Monday, April 30, 2007

"Why I Left the Civil Rights Division" by Bob Kengle

There is no better examination of the evil done the US Department of Justice by the current administration than that found in Bob Kengle explanation of why he left the Civil Rights Division. As Paul Kiel points out "the Civil Rights Division, and specifically the voting section there . . . is probably the worst case of politicization at the department." If you understand the institutionalized evil inflicted on the civil rights division by Brad Schlozman and his superiors and cohorts you begin to understand the assault justice and the rule of law have suffered at the hands of Alberto Gonzales and Karl Rove. Read Kengle's letter. It should be required reading for everyone concerned about justice.

There's more: ""Why I Left the Civil Rights Division" by Bob Kengle" >>

Todd Graves Didn't Play By Rove Rules

Steve Kraske of the Kansas City Star reports this morning that Todd Graves was probably shown the door as Kansas City's US Attorney because he didn't play by Karl Rove's rules.

We know that eight ousted U.S. attorneys got the boot because they no longer were seen as supremely loyal to President Bush.

Now it appears that — to his credit — former U.S. attorney Todd Graves of the Western District of Missouri can be added to the group of eight.

The precise motivation for Graves’ departure in March 2006 may never be known. Based on his brief statement Friday, Graves may not know either.

But, like the others, Graves had not always gone along with the Karl Rove-written GOP playbook when it came to using the Justice Department to improve Republican odds at the polls.
It seems Graves was an Ashcroft man. He had few Gonzales (Rove) connections. Brad Schlozman is clearly a loyal Bushie (Rovian) operative. Blue Girl, give the story a look.

Question, given Alberto's performance before the Senate Committee can we now cut the pretense and identify Karl Rove as the "real" Attorney General?

There's more: "Todd Graves Didn't Play By Rove Rules" >>

Is The Long Neo-Conservative Nightmare Really Over?

Glen Greenwald says the Republican noise machine, and their allies in the corporate press are no longer able to gain traction when they try to unfairly tar and feather Democrats. Trex echos Greenwald in a post called the "Incredible Shrinking Right." He points to the long overdue collapse of David Broder from "from Beltway Godhead to Bleating Dickhead in just a few short, easy steps" as an example of the rapid decline of conservatism. Kevin Drum points to an article by Michael Finnegan in the LA Times indicating that Republican regulars are too embarrassed by their party to answer poll questions. A commenter named Dave over at TMP (I can't find the comment right now) points to a significant decline in the number of comments at It's true. You go to Redstate and they are posting, but nobody is commenting. You would think the site is a start-up like WTWC instead of a site that became valuable enough to be sold by the founders for real money.

What does it all mean? First, Americans are fed up with Iraq. They have been to the mall and have returned to discover the President has tied down our army occupying a country that doesn't want to be occupied. It is a country that only one American really wants to occupy. Sadly his name is George Bush. Second, Americans were appalled by Katrinia, and