Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Who Leaked the Hadley Memo?

Today's NYT front page leads with details of a "classified" memo issued by Steven Hadley, the Bush admin's National Security Director, that calls into question whether Al-Maliki is up to the job in Iraq. The resulting firestorm lead to Bush being stood up by Al-Maliki this evening in Jordan. Notable is the lack of screaming of treason by administration wonks regarding the "leak" of the classified memo.

My take - this administration intentionally and conscientiously "leaked" this message to send a message that it felt needed to be sent, but would have been difficult to deliver mano a mano by Bush to Al-Maliki. Fair game no doubt, but it should be noted that this administration, like its predessors (arguably more deftly and frequently than most), uses leaks to get out messages when it is politically expedient to do so.

What I find disingenuous and objectionable is when newspapers are labeled as treasonous. A free press is one of the best things about living in this republic. Attempts to silence or trivialize the press are ill-advised.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Cheney "Summoned" to Saudi Arabia to Talk with the King?

Reports apparently have it that VP Cheney's recent trip to Saudi Arabia was at the behest of the Saudi's. I'll try to ferret out some more details, but such a request is at the very least humbling. It's worth noting that in State of Denial, Bob Woodward's recent book on the Administration's mishandling of Iraq, it is readily apparent that Prince Bandar, the long-time Saudi ambassitor to the US, was a significant source of Woodward's. Bandar's relationship with the Bush family and GWB in particular is said to be extremely close. Moreover, Bandar made it clear that the Saudi's had serious misgivings about invading Iraq - GWB, despite not understanding the difference between a Sunni and a Shiite, knew better. OUCH.

Blogging Detail

Just a note on what's happening here at BFT International. Following the election our effort level suffered. That ennui morphed into pre-Turkey day excitement followed by an extended food coma. Despite the lack of visible product tepid efforts were being made on a couple of fronts. First, the staff does have a couple of postings in development, you know, like Ernest & Julio Gallo (per the late Orson Welles), we sell no wine before its time - or something like that.

The staff has also fighting off terminal laziness and are individually and collectively trying to improve my blogging technical knowledge to the level of an average 9 year old. Specifically, sources suggest I need to upload this blog to an FTP, some cyber-server. While some steps have been taken in this regard, the effort may not come to fruition until some young punk walks me through the process. I also need to assign a separate "file" (I know my nomenclature is wrong, but tough shit) for each posting. Doing so will make linking to specific articles a breeze. I think its pretty easy (I think just an additional step in the editing process), but the staff's enthusiasm waned prior to completing the task. On we toil.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Dog Chapman Crackhead?

The National Enquirer recently printed an explosive piece claiming Duane "The Dog" Chapman despite his ubiquitous preaching regarding the evils of drug use likes to smoke crack. I happen to be a fan of Chapman's unintentionally campy tv reality show, The Bounty Hunter. Chapman readily admits to have served hard time for previous actions and seems to imply that drugs and alcohol abuse was part of the problem. His sermons lamenting the perils of drug use and touting his relationship with god are weekly features. Needless to say, the story, if true, may cost Dog big.

The article cites a former spouse and a crack dealer.....

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Mel Martinez to Head RNC - Was this Karl's Idea?

I'm not really ready to blame this uninspired pick on Karl Rove, but it does strike me a Rovian move. What's clear now (and was not when I began drafting this post) is the choice has many conservatives steaming.

First some background on Magic Mel (note, this is from my addled memory, I'll fact check to the extent practicable and offer corrections where appropriate). He served as a HUD secretary in GWB's admin prior to running for Senate. His senate campaign was far closer than predicted, primarily because Mel isn't particularly articulate, moreover, he lacks charisma and vision. His campaign , summarized, "elect me I'm the president 's guy".

