US Politics

  Clinton Advisers Warn ObamaFebruary 27, 2007 11:02 There's more than meets the eye in that ongoing skirmish between Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama.

Clinton's advisers are using the fuss to send a warning shot. They want the Obama campaign to know that everything it does will be closely scrutinized from now on and that Obama won't be getting any free shots against Clinton.

The donnybrook started when Hollywood mogul David Geffen said Hillary Clinton is too polarizing, that she should apologize for her 2002 vote in favor of the Iraq war, that her husband, Bill, has a reckless personality, and that the Clintons have a facility for lying. This prompted Clinton communications director Howard Wolfson to fire off a zinger to the media.

"By refusing to disavow the personal attacks from his biggest fundraiser against Senator Clinton and President Clinton, Senator Obama has called into serious question whether he really believes his own rhetoric," Wolfson said. "How can Senator Obama denounce the politics of slash and burn yesterday while his own campaign is espousing the politics of trash today?"
  GOP's 'Democrat' Slur Subject Of Two ComicsFebruary 26, 2007 10:46 At least two comics yesterday coincidentally referred to the way some Republicans -- including President Bush -- refer to the Democratic Party as the "Democrat" Party.

The use of "Democrat" Party is considered a slur, because it makes the Democratic Party seem, well, less democratic. And "Democrat" puts contemptuous emphasis on the letters "rat."

Addressing the issue yesterday were "Doonesbury" by Garry Trudeau of Universal Press Syndicate and "Candorville" by Darrin Bell of the Washington Post Writers Group.
  Polygamy Prominent In Republican Mitt Romney's Family TreeFebruary 25, 2007 09:55 While Mitt Romney condemns polygamy and its prior practice by his Mormon church, the Republican presidential candidate's great-grandfather had five wives and at least one of his great-great grandfathers had 12.

Polygamy was not just a historical footnote, but a prominent element in the family tree of the former Massachusetts governor now seeking to become the first Mormon president.

Romney's great-grandfather, Miles Park Romney, married his fifth wife in 1897. That was more than six years after Mormon leaders banned polygamy and more than three decades after a federal law barred the practice.

Romney's great-grandmother, Hannah Hood Hill, was the daughter of polygamists. She wrote vividly in her autobiography about how she "used to walk the floor and shed tears of sorrow" over her own husband's multiple marriages.

  Clinton, Obama Take Off The GlovesFebruary 23, 2007 08:51 THE US presidential campaign has turned nasty as Democrat frontrunners Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama traded barbs yesterday.

Senator Clinton's campaign team took the gloves off to accuse Senator Obama of engaging in the "slash and burn" and "trash" politics he decries.
The dispute was ignited after the co-founder of DreamWorks SKG movie studio, David Geffen, played host at a $US1.3 million black-tie Hollywood fundraiser for Senator Obama, attended by stars such as Jennifer Aniston and Ben Stiller.

Mr Geffen was once a high-profile donor to president Bill Clinton, raising $US18 million for his campaign and twice staying in the Lincoln bedroom.

But the pair fell out in 2001 over Mr Clinton's refusal to pardon a friend of his.
  Cheney At Odds With Mccain Over RumsfeldFebruary 21, 2007 16:32 Vice President Dick Cheney on Wednesday challenged GOP presidential hopeful John McCain's assertion that Donald H. Rumsfeld was one of the country's worst defense secretaries.

"John's entitled to his opinion. I just think he's wrong," said Cheney, a friend of Rumsfeld. He also disclosed that the Arizona senator had apologized to him for a previous comment that the vice president had "badly served" President Bush on Iraq.

"John said some nasty things about me the other day, and then next time he saw me, ran over to me and apologized. Maybe he'll apologize to Rumsfeld," Cheney said in an interview with ABC News.
  McCain: Rumsfeld Is One Of The Worst Defense SecretariesFebruary 19, 2007 20:57 Republican presidential candidate John McCain said Monday the war in Iraq has been mismanaged for years and former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld will be remembered as one of the worst in history.

