Wednesday, March 28, 2007

The Pharmacists and Ted Leo




I heard him on Minnesota Public Radio on the way home. The dude can sing.

Military "in peril"

From the Military Times

"The Iraq war has left the U.S. military “in a position of strategic peril,” retired Army Gen. Barry McCaffrey has warned in the wake of a recent trip to Iraq.
“The majority of the Iraqi population [Sunni and Shia] support armed attacks on American forces” while “U.S. domestic support for the war in Iraq has evaporated and will not return,” McCaffrey writes in a memo to colleagues at the U.S. Military Academy, where he is an adjunct professor of international affairs.
He says the United States and its allies must focus on a strategy aimed at a political consensus among the three main Iraqi population groups: Sunni Arabs, Shia Arabs and Kurds."


“The primary war winning strategy for the United States in the coming 12 months must be for Ambassador Ryan [Crocker] and General Petraeus to focus their considerable personal leadership skills on getting the top 100 Shia and Sunni leaders to walk back from the edge of all-out civil war, he writes. “Reconciliation is the way out. There will be no imposed military solution with the current non-sustainable U.S. force levels. Military power cannot alone defeat an insurgency – the political and economic struggle for power is the actual field of battle.”

Free Trade

From the Wall Street Journal

"Mr. Blinder's job-loss estimates in particular are electrifying Democratic candidates searching for ways to address angst about trade. "Alan, because of his stature, provided a degree of legitimacy to what many of us had come to feel anecdotally -- that the anxiety over outsourcing and offshoring was a far larger phenomenon than traditional economic analysis was showing," says Gene Sperling, an adviser to President Clinton and, now, to Hillary Clinton. Her rival, Barack Obama, spent an hour with Mr. Blinder earlier in this year.

Mr. Blinder's answer is not protectionism, a word he utters with the contempt that Cold Warriors reserved for communism. Rather, Mr. Blinder still believes the principle British economist David Ricardo introduced 200 years ago: Nations prosper by focusing on things they do best -- their "comparative advantage" -- and trading with other nations with different strengths. He accepts the economic logic that U.S. trade with large low-wage countries like India and China will make all of them richer -- eventually. He acknowledges that trade can create jobs in the U.S. and bolster productivity growth.

But he says the harm done when some lose jobs and others get them will be far more painful and disruptive than trade advocates acknowledge. He wants government to do far more for displaced workers than the few months of retraining it offers today. He thinks the U.S. education system must be revamped so it prepares workers for jobs that can't easily go overseas, and is contemplating changes to the tax code that would reward companies that produce jobs that stay in the U.S."

I think Blinder is right. We need to leverage our strengths in order to keep our standard of living high.

To do this we need to develop our technology and education systems. I have been terribly pained to see the cuts in education, at just the time we need to educate our population to keep stay ahead of the rest of the world. Education is a critical place to invest for the future. It is too bad we have squandered 500 billion in Iraq that we could have put into something that will benefit us for generations to come.

We also need to make ourselves very efficient economically. That means our use of energy and resources. We should be building infrastructure to allow people to work from home, and share ideas quickly.

We need to stop exporting capital. That is, we need to start saving and living within our means. A little pain now will pay dividends in the long term.

Finally, we need to stop pissing off the rest of the world. America used to be the place you wanted to come if you were the best and brightest in your country. We benefit a great deal from the talent that comes to our shores from Africa, India, China, and the Americas. To stop this flow of talent is just stupid, when we benefit so much. The damage that has been done in this area is profound. We need to reverse the trend and once again be a mecca for talent and ideas.

The Problem With Outlawing Abortion

Just because Abortion is illegal does not make it go away. If outlawing abortion worked then we would not see these statistics:

From kansascity.com

"Experts say the Dominican Republic has one of the region's highest abortion rates, and also a high number of women hospitalized after illegal abortions. According to the Alan Guttmacher Institute in New York, a group that conducts sexual and reproductive health research and policy analysis, a survey conducted in the early 1990s showed 82,000 illegal abortions a year in the Dominican Republic.
The Dominican Republic's rate of 44 abortions per 1,000 women is more than double the rate in the United States, where abortion is legal on demand, according to the Alan Guttmacher Institute.


Despite having some of the strictest anti-abortion laws in the world, Latin America has the second highest rate of terminated pregnancies in the world, according to U.N. figures. Only Eastern Europe's is higher than this region's rate of 37 per 1,000 women of childbearing age. The U.N. figures estimate that 4 million abortions take place in Latin America annually - and 5,000 women die each year from complications."

To quote Bill Clinton, "abortion should be safe, legal, and rare." I believe that if we want to reduce abortion in America we keep it safe and legal. To make it rare we need to have a well educated population, on how to prevent pregnancy. We need to make sure poor people can afford to care for their children. The biggest statistical correlation to high abortion rates is poverty, not legality.

Gut Wrenching Hypocracy


For those of you that don't know, Katie Couric lost her husband to cancer. She worked during his treatment and came back to work soon after his death. This is quite normal I guess.

How can she ask Edwards this series of questions with any sincerity. I give the Edwards' a lot of credit for not strangling her. They showed a lot of class.

Alberto: "Damn Bob, You're Killin' Me"

There goes the "not doing their jobs" excuse for US Attorney firings.

I guess Alberto will have to "recall" another reason.

I give Alberto about another week. He will be gone by April 6th.

Alberto,

Look out for Fridays. News, the Administration does not want America to pay attention to, always gets released late Friday. You will most likely be one of those "late Friday news items." I think I hear the bus coming now.

Sincerely,

Andrew

What kind of creep would do this?

President Bust nominated Sam Fox to be ambassador to Belgium. No biggy, many political cronies are given irrelevant ambassador jobs to countries in Europe where there is little, if any, conflict. It is considered a reward for partisan service. Both parties do it.

Here is the rub. Sam Fox was a big donor for the "Swift Boat Veterans For Truth" that questioned John Kerry's war record. John Kerry sits on the committee that approves nominations of ambassadors. Why would Bush nominate Fox?

Did Bush think that Kerry would just let bygones be bygones? Did he think Kerry would not be man enough to speak out? Did he think that Kerry would be professional enough to just overlook the smear campaign and approve Fox anyway?

The only similar experience, that Bush has in this arena was the 2000 campaign and John McCain. Bush cronies smeared McCain in South Carolina and four years later McCain hugged Bush in front of the national media.

I guess Kerry was not willing to play the same toadie. Today the White House withdrew Fox's nomination in advance of almost certain defeat at the hands of Kerry's committee.

By the way, I think the "hug" was the beginning of the end for McCain. It was a perfect example of McCain putting political expediency ahead of personal honor. It was a defining moment for those of us paying attention. McCain's character came up lacking.

Bush seems to expect people to roll over for him no matter what he does to them. Where does this come from? Who among us would expect people to bow to our wishes no matter what horrible thing we do to them? This would make an interesting psychological study in profound arrogance.

Update re: the todie, John McCain

Here is a post by Josh Marshall about McCain. Apparently the rumor is that McCain was considering switching to an Independent party just before Jeffords did it.

Government doing the (Republican) People's business.

Perhaps the Administration forgot, but they were elected to do all the People's business. You run for office as a member of a political party, but when you are elected you are supposed to do the business of all of the people of our United States. We should not, and do not, live in a "winner take all" republic, where you get to plunder and burn the villages of the vanquished.

The Hatch Act explicitly prohibits partisan campaign activity on federal property. I may be in the minority on this, but I will say it anyway. I believe that almost all government activity, conducted by political appointees, and new hires to various government agencies, was severely partisan over the past six years. That is, until recently, the government was doing Republican business not the Peoples business.

