Monthly Archives: October 2006

More Kukos

Peter Baker continues his string of good reporting in today’s Washington Post. Why is it good? Because he’s not a stenographer. He looks behind the statements — a one-man truth squad.

As Bush wound up a three-day campaign swing out west on Wednesday, for example, he attacked Democrats for voting last week against legislation authorizing warrantless telephone and e-mail surveillance.

“One hundred and seventy-seven of the opposition party said, ‘You know, we don’t think we ought to be listening to the conversations of terrorists,’ ” Bush said at a fundraiser for Rep. Rick Renzi (R-Ariz.) before heading to Colorado for gubernatorial candidate Bob Beauprez.

Asked about the president’s statement, White House aides could not name any Democrat who has said that the government should not listen in on terrorists. (emphasis added) Democrats who voted against the legislation had complained that it would hand too much power to the president and had said that they wanted more checks in the bill to protect civil liberties.

Yesterday, he took on Bush’s cheap “cut-and-run” shots.

While saying he does not question their patriotism, Bush paints Democrats as a “cut-and-run” party that enables terrorists.

His indictment centers on three pieces of legislation: the USA Patriot Act expanding law enforcement powers; a measure authorizing warrantless surveillance of telephone calls and e-mail into and out of the United States when one person is suspected of ties to terrorists; and legislation creating military tribunals that restricts the rights of terror suspects and permits harsh interrogation to extract information. Noting that Democrats supported the Patriot Act in 2001 before filibustering its renewal last winter, Bush said, “They voted for it before they voted against it.”

Bush’s language, though, characterizes Democratic positions through his own prism. Critics of the surveillance program have not argued (emphasis added) against listening to terrorist phone calls but say the government should get warrants from a secret intelligence court. Likewise, many critics of the tribunal measure did not oppose interrogating prisoners generally, as Bush said, but specific provisions of the bill, such as denying the right of habeas corpus or giving the president freedom to authorize what they consider torture.

It’s critical that reporters challenge statements made by politicians, especially those such as Bush who regularly suspends reality and ignores what opponents really said and simply puts words in their mouths.

The Amish

Remarkable people, from which many on the so-called religious right could learn a lot.

…they don’t balance the hurt with hate.”

Gutless Pages

Who is to blame for this sordid state of affairs on Capitol Hill? Is it Congressman Mark Foley for hitting on young pages? Is it gays, as Tony Perkins of Family Research Council believes? Is it the GOP leadership who apparently thought that Foley’s $100,000 contribution to the congressional campaign committee last summer was a sufficient price to keep the lid on his abuse?

No, it’s the pages’ fault, according to Howard Kurtz of The Post.

Among the many depressing aspects of the downfall of Mark Foley–who has now done the inevitable checking-into-rehab thing–is that a number of young people could have blown the whistle on this deceptive congressman in recent years, but didn’t.

The Washington Post tracked down a couple of them. Former page Patrick McDonald said that at a 2003 reunion he learned of sexual messages that Foley sent three or four ex-classmates and thought, “if this gets out, it will destroy him.”

Matthew Loraditch says he has known for years about the “creepy” messages the Florida Republican sent three of his 2002 classmates. But no one wanted to come forward. “You take down a Congress member, and you can’t end up trying to do something later,” Loraditch said.

Now I don’t want to come down on 16-year-old kids (though some are now as old as 21) who must have been intimidated by the whole thing. Indeed, the power imbalance between a big-shot member of Congress and a lowly page is part of what makes this infuriating.

But did they really think that if they told the outside world that the co-chair of the Exploited Children’s Caucus was sending them, or their friends, graphic sexual messages, that their future careers would be ruined? That they would be washed up in politics? Isn’t it more likely that they would be hailed as brave for doing the right thing?

The naiveté of Kurtz! Or maybe he’s just trying to deflect the blame from the GOP. “Hailed” by the Dems maybe, but ostracized by the GOP. If any Republican page turned in Foley, it would be along time before that kid would be a Republican candidate for anything.

Twin Evils

I just tuned it to Chris Matthews on “Hardball.” Tony Perkins, head of the Family Research Council said that Congressman’s Foley actions prove that when you promote “tolerance and diversity, this is what you get.”

Then he said that research proves that gay men are more likely to molest children than straight men. Matthews did not ask him what research. Anybody know what research he’s talking about?

Doesn’t like tolerance and diversity. Somehow that doesn’t surprise me.

No Questions!

House Speaker Dennis Hastert and Congressman John Shimkus, R-Collinsville, said in a press conference at 2:00 that they were not aware of Congressman Foley’s explicit Instant Messages until this news report surfaced last week.

Except it wasn’t really a press conference because they took no questions. Didn’t look good.

There are still a lot of holes in this story. ABC News reported yesterday that “Foley’s obsession has been known to Republicans for 5 years” and quoted an ex-page who said that “warnings were issued…Pages were told to watch out for Foley.” By using the past passive tense, the reporter suggests he doesn’t know the full details. Who knew it for five years? Who issued the warnings?

Those were probably some of the questions reporters didn’t get to ask this afternoon as Hastert and Shimkus walked out on reporters.

Update: With Gonzales heading this investigation don’t expect anything before the elections. They’re already dragging their feet.

[Justice Dept. o]fficials were still trying to decide whether the Washington or Miami offices of the FBI would head the inquiry.

How lame an excuse is that?

Da Dems

He has a point.

Most Democrats in Congress seem bereft of ideas or the courage to stand up for them. They clearly want power, but they have no principles to guide their use of it.

…I’m not saying that Republicans are at all better, and of course elections breed some policy timidity. But the infuriating thing about the Democrats is that, just a decade ago, they knew how to empathize with voters’ economic insecurities without collapsing into irresponsibility; they combined attractively progressive social policies with sensible pro-market fiscal responsibility. Now many in the party have lost interest in this necessary balance. If the Democrats win a measure of power next month, it’s hard to see what they will do with it.

There have been attempts to offer an agenda, but they have been vague and do not represent out of the box thinking. And of course, they are a “they,” no one single Democratic proposal.

Some will say that’s because the Dems do not have a single leader and couldn’t, given they are out of power. But that didn’t stop Gingrich.