TOP TEN MYTHS ABOUT IRAQ: By Juan Cole. Myth Number One: that the United States "can still win" in Iraq.
See them all.
BUSH LIES ABOUT ICE RAIDS: President Bush teed off on immigration reform in today's press conference, TPMMuckracker notes. "But while his point may be admirable -- the country needs comprehensive immigration reform -- his portrayal of the facts wasn't. Here's how he described the results of last week's unprecedented raids on meatpacking plants:
"I don't know if you've paid attention to the enforcement measures that were taken recently at some meat-packing plants. They found people that had been working illegally, but all of them had documents that said they were here legally — they were using forged documents."
But as Justin Rood notes, "A day after the raids, ICE [Immigration and Customeres Enforcement] announced that only 65 of the nearly 1,300 detainees faced criminal charges, and only some of those involved document fraud. That number has since grown to over a hundred. Still, the vast majority of those arrested in the raids and held for days were not charged with identity theft."
Rood adds, "Meanwhile, a number of the detainees have proven they are legal residents and workers, and didn't deserve to be arrested and detained. Some rights groups and union officials are mulling legal action in their cases. Unfortunately, the president gave no word on whether he thought the tactics of immigration enforcement are also up for some comprehensive reform."
Just another case of President Bush's reckless disregard for the truth -- not an encouraging sign for upcoming negotiations with Democrats on Capitol Hill.
DEMS MUST REJECT GOP STRONGARM ON SENATE: Sen. Tim Johnson's recovery from brain surgery might make the point less urgent, but Jonathan Singer notes at MyDD.com that, with the Democrats holding a 51-49 majority in the new Senate, there has been some discussion that Republicans should hold out for concessions in the agreement organizing the Senate, ensuring that should the composition of the Senate change during the course of the 110th Congress to create a Republican majority (with the tie-breaking vote of Vice President Cheney) that Republicans would be able to take over the majority powers. As precedent, the resolution organizing the Senate in 2001 is often cited (as the Washington Post's Charles Babington details 12/15).
But Singer notes that the 2001 situation was different, as Democrats picked up enough seats to force a 50-50 tie with Republicans in the Senate. "As a result, when Congress organized on January 3, 2001, the Senate was under Democratic control as then-Vice President Al Gore -- who would remain in that position for 17 more days until the inauguration of the next administration -- cast the tie-breaking vote in his own party's favor. Though likely politically untenable, the Democrats could have attempted to hold on to control over the Senate even after the Republican Vice President, Dick Cheney, was sworn in. True, the Republicans would have likely filibustered and generally worked to shut down the chamber in response. But the Democrats did have precedent for maintaining control over the chamber even while technically being in the minority."
Before that, the precedent was that the party in majority when the Senate was organized held the majority powers, including control of committees and the agenda, for the entire two years of that Congress. In 1954, after the deaths and replacements of several senators over two years, Republicans remained the "majority party," even though Democrats eventually outnumbered them, 48 to 47, with one independent. As Babington and Jonathan Weisman explained in the 12/14 Post, "Democratic leader Lyndon B. Johnson did not challenge the GOP's control, in part, historians said, because the independent, Wayne L. Morse of Oregon, warned that he would caucus with the Republicans if need be. That would have led to a 48-48 chamber, and Vice President Richard M. Nixon would have broken the tie in Republicans' favor."
The implications of this reality are important, not only as a result of the excessive and premature speculation by many this week that the Democrats would not be in control over the Senate during the next Congress but also because of the potential that a member of the Senate who intends to caucus with the Democrats might later change his or her mind over the course of the next two years. Should said member decide to caucus with the Republicans after the first week of January, the absence of the aforementioned special concession in the Senate's organizing resolution would mean that the Democrats could remain in control of the chamber -- even as Republicans would technically have the majority with the tie-breaking vote of the Vice President.
So the Democrats must not follow the suggestions of Tom Daschle by using "the precedents we set in '00 and '01 [...] as a guide in '07" but should instead follow the longer-standing and more pertinent traditions of the Senate by crafting an organizing resolution that fully protects their rights as the majority in the Senate.