Here is just one example.

GPS

Iran may have screwed up on this one as GPS Coordinates seem to be in dispute by Iran and the Brits. The problem for Iran is that they originally gave coordinates for the intercept that were in Iraqi waters. So, did Iran make a mistake or is there something more at play here?

More

More

"At the MoD, Vice Admiral Style, the deputy chief of the defence staff, said one of the two small British craft intercepted by the Iranian navy at gunpoint had a GPS (global positioning system) device on board.
Information from that device, along with further evidence from a British military helicopter, proved the sailors were operating "well inside" Iraqi waters when they were seized last Friday, he said.
The GPS relayed information back to HMS Cornwall, the ship the craft were operating from, meaning it was able to "continuously chart" their position.
The vice admiral said the Iranians had given two different positions for where they claimed the Royal Navy boarding party - seized after they had made a routine boarding of an Indian-flagged dhow suspected of being used to smuggle cars - had been.
He added that the location given by Iran on Saturday for the British personnel was inside Iraqi waters. After this was pointed out to Tehran, Iranian officials provided a second location, around two miles inside Iranian waters, on Monday.
The Ministry of Defence "unambiguously contested both locations" given by Iran, the vice admiral said. He told reporters that the detention of the British personnel was "unjustified and wrong".
The personnel were on patrol in an area in the mouth of the Shatt al-Arab waterway, which forms part of the border of Iran and Iraq.
Mr Mottaki dismissed the British version of events as "not true", insisting the UK crew had been in Iranian waters. However, he took a conciliatory line, saying this could have been in error.
"This is a violation that just happened. It could be natural. They did not resist," he said.
The situation has been further complicated by the fact that there has been a dispute over the border between the two countries for decades. However, Vice Admiral Style said the boarding of the dhow had taken place 7.5 nautical miles south-east of the al-Faw peninsula in Iran.
On Sunday, a Lynx helicopter operating from HMS Cornwall confirmed the position after flying over the dhow, whose position had not changed since Friday's incident, according to its captain.
"The position was 29 degrees 50.36 minutes north, 048 degrees 43.08 minutes east. This places her 1.7 nautical miles inside Iraqi territorial waters," Vice Admiral Style said.
After HMS Cornwall lost contact with the British personnel on Friday, a Lynx was dispatched to the area. By the time it arrived on the scene, the captured service personnel were already in Iranian waters, he said.
Today, Mr Blair, told the Commons the seizure of the personnel was "completely unacceptable, wrong and illegal", saying Britain was in contact with its allies in the Middle East, Europe and Nato and the UN."

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Bob Novak Jumping Ship

From The Washington Post:

'The I-word (incompetence) is also used by Republicans in describing the Bush administration generally. Several of them I talked to cited a trifecta of incompetence: the Walter Reed hospital scandal, the FBI's misuse of the USA Patriot Act and the U.S. attorneys firing fiasco. "We always have claimed that we were the party of better management," one House leader told me. "How can we claim that anymore?"'

Markos' take:

"But ultimately, Bush is a symptom of the problem, not the cause. The cause is conservatism. How can an ideology that holds as a truism that government can't work, work? If Republicans ran the country smoothly and ably, it would lay waste to their claims that government is the enemy and can't make people's lives better. In that regards, Bush hasn't been incompetent. He's been wildly successful."


It is possible that "Conservatism" deserves a place in history as an overwhelming failure. Perhaps it is also more prone to abuse by authoritarians.

I think that history is more likely to blame an unholy alliance of big media, big business, and radical authoritarians like Newt, Delay, and Rove. The authoritarians were smart, and psychopathic enough, to figure out how to exploit the greed of media and business. All went along willingly. All are culpable. I just hope America has the stomach to hold them accountable. Remember, many Americans went along for the ride also, some have yet to get off.

81 degrees in Minneapolis yesterday

On that note, "Bush administration officials throughout the government have engaged in White House-directed efforts to stifle, delay or dampen the release of climate change research that casts the White House or its policies in a bad light, says a new report that purports to be the most comprehensive assessment to date of the subject."

Here is the rest of the story from ABC.

Gonzales Video

How can Gonzales say this with a straight face. He gets "more precise" he says.

At this point the Administration is trying to stave off further investigation. They need to build a dyke to hold off this inquiry. If they cannot, then other inquiry's will continue, and the Administration officials will have to testify under oath. Given what has been happening for the past six years, with politics driving almost all policy decisions, the Administration cannot allow that to happen.

I believe the Bush Administration would not have dug itself such a deep hole, if the last Congress had held them more accountable. Congress asked for no accountability, and the Administration was "taken at it's word" on many serious issues. The Administration likely broke a lot of rules. Now they will have to answer for these transgressions.

Monday, March 26, 2007

I already covered this--but the big media is catching up finally.

From C and L:

"The timing of this revelation is quite staggering given the purge and the emerging picture of rampant politicization of the Justice Department by the Bush administration. As Ms. Eubanks testifies, politicization is an "every day" occurence under Bush rule."

Big Media

From Glenn Greenwald:

"Here are several of our media elites from our nation's most influential journalistic outlets -- including from Time, U.S. News & World Report, The New York Times, and NBC News -- all sitting around on the Chris Matthew Show giggling for three and a half minutes straight about the silly U.S. attorneys scandal. The whole thing is just a fun game for them, and it's ludicrous to them that anyone could take things like this seriously....

Really, is it any wonder at all that our government is so fundamentally corrupt and broken when we have a press like this? Why wouldn't top government officials lie continuously when our national press corps finds such lying to be such a source of merriment and humor, and can summon the energy only to attack, mock and condemn those who find the lying objectionable, rather than the liars themselves? "

I agree. This is a serious problem. When we see the politicians being corrupt, and the media essentially condoning it, who do we get mad at first?

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Just An Observation

Have you ever noticed how many former associates of the Bush administration end up testifying against the Bush administration? I point this out to contrast it with the Clintons. While they were no gems, can you remember a former associate who ended up testifying against them? I can't remember a single one. Some of them went to prison and still held the Clintons in high esteem. Many were investigated because they were associates of the Clintons. One went to jail, for other stuff that turned up, when their dealings were scrutinized.

(Note to self, if I am going to do something illegal, don't associate with a future president. Their political opponents might just take me down, to embarrass the President.)

It seems like all the generals who retire come out against Iraq policy, many of the Administration associates, who leave, or are fired, come out against domestic policy. Kwo, Powell, Lindsey, O'Neill come immediately to mind. If you let me use Google I will be able to think of lots more. Sometimes I think that the only people who like Bush policy are the ones still getting rich from it, or those so dirty they don't want to say anything for fear of going to jail.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Always on a Friday. And I Mean, Always!

If the Bush Administration needs to release bad news, they always do it on a Friday. If you want to know what your government is doing, you really only need to read the Saturday paper. All the stuff they don't want you to see is there. It is like being a voyeur or something.

This Friday was no different. It turns out that Gonzales lied under oath. Emails, released today (Friday, of course) prove it.

Gonzales is gone. The bus is up to speed and the big guy is warmed up for the throw. It is only a matter of time until the G-man is thrown under the speeding yellow, well you know.

One question remains, when? Are we talking Monday or Tuesday. My guess is that, if the Administration thinks it will cause any political heat, they will do it on a.... you guessed it, Friday!

