Saturday, November 20, 2004

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Time to Ask the Tough Question

Josh Marshall is doing a great job tracking how the members of Congress voted on the "DeLay Rule." Passage of the "DeLay Rule" means that the House Majority Leader won't have to step down when he is indicted by a grand jury set up by Austin District Attorney Ronnie Earle.

So, if your congressman voted for the DeLay Rule, maybe it's time to get on the phone. Let's say that your congressman is Congressman Toady. Call his office and say,
"I've got a procedural question about how Congress works. When Tom DeLay tells Congressman Toady to bend over and smile, what does Congressman Toady do first: drop his pants, or say "Yes sir."?
Of course, if you have a congresswoman instead of a congressman, maybe you'll want to phrase your question a bit more delicately.

Or else not.


Tuesday, November 16, 2004

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Evidence of Election Fraud in Florida?
Imagine that!

Bev Harris and a tean from Black Box Voting have been busy collecting evidence of significant irregularities in one Florida county.
Susan picked up on the reports posted at Kos:
After a day of furious auditing Bev, Andy and Kathleen of Black Box Voting have found discrepant results in Volusia county.

At this time we have had an attorny LOCK DOWN all poll tapes, memory cartridges and the GEMS central tabulator. The discrepant results were concentrated in mainly minority areas. We are currently going through trash obtained early this morning by Bev and Kathleen Wynne via a FOIA request. At one point they were threatened with arrest but avoided it narrowly (Bev will do a full report later). Black Box Voting will be issuing a press release later today. This is it folks...the first crack in Florida.

. . .

"We began to compare the special printouts given to us with the signed polling tapes from election night. Lo and behold, some were missing. We also found some that didn't match. In fact, in one location, precinct 215, an African-American precinct, the votes were off by hundreds, in favor of George W. Bush and other Republicans. Hmm. Which was right? Our polling tape, specially printed on Nov. 15, without signatures, or theirs, printed on Nov. 2, with up to 8 signatures per tape?"
Bev and Andy will continue reporting at Democratic Underground. Stay tuned.

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Condi Gets State:
Bush rewards incompetence

Let's face it: Condi Rice couldn't do her job as the National Security Adivsor. She was a miserable failure.

And since George W. Bush is still the worst president in history, I'm not surprised that he has tapped her to be our next Secretary of State.

Without time to write much more, I'm going to just quote some of what I said about Rice last April. Here it is.

Her little performance before the 9/11 Commission was certainly underwhelming. She continued with the White House party line (structural problems, nothing we could have done, CIA's fault, FBI's fault, Clinton's fault).

She comes across as both an academic ideologue, and a bureaucratic syncophant, personally loyal to George W. Bush who gave her such an important, high-profile job. Her loyalty is admirable, if terribly misplaced.

My real complaint with Ms. Rice is that she's completely unqualified for the job she is expected to perform. She doesn't have the tools in her tool kit, and it's doubtful that she ever will.Sure, perhaps she was an expert on the 1980s-era Soviet military. That and 3 bucks will get you a mocha down at the corner shop where
Josh Marshall does most of his writing.

If her major shortcoming isn't immediately obvious, it's because her position is mis-named. She's the National Security Advisor, and if all she had to do was advise the president, she might be up to the task.

But the National Security Advisor is supposed to coordinate all the various arms of the national security apparatus. This is, in reality, a leadership position. Rice was also
put in charge of a task force to cut red tape in the reconstruction and democratization of postwar Iraq. I guess we have her leadership to thank for all those no-bid contracts that Haliburton subsidiaries got so they could price-gouge the Army in Iraq.

Say what you will about the military. It has the best built-in leadership training program at every level of any large organization anywhere. Officers and enlisted personnel are sent off to a school every few years to learn the things they'll need to know at their next level of responsibility. I once overheard my Detachment Sergeant counseling one of his young NCOs:
"You could get away with asking what you were supposed to do when you were a corporal," he said. "Now that you're a sergeant, I expect you to know what you're supposed to do."
In academia, this doesn't happen. One may get smarter in one's area of expertise. But nobody teaches college professors how to be in charge of anything.Fred Kaplan at Slate takes a look at how this plays out in Ms. Rice's work as the National Security Adivsor, especially in light of the national security failures of 9/11. Needless to say, he is not impressed.
One clear inference can be drawn from Condoleezza Rice's testimony before the 9/11 commission this morning: She has been a bad national security adviser -- passive, sluggish, and either unable or unwilling to tie the loose strands of the bureaucracy into a sensible vision or policy. In short, she has not done what national security advisers are supposed to do.


Responding to Ben-Veniste, Rice acknowledged that Clarke had told her that al-Qaida had "sleeper cells" inside the Untied States. But, she added, "There was no recommendation that we do anything" about them. She gave the same answer when former Navy Secretary John Lehman, a Republican and outspoken Bush defender restated the question about sleeper cells. There was, Rice said, "no recommendation of what to do about it." She added that she saw "no indication that the FBI was not adequately pursuing" these cells.

Here Rice revealed, if unwittingly, the roots -- or at least some roots -- of failure. Why did she need a recommendation to do something? Couldn't she make recommendations herself? Wasn't that her job? Given the huge spike of traffic about a possible attack (several officials have used the phrase "hair on fire" to describe the demeanor of those issuing the warnings), should she have been satisfied with the lack of any sign that the FBI wasn't tracking down the cells? Shouldn't she have asked for positive evidence that it was tracking them down?

Former Democratic Rep. Tim Roemer posed the question directly: Wasn't it your responsibility to make sure that the word went down the chain, that orders were followed up by action?

Just as the Bush administration has declined to admit any mistakes, Condi Rice declined to take any responsibility. No, she answered, the FBI had that responsibility. Crisis management? That was Dick Clarke's job. "[If] I needed to do anything," she said, "I would have been asked to do it. I was not asked to do it."
The person in charge of our nation's national security doesn't do anything unless she is asked to do it? I'm sorry, but where I come from that doesn't cut it.

(Thanks to Fred Clark at
Slacktivist and Avedon Carol at The Sideshow for the links.)


Monday, November 15, 2004

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Down Time

I must apologize for the light blogging of late. It's budget season at the day job, so I'm in the midst of crunching numbers, trying to make it all work. Could take a few more days.

Thanks for checking in from time to time.


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