Rudy Giuliani

A Word About Community Organizers

I see Rudy Giuliani and Sarah Palin both ridiculed Barack Obama for once being a "community organizer" on Chicago's South Side. It's arguably the weakest part of his resume, since you know, law school professor, attorney, state senator, and US Senator are pretty prestigious jobs to have.

It was good for a laugh, and for a moment, I was worried because I had feared that Barack's lack of a desk job between college and law school could hurt his campaign.

But then I had a good night's sleep. And then I thought more about it. And now I can see right through their attack. It is not a weak link in Obama's resume, it is a small part of his resume that simply frightens Republicans.

The ridicule of Obama's time as a "community organizer" ties-into the Republican anti-urban, anti-intellectual platform / culture war. Most ordinary Americans do not recognize a community organizer as a regular 9-to-5 job. But look at what the Republicans are attacking.

A community organizer is a hybrid role. It is part consultant, and part lobbyist. He's a consultant in that he offers advice and ideas to people who have fallen on hard times, and helps them help themselves to get back up (Joe Biden's theme). And he's a lobbyist for the neighborhood, working to attract businesses to replace those that have left. Bridgeport lost factories, but eventually won two professional sports teams. Pittsburgh lost steel mills, but eventually gained banks and museums. That wasn't just the work of business leaders. It took some grass-roots initiative as well. Community organizers bring together neighborhoods, local politicians, and business leaders (investors, corporations, etc.) in an effort to improve people's quality of life.

Community organizers run non-profit, grass-roots organizations that offer job and interview training, tenants' rights campaigns, and act as agents between residents, government, and businesses.

And it's not all selfless and out of the goodness of their hearts. Barack Obama probably would not have become a politician if he hadn't been a community organizer early in his career. It may have helped him get into Harvard Law School. After all, his three-year stint as a community organizer was in-between his bachelor's degree and his entrance into Harvard Law School in 1988. He was a young man. He was 25 when he left a New York think tank and moved to Chicago to get involved in the lives of South Side residents.

But let's dig deeper. Why does the Right hate community organizers? The simple Wikipedia entry gives us many clues:

The American Civil Rights Movement, the anti-war movements, the Chicano movement, the feminist movement, and the gay rights movement all influenced and were influenced by ideas of neighborhood organizing. Experience with federal anti-poverty programs and the upheavals in the cities produced a thoughtful response among activists and theorists in the early 1970s that has informed activities, organizations, strategies and movements through the end of the century. Less dramatically, civic associations and neighborhood block clubs were formed all across the country to foster community spirit and civic duty, as well as provide a social outlet.

Many of the most notable leaders in community organizing today emerged from the National Welfare Rights Organization. John Calkins of DART, Ernesto Cortes of the Industrial Areas Foundation, Wade Rathke of ACORN, John Dodds of Philadelphia Unemployment Project and Mark Splain of the AFL-CIO, among others.

Other famous community organizers include: Jane Addams, César Chávez, Samuel Gompers, Martin Luther King, Jr., John L. Lewis, Ralph Nader, Barack Obama, Pat Robertson, and Paul Wellstone.

Ah ha! There are some pretty evil names in that list. Union leaders. Civil rights leaders. Religious leaders. And a dead, liberal Senator from Minnesota.

Add to that list - Susan B. Anthony. You remember her from the history books? She fought for the right of American women to vote. And also add some historical dude named Jesus Christ.

No wonder they hate community organizers. They help people get back up and fight for equality and justice.

Hey. I just thought of three other non-traditional jobs. But these are jobs that the Republicans don't ridicule. I'm sure there are more. But off the top of my head, I can think of -


Jack Abramoff was sentenced today, BTW.

Security consultants

The NYPD's resident spook, David Cohen, who has almost no recorded existence.

Defense contractors

You wont see the Right attacking or ridiculing those jobs.

And we know what great, productive, community-building job Sarah Palin held before becoming mayor of Wasilla, right?

(Sorry, no photos, video stills or videos available. They are all being erased from the Internets.)

In light of this, Keith Olbermann might be over-qualified to be President.

It's The MLB Championship Series!

I'm not going to say World Series, because the world has nothing to do with it. So I call it the MLBCS instead. And it is the forth MLBCS of my lifetime involving the Red Sox. Considering all the 'pain' the Red Sox have suffered in the 20th century, that's not a bad record at all. Since 1967 they have been the most loved professional sports team in New England. And win or lose, you have to love them. They have been good neighbors, and fine entertainers.

So the final series is upon us, and what happens? Rudolph Giuliani tells a Massachusetts crowd that he is rooting for the Red Sox to win. I think there are three possibilities here:

1. He's lying. It's like him telling the GOP that as he saw people jump from 1 WTC, he turned to Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik and said, "Thank God that George Bush is our President." It's a flat-out lie, and it is pointless.