Voter Suppression

From McClatchy:

"Under President Bush, the Justice Department has backed laws that narrow minority voting rights and pressed U.S. attorneys to investigate voter fraud - policies that critics say have been intended to suppress Democratic votes.

Bush, his deputy chief of staff, Karl Rove, and other Republican political advisers have highlighted voting rights issues and what Rove has called the "growing problem" of election fraud by Democrats since Bush took power in the tumultuous election of 2000, a race ultimately decided by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Since 2005, McClatchy Newspapers has found, Bush has appointed at least three U.S. attorneys who had worked in the Justice Department's civil rights division when it was rolling back longstanding voting-rights policies aimed at protecting predominantly poor, minority voters.
Another newly installed U.S. attorney, Tim Griffin in Little Rock, Ark., was accused of participating in efforts to suppress Democratic votes in Florida during the 2004 presidential election while he was a research director for the Republican National Committee. He's denied any wrongdoing.


Justice Department spokesman Brian Roehrkasse said the four U.S. attorneys weren't chosen only because of their backgrounds in election issues, but "we would expect any U.S. attorney to prosecute voting fraud."

Taken together, critics say, the replacement of the U.S. attorneys, the voter-fraud campaign and the changes in Justice Department voting rights policies suggest that the Bush administration may have been using its law enforcement powers for partisan political purposes."

I'm Just Sayin'

Why did the Tom DeLay investigation stop? Or, there is more than one way to skin a US attorney
by: Texas Nate
Thu Mar 22, 2007 at 14:07:34 PM CST
(Soon this man will have to retreat and surrender. - promoted by Matt Glazer)In the fall of 2005 dominos were falling fast in the Jack Abramoff investigation. And they were falling in one very clear direction, closer and closer to Tom DeLay.

First DeLay's former communications director fell:

On November 21st, 2005, Michael Scanlon, Jack Abramoff's partner in the Indian fraud and bribery schemes, pled guilty to Conspiracy to Defraud the United States.

Then DeLay's former deputy chief of staff fell:

Tony Rudy pled guilty March 31st, 2006 to one count of Conspiracy. He was a former aide to Tom DeLay, a colleague of Jack Abramoff's and then a lobbyist at Alexander Strategy Group. He was named ("Staffer A") as a coconspirator in Abramoff's plea

The charge carries a maximum of five years, but because of Rudy's cooperation, prosecutors will recommend a sentencing range between two years and two years, six months. Rudy will pay at least $250,000 in restitution

And it looked like the former Chief of Staff was next:


Ed Buckham, one-time chief of staff toTom DeLay and later Chairman of the lobbying firm Alexander Strategy Group, appeared in Tony Rudy's guilty plea as "Lobbyist B."

According to the plea, Buckham helped in routing $50,000 in payments to Rudy's wife's consulting firm - the money was to bribe Rudy for his help defeating a bill on behalf of Jack Abramoff's client.

The plea also states that Rudy worked to bring other congressional aides on a trip to the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) in part to benefit Buckham. The CNMI was a client of Abramoff's, but he seems to have shared the CNMI with Buckham.

In January 2006 Buckham shut down his business. In June 2006 the Washington Post revealed this choice nugget:


A registered lobbyist opened a retirement account in the late 1990s for the wife of then-House Whip Tom DeLay (R-Tex.) and contributed thousands of dollars to it while also paying her a salary to work for him from her home in Texas, according to sources, documents and DeLay's attorney, Richard Cullen.

The account represents a small portion of the income that DeLay's family received from entities at least partly controlled by lobbyist Edwin A. Buckham. But the disclosure of its origin adds to what was previously known about the benefits DeLay's family received from its association with Buckham, and it brings the total over the past seven years to about half a million dollars.


Since then.....nothing. No Buckham plea. No indictments. Nothing.....was a U.S. Attorney fired to prevent the investigation from continuing to inexorably close in on Tom DeLay?

Nope. But something very fishy did indeed take place. The lead investigator was given a Federal Judgeship, a new division chief with connections to the GOP machine was appointed (AND REPORTEDLY, TO THE DELAY DEFENSE TEAM ITSELF) and presto...no more momentum in the investigation.

U S Attorney Carol Lam

Let’s pretend I hire you to help me around the farm. I ask you to dig a hole. You begin to dig. I then ask you to build a fence. You tell me that you have not finished digging the hole, but will get to it once you are done. Pretend I then criticize you for not doing your job and fire you. What lesson have you learned from this?

1. I was supposed to build the fence first, and then return to the hole.

2. I changed my mind about digging the hole. I really just wanted the fence?

3. I do not understand how long it takes to dig a hole.

4. Since it is clear that one person can’t build a fence and dig a hole simultaneously, I had simply decided to fire you. The failure to build the fence was just an excuse to do that.

Here is the story from The Voice Of San Diego

Now read the story and tell me how US Attorney Carol Lam was supposed to interpret her firing.

Re: US Attorney Replacements- Emails

From the Washington Post:

"Some of the thousands of pages of e-mails released this week underscore the extraordinary planning and effort, at the highest levels of the Justice Department and White House, to secure Griffin a job running one of the smaller U.S. attorney's offices in the country.

The e-mails show how D. Kyle Sampson, then the attorney general's chief of staff, and other Justice officials prepared to use a change in federal law to bypass input from Arkansas' two Democratic senators, who had expressed doubts about placing a former Republican National Committee operative in charge of a U.S. attorney's office. The evidence runs contrary to assurances from Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales that no such move had been planned."

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Gonzales Manipulated the Prosecution of the Tobacco Companies.

Guess who his manipulation worked in favor of. You guessed it, the Tobacco Companies. They avoided having to pay an extra 120billion in settlements. Now there is a nice little kitty to pay campaign contributions from. I wonder what the Republicans settled for in campaign contribution/kickbacks? If they didn't get a 1% commission they were taken for a ride.

Thank goodness the share holders of the tobacco companies were spared another 120 billion in expenses. After all it is the teenagers, stupid enough to bite on advertising aimed at them, who should be held responsible, don't you think?

From The Washington Post

"The leader of the Justice Department team that prosecuted a landmark lawsuit against tobacco companies said yesterday that Bush administration political appointees repeatedly ordered her to take steps that weakened the government's racketeering case.

Sharon Y. Eubanks said Bush loyalists in Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales's office began micromanaging the team's strategy in the final weeks of the 2005 trial, to the detriment of the government's claim that the industry had conspired to lie to U.S. smokers.


'The leader of the Justice Department team that prosecuted a landmark lawsuit against tobacco companies said yesterday that Bush administration political appointees repeatedly ordered her to take steps that weakened the government's racketeering case.'

She said a supervisor demanded that she and her trial team drop recommendations that tobacco executives be removed from their corporate positions as a possible penalty. He and two others instructed her to tell key witnesses to change their testimony. And they ordered Eubanks to read verbatim a closing argument they had rewritten for her, she said."

Drag Toensing In and Charge her With Obstruction.

