Disclosure: I worked for the Lamont campaign doing web design and production and some writing for the official blog (from 9/5/06 to 11/07/06).

Saturday, September 23, 2006


No Accountability

If Sen. Lieberman were at all interested in accountability on Iraq, there is no reason his signature wouldn't also be on this letter sent from Sen. Clinton to the GAO this past week, calling for an investigation into what obviously went so terribly wrong with the Coalition Provisional Authority:

We write to you as members of Congress who are deeply concerned about our nation’s involvement in the war in Iraq. We believe that the seeds of today’s troubles were planted in 2002 and 2003 when the Administration failed to engage in planning for what could follow the conclusion of "major combat operations"; when it failed to send sufficient troops or properly equip them; when it failed to take the necessary steps to secure the peace; when it made the disastrous decision to disband the Iraqi Army; and when it apparently failed to ensure that we had the civilian personnel we needed on the ground in Iraq. On this last point, recent books and media accounts paint a highly disturbing picture about the hiring practices of the Department of Defense in staffing the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA), the personnel choices made, and the designation of a number of positions as political rather than civil service slots. We would like to request a Government Accountability Office study to review and assess hiring practices of the Department of Defense for the CPA....

We believe that decisions made in the first year of the occupation of Iraq are having a very direct impact on the situation that our troops confront in Iraq today. This matter demands attention and accountability. With 147,000 troops in Iraq after three years of fighting, we face rising sectarian violence, a continuing insurgency, and an Iraqi government that has not yet risen to the immense task before it. In order to move forward, we must understand how we arrived at this point, therefore, we are asking you to examine the hiring practices and actions of the Department of Defense in 2003 and 2004 in staffing the CPA during that critical period and the consequences of those decisions.


Richard J. Durbin
Member, Committee on Appropriations

Harry Reid
Democratic Leader of the U.S. Senate

Carl Levin
Ranking Member, Committee on Armed Services

Joseph Biden
Ranking Member, Committee on Foreign Relations

Edward Kennedy
Member, Committee on Armed Services

Barbara Boxer
Member, Committee on Foreign Relations

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Member, Committee on Armed Services

Frank R. Lautenberg
Member, Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs

Conspicuously absent?

The Ranking Member of the Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee... Sen. Lieberman.

(As an aside, there is what promises to be a great book now out on the disastrous Young Republicans and crony convention that was the CPA by Rajiv Chandrasekaran, who adapted parts of it for this Washington Post piece last weekend.)

Saturday Morning Round-Up

Friday, September 22, 2006


Cheney's Man

Same old, same old from the Veep today:

Senator Lieberman was my opponent in 2000 -- Al Gore's running mate, a longtime senator, and one of the most loyal and distinguished Democrats of the generation. Joe is also an unapologetic supporter of the global war on terror. He voted to support military action in Iraq when most other senators in both parties did the same -- and he's had the courage to stick by that vote even when the going gets tough. And now, for that reason alone, because he supported the President in the global war on terror, the Dean Democrats have purged Joe Lieberman from the ranks of the Democratic Party in Connecticut.

Scooter, Sembler, Cheney, and Lieberman.... one big happy family.

It Gets Worse

Lindsay Beyerstein:

Any principled Democrat would recoil from Sembler, but it gets worse. Sembler is also a self-styled drug treatment entrepreneur who founded Straight, Incorporated, a residential drug treatment program for teenagers.

Between 1976 and 1993, thousands of youth were routinely subjected to physical, emotional, and sexual abuse as part of Straight’s "confrontational" approach to treatment. Some inmates were held for years against their will. The program has been sued dozens of times for brutalizing inmates and some staff members faced criminal charges for their role in the abuse.

Sembler founded Straight after a congressional investigation determined that the last detox program he oversaw, The Seed, was using mind-control tactics similar to those used by North Koreans during the Cold War.

The Seed was a mind-control cult, but it was positively benign compared to Straight....

We’re all judged by the company we keep, and Joe Lieberman has some very disreputable friends.

Read the whole thing. Lindsay has more on her personal connection to the story here.