The senator to which Singer refers, of course, is Joe Lieberman, who was elected in Connecticut as a third-party-of-one but pledged to caucus with the Dems. In addition to the possibility that he might switch parties again, he has been mentioned as a potential appointee to the Bush administration -- perhaps as UN ambassador to replace John Bolton. His replacement would be appointed by a Republican governor and would put the Senate at 50-50, giving GOP control with Cheney's tie-breaker.
Why this would matter? If an opening occurs on the Supreme Court, for example, Republican leaders already have made it clear they would do anything necessary, including rewriting the rules to prohibit judicial filibusters, to run a right-wing Bush appointee over a Democratic minority. If the stakes get high enough, there's no telling what the right wingers will try.
See more on Senate organization arcana at DailyKos.
ALL YOU NEED TO KNOW: Max Sawicky boils down the midterm election campaign:
Bush has raised taxes much more than Clinton. The reason goes back to Milton Friedman's axiom: "To spend is to tax." All spending founded on borrowing is paid for with taxes sooner or later. Under Bush, spending has increased far more than under Clinton. Interest payments on borrowed funds can easily outstrip the principal of the loans taken out by the Gov to cover Bush's illusory "tax cuts."
Bush has authored a ruinous foreign policy, wasting gigantic sums and precious lives in a distraction known as Iraq, incidentally strengthening terrorists while failing to prevent them from reconstituting in, among other places, Afghanistan.
The only vote that counts for each incoming member of the House and Senate is the vote they cast for who organizes each chamber. Party affiliation is everything because all Republicans are slaves of the Bush White House. Individual qualities are nothing. Every vote, from dog-catcher to Senator, is a vote for or against the worst president in history, George W. Bush.
Vote Democratic, whether you like it or not.
PLACE YOUR BETS: According to our prognostications, Democrats should unseat 15 Republicans and win back the majority of the House of Representatives. That would make Nancy Pelosi the first woman head of the House. The big question is whether Dems can win six seats currently held by the Republicans to regain the majority in the Senate.
Republicans will try to minimize the importance of the loss of the House, particularly if the Democratic majority is relatively thin, but as we note in our editorial above, the Judiciary Committee under John Conyers (D-Mich.) is expected immediately to launch oversight hearings on the Justice Department's conduct of the "war on terrorism" and other Democratic chairs would be expected to initiate oversight hearings that Republicans have stymied ever since the Bush administration came to town.
Members of the Progressive Caucus in line for House committee chairs if the Democrats regain the majority include George Miller (Calif.) at Education and Workforce, Barney Frank (Mass.) at Financial Services, Henry Waxman (Calif.) at Government Reform, Bennie Thompson (Miss.) at Homeland Security, Tom Lantos (Calif.) at International Relations, John Conyers (Mich.) at Judiciary, Louise Slaughter (N.Y.) at Rules, Nydia Velazquez (N.Y.) at Small Business and Charlie Rangel (N.Y.) at Ways & Means.
If Dems recapture the Senate, the leaders will include progressives and populists such as Tom Harkin (Iowa) at Agriculture, Robert Byrd (W.V) at Appropriations, Carl Levin (Mich.) at Armed Services, Kent Conrad (N.D.) at Budget, Daniel Inouye (Hi.) at Commerce, Science and Transportation, Jeff Bingaman (N.M.) at Energy and Natural Resources, Ted Kennedy (Mass.) at Health, Education, Labor and Pensions. Jay Rockfeller (W.V.) at Intel, Patrick Leahy (Vt.) at Judiciary, John Kerry (Mass.) at Small Business and Daniel Akaka (Hi.) at Veterans' Affairs.
Leahy not only would be in position to conduct his own oversight hearings on the Justice Department, but a Democratic majority would be in position to block Bush appointees to the Supreme Court and other judicial seats, which makes control of the Senate even more critical than the House.