2. And if it isn't a lie, then he's truly mad.

3. This is reverse-psychology. He is trying to jinx the Red Sox. So he tells a room full of Red Sox fans that he is on their side. After funding four Yankee championship parades up lower Broadway, and giving the Yankees tens of millions of dollars in taxpayer-funded welfare, there's no way he is actually going to voice support for the Sox. He wants the Sox to lose.

I can't blame him. This is the season to hate Boston-area professional sports. We have Gregg Easterbrook writing that the Patriots are pure evil, and the nation is tired of the Red Sox being everyone's favorite, lovable underdogs. The fact is this time, the Sox are not underdogs. They are favored to win the championship considering the large talent and experience gaps that exist on paper between them and the Rockies.

I am scared of the Rockies. I really am. They are fearless kids who have won every game for the last month. The Red Sox have found their groove again after losing three straight. But will the comfortable and confident Sox be able to beat the red hot kids from Denver? Tonight will give us a lot of clues and indicators.

I'm scared. The Sox have to win at least one game at home. But the more they pressure the Rockies, the more the Rocks will fight back. The Rockies will not be broken in this series. They can only be held back just enough to give the Sox close victories. Here are my predictions:

Game 1: Sox win. Beckett delivers 7 solid innings for the victory. Not many runs score in the Boston drizzle. Final score 3-1.

Game 2: Rockies win. Schilling goes 6 innings, but Boston's middle relief gives-up the game. Sox offense goes cold. [Hard to imagine that happening at home, but I am expecting some heartbreak in game 2. If not, then disregard everything below.]

Game 3: Rockies win. Sox need more time to adjust to the cold mountain climate. The bullpen does not hold the line. Bottom of the order + Daisuke batting = automatic outs.

Game 4: Sox win 6-4. Lester delivers an inspiring victory going 7 full innings. Youkilis, Manny, and JD Drew go yard. Some amazing outfield catches, too.

Game 5: Sox win behind the arms of Beckett and Paps.. Sox squeeze by 2-1. Denver crowd is stunned.

Game 6: All hands on deck. The Red Sox clinch the series at home behind an amazing effort from just about everyone except Paps. A blowout. Sox win the MLBCS.

Sox in 6.

Just be sure to mute your televisions. You don't need to hear a word that Joe Buck and Tim McCarver say.

Giuliani's Hot Streak Coming to an End?

It certainly appears that way. His inexperience and his greed have certainly come to light in the last few days. Fred Kaplan at Slate reports: / War Stories

The Man Who Knows Too Little

What Rudy Giuliani's greedy decision to quit the Iraq Study Group reveals about his candidacy.

By Fred Kaplan

Posted Thursday, June 21, 2007, at 6:44 PM ET

If you don't read Newsday, you might not know (I didn't until this week) that Rudy Giuliani was an original member of the Iraq Study Group—the blue-ribbon commission co-chaired by James Baker and Lee Hamilton—but he was forced out after failing to show up for any of the panel's meetings.

The day after the Newsday story appeared, Giuliani explained that he'd started thinking about running for president, and his presence on the panel might give it a political spin. "It didn't seem that I'd really be able to keep the thing focused on a bipartisan, nonpolitical resolution," he said.

The more likely reason for Giuliani's no-shows is much plainer—money. Craig Gordon, the Newsday reporter who wrote the story in the Long Island paper's June 19 edition, discovered that on the three days of meetings that Giuliani missed (before quitting), he was out of town, delivering highly lucrative speeches.

On April 12, 2006, he was giving a keynote address at an economics conference in South Korea for a fee of $200,000. On May 18, he was giving a speech on leadership in Atlanta for $100,000.

At that point, Baker gave Giuliani an ultimatum: Start showing up for sessions, or quit. On May 24, he quit, noting in a letter (provided to Gordon) that prior commitments prevented him from giving the panel his "full and active participation." (He was replaced by former Attorney General Edwin Meese, a puzzling choice for the job; maybe he was the only public figure Baker could find on such short notice. According to someone I know who attended one session, the elderly Meese "was barely conscious.")

Meanwhile, Giuliani was raking in exorbitant speaking fees around this time—according to Gordon, $11.4 million in the course of 14 months, $1.7 million for 20 speeches during the monthlong period that coincided with the Baker-Hamilton sessions.
Not that there's anything wrong with that. I doubt that I would have forgone six figures of easy income for the privilege of yakking about Iraq with a roomful of graybeards all day long. Then again, I wasn't about to run for president—the highest office of public service—on a résumé bereft of a single foreign-policy credential.
Rudy's choice—to go for the money—speaks proverbial volumes about his priorities.
His explanation for dropping out—that his impending run for the presidency would tarnish the panel's apolitical character—is dubious, to say the least.

First, it's not as if he signed up for the panel, then decided to run for president. He'd been set to run for months, if not years. (He seriously considered the idea—even gave a couple of fund-raising speeches in New Hampshire—as far back as late 1999.)

Second, bipartisan doesn't mean nonpartisan. James Baker—the Bush family's longtime consigliere, the Republican savior in the 2000 election—was the most non-nonpartisan co-chair that one could imagine. Giuliani's political ambitions, which were clearly detectable, would hardly have tainted the proceedings.

