Wednesday, October 26, 2005
Kerry Admits He Was Wrong About Iraq
In a speech today at Georgetown University, John Kerry has admitted that he was wrong about voting to authorize the war in Iraq -- and that George Bush lied to him.
Knowing what we know now, I would not have gone to war in Iraq. And knowing now the full measure of the Bush Administration’s duplicity and incompetence, I doubt there are many members of Congress who would give them the authority they abused so badly. I know I would not. The truth is, if the Bush Administration had come to the United States Senate and acknowledged there was no “slam dunk case” that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction, acknowledged that Iraq was not connected to 9/11, there never would have even been a vote to authorize the use of force — just as there’s no vote today to invade North Korea, Iran, Cuba, or a host of regimes we rightfully despise.
As I said earlier about Gephardt, this is huge. Admitting that you were wrong does not make you a "flip-flopper." It takes moral courage to stand up and say you were wrong. Say you made a good-faith effort to believe the President, and then attack him for lying to you.
It’s time for leaders to be honest that if we do not change course, there is the prospect of indefinite, even endless conflict - a fate untenable for our troops, and a future unacceptable to the American people and the Iraqis who pray for the day when a stable Iraq will belong to Iraqis alone.
Of course, later on in the speech, Kerry says that we should not withdraw our troops immediately -- but at least this is a very positive step. Gephardt has now retired from politics, so his mea culpa was less significant. John Kerry, on the other hand, has presidential ambitions in 2008.
Are you next -- Hillary???
Wednesday, October 19, 2005
Bush's Approval Rating -- and What Went Wrong in 2004
As I've said before, I refuse to concede the possibility that George W. Bush did not get re-elected fairly. Discrepancies with the exit polls, the well-known chicanery with the Ohio Secretary of State, and the prevalence of Diebold machines makes it far too difficult to believe that he received every vote honestly. After all, Bush and Cheney already proved that they were not beneath stealing one election -- you gotta think they at least tried to steal this one.
But if we assume the 2004 election was not stolen, it is really difficult to reconcile Bush's abysmal approval ratings less than a year later. Survey USA has a new poll out that shows his approval ratings at 38% -- with 59% who disapprove. In all but the 12 most conservative states, he has a greater than 50% disapproval rating. Even in Texas for chrissakes, only 42% approve and 54% disapprove. With all the damage that this Worst President that Our Country Has Ever Had has caused and will cause, it is absolutely infuriating to look at how unpopular he is now -- and short of impeachment, we are stuck with this bastard for the next three years!!
Back in October 2004, Bush's approval ratings were at 51%-- which happens to be the exact percentage of the popular vote that he received. In other words, if we believe the polls and what happened on Election Day, absolutely everyone who approved of him at the time voted for him. Of course, there were also some who disapproved of Bush but still voted for him anyway -- out of fear (perhaps), or that Kerry was a terrible candidate.
On the day after the Election, Randy Shaw wrote a piece for Beyond Chron, called "We Are Outnumbered," which was positively the most depressing article that I have ever read in my entire life. In the article, he took issue wiht those who criticized John Kerry as a weak candidate ...
How anyone can disparage a presidential candidate who galvanized the Party’s base as never before is beyond me.
But the fact that the Party's base was "galvanized like never before" had nothing to do with John Kerry. As far as I'm concerned, we could have had a frying pan run against George W. Bush, and I would have still voted for it and enthusiastically campaigned for it. The very fact that somebody was running against Bush was enough reason for me to support whoever that was. Would thousands of liberal activist have taken time out of their busy schedules and campaigned in the swing states if John Edwards had been the nominee? Sure. Dick Gephardt? Why not? Wesley Clark? Of course! Howard Dean? Absolutely.
The facts to explain why George Bush should be defeated were all there, and then some -- and that was good enough for 49% of the electorate. What wasn't there was Kerry's argument for why he -- as opposed to anyone else -- should become our Next President.
On gay marriage: Bush wanted a constitutional amendment to enshrine bigotry, and Kerry was "against gay marriage" but didn't think we should change the constitution.
On Iraq: Even after it was proven that the Weapons of Mass Destruction didn't exist and the Administration had lied to us to justify an illegal, idiotic and criminally insane War, Kerry replied that he would have still nevertheless (with 20/20 hindsight) voted to authorize the invasion.
