Saturday, October 30, 2004

1948 

For a variety of reasons Lyndon Johnson's entire political future rested on his bid for Senate in 1948 against the highly esteemed Coke Stevenson. A heavy underdog, Johnson quite literally stole his way through the primaries and the runoff. Then, even after "officially" losing, he stole a couple hundred more votes to eke his way into the Senate. In all, tens of thousands of fraudulent votes were bought through party bosses in South Texas border counties. And to protect this thievery (a mere 87 vote "victory") Johnson had his lawyers prevent and delay a recount. Through brilliant legal maneuvering, the lawyers took his "case" (the fraudulent result) to Supreme Court justice Hugo Black, who decided to preserve the crime rather than allow it to be investigated. (It's likely that illegal assurances were given to Johnson's lawyer Abe Fortas prior to Black's favorable "decision".)

So how did Johnson accomplish this travesty? Fundamentally, he could not have done it without virtually unlimited funds from George and Herman Brown, the brothers of Brown and Root. They had benefitted from Johnson's work in the House, and gave him a blank check to win the election-- with the understanding that they would recoup their investment many times over once he held power in the Senate. (They did). The Brown brothers had no use for Coke Stevenson, since he couldn't be bribed and hated kleptocrats who profited from wasteful government pork. Brown and Root provided Johnson polling and travel services, and bought off key political figures in largely racist East Texas (MA p285). Naturally, this was prompted and fully endorsed by his ultra-conservative underwriters. Their views on race, were typified by Johnson supporter Alvin Wirtz's reply to a question about blacks having the right to vote: "Look, I like mules, but you don't bring mules into the parlor." (MA p12) Massive amounts of money were distributed to anyone who could help, no matter how morally backassward; always in cash, of course. Texas Senator Ralph Yarborough described the scene:

[Johnson and Brown and Root] were spending money like mad. They were spending money like Texas had never seen. And they did it not only so big but so openly. Nothing had ever been seen in Texas on such a scale, and they were utterly brash. They spent a lot of money. And they were brash about how they spent it, and they were utterly ruthless. Brown and Root would do anything. (MA 285-86)
This is not to say Johnson wasn't a hard-working or innovative campaigner. He shook everyone's hand and bent his message to suit each particular audience. He used a helicopter to travel to every town he could. Most importantly, Johnson read men, not books. He had a genius for finding someone's weakness. Coke's vulnerability was his honorable policy of never dignifying false allegations with a response. Coke simply wouldn't sling mud or have his surrogates do so either. Instead he'd treat his constituents intelligently, and talk about the beloved principles of government he held so dear. So, Lyndon Johnson noticed this and began attacking Stevenson with consistency and viciousness. He'd take quotes and votes out of context, to make conservative Coke seem like a vacillating flip flopper; even a liberal(!) on some issues. Whispering campaigns were orchestrated to spread lies far and fast. And Johnson coasted on these untruths, running to the rhetorical right of Stevenson by falsely painting his opponent as pro-union, anti-veteran and even pro-"appeasement". Even the prisoner furlough issue was raised and profoundly distorted. Then, most hideously, Johnson agreed to spread these lies on a talk radio station owned by several powerful Dallas reactionaries. They wrote the speeches, which equated unions with the mob and the New Dealers with traitorous commies. Somehow, Stevenson was inserted among these menaces. To get a step ahead, Johnson's team practiced dirty tricks like wiretapping Stevenson's private campaign meetings so they could immediately (indeed simultaneously) attack Stevenson on the very topic he was speaking about that day.

Finally, Stevenson responded to Johnson (though not by name) concerning his alleged desire to appease the Communist hordes. Coke calmly advised his fellow Texans to beware of "apostles of fear", who would try to manufacture an emergency based on fear (MA 208). Certainly, America should build its defenses and remain ever-vigilant, but should not become hysterical or frightened.(MA 208)