Controversy surrounded his anointment as the party's senate candidate in Fla . Katherine Harris thought she was promised the chance to run as a quid pro quo for meritorious service during the 2000 Florida recount. With the benefit of hindsight the choice was easy, one need only look to the wacky campaign run by Katherine "What Do You Think of THESE" Harris in the recent Fla senate campaign. However, the decision was more about 2004 electoral politics than anything else. Magic, a Cuban-American, was run in 2004 to solidify the Hispanic vote in Florida.

His appointment to the RNC post appears to be an effort to extend a hand to Hispanic voters that departed the GOP in droves during the '06 midterms following the immigration debate. No one in their right mind would compare Magic to his predecessor, Ken Mehlman. Unless he is a masterful prestidigitator, he lacks the strategic skills Mehlman clearly possesses.

That said, the pick's appeal to the "Decider" is apparent. Bush knows him and views the pick through rose colored glasses. In fact, the choice is patronizing in the extreme. While it was ultimately Bush's choice, there is no doubt that Karl signed off on the pick.

Immediately following the election, Michael Steele's, the Republican candidate for Senate in MD, surfaced as a candidate for the position. Steele, an African-American, ran an wonderful campaign and came close to stealing (pardon the pun) a Senate seat in deep-blue MD. Steele appears to have a marvelous future in the party and placing Steele as head of the RNC, seems like a perfect fit on so many levels. I just don't get it - I suspect it's a case of Rove out-thinking himself.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Rush Limbaugh Laziness

While I do not frequently agree with Rush Limbaugh, I listen whenever I have the chance. I sincerely believe that those unwilling to entertain contrary points of view do a disservice to their intellectual development. Putting aside those issues that rise to the level of media firestorms (i.e. the Michael J. Fox and Donovan McNabb debacles), he often provides well-crafted arguments in defense of his points of view. At least as often however, he spouts disingenuous nonsense by cherry-picking "evidence."

One recent instance that comes to mind is Rush extensive reading of a WaPo piece regarding Nancy Pelosi's fashion sense juxtaposed against outgoing Speaker Hastert's anti-fashion sense. Rush stated emphatically that this was prime evidence of the "drive-by media's" bias against republicans. Breathlessly, he decried the placement of the piece of the "first page of section C."

The piece was extraordinarily complimentary to future Speaker Pelosi's fashion sense, and said it wouldn't even get into Hastert's fashion sense. Rush dedicated at least 10 minutes of his show to this article. Never during his soliloquy did he tell his listeners what should have been readily evident to any media savvy listener - he was quoting the lead article in the WaPo's Style section. While the piece was written by a Pulitzer winning journalist, the journalist is the fashion editor. Rush skipped this little detail and thunderously warns his listeners that this is a mere harbinger of the kid glove treatment to come.

That is really bullshit. Moreover, it often seems that much of Rush's topic "research " is lifted (often with citation) daily from the Drudge Report. While I check Drudge at least daily, and it possesses an impressive number of links to an array of media sources, it headlines ain't exactly a one-stop shop for the well-informed.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Rummy - The Unrepentant Warrior

Rummy fell on his sword for the Bush administration. Even in leaving the stage, he was the same arrogant, self-consumed SOB. In his last words , he protested that we the public and the leaders (other than GWB) we have chosen simply are incapable of understanding what he, the warrior Christ, has seen. What a crock of horseshit. He is incapable of contrition or humility. Leadership is not simply knowing the right path, it is more about successfully conveying the nature of the challenge.

The most interesting thing about Rumsfeld's departure is that someone within the president's inner circle contemporaneous to this announcement leaked that the VP didn't agree with this decision. Not only did the VP supposedly oppose the sacking of Rummy, but once he accepted the reality of Rummy's departure, he suggested ideologically similar replacements. The president rejected both suggestions according to the detailed leak and named a GHWB acolyte, Robert Gates. A significant departure from what has been standard operating procedure

Interesting Evening

Dems win the House with a +29, the Senate is technically up in the air, but despite the reticence of the news media MT and VA will likely go to the dems. The biggest surprise seems to be the breath of the MO democratic victory.

