Friday, September 29, 2006

GOP in Retreat! RNC pulling out of close races , abandoning hope

It looks Like the once invincible Armies of Emperor NaRoveon, just metaphorically woke up outside the Gates of Moscow, looked around and said "holy crap it's cold!"

How else to explain the GOP's recent, and apparently panicked retreat from closely contested House and Senate races nationwide?

As  Chronicled in today's Washington Post, the GOP is now abandoning races it once had high hopes for.  Take Ohio's 6th:

Republicans, who regarded this seat -- carried narrowly by President Bush in 2004 -- as their most promising chance to take a congressional seat from the Democratic column...

Four months ago, state Sen. Charlie Wilson (D) was teetering on the edge of defeat in ..Today he is strolling toward Nov. 7, ...

No television ads for Wilson or his Republican opponent, state Rep. Chuck Blasdel, are airing.., the national party organization [is}nowhere to be found.

"We don't hear anything...We are very happy they are looking [elsewhere]"

actually it appears they aren't looking anywhere but at the coverage of their own posteriors:

Like any game, politics tends to be more fun on offense than defense. Republicans are not having much fun this election season....

A combination of an adverse national environment and the need to devote their resources to defending at-risk GOP incumbents gives the national party few opportunities to invest heavily in challengers, such as Blasdel, who face an uphill fight.

In other words they are so busy trying to hold on to what they have (and not doing a particularly good job of that either as we "50-state" Kos devotees know) that they are all buy abandoning any hopes of taking seats away from the Democrats.  They are putting a brave face on it still, but privately they realize it's not a matter of if, but how many seats they lose this time:

While Democrats have targets around the country where they could gain a seat, Republicans have the barest handful.

Ask Republicans where they see takeover opportunities this fall and they will rattle off seats such as Georgia's 8th District -- held by Rep. Jim Marshall -- Iowa's 3rd or even the open at-large seat in strongly Democratic Vermont. But none of those races look particularly dire for Democrats at the moment, as many Republican strategists privately acknowledge.

And things apparently DO look dire enough for Republicans that the strain is starting to show on their formerly fierce and  seemingly infallible campaign strategists.   For example, in Oh-6, the Democratic nominee may owe his eventual victory, in a large part,  to over-reaching by panicky Republicans trying for an early knock-out:

Republicans' optimism only increased after Wilson did not collect the necessary signatures to qualify for the primary ballot, necessitating a write-in candidacy.

Sensing opportunity, the Republican Congressional Committee poured hundreds of thousands of dollars into the district in hopes of killing Wilson's candidacy. Television ads accused Wilson of supporting the dumping of raw sewage in the Ohio River, among other not-so-nice allegations.

A cunning plan, to be sure with one , ensy-teensy flaw:  That it backfired spectacularly:

The strategy backfired. Wilson, who knocked on 40,000 doors and sent out 4,000 personal letters during the primary race, rolled up 66 percent of the vote, winning 4,500 votes more than the four Republican candidates combined.

"To do that is unheard of," said Noble County Democratic Party Chairman Larry Woodford. Republicans [he said]"saw the writing on the wall."

Now, I'm no highly paid political consultant or anything, but does anyone else see the thunderous stupidity in running attack ads against a write in candidate  thereby boosting his name recognition to stratospheric levels?  Maybe its just me, but that seems like what we laymen  would call "a dumb move".  It seems it also had something to do with the fact that Wilson is outpolling his opponent 49% to 25%.

And while the News everywhere may not be quite so good as Ohio-6  it's clear that the results there are part of a very encouraging nationwide trend. We have never had so many incredible candidates running all at once.  We have never had the opposition so thoroughly tied in the public mind with an incredibly unpopular president and his disastrous war.  And most importantly we have never had so many GOPer's in safe seats shoot themselves and their campaigns so devastatingly in the foot all at once. (Is the Obama Enemy's curse  rubbing off on the Party?)

However as Ohio also showed us in '04 trends, by themselves don't mean a damned thing, without voter action to back them up. If we want to be the flood tide that sweeps away the Republican stranglehold on power, all the raindrops have to show up and do their part, no matter HOW hopeless or Secure the Dem candidates look where you live.  NONE of this will do use any good unless we are all willing to Vote, contribute, and convince our friends and neighbors to do the same.