After the primaries, Johnson faced Stevenson in the runoff. Here's a concise summary of that election from Jason Metteson:
After the "official" results were announced on Thursday, the real conspiracy began. Early on Friday, September 3, election officials in a little southern Mexican-American town, dominated by [corrupt S. Texas party boss] George Parr, announced that the returns they released earlier in the week were incorrect. Officials in Alice, said they found an additional 203 ballots in their "Box 13." Of these 203 ballots, 202 were for Johnson, leaving only one for Stevenson! Officials from another Parr-dominated county-Duval-also announced that they had some ballots that were not included in their tally from earlier in the week.(33) After these votes had been counted, LBJ had 87 more votes than Stevenson with a final tally of 494,191 to 494,104.
Stevenson was not going down without a fight, though. In a scene out of the old west, Stevenson and legendary Texas Ranger Frank Hamer (of Bonnie and Clyde fame) strode past Mexican-American pistoleros to confront one of the border county bosses guarding a disputed poll tally sheet. They demanded to see the list of voters, and when shown, they quickly recognized hundreds of fake "signatures" in the same handwriting-- in alphabetical order, to boot. This was one of many precincts that supposedly voted over 90% for Johnson. Unfortunately, Stevenson's legal appeals based on these observations of fraud would get blocked at the very last minute, for Johnson's team had already gamed the courts.

Interestingly, in 1952, one of George Parr's pistoleros was thrown in jail for murder. Thereupon, he wrote a letter to Stevenson saying he knew about the contents of the infamous "box 13", because he had been ordered to destroy it, but hid it instead. Before Stevenson could get to the prison, they informed him that the potential informant commited suicide with a towel. It would not be the last suspicious "suicide" of someone who was about to blow the whistle on LBJ.

LBJ was very proud of the election crimes of 1948. He kept a picture of his cohorts posing by the infamous ballot box 13, and would smile and wink if you asked him about it. When he arrived in the Senate he immediately alligned himself with states-rights segregationist Richard Russell, the "General Lee" of the Senate, who was perhaps the most effective opponent of civil rights legislation in the history of Congress. Johnson spoke and voted down civil rights bills opposing segregation, lynchings, and the poll tax. He also made sure the Brown Brothers were handsomely compensated for their investment.

---
Notes and main sourcing from Robert Caro's Means of Ascent. I recommend the book wholeheartedly, as my post could not hope to do Caro's scholarship justice-- even in brief. The Literature Review puts it best:

The description of the maneuvering to get Johnson the necessary plurality is a better education in the way of 20th Century politics than any textbook will ever duplicate.


Others have tried to understand Bush by comparing him to fascists. This, in my view, is of limited value. However, I think LBJ's political history in Texas is extremely illuminating to current events. And you can bet the historical lessons of LBJ's naked grab at power were not lost on Karl Rove, who "seems to think the United States is one big-ass Texas."

It isn't.
6 comments DiggIt! Del.icio.us

It wasn't a rock, it was a medium lobster 

No one does it better than the inimitable Medium Lobster at Fafblog:

Today, the election has been decided. Today, all has been made clear. The words of the world's greatest terrorist have made it clear: we must re-elect the man who failed to catch him, so he may continue to let him roam free.
...
Some of you may be saying, "Ah, but the fact that bin Laden is still alive is proof of the Bush administration's failure in the war on terror - proof that we shouldn't vote for him!" The Medium Lobster would laugh at your naivete - if this situation weren't so deadly serious. For only George W. Bush has the pure, hard determination to stand up to terror. And only George W. Bush has the unswerving, unfailing incompetence to allow terror to spread so he can continue to stand up to it.

Listen to the words of the mass murderer, and re-elect the man who let him go. It's your duty. It's your destiny. Now and forever.

Pledge yourselves, "Under God, Under Bush..." Amen.
---
*
0 comments DiggIt! Del.icio.us

Goo Goo G'Joob! 

Sure, fifty years from now people will recognize Lennon's work with the Beatles. But what about this other chap?



"Man, you been a naughty boy, you let your face grow long."





Pic via Legal Fiction (via Billmon).
---
*
0 comments DiggIt! Del.icio.us

Friday, October 29, 2004

More shell than bomb 

Here's the Salon story. Don't expect a statewide media uproar to follow. But I did enjoy this quote from Wendy Vitter on marital infidelity:

I'm a lot more like Lorena Bobbitt than Hillary. If he does something like that, I'm walking away with one thing, and it's not alimony, trust me.


A King Missile song comes to mind...
0 comments DiggIt! Del.icio.us

Height Report 

--Hilarity from Digby:

Finally we have an explanation for Dick Morris.
On an isolated Indonesian island, scientists have discovered skeletons of a previously unknown human species -- tiny, Hobbit-sized figures who lived among dwarf elephants and giant lizards as recently as 12,000 years ago.

