Janet's Conner

This Blog tell the Truth and will never not tell the Truth. Impeach Bush

Thursday, May 18, 2006



So, we are now told that "it is unpatriotic" to question the Bush Administration's honesty and motives in deciding to wage war in Iraq.

Does one become "unpatriotic" by making such allegations only with respect to "this" Administration and "this" military action, or does it always make one "unpatriotic" to argue that a President engaged in militaty action under false pretenses and for his own motives?

This question asks itself in light of these patriotism attacks, because it wasn't too long ago that GOP politicians and pundits were making exactly these same allegations against President Clinton with respect to his decision to bomb Iraq, to shoot cruise missiles at Osama bin Laden, and to intervene in Kosovo.

A stroll down memory lane:


"The suspicion some people have about the president's motives in this attack [on Iraq] is itself a powerful argument for impeachment," Armey said in a statement. "After months of lies, the president has given millions of people around the world reason to doubt that he has sent Americans into battle for the right reasons."


"It is obvious that they're (the Clinton White House) doing everything they can do to postpone the vote on his impeachment in order to try to get whatever kind of leverage they can, and the American people ought to be as outraged as I am about it," Solomon said in an interview with CNN. Asked if he was accusing Clinton of playing with American lives for political expediency, Solomon said, "Whether he knows it or not, that's exactly what he's done."


Coats, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said in a statement, "While there is clearly much more we need to learn about this attack [on Osama bin Laden] and why it was ordered today, given the president's personal difficulties this week, it is legitimate to question the timing of this action."


The foregoing review of the Clinton Administration's prevarications on Kosovo would not be complete without a brief look at one other possible factor in the deepening morass. Consider the following fictional situation: A president embroiled in a sex scandal that threatens to bring down his administration. HE SEES THE ONLY WAY OUT IN DISTRACTING THE NATION AND THE WORLD WITH A FOREIGN MILITARY ADVENTURE. SO, HE ORDERS HIS SPIN-DOCTORS AND MEDIA WIZARDS TO GET TO WORK. THEY SURVEY THE OPTIONS, PUSH A FEW BUTTONS, AND DECIDE UPON A SUITABLE LOCALE: ALBANIA.

The foregoing premise of the recent film Wag the Dog, might once have seemed farfetched. Yet it can hardly escape comment that on the very day, August 17, that President Bill Clinton is scheduled to testify before a federal grand jury to explain his possibly criminal behavior, Commander-in-Chief Bill Clinton has ordered U.S. Marines and air crews to commence several days of ground and air exercises in, yes, Albania as a warning of possible NATO intervention in next-door Kosovo....

Not too many years ago, it would not have entered the mind of even the worst of cynics to speculate whether any American president, whatever his political difficulties, would even consider SENDING U.S. MILITARY PERSONNEL INTO HARM'S WAY TO SERVE HIS OWN, PERSONAL NEEDS. But in an era when pundits openly weigh the question of whether President Clinton will (or should) tell the truth under oath not because he has a simple obligation to do so but because of the possible impact on his political "viability"---is it self-evident that military decisions are not affected by similar considerations? Under the circumstances, it is fair to ask to what extent the Clinton Administration has forfeited the benefit of the doubt as to the motives behind its actions.


Paul Weyrich, a leading conservative activist, said Clinton's decision to bomb on the eve of the impeachment vote "is more of an impeachable offense than anything he is being charged with in Congress."


"It is dangerous for an American president to launch a military strike, however justified, at a time when many will conclude he acted only out of narrow self-interest to forestall or postpone his impeachment."


"I cannot support this military action in the Persian Gulf at this time." Lott said in a statement. "Both the timing and the policy are subject to question."


"Never underestimate a desperate president," said a furious House Rules Committee Chairman Gerald B.H. Solomon (R-NY). "What option is left for getting impeachment off the front page and maybe even postpones? And how else to explain the sudden appearance of a backbone that has been invisible up to now?"


"It [the bombing of Iraq] is certainly rather suspicious timing," said Rep. Tillie Fowler (R-FLA). "I think the president is shameless in what he would do to stay in office."