Third, it was widely assumed at the time that Baker-Hamilton would serve as Bush's vehicle for getting out of—or somehow otherwise resolving—Iraq. And Giuliani, like all other mainstream party members, was still very much in Bush's camp. To be a part of this 10-member panel—to claim the prestige of such august company, to play the role of politico-strategic statesman, and to gain instant credibility on a topic to which he'd previously had no exposure—should have been regarded as an enviable opportunity, both on its own terms and as a boost to his political fortune.

But—given a chance to elevate his standing, serve the country, and get educated on the nation's most pressing issue—Rudy went for the money.

Why did he accept the appointment in the first place? Many blue-ribbon panels are pro forma assemblages: Big names fill the roster; lowly staffers do the work. Giuliani may have signed up, fully aware of the gig's political value—then dropped out upon learning that it would cut into business.

It was not as if Giuliani feared the group might take positions that conflicted with his own. For, as Josh Marshall and his researchers at Talking Points Memo discovered (to their surprise), Giuliani has no position on Iraq. He has long supported Bush's decision to overthrow Saddam Hussein. But on the question of what to do now, he's been mum. Last week, Giuliani issued "the 12 Commitments," a document that lays out the agenda of his presidency. The First Commitment concerns terrorism ("I will keep America on offense in the Terrorists' War on Us"), but Iraq isn't mentioned at all.
Asked about the omission, Giuliani said that the idea was to address issues that will still be with us in January 2009. "Iraq may get better, Iraq may get worse," he said. "We may be successful in Iraq, we may not be. I don't know the answer to that. That's in the hands of other people."

First, what a bizarrely evasive comment, even by politicians' standards. Second, does Giuliani have the slightest doubt that, whatever happens in the next 19 months, Iraq will remain one of the most urgent topics that a new president will have to confront?

The fact is, Giuliani has no idea what he's talking about. On the campaign trail he says that the terrorist threat "is something I understand better than anyone else running for president." As the mayor of New York City on Sept. 11, 2001, he may have lived more intimately with the consequences of terrorism, but this has no bearing on his inexperience or his scant insight in the realm of foreign policy. He is, in fact, that most dangerous would-be world leader: a man who doesn't seem to know how much he doesn't know.

Take even his relatively straightforward First Commitment—to stay "on offense" against the terrorists. What does that mean, exactly? How does it differ from what Bush is doing now, or from what any other candidate, Republican or Democrat, would do?

In a campaign speech two months ago, he spoke of the threat from the Iranians, then lumped them in with al-Qaida, saying, "Their movement has already displayed more aggressive tendencies by coming here and killing us." When New York Times reporter Marc Santoro asked him afterward to clarify the remark, inasmuch as Iran had no connection to 9/11 and that its people are mainly Shiites while al-Qaida is composed of Sunnis, Giuliani replied, "They have a similar objective in their anger at the modern world."

What was he suggesting—that everyone who's hostile to the West should be regarded as part of a monolithic threat? Are they really all trying to kill us? Are they therefore all to be treated as an enemy to be crushed or conquered? Is there no point or possibility in trying to exploit the divisions among them? If so, where will President Giuliani get the troops and firepower needed for the multiple wars ahead?

A number of times, most recently in New Hampshire, Giuliani has likened the war on terrorism to the war on crime that he waged as mayor. Just as the "Comp-stat" technique—daily computerized tracking of where crimes are being committed, followed by instant redeployment of police—helped slash crime in New York City, similar methods, he suggested, can slash illegal border crossings and prevent acts of terrorism.

The analogy is off-kilter. Criminals, unlike terrorists, generally don't steal, rape, or murder for ideological causes. Nor does the New York City police chief need to negotiate with, say, the Brooklyn borough president in order to send more cops to Flatbush Avenue.

Even in his own realm, Giuliani has displayed uneven judgment. After 9/11, he rallied the city with gallant eloquence and organized the recovery with impressive skill. But before the attack, he installed a high-tech counterterrorism office on the 23rd floor of the World Trade Center's Building No. 7—even though terrorists had tried to blow up the trade center back in 1993. (On 9/11, Building 7 was destroyed by the Twin Towers' rubble.)

Giuliani also failed, ahead of time, to create a liaison between the police and fire departments, or to make their radios interoperable—a failure that may have cost many firefighters their lives. He also urged President Bush to hire his crony Bernard Kerik, first to train the Iraqi security forces, then to run the U.S. Homeland Security Department. Bush went along with the first, to no good effect, and was about to OK the second until the feds unearthed Kerik's massive record of corruption.
Where is the evidence that Giuliani's best behavior as mayor, before or after 9/11, says anything about his qualifications to be president?

His shrugged blow-off of Baker-Hamilton offers a glimpse at the darker side of America's Mayor: that he's in it not for the country, but for himself.