-- Americans are growing taller and getting fatter. (Still shorter than the Dutch, though.)

-- The taller candidate usually wins Presidential elections.

--"He was an inch, perhaps two, under six feet..." That's how Conrad's masterpiece Lord Jim begins. How is it possible I can't find any literature freaks who have analyzed Dubya through a Conradian lens? (For example, the first sentence is a clue that Jim doesn't quite measure up.) Dwell on some of Roderick Blyth's points:

What is interesting about Jim is that the flaw, in his case, lies in his romantic idealism. He is, as the older, and more world-weary narrator emphasises, deeply romantic, highly imaginative, and extremely idealistic.

The reader is given to understand that the narrator, at least, regards these qualities, on which so much store is sometimes set, as being of at least doubtful value. However natural they are to youth, they are, in themselves, not only an obstacle to a true understanding of the world, but treacherous to the exercise of practical virtue.

Jim is inarticulate, self-obsessed, easily duped, and ultimately destroyed by his tendency to refer everything around him to the way in which he perceives himself.

There is a tension in the book between the codes by which ordinary and unsung men live their lives of duty and self-sacrifice, and the ambitions of those who, in their own view at least, transcend the rules because they are born to a higher destiny.
...
The moral may well be that romantic idealists are dangerous to themselves, and to those around them


Turnabout is fair play:
-- "Lurch" has been an overused epithet this year for obvious reasons. Woody Allen, though, has a great line about a tall guy in Annie Hall (#17). He calls him a "Pituitary Case"-- very witty!


---
* Shere Hite is the most famous alumnus from my high school. The school honored less famous graduates over the years with pictures and plaques, but would never mention her.
2 comments DiggIt! Del.icio.us

Thursday, October 28, 2004

"Wanna smell somethin' weird?" 

... a question New Orleans native Ellen Degeneres poses to strangers in elevators. (That line strikes my funny bone).

What reminded me of it, though, was this unholy witches' brew currently marinating in my shoes. See, back when I took the wife and kid to NYC, there was a baby formula "malfunction" in our suitcase where a cannister opened and dusted all of our clothes in powdered formula. No biggie, I thought at the time. Nothing that a few hours of diligent handvacuuming can't fix.

We finished our trip and washed all of our clothes when we came back, and that was that. Or so I thought. Weeks later I began to notice an unholy odor clinging to my shoes and contaminating my feet. It took a little problem solving, but I eventually figured out that traces of baby formula in my shoes were combining with my normal foot perspiration to form a uniquely pungent and noxious smell. Today I had to put my shoes out on the porch to air out, and now the stray cat who I irregularly feed is no longer making house calls. That says a lot, too, since I've seen that feline gulp down rancid tuna like it was an appetizer from Antoine's.

So, on the off chance you store your Similac near your Gold Bond foot powder, I recommend making every effort to avoid confusion between the two products.
2 comments DiggIt! Del.icio.us

Devastating, even if half true. 

From MyDD, an early report on deaths in Iraq from the Lancet medical journal will be published today. I dearly and desperately hope this horrific estimate is wildly inaccurate:

A survey of deaths in Iraqi households estimates that as many as 100,000 more people may have died throughout the country in the 18 months since the U.S.-led invasion than would be expected based on the death rate before the war.

There is no official figure for the number of Iraqis killed since the conflict began, but some non-governmental estimates range from 10,000 to 30,000. As of Wednesday, 1,081 U.S. servicemen had been killed, according to the U.S. Defense Department.

The scientists who wrote the report concede that the data they based their projections on were of "limited precision," because the quality of the information depends on the accuracy of the household interviews used for the study. The interviewers were Iraqi, most of them doctors.

The survey indicated violence accounted for most of the extra deaths seen since the invasion, and airstrikes from coalition forces caused most of the violent deaths, the researchers wrote in the British-based journal.

"Most individuals reportedly killed by coalition forces were women and children," they said.
...
Even though the sample size appears small, this type of survey is considered accurate and acceptable by scientists and was used to calculate war deaths in Kosovo in the late 1990s.
...
Even with Fallujah factored out, the survey "indicates that the death toll associated with the invasion and occupation of Iraq is more likely than not about 100,000 people, and may be much higher," the report said.