First, it [intervention in Kosovo] is a "wag the dog" public relations ploy to involve us in a war in order to divert attention from his personal scandals (only a few of which were addressed in the Senate trial). He is again following the scenario of the "life is truer than fiction" movie Wag the Dog. The very day after his acquittal, Clinton moved quickly to "move on" from the subject of impeachment by announcing threats to bomb and to send U.S. ground troops into the civil war in Kosovo between Serbian authorities and ethnic Albanians fighting for independence. He scheduled Americans to be part of a NATO force under non-American command.


"President Clinton has indelibly associated a justified military response...with his own wrongdoing...Clinton is now injected the impeachment process against him into foreign policy, and vice versa"


Instead of striking a strong blow against terrorism, the action [launching cruise missiles at bin Laden] set off a howling debate about Clinton's motives. The president ordered the action three days after appearing before the grand jury investigating the Monica Lewinsky affair, and Clinton's critics accused him of using military action to change the subject from the sex-and-perjury scandal---the so-called "wag the dog" strategy.


"Perceptions that THE AMERICN PRESIDENT IS LESS INTERESTED IN THE GLOBAL CONSEQUENCES THAN IN TAKING ANY ACTION THAT WILL ENABLE HIM TO HOLD ONTO POWER [are] a further demonstration that he has dangerously compromised himself in conducting the nation's affairs, and should be impeached."

Source: Unclaimed Territory
By: Glenn Greenwald
November 2005
USE OF UNFIT TROOPS BLASTED................................................................................

Senators Criticize Troops Blasted

U.S. Jospeh I. Lieberman called Wednesday for a federal investigation of mental health screening for troops deploying to Iraq. The Courant reported in a series that mentally ill service members are being sent to war and kept there, sometimes with tragic consequences.

Also Wednesday, U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA), sent a letter to Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld expressing "disgust" at a revelation in the series that the military was sending troops with post-traumatic stress disorder back into combat.

"You cannot simply have doctors prescribe psychiatric drugs such as Zoloft and send these men and women back to a combat zone," Boxer wrote. "No matter what the Defense Department's recruiting shortfalls, it is absolutely immoral to send soldiers who have been diagnosed as suffering from PTSD back into a combat zone."

Lieberman, a member of the Senate Arms Services Committee, sent letters Wednesday to the Government Accountability Office and the inspector general of the Defense Department, asking each agency to investigate the military's pre-deployment screening practices. Lieberman said he was particularly concerned by The Courant's finding that among troops who indicated a possible mental health problem, only 6.5% were referred to a mental health specialist before they were deemed deployable.

"Clearly, our soldiers are experiencing unusually high levels of stress," Lieberman wrote in his letter to the inspector general, "but if the military is doing an inadequate job of assessing the severity of mental health problems in those deploying, and then placing them in further danger, their lives are [at] greater risk."

Lieberman (D-Conn), said Wednesday that he was also "exploring legislative options" to improve mental health screening for troops, which consists of one question on a self-reported questionnaire. "We put our faith in the men and women of our armed services to protect us every day; they should expect and deserve to have the same faith in us," Lieberman said. The Courant's investigation, he added, "reveals that the deployment system's faulty implementation of mental health screening has betrayed the trust of our soldiers and their families. This is unacceptable and inexcusable."

In an interview earlier this week, William Winkenwerder Jr., assistant secretary of defense for health affairs, defended the military's policies on mental health screening and treatment, saying the armed forces have put a greater emphasis on mental health now than at any time in history. He said he believes the military is in compliance with a 1997 order by Congress that it conduct an "assessment of mental health" on all deploying troops.

Army Surgeon General Kevin C. Kiley said he, too, was satisfied with pre-deployment screening. But he would not oppose expanding the screening, he said, "if we have evidence it would make a difference."

After a 2003 spike in suicides among troops deployed to the Iraq war, the military pledged to improve mental health services for troops, increasing the number of combat-stress teams in the war zone and expanding suicide prevention programs. The suicide rate dropped in 2004, but climbed back up in 2005.