Quick takes

Tom Reynolds (R-NY, 24th)holds thanks god for early snow and the power of the executive to commit fast cash

Webb (D- VA Senate) leads by more than 700, recount won't save gorgeous George

Burns (R-MT Senate) being followed assiduously by journalists waiting for a Kodak moment

Hayworth (R-AZ 5th) loses and decries the consolidation in the radio industry, he could be the only ex-congressman that need to find a real job

Menendez (D-NJ Senate) grateful for insipid wimps from monied families willing to ignore their kids speech impediments

more to follow as the coffee takes hold

VA Senate Too Late to Count?

Why can't I make my font work, argh!!!!!!!!!! webb by roughly 2,500. This is big fun.

FNC Projects Corker - Senate Stays w/ the Republicans

  • Per Rich Lowery : the 2 most "winsome" candidates lose - both happen to be blackis there asubtle racial slur here somewhere, more importantly what does winsome mean.

Webb Ahead - A FNC Lead Team Signs Off . . .

Webb takes the lead by 3,000 votes with approximately 98% counted. A certain recount situation, but a big practical difference between being the declared count winner versus a challenger (that is if it isn't the state of Washington). Flipping over to Matthews MSNBC - is he paying attention - Webb somehow surged, after correcting Todd, now the Senate is back in play. WHy has no one called TN - please someone give me analysis in the midst of this blah blah.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

President Sleeps Late- Had Too Many Pops?

Per FNC President Bush will have a 1 p.m. press conference. He ain't gettin' up early after bangin' back a couple of bourbons while he's tossin' pretzels at Rove. To me he looks like he's been sneakin' a couple of pops before the election, what's going to happen when he's dealin' with Speaker Pelosi on a daily basis - hey, George consider hitting a meeting.

House Done - Why No Decision on TN??

The House is now merely a matter of numbers. I guess the drapes can be measured now, didn't the President's comment strike anyone else as a bit sexist or am I just too p.c. What's up in MD, WaPo retracted its projection of Cardin as the winner, but 46% counted as of 11:30, oh yeah, it's a blue state give'em time.

The real question I have that hasn't been addressed is why TN hasn't been declared? It appears like a no-brainer, but I have yet to hear any detail that would suggest that it's still in play - what gives?

Kristol's House Number

He says +30 11:06

MSNBC Mehlman Looks Good - Matthews Voice Fades


Fox News Barone Best Guess - A Draw - Going to Recount!!!


Barone analyzing things on a precinct by precinct basis sees Allen vote going to 0, apparently under VA election law, a candidate that loses by less than 1% can force a recount.

difference is less than 5,000 votes

Democrats Will Control the House

Now it is merely a matter of how many, without going race-by-race, I'm guessing a margin of 11. It's a great day for lawyers that specialize in election law - talk about full employment!

Fashion EMERGENCY!!!!!!!! Why is Nora O'Donnell Wearing a Burka Without the Headress?

Please no more full length shots!!

90%+ Votes Counted in VA - Exit Polls the Clear Loser

Get Kristol off the Telestrator!! He's out-of-control

Why Hasn't TN Been Projested as a Corker Win?

What's the hold up. Let's face it, assuming MT goes to Tester as expected, control of the Senate rests on the voters of VA and MO

MSNBC Predicts Cardin Win in MD

No decision on Fox yet, Mehlman is talking with Chris Wallace

9:21 Fox follows suit

9:33 MSNBC projects Whitehouse (D) Fox is there too

Exit polls in VA are appearing to be increasingly suspect

Best Throwdown of the Night

Matthews takes a shot at Scarborough, Scarborough comes back diplomatically, defending himself. Matthews acts like a snide dick. Normally I am a big fan of Matthews, but he's been a bit of a prick lately. His behavior here was absurd and his railing against those who support Joe Liebermann has been a bit too strident for my liking. He has consistently bashed those those who support Joe, but express discomfort with the occupation of Iraq.