The most common causes of death before the invasion of Iraq were heart attacks, strokes and other chronic diseases. However, after the invasion, violence was recorded as the primary cause of death and was mainly attributed to coalition forces — with about 95 percent of those deaths caused by bombs or fire from helicopter gunships.
...
The researchers estimated the nationwide death toll due to the conflict by subtracting the preinvasion death rate from the post-invasion death rate and multiplying that number by the estimated population of Iraq — 24.4 million at the start of the war. Then that number was converted to a total number of deaths by dividing by 1,000 and adjusting for the 18 months since the invasion.

"We estimate that there were 98,000 extra deaths during the postwar period in the 97 percent of Iraq represented by all the clusters except Fallujah," the researchers said in the journal.
...
The researchers called for further confirmation by an independent body such as the International Committee of the Red Cross, or the World Health Organization.
One of these days when I'm less depressed I'll talk about my experience co-leading a chapter of Amnesty International in South Tejas. For now I'll just submit that it's much rarer to err on the high side when doing early estimates of deaths in a warzone. Read the whole article if you can, because the report is based on a small sampling and there's a political edge to its release.
2 comments DiggIt! Del.icio.us

Atomic disappointment 

Jeez, what an underwhelming Senate debate that was last night. Consider yourselves lucky if you missed it, because I'm frankly embarrassed by the choices. Excellent resumes, all, but mediocre (or worse) communicators. David Vitter was the most polished, and didn't make any mistakes. Expect him to be the first GOP Senator from Louisiana. Kennedy seems to think of himself as a Perotist/Feingoldian maverick who will vote against pork-laden bills "on principle". Yeah, right. And Chris John flat out lacks the ability to inspire. Period. His attempt to ask Arthur Morrell a softball while simultaneously attacking Vitter was awkwardness defined. No wonder the Dems have Clinton auto calling black voters trying to drum up support for John. It's very difficult to envision any scenario whereby he is elected.

As you know, I've been trying to midwife some dirt on Vitter out into the mainstream media. I was on the phone (until 4:50am) last night talking to insiders about this stuff. It's dirty and ignoble business, and I'm certainly not adept at it, but when you consider the delicate balance of the Senate... well, let's just say that a teleological suspension of the ethical is easier to justify. Anyway, Chris Tidmore told me that there definitely will be an October surprise for Vitter, and that Salon interviewed him about the prostitute story. But other sources say that "nothing new" will be disclosed, so I've scaled back my hopes dramatically. I can say that there was a nationwide search for the involved whore(s), but for a variety of frustrating reasons nothing has yet come of it. Put another way: a common hatred was not enough to unify Vitter's many Dem and GOP opponents into an effective muckraking team. Perhaps other media sources will find a "smoking gun", but I'm not holding my breath.
0 comments DiggIt! Del.icio.us

Sox win! 

Curse reversed. Democrats heartened.

---
Also, my friend The Big Event has started a thoughtful sports blog which you should check out. He has an interesting set of team allegiances which include the Green Bay Packers, who play the Redskins this Sunday in a politically significant contest.
0 comments DiggIt! Del.icio.us

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Sensitive Poodle 

From the Times (UK):

Tony Blair privately conceded two weeks before the Iraq war that Saddam Hussein did not have any usable weapons of mass destruction, Robin Cook, the former foreign secretary, reveals today.

John Scarlett, chairman of the joint intelligence committee (JIC), also "assented" that Saddam had no such weapons, says Cook.

His revelations, taken from a diary that he kept as a senior minister during the months leading up to war, are published today in The Sunday Times. They shatter the case for war put forward by the government that Iraq presented "a real and present danger" to Britain.
From the Independent (UK):

Secret plans for the war in Iraq were passed to British Army chiefs by US defence planners five months before the invasion was launched, a court martial heard yesterday.

The revelation strengthened suspicions that Tony Blair gave his agreement to President George Bush to go to war while the diplomatic efforts to force Saddam Hussein to comply with UN resolutions were continuing.

Alan Simpson, the leader of Labour Against the War, said the documents were "dynamite", if genuine, and showed that Clare Short was right to assert in her book, serialised in The Independent, that Mr Blair had "knowingly misled" Parliament.
...
Lt Col Warren said US planners had passed on dates for which the invasion was planned. The hearing was told Army chiefs wanted the training for the Army to start at the beginning of December 2002. However, due to "sensitivities" the training was delayed.