From David Corn:

During her testimony on Friday, she pointed to the law's definition of a "covert agent" and said, "The person is supposed to reside outside of the United States." That is not what the law says--and one can presume Toensing knows the actual details of the legislation. In defining a "covert agent" (whose identity cannot be disclosed under the act), the law cites two criteria for a current officer or employee of an intelligence agency: that person's "identity as such an officer, employee, or member is classified information" and that officer has to be "serving outside the United States or has within the last five years served outside the United States." Pay attention to Toensing's sleight of hand. Under oath, she told the committee the law applied to clandestine officers residing abroad. Not so.
In her recent Washington Post piece, Toensing wrote of Valerie Wilson, "She worked at CIA headquarters and had not been stationed abroad within five years of the date of Novak's column." This means, Toensing has argued, that Valerie Wilson could not be covered by the Intelligence Identities Protection Act. But Valerie Wilson testified that she had been dispatched on overseas missions under cover in the five years prior to the Novak column--an indication she had "served" abroad. (Hubris reported that as well.) Toensing is free to maintain that the law ought to cover only those officers residing overseas as part of a long-term foreign assignment. But that is not what the act says. By stating that the act defines a "covert agent" as an officer residing abroad (as opposed to an officer who had "served" overseas), Toensing misrepresented the law to members of the committee. (By the way, both Fitzgerald and the CIA have said that Valerie Wilson's employment relationship with the CIA was classified.)
As a lawyer, Toensing is probably aware that knowingly making a false statement to a congressional committee conducting an investigation or review is a federal crime. (See Title 18, Section 1001 of the U.S. Code.) The punishment is a fine and/or imprisonment of up to five years. To say that I identified Valerie Wilson as a "covert" officer is to make a false statement.

Impeachment

From Buckeye Hamburger at Kos:

"If Bush at some point gets a personality transplant and decides that he will co-operate with the other branches of government as the Constitution requires him to, then we might avoid the constitutional crisis. But let's be honest, we've been watching the petulant little man-child for six years and we know what he's going to do, especially after today. He's going to stamp his feet and refuse until the bitter end, and if Congress has the will (a very big if), they'll have to go all the way down the road of impeachment and removal to straighten him out. I don't see this playing out any other way."

From Colbert:

http://www.comedycentral.com/motherload/?ml_video=84035

Hot Dish

US Attorney Fireings

From Christy Harden Smith

"If the Bush Administration did nothing wrong, why are they so afraid to allow Karl Rove and his political cronies to publicly proclaim their innocence to all the world? If there was no politics and political hackery involved, why hide behind no transcript and no "on the record" and no public accountability? Why this tap dance if there was no attempt to pervert the rule of law with political hatchet machinations?"

From Paul Kiel

"It's almost too perfect. The only U.S. attorney fired by the administration in December who undeniably had performance issues was begrudingly added to the list at the last minute -- and only then because of a federal judge's threat that he would go to Congress with complaints about the prosecutor's performance."

"Unlike seven other fired federal prosecutors who may have run afoul of the
administration for political reasons, San Francisco U.S. Atty. Kevin Ryan was a
team player for Bush and had influential Republican support. A friend of the
president even went to bat for Ryan after his firing."

Global Warming

From Digby:

" I am not a scientist and I don't pretend to understand all the details of the global warming debate. But compared to the ignoramus Fox All-Stars I'm Carl Sagan."" I think my favorite thing about the know-nothing wingnut argument is that Al Gore is said to be all hysterical on this silly little problem by the same people who are screeching like howler monkeys that the oceans don't protect us anymore and "they're" comin' to kill us in our beds! The fact that ridding ourselves of our dependence on oil might mitigate both of these problems escapes their notice. But then, they are incredibly stupid."

Congressional Oversight

From Glenn Greenwald:

"Of course, this sudden discovery of the need for oversight was prompted only by highly public revelations of abuse. And the reason why all of this happened -- and this is but a tiny fraction of the lawbreaking and abuse going on -- is because Congressional Republicans spent the last six years purposely allowing the Executive branch to accumulate unlimited amounts of unchecked power, while they blocked every attempt (most of which were lame and half-hearted) by Congressional Democrats to exert oversight over how these powers were used."

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Bird's eye view of the fight

From Matt Stoller at MY DD

"The real story arc of the Republican Party is simple. The Republicans are trying to institutionalize absolute power for themselves by turning the FBI, the Justice Department, the courts, the CIA, and the Defense Department into enforcement arms for the GOP. Key to this is seizing the election machinery through a mix of intimidation, gerrymandering, and overt politicization of the Justice Department. They wanted a dictatorship, hence all that 'decider' talk. And the Democratic Party, fresh with new and aggressive members more in touch with the public, aren't going to lay down for this anymore.

Former Rep Bob Barr, R-GA re: US Attorney's

Bob Barr was a US Attorney appointed by President Reagan. Here is what he has to say:

CNN Interview

The CNN news person interviewing Bob Barr asks "what about Democrats taking the offer, listening in to what is said between Karl Rove, Harriett Meyers, and whoever else is going to be testifying, and if they don't hear what they want to hear, if the questions are not answered, then moving forward and saying, we need an oath, and saying we need a transcript?"

This reporter clearly has not read the the White House letter sent to Congress. This letter states their conditions for testimony. The letter says that if the Administration officials testify, they cannot be recalled for further testimony. So not only will they not be under oath, but this is the only shot Congress has at them, no matter what they say.

Tony Snow

This man can talk out of both sides of his mouth like no one else. He says the Adminstration wants to let officials testify before Congress without taking an oath to "tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth." He says that they can testify, not under oath, and still tell the whole truth etc. So, I ask, why not take the oath?

Snow also said that the topic of the US Attorney firings has not been brought up with the President "to the best of President's recollection." Are you kidding me. You mean to tell me that the President does not recall any conversations about US Attorneys when his Administration actually entertained firing all of the US Attorneys mid term. I am not buying.

Tony still cannot explain the gap in the emails for the five days before the Attorney firings. He says "ask Justice."

Tony says that an oath would create a media circus and jeopardise the separation of powers. Unfortunately he argued exactly the opposite while President Clinton was being subpoenaed by Congress.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

From Firedoglake, re: subpoenas

"Sending presidential aides up to Capitol Hill to testify will "harm the President's ability to get good information," Bush says.

Didn't seem to faze Bill Clinton:
According to the Congressional Research Service, under President Clinton, 31 of his top aides testified on 47 different occasions. The aides who testified included some of Clinton’s closest advisors:

  • Harold Ickes, Assistant to the President and Deputy Chief of Staff - 7/28/94
  • George Stephanopoulos, Senior Adviser to the President for Policy and Strategy - 8/4/94
  • John Podesta, Assistant to the President and Staff Secretary - 8/5/94
  • Bruce R. Lindsey, Assistant to the President and Deputy Counsel to the President - 1/16/96
  • Samuel Berger, Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs - 9/11/97
  • Beth Nolan, Counsel to the President - 5/4/00
In contrast, between 2000 and 2004, Bush allowed only one of his closest advisers, then-Assistant to the President for Homeland Security Tom Ridge, to appear in front of Congress. He has also refused three invitations from Congress for his aides to testify, a first since President Richard Nixon in 1972.

Clinton did not refuse any."

Glenn, the old lawyer himself, has more.
Kargo X has more also.

Rubber meeting the road.

If Congress subpoenas Rove, and the President says no to the subpoena, what happens? Well, it turns out that the US Attorneys office would be contacted to initiate some sort of proceeding. Now perhaps we see why the President wanted to replace all the US Attorneys with political allies. I ask you, is this manipulation good for America?

If you have any doubt about whether or not the President has grabbed too much power, think of this. In the 2008 election it is very likely that all that power will fall into the hands of a Democratic President. Now think hard and long. Even if you like Bush you have to take a minute on this one. Do you want the President to be able to break the law, and have Congress not be able to do a thing about it, short of impeachment. No investigations, because they can't call executive branch witnesses. No depositions of the executive branch either.

Humm...., perhaps Bush has something here. Had Clinton had this power he could have told Congress to stuff it where the sun don't shine.... I take it all back. Give the President all he wants. The Democrats will use it well in January 2009.