Early Results - Senate

NJ Menendez (D) hold
PA Casey (D)
OH Brown (D)

TN looks like a republican hold with Corker, VA results appear closer to the pre-election polls rather than the exit polls.

How long until the first must watch of the evening, Santorum's concession speech.

Hannity Calls MO and VA "Very Tight"

The Razor seems to indicate Allen in trouble as well as Talent. Claims Burns (MT), may just pull it out. Has Gingrich on now. Newtie's seconds the concern about Allen - to me that means Gorgeous George is dead. Optimism seems limited to that arch-conservative Lincoln (please call me my Dad's name John) Chafee.

The "Architect" Dismisses Exit Polls, Claims He's Not Looking at Them

Leading off the third hour Hannity has Karl Rove on. Rove, staying on message, dismisses exit polls in anticipation of dismissing voting soon. Rove's message is consistent with Mehlman early statements and semi-hysterical comments displayed of the RNC webpage. No smugness is recognizable in Rove's voice - genius status in jeopardy. Stay tuned.

More Indications Early Exit Polls WIll Favor Dems

Sean "The Razor" Hannity opened his show with a fifteen minute diatribe begging the faithful to ignore the evil early polling data that will "inevitably" come out after5 p.m. EST. Since it is no revelation where the Razor gets his marching orders (note the info contained in my previous post), and given the fervor of his rant, it seems quite likely that the early numbers will strongly favor the democrats. Somewhat surprisingly, the Razor spent an inordinate amount of time on a race many had already placed pretty safely in the Republican column - TN. Does that portend a late night in TN - at this point I suspect so.

RNC Chairman On Rush

Ken Mehlman was just on Rush Limbaugh at the top of the 2nd hour. Not much new here other than Mehlman warning republicans to ignore early exit poll results. Cited flaws in '04,'02 and '00. I thought the flaws in those prior years were primarily the result of early result dissemination of the data. That is the data had not yet been properly weighted.

Mehlman then stressed his comments were not based upon any information he had regarding the current election. Does he protest to much? My guess is that early info from IN and KY will break significantly for the dems and the republicans don't want that info to have the effect of reducing its turnout in the mountain west or the west coast.

Midterm Predictions

If you expected to get any real insights on what will transpire in today's elections, good luck. Today is all spin tv with an aim to keep you watching, The rub is no real news until after 5 p.m. est when exit poll data should begin to become publicly available. That said here are my predictions for what they are worth.


(highest level of confidence to least)

PA - Casey (D)
OH-Brown (D)
NJ -Menendez (D)
MD - Cardin (D)
RI - Whitehouse (D)
TN - Corker (R)
MT - Tester (D)
VA - Allen (R)
MO - Talent (R)

Quick Notes:
In TN, a huge no. of early votes and bad weather in eastern TN, a republican stronghold, keep it close, but ultimately Ford falls. The defining moment wasn't when Ford "ambushed" Corker before a planned press conference, but rather when Ford decided to go for the upturned collar polo shirt under the navy sport coat. Way too edgy for the senate.

Republicans in NJ are (or should be) kicking themselves for not fielding a more formidable candidate than Kean Jr. He's got the charisma day old diner coffee. The twoubling speech impediment doesn't help either. Menendez was incredibly vulnerable in powder blue NJ in a lousy year for republicans. What does that tell ya?

Cardin is a lousy candidate that owes his job to a deep blue state. Steele ran a great campaign, but really didn't say much of substance. That said, he's a comer and will be back.

Tester beats Burns, barely. Any chance we can reconsider this whole deal with giving equal representation in the Senate?

Allen earns the reward for worst campaign (what the hell is Ed Gillespe doing?) and the largest fall from grace. Jim Webb likes dirty stories. I'm guessing Allen's name recognition nudges him to a narrow victory. This is a very iffy pick. Republicans were so sure of this seat, the vaunted 72 hour get-out-the-vote tactic is not in place in VA. Will Karl beat Ken Mehlman's ass if Webb wins?