U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-3rd Sistrict), who has pushed for the military to conduct face-to-face mental health evaluations of returning troops, said Wednesday she believed using a questionnaire for pre-deployment screening may be inadequate as well.

"If they self-report, you're never going to get a full [mental health] assessment," DeLauro said. "You've got to see them when they're going in; you've got to see them when they're going out."

DeLauro said she was also concerned by The Courant's findings that the military was relying increasingly on the use of antidepressants in the war zone, sometimes with minimal counseling and monitoring. Antidepressants carry government warnings about a risk of side effects, including increased suicidal urges, when they are first prescribed.

"We've now established a link between antidepressants and suicide. We know you have to strictly monitor them," she said. "Who's making that assessment [in the combat zone]?"

The military also uses a self-reported questionnaire to assess the mental health troops completing tours in Iraq---a practice some say fails to detect PTSD and other combat-related disorders.

"We can't be satisfied with questionnaires," Senator John Kerry (D-Mass), said Wednesday in a statement. "We need to give our troops and our veterans hands-on care, no matter what it costs."

Source: The Hartford Courant
Story By: Matthew Kauffman and Lisa Chedekel
May 18, 2006

* I can't understand the comment made by Army Surgeon General Kevin C. Kiley! He says that he is satisfied with pre-deployment screening, but would not oppose expanding the screening, "if we had evidence it would make a difference." They have the perfect opportunity to start conducting a new option to "their" pre-deployment screening. They are at war now! These kids in Iraq grew up in a completely different era and society than those who served during the Vietnam War. The first Gulf War wasn't long enough to be able to conduct such screenings. Things have changed and we have to dig deep into our main asset of our fighting forces. "Our Troops and Their minds!" Let's face it, growing up playing these computer games just didn't cut it when it comes to the "real thing." Animation isn't the same as actually seeing someone get blown apart!

So, with all due respect to our Army Sugeon General Kiley, how can we get evidence of something that will make a difference, if we don't try to find a new way of conducting things in this new millenium? Let's face it, these kids are a "completely different" bunch then when you and I were their age. Comparing them to the troops that were in Vietnam, would be like comparing 50-year-old people to the kids raised in the late 1890's or early 1900's. We all have a different way of life and cultures. Treat them like they came from a different time.

That is one of this administration's problems. They are stuck in the past and don't want to move ahead. They won't let us get past 9/11, and believe me, the American people will always remember it as we do Pearl Harbor. Quit keeping us in this administration's time period and move on. The world used to look at us for these changes. Now, they look away!
NO RULES, JUST MIGHT..............................................................................................

Last Friday, delegates from the United States stood up before the international community and defended their nation's practices on torture. Their inconsistent performance bodes ill for American's efforts to sustain moral and practical leadership in global counterterrorism efforts.

The occasion was the United States' second periodic report to the United Nations' Committee Against Torture. This body was set up by the Convention Against Torture, an international human rights treaty that the United States was pivotal in drafting. Made up of independent experts, the committee's tasks include reviewing reports from countries about complaince with international rules against torture.

American prisons and police stations have never been free of torture. But the administration's counterterrorism policies sparked new problems. Coercive interrogation tactics rising to the level of torture were sanctioned by Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld in late 2002. Such tactics then found systematic use in every theater of conflict to which U.S. forces deployed.

Although a handful of government employees were prosecuted, sentences have been low enough to suggest the administration does not take seriously the ban on torture. More remarkable is who is missing from the dock. No senior official has faced any consequences---professional or legal---for authorizing tactics that could become torture or collapsing legal restrictions that prevented torture.

So it is not surprising that Barry Kowenkron and his State Department colleagues had a tough road to travel. According to unofficial transcripts, Lowenkron began by stating that "United States criminal law prohibited torture: and that there were "no exceptions" to this rule. But American officials insisted that international law does no prohibit "extraordinary rendition"---the transfers to torture of individuals who are captured overseas and shipped to a third country. This is a first large exception.