The court heard the training for the TA began two months late and for the regular Army one month late. Lt Col Warren was asked what the sensitivities were. He replied: "Because in December there was a world interest. If the UK had mobilised while all this was going on that would have shown an intent before the political process had been allowed to run its course."

The hearing was adjourned.

Presumably when Warren refers to the "political process" he's talking about the Coalition's token diplomatic efforts with Iraq. But he should be referring to Bush's all-out sales job on the American public during the run-up to war. Each week a new aspect of the grave threat was rolled out: aluminum tubes, model airplanes dispersing anthrax, mobile weapons labs, chemical weapons, mushroom clouds in the distance... These non-facts stoked fears, and helped Americans overcome their "sensitivities" regarding Bush's war of choice.

Recall that on December 5, 2002 Ari Fleischer said, "The President of the United States and the Secretary of Defense would not assert as plainly and bluntly as they have that Iraq has weapons of mass destruction if it was not true..."

Quite so. How could it be otherwise?
0 comments DiggIt! Del.icio.us

"I love them whores they never judge you, what can you say when you're a whore?" 

Several months back, during a rare "date night" (sans Colicky), Lovely and I glimpsed the filming of "The Madam's Family" over by Coliseum street and Felicity. It's a TV movie based on the mother/daughter-owned New Orleans whorehouse which the FBI wiretapped and busted a couple years ago. Supposedly, "many, many politicians" are included among the brothel's 500 clients, who shelled out $300 bucks an hour for discrete hanky-panky.

The movie, starring Anabella Sciorra, is set to air 8pm Halloween night on CBS. If that doesn't seem like a very scary programming selection, then pretend you're running for statewide office and the release of election-eve "Whorer" stories could wreck all your political ambitions. That's a wicked prospect that might elevate your pulse.

Keep an eye on Salon.com (among other media outlets) in coming days.

---
*
2 comments DiggIt! Del.icio.us

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

When satire... isn't. 

From America's finest news source:

MIAMI, FL-- With the knowledge that the minority vote will be crucial in the upcoming presidential election, Republican Party officials are urging blacks, Hispanics, and other minorities to make their presence felt at the polls on Wednesday, Nov. 3.

It would be humorous if it weren't true. New Orleanians need only recall the 2002 Senate runoff between Landrieu and Terrell:

By the December 7th run-off, Republicans had spent $20 million in an effort to topple Landrieu... Aggressive voter suppression tactics were employed. One flyer distributed in public housing complexes read: "Vote!! Bad Weather? No problem!!! If the weather is uncomfortable on election day (Saturday December 7th) Remember you can wait and cast your ballot on Tuesday December 10th." And in another bogus attempt to suppress turnout, the Louisiana Republican Party recruited and paid Black youth $75 to stand on street corners Election Day with signs discouraging African Americans from voting for Landrieu. (Source: Walsh, Bill. "Dirty Deeds Abounded in Elections," The Times-Picayune Dec 12 2002)
If Republicans put one tenth the effort into honestly courting African-American voters that they do in suppressing them, the long-term political (and social) benefits would be incalculable. Trouble is, Republicans fear losing all the closet bigots who might splinter off into another party. It's sickening how far the GOP will stretch their big tent so as to not violate their loathesome "no enemies to the right" rule.

I tracked Republican Bobby Jindal's gubernatorial campaign last year, and will unequivocally submit that he made an honest effort to earn the African-American vote in New Orleans. For example, he won over much of the predominantly black congregation at a Broadmoor church near my house by simply taking the time to stop and talk about the issues. It was a helluva lot more than Blanco did, that's for certain. On election day, I didn't see armies of Jindal-financed black "volunteers" holding "If you don't respect us, then don't expect us" signs. I applaud Jindal's honest conservative appeal (in the tradition of Jack Kemp), and believe it's a legitimate template for long-term GOP success.

But that's not Karl Rove's gameplan. Limiting black turnout is an essential part of his strategy, and a massive, coordinated campaign has been put in place-- especially in Florida (again!) and Ohio. These 21st century Jim Crow tactics are beneath contempt. And Democrats should not exaggerate or fabricate non-stories for political convenience. Stick to the facts.

Regrettably, there are plenty.
0 comments DiggIt! Del.icio.us  
Pennsylvania Republicans are smearing Democrat Ginny Schrader (PA-08) as a "hate America" radical, and linking her to "Hezbollah related organizations". It smacks of frantic desperation, and is a good indicator of her campaign's success in an important swing district in a moderate state.