In the Senate, Dems need to oust six of seven or eight vulnerable Republicans to take over that chamber, and hold onto Democratic seats in swing states.
Prospects look good in Ohio, where Sen. Mike DeWine joined Pennsylvania's Rick Santorum and Rhode Island's Lincoln Chafee as GOP incumbents clearly trailing Dem challengers Sherrod Brown, Bob Casey and Sheldon Whitehouse, respectively. In Montana, populist state Sen. Jon Tester (D) holds a narrow lead over Sen. Conrad Burns (R), who has suffered from major gaffes and ties to disgraced GOP lobbyist Jack Abramoff. States rated "no clear favorite" included Missouri, where Sen. Jim Talent (R) and state Auditor Claire McCaskill (D) were still running neck-and-neck in polls; Montana, where Tennessee, where US Rep. Harold Ford (D) is battling former Chattanooga Mayor Bob Corker (R) for the seat Sen. Bill Frist (R) is giving up; and Virginia, where Sen. George Allen (R) has traded leads with former Navy Secretary Jim Webb (D). In the last week, Democrats also have put more money into Arizona, where polls show challenger Jim Pederson (D) has pulled within a few points of Sen. Jon Kyl (R).
Dems must hold onto embattled seats, including New Jersey, where Sen. Bob Menendez (D) is struggling to beat Tom Kean Jr., son of a popular former governor; Maryland, where Rep. Ben Cardin (D) is favored to retain the seat Sen. Paul Sarbanes (D) is giving up; and Minnesota, where county prosecutor Amy Klobuchar (D) is pulling away from Rep. Mark Kennedy (R) for the seat Sen. Mark Dayton (D) is giving up. Dems also would like to see Ned Lamont (D) beat Sen. Joe Lieberman in Connecticut. Lieberman, who filed to run as an independent after Lamont beat him in the Democratic primary, has said he would caucus with the Dems but some believe he might consider switching to the GOP.
See MyDD.com's Senate forecast as well as its House forecast.
Political Wire asked Stuart Rothenberg and Nathan Gonzales of the Rothenberg Political Report which races they thought would serve as "bellwethers" for Election Night.
Even for the diehard political junkie, following 90 races for the House, Senate, and governor on Election Night would be quite a feat. So, here is a simple game plan for tackling November 7, to give you a good idea as to what's happening nationwide.
Check it out.
For what it's worth, the nonpartisan Rothenberg Political Report thinks, "state and national dynamics favor Democrats netting six seats and winning control of the United States Senate." As for the House, "Going into the final days before the 2006 midterm elections, we believe the most likely outcome in the House of Representatives is a Democratic gain of 34 to 40 seats, with slightly larger gains not impossible. This would put Democrats at between 237 and 243 seats, if not a handful more, giving them a majority in the next House that is slightly larger than the one the Republicans currently hold."
Of course, this requires everybody to get out and vote.
REMEMBER THE JOB-EXPORT BILL: Republicans are touting the bill authorizing700 miles of fencing along the 2,000-mile Southwestern border with Mexico, which George W. Bush signed Thursday, but Americans who are concerned about illegal immigration should remember that Republicans in Congress in 2005 approved the job-exporting Central America Free Trade Agreement, which increases the economic pressure on Central American and Mexican workers to move north into the United States in search of jobs. The agreement was approved 54-45 in the Senate on June 30, 2005 and it was approved 217-215 in the House on July 27, 2005.
CAFTA, like the North American Free Trade Act on which it is modeled, has inadequate protection for American workers and farmers and no enforceable labor or health standards in Central American and Caribbean signatory nations. Some Republican senators who voted for this agreement and who should answer for it at the polls this November include George F. Allen Jr. (Va.), Mike DeWine (Ohio), Jon Ensign (Nev.), Kay Bailey Hutchison (Texas), Jon Kyl (Ariz.), Rick Santorum (Pa.), Jim Talent (Mo.) Ten Democrat voted for CAFTA and among those who are up for election this year are Maria Cantwell (Wash.), Dianne Feinstein (Calif.), Bill Nelson (Fla.) and Ben Nelson (Neb.). (Joe Lieberman didn't vote.) But we think American workers would be better off with a Democratic Senate, with union-supported "fair traders" setting the agenda, so the Democratic flakes on CAFTA get a pass from us.
