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BUSH WATCH...Andy Ostroy

Andy Ostroy is editor of The Ostroy Report.

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Gore "Not Running" In '08? Get Real.
Blistering Attack on Bush Is First Unofficial Campaign Speech


Is there anyone out there who still believes former vice president Al Gore is not going to run for president in 2008? If so, I have a timeshare in the Sunni Triangle I'd like to sell you.

Gore unofficially kicked off his '08 campaign on Monday with a blistering attack on Bush over his secret spying program carried out by the National Security Agency since the 9-11 terrorist attacks. Gore called for an immediate special counsel investigation into the warrantless domestic eavesdropping scheme, and said the president's actions violate the law. The speech was made to The American Constitution Society and The Liberty Coalition, who jointly sponsored the event.

Make no mistake, Al Gore is running for president. Bet the farm on it. He's been running for some time now. And Monday's fire and brimstone speech, delivered on a day celebrating the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., should be a wake up call to every Democrat who's set his/her sights on the White House. Gore has more passion and more mojo than any of them, and has been front and center on a number of key issues including Iraq, the environment and executive power, aggressively taking on the president while others in the party are too afraid to go for the political jugular. And he's been exciting Democrats in ways Hillary Clinton and John kerry wish they could. His overall presentation and message is resonating extremely well with voters. He's The Comeback Kid.

On Bush, Gore declared: "A president who breaks the law is a threat to the very structure of our government." He issued a scathing critique of Bush's illegal wiretapping scheme, questioning the national security rationale that it's based on:

"Is our Congress today in more danger than were their predecessors when the British army was marching on the Capitol? Is the world more dangerous than when we faced an ideological enemy with tens of thousands of missiles poised to be launched against us and annihilate our country at a moment's notice? Is America in more danger now than when we faced worldwide fascism on the march-when our fathers fought and won two World Wars simultaneously? It is simply an insult to those who came before us and sacrificed so much on our behalf to imply that we have more to be fearful of than they. Yet they faithfully protected our freedoms and now it is up to us to do the same."

On Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, Gore said: "A special counsel should be immediately appointed by the attorney general to remedy the obvious conflict of interest that prevents him from investigating what many believe are serious violations of law by the president."

This is a man who looks, sounds and is presidential. Let's not forget he won the popular vote in 2000 and, as many believe, was robbed of the presidency by Florida and the U.S. Supreme Court. He'll be back in '08 to finish the job. Take it to the bank. --posted Jan. 17, 2006

Feinstein Wimps Out on Alito. Dem's Still Have a Lot to learn About Winning


"This is a man I might disagree with. That doesn't mean he shouldn't be on the court." So said California Sen. Diane Feinstein Sunday on CBS's "Face the Nation." And there you have it. In one single sentence, Sen. Feinstein demonstrated why the Democratic Party is having such a hard time winning elections and defeating the political, social and legal agenda of the radical right. Can you ever imagine anyone, anyone, on the Republican leadership side--Frist, DeLay, Hastert, Blunt, Cheney etc.--ever being so damned fair and balanced? Not until hell freezes over. That's because Republicans get it. Republicans have one goal in mind: winning. It's something the Democrats have yet to fully grasp.

Feinstein plans to vote against Samuel J. Alito Jr.'s appointment to the U.S. Supreme Court. But she will not support a filibuster. Feinstein, a lifetime supporter of women's reproductive rights, called the anti-abortion Alito "clearly qualified" and said she was "very impressed with his ability to maintain a very even demeanor during this entire thing and his ability not to specifically answer any questions." Shouldn't this last statement be reason enough to do whatever possible to block his confirmation?

When will Democrats stop being so concerned with impressing conservatives with their civility and righteousness? They don't get it in return. In fact, they get the ewxact opposite. Remember the political lynching Bill Clinton got back in the 90's? Or how Republicans vilified Max Cleland? Or how the right condoned the Swift Boat attack on John Kerry? This is a party that will pull out all stops to win. I'm not suggesting Democrats do the same. I believe we are the more righteous party. But Feinstein's stand, or lack thereof, on Alito is just simply foolish. Can't we at least get a fight? Are we that blase? That exhausted? That unorganized? That inept? That scared? Where's the execution of the strategy that was hatched at the now-infamous 2001 retreat where Democrats and legal scholars mapped out a defense against the Bush hijacking of the judiciary? It's as if the Democrats have just laid down and died. It's frustrating and disheartening. I don't mind losing. But losing without a fight is unacceptable.