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Copyright 2007 Washingtonpost.Newsweek Interactive Co. LLC

And in his Slate blog, Bruce Reed explains better than anyone why the wind might be leaving Rudy's sails. Bloomberg has exposed Rudy for what he is: a New Yorker, and a non-committal Republican.

The Ghost of Rudy Past

For Giuliani, the real threat Bloomberg may pose is in the primaries.

By Bruce Reed,

Thursday, June 21, 2007

So Nice, They Named It Twice: If you think you've had a long week, be glad you're not Rudy Giuliani. On Tuesday, his top Iowa adviser left to become Bush's OMB director. He had to dump his South Carolina campaign chair, who was charged with cocaine possession and distribution. But for Giuliani, those headaches paled alongside the week's most excruciating spectacle: seeing his successor, Michael Bloomberg, grace the cover of Time and leave the GOP to plot an independent bid for President. Even if Bloomberg ultimately decides not to run, Giuliani may already be the Bloomberg campaign's first victim.

For Giuliani, the Bloomberg boomlet is bad news on every level. First, Bloomberg joins Fred Thompson in sucking up much of the oxygen that Giuliani's campaign needs to keep breathing. In most national and statewide polls, Giuliani's lead is slipping or has disappeared altogether. While Bloomberg explores how many billions it might take to buy an election, Giuliani suddenly finds himself in no-man's land, as a frontrunner who can't buy a headline.

On Wednesday, Giuliani gave a speech detailing the first of his "12 Commitments." Granted, no one should make too much of a commitment ceremony with Rudy Giuliani. But the plan he offered on fiscal discipline wasn't bad. The national press chose to write another day of stories about Bloomberg.

The second burden is personal. Giuliani is famously selfish about sharing the limelight. He once fired his police chief William Bratton for appearing on the cover of Time. Giuliani's attitude was, "That's my job!" Now a man he thinks he picked for mayor has done it again. Far from firing him, Giuliani has to sit there and read all about it.

Most speculation about Giuliani and Bloomberg has focused on the general election, and the marquee prospect of a Subway Series between two New York mayors and a New York senator. But for Giuliani, the real threat Bloomberg may pose is in the primaries.

Unlike most presidential candidates, who tend to embellish their hometown roots, Giuliani's campaign depends on making Republican-primary voters forget every aspect of his past except 9/11. His Web site calls him "a strong supporter of the Second Amendment," not a Brady-billing assault-weapon banner. He's not from the "abortion capital of the world"; he's for parental notification and decreasing abortions. Gay rights? He's such a traditionalist, his record boasts more straight marriages than any other candidate.

Giuliani's Escape from New York was already tough enough, but Mayor Mike makes it nearly impossible. Bloomberg is the Ghost of Rudy Past—a constant, high-profile reminder of the cultural distance from the South Carolina lowlands to the New York island.

When Bloomberg launched his gun-control crusade, he gave it a name that sounds like the headline from a GOP rival campaign's oppo piece on Giuliani: "Mayors Against Illegal Guns." For conservatives, the same accomplishments the national media loves about Bloomberg are the first signs of the Trilateralist Apocalypse: From penthouses in Manhattan, they'll come for your guns; then they'll snuff your tobacco; and in a final blow to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, they'll take away your God-given right to trans-fats.

Mitt Romney looks disingenuous enough pretending that he saw Massachusetts and tried to stop it. Giuliani has no excuse. His last act as New York City mayor was to urge his people to elect Bloomberg to succeed him. Watching Bloomberg quit the party only reminds conservatives of their primal fear about Giuliani—that the GOP is not an article of faith but a way station of convenience.

You can take the mayor out of the city, but you can't take the city out of the mayor. The more coverage Bloomberg gets, the more his allies will compound the impression that one Hizzoner looks like another. In yesterday's Washington Post, Al Sharpton described Bloomberg with one of those only-in-New-York images:

"A girl in high school catches you looking at her and she starts wearing nice dresses," Sharpton says. "It doesn't mean she is going to date you. But she's at least teasing you, so it really increases your hope. This is a serious tease."

Sharpton just confirmed what they already thought down in South Carolina: Every New York mayor's a cross-dresser.
Copyright 2007 Washingtonpost.Newsweek Interactive Co. LLC

Matt Taibbi on Rudy Giuliani

Mr. Taibbi of Rolling Stone takes the gloves off, and does not mince words. The truth about Rudy will always be hidden, and I think he will be the GOP nominee come August 2008.

Giuliani: Worse Than Bush

He's cashing in on 9/11, working with Karl Rove's henchmen and in cahoots with a Swift Boat-style attack on Hillary. Will Rudy Giuliani be Bush III?

Matt Taibbi

Posted May 31, 2007 8:59 AM

Early Wednesday, May 16th, Charleston, South Carolina. The scene is a town-hall meeting staged by GOP presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani, only a day after he wowed a patriotic Republican crowd at a nationally televised debate with a righteous ass-kicking of the party's latest Hanoi Jane, terrorist sympathizer Ron Paul. A bump in the polls later, "America's Mayor" is back on the campaign trail -- in a room packed with standard-issue Adorable Schoolchildren, in this case beatific black kids in elementary school uniforms with wide eyes and big RUDY stickers pinned to their oblivious breasts.

