Sense from Seattle

Common sense thoughts on life and current affairs by a Seattle area sexagenarian, drawing on personal experience, years of learning as a counselor to thousands of families and an innate passion for informed knowledge, to uniquely express sensible, thoughtful, honest and independent views.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Bush in Bellevue

No, not the psychiatric hospital in New York, though a visit there for evaluation would be interesting. Bush flew into Sea-Tac Airport then motorcaded up I-405 to Bellevue, the Seattle suburb, for a quick fund raiser for his local stooge, Congressman Reichert. Air Force One and the costly entourage popped in for a couple hours, with local taxpayers incurring further costs for Presidential security, including 200 officers to block the freeway ramps.

Bush is so unpopular and so intent on immunity from criticism that much of his security protection is actually designed to protect him from having to see any protestors. Wherever Bush goes, huge areas of insulation are maintained for lengthy periods of time. With typical Republican insensitivity for the average citizen, the event was scheduled during the afternoon commute and I-405 was totally closed for two forty-five minute blocks of time. The dinner could have been held at one of the many available locations near Sea-Tac airport, or at a time outside the commute hours, but the Republican attitude about what stalled commuters should do seems to echo Marie Antoinette - “let them eat cake”.

The Bellevue event was a $1,000 per plate dinner attended by 300 Republican fat cats, 20 of whom paid an additional $10,000 to have a personal picture taken with Bush [there’s 20 more candidates for psychiatric evaluation]. Reichert decided a quick half a million was worth it, even though his smiling picture with Bush was effectively used against him last time around.

Bye Bye Berto

Good riddance Alberto Gonzales. Your story of rising from humble beginnings is as American as apple pie. But when you absolutely attached yourself to George W. Bush, you sold your soul, your integrity, your competence and most disastrously, you sold out America and the American Constitution. You exit saying your worst day as Attorney General was better than your father’s best day, invoking the memory of his immigrant worker struggle. But if your father had lived to see your pathetic disservice to America, he might well have said his worst day was your best day as Attorney General.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Rove Goes Roving

Karl Rove, known as “Bush’s Brain”, “The Architect” and my favorite, “Turd Blossom”, is going to be leaving the Bush Administration in the next couple weeks. The reasons for his exit have been the subject of much speculation, in which I now join.

Rove is one of those intelligent nerds from a semi-privileged background who follow an all-white life path, without any blue collar life experience, reacting against the politics of other white people who actually care about all people and want to see government work for everybody, not just for the white, privileged rich. The place of natural fit for these reactionaries is the right wing of the Republican party and the associated ultra-conservative think tanks. PBS did an excellent Frontline show, which is viewable on line, covering Rove’s background and history of activities.

Rove rose to prominence by developing his skill at campaign dirty tricks and at misdirecting attention from the true issues and keeping opponents from discussing them. After riding into the White House with George Bush, Rove became a major center of attention, in spite of his preference for secrecy. By the 2006 election, the majority of the public was on to Rove, and after Democrats took control of Congress, the investigatory heat was turned on high.

Rove is leaving because of the heat and because of his failure to deliver in 2006, but in spite of the fact no Republicans have embraced him since his exit announcement, he will remain active in politics. Obviously he will write one or more garbage books and he will deliver loads of hogwash speeches to organizations stupid enough to pay his fee. But his immediate mission will most likely be to lead a major attack on Hillary Clinton, especially once she becomes the Presidential nominee of the Democrats as Rove expects. Rove will be funded, not by the Republican nominee or even by the Republican party, but by soft reactionary front money, such as was used in the Swift Boat ads against Kerry. Putting one of his cronies in the US attorney chair in Little Rock was part of the Rove strategy against Hillary, to start investigative spectacles designed to discourage voters from electing another Clinton and putting America through another Starr like inquisition.

Though Rove is returning to private life, his activities, past and future, will actually become more public. As Democrats gain the White House and as those who embraced Rove are further removed from power, more people will talk about the Rove secrets, more evidence will be discovered about the travesties of Rove and the Bush administration, and more people who barely tolerated Rove will turn against him. Hopefully he will be hounded, harassed, investigated and embroiled in litigation for the rest of his life. He deserves nothing better.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

2008 Republican Senatorial Vulnerabilities

In the 2008 election, 33 U.S. Senate seats will be voted on, plus one special election in Wyoming to replace the incumbent Republican who died earlier this year. One Republican Senator, Allard of CO is not running for re-election; he was elected in 2002 with only 51% of the vote. In all, 22 seats, presently held by Republicans are up for grabs. They are shown in Red on the map above. Which ones are vulnerable, giving hope for Democrats to achieve a filibuster free Congress?