Which raises the general problem Democrats have had for a very, very long time: When was the last time that our presidential nominee actually inspired you -- and gave you a reason to believe?? Kerry didn't excite me. Neither did Gore. Clinton got re-elected in 1996 by absolutely betraying and selling out everything that the Democratic Party believed in (for that reason alone, Dick Morris should rot in hell). Clinton was exciting in 1992, but even then we all knew he was a "New Democrat" and we were all sick and tired of losing to Republicans so we gave him a pass. Dukakis? Mondale? Carter?
Phrases like "we are outnumbered" and "we are a conservative country" are designed to keep us down and depressed, and resigned to the "fact" that supporting conservative Democrats is our only hope to preventing the worse wreckage of a Nixon, Reagan or Bush II. But by continuously moving to the right, and allowing Republicans to frame the debate, we only allow political discourse to move further to the right. If Democrats actually learned to stand for something and were not afraid to take risks every once in a while, maybe we could drive public opinion, rather than let ourselves be driven by it.
Think about it: In 1964, the Republicans suffered a crushing defeat with their nominee, Barry Goldwater. Were they undaunted?? No. They continuously pushed their agenda and by 1980, a full-fledged Goldwater Republican was elected President.
In contrast, what did the Democrats do after 1972 -- when George McGovern lost by a landslide? They felt that it was "too much," "too risky," "too liberal," and proceeded the next 30-plus years running mediocre candidates who do nothing to help build a progressive movement in this country and take it back from these right-wing lunatics.
As Jim Hightower once said, it seems that lately we lose when we lose -- but we also lose when we win. And I, for one, am sick of this crap!
Tuesday, October 18, 2005
Nervous About Proposition 73 ...
As I mentioned earlier, one of the scary initiatives on the November ballot is Proposition 73. Prop 73 would require all doctors to give parents a 48-hour notice when their teenage daughter wants to get an abortion. Not only does this violate the fundamental right to privacy, but it will deter many terrified girls who get pregnant from having a safe abortion when they are unprepared to face the daunting task of raising a child. They will either have the child, or get the abortion in dangerous back-alleys.
Of course, in an ideal situation, we want parents to be part of the decision -- and most of the time, they are. But Prop 73 would mandate parental notification. Supporters claim that teenage girls who believe that they will be in danger can apply for a "judicial bypass" -- where a judge can waive the notice requirement. But do you really think that a terrified teenage girl will know how to navigate our judicial process?? For more info on why Prop 73 is wrong, click here.
This semester, as part of the Street Law program, I am teaching a 12th-grade class at Mission High School -- introducing them to basic, practical aspects of the law like family law, consumer law, housing law and criminal law. Because we are doing Family Law, I gave my students the Official Ballot Arguments for and against Prop 73, and assigned them to write a one-page essay on how they would vote.
Because my students are teenagers, I fully expected them to unanimously oppose this initiative. I am shocked to report that out of the 17 students who did the assignment, 9 said they would vote "Yes," 7 said they would vote "No," and one said that they were undecided. Keep in mind that these are High School students in SAN FRANCISCO.
Back in 1997, the religious right attempted to get a proposition on the California ballot that would require parental consent. I believe that this current effort to get parental notification is a less-radical, poll-tested attempt to get the same outcome they want -- to take away a woman's reproductive freedom.
More insidiously, Prop 73 is a Constitutional Amendment, which would put the following language in the California Constitution:
The authors of this initiative have slipped in a provision that would add “unborn child, a child conceived but not yet born” to the California Constitution.
This could have legal repercussions that we don't yet know. Again, another attempt to overturn Roe v. Wade.
Monday, October 17, 2005
Gephardt Admits He Was Wrong About Iraq
As Daily Kos reports, Former House Minority Leader and 2004 Presidential Candidate Dick Gephardt has admitted that he was wrong about the war in Iraq. After cowering to Bush and his liars back in 2002 to assemble bi-partisan support for a Congressional Resolution authorizing the President to go to War (which created a huge rift within the Democratic Party that we have not yet recovered from), this is big news.
"It was a mistake," said Gephardt last week in Seattle. "I was wrong."
As the American public continues to oppose this illegal, idiotic and unjustified war in growing numbers, the only thing that Democrats like Gephardt can do to is apologize, admit that they were wrong, and then blame the Bush Administration for lying to them. This won't make them look indecisive. It will show that they made a good-faith effort to trust the President, and that they were betrayed.