"Petty Partisanship"

Another Rove- and Republican-backed Senate candidate is able to courageously rise above it:

I'm sure the Connecticut for Lieberman party will join the Steele Democrats in pushing to defeat the petty, partisan Ben Cardin (D) in Maryland.

As for the DSCC:

Says DSCC spokesman Phil Singer: "Michael Steele is trying to hide the fact that his campaign is funded and directed by George Bush and the Republican party."

Seems to be a trend these days...

Mel Sembler, An All-Around Great Guy

Jesus' General approves:

Dear Sen. Lieberman,

I bet you're still all tingly after the fundraiser Mel Sembler held for you. After all, not only is Amb. Sembler one of Our Leader's greatest fundraisers, he's also the man who pioneered some of your favorite interrogation techniques--the so-called "strong methods;" things like humiliation, beatings, and shoving things up the suspect's ass.

Unfortunately, this is not a joke.


Joe on Scooter

A year ago, after Libby's indictment, from Sen. Lieberman's own website:

October 28, 2005...

“When the Chief of Staff to the Vice President of the United States is indicted in a criminal case, it is a sad day in the history of our government. While it is important to remember that an indictment is not a conviction, these charges are extremely serious. Our national security, intelligence protocols to protect covert agents and classified information must be protected. Witnesses under oath and in legal proceedings must tell the truth and be held accountable if they do not. The public’s confidence in government has been damaged by this matter and it must be restored. For this reason, Mr. Libby’s resignation is appropriate and necessary.

“This indictment is about serious violations of law. It is not about partisan politics or the war in Iraq. Whatever our party affiliation or opinion on the war, we all agree that perjury, obstruction of justice, and making false statements to a grand jury are inexcusable criminal acts. That is where our shared focus should be so that today’s indictment does not become one more cause of debilitating political divisiveness in our government.”

Sen. Lieberman is now accepting hundreds of thousands of dollars raised by the Chair of Libby's defense fund and contributed by who knows how many other supporters of a man indicted on what Sen. Lieberman himself termed "inexcusable criminal acts."

Gerstein says no problem, it went like "gangbusters":

Lieberman's communications director, Dan Gerstein, said the reception held at Mel Sembler's St. Petersburg offices - where guests were asked to contribute a minimum of $1,000 to the three-term incumbent's battle against Greenwich Democrat Ned Lamont - went like "gangbusters."

Gerstein said today that he did not immediately know of other prominent Republicans who have offered to help Lieberman raise campaign cash, with the exception of New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

Thursday, September 21, 2006


"Dear Friends"

I'd like to promise this will be the last post on this today... but I might be wrong. The AP:

"He's a man of principle," [Mel] Sembler, a former ambassador to Italy and Australia, said of Lieberman in a telephone interview with The Associated Press on Thursday."

Mel Sembler, a former Republican National Committee finance committee chairman, helped organize a reception that raised "about a few hundred thousand dollars" for Lieberman, who was in attendance....

Sembler, who is board chairman of the Sembler Company, a real estate and shopping center development company, said he has worked hard to raise money for [Scooter] Libby's legal defense fund.

"It's amazing to go to all this hard work when a crime never got committed," said Sembler, who also described himself as "dear friends" with Cheney.

Update: See, this is why I didn't make any promises:

This week Republican money giant Mel Sembler held a fundraiser for Lieberman in St. Petersburg. Sembler was asked if he'd ever raised money for a Democrat, and told The Miami Herald that he hadn't done so in the last 76 years. Sembler is 76 years old.


No Accountability

In a hypothetical world where the Democrats take control of the Senate in November, Sen. Lieberman wins due to massive GOP turnout, and he deigns to caucus with the Democrats, he may very well become Chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.

He already owes zero allegiance to Democrats, whose clear verdict he discarded after the primary, and who will have voted in even greater numbers against him in the general.

But he would owe a hell of a lot to Republican lobbyists, Republican elected officials, Republican voters, Republican fundraisers, neoconservative ideologues, Karl Rove, and people like the chairman of Scooter Libby's Defense Fund, who are currently keeping his campaign afloat, keeping his ads on the air, keeping his staffers paid.