When will the Democrats finally step up and realize we're at war here? If fighting Alito's appointment...if having an activist conservative court for the next 35 years... is not worthy of a filibuster, what the hell is? What are they waiting for? It's time to send a loud message to the GOP by doing everything possible to block Alito's confirmation. --posted Jan. 16, 2006

The Bodies Keep Piling Up in Bush's Iraq Fiasco, by Andy Ostroy


Twelve dead U.S. soldiers. 183 Iraqis killed. Violence has been raging out of control for the second straight day, with suicide bombs exploding in several different locations in and around Baghdad. The violence is getting worse, and the situation continues to spiral out of control. Since the December 15th election, the insurgency appears to be gaining strength and the region more deadly than ever.

We're stuck in a quagmire with few options for an exit. We have a president and his duplicitous cabinet relentlessly spinning a tale of progress and success despite the chaos all around. The deceptive rhetoric is both irresponsible and reprehensible, and is an attack on the intelligence of every single American. And it's got to stop.

Is there anyone who truly believes that Iraq could be stable without the same if not greater American military presence? Just look at the violence and chaos with 130,000 U.S. troops in the region. What the heck could we expect if the inept and undermanned Iraqi army and police are left to handle the insurgency alone? So when Bush and Rummy declare that an eventual troop drawdown is likely, perhaps even next year, they're either smokin' some kick-ass ganga or are lying through their teeth.

Rep. John Murtha's November proposal to have the troops withdrawn within 6 months seemed radical to many at the time, and failed to garner the bi-partisan (even Democratic) support to give it momentum. But as each new day passes, it seems to become the only viable solution to this debacle unless we as Americans are ok with having our soldiers constantly killed, injured and maimed with no end in sight. And for what? So that Iraq can fall into the hands of the enemy, as Vietnam did, the second we pull out? Is America ready to wage another decade-long battle only to lose out in the end as we did in Southeast Asia? Are we ready for potentially tens of thousands more soldiers to be flown home in body bags? For hundreds of thousands maimed and injured? For hundreds of billions more dollars to be spent?

We are constantly told by the Busheviks that we cannot pull out because that will throw the country into chaos and into the hands of the Iran-sponsored radical Muslim fundamentalists. We're constantly told that "we must stay the course until victory." But how they define victory has yet to be determined. Can a true Iraqi democracy, sustained by its own military and police force, be an inevitable reality? Most Middle East experts think not. Not only is the entire region a hotbed of violence and extremism, but Iraq itself is three cultures/countries in one: Kurds in the North, Shiites in the South, and the much newly disenfranchised Sunnis in between. And then there's the ominous Iran influence, and the insurgency itself.

It's incredulous that the Bushies originally thought they could waltz into Iraq and turn it into a true, self-sustaining democracy. It's even more mind-blowing that they still do. It's time to admit the gross miscalculations, cut our losses, and get the hell out of there. --posted Jan. 14, 2006

Another Week of Lies and Spin in the Bush Oligarchy


The Bush spin machine was on overdrive this week, spreading more of its oligarchic gospel. Spreading more lies and deception, that is. And the Republican-controlled Congress lent its usual helping hand. Let's recap, in no special order, some of the more notable accomplishments this week in the Kingdom of Corruption and Cronyism:

Iraq: Despite mounting Sunni unrest which resulted in 66 Iraqi deaths and 100+ injuries from suicide bombings; despite mounting tensions and a possible splintering among the Shiites; despite the kidnapping of a Westerner; Defense Secretary Rumsfeld continued to sound the "progress" drum, even blaming the media for focusing too much on the negative news coming out of Iraq. Rummy also denied any senior Pentagon knowledge of the pay-for-news propaganda campaign.

War on Terror: The Bushies received an overall failing report card from the 911 Commission regarding protecting the nation against acts of terror. There were 17 F's and D's.