More from Kos

White House Staff Can Testify But...

The testimony on the firing of US Attorneys can't be under oath, it can't be recorded, and there is no follow-up testimony allowed. Congress also gives up it's right for further subpoenas.

I ask one question of Fred Fielding, Counsel to the President, who do you think you are talking to, a Republican Congress that will let you get away with this crap?

Fred, you now have to play by big boy rules. You testify under oath and in public. You are doing the people's business now. Get used to it.

Here is the letter from Fielding

Good Comentary

"Pressuring federal prosecutors to play political games is serious business. The president says he's not happy about it, and the attorney general says mistakes were made. Well, of course they were. But confirming the obvious is not enough. From the top down, the word must go out this will not be tolerated, and those responsible must be held accountable."

Our Elementary School

Our neighborhood met with members of the school board and administration last night. Our task was to keep our neighborhood elementary school open. The administration has some metrics that they work to achieve. These metrics are designed to provide a diverse and rich education to the children of our city. The administration’s argument is that, for them to provide a variety of programs, they need schools of a certain size. If schools fall too far under that size, then they cannot provide the programs and still stay within their budget.

This is a tough nut for any school system. City school systems are having their budgets cut as students leave for suburban schools. Poverty plays a huge role in the exodus of students. Poor kids have more academic problems and more discipline problems. It is much more expensive and time consuming to teach some of these kids. When you add the language challenges of new immigrants, “No Child Left Behind” requirements, and unfunded mandates, passed down from Washington, you break a school’s back.

Without proper funding to teach this pool of children, the city schools are destined to fall behind in academics. Failure in academics leads to an exodus of the “easy kids” and the cycle continues.

If you could devise a strategy intent on killing an urban school, you could find none better than cutting it’s funding. When you cut school funding, under the guise of reallocating assets to schools with better performance, you set in motion a dynamic of self fulfilling prophecy. Once students leave, the funding is cut more. What remains are the more difficult students with fewer resources to teach them. They, of course, struggle to meet standards, and more students leave.

On the other side of the equation, there are some schools that perform well despite these hurdles. Our elementary school is one of them. We have 53% of our students in poverty. 59% of the students are minority. Almost 30% are English language learners. Yet we have test scores in the top 10% in the state. Two years ago our school test scores were the third best in the state for English and second best in math.

How could this be? One word, “community.” We have a supportive community that helps the school with what it needs.

We are also a small school, and that might help. Every kid knows every other, no matter what grade they are in. The teachers know all the kids in their school and most of the younger siblings that will soon be attending.

In our school, when a kid is in trouble, the community steps in to help. Our community center runs after school programs to help kids with homework. It is staffed by grand parents, college kids and graduates who tutor. The community taps into the resources, and expertise of parents, for programs like the arts and music. We are sometimes too small to have these programs provided by the district, so we do it ourselves.

The school also provides a vibrant adult education program. While the kids are downstairs in class, their parents are upstairs learning English, computers, and finance.

Most families can walk to the school together. Our neighborhood may be inner city and, in places, poor but it is safe. When you go to our school it is not the white kids at one table and the black kids at another. At our school they all sit together.

This year, for Martin Luther King Day, my wife and I had to explain, to our son, why Rosa Parks was not allowed to sit in the front of the bus. He truly had no idea, and had wondered about it all day. We explained that it was because her skin was darker. He looked at us like we were crazy. We might have just said that Rosa Parks was not allowed to sit in the front because she was short, or had brown eyes. To him it was a revelation. What my son learned, this MLK day, was that adults can be very arbitrary in how they set up rules.

One day this Fall I picked up my son from school. He was on the play ground, squealing with delight, as two equally happy Somali girls chased him. The girls wore long skirts, hijabs covered their hair. None of them knew that most adults in America would find this scene stunning. I found it delightful.

Our school is very successful, because our community tries hard to make it work for all it’s residents. Some of us are poor and some are upper middle class. Our skins range from the deep black of Africa to the soft tones of the Middle and Far East. A minority of us are of northern European ancestry. Most of us grew up in America but about 25% are recent arrivals. We get a great deal from each other and celebrate our differences. Everyone in America should be so lucky.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Trivia?

How many divorces among the entire field of Democratic contenders? 1

How many divorces among the entire field of Republican contenders? 5


From The Horses Mouth

I have never said we need to elect choir boys and girls. I'm just sayin'.... jeez louise!

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Another Common Rove Media Technique

When you think your guy is going to be accused of something accuse your opposition of it first. In this case it is Plame being accused of lying under oath. The Republicans know that Toensing is going to be accused of lying under oath, because she did. They need to blunt the accusation so they accuse her opposition, Plame, of doing it first. I will think of other examples of this.

I noticed it about four years ago. On some news magazine show a Bush surrogate would come out of nowhere with some accusation that seemed out of left field. Within a week their administration would be caught doing exactly what the they had accused someone of the week before. I thought, this is brilliant. You put your opposition in the untenable position of saying essentially "well, they did it too." Here in the Plame case we get to witness it first hand.

Rove vs. McCain in SC During 2000

I do not believe Rove here for a minute. Push polling was done to spread this rumor. Now perhaps this push polling was done under the guise of a 527 organization, but you cannot tell me that someone that runs as tight a campaign as Karl Rove, did not endorse the push polling.

Here is the article in The Swamp

The Big Problem With Voter Fraud That Wasn't

Kos explains the origin of this voter fraud claim and why the US Attorney's did not prosecute. The US Attorney, David C. Iglesia,s is accused of not doing his job. Once you look at the facts, you find that he actually did it quite well.

Here is the link to the Dailykos post.

"In both states, Republicans seized on these registration follies as incidents of massive voter fraud. ACORN became "Democratic operatives," and every twelve-year-old and animated dog scribbled down on a page sent back to ACORN was trumpeted as further evidence of an attempt by Democrats to subvert the election. When Inglesias, and other US attorneys, failed to validate this great central tenet of Republican mythology -- that Democrats are out to stuff the ballot boxes -- the hue and cry went out for his dismissal.
Ignored in all this is that there has never been any evidence that a single one of these false registrations appears to have been made for the purpose of casting an illegal vote.

Mr. Iglesisas said, prosecutors would have had to prove that the [ACORN
registrar], who had been fired for other reasons, had falsified the applications
with the intent of influencing the election. Mr. Iglesias said "it appeared she
was just doing it for the money."

  • The great majority of such false registrations never reach the rolls, because states have mechanisms in place to filter out just such false registrations.
  • No evidence has ever been presented that these registrations have either been for the cause of any illegal votes.
  • Someone walking into a polling place and claiming to be Daffy Duck is likely to be met with a bit of skepticism, and a pre-pubescent waving registration card will get nothing but a pat on the head -- which makes all these false registrations of highly questionable value."

The Selling of a Toensing's Lie

So I guess we can ascertain, from Brit Hume's comments, that the Republicans are going to push Toensing's testimony as fact. This tactic is typical of the conservative noise machine. Say a lie often enough, and it becomes the truth, at least in the heads of people that are not paying attention. Unfortunately there are enough Americans in this category to give the technique punch.

Here is how it stands. Either Toensing like under oath, or the head of the CIA, the Justice Department, and the President lied in calling her covert. You choose. I do realize that this might be a tough call, since the President, the Justice Department, and even the CIA have been lying a lot in the past six years.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Toensing Lies Under Oath?

It depends on what the meaning of "stationed" is.