MyDD and Atrios cited this sad display, and have ways to contribute to Ginny. Regular readers are aware that my man Brian Welsh (whom I know from the Wes Clark experience) is Schrader's campaign manager. He should regard flyers like these as a badge of honor. Despite the GOP pouring money into the district, I'm confident she will win.

---
But down in the "gret stet", you might conclude that Democrats have brought a knife to a gunfight. Exhibit A: the state party's new negative web ad on Vitter... Given the stakes, is that (or this?!) anywhere near hard-hitting enough? Seriously, what would Carville say?

Finally, this afternoon I received word that "surprises" are on the way. More to follow soon.

---
Update 10/27: Polls indicate Schrader is behind by seven, but with momentum. The GOP has poured $2.5 million (!) into this house race. Unbelievable. I'm no longer confident she will win, but am very hopeful she will eke it out.
0 comments DiggIt! Del.icio.us

In case you missed this article... 

Congressman Denies Affair With Prostitute, Says Charges Are Politically Motivated

by Christopher Tidmore, PoliticsLA.com columnist
posted March 26, 2004
(edited for clarity by oyster)

For the first time, Congressman David Vitter has spoken out publically about allegations that he carried on an eleven month affair with a known prostitute named Wendy Cortez.

On WSMB radio last Saturday, a caller who identified himself as Elwood asked Vitter about charges, made by a member of the Louisiana Republican State Central Committee in the Weekly that the then-State Representative, had had an affair with a known prostitute in the French Quarter. Elwood continued, "Would you be willing to sign an affidavit that you have ever known, met or had relations with one Wendy Cortez?"

Vitter responded, "I think you know that that allegation is absolutely and completely untrue...I have said that on numerous occassions...I'll say that in any forum...Unfortunately, that's just crass Louisiana politics, now that I am running for the Senate. I have made that clear that it is all completely untrue...And, it's obviously politically motivated."

In point of fact, Congressman Vitter had previously refused any comment on the charges. The story appeared in this newspaper just days after Vitter dropped out of the race for Governor in June of 2002. The Louisiana Weekly published allegations that Cortez, a known prostitute, claimed that she had an 11-month affair with Vitter, a state representative at the time.

Vincent Bruno, secretary of the Republican Party of Jefferson Parish and a member of the RSCC, alleged that Congressman David Vitter had engaged in an extramarital affair. In what was a high-stakes political battle between some of the most prominent members of the Louisiana Republican Party, Bruno charged that a prostitute, who stated her name to be Wendy Cortez, allegedly confessed to him to having a paid sexual relationship with Vitter.

Three separate and independent sources, including WDSU-TV reporter Richard Angelico, confirmed Bruno's allegation. Each had spoken to Cortez personally, and she recounted to them the details of her alleged affair with Vitter.

Bruno, who supplied documentation of detailed accounts of his meetings with Cortez, along with specific testimony that she provided against the Congressman, claims that he only came forward with the prostitute's name and personal information when pressed as a means to protect his integrity, after enduring attacks on statewide radio.

The Claims in the midst of the First District Congressional Race left vacant as a result of the resignation of Bob Livingston almost four years ago, Bruno asserts that a young woman contacted the Treen Campaign claiming that she had engaged in an affair with Vitter.

Bruno states that he and another prominent Republican subsequently met with the woman. She reportedly told the men that under the alias of "Leah," she regularly had sex with Vitter - at the time a State Representative - in a small apartment on the corner of Dumaine and Dauphine Streets in New Orleans.

Bruno, who by his own admission says he was working "independently" of the Treen Campaign, arranged another meeting with Cortez -this time in Baton Rouge. He claims that he had Cortez flown to the state capitol, housed in a hotel, and resumed the questioning.

Cortez, according to Bruno, recounted the chronology of her alleged affair with Vitter saying that Vitter contacted her through a local New Orleans escort service and visited her for a period of several months making appointments typically on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

Bruno also states that the GOP official from the first meeting was again in attendance, along with another prominent Republican with no connections to the Treen Campaign to evaluate whether or not her story was true.

Each man, independently and on the promise of anonymity, gave The Weekly a detailed account of the second meeting with Cortez, providing specific comments and claims that she made against Vitter.

Can She Be Trusted?