Pre-War Intelligence: The House GOP did its best to defeat the Democrats' request for White House documents concerning pre-war intelligence on Iraq's WMD. The Committee on International Relations vote ended in a 24-24 tie. For an administration that claims to have done everything by the book, it sure has a hard time allowing a public review of these actions. Democrat Gary Ackerman (NY) referred to "the president that lied" and "the lying administration." He was quickly rebuked by Chairman Henry Hyde (R-IL), who read Ackerman's October 2002 remarks before voting to authorize Bush to use force: "We cannot simply hope that U.N. inspections will rout out Saddam Hussein's weapons of terror." Can you believe the arrogance of the Bushies? First they lie to Congress to get its support for the war, and then criticize these same lawmakers three years later for having trusted them on the pre-war intel.

Joe Lieberman: Congratulations to the Bushies for brainwashing the new Zell Miller, who's been sounding more pro-war than anyone in the White House these days.

Donald Rumsfeld: Asserted that he has no plans to take an early retirement. And why should he? He has the full support of the president, and besides, the war's going so well.

Torture: Despite loads of evidence to the contrary, including serious, multiple human rights violations at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo, Secretary of State Rice declared "the United States does not permit, tolerate or condone torture under any circumstances." There. She said it, so it must be true.

Howard Dean: Vilified once again by the Bushies and the GOP for having the nerve to say we can't win the war in Iraq, even though everything leading up to this point, and history (can you say "Vietnam?"), are proving him more prescient than not. They can say what they want about Dean, but the simple fact is, unlike the Bushies, when it comes to the war he obviously knows what he's talking about.

USA Patriot Act: The Bushies saw House and Senate negotiators reach a "compromise" on an extension of its signature anti-terrorism law, but even Republicans like Sen. Arlen Specter (PA) say it falls way short of safeguarding civil liberties. A bi-partisan group of six Senators also denounced the compromise and said they were "gravely disappointed." Oh, and by the way, the deal drew lots of praise from Mr. Torture himself, Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez, who said the "comprehensive" bill should be passed quickly. What a surprise.

Air Marshals' Shooting: Two Miami marshals unloaded six bullets into American citizen and suspected bomber Rigoberto Alpizar as he ran off a plane into the jetway. No gun. No knife. No bomb. A little bit of an overreaction, perhaps? Hey, ya know what they say about the Patriot Act..."if you don't use it, ya lose it."

The Economy: Listening to Bush, one would believe the robust growth and prosperity of the 1990's is here once again, despite record gas and oil prices; record trade and budget deficits; rising interest rates; rising inflation; rising health-care costs; stagnant wages; weak job growth; declining consumer confidence; declining retail sales; and airline, steel and manufacturing bankruptcies. "The best days are yet to come for the American economy," Bush said. On that we couldn't agree more. But how long will we have to wait, and how much more fiscal damage will the Bushies do before then?

Tax Cuts: Thumbing its nose at future increases in the already historically high deficit, House Republicans decided that the nation's wealthiest Americans need another $95 billion in tax cuts even if at the expense of programs that help the poor: student loans, food stamps, child support, etc. Nothing like a little fiscal irresponsibility, I say. And Bush has expressed an intention to veto any bill that includes a provision to levy a $5 billion windfall profit tax on major oil companies, as well as one that calls for a penalty on tax-shelter abusers. Nothing like taking care of your own, I guess.

Dick Cheney's Defense of Tom DeLay: Despite embattled former House Majority Leader Tom Delay (TX) being one of the most crooked, unethical pol's to hit Washington in decades, VP Cheney managed to find his way to a Houston fundraiser and serve as the keynote in support of the little thief. Nothing like sticking to your guns on "restoring honor and integrity to the White House."

Post-Katrina Clean-up: As the NY Times' Paul Krugman wrote Friday, Bush has been woefully delinquent in living up to his post-hurricane promise to make the Gulf clean-up "one of the largest reconstruction efforts the world has ever seen." This guy makes Pinochio seem downright honest.

Lastly, I thought it fitting to end on yet another little piece of Republican hypocrisy: the outing of former Spokane, WA Mayor Jim West--one of the state's most conservative, anti-gay Republicans--for using his city computer to troll chat rooms in search of high-school-aged males to have sex with. The disgraced mayor was ousted this week in a rare recall election. Our naughty little internet surfer has a history of aggressive opposition to gay rights. When will these glass-house dwelling Republicans learn to stop throwing stones? --posted December 13, 2005


Has The NY Times' Kristof, Like The Dems, Lost His Spine?