"We are paying a very heavy price for the mismanagement -- that's the kindest word I can give you -- of Donald Rumsfeld, of this war," the Arizona senator said.

"The price is very, very heavy and I regret it enormously." McCain told an overflow crowd of more than 800 at a retirement community near Hilton Head Island, South Carolina.

McCain, the ranking Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee, complained that Rumsfeld never put enough troops on the ground to succeed in Iraq.

"I think that Donald Rumsfeld will go down in history as one of the worst secretaries of defense in history," McCain said to applause.
  Bush Compares Revolutionary, Terror WarsFebruary 19, 2007 11:43 I can't stand this moron any more. Does he really think that Guantanamo Bay is an example of "the freedoms we secured in our revolution were not meant for Americans alone"???

President Bush honored the 275th birthday of the nation's first president on Monday, likening George Washington's long struggle that gave birth to a nation to the war on global terrorism.

"Today, we're fighting a new war to defend our liberty and our people and our way of life," said Bush, standing in front of Washington's home and above a mostly frozen Potomac River.

"And as we work to advance the cause of freedom around the world, we remember that the father of our country believed that the freedoms we secured in our revolution were not meant for Americans alone."

Bush chose the national Presidents Day holiday to make his first visit as president to Mount Vernon. He and first lady Laura Bush helped lay a wreath at Washington's tomb, then the president gave a speech from a platform on the bowling green lawn of the estate.

  Democrats Say They'll Keep Heat On BushFebruary 17, 2007 10:25 The House's symbolic rebuke of President Bush's war strategy was just the beginning of Democrats' efforts to "right this ship," Rep. Chris Carney said Saturday.

"Finally we have a Congress that will demand the truth and accountability from this administration, about the costs of the war, about the reality of the war strategy and about the impact of the war on our larger national security," Carney, a Pennsylvania Democrat who serves in the Naval Reserves, said in his party's weekly radio address.

The Democratic-controlled House on Friday passed a nonbinding resolution expressing opposition to the president's decision to send more than 20,000 additional troops to Iraq.

The troop increase is part of Bush's plan to quell sectarian violence in Baghdad. The plan is already in motion, and Bush has said the vote would not deter him. His Republican allies have said passage of the resolution would lead to attempts to cut off funds for the troops.
  US House Passes Measure Opposing Bush On IraqFebruary 16, 2007 15:43 The US House of Representatives on Friday passed a non-binding resolution disapproving President George W Bush's deployment of more troops to Iraq.

The symbolic 246-182 vote was the sharpest congressional rebuke yet of Bush's policy in the nearly four-year long war and comes three months after the Democratic Party won control of Congress. Democrats are trying to push a similar measure through the Senate.

More than a dozen of Bush's Republicans voted with the Democrats after four days of contentious and emotional debate. Bush has said he will proceed with a 21,500-strong troop surge despite congressional opposition, and accuses Democrats of prejudging his plan to secure Baghdad before giving it a chance to work.

As the chief commander of the military, Bush is not required to abide by the resolution. Some Democrats have threatened to withhold funding for expanding the American presence in Iraq, a move that would set up a major confrontation with the White House but is unlikely to gain much support.
  Franken Enters Minn. Senate Race | Chron.Com - Houston ChronicleFebruary 14, 2007 14:09 Comedian Al Franken announced Wednesday that he will run for the Senate in 2008, seeking the Democratic nomination to challenge Republican incumbent Norm Coleman.

Franken's announcement came on the final day of his show on the liberal radio network Air America. The decision by the former "Saturday Night Live" performer instantly makes him a serious contender and brings national attention to the race.

"Minnesotans have a right to be skeptical about whether I'm ready for this challenge, and to wonder how seriously I would take the responsibility that I'm asking you to give me," Franken said in a video on his Web site.

"I want you to know: Nothing means more to me than making government work better for the working families of this state, and over the next 20 months, I look forward to proving to you that I take these issues seriously," Franken said.