Find the Senate vote record. Also see the House vote, which also featured a lot of today's immigrant bashers voting to export jobs from the United States.
See our editorial, "Giant Sucking Sound II," from the Sept. 1, 2005 issue and a report on the effects of NAFTA on both sides of the border by the Economic Policy Institute.
BELL FINDS VOICE IN TEXAS: Chris Bell, the Democratic nominee for Texas governor, parlayed a sharp debate performance into a million-buck contribution from a trial lawyer who got fed up with the Republicans owning the airwaves and the the former Houston congressman showed he has learned to speak on the stump as he fired up a partisan crowd at Mother Egan’s pub in Austin Wednesday night.
Of course, it’s not that hard to find a crowd of Democrats in solid-blue Travis County, where the GOP has laid siege to the Austin Democrats from time immemorial. But Bell said he recently spoke to 300 people in Plano -- in what is normally the GOP suburban stronghold north of Dallas -- and hundreds also came out in the rain in Fort Worth. “The cavalry is on the way,” he told the Austin Democrats. Texans “are drawing the line in the sand and saying they’ve had enough.”
He plans to point out the human costs of the budgets that Republican Gov. Rick Perry has balanced on the backs of the poor and working people of Texas, and the need to invest in public education instead of just shifting money around to reduce property taxes. He noted that the Legislature, which receives a nominal salary but a handsome pension for those who hang around 12 years or more, pegs the pension increases to district judge salaries, and consequently the judges do all right. “I want to tie the legislators’ pensions to teacher salaries and which how serious they get about improving teacher salaries then,” he said.
With a five-way race, including Perry, Bell, Republican state Comptroller Carole Strayhorn running as an independent as well as a Libertarian candidate, Bell said, “This is the best opportunity we’ve had since 1990, when Ann Richards was heading up our ticket, to take back Texas for the people.”
He also noted that new ads Perry is running attacking Bell show that the Republican is worried. Perry criticized Bell for taking $1 million from Houston lawyer John O’Quinn, even though Perry has taken $690,000 since 2003 from the family of a Houston homebuilder who has led the effort to shut down consumer lawsuits. “That guy couldn’t even find the moral high ground with both hands,” Bell said of Perry.
A new poll done by the Texans for Insurance Reform PAC (backed by the plaintiffs’ bar) showed that Bell has closed some ground between himself and Bell since the debate two weeks ago in Dallas, but he still trails Perry by nearly 16 points.
As Karl-Thomas Musselman noted at Burnt Orange Report:
While I'm not one to put too much weight into polls done by the Texans for Insurance Reform PAC, being able to compare two of them side by side from the PAC at the very least gives us a sense of momentum and change.
And boy, there was some change after the one TX-Gov Debate. Prior numbers in (*).
Perry (R) 34.4% (32.9)
Bell (D) 18.7% (13.6)
Strayhorn (I) 18.5% (20)
Friedman (I) 8.6% (14.1)
If you don't think the debate (and Kinky's pathetic performance and Bell's very good one) matters, well, it does. There is finally momentum in this race and it's in Bell's favor. If you apply the same shift to other polls were more in line with reality to begin with, this 3 way tie for second would finally be over.”
A plurality will win the race.
For more on Bell see http://www.chrisbell.com/
CONGRESS TO BILL OF RIGHTS: DROP DEAD. Habeas corpus used to be called "The Great Writ," but the Republican Congress has moved to make it a dead letter.
The New York Times got it right in its Sept. 28 editorial, "Rushing Off a Cliff."
