Okay, It's Pretty Cool
In subsequent testimony, General Myers, the J.C.S. chairman, acknowledged, without mentioning the e-mails, that in January information about the photographs had been given “to me and the Secretary up through the chain of command. . . . And the general nature of the photos, about nudity, some mock sexual acts and other abuse, was described.”Meanwhile, the spectacle of Dick Cheney unfolds like a something out of a Mamet play--except that even Mamet wouldn't have the balls to ascribe positions that Cheney has actually taken. The Washington Post has done the best work excavating his activities since coming into the White House. The four-part series is full of gems, and again, the documentation of serious abuses are legion. I select this one at random:
Nevertheless, Rumsfeld, in his appearances before the Senate and the House Armed Services Committees on May 7th, claimed to have had no idea of the extensive abuse. “It breaks our hearts that in fact someone didn’t say, ‘Wait, look, this is terrible. We need to do something,’ ” Rumsfeld told the congressmen. “I wish we had known more, sooner, and been able to tell you more sooner, but we didn’t.”
Geneva rules forbade not only torture but also, in equally categorical terms, the use of "violence," "cruel treatment" or "humiliating and degrading treatment" against a detainee "at any time and in any place whatsoever." The War Crimes Act of 1996 made any grave breach of those restrictions a U.S. felony. The best defense against such a charge, Addington wrote, would combine a broad presidential directive for humane treatment, in general, with an assertion of unrestricted authority to make exceptions.This strange scene plays out amid other scandals: the Scooter Libby trial and its collected tangle of crimes and the Alberto Gonzales/prosecutor scandal. Recently we heard James Comey describe how Bush tried to get a drugged, hospitalized John Ashcroft to sign off on his warrantless wiretapping scheme. And this is just the recent stuff.
The vice president's counsel proposed that President Bush issue a carefully ambiguous directive. Detainees would be treated "humanely and, to the extent appropriate and consistent with military necessity, in a manner consistent with the principles of" the Geneva Conventions. When Bush issued his public decision two weeks later
Clinton 41%, McCain 45%Forget conventional wisdom: in this case, the black guy's the mainstream candidate.
Clinton 41%, Romney 43%
Clinton 39%, Giuliani 49%
Edwards 40%, McCain 45%
Edwards 46%, Romney 32%
Edwards 46%, Giuliani 43%
Obama 47%, McCain 35%
Obama 50%, Romney 34%
Obama 46%, Giuliani 41%
Labels: 2008 Dem Primaries
For those of us who read polls like tea leaves, hoping to discern a pattern that will give us insight into what Americans will do in the next election, the recent Rural America poll sponsored by NPR was a shocker. Generally, reading polls is like reading tea leaves--and about as accurate. You may be able to perceive opinion trends, but how these correlate to what people do in the election booth, that's an iffier prospect. But this latest poll is dramatically at odds with conventional wisdom that it looks like it may actually mean something.
Forty-six percent of the survey respondents indicated they'd vote for an un-named Democratic candidate for president if the election were held today; 43 percent favored a Republican.... The numbers reflect a plunge in Republican support among rural voters. Exit polls from the 2000 presidential election had Republican George Bush beating Democrat Al Gore by 22 per cent in rural areas. In 2004, the actual vote tally showed President Bush outpolling his Democratic challenger, Sen. John Kerry, by 19 percent among rural voters.
NPR credits the war in Iraq as the main cause for the shift, and it's clearly a factor; they note that "three-fourths of those surveyed know someone who is serving or has served in the wars in Iraq or Afghanistan." But digging a little deeper, I notice a trend that should be a lot more alarming for Republicans. When compared with average Americans, rural voters feel far less prosperous and see themselves as having far worse prospects in the future.
Pollsters asked respondents to describe whether certain words applied to rural America and then whether it applied to the country as a whole. Seventy percent believed "prosperous" applied to the country, but only 42% thought it applied to rural America. Similarly, 64% thought "increasing opportunity" applied to the country, but only 39% to rural America.
More predictably, they believed rural America was more strongly oriented toward "traditional values" (80%-56%) and "strong family values" (85%-62%) than the country as a whole. These are the elements the GOP has highlighted for decades, but it apparently they are no longer enough to keep rural voters reliably loyal.
There are three statewide races in '08 (attorney general, secretary of state, treasurer), in addition to Gordon Smith's Senate seat. Conventional wisdom holds that it's the swing districts in Clackamas and Washington County where the real race is. But this assumes that Republicans have the rural districts sewn up. Perhaps that assumption isn't accurate.
Historically, Democrats did a lot better in rural America exactly because they focused on economic fairness issues. We don't know whether these results would be mirrored in Oregon. (Western politics tend not to line up like rural/urban politics of the South and NE.) And yet, the economic concerns are surely as dire in rural Oregon. So, could we be at one of those historic moments when traditional political coalitions collapse and regroup? Maybe the polls are telling us something. It's definitely worth keeping an eye on in 2008.
For the first time in Pew Research Center polling, disapproval of President Bush's job performance outnumbers approval by more than two-to-one (61% disapprove, 29% approve). Bush's job approval is down six points from April, and is three points below the previous low measured in November and December of 2006.This is the first credible poll I've seen where Bush has fallen into the twenties. I didn't think it would ever actually happen--his base is so loyal, and apparently a pretty stable third of the electorate, that I thought he'd avoid a Carter-like plunge late in his term.
White evangelical Protestants have been one of the groups consistently backing George W. Bush throughout his presidency. In the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, when the president's overall job approval spiked to 86% nationwide it was as high as 95% among white evangelicals. As recently as December 2004, more than three-quarters of white evangelicals gave the president a positive performance review. But the current survey finds just 44% of white evangelicals expressing approval of the president's job performance; roughly the same number (46%) say they disapprove.The poll also asked about current candidates, and I'm happy to report that Obama's rising among Dems--closing in on a dead heat with Hillary. Pew asks the question sort of oddly: "Is there a good chance, some chance, or no chance you would vote for [candidate]." Hillary is at 44%, Obama 40%.