It's clear to me that we will not, in our lifetimes, have a better chance than right now to wake the country up from the nightmare we've been  living in the last six years.  The GOP  is really on the ropes right now ,  but its not time to stop and congratulate ourselves. No, NOW is when we need to land that final punch  to make sure this time we finish them once and for all.   Money, volunteerism, or even good old fashion GOTV shoe leathering, can all  help ensure that for  once this decade we all may wake up Nov 7th without a hangover, or least one of the good "too much celebrating kind".

Killer Cronyism III: 1000's of American soldiers killed by bungling GOP loyalists in Iraq Hotlist

Georgia10 already had a front pager on the basics of this explosive Book Excerpt from the Washington Post  but with all due respect to her , I want to place this in larger frame as it's part and parcel of a much larger pattern.

For those who may have missed it the basics of this story are simple.  Thousand of  Middle east experts, academics and adventurers applied to the government to be part of the Iraqi reconstruction:

 ...but before they could go to Baghdad, they had to get past Jim O'Beirne's office in the Pentagon.  Applicants didn't need to be experts in the Middle East or in post-conflict reconstruction. What seemed most important was loyalty to the Bush administration..

O'Beirne's staff posed blunt questions to some candidates about domestic politics:.. Two  said they were even asked their views on Roe v. Wade


In other words, Bushbots got hired, regardless of expertise or experience and everyone else had to stay home.  Not surprisingly these people made a total hash of the job and got a lot of people killed as a result.   Nor is this  the first time this has happened:

When I read this story something about it seemed depressingly familiar, and then I remembered :  Oh yeah this reminds of nearly every other colossal failure the Administration has had since taking office.  At the center of each of them seems to be someone who got a job based on their beliefs not their competence who then fails, spectacularly to DO the job for which they were hired

Let's see if we notice a pattern developing:

A)During Katrina, the complete failure of FEMA's evacuation efforts can be directly tied to a $100 million dollar Emergency Evacuation Services Contract given to Landstar Express, whose Chairman was diehard Bush loyalist and President of the US Chamber of Commerce.  

  Unfortunately, Landstar had neither experience nor equipment to perform such a contract, so when their services were needed they were reduced to googling travel agents to subcontract the job to 24 hours after Katrina hit.  (meanwhile Greyhound, Trailways were standing by, offering their services gratis but couldn't get a call back from anyone at FEMA)  (BTW Landstar got a new $400 Million dollar contract as reward for their Katrina efforts)

B) After the Sago Mine disaster, it was revealed that MSHA, the Mine Safety and Health Administration was being run by a former Coal industry lobbyist, who immediately gutted the safety enforcement division, altered the findings of several current investigations to be more industry friendly, installed his own tame investigators and tried to run off any remaining honest MSHA employees. Is it a  shock therefore that three years later deadly conditions are found to exist at mines all over the country (and the killer mine had 250 citations in 2005 alone, but all resolved with a slap on the wrist)?

But bad as both of those examples are (and the Katrina evacuation fiasco's death toll may have been over 1,000) they pale in comparison to this latest revelation.    It's no exaggeration to lay the deaths of 10's of thousands of Iraqis, and the majority of Coalition casualties at the feet of the CPA's incompetent reconstruction efforts:

Many of the basic tasks Americans struggle to accomplish today in Iraq -- training the army, vetting the police, increasing electricity generation -- could have been performed far more effectively in 2003 by the CPA....

the CPA was the U.S. government's first and best hope to resuscitate Iraq -- to establish order, promote rebuilding and assemble a viable government, all of which, experts believe, would have constricted the insurgency and mitigated the chances of civil war

So why did they fail so badly?

well lets see if the article gives us a few minor clues:

Many of those selected because of their political fidelity spent their time trying to impose a conservative agenda on the postwar occupation that sidetracked more important reconstruction efforts and squandered goodwill among the Iraqi people,

In other words the CPA turned out to b run largely by a Bunch of conservative ideologues trying to implement Grover Norquist's version of Utopia rather than doing their jobs and helping the Iraqis?   Hmm I wonder how THAT could have happened:


To recruit the people he wanted, O'Beirne sought résumés from the offices of Republican congressmen, conservative think tanks and GOP activists.