Toensing was asked to be a witness, at the Judiciary Hearing looking into the outing of Valarie Plame, by the Committee's Republican members. Her arguement is that Valarie Plame was not outed by the White House because Plame was not actually covert. Toensing used the word "Stationed Overseas" as the key to defining whether a "covert agent" is protected under the criminal law. She helped write the law 25 years ago so she should know the language in the law, and who it protects, shouldn't she?

Her argument was that it is only illegal, under criminal law, to "out" and agent, if they are covert. Toensing testified that to be defined as "covert" an agent must be "stationed overseas" or "have been stationed overseas, in the last five years." Since Valarie Plame was not stationed overseas, and had not been stationed overseas, in the last five years, by definition, Plame could not have been "outed" under the criminal code.

It turns out that Toensings testimony was false. Here is the actual language in the statute:

"(4) The term "covert agent" means -
(A) a present or retired officer or employee of an
intelligence agency or a present or retired member of the Armed
Forces assigned to duty with an intelligence agency -
(i) whose identity as such an officer, employee, or member
is classified information, and
(ii) who is serving outside the United States or has within
the last five years served outside the United States; or..."

Now I hate to be nit-picky but the term "stationed" and the term "served" are vastly different. One means you "live" overseas, and the other means you "go" there. Does this Republican shill, Toensing, actually expect me to believe that she does not know the difference?

Does she expect me to believe that she could participate in writing a law where a CIA agent could have their cover legally blown, if they had resided in the US for five years, no matter what work they were doing for the CIA while "living in the US?

Let me get this straight, Toensing is arguing that she wrote a law that says this: if I was a covert operative, during the cold war, and I do not live in Russia, yet travel there all the time collecting secret information. I can legally have my cover blown, because I have not been "stationed" overseas. Pa...lease!

I believe that Toensing lied under oath about a law that she wrote. She did so to protect the White House. They should call her back and blow her scrawny butt out of the water.

Friday, March 16, 2007

I Don’t Mean To Be Glib

Wouldn’t it be nice to go back to a time when all Congress had on it's plate was investigating whether the President lied about cheating on his wife… Oh yes, thanks for the reminder; Congress had better things to do then too. They just weren’t doing any of them.

Emails re: US Attorney Fireings.

Watch this.

Good job Mr. President. You have certainly elevated the justice in America during your presidency. Not!

Toensing

Her argument, made in testimony to the House Committee, is that it is the CIA's job is to conceal it's covert operatives identity and thus if the White House discloses an operatives identity, it is the CIA's fault.

I find this argument problematic, where the CIA has been so politicized over the past three years. That is, it is in the interest of the political appointments, at the CIA, to out Valarie Plame if they want to support the White House.

Toensing just said that the CIA did not tell the people in the White House that Valarie Plame was an operative. If this was the case, then why did the White House perceived leverage in outing Valarie Plame? That is, the fact that she was outed, to punish her husband, debunks the argument that the White House did not know she was covert.

Waxman has just pointed out that the President lied

Bush said, to the American people, that the White House would investigate the Valarie Plame leak, and "anyone involved will be fired." The Director of White House Security just testified, under oath, that no investigation has ever taken place.

White House Breach of Security Proceedures.

It turns out that there is a rule that White House Officials must report Security Breaches. The head of White House Security just testified that there is not an investigation or report on file regarding the Plame breach of Security. "No action was taken."

Wow.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Boots On The Ground-In America

Our President always says he will listen to the "boots on the ground" in Iraq. Why does he not do this when it comes to the "boots on the ground" in America?

Glenn Greenwald has an article where he comments on a meeting, that Bush had last week, with neocons. I was, at first, "creeped out", as Kos says. Once I thought about it a little, it registered that the President was allowing the neocons to manipulate him. They kept telling him to ignore reality and do what God would want, as if they knew what God would want. Last I checked, the neocons do not have a telephone to God, though I will have to defer to those that know more about telecommunications with heaven. Is our President so divorced from reality that he has to use God as an intoxicant? Read the article. Have I gotten the wrong impression of all of this?

Dick Cheney


Here is a well researched, objective, and cogent analysis of our Vice President...as only Jon Stewart can do it.


Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Spring


Why the Press is not Liberal

Using the US Attorney issue as an example, Digby explains the mechanism the press uses to decide what will be a story.

"One of the silliest conventions of modern journalism is that the press can't tell a story if "the other side" isn't screaming about it. Republicans are always screaming (and often are the ones feeding the scandal to the press in the first place) so it's very easy to find that hook. Democrats don't have the institutional infrastructure to successfully manufacture scandals and are often slow off the mark in seeing real ones, so the press doesn't feel they have any reason to pursue them. (And I guess stories about crass political patronage, even in the justice department, just aren't considered news anymore. That's a sad comment all by itself.)"

Digby questions why the main stream media did not pick up on this story. I am asking myself the same thing. I do not trust the Bush White House, so I suspected there was more to the firing of US Attorneys when Diane Feinstein, D-CA questioned the firings in January. Leo noticed my post, and thought it did not smell right either. Both of us are just average guys. So how could we notice it as a story, while the press missed it for two months.

Here is what Digby thinks (Jay Carney is at Time Magazine):

"But this episode perfectly illustrates the problem with the mainstream media's coverage during the last six years. The Bush administration has been the most secretive and ruthlessly partisan in recent memory and yet the Washington bureau chief for TIME reflexively assumed a benign explanation for what was obviously at least a questionable process.
Here's Carney:
When this story first surfaced, I thought the Bush White House and Justice Department were guilty of poorly executed acts of crass political patronage. I called some Democrats on the Hill; they were "concerned", but this was not a priority."


Digby then quotes Wolf , a White House reporter, from a couple of weeks ago:

"Our- our role is to ask questions and get information. But it- the press briefing isn't Prime Minister's question time. It's not a chance for the opposition to take on the government and grill them to a point where they hand- throw their hands up and surrender. Now, obviously there's a contentious spirit there- we're trying to get information, but, it's not a political exercise, it's a journalistic exercise, and I think often the blogs are looking for us to be political advocates, more than journalistic ones."

Digby again:

"I like Wolff and Carney generally and they aren't the worst offenders by far. But this attitude is pervasive in Washington circles and it's causing some serious problems. (Partisan impeachments against the will of the people. Illegal wars. Out of control executive branch.) It comes at least partially from the fact that journalists think that by simply telling the public what the politicians are saying (much of it on double super-secret background) they are doing their jobs. They allow both sides to play out their political games in the mainstream media and then provide running color commentary on who's "winning." In their minds, if the Democrats aren't as good at stoking scandals or creating an atmosphere of political terrorism, then it's not their job to uncover what the Republicans are doing. Democrats need to "play better" if they want to "win." (You often see a kind of admiration for the bold machismo of the Republican character assassins in the press -- they are winners.)"

I think the press is full of s**t on this issue. Their job is to report news and not just regurgitate talking points. If they ascertain, through experience, that a source of news is overwhelmingly consistent with the objective facts, then they can simply regurgitate. However, when they have seen, time and again, that their source has lied and spun the facts, then the Press has an obligation to dig further and get to the facts.

The Bush administration has made the job of a correspondent much harder at exactly the time when the press is under pressure to get the story out fast. So be it, get the story out fast and then follow up with real reporting. Get to the bottom of the story.

I can read press packets from the various political parties. I don't need the press to do that for me. I do not need them as a simple conduit for spin. Most importantly, our democracy depends on the press to do actual work. When our democracy needs a dicta-phone we will let them know. Until then the press needs to do their jobs. If they don't we will find someone who can, and award the public airwaves to them.

Two things you just don't want to read.