The CO seat is a definite prospect. The special election in WY has no elected incumbent, but the State usually goes Republican. Here are some prospects to keep an eye on, the Republican incumbents who received the smallest winning percentages in their 2002 election:

MN - Coleman -50%
CO - Allard retiring - 51%
NH - Sununu - 51%
OK - Inhofe 52%
GA - Chambliss - 53%
NC - Dole - 54%
SC - Graham - 54%
TN - Alexander - 54%
TX - Cornyn - 55%
OR - Smith - 56%

If the mood of the country still favors the Democrats at election time, and if strong candidates are fielded to challenge for these seats, there is hope. Some of the 12 Democrats up for Senate re-election, shown in blue on the map, also had slim margins in their 2002 wins, but a pro-Democrat mood favors them. Death or retirements before the election could complicate the picture, but for now, these are the contests to watch.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Who Is to Blame?

The catastrophe known as the Bush administration will continue until the new President and Congress take over in January, 2009. The US Senate does not have the numbers to force anything significant, unless 9 of the 49 Republicans join their votes with the 49 Democrats and 2 Independents.

In the 2004 Presidential election, 31 States enabled Bush to continue his disastrous regime. Only the Northeast, West Coast, Hawaii and parts of the upper Midwest voted to dump him. By the 2006 election, it was clear that change was needed and 6 Republican Senators were dumped, in PA, VA, MT, RI, MO and OH. But 9 Senate seats stayed in Republican hands in the 2006 election, AZ, NV, UT, WY, TX, MS, IN, ME, all re-elected incumbents, and TN replaced the retiring Frist with Republican Corker. Maine is the only one of the 9 States that voted to dump Bush in 2004. So here is my list of who is to blame, in reverse order, for the continuation of the degradation of America:

10. Voters in the 31 Bush States who voted for 3rd party candidates in the 2004 Presidential election.
9. Voters in the 9 States where Republicans held a Senate seat who voted for 3rd party candidates in the 2006 election.
8. Those who fall into both categories 10 and 9.
7. Non-voters in elections in the 9 States where Republicans held a Senate seat in 2006.
6. Non-voters in the elections in the 31 States that went for Bush in 2004.
5. Those who fall into both categories 7 and 6.
4. Voters in CT who returned Lieberman to the Senate in 2006, rather than voting for the Democrat.
3. Voters who voted for a Republican in the 9 States where Republicans held a Senate seat in 2006.
2. Voters who voted for Bush in the 31 States he was awarded in 2004.
And the people most to blame,
1. Voters in AZ, NV, UT, WY, TX, MS, IN and TN, who voted for Bush in 2004 and a Republican for the Senate in 2006.

The above list does not blame those who voted for Democrats. But what of one prominent Democrat who was re-elected to the Senate after voting to authorize Bush to use force in Iraq? Hillary Clinton has her pat answer when she is asked to explain that vote, saying she did not expect Bush would abuse the power. What I would like to ask her is why she did not heed the warning of the prominent Democrats in the Senate who voted against the force authorization. Their reasons for voting no, previously posted here at Sense, showed their foresight, wisdom and courage.

The yes vote of Hillary still causes me to question the motives behind it. I know she is smart enough to see what those who voted no saw, but I think she calculated she had to vote yes in order to keep her Presidential aspirations alive, particularly if somehow Iraq did manage to turn out well. Obviously she would be in better shape on this issue now if she had voted against the authorization. There was also a sort of middle ground. She could have paid respect to the professed views of the naysaying Senators, said it was a very close call for her and that she was reluctantly voting for the authorization and hoping that Bush would rise to the occasion and do the right thing - sort of what she is now saying.

Obama has the advantage of saying he was opposed to the War, without having the burden of actually having been in the Senate at the time of the vote. Edwards has taken a principled position, admitting his vote was wrong, but the fact he did something he now admits was wrong causes concern over his judgment. As to blame for the Iraq fiasco, because they both voted for the authorization, Clinton and Edwards should be put in the equivalent of category 2 above.

But the blame discussed above is of the enabling variety. The personal blame still falls squarely on the Bush administration in general and on “the decider”. George W. Bush, in particular.