I honestly don't see how the Democratic Party can get any political mileage out of this never-ending quagmire, without completely renouncing the initial vote in October 2002 to authorize the invaison in the first place. If our potential 2008 Presidential nominees continue their wishy-washy bullshit, they will have yet again snatched defeat from the jaws of victory.
In fact, I strongly believe that (assuming the election wasn't stolen), John Kerry lost the Presidential race when he refused to admit that he was wrong on the War. Right after the Democratic National Convention, George W. Bush held a press conference in which he asked Kerry ...
''My opponent hasn't answered the question of whether, knowing what we know now, he would have supported going into Iraq," Bush said. ''The American people deserve a clear yes-or-no answer."
And what did Kerry reply?? The FUCKING IDIOT said that he would have still voted for the war anyway. Despite the fact that no weapons of mass destruction were ever found -- and that in fact they never existed. Despite the growing number of Americans being killed needlessly in a war that we never should have started -- and an occupation that has made the United States universally hated by even the most moderate Iraqis.
If there is any mistake that John Kerry made in the 2004 election, this was it. His later attempts to attack Bush on the inept occupation were completely ineffective.
Friday, October 14, 2005
Tony Hall and the Mayor's Abuse of Power
As the San Francisco Chronicle loves to gloat, Tony Hall just got voted off the island -- Treasure Island, that is. Last night, the Treasure Island Development Authority (the public body responsible for administering the conversion of a former military base and all development contracts on its property) voted to fire their Executive Director, former San Francisco Supervisor Tony Hall, without cause. Today, Hall asked the Mayor to give him his old job back as District 7 Supervisor -- but Newsom just had his staff people laugh at him.
Why did Tony Hall get fired? Apparently because he blew the whistle on the Mayor's sweetheart deals, contracts with Newsom campaign contributors who were ready to rip the city's taxpayers from millions of dollars. After all, Treasure Island sits right in the middle of the bay -- with exquisite views of San Francisco -- every gentrifying real estate developer's wet dream. Unhappy that Hall exposed what seemed to be obvious influence-peddling, Gavin used his cronies at the Chronicle to defame Hall. When that still didn't work, he just had the Board fire Hall. Even the Board members themselves admitted that they were just following the Mayor's orders ...
Treasure Island Director John Elberling: "TIDA is set up as a de facto project of the Mayor's Office... The Mayor appoints all Commissioners. Four are, for heaven's sakes, Department heads, which clearly are his votes. The other three are citizens who serve at his pleasure... If [the Mayor] says I want so and so to be my Director, I am not going to trump his judgment. It is the Mayor's call."
Of course, Tony Hall is no saint himself -- and I won't pretend that he was qualified for the job. And his right-wing politics leave much to be desired.
But what's especially galling to me is how Tony Hall got hired to run Treasure Island in the first place: the Mayor appointed him. Last year, in what became known in local media circles as the "Triple Play," Mayor Gavin Newsom promoted Treasure Island Director Annemarie Conroy to head the Mayor's Office of Emergency Services. He then replaced her with Tony Hall, who was finishing up his first term on the Board of Supervisors representing District 7 (West-of-Twin-Peaks area), and gearing up tu run for re-election. Because the Mayor gets to appoint vacancies on the Board of Supervisors, Newsom chose one of his own political aides (Sean Elsbernd) to replace him. With 11 Supervisors as the city's legislative branch, Newsom has appointed 2 Supervisors since he became Mayor -- and can often rely on 2 more who consistently side with his pro-business politics, enough to prevent the Board from overriding any veto.
To Repeat: Mayor Gavin Newsom
(a) promoted an incompetent hack to head our local equivalent of FEMA
(b) which created a vacancy from her old job
(c) that he chose to appoint a currently-serving elected official
(d) which meant he got to replace that elected official with one of his lackeys
(e) When one of those appointees tried to show some independence,
(f) he uses the Board that oversees that job (of which incidentally all of the members serve at his pleasure) to fire him.
You don't have to like Tony Hall to realize that this is garbage, and a clear abuse of power.
And this isn't the first time that Newsom has used a power play to abuse his role as Mayor to appoint elected officials (who ideally should be chosen by the people.) Last year, he appointed Treasurer Susan Leal to run the SF Public Utilities Commission, which then allowed him to appoint her replacement, Jose Cisneros. Like the Treasure Island Board, the Mayor also gets to appoint both the Executive Director of the PUC and all the Commissioners who allegedly "oversee" the Executive. In fact, the last time someone other than the Mayor appointed a Commissioner to the PUC, it created quite a ruckus.