Here’s what happens when this irresponsible Congress railroads a profoundly important bill to serve the mindless politics of a midterm election: The Bush administration uses Republicans’ fear of losing their majority to push through ghastly ideas about antiterrorism that will make American troops less safe and do lasting damage to our 217-year-old nation of laws -- while actually doing nothing to protect the nation from terrorists. Democrats betray their principles to avoid last-minute attack ads. Our democracy is the big loser. ...
The editorial concluded:
We don’t blame the Democrats for being frightened. The Republicans have made it clear that they’ll use any opportunity to brand anyone who votes against this bill as a terrorist enabler. But Americans of the future won’t remember the pragmatic arguments for caving in to the administration.
They’ll know that in 2006, Congress passed a tyrannical law that will be ranked with the low points in American democracy, our generation’s version of the Alien and Sedition Acts.
Democrats who voted for the bill succumbed to fear of being demagogued as soft on terrorists -- and that fear is well-founded, as the last couple elections have shown -- but as a poster at DailyKos.com noted, Democrats were not the problem with this bill:
In all 65 Senators voted for this bill. Only 12 of them were Dems. The other 53 were Republicans, the Party of Dungeons, Rendition and Torture. Of the 34, one was Chafee, one was Jeffords, and the other 32 were Democrats.
So there are 32 Dems who can see what's right and only one Republican. There are 53 Repubs who support Dungeons, Rendition and Torture, and only 12 Dems.
Keep some perspective here, folks. The Dems are not who conceived, wrote and will administer this bill. The Dems are not the enemy. The Republicans are, and it is they who should be opposed.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said this has been "a make-matters-worse Congress for the working family in America."
If Democrats regain control of the House and/or Senate in the coming election, they will hold oversight hearings on such matters as whether the president manipulated facts to build support for the invasion of Iraq.
A Democratic Congress won't be able to repeal this ill-considered bill allowing the president to decide what amounts to torture and stripping defendants who are labeled "enemy combatants" of the right to habeas corpus appeals. We can only hope the Supreme Court reads the Constitution, which says in Article 1, Section 9, "The Privilege of the Writ of Habeas Corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in Cases of Rebellion or Invasion the public Safety may require it."
But at least we can hope if the Supreme Court does its duty and strikes down this dictatorship-enabling law, a Democratic Congress won't vote to make things worse again.
HOUSE GOP LEADERS IN PAGE SCANDAL COVERUP: According to the Associated Press, US Rep. Mark Foley's behavior towards teen-aged pages was known nearly a year ago, and the House Leadership took no action. Rep. Rodney Alexander, R-La., who sponsored the page from his district, told reporters that he learned of the emails from a reporter some months ago and passed on the information to Rep. Thomas Reynolds, R-N.Y., chairman of the House Republican campaign organization.
Roll Call reports that Chairman of the House Page Board, Rep. John Shimkus (R-Ill.) interviewed Foley last year about some of the contacts with the page, who was 16 at the time. The House clerk, who is also a member of the Board, was also present. Speaker Hastert's office was informed of the interview, but Rep. Dale Kildee (D-Mich.), the only Democrat on the board, was not informed of the interview, according to Roll Call (as noted by Josh Marshall.
Hunter at DailyKos noted that Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, furious that the Democratic leadership was not informed of the situation for nearly a year after the emails were discovered, demanded a House Ethics investigation; her resolution passed the House 410 to zero. The House Committee on Official Conduct now has ten days to issue a preliminary report on what the Republican leadership knew, when they knew it, and what they did or didn't do about it.
Marshall noted Friday night that Majority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, was hanging Hastert out to dry, as the Washington Post was reporting that Boehner told the Post that he had learned this spring of some "contact" between Foley and a 16-year-old page. Boehner said he told House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.), and that Hastert assured him "we're taking care of it." It was not immediately clear what actions Hastert took, but the Republican leadership apparently was supporting Foley's re-election effort until the time that Foley abruptly submitted his resignation from Congress Friday.