MO is a true crap shoot. My pick is more about deference to Rove and the RNC. Talent is a good candidate with no apparent warts, McCaskill is a decent candidate, we may have to wait until morning to determine the winner.


No republican Hail Mary for a touchdown, but no democratic tsunami either.

Dems +21

Monday, November 06, 2006

This is almost sad . . .

if it wasn't so insidious. Reasonable people gave up the WMD issue long ago. David Kay, former UN weapon inspector who went to Iraq at the behest of the US gov't has made best efforts to put this issue to bed. He has stated for various Congressional committees and was interviewed extensively for Woodward's, State of Denial and Isikoff & Corn's, Hubris that Saddam's Iraq; (a) did not have chemical or biological weapons, (b)had no nuclear weapons program, (c) found no evidence to support the existence of mobile chemical/biological weapons labs, and (d) found it did not possess unmanned airborne drones to deliver any such non-existent weapons. These findings were arrived at despite his sincere belief that such weapons existed prior to the invasion of Iraq. Mr. Kay's testimony is not equivocal and his bona fides are beyond reproach. Yet the tinfoil hat crew ain't ready to give up the fight. What is far more disturbing than that is that the Administration has the audacity to try and revive this fantasy, despite the fact that the president has been explicit that no WMDs existed in Iraq at the time of the US invasion.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Full Speed Ahead

Tomorrow George Stephanopolis will air his interview will VP Cheney. In the promos to that interview a quote of the VP has been highlighted. The VP says that the administration will continue “full speed ahead” in Iraq, no matter what voters say. “We’re not running for office.” “We’re doing what we think is right.”

You know what? I think, I think he's right. Not that I agree with either his methodology nor his manner, but it is up to a feckless congress to step up to the plate. The arrogance of the administration is galling. Not only do they earnestly believe that the democrats are not smart enough to comprehend the threat from terrorism - they don't think the American people get are either.

Suspend reality for a moment and accept that canard. After six years of trumpeting a singular message, who is to blame for this lack of understanding, those elected to lead and they have failed. Americans understand what constitutes sound judgment, responsibility and accountability Those traits sorely lacking within the Bush administration. How many times can you ask people to "trust me." Trust is earned. I was told, fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me.

Leadership is all about trust, competence, judgment and gravitas. It is not about telling people what to do. Irrespective of the midterm results, let's hope that congress has received the message that the status quo is not acceptable. That, as I teach my children, mistakes have consequences. Moreover, without a vigorous and engaged legislature our republic is a shell.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Bully Politics - Simply Objectionable

Battering political opponents is par for the course. Highlighting differences and disparaging one's opponents is standard practice in American politics. It began once George Washington decided to step down as the country's first president. As is frequently pointed out, the acrimonious tone of today's campaigns pales in comparison to some of the scurrilous personal attacks of the past.

That said, I find it absolutely objectionable to have the president of the United States seemingly delight in the playing in the pig sty. Politics aside, the president is the most prominent leader in the world. His public statements are front page news across the world. How is it then that it is acceptable for him to say as he did on Tuesday, that "a victory by the democrats is a victory for the terrorists". That is impolitic and beyond the pale. Moreover, it is entirely inappropriate for the president to personally make these statements. While on one hand he repeatedly states that he isn't questioning the patriotism of his opponents, his words belie a different truth.

In the past such hyperbole would have been properly left to key lieutenants of the president, especially the vice president. Unfortunately, the VP is so marginalized, his approval ratings so anemic, that he can only be sent to deep red territory not true battleground areas. What does Bush say if the democrats win the house (and possibly the senate)? Can he reasonably expect to be able to effectively govern with those he has so savagely disparaged? Has he ensured gridlock, in effect encouraged payback through endless congressional inquiries?

Ugh, this sucks.