And coincidentally, as The Hill noted last month, he would also be in a prime position of power to slow or stop any investigations of Bush administration officials:

The issue of Lieberman’s seniority would arise most dramatically if Lieberman wins re-election and Democrats recapture control of the chamber. That would slot Lieberman to take over as chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, the panel primarily responsible for investigating the executive branch....

Allowing Lieberman to retain his seniority could put the senator now running as an independent in charge of the Senate’s chief investigative committee. If Democrats took control of either chamber they would likely launch investigations of the White House’s handling of the war in Iraq and homeland security.

There's no reason to take Sen. Lieberman at his word when he says he won't caucus with the Republicans if he wins. He's already bailed on the party once. Why wouldn't he do it again?

But if he were to caucus with the Democrats in a potential majority, the end result for those truly seeking accountability for the Bush administration might be even worse.

It's exactly this type of "Bipartisanship" and "Experience" that Connecticut doesn't need.

Friends of Joe

Turns out former RNC finance chair Mel Sembler, who hosted Sen. Lieberman for a huge big-money fundraiser last night in Florida, is also the chairman of Scooter Libby's defense fund:

What do Scooter Libby and Joe Lieberman have in common? A lot of rich friends, apparently.

Following closely on the news that Joe Lieberman's biggest public apologist, Marty Peretz, had joined Libby's Defense Fund, we learn that the Chair of Libby's Defense Fund, Mel Sembler, is hosting a pricey fundraiser for Holy Joe. Sembler, you'll remember, also happens to have been the Ambassador to Italy when SISMI started sending bogus Niger claims to the CIA.

Defending indicted Bush Administration officials by day, raising money for Sen. Lieberman's campaign by night.

It will be interesting to see the names on last night's guest list when the next FEC reports come out. How many of Scooter's backers are paying for Sen. Lieberman's campaign? And what does having the support of Libby's finance man portend for Sen. Lieberman's willingness - or ability - to provide any real oversight of the Cheney administration in a new Congress?

In the meantime, here's the rest of Sembler's personal contributions this cycle, including contributions to the RNC ($25,000), Katherine Harris ($4,200), and Tom DeLay ($1,000).

Again, Gerstein:

Gerstein also vowed to personally investigate the matter of Republican contributions to the Lieberman campaign, saying he didn't think the senator had "taken a significant amount of money from registered Republicans."


Three Things To Do Today

  1. Vote for Ned to be Russ Feingold's next "Progressive Patriot."

  2. Read the GQ article and forward it to your friends and family.

  3. Contribute a few dollars to reach Ned's new fundraising goal (pic on the left). Ask your friends and family to do the same.


Thursday Morning Round-Up

Wednesday, September 20, 2006


"It's Very Much A Sunrise"

Dan Gerstein, eleven days ago:

Gerstein also vowed to personally investigate the matter of Republican contributions to the Lieberman campaign, saying he didn't think the senator had "taken a significant amount of money from registered Republicans."

Sen. Lieberman, tonight:

Democrat [sic] Joe Lieberman got some help from a prominent Florida Republican on Wednesday night in his bid to win re-election to the U.S. Senate from Connecticut as an independent.

Lieberman attended a fund-raising reception hosted for him by Mel Sembler, a former finance committee chairman for the Republican National Committee....

In addition to his fund-raising work for the RNC, Sembler was also the U.S. ambassador to Italy during President George W. Bush's first term and the ambassador to Australia during the term of Bush's father, George H.W. Bush.

About 100 guests attended the event at Sembler's office in St. Petersburg. His company develops shopping centers in Florida and nearby states.

Guests were asked to contribute a minimum of $1,000 up to a maximum of $2,100 to Lieberman's campaign.


ARG: Lamont Takes Lead Among Independents

New ARG poll has the race at Lieberman (Lieberman) 47%, Lamont (D) 45%.

Among unaffiliated voters, Lamont (D) leads 47%-45%.

Republicans split 66% for Lieberman (Lieberman), 15% for Lamont (D), and 8% for "Others," (which I suppose must Alan Schlesinger's newest pseudonym).