This

and

This

No wonder people watch NASCAR. They get to live in glorious ignorance of the world of hurt descending on the Middle East. Pandora's box has been opened. The vast majority of Americans do not grasp the consequences.

I thing it is time for a big-ass martini. Hand me the clicker.

US Attorney investegating Abramove demoted in 2002

I remember when this happened and was frustrated that no one looked into it at the time:

From Think Progress again:
"In 2002, Black launched an investigation into Jack Abramoff’s “secret arrangement with Superior Court officials to lobby against a court reform bill then pending in Congress.” On Nov. 18, 2002, Black issued a grand jury subpoena to the Guam Superior Court to turn over all records involving the lobbying contract with Abramoff. The administration swiftly punished Black:
A day later, the chief prosecutor, US Attorney Frederick A. Black, who had launched the investigation, was demoted. A White House news release announced that Bush was replacing Black.
The timing caught some by surprise. Despite his officially temporary status as the acting US attorney, Black had held the assignment for more than a decade."

(emphasis mine)

It is amazing to me that we are beginning to extract ourselves from this mess. Given the concentration of power, in the Executive Branch of Government, over the past four years, it is a testament to our Democracy that we are getting blind justice back on track.

Rove spin is False.

Rove is trying to control the US Attorney story by saying that firing US Attorneys is done all the time. This is not even remotely true. Here is the story.

From Think Progress:

"Clinton’s former chief of staff John Podesta told ThinkProgress that Rove’s claim is “pure fiction.” The Clinton administration never fired federal prosecutors as political retribution:
Mr. Rove’s claims today that the Bush administration’s purge of qualified and capable U.S. attorneys is “normal and ordinary” is pure fiction. Replacing most U.S. attorneys when a new administration comes in — as we did in 1993 and the Bush administration did in 2001 — is not unusual. But the Clinton administration never fired federal prosecutors as pure political retribution. These U.S. attorneys received positive performance reviews from the Justice Department and were then given no reason for their firings.
We’re used to this White House distorting the facts to blame the Clinton administration for its failures. Apparently, it’s also willing to distort the facts and invoke the Clinton administration to try to justify its bad behavior."

For the record Kyle Sampson (second in command at the Justice Department and relieved of his job yesterday) agrees with Podsta. Here is his memo of January 9th, to Heriett Meyers

Schumer re: US Attorney Fireings.

From Think Progress

So now we have rampant politicization of both the CIA and the Attorney Generals office. Not good for our Democracy.

Here is an indicator of the current state of affairs:

"Data* indicate that the offices of the U.S. Attorneys across the nation investigate seven (7) times as many Democratic officials as they investigate Republican officials, a number that exceeds even the racial profiling of African Americans in traffic stops."

From Kos:

"The Department of Justice, as it is now constituted, cannot be relied upon to protect Americans from the corrosive effects of real public corruption, due to their own outrageous politicization and overreaching. In some cases, no doubt, years of serious investigative work by honest and thoroughly professional federal investigators is going to be cast in doubt by the Bush "administration's" criminality. In an age in which we are constantly reminded of the dangers we face from the threat of international terrorism, few things could deal such a direct and damaging blow to national security -- especially in light of the simultaneous discovery of rampant abuses at the FBI -- than the revelation that the Department of Justice itself is being run like a Nixonian boiler room operation."

Very good talk, on MPR, at noon today

A career CIA agent speaks about the politicization of the CIA:

http://minnesota.publicradio.org/display/web/2007/03/13/midday1/

You will have to click under "Audio" on the right side of the screen.

Monday, March 12, 2007

David Obey

"If we are going to bring the country, and perhaps the world, back together, we should begin with a fair assessment of our successes and failures and move forward with a common vision."

--David Obey, D-WI

David Obey blew a fuse in front of an anti-war military mom (and a rolling camera). But his words should be heeded.

So now we know that Wisconsin has two good Democrats in Congress. Obey is in the House and Feingold is in the Senate. They are practical, honorable and will tell you what they think. I say we elect Wisconsin for President.

Impeachment

I don't know how, as adults, we can avoid impeaching this crowd. Yet Kuttner, at The American Prospect, has a point. It will probably never happen, primarily because of the complete incompetence of the 108th and 109th Congresses.

"In our democracy, there are two ways of expunging a lawless leader. The normal way is to vote in the opposition. The exceptional way is via impeachment. As more details of the serial assaults on the Constitution emerge, one could make a good case that Cheney and Bush deserve impeachment at least as much as Richard Nixon did. Contempt for the rule of law is just what the framers had in mind when they devised impeachment as an extraordinary remedy.
However, most Democrats in Congress conclude that the memory of the Clinton impeachment is too fresh, that an impeachment proceeding would be too divisive and would divert attention from the very serious substance at issue. My bet is that impeachable offenses will emerge from congressional investigations. What will protect Bush and Cheney from that fate is less the merits of the case than the electoral calendar. It is simply too close to the 2008 election.
So, as with the Iraq war, the stalemate with Iran, the budget mess, and the trade imbalance -- all of which will be left to Bush's successor -- the administration's main hope for saving its own skin is running down the clock. America surely deserves better."

Alberto Gonzales's Role in the Plame Cover-Up

From Discourse.net:

"As Senators start to pile on our lamentable Attorney General for presiding over Karl Rove's politicization of the US Attorneys Office -- an offense known as 'obstruction of justice' -- I would like to direct your attention to a similar but somehow forgotten scandal.
Everyone seems to have forgotten that then-White House Counsel Alberto Gonzales also presided over one of the more sordid aspects of the Plame scandal. When Gonzales first learned that the Justice Department had started an official investigation into the Plame leak,
Gonzales waited twelve hours before putting the White House staff on notice that they had to preserve documents and electronic files. Which seemed than -- and seems now -- like an open invitation to "shredding and deleting," not to mention getting your story straight. In short, obstruction of justice.
And it's not as if Gonzales dithered trying to make up his mind what to do. He
told White House Chief of Staff Andy Card about the investigation right away -- many hours before sending the official notification to preserve all evidence.
Here's how
Senator Harkin described the sequence of events back in October 2003:
On September 26, the Department of Justice officially launches its investigation.
Interestingly, it took 4 days after that "official" launch for the Justice Department to call White House Counsel Gonzales and notify him of the official investigation. Gonzalez then asked for an extra day before the Justice Department gave the White House the official notice, which means all documents and records must be preserved.
A recent letter was sent to the President from Senators Daschle, Schumer, Levin, and Biden which also expresses concern about this break from regular procedure.
They wrote:
Every former prosecutor with whom we have spoken has said that the first step in such an investigation would be to ensure all potentially relevant evidence is preserved, yet the Justice Department waited four days before making a formal request for documents.Interestingly, the letter goes on:
When the Justice Department finally asked the White House to order employees to preserve documents, White House Counsel Alberto Gonzales asked for permission to delay transmitting the order to preserve evidence until morning. The request for a delay was granted. Again, every former prosecutor with whom we have spoken has said that such a delay is a significant departure from standard practice.
Lest you think this is much ado about nothing, consider that when Patrick Fitzgerald came looking,
key emails to or from the Vice President's office mysteriously could not be found in the White House computer system's archives. "

Fantasy vs. Reality

The fantasy from Andrea Mitchell.

The reality from Wolf Blitzer.

Kind of begs the question, how Andrea keeps her job?

An "Innocent" Question

If Halliburton moves it's company headquarters to Dubai, does it protect them from having their documents subpoenaed by Congress? Just asking?