Giuliani has good stage presence, but his physical appearance is problematic -- virtually neckless, all shoulders and forehead and overbite, with a hunched-over, Draculoid posture that recalls, oddly enough, George W. Bush, the vestigial stoop of a once-chubby kid who grew up hiding tittie pictures from nuns. Not handsome, not cuddly, if he wins this thing it's going to be by projecting toughness and man-aura. But all presidential candidates have to play the baby-kissing game, and here is an early chance for Rudy to show his softer side.

"So," he whispers to the kids. "What do you all want to be when you grow up? Do any of you know?"

A bucktoothed boy raises his hand.

"I wanna be a doctor," he says, "and a lawyer."

The crowd laughs, then looks at Rudy expectantly. The obvious line is "A doctor and a lawyer? Whaddya want to do, sue yourself?" and you can see Rudy physically straining for the joke. But this candidate's funny bone is a microscopic thing, like one of those anvil-shaped deals in the ear, and the line eludes him.

"A doctor and a lawyer, huh?" he says, grinning nervously. "Uh . . . whaddya want to do, sue the doctor?"

My notes from that moment read: Chirping crickets.

Rudy moves on. "How about you?" he says to the next boy.

"I want to be a policeman!" the kid says.

Rudy smiles. Then the next boy says he wants to be a fireman, and the crowd twitters: Wow, a fireman and a policeman, in the same room! Rudy is beaming now, almost certainly aware that every grown-up present is suddenly thinking about 9/11. His day. As he leans over, the room is filled with popping flashbulbs. Then, instead of capitalizing on the sense of pride and shared purpose everyone is feeling, Giuliani utters something truly strange and twisted.

"A fireman and a policeman, huh?" he says. "Well, the first thing that I want to do is make sure that you two get along."

Huh? Amid confused applause, Rudy flashes a queer smile, then moves on to the heart of his presentation, a neat little speech about how the election of a Democratic president will result in certain nuclear attack and the end of the free market as we know it. I'm barely listening, however, still thinking about the "make sure you get along" line.

Although few people outside of New York know it yet, there is an emerging controversy over Giuliani's heroic 9/11 legacy. Critics charge that Rudy's failure to resolve the feuding between the city's police and firefighters prior to the attack led to untold numbers of deaths, the most tragic example being the inability of firemen to hear warnings from police helicopters about the impending collapse of the South Tower. The 9/11 Commission concluded that the two departments had been "designed to work independently, not together," and that greater coordination would have spared many lives.

Given all that, why did Rudy offer this weirdly unsolicited reference to the controversy now? Was he joking? And if so, what the fuck? It was a strange and bitter comment to make, especially right on the heels of his grand-slam performance in the previous night's debate. If this is a guy who chews over a perceived slight in the middle of a victory lap, what's he going to be like with his finger on the button? Even Richard Nixon wasn't wound that tight.


Rudy giuliani is a true American hero, and we know this because he does all the things we expect of heroes these days -- like make $16 million a year, and lobby for Hugo Chávez and Rupert Murdoch, and promote wars without ever having served in the military, and hire a lawyer to call his second wife a "stuck pig," and organize absurd, grandstanding pogroms against minor foreign artists, and generally drift through life being a shameless opportunist with an outsize ego who doesn't even bother to conceal the fact that he's had a hard-on for the presidency since he was in diapers. In the media age, we can't have a hero humble enough to actually be one; what is needed is a tireless scoundrel, a cad willing to pose all day long for photos, who'll accept $100,000 to talk about heroism for an hour, who has the balls to take a $2.7 million advance to write a book about himself called Leadership. That's Rudy Giuliani. Our hero. And a perfect choice to uphold the legacy of George W. Bush.

Yes, Rudy is smarter than Bush. But his political strength -- and he knows it -- comes from America's unrelenting passion for never bothering to take that extra step to figure shit out. If you think you know it all already, Rudy agrees with you. And if anyone tries to tell you differently, they're probably traitors, and Rudy, well, he'll keep an eye on 'em for you. Just like Bush, Rudy appeals to the couch-bound bully in all of us, and part of the allure of his campaign is the promise to put the Pentagon and the power of the White House at that bully's disposal.

Rudy's attack against Ron Paul in the debate was a classic example of that kind of politics, a Rovian masterstroke. The wizened Paul, a grandfather seventeen times over who is running for the Republican nomination at least 100 years too late, was making a simple isolationist argument, suggesting that our lengthy involvement in Middle Eastern affairs -- in particular our bombing of Iraq in the 1990s -- was part of the terrorists' rationale in attacking us.

Though a controversial statement for a Republican politician to make, it was hardly refutable from a factual standpoint -- after all, Osama bin Laden himself cited America's treatment of Iraq in his 1996 declaration of war. Giuliani surely knew this, but he jumped all over Paul anyway, demanding that Paul take his comment back. "I don't think I've ever heard that before," he hissed, "and I've heard some pretty absurd explanations for September 11th."