He discarded applications from those his staff deemed ideologically suspect, even if the applicants possessed Arabic language skills or postwar rebuilding experience.

 "I watched résumés of immensely talented individuals who had sought out CPA to help the country thrown in the trash because their adherence to 'the President's vision for  was 'uncertain.' I.. advisory positions in Baghdad that were instead handed to prominent RNC [Republican National Committee] contributors."

Well, that'll do it, especially when those "standards" resulted in hiring decisions like these:

 A 24-year-old who had never worked in finance -- but had applied for a White House job -- was sent to reopen Baghdad's stock exchange.

The daughter of a prominent neoconservative commentator and a recent graduate from an evangelical university for home-schooled children { Patrick Henry College- Ed. }  were tapped to manage Iraq's $13 billion budget, even though they didn't have a background in accounting.

and of these two who would YOU have put in charge of the Health care system for 50 million people in a war-torn country?

James K. Haveman,Jr. a 60-year-old social worker...had been the community health director for the former Republican governor of Michigan, John Engle, {and} a  director of International Aid, a faith-based relief organization that provided health care while promoting Christianity in the developing world. Before his stint in government, Haveman ran a large Christian adoption agency in Michigan that urged pregnant women not to have abortions.


Frederick M. Burkle Jr., a physician with a master's degree in public health and postgraduate degrees from Harvard, Yale, Dartmouth and the University of California at Berkeley. Burkle taught at the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health, where he specialized in disaster-response issues, and he was a deputy assistant administrator at the U.S. Agency for International Development, He had worked in Kosovo and Somalia and in northern Iraq after the 1991 Persian Gulf War. A USAID colleague called him the "single most talented and experienced post-conflict health specialist working for the United States government."

Any Guesses who replaced Whom after O'Beirne took over?  Any guesses how that worked out for the Iraqis?

  But the Title of this article was "Killer Cronyism", not "incompetent Elephants on parade".  Thus I promised you blood and blood you shall have.

So why is this "killer" cronyism?  Well Let me say it plainly J'acuse The CPA of the Murder of all the Soldiers who have died in roadside bombings and insurgent attacks, all the innocent Iraqi's caught in the Sunni-Shi'a Civil war, and all the victims of Zarqawi's suicide bombers.

Why?  Because if they'd done their job even half competently, most of the troubles we've faced would be non-existent by now.  If  street-level security were better, people like Zarqawi wouldn't  be able to operate at will.   If more progress had been made in restoring the economy prominent Sunni and Shiite leaders might be convinced that there is more profit to be had in helping run the country than to divide it's bones, and most importantly the Insurgency would have by now run out of recruits.

 People who are in a comfortable middle class rarely rise up in the streets to attack their "oppressors".  Mob action occurs far more often among the hopeless, destitute, and dispossessed, in other words those who have nothing to lose.Read this secret cable sent form the US ambassador in Iraq last May.   And ask yourselves whether the average Iraq has much left to lose at this point.  In fact, thing are SO bad, says the Cable  most  Iraqis refuse to believe that the Americans could be so incompetent at reconstruction as they appear to be.  

Therefore, they've concluded that Americans are deliberately withholding electricity supplies and running water for city neighborhoods as a form of collective punishment(just like Saddam used to do).  Isn't that anger and suspicion precisely the thing that will gaurantee the loss of "heart and minds" to the US  and drive people in to the arms of the insurgents?  Ya, you betcha.  

Now ask yourself what a COMPETENT group of Planners and specialists could have done with that same $19 Billion.  How many less Insurgents would there be in THAT Iraq as opposed to the one we have now,  how many less Iraqis and Soldiers would die every day?

Thus As I said before J'accuse the Bush Adminstration of turning another vital compnenet of governance over to ideologue and Kleptocrats who turned the most important mission of his presidency into yet another Patronage piggy bank, to be split among the loyalists.  And therefore it is not unfair to lay at thier feet the lives of all those Iraqis and Americans who have paid in blood for the consequences of their malevolence and incomptence.