Here is why Congress might be interested, if you don't already know.

I'm the President. I can say one thing and do another. Y'all won't notice.

From Think Progress:
"White House Pressures OMB To Withhold Earmark Data From The Public
In his 2007 State of the Union address, President Bush promised to reform the congressional earmarking process:

The time has come to end this practice [of congressional earmarking]. So let us
work together to reform the budget process … expose every earmark to the light
of day and to a vote in Congress.
The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) announced plans last week to “step up the administration’s effort to cut earmarks by posting on its website next week all earmarks identified by federal agencies in fiscal year 2005 appropriations bills.”
But according to Mark Tapscott at the D.C. Examiner, the White House is reneging on this pledge and is pressuring the OMB to release only a partial list of congressional earmarks:
[Last week I heard from Hill sources] that the White House congressional liason
staff was pressuring OMB Director Rob Portman to not release all of the earmarks
requested by Members of Congress to executive agencies under the FY2005 budget.

Now this morning, word is circulating on the Hill that the Bush
administration is going to release only a limited database of earmarks later
today or maybe no database at all, but just aggregate or summary data."

Too Funny

From THP

"JERUSALEM — Israel has recalled its ambassador to El Salvador after he was found bound, drunk and naked in the yard of his residence, a spokeswoman said Monday.
Tsuriel Raphael has been removed from his post and the Foreign Ministry has begun searching for a replacement, said spokeswoman Zehavit Ben-Hillel.
Two weeks ago, El Salvador police found Raphael naked outside his residence, tied up, gagged and drunk, Israeli media reported. He was wearing several sex toys at the time, the media said. After he was untied, Raphael told police he was the ambassador of Israel, the reports said."
(emphasis mine)
Can't you just picture the guy laying in his front yard thinking. Darn, how am I going to explain this? Let me see...Palestinian terrorists...no, too far....Syrian dominatrix...no, international ramifications...Mark Foley, no my wife would kill me...come to think of it she is going to kill me anyway. I am so screwed.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

One of My Favorites

One morning the husband returns after several hours of fishing anddecides to take a nap. Although not familiar with the lake, thewife decides to take the boat out. She motors out a shortdistance, anchors, and reads her book.

Along comes a Game Warden in his boat. He pulls up alongside thewoman and says,

"Good morning, Ma'am. What are you doing?"

"Reading a book," she replies, (thinking, "Isn't that obvious?")

"You're in a Restricted Fishing Area," he informs her.

"I'm sorry officer, but I'm not fishing. I'm reading."

"Yes, but you have all the equipment. For all I know you could start at any moment. I'll have to take you in and write you up."

"If you do that, I'll have to charge you with sexual assault," says the woman.

"But I haven't even touched you," says the game warden.

"That's true, but you have all the equipment. For all I know you could start at any moment."

"Have a nice day ma'am," and he left.

MORAL: Never argue with a woman who reads. It's likely she can also think.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Marriage

Two great people got married last night.

An Artist

and

A Musician (I picked this Replacements song 'cause I like it)

Congratulations Kristin and Steve

Friday, March 9, 2007

More on Signing Statements

Controversy over George W. Bush's use of signing statements

This section documents a current event.Information may change rapidly as the event progresses.
There is an ongoing controversy concerning the extensive use of signing statements to modify the meaning of laws by President George W. Bush. In July 2006, a task force of the American Bar Association described the use of signing statements to modify the meaning of duly enacted laws as "contrary to the rule of law and our constitutional system of separation of powers".[1]
George W. Bush's use of signing statements is controversial, both for the number of times employed (estimated at over 750 opinions) and for the apparent attempt to nullify legal restrictions on his actions through claims made in the statements. Some opponents have said that he in effect uses signing statements as a line-item veto although the Supreme Court already held the one line item veto bill as an unconstitutional delegation of power in Clinton v. City of New York.[9]

Wikinews has news related to:
Bush declares immunity from Patriot Act oversight
Previous administrations had made use of signing statements to dispute the validity of a new law or its individual components. George H. W. Bush challenged 232 statutes through signing statements during four years in office and Clinton challenged 140 over eight years. George W. Bush's 130 signing statements contain at least 750 challenges.[6] [10] In the words of a New York Times commentary:
And none have used it so clearly to make the president the interpreter of a law's intent, instead of Congress, and the arbiter of constitutionality, instead of the courts.[11]
The signing statement with the McCain Detainee Amendment, prohibiting cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment of detainees in U.S. custody attracted controversy:
The Executive Branch shall construe [the torture ban] in a manner consistent with the constitutional authority of the President to supervise the unitary Executive Branch and as Commander in Chief and consistent with the constitutional limitations on the judicial power.
This statement specifically refers to a unitary executive theory, under which the President asserts broad authority to use his independent judgment to interpret and apply the law. The President has with the signing statement to the McCain Detainee Amendment reserved his authority to challenge parts of the law passed by Congress.[12]

Blue ribbon panel on signing statements
On July 24, 2006, the American Bar Association's Task Force on Presidential Signing Statements and the Separation of Powers Doctrine, appointed by ABA President Michael S. Greco, issued a widely publicized report condemning some uses of signing statements. The task force report and recommendations were unanimously approved by ABA delegates at their August 2006 meeting.[1]

The bipartisan and independent blue ribbon panel was chaired by Miami lawyer Neal Sonnett, a former Assistant U.S. Attorney and Chief of the Criminal Division for the Southern District of Florida. He is past chair of the ABA Criminal Justice Section, chair of the ABA Task Force on Domestic Surveillance and the ABA Task Force on Treatment of Enemy Combatants; and president-elect of the American Judicature Society.


The report stated in part:

Among those unanimous recommendations, the Task Force voted to:

1. oppose, as contrary to the rule of law and our constitutional system of separation of powers, a President's issuance of signing statements to claim the authority or state the intention to disregard or decline to enforce all or part of a law he has signed, or to interpret such a law in a manner inconsistent with the clear intent of Congress;

2. urge the President, if he believes that any provision of a bill pending before Congress would be unconstitutional if enacted, to communicate such concerns to Congress prior to passage;

3. urge the President to confine any signing statements to his views regarding the meaning, purpose, and significance of bills, and to use his veto power if he believes that all or part of a bill is unconstitutional;

4. urge Congress to enact legislation requiring the President promptly to submit to Congress an official copy of all signing statements, and to report to Congress the reasons and legal basis for any instance in which he claims the authority, or states the intention, to disregard or decline to enforce all or part of a law he has signed, or to interpret such a law in a manner inconsistent with the clear intent of Congress, and to make all such submissions be available in a publicly accessible database.

The Problem With Signing Statements

From Glenn Greenwald:

"That the FBI is abusing its NSL power is entirely unsurprising (more on that below), but the real story here -- and it is quite significant -- has not even been mentioned by any of these news reports. The only person (that I've seen) to have noted the most significant aspect of these revelations is Silent Patriot at Crooks & Liars, who very astutely recalls that the NSL reporting requirements imposed by Congress were precisely the provisions which President Bush expressly proclaimed he could ignore when he issued a "signing statement" as part of the enactment of the Patriot Act's renewal into law. Put another way, the law which the FBI has now been found to be violating is the very law which George Bush publicly declared he has the power to ignore."

Just a Constitutional reminder:

Congress writes laws
The Executive Branch enforces laws
The Courts provide an unbiased place to hash it all out.

If the Executive Branch uses a signing statement to pick and choose what laws it will enforce, then, in what sense is the Executive Branch accountable to the people?

Last I checked we do not elect a king every four years.