It was like the new convict who comes into prison the first day and punches the weakest guy in the cafeteria in the teeth, and the Southern crowd exploded in raucous applause. Coupled with yet another implosion by aneurysm-in-waiting John McCain a few days later ("Fuck you! I know more about this than anyone else in the room!" McCain screamed at a fellow senator during a meeting about immigration), the Ron Paul ass-whipping revived Giuliani's standing among conservatives who lately had begun to abandon him over his pro-choice status.

The Paul incident went to the very heart of who Giuliani is as a politician. To the extent that conservatism in the Bush years has morphed into a celebration of mindless patriotism and the paranoid witch-hunting of liberals and other dissenters, Rudy seems the most anxious of any Republican candidate to take up that mantle. Like Bush, Rudy has repeatedly shown that he has no problem lumping his enemies in with "the terrorists" if that's what it takes to get over. When the 9/11 Commission raised criticisms of his fire department, for instance, Giuliani put the bipartisan panel in its place for daring to question his leadership. "Our anger," he declared, "should clearly be directed at one source and one source alone -- the terrorists who killed our loved ones."

Whether Rudy believes in this kind of politics reflexively, as the psychologically crippled Bush does, or as a means to an end, as Karl Rove does, isn't clear. But there's no question that Giuliani has made the continuation of Swift-Boating politics a linchpin of his candidacy. His political hires speak deeply to that tendency. Chris Henick, formerly Karl Rove's most trusted deputy, is now a key aide at Giuliani Partners, the security firm set up by the mayor to cash in on his 9/11 image. One of his top donors, Richard Collins, is a longtime Bush supporter who was instrumental in setting up "Stop Her Now," a 527 group modeled on Swift Boat Veterans for Truth that will be used to attack Hillary Clinton. And the money for the smear campaign comes from the same Texas sources behind the Swift Boaters, including oilman T. Boone Pickens and Houston home builder Bob Perry.

To further emulate the Bush-Rove model, Giuliani has recruited some thirty Bush "Pioneers," the key fund-raisers who served as the president's $100,000 bagmen. In addition, he hired the woman who spearheaded the Pioneer program to be his chief fund-raiser. "Rudy definitely got some of Bush's heavier hitters, including all the Swift Boater types," says Alex Cohen, a senior researcher at Public Citizen, who tracks the president's top donors.


Rudy's stump speech on the trail these days is short and sweet. He talks about two things -- national security and free-market capitalism -- and his catchphrase for both is "going on offense." When he talks about "economic offense," Giuliani is ostensibly communicating the usual conservative contempt for taxes and big government. But he means more than that. Like the Bush-Cheney crew, Rudy believes everything should be for sale, even public policy -- particularly when he's in a position to do the selling.

In his years as mayor -- and his subsequent career as a lobbyist -- Rudy jumped into bed with anyone who could afford a rubber. Saudi Arabia, Rupert Murdoch, tobacco interests, pharmaceutical companies, private prisons, Bechtel, ChevronTexaco -- Giuliani took money from them all. You could change Rudy's mind literally in the time it took to write a check. A former prosecutor, Giuliani used to call drug dealers "murderers." But as a lobbyist he agreed to represent Seisint, a security firm run by former cocaine smuggler Hank Asher. "I have a great admiration for what he's doing," Rudy gushed after taking $2 million of Asher's money.

As mayor, Rudy had a history of asking financially interested parties to help shape important government policies. At one point, he allowed a deputy mayor who was on the payroll of Major League Baseball to work on deals for the Yankees and Mets; at another point he commissioned a $600,000 report on privatizing JFK and LaGuardia from a consultant with ties to the British Airport Authority, Rudy's handpicked choice to manage the airports.

And let's not forget Bernie Kerik, Rudy's very own hairy-assed Sancho Panza, who was nixed as director of Homeland Security after investigators uncovered a gift he received from a construction firm with alleged mob ties that wanted to do business with Giuliani's administration. It is a testament to the monstrous breadth of Rudy's chutzpah that he used his post-9/11 celebrity to push his personal bagman for a post that milks the world's hugest security-contracts tit -- at the very moment when he himself was creating a security-services company.

Then there's 9/11. Like Bush's, Rudy's career before the bombing was in the toilet; New Yorkers had come to think of him as an ambition-sick meanie whose personal scandals were truly wearying to think about. But on the day of the attack, it must be admitted, Rudy hit the perfect note; he displayed all the strength and reassuring calm that Bush did not, and for one day at least, he was everything you'd want in a leader. Then he woke up the next day and the opportunist in him saw that there was money to be made in an America high on fear.