Big Energy Joe

As always, Sen. Lieberman's policies - such as his vote for the disastrous Bush-Cheney Energy Bill in 2005 - are determined by campaign contributions from his D.C. lobbyist friends:

LIEBERMAN REWARDED FOR HIS “BIPARTISAN’ ANTI-ENVIRONMENT VOTES WITH ENERGY INDUSTRY CASH: Lieberman has cashed in from his willingness to cast key votes against the environment. In the last year and a half alone, he has received more than $72,000 in corporate PAC contributions from the energy industry – that’s almost $1,000 in energy PAC contributions per week since 2005. Since 2000, he’s raked in more than $285,000 from the energy industry. This includes PAC contributions from, among others, Texaco, Conoco, British Petroleum and Occidental Petroleum. It also includes contributions from the natural gas industry that will benefit from Lieberman’s support of stripping Connecticut’s ability to regulate the construction of natural gas terminals in Long Island Sound. Specifically, Lieberman has received contributions from the American Gas Assocation, Consolidated Natural Gas and the Interstate Natural Gas Association of America. Meanwhile, Enron lobbyist Michael Lewan (also formerly Lieberman’s chief of staff and a top fundraiser for John Rowland) continues to hold K Street fundraisers for Lieberman in Washington, D.C. [Sources: Center for Responsive Politics, Lieberman report, 2001-2006; Center for Responsive Politics, Lieberman PAC report; Hartford Courant, 8/4/06]

Rewarded, also, by companies like Sempra, which has been called "Enron's twin brother" by California's Attorney General for ripping off California consumers during the 2000-01 energy "crisis" in which Enron was implicated. Sen. Lieberman got a corporate jet ride and tens of thousands of dollars of bundled contributions from Sempra, conveniently, just a few weeks after his vote for the energy bill.

But, hey, give the Senator some credit. At least he shows up to vote when the issues matter to his real constituents.

Bush To Raise Money For Schlesinger

And Shays, in Greenwich on Monday. George Gallo:

Gallo said proceeds will support the party's effort this fall and its entire ticket, including U.S. Senate nominee Alan Schlesinger.

"He's one of our candidates, so absolutely," Gallo said....

Undecided about whether he will attend the fundraiser, Schlesinger said Bush endorsed the party's entire Connecticut ticket in a television interview earlier this month.

"The decisions that are being made about my race in the Republican Party are not being made by George Bush, and I appreciate his support," Schlesinger said.

Update: Ned has a great line in a transcript of an extensive interview just posted at The American Prospect:

I just came from the Wall Street Journal meeting and believe me, I told them Alan Schlesinger, the Republican, was an extraordinary candidate, I guarantee he will cut your taxes -- their eyes lit up at that point -- OK, he does a little gambling on the side, but nobody’s perfect. [laughter]


Wednesday Morning Round-Up

("Single Issue" Edition.)

Tuesday, September 19, 2006


I Love A Gracious Concession Speech

Always reminds me of everything Sen. Lieberman isn't:

Reilly appeared before supporters at about 9:45 p.m. to congratulate Patrick for running an "outstanding campaign" and pledged to support Patrick. "We gave it everything we had. it just didnt work out for us,'' Reilly said.


Staying The Course

The U.S. military will likely maintain or possibly even increase the current force levels of more than 140,000 troops in Iraq through next spring, the top US. commander in the Middle East said Tuesday in one of the gloomiest assessments yet of how quickly American forces can be brought home.

Gen. John Abizaid, commander of U.S. Central Command, said military leaders would consider adding troops or extending the Iraq deployments of other units if needed....

Late last year, military leaders had said they hoped to reduce troop levels to about 100,000 by the end of this year. But Abizaid said Tuesday that the rising sectarian violence and slow progress of the Iraqi government made that impossible.

- The AP, today.

"I support Joe Lieberman because he has consistently said we are going to 'stay the course.'"

- Lieberman supporter Sgt. James Liska at a press conference organized by the Lieberman campaign last week.

Update: Atrios reminds us of some of Joe's greatest hits from this summer:

Remember what Joe Lieberman had to say on July 6?

So I am confident that the situation is improving enough on the ground that by the end of this year, we will begin to draw down significant numbers of American troops, and by the end of the next year more than half of the troops who are there now will be home.

And then from July 19:

BRIDGEPORT — U.S. Sen. Joe Lieberman believes the U.S. will withdraw a "solid' contingent of its military forces in Iraq by the end of the year because of gains made by the Iraqi armed forces.