More troubling, Lowenkron's colleague John Bellinger insisted that situations of war were not covered by the Torture Convention. But this exception entirely swallows the anti-torture rule---at least in the administration's eyes. Since 2002, the administration has been taken the position that international laws that protect against torture during wartime---especially the Geneva Conventions---do not apply to the conflict with al-Qaeda. Indeed, the administration argued that "enemy combatants"---a makeweight category never previously recognized in international law---recive no protection, and have no access to a legal forum to claim innocence or error.

Ad to this administration's position that the battlefield extends beyond Afghanastan and Iraq, to wherever the president believes that terrorists hide, and you get a blanket exception to anti-torture rules wherever the president thinks it necessary.

So much for "no exceptions" to the law against torture.

America's global leadership has long demanded that it take the initiative of human rughts treaties, and in institutions such as the United Nations, which protect human rights. This role means America is subject to special scrutiny from the international community of rights issues. In the past, we have proved willing to alter course away from unwise and immoral policies in response to criticism.

For instance, take that "fixed star" in our constitutional constellation, the First Ammendment's protection against compelled speech. In 1940, William and Lillian Gobitis, two Pennsylvania students, were expelled from school based on their refusal to salute the flag. The Supreme Court affirmed their punishment as consistent with the First Ammendment. Three years later, as battles with Axis armies ranged across European and the Pacific theaters, the Supreme Court povited on its heel. In the landmark case of West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette, the Court concluded that compelled expression could not be squared with the First Amendment.

The result in Barnette was especially surprising because it came at a time of global war and involved a government demand that individuals express their patriotism and loyalty. But pressing on the Justices' minds was the need to distinguish the United States from communist and fascist powers. One amicus brief by community groups (including the Boy and Girl Scouts) noted the similarity between the full-arm flag salute West Virginia demanded and the Nazi salute. And Justice Robert Jackson pointed in his opinion for the Court to "Siberian exiles" as an example of how elimination of dissent soon becomes extermination of dissenters. Constitutional law today without Barnette would be a wholly different landscape.

Potential for international embarrassment also shifted the federal government toward opposing racial segregation. The Unitd Nations' commission on Human Rights had been in place little more than 12 months when it became a stage for American shortfalls in human rights. In October 1947, the NAACP filed a petition, drafted by W.E.B. Dubois, protesting the treatment of African-Americans. The NAACP pointed to the global consequences of America failing to live up to its moral obligations, for if "democracy fails to function in the leading democracy in the world, it fails the world."

In the end, the Commission did not take up the NAACP's proposal. But during the Cold War, the federal government came to play a more active role in pushing back segregation, especially by supporting the NAACP's efforts in the courts. Thus, the NAACP's efforts in the U.N. leveraged international embarrassment into practical change at home.

Whether the same could happen today remains to be seen, given this administration's longstanding disregard for international opinion. But our international reputation matters as much today as it did 60 years ago. America depends on other countries for vital counter-terrorism cooperation. Further, the more America is viewed as a country that operates under the rule of law, the better its chances of persuading potential recruits to terrorism to abandon violence.

Consider, for example, a recent report issued by the United Nations' Secretary General. On April 27, Kofi Annan issued a set of "recommendations for a global-counter-terrorism strategy." This report canvasses U.S. efforts to resist proliferation of nuclear and biological weapons; it documets U.S. efforts to staunch the trade in fraudulent passports used for terrorst travel; and it highlights how U.S. institutions have leveraged expertise gained fighting the drug trade to disrupt terrorist financing flows. All of these are vital counter-terrorism tools---much more than the detention and torture powers the administration zealsouly seeks. None of them are feasible absent international cooperation.

A "decent respect for the opinions of mankind" has long been a cornerstone of American policy and American legal practice. Facing new kinds of terrorist threats, the nation has no reason to abandon efforts, a half century long, to maintain a moral and practical leadership in the globe and in the halls of the United Nations. The weight of America's embarrassing and shameful record on torture impedes the vital goal of persuading other countries that fighting al-Qaeda and its allies ought to be a global priority. AND THE SOONER WE MAKE A CLEAR BREAK WITH TORTURE THE SAFER WE WILL BE.