Susan knows she can't upset the mayor too much -- or else suffer the same fate as Tony Hall!
Wednesday, October 12, 2005
Bush's Approval Sinks Like a Stone
While liberal bloggers are celebrating this news, and hoping that it will translate in Democratic congressional victories in 2006, I'm eternally frustrated. Why the fuck didn't this happen ONE YEAR AGO, when there was actually hope to get rid of this Clown, kick his ass out of the White House and bring some level of sanity back to our government?? It may be to an extent satisfying to know that the American public has finally woken up, but with all the devastation that Bush and his boys are doing on a daily basis, saying "Don't Blame Me -- I Voted for Kerry" just doesn't gratify me right now.
George and his ilk have already proven that they have no respect for the American people, so do you really think that low approval numbers now will change the way they act for the next three years?? Look at Harriet Miers. And unlike Bill Clinton, who obsessed during his second term about his place in history, George W. Bush doesn't care how history will judge him because "we will all be dead."
It's amazing what a difference a year makes -- which leads me to another question. If Bush was re-elected with 51% of the vote, and now 54% of Americans disapprove of him as President, there's gotta be a lot of sorry voters out there with a case of Buyer's Remorse. To my knowledge (and I could be wrong), there haven't been any news stories lately about people who voted for Bush last November, and now deeply regret it. If there haven't been, one of the following must be true:
(a) The Media has (once again) failed miserably at reporting a very obvious and pervasive story; or
(b) Maybe Bush didn't win that election after all.
I refuse to believe that our only solace can be the far-from-certain Democratic congressional take-over in 2006, or a Democratic president in 2008. And by then, it may be too late. After all, we won't be running against George W. Bush -- we'll be running against the Republican Party.
P.S. Reason #6,045 why the media is not liberal, take a look at the ridiculous spin that NBC is taking on their own poll:
It has been weeks since Hurricane Katrina slammed into the Gulf Coast; since gas prices began spiking to record highs; and since Cindy Sheehan, whose son was killed in Iraq, held her antiwar vigil outside President Bush’s Texas ranch. But, according to the latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll, the fortunes of the Bush administration and the Republican Party have not yet begun to recover.
As if somehow those poll numbers deserve to "recover"?? What happens if Bush's approval continues to sink even further?? Oh, but no. NBC wouldn't want that happen, now would they?
Al Gore Not Running for President ...
Today, Al Gore announced that he is not running for President in 2008 -- although reserved the possibility that he might run in the future. While Kos thinks this is bad news, I view this as a sigh of relief.
Not to say that my impression of Gore hasn't improved since his lackluster run for President. He has been an eloquent critic of the Bush administration, including an early critique of the impending Iraq invasion, going places that most tepid mainstream Democrats refuse to tread. He endorsed Howard Dean for President. And he came to my school last June and spoke out eloquently against the use of torture. It almost makes one wonder if, after
The trouble is, as everyone has said ad infinitum, the Democratic Party has an image problem -- and we've got to think outside of the box and stop nominating tired politicians who fail to inspire. The Clinton years really weren't that great (although compared with who's President now, I don't blame you for being nostalgic), but we're making a huge mistake if we don't think past nominating the former Vice President or the former First Lady. As Scott Shields brilliantly mentioned today at MyDD.com:
Personally, I think anyone who's limited their choices for 2008 candidates to Hillary Clinton and Al Gore is sorely lacking in originality, if not just flat out not paying attention.
And originality is what the Democratic Party is sorely lacking right now. We have got to stop resorting to celebrity candidates, and start thinking about how do we create a progressive movement in this country that recruits new leadership, grooms them for higher office, and ensure that we always will have a deep bench of qualified candidates??
It's the same problem as when progressives in Oakland recruit Ron Dellums to run for mayor, or when Berkeley progressives took former Assemblyman Tom Bates out of retirement and had him run for mayor. Sure, running a celebrity makes the job easier -- but it doesn't really help sustain a movement.
My early support in 2008 goes to Russ Feingold, notwithstanding his own set of problems. He's far and away the most progressive potential Democratic candidate out there, and after having been in the Senate for 12 years, it's about time that he gets promoted.
Running Al Gore and Hillary Clinton would be running on the goodwill Democrats have generated in the past. Running someone like Russ Feingold would be looking at an eye into the future.