The facts:

Joe Lieberman was wrong on Iraq in October 2002.

He was wrong on Iraq in 2003.

He was wrong in 2004.

He was wrong in 2005.

He was wrong on July 6th of this year.

He was wrong on July 19th of this year.

And, to the minimal extent that he even talks about Iraq anymore, he is wrong now.

Update 2: And just to illustrate how everyone wasn't wrong about Iraq four years ago, read Jim Webb's prescient op-ed from September 2002.

Tuesday Morning Round-Up

Monday, September 18, 2006


"Not Fit For Election, Or Re-Election"

The Journal-Inquirer in an absolutely must-read editorial on Sen. Lieberman today:

Ned Lamont gave his formal policy address on Iraq at Yale on Wednesday and Lieberman gave his at Fairfield University yesterday.

Lamont said what he has said before: The war need not have been fought. It was sold to us based on false premises and information. We need to set a date certain for withdrawal of our troops. Period.

Right or wrong, Lamont is clear and consistent.

Lamont also developed some context: He essayed the notion of building allies for a foreign policy and doing it across party lines. And he tried to explain why he thinks the country is actually less safe than on Sept 11, 2001. It was a sober speech, if nothing new.

What Joe said most recently, prior to Friday, was: We should get out of Iraq ASAP, but too soon would be a grave mistake. It's hard to elaborate on that because it makes no logical sense....

Any politician worth his salt should know what he thinks about Iraq, off the top of his head. And he should be willing and able to articulate it.

Rep. John Murtha, for example, needs no notes or talking points. He speaks his heart and mind because he knows his mind.

Any politician who can't do this has ceded all credibility. The war in Iraq is the issue of the moment. If you need more time, advice, and packaging to respond, you are not fit for election, or re-election.


5th Party Candidate

It's official - Sen. Lieberman is in a three-way tie for the third line on the ballot (Sec. of State press release via CLP):

There are a total of five candidates running for United States Senator this year in Connecticut: Alan Schlesinger of the Republican Party, Ned Lamont Democratic Party, Timothy Knibbs of the Concerned Citizens Party, Ralph Ferrucci of the Green Party, and Joseph Lieberman of the Connecticut For Lieberman Party. The sequence in which they will appear in Column 2 on the November 7th ballot is as follows:

* Alan Schlesinger
* Ned Lamont
* Timothy Knibbs
* Ralph Ferrucci
* Joe Lieberman

Keep in mind that the entire raison d'être of the faux "Connecticut for Lieberman" party is that it would allow him a higher spot on the ballot than simply running as an unaffiliated candidate.

Cynical politics from a cynical politician.

Monday Morning Round-Up

Sunday, September 17, 2006


Do Historians Vote?

"We can argue about what happened several years ago, it has some historical significance,” Mr. Lieberman said in an interview last week. “History will judge that...."

- Sen. Lieberman, New York Times, 9/18/06

Asked by Woodward how history would judge the war, Bush replied: "History. We don't know. We'll all be dead."

- President Bush quoted in Plan of Attack by Bob Woodward, 4/17/04

A River In Egypt


Lieberman blamed Bush for his primary loss during his appearance on "Face The State" this morning:

"It's clear that in the Democratic party, that we're so angry at President Bush and the Iraq war … notwithstanding the fact they agree with me on most other issues. They wanted to cast a 'no' vote," Lieberman said.

Sen. Lieberman still cannot admit that he himself might have had anything to do with the fact that Democrats turned out in record numbers last month to vote him out of office.

Much less that Ned Lamont's inspiring campaign might have had anything to do with his historic win.

But that wasn't nearly the most insulting thing to come out of the interview this morning.

Update: From JoanBasil in the comments:

I would like to see Ned Lamont use what Jim Webb used in the Allen/Webb debate on Meet The Press this morning:

Webb said that he remembered what President Eisenhower said about the Korean War and the mistakes the Truman Administration made and that the same people who got us into that war would not be the people who got us out of it.

Thats a very strong point. Bush will never admit he made any mistakes and neither will Lieberman.

It really is all about judgment.

Sunday Morning Round-Up

(Inside Baseball Edition.)