Source: Tom Paine
Common Sense
May 12, 2006


*I found this letter and just wanted to put it out there to let the author of the letter know that his letter was not written in vain. Someone else did listen to him. I am writing it in the writer's own words and I am not changing a thing.

Newspaper articles across the nation today make it seem as if the VA is doing some of the veterans they screwed over in the past few decades a favor, while incresing their workload and it will hurt the "new vets" because Congress forced this, they should be ashamed of themselves.

Below is a copy of my letter to the Editor of the New Jersey paper. See for yourself if the VA is really helping the veterans or just sticking it to them again.


Your article on the VA makes it sound as a staff shortage caused the problems of Low pay. The simple fact is that VA Regional Offices hav a lot of wiggle room on many of the cases they decide, let's use the big one for the example PTSD. That is in the press a lot, and it is a subject I have personal familiarity with, as I have it.

The shrinks and social workers do the write ups on every visit, they make notes, on things like your wife is wearing a shirt that says F.T .Army or BUSCHITS or anything else that they feel like, such as the veteran states that if we don't do this he is going down the hall and call his Congress person or Senator. Stuff that has no place in a medical record. They assign what they call GAF scores, an assessment of how you are functioning at that given hour, to their observations. The score's range from 0-100, most veterans scores that range from 30 which is not good to scores in the 70's which means yes he has issues,but the veteran is handling it really well.

This gives the Regional Office rater and DRO's plenty of play room, they can pick good news out of your records or they can pick the bad news, they can assess the medications you take for PTSD or they can choose to ignore them. Then there is the dreaded C&P exam, which stands for Compensaion and Pension Exam, the VARO's hire outside shrinks to assess you, now a company that is headed by ex VA Secretary Anthony Principi, named QTC, supplies most of these doctors, or Nurse practitioners at a cost on average of between 400-500 per exam, some of these exams last 10 minutes.

Some are very thorough and last the time period of one and half hours as the guidelines call for, but the fact is before QTC came along, they use to pay these doctors about 100-200 dollars. But now the QTC doctors all know what the VARO's want them to fill out and how to fill out their paperwork. It makes the veteran question is this doctor writing the right information down or assessing me so the VA can pay me a lower award for my service connected problems.

Even a smart man or woman has to look at this question with a raised eyebrow. QTC Corporation enjoys it, when Principi was the head of it before he was named VA Secretary they were billing the VA 47 million a year, they now have contracts that will pay them 1.2 billion in the next five years. Yes, a nice deal for QTC and their stockholders. How good a deal it was for veterans, remains to be seen. But bottom line this excess money is money that could have been used for veteran care, that they will now be deprived of. Was this a good deal for the taxpayers?

My own case for example, I was diagnosed with PTSD by a VA shrink in May 2003, I had been seeing him since January when I had a melt down. I have had problems for years, but like most veterans I found a way to cope with them, work, drinking, drugs etc. I ignored the "problems" until one day, I no longer could. I have many of what they call "stressors" fire fights, training accidents, in service deaths of friends, but the main stressor for my case was the fact that 7 fellow soldiers decided they wanted my wallet on a payday in February 1975, and they beat me unconscious and left me, the problem was the place they did it was Fort Wainwright Alaska and it was 20 below zero, that night.

They were charged with robbery and attempted murder, four of them were sent to Leavenworth Barracks, the military portion of the prison system, in Leavenworth, Kansas. The other three were given what they call non-judicial punishment, and I asked for a transfer to South Korea, the Army moved me a month after the court-martials ended in August 1975.

Because of an American Legion Service Officer who refused to file a claim for PTSD for non-combat reasons, I did not get my claim filed until after I fired him and revoked his power of attorney in DEC 2003. In 2004 they denied the claim, in May 2005 they finally approved it but at the 50% rate, I appealed it, my shrink has been saying for 2 years that mt GAF score was 30-35 and that I was permanently and totally disabled by my PTSD. The VARO denied it again, I asked for a BVA hearing and wrote Senator Larry Craig a letter about my problem with the VARO in Columbia, SC, in October 2005 I received a letter from Renee Szybala, Director of Compensation and Pensions. In November the Columbia VARO scheduled me for another round of C&P exams.