To borrow from the wisdom of our great sage Donald Rumsfeld, you fight the enemy you have, not the enemy you want. In his column Tuesday, "Hurricane Fitzgerald Approaches the White House," NY Times columnist Nicholas D. Kristof does the kind of over-intellectualizing and political cheek-turning that's symbolized the central weakness of the Democratic Party over the last several elections. Kristof laments the possibility of "mushier" indictments of key Bush Administration officials including Karl Rove and Scooter Libby and calls instead for discretion and fairness, hoping that Patrick Fitzgerald doesn't demonstrate the level of prosecutorial zealotry that Kenneth Starr was guilty of in his witchhunt of the Clintons for much of the 1990's. Kristof, like many Liberal apologists, fails to recognize the potency of the Republican machine and instead fantasizes of a rational and honorable opponent that clearly exists only in his head.

In short, Kristof, like so many before him these past several years, is saying "let's not stoop to the Republicans' dirty partisan antics." He seems to be echoing one of the latest GOP talking points that Fitzgerald should only indict on the original charge of a possible criminal breach of the 1982 law prohibiting the revealing of CIA agents' identities rather than on the "mushier" kinds of indictments for perjury, obstruction of justice or revealing classified information...But if the evidence is more equivocal, then indictments would mark just the kind of overzealous prosecutorial discretion that was a disgrace when Democrats were targeted. And it would be just as disgraceful if Republicans are the targets."

But that's just it. The Republicans have repeatedly done this sort of thing in the past, and they'll keep doing it. Haven't we yet learned that the GOP will go to any length, will do anything, and will attack anyone in order to win? Even after stolen elections, Swift Boat attack ads and PlameGate are we still unsure of the ruthless tactics our enemy employs to smear its rivals and win races? Does Kristof genuinely believe that taking the high road will cause the other side to do the same? Can he be that naive?

Republicans must be laughing when Liberals like Kristof get self-righteous. They must be thinking, "we'll just keep playing dirty while the Democrats play the honor card. And while they're basking in their own sanctimony we'll keep kicking their butts at the voting booth."

As for the ridiculous notion that charges of perjury or obstruction lack judicial credibility, let's keep one very important thing in mind: no one lies under oath or obstructs an investigation unless they have something to hide. Where there's smoke, there's fire. These are not innocent victims here.

Kristof is "repulsed by the glee that some Democrats show at the possibility of Karl Rove and Mr. Libby being dragged off in handcuffs." Well, I for one would be downright giddy. Actually, as my friend Alan said, seeing those two carted away would be "absolutely delicious."

The simple fact is this: the Republicans are ruthless, and they do play dirty. And they need to be stopped, however the means. According to Kristof, "It was wrong for prosecutors to cook up borderline and technical indictments during the Clinton administration, and it would be just as wrong today." He certainly is downplaying the gravity of the lying and conspiring that the Bushies have engaged in to cover up their catastrophic failure in Iraq which has killed 2000 soldiers and wounded and maimed tens of thousands of others, not to mention the scores of Iraqis killed. For Kristof to compare this to Bill Clinton's lying about sex with Monica Lewinsky is irresponsible and ignorant at best.

The Republicans are a brutal enemy, and you fight a brutal enemy with the same brutality and aggressiveness or you lose. These days, there's no honor in losing, especially when the costs, as we now know, are so high. --posted October 27, 2005


The Bush Strategy of Mixing Politics and Terror


Ever since the horrific Al Qaeda attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 the Bush administration has used terror as a political weapon to reinforce Bush's role as the critical wartime leader. They've also seemingly used terror alerts to call attention away from Democrats' momentum as well as any GOP bad press. In fact, had the Bushies not duped half of America into obsessing over another potential attack we likely would have President Kerry in the White House instead of unCurious George.

As irresponsible and reprehensible as it would be, is it really possible that there's been a systematic effort to pull a bait and switch every time the Bushies feel some sort of political heat? Prompted by last week's heightened alert for the NYC subway system, which has been purported now to have been a hoax, one journalist decided to run a parallel analysis of the other terror alerts against the political turmoil the Bushies have faced since 9-11. What he found is both frightening and infuriating: that this increasingly corrupt administration may have breached national security for purely political purposes.

On MSNBC's "Countdown" show Wednesday, host Keith Oberman's The Nexus of Politics and Terror piece compared the timing of the alerts to various events such as the disclosures of colossal intelligence failures; the DNC Convention; the John Edwards VP selection; and the Karl Rove Scandal. Coincidence or not, it sure appears as though there's been an ongoing, calculated strategy to deflect scandal and controversy, and to trump any successes by Democrats, by issuing terror warnings and/or raising the national threat levels.