For starters, Rudy tried to use the tragedy to shred election rules, pushing to postpone the inauguration of his successor so he could hog the limelight for a few more months. Then, with the dust from the World Trade Center barely settled, he went on the road as the Man With the Bullhorn, pocketing as much as $200,000 for a single speaking engagement. In 2002 he reported $8 million in speaking income; this past year it was more than $11 million. He's traveled in style, at one stop last year requesting a $47,000 flight on a private jet, five hotel rooms and a private suite with a balcony view and a king-size bed.

While the mayor himself flew out of New York on a magic carpet, thousands of cash-strapped cops, firemen and city workers involved with the cleanup at the World Trade Center were developing cancers and infections and mysterious respiratory ailments like the "WTC cough." This is the dirty little secret lurking underneath Rudy's 9/11 hero image -- the most egregious example of his willingness to shape public policy to suit his donors. While the cleanup effort at the Pentagon was turned over to federal agencies like OSHA, which quickly sealed off the site and required relief workers to wear hazmat suits, the World Trade Center cleanup was handed over to Giuliani. The city's Department of Design and Construction (DDC) promptly farmed out the waste-clearing effort to a smattering of politically connected companies, including Bechtel, Bovis and AMEC construction.

The mayor pledged to reopen downtown in no time, and internal DDC memos indicate that the cleanup was directed at a breakneck pace. One memo to DDC chief Michael Burton warned, "Project management appears to only address safety issues when convenient for the schedule of the project." Burton, however, had his own priorities: He threatened to fire contractors if "the highest level of efficiency is not maintained."

Although respiratory-mask use was mandatory, the city allowed a macho culture to develop on the site: Even the mayor himself showed up without a mask. By October, it was estimated, masks were being worn on site as little as twenty-nine percent of the time. Rudy proclaimed that there were "no significant problems" with the air at the World Trade Center. But there was something wrong with the air: It was one of the most dangerous toxic-waste sites in human history, full of everything from benzene to asbestos and PCBs to dioxin (the active ingredient in Agent Orange). Since the cleanup ended, police and firefighters have reported a host of serious illnesses -- respiratory ailments like sarcoidosis; leukemia and lymphoma and other cancers; and immune-system problems.

"The likelihood is that more people will eventually die from the cleanup than from the original accident," says David Worby, an attorney representing thousands of cleanup workers in a class-action lawsuit against the city. "Giuliani wears 9/11 like a badge of honor, but he screwed up so badly."

When I first spoke to Worby, he was on his way home from the funeral of a cop. "One thing about Giuliani," he told me. "He's never been to a funeral of a cleanup worker."

Indeed, Rudy has had little at all to say about the issue. About the only move he's made to address the problem was to write a letter urging Congress to pass a law capping the city's liability at $350 million.

Did Giuliani know the air at the World Trade Center was poison? Who knows -- but we do know he took over the cleanup, refusing to let more experienced federal agencies run the show. He stood on a few brick piles on the day of the bombing, then spent the next ten months making damn sure everyone worked the night shift on-site while he bonked his mistress and negotiated his gazillion-dollar move to the private sector. Meanwhile, the people who actually cleaned up the rubble got used to checking their stool for blood every morning.

Now Giuliani is running for president -- as the hero of 9/11. George Bush has balls, too, but even he has to bow to this motherfucker.

Olbermann to Rudy: Drop Dead

Only he said it in about 1,300 words. And what wonderful words they were last night. This was Keith's first great special comment in 2007. It was worth waiting for:

Finally tonight, a Special Comment about Rudolf Giuliani's remarks at a Lincoln Day Dinner in New Hampshire last night.

Since some indeterminable hour between the final dousing of the pyre at The World Trade Center, and the breaking of what Senator Obama has aptly termed "9/11 Fever," it has been profoundly and disturbingly evident that we are at the center of one of history's great ironies.

Only in this America of the early 21st Century could it be true, that the man who was president during the worst attack on our nation, and the man who was the mayor of the city in which that attack principally unfolded, would not only be absolved of any and all blame for the unreadiness of their own governments, but, more over, would thereafter be branded heroes of those attacks.

And now, that Mayor - whose most profound municipal act in the wake of that nightmare was to suggest the postponement of the election to select his own successor - has gone even a step beyond these M.C. Escher constructions of history.

"If any Republican is elected president - and I think obviously I would be best at this - we will remain on offense and will anticipate what (the terrorists) will do and try to stop them before they do it. "

Insisting that the election of any Democrat would mean the country was "back… on defense," Mr. Giuliani continued:
"But the question is how long will it take and how many casualties will we have. If we are on defense, we will have more losses and it will go on longer."

He said this with no sense of irony, no sense of any personal shortcomings, no sense whatsoever.

And if you somehow missed what he was really saying, somehow didn't hear the none-too-subtle subtext of 'vote Democratic and die,' Mr. Giuliani then stripped away any barrier of courtesy, telling Roger Simon of Politico.Com, quote…

"America will be safer with a Republican president."

At least that Republican President under which we have not been safer… has, even at his worst, maintained some microscopic distance between himself, and a campaign platform that blithely threatened the American people with "casualties" if they, next year, elect a Democratic president - or, inferring from Mr. Giuliani's flights of grandeur in New Hampshire - even if they elect a different Republican.