At yet a reportedly third meeting that Cortez had with Bruno, WDSU Investigative Reporter Richard Angelico attended. Bruno says that Angelico heard Cortez's story and was interested in airing it. However, Cortez refused to give out her name on TV then, nor would provide a valid Social Security number to confirm her identity.

Bruno says the prostitute told him she was worried about the negative effect her appearance on television making these claims would have on her daughter. Without a valid identity to make the claim, Angelico dropped the story. Mr. Angelico confirmed this story and his reasons for not pursuing it.
...
The story took on an extra political dimension in the last week of December of 2003, when a senior Democratic source revealed a series of attacks that were planned against Vitter. Foremost amongst them was that the controversy over Wendy Cortez. He contended that the allegations will become central to the Senatorial campaign.

Supporters of Vitter flatly deny Bruno's charges. They accuse him of having political motivations, and question the veracity of Cortez's story.
...
Bruno, who supplied documentation of detailed accounts of his meetings with Cortez, along with specific testimony that she provided against the congressman, claims that he only came forward with the prostitute's name and personal information when pressed as a means to protect his integrity after Bruno was attacked on a statewide radio show.
2 comments DiggIt! Del.icio.us

Another Vietnam? 

In terms of financial sacrifice, we're ahead of schedule:

The Bush administration intends to seek about $70 billion in emergency funding for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan early next year, pushing total war costs close to $225 billion since the invasion of Iraq early last year, Pentagon and congressional officials said yesterday.
...
A $70 billion request would be considerably larger than lawmakers had anticipated earlier this year. After the president unexpectedly submitted an $87 billion request for the Iraq and Afghanistan efforts last year, many Republicans angrily expressed sticker shock and implored the administration not to surprise them again.
...
In making cost estimates for the supplemental budget request, Pentagon officials have distanced themselves from the Bush administration's public optimism about trends in Iraq. Instead, they make the fairly pessimistic assumption that about as many troops will be needed there next year as are currently on the ground.
...
Yale University economist William D. Nordhaus estimated that in inflation-adjusted terms, World War I cost just under $200 billion for the United States. The Vietnam War cost about $500 billion from 1964 to 1972, Nordhaus said. The cost of the Iraq war could reach nearly half that number by next fall, 2 1/2 years after it began.
0 comments DiggIt! Del.icio.us

Monday, October 25, 2004

Kostic 

From the DK:
I've gotten reliable word that the Senate race in Louisiana is looking bleaker, with Republican David Vitter threatening to break the 50 percent mark, negating the need for a December runoff.
...
The irony is that Vitter dropped out of that governor's race last year because of an affair with a prostitute and has an illegitimate child with another woman. No big scoop -- this is all out in the open and well-known in the state, yet Vitter is still running on a "family values" platform and obviously getting away with it.

Actually, I don't think the average voter knows about these scandalous details. And campaigns keeping their powder dry for a run-off may never get to use it.
0 comments DiggIt! Del.icio.us  
Da Paper is too disappointed in Bush to endorse him. (Read: the publisher told the T-P editors to choose Bush and they threw a big enough fit so that a non-endorsement was the compromise. A spouse of one of the opinion page editors informed me that the paper's owner/publisher decides all of the major endorsements-- not an uncommon practice. He's conservative and I'm sure he sees a substantial qualitative difference between Kerry and Dubya. Oh, to have been a fly on the wall during that conference call...)

Here's a snippet from the non-endorsement that deals with Bush and local issues:
Our expectation four years ago was that Mr. Bush would be a good partner for Louisiana. Certainly he understands the oil industry and its importance to our state. But his administration has been cool to the state's coastal restoration and flood-control needs, and misguided steel tariffs did significant economic harm to South Louisiana ports.

However, the Houston Chronicle says, "Viva Arbusto!" And they actually think a comparison to LBJ helps their case:

The Chronicle believes Bush, if granted a second term and freed of the need to appeal to the extreme factions of his party, will regain his bipartisan effectiveness at solving problems. That is not an idle hope but rests on the experience of an earlier Texan who occupied the White House, Lyndon B. Johnson. As long as he was a U.S. representative and senator elected by Texans, he never strayed far from the conventional wisdom of his constituents. In the White House, Johnson remained true to his populist roots but, freed from the common prejudice of that era, became one of the nation's foremost champions of civil rights and opportunity for all.
0 comments DiggIt! Del.icio.us