ABC News reported Friday that Foley, a deputy whip in the House GOP leadership, also engaged in a series of sexually explicit instant messages with current and former teenage male pages. In one message, ABC said, Foley wrote to one page: "Do I make you a little horny?"
In another message, Foley wrote, "You in your boxers, too? ... Well, strip down and get naked."
Foley, as chairman of the Missing and Exploited Children's Caucus, had introduced legislation in July to protect children from exploitation by adults over the Internet. He also sponsored other legislation designed to protect minors from abuse and neglect.
Foley had been favored to win re-election against Democratic businessman Tim Mahoney; President Bush won the district in 2004 with 54% of the vote. But the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee had included the campaign in its list of “emerging races,” or the 50 seats most primed for takeover. Mahoney.
Foley's name will stay on the ballot, but Republican officials can name someone else to replace him. Any votes for Foley will be counted for his replacement.
See additional information at Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, which also asked for investigations of Foley's actions.
UPDATE (10/1/06) Think Progress has a Foley Coverup Timeline.
LABOR: A NEW BEGINNING IN THE SOUTH: The first conference of the Southern Faith, Labor and Community Alliance took place in July, hosted by the University of Memphis and attended by several hundred people, black, white, Asian and Latino. The gathering included ministers, labor supporters, community activists, academic workers, Change to Win and AFL-CIO unions, from eight southern states and far beyond.
In essays for The Progressive Populist, Michael Honey provides historical perspective and Alice Bernstein reports on aspects of the conference.
See our editorial written on 9/11/01, for the 10/1/06 TPP, in which we say:
... if we move to limit our liberties in response to terrorism, we concede the victory to the terrorists.
The bravest response to terrorism would be to rebuild the World Trade Center and the Pentagon and return, as much as possible, to normalcy.
The only people who gain from terrorism are extremists. Time and again we have seen "the hard men" on opposing sides undermine peace efforts, in Northern Ireland, the Mideast, the Balkans, Africa, Asia and elsewhere. All they reap from their grievances is more bodies. All they create is more grievances. ...
See our follow-up editorial for the 10/15/06 issue, in which we recognized that the president was the commander in chief, but noted:
We must recognize the limits of military force. We have been at war with Iraq for 10 years but we haven't defeated Saddam Hussein yet. We have only delivered misery to the people he rules. More to the point, we've waged a war on drugs for 30 years, imposed draconian sentences that put millions of drug users and dealers in jail, seized billions in assets and indoctrinated a generation to "Just Say No" and inform upon their parents if they see a baggie of weed, but we still can't stop the narcotraffickers.
A war on terrorism must not only apprehend those who planned and helped carry out the murderous attacks. It also must address the poverty and injustices that feed generations of accumulated grievances. ...
Unlike the folks in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and the other nations that have been identified as supporting terrorism, citizens of the USA have the right to vote and, at least in the case of Congress, that vote still counts. We don't want to end up like Iran where the people can elect moderate legislators but the mullahs still run the country into the ground. We don't want misreaders of the New Testament running this country, either. ...
And the editorial for the 11/1/01 issue, written as the US led an international coaliton to topple the Taliban in Afghanistan:
... Despite official assurances that the Allies' weapons are not aimed at Islam or the people of Afghanistan, many Moslem fundamentalists are taking America's attack on the Taliban regime and the terrorist organization of Osama bin Laden as a signal that the new crusade is on. They have called for a jihad against the United States in retaliation ...
The world supported our intervention in Afghanistan, remember. Then Bush saw the political uses to which the "war on terror" could be put ...
See "Five Years of Failure," 9/15/06 TPP.
CHOOSE LOCAL DEMOCRACY: A Local Democracy Conference in Madison, Wis., with the theme, "The Community Power Road to Democracy," will explore ways to choose democracy over global oligarchy from 9/28 through 10/1. See www.localdemocracy.org or call 608-257-1606 for information.
MEXICANS IN AMERICA: According to Richard Rodriguez's essay at Cato Unbound, immigration is not as simple as some of the "reformers" would have you believe. Victor Davis Hanson reacts.