How dare you, sir?

"How many casualties will we have?" - this is the language of Bin Laden.

Yours, Mr. Giuliani, is the same chilling nonchalance of the madman, of the proselytizer who has moved even from some crude framework of politics and society, into a virtual Roman Colosseum of carnage, and a conceit over your own ability — and worthiness — to decide, who lives and who dies.

Rather than a reasoned discussion — rather than a political campaign advocating your own causes and extolling your own qualifications — you have bypassed all the intermediate steps, and moved directly to trying to terrorize the electorate into viewing a vote for a Democrat, not as a reasonable alternative and an inalienable right… but as an act of suicide.

This is not the mere politicizing of Iraq, nor the vague mumbled epithets about Democratic 'softness' from a delusional Vice President.

This is casualties on a partisan basis — of the naked assertion that Mr. Giuliani's party knows all and will save those who have voted for it — and to hell with everybody else.

And that he, with no foreign policy experience whatsoever, is somehow the Messiah-of-the-moment.

Even to grant that that formula - whether posed by Republican or Democrat - is somehow not the most base, the most indefensible, the most Un-American electioneering in our history - even if it is somehow acceptable to assign "casualties" to one party and 'safety' to the other - even if we have become so profane in our thinking that it is part of our political vocabulary to view counter-terror as one party's property and the other's liability… on what imaginary track record does Mr. Giuliani base his boast?

Which party held the presidency on September 11th, 2001, Mr. Giuliani?

Which party held the mayoralty of New York on that date, Mr. Giuliani?

Which party assured New Yorkers that the air was safe, and the remains of the dead, recovered - and not being used to fill pot-holes, Mr. Giuliani?

Which party wanted what the terrorists wanted - the postponement elections - and to whose personal advantage would that have redounded, Mr. Giuliani?

Which mayor of New York was elected eight months after the first attack on the World Trade Center, yet did not emphasize counter-terror in the same city for the next eight years, Mr. Giuliani?

Which party had proposed to turn over the Department of Homeland Security to Bernard Kerik, Mr. Giuliani?

Who wanted to ignore and hide Kerik's Organized Crime allegations, Mr. Giuliani?

Who personally argued to the White House that Kerik need not be vetted, Mr. Giuliani?

Which party rode roughshod over Americans' rights while braying that it was actually protecting them, Mr. Giuliani?

Which party took this country into the most utterly backwards, utterly counter-productive, utterly ruinous war in our history, Mr. Giuliani?

Which party has been in office as more Americans were killed in the pointless fields of Iraq, than were killed in the consuming nightmare of 9/11, Mr. Giuliani?

Drop this argument, sir. You will lose it.

"The Democrats do not understand the full nature and scope of the terrorist war against us," Mr. Giuliani continued to the Rockingham County Lincoln Day Dinner last night. "Never, ever again will this country be on defense waiting for (terrorists) to attack us, if I have anything to say about it. And make no mistake, the Democrats want to put us back on defense."

There is no room for this.

This is terrorism itself, dressed up as counter-terrorism.

It is not warning, but bullying - substituted for the political discourse now absolutely essential to this country's survival and the freedom of its people.

No Democrat has said words like these. None has ever campaigned on the Republicans' flat-footedness of September 11th, 2001. None has the requisite, irresponsible, all-consuming, ambition. None is willing to say "I Accuse," rather than recognize that, to some degree, all of us share responsibility for our collective stupor.

And if it is somehow insufficient, that this is morally, spiritually, and politically wrong, to screech as Mr. Giuliani has screeched… there is also this: that gaping hole in Mr. Giuliani's argument of 'Republicans equal life; Democrats equal death.'

Not only have the Republicans not lived up to their babbling on this subject, but last fall the electorate called them on it.

As doubtless they would call you on it, Mr. Giuliani.

Repeat, go beyond Mr. Bush's rhetorical calamities of 2006.

Call attention to the casualties on your watch, and your long, waking slumber in the years between the two attacks on the World Trade Center.

Become the candidate who runs on the Vote-For-Me-Or-Die platform.

Do a Joe McCarthy, a Lyndon Johnson, a Robespierre.

Only, if you choose so to do, do not come back surprised nor remorseful if the voters remind you that "terror" is not just a matter of "casualties." It is, just as surely, a matter of the promulgation of fear.

Claim a difference between the parties on the voters' chances of survival — and you do Osama Bin Laden's work for him.

And we — Democrats and Republicans alike, and every variation in between — We — Americans — are sick to death, of you and the other terror-mongers, trying to frighten us into submission, into the surrender of our rights and our reason, into this betrayal of that for which this country has always stood.

Franklin Roosevelt's words ring true again tonight.

And, clarified and amplified, they are just as current now, as they were when first he spoke them, 74 years ago.

"We have nothing to fear but fear itself" — and those who would exploit our fear, for power, and for their own personal, selfish, cynical, gain.

Good night, and good luck.