On April 6th I received a new award letter granting me 100% P&T for my PTSD with an effective date of DEC 2003, when I had originally filed for it. The key was persistence, the fact that the VA counts on is that service members usually accept what they are given and do not complain, except to family and friends. They have the attitude if they deserved more than the VA would have given them more. The idea is fighting with the government that they served and fought for, does not usually enter their minds, they just grumble about the low payments, and wonder how Joe got a larger award for the same problem and Joe is not near as physically disabled as I am.

What the VA is doing now is after the investigation last year, it not to go back and re-look automatically at the decisions and re-judge them, they are taking the position that if you want it upgraded, then you have to ask for it, thus creating a new date eligibility, from the day the increase is asked for, forget about getting back pay to when your claim was first awarded and the veteran may have deserved the higher award from the beginning, it is now an effort to save money ar the expense of disabled veterans and or their widows.

Then to have the nerve to blame the new backlog on veterans asking for the new look at old awards, is just ridiculous, they already have 825,000 cases on appeal to the Board of Veteran Appeals, from veterans who did not agree with their awards or lack of them. The VA just needs to hire more people and get this mess cleaned up, within a reasonable time period, the bad part is no one is mentioning the time lines here, right now the average wait for a claim is 1-2 years, a BVA hearing is 2-4 years and the Court of Veterans Appeals is a minimum of a five year wait, many veterans die waiting on the VA to adjudicate their claims.

Injuries that are cut and dry like a loss of limb are much easier for the VA and veterans to understand, the major problems come from mental illnesses, and any other problems that have an area where there can be interpretation, some raters interpret better than others, some grant in favor of the veterans, while others are more cynical and grant in favor of the government, they can claim the VA claims process is non-adversial all they want, the system is broke and in need of a major overhaul. The large veterans service organizations really do not serve the needs of veterans as an individual, they see the big picture, the trouble is each veteran is a snapshot, and all claims need more than a 10 minute meet and greet, some take time, some take investigations and real hard work, in the VA claims system they try and use the KISS method, (Keep it simple stupid) great for the SO but lousy help to the veterans and his family.

Veterans have to remember that it is their claim, they need to find the evidence, do not expect anyone else to do it, get and keep date stamped copies of all paperwork, your spouse may need them after you pass away. Remember you do have the right to revoke a power of attorney if your Veterans rep is not doing his/her job the way you feel it should be done, bottom line it is your claim and your benefits, the people that handle your claims are all getting paid if you win or lose your claim, it's your stay on top of it, and fight for your family's benefits and your's, you fought for your country, now fight for what is right.



Source: Political Cortex
By: testvet
May 10, 2006


Letters are starting to go out to vets who may have been exposed to HIV, hepatitis B & C.

Most of the 17 facilities listed below have notified vets at this time.

This is just a reminder......

If you had a prostate biopsy at one of the VA's listed below and have not received a letter...please contact your primary care provider and ask to be screened.


A number of facilities have over 2,000 patients on their list.

Some background here...

VA press release below:


WASHINGTON (April 13, 2006)---Some veterans who received prostate biopsies in medical facilities at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) in 11 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico may have been treated with improperly disinfected instruments, VA officials announced today.

Although VA has not received any reports of patients being harmed, the Department is notifying all veterans who were treated by the equipment in question, called "a prostate biopsy transducer." VA is also offering follow-on testing to determine if these veterans were exposed to any other ailments.

"The safety of our patients is of paramount concern," said Dr. Jonathan B. Perlin, VA's Under Secretary for Health. "VA's patient safety program detected this problem. Whenever there's a problem, we believe in notifying our patients and taking remedial steps immediately."

Although VA inspectors found that the equipment used for the prostate biopsies was being cleaned and disinfected after each procedure, some equipment was not being scrubbed by a brush after each use, resulting in the remote possibility of infection.