The decision was not unexpected. Franken announced a few weeks ago that he would leave Air America and privately told prominent Democrats about his plans to seek office.
  On Iraq War, Pelosi Says 'No End In Sight'February 13, 2007 21:42 House members debated Iraq yesterday in an emotional and historic face-off over a war that the House speaker, Rep. Nancy Pelosi, condemned as a commitment with "no end in sight."

The long-awaited floor debate came with Democrats now as the majority party in Congress, the war nearly four years old and more than 3,100 Americans dead. Lawmakers argued about whether to publicly rebuke President Bush for sending 21,500 more troops into battle.

"The American people have lost faith in President Bush's course of action in Iraq, and they are demanding a new direction," said Ms. Pelosi, a Democrat of California. Her counterparts among the Democratic leaders in the Senate worked to bring their own measure to the floor.

A resolution putting the House on record against Mr. Bush's expansion of troop strength was expected to be approved by week's end. It was nonbinding but nevertheless unmistakable in its message. "No more blank checks for President Bush on Iraq," Ms. Pelosi declared.
  CIA Official, Defense Contractor To Face Conspiracy ChargesFebruary 13, 2007 16:38 A U.S. federal grand jury has indicted a former high-ranking U.S. intelligence official and a defense contractor in a corruption probe that led to the jailing of a prominent U.S. lawmaker.

The director of the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency, Michael Hayden confirmed the charges against Kyle "Dusty" Foggo, the former third-highest official at the CIA, and California-based defense contractor Brent Wilkes on Tuesday.

The jury charged the men Tuesday with fraud and conspiracy in connection to large government contracts Wilkes' company received.

One of Wilkes' companies was also implicated in the trial of Congressman Randy "Duke" Cunningham last year.
  Don't Blow It--Oust Cheney NowFebruary 13, 2007 15:07 When Senate Republicans fell in lock-step behind a desperate White House, and stalled debate on the Bush-Cheney escalation of pointless military operations in Iraq, people like Sen. John Warner (R-Va.) were reportedly inundated with furious protests over the capitulation from their constituents.

That little act of cowardice, and other recent instances of bipartisan foolishness in the upper House, prompted Lyndon LaRouche last week to warn that the growing crop of Senators who have joined the 2008 Presidential sweepstakes has so weakened the institution, at least temporarily, that he is looking to the House of Representatives to lead the charge on the life-and-death issue of the immediate ouster of Vice President Dick Cheney from office.

While the immediate reasons for ousting Cheney center on the imminent threat of a U.S. attack on Iran, an attack that would certainly trigger a new Hundred Years War, the fact is that LaRouche has been leading the effort to remove the Vice President for cause since August 2002, when Cheney emerged as the propagandist-in-chief for the illegal invasion of Iraq.
  Australian PM Stands By Obama AttackFebruary 12, 2007 11:04 It's amazing... there are stupid leaders in Australia, too!

Australian Prime Minister John Howard on Monday stood by his comments from a day earlier when he said that terrorists should pray that Sen. Barack Obama and the Democrats take over the White House in 2008.

Both Democrats and Republicans in the U.S. were telling Howard to butt out of American politics.

Speaking to Australia's ABC News Radio, Howard said his comments were aimed at the Illinois Democrat's plan to withdraw U.S. forces from Iraq in March 2008.

"What I have done is to criticize Sen. Obama's views on a particular issue, and I don't retreat in any way from that criticism," Howard said. "I think if America is defeated in Iraq that will be catastrophic for the West and it will have tremendously adverse consequences for Australia."

Howard, who trails the opposition Labor Party in his re-election bid this year, criticized his opponents as being hypocritical.

  CIA Leak Trial Shines Revealing Light On White House Under SiegeFebruary 11, 2007 21:37 Sworn testimony in the perjury trial of former White House aide I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby has shone a spotlight on Bush administration attempts to sell to Americans a gone-wrong war in Iraq and Vice President Dick Cheney's aggressive role in the effort.

Special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald rested his case against Cheney's former chief of staff on Thursday in a trial that has so far lasted 11 days. The defense planned to begin its presentation Monday.