Lending credence to this hypothesis is former Secretary of Homeland Security Tom Ridge, who last May said of the threat-level increases: “More often than not we were the least inclined to raise it. Sometimes we disagreed with the intelligence assessment. Sometimes we thought even if the intelligence was good, you don’t necessarily put the country on (alert)… there were times when some people were really aggressive about raising it, and we said ‘for that?’”

A synopsis of Oberman's analysis:

#1: May 18th, 2002. The details of the now-infamous “Bin Laden Determined To Strike In U.S.” PDB are made public as well as news that the FBI ignored a memo about terrorists training at an Arizona flight school. Two days later FBI Director Mueller warns of another attack and DHS issues a terror alert for NYC landmarks.

#2: June 6th, 2002. Minnesota FBI agent Colleen Rowley testifies before Congress about her warnings to superiors about "20th hijacker" Zacarias Moussaoui. Four days later Attorney General John Ashcroft announces that an American named Jose Padilla, in custody for over a month, has been arrested for suspected terrorism in the U.S.

#3: February 5th, 2003. Secretary of State Powell appears before U.N to justify first-strike on Iraq over WMD; anti-war demonstrations occur worldwide. Two days later, Ridge raises terror alert and the government advises Americans to stock up on plastic sheeting and duct tape to protect against radiological or biological attack.

#4: July 23rd, 2003: The White House admits it knew the accuracy of the infamous "16 words" in the President's State of the Union Address concerning Iraq's attempt to buy uranium from Niger was suspect. Congress's 9-11 report is issued the next day, criticizing government at all levels, and stated that Iraq had no link to Al-Qaeda. Two days later U.S. troops are accused of beating Iraqi prisoners. Three days later, DHS issues a warnings about terrorists planning to use airplanes for suicide attacks.

#5: December 17th, 2003. 9/11 Commission Co-Chair Thomas Kean says the attacks were preventable. Three days later, DHS raises the threat level to Orange, again citing suicide-plane missions.

#6: March 30th, 2004. Chief weapons inspector Charles Duelfer tells Congress no WMD has been found in Iraq. Two days later four American contractors working in Iraq are murdered in a horrific display of brutality. The next day, DHS issues a warning that terrorists are plotting to detonate fertilizer and fuel bombs on buses and trains.

#7: May 16th, 2004. Powell tells “Meet The Press” host Tim Russert that much of the information he had been given about WMD was “inaccurate and wrong, and, in some cases, deliberately misleading.” Five days later the first Abu Ghraib Prison photos hit the press. On the 24th, AP confirms U.S. forces mistakenly bombed a wedding party killing over 40 people. Two days later, Ashcroft warns that intelligence points to "Al-Qaeda’s specific intention to hit the United States hard,” and that “90 percent of the arrangements for an attack on the United States were complete.”

#8: July 6th, 2004. Kerry selects Edwards as his vp, causing a lift in the polls, and am increase in media coverage. Two days later, Ridge warns of possible Al-Qaeda attacks during the Summer or Fall.

#9: July 29th, 2004. The DNC convention in Boston dominates the news. Two days later, DHS raises the alert status for financial centers in New York, New Jersey, and Washington. The intelligence data is later proved to be four years old.

#10: October 22nd, 2004. The FBI and other agencies refute the Bushies' claim that terrorists may be planning to disrupt the November elections, citing no direct evidence of any plot. Seven days later--four days before the election--the latest Osama bin Laden video hits the Al-Jazeera Network. A Bush-Cheney campaign official calls the tape “a little gift.”

#11: October 6, 2005. Bush speaks to the National Endowment for Democracy and invokes terror once again and justifies the war in Iraq. Later that day, AP reports Karl Rove will testify again in the CIA leak investigation and faces possible indictment. Hours later, NYC Mayor Bloomberg warns of possible subway terror plot. based on questionable, and dated, DHS intelligence.

Perhaps we'll never know the truth about the political strategy behind the warnings and threat-level increases. But what we do know is that their timing is highly suspect. And in an administration that fosters, as Howard Dean said, a "culture of corruption," I guess where there's smoke there's a likely fire. --posted October 14, 2005


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