that support him but generally blast the Democrats and Democratic party as a whole. That will add the perception that he is basically waging a campaign for re-election more against his own party and its elites than against the Republican partyand its elites.

That won’t enhance his image (and in politics imagery means a lot) as a genuinely independent candidate who isn’t out to curry favor with one particular party or its voters.

Absurdities In Defending A Failed Iraq Policy

The amount of irrational writings trying to justify Bush’s disastrous policies in Iraq is amazing. Some Bush apologists, such as here, quote from Tom Nichols of the Naval War College. I wouldn’t attempt to rehash all the reasons going into Iraq at the time and in the manner which George Bush did was a huge mistake, but there are a few quick points I can’t resist commenting on.

“All this talk about “deception” regarding the question of WMD in Iraq has really turned into Monday-morning quarterbacking of the very worst kind.”

This is no Monday-morning quarterbacking. We had warned that this was a mistake during the months leading up to the war. Subsequent evidence has made the case even stronger that 1) Bush was repeatedly lying in the run up to the war, 2) Bush did not understand the situation in Iraq, and 3) the Bush Administration had no sensible plan to fight and win this war.

“First, let’s start with the one thing on which everyon–and this means everyone, including the UN, the French, and even the most angry critics of George Bush–can agree: the Iraqis had weapons of mass destruction at some point.”

Of course we know we had them at one point. After all, we have the receipts. By the same logic, let’s invade Russia because they had their nuclear arsenal pointed at us at one point in the past.

“Critics of the war could argue at the time that they were destroyed, but they couldn’t have known that with any more certainty than those arguing they might be buried in the desert somewhere.”

That’s why it was essential that we continue to contain Saddam, and get the inspectors back in. Both Howard Dean and John Kerry were clear in supporting going to war if Saddam prevented with this. Of course they would have done so in a more sensible manner with both a true international coalition and a plan to win the war.

Then there’s the Clinton quotes. Supporters of the war often quote Bill Clinton but there are two major errors in this logic. Bill Clinton contained Saddam, but never went to war as Bush did. If Clinton had advocated Bush’s policies, he also would have been wrong and this still would not justify the manner in which George Bush has undermined this our national security with his disastrous policies.

While some conservatives have faced reality and admitted this war was a mistake, some continue to twist logic and the facts to justify it. Glenn Greenwald provies further examples of this.

Reefer Madness–Learning From the Dutch

John Tierney is traveling in Amsterdam, giving him an opportunity to compare American policy to Dutch policy. Tierney doesn’t feel that the American drug czars understand the advantages to the more liberal Dutch policy:

The czars have preferred to criticize from afar. In the past, they’ve called Dutch drug policy “an unmitigated disaster,” bemoaning Amsterdam’s “stoned zombies” and its streets cluttered with “junkies.” Anti-pot passion has only increased in the Bush administration, which has made it a priority to combat marijuana.

More than half a million Americans are arrested annually for possessing it. The Bush administration can’t even abide it being used for medical purposes by the terminally ill. Why risk having any of it fall into the hands of young people who could turn into potheads, crack addicts and junkies?

But if America’s drug warriors came here, they would learn something even if they didn’t sample any of the dozens of varieties of marijuana sold legally in specially licensed coffee shops. They could see that the patrons puffing on joints generally don’t look any more zombielike than the crowd at an American bar — or, for that matter, a Congressional subcommittee listening to a lecture on the evils of marijuana.

And if they talked to Peter Cohen, a Dutch researcher who has been studying drug use for a quarter-century, they would discover something even more disorienting. Even though marijuana has been widely available since the 1970’s, enough to corrupt a couple of generations, the Netherlands has not succumbed to reefer madness.

More stories on Marijuana under the fold.


Big Pharma Thanks Congressmen For Their Corporate Welfare

As I’ve said many times, Bush’s Medicare drug plan was a reward to the pharmaceutical and insurance industries for all the money they’ve donated to the Republican Party. The pharmaceutical companies now receive payment in full through the new program to replace discounted payments they had to accept from Medicaid programs in the past, while insurance companies are subsidized for providing inefficient Medicare HMO programs.

If given a huge money making benefit like this, it is only polite for the pharmaceutical companies to send a thank you note. This thank you note was in the form of a multi-million dollar ad campaign. While the U.S. Chamber of Commerce officially takes credit for the ad campaign praising lawmakers for supporting the program, the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America actually has footed the bill.

Update: I know more places are linking to blog posts, but was surprised upon checking the stat counter to find that even sites such as this include blog posts along with investment information on companies.

Related stories under the fold.