Improperly scrubbed equipment carries a small risk of exposing patients to Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C and the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV).

VA is notigying patients who received prostate biopsies with the equipment in question at the following facilities:

* District of Columbia

* Iowa: Iowa City

* Maine: Togus

* Minnesota: Minneapolis

* Montana: Fort Harrison, Miles City

* Nevada: Las Vegas

* New York: Buffalo, Canadaigua

* Ohio: Cincinnati

* Oklahoma: Oklahoma City

* Oregon: Portland

* Puerto Rico: San Juan

* Tennessee: Memphis, Murfreesboro, Nashville

* Wisconsin: Milwaukee

Patients treated by the improperly scrubbed equipment will be notified and will be offered tests. The Department is working with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the manufacturer and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Source: Larry Scott
May 18, 2006 #4


*Republicans trail on all main issues

*Immigration and Iraq are hurting White House the most

The Republicans could face a substantial electoral defeat later this year, leaving George Bush a lame-duck president, a poll published yesterday suggests. The poll, for the Washington Post and ABC television, confirmed a rapid slide in support for Mr. Bush and raised hopes of a Democrat revival by putting the party ahead on all important indicators, from the economy to Iraq and immigration.

Mr. Bush is now just hovering above lows reached only by presidents Richard Nixon and Jimmy Carter, Harry Truman and his father. He has been unable to reverse the slump, despite a series of initiatives that included reshuffling his White House team last month, making a television address to the nation on Monday night on Mexican immigration, and talking up progress on a new government for Iraq.

David Frum, who was responsible for writing Mr. Bush's "axis of evil" speech, said yesterday: "It's not clear he has hit bottom yet. My view is that 2006 will not be a good year for Republicans."

Frank Lutz, a Republican pollster and strategist, echoed Mr. Frum, who is now a resident fellow at the rightwing Washington thinktank the American Enterprise Institute (AEI). "This is not going to be a good year for parties in power, not just in America. There is an anxiety in western democracies right now that has led voters to oust parties in power. There is unease and frustration with the status quo and a desire for change."

The Democrats are hoping that in November's election they can regain control of the House of Representatives, lost after 40 years in a traumatic Republican landslide in 1994, and possibly gain the Senate. Control of either house would see a series of investigations launched that would add to pressure on Mr. Bush in the last two years of his administration.

Mr. Luntz said" "It is absolutely possible for the Democrats to take one or both [houses]. I was involved in 1994. It feels like a 1994-style election. Voters will come to the ballots for candidates they do not even know [to get the incumbent out]." Mr. Frum was less pessimistic. "It's not possible that Republicans could eke out a hold in both houses."

The Post/ABC poll, consistent with the trend in other polls during the past month, found that 69% of those surveyed thought the country was now off track and 56% would prefer to see Democrats in control of the US Congress. The Democrats recorded majorities over the Republicans on 10 crucial issues: health, education, the federal budget, petrol prices, taxes, phone-tapping and other privacy matters, the economy, Iraq, immigration, and the campaign against terrorism.

Mr. Bush's personal approval rating is only 33%, down five points in a month, with the decline sharpest among Republicans. Only 32% of those polled said they approved of the way he is handling Iraq. A toll of soldiers killed in Iraq is listed daily in US papers and on television. Karl Rove, Mr. Bush's top election strategist, told an AEI meeting on Monday that Iraq was the issue that soured everything.

But the issue that seems to be hurting the president the most among Republicans is immigration. Mr. Frum said that the unskilled, white working-class had not seen any rise in their wages since 2000 and blamed this partly on immigration.

Thomas Mann, a senior fellow at the Washington-based Brookings Institute, said: "It has been an extrordinary collapse of support for the president and the Republican party. If you look at the poll ratings for the government on a range of issues, all of those are more damaging than 94 was for the Democrats." He said people had lost trust in Mr. Bush as a result of Iraq and Hurricane Katrina. He had given a reasonable speech on immigration, "but no one is listening anymore."

Source: Guardian
Story By: Ewen MacAskill in Washington
May 18, 2006