Libby is charged with lying to the FBI and obstructing a grand jury investigation into the leak of an undercover CIA agent's identity. The CIA agent is married to a diplomat who had publicly questioned a Bush administration assertion that Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein had been seeking uranium in Africa. Libby is the only one charged in the case.

The drama being played out in a Washington courtroom goes back in time to the early summer of 2003, when the Bush administration was struggling to overcome growing evidence the mission in Iraq was anything but accomplished.

The claim about weapons of mass destruction that was used to justify the U.S.-led invasion in March 2003 had not been supported. Insurgent attacks were on the rise. Accusations were growing that the White House had distorted intelligence to rationalize the invasion.
  Cheney the ProphetFebruary 11, 2007 21:33 Sometimes you wonder what planet Vice President Dick Cheney is living on.

Last month, speaking of the war in Iraq, Cheney told CNN's Wolf Blitzer in a prickly interview:

"Bottom line is that we've had enormous successes and we will continue to have enormous successes. It is hard. It is difficult."

Anyone keeping up with the daily news from Baghdad knows that few people in the last few months — especially those in the military — are bragging about big successes to quell the violence in Iraq.

Even within the White House, Cheney seems like a man lost in his own little world.

While Cheney is making upbeat assessments of the war, President Bush is giving more downbeat assessments, acknowledging that the military occupation is not going as well as he had hoped.

That is why he is asking for more troops to make a last stab at stabilizing Iraq, torn by its civil war.

The vice president has been putting his head in the sand for a long time. When he first came to power as the No. 2 leader of the United States, he was depicted as Bush's prime minister.

After the 9/11 terrorist attacks, it appeared that Cheney was running the show, until White House image managers intervened to lessen the perception that Bush was somehow not calling the shots. Cheney then lowered his profile.

His experience has obviously not improved his vision. After the first Persian Gulf War ended in March 1991, Cheney — then serving as defense secretary in the first Bush administration — was asked on ABC-TV why Operation Desert Storm had not gone all the way to remove Saddam Hussein from power.

He replied prophetically:

"I think for us to get American military personnel involved in a civil war inside Iraq would literally be a quagmire. Once we got to Baghdad, what would we do? Who would we put in power? What kind of government? Would it be a Sunni government, a Shia government, a Kurdish government?

  Obama Formally Enters White House RaceFebruary 10, 2007 14:26 Democratic Senator Barack Obama has launched his bid for the United States presidency with a speech in the hometown of former president Abraham Lincoln.

Thousands of enthusiastic supporters watched on as Senator Obama delivered his speech in Springfield, Illinois.

The 45-year-old is widely seen as the first African-American with a realistic chance of winning the presidency.

Senator Obama says Americans have the chance to unite as one people reaching out for what is possible.

"That is why, in the shadow of the old state capital where Lincoln once called on a house divided to stand together, where common hopes and common dreams still live, I stand before you today, to announce my candidacy for President of the United States of America," he said.
  An Unmentionable Irony Of Reaganism: It Led To Big-Government ConservatismFebruary 09, 2007 08:58 In this winter of their discontents, nostalgia for Ronald Reagan has become for many conservatives a substitute for thinking. This mental paralysis -- gratitude decaying into idolatry -- is sterile: Neither the man nor his moment will recur. Conservatives should face the fact that Reaganism cannot define conservatism.

That is one lesson of John Patrick Diggins' new book, ``Ronald Reagan: Fate, Freedom, and the Making of History.'' Diggins, a historian at the City University of New York, treats Reagan respectfully as an important subject in American intellectual history. The 1980s, he says, thoroughly joined politics to political theory.

But he notes that Reagan's theory was radically unlike that of Edmund Burke, the founder of modern conservatism, and very like that of Burke's nemesis, Thomas Paine. Burke believed that the past is prescriptive because tradition is a repository of moral wisdom. Reagan frequently quoted Paine's preposterous cry that ``we have it in our power to begin the world over again.''

Diggins' thesis is that the 1980s were America's ``Emersonian moment'' because Reagan, a ``political romantic'' from the Midwest and West, echoed New England's Ralph Waldo Emerson. ``Emerson was right,'' Reagan said several times of the man who wrote, ``No law can be sacred to me but that of my nature.'' Hence Reagan's unique, and perhaps oxymoronic, doctrine -- conservatism without anxieties. Reagan's preternatural serenity derived from his conception of the supernatural.
  Bush Puts 'Ic' Back In 'Democrat Party'February 05, 2007 11:40 Relying on self-deprecating jokes, unusual candor and outright flattery, President Bush on Saturday wooed lawmakers he not only needs but will have to answer to in the final two years of his presidency.

Bush had not seen fit to attend a Democratic congressional retreat since 2001, his first year in office. But the new political reality that has Democrats in charge of Capitol Hill for the first time in a dozen years changed his mind. When he appeared before House Democrats at a Virginia resort, he seemed to be trying to make up for lost time.

With his first words, he sought to put to rest one bone of contention between the White House and the new congressional majority: The dropped "ic."

Democrats found it demeaning when the president, in his State of the Union address last month, referred to the "Democrat majority," as opposed to the "Democratic majority."

"Now look, my diction isn't all that good," Bush told the 200 lawmakers who wrapped up two days away from Washington with family and aides. "I have been accused of occasionally mangling the English language. And so I appreciate you inviting the head of the Republic Party."

  Critic Of Gitmo Lawyers Quits Defense PostFebruary 03, 2007 18:23 A senior Pentagon official resigned Friday over remarks in which he criticized lawyers who represent terrorism suspects, the Defense Department said.

Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman said Charles "Cully" Stimson, deputy assistant secretary of defense for detainee affairs, told him he had made his own decision to resign and was not asked to leave by Defense Secretary Robert Gates.

Stimson said he was leaving because of the controversy over a radio interview in which he said he found it shocking that lawyers at many of the nation's top law firms represent detainees held at the U.S. military prison in Cuba.

"He believed it hampered his ability to be effective in this position," Whitman said of the backlash to Stimson's words.
  California Primary Shift Seen Hindering McCainFebruary 02, 2007 09:29 Arizona Sen. John McCain's presidential aspirations stand to suffer a stunning setback if California Republicans carry out a plan to move part of their nomination process up from June to Feb. 5 next year.

"If the California Republican Party approves this idea, it may benefit candidates other than Senator John McCain," Orange County state Assemblyman Chuck DeVore told The Washington Times.

The proposal backed by Mr. DeVore, an influential conservative activist, calls for the 1,600 members of the state Republican Central Committee to select at least 53 of their 165 delegates to the 2008 Republican National Convention at the California party's regularly scheduled February convention in Sacramento.

An alternative plan being negotiated by Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and the Democrat-controlled state Assembly would move the 2008 presidential primary election up from its traditional June date -- where it has in recent years had no effect on the selection of the party's presidential nominee -- to Feb. 5.

Florida is also expected to move its Republican primary to Feb. 5. Florida Gov. Charlie Crist, a Republican, is expected to put his statewide campaign machinery at the disposal of Mr. McCain for the presidential primary in that delegate-rich state.
  Critique Of Bush's Iraq Plan Gains In SenateFebruary 01, 2007 15:16 The two major Senate groups critical of the Bush administration's plan to send more troops to Iraq have joined forces, ensuring that a resolution with significant bipartisan support will go before the full Senate next week, Republican and Democratic senators said Thursday.

At the same time, the officer just back from commanding U.S. forces in Iraq, General George Casey, told senators that the war remained winnable even with fewer than the 21,500 additional troops requested by President George W. Bush. But some of the senators were sharply critical of his record there, which coincided with yet more bombings and other violence.

"While I do not in any way question your honor, your patriotism or your service to our country," Senator John McCain, Republican of Arizona, said to Casey, "I do question some of the decisions and judgments you've made."

McCain said he was unsure whether he could support Casey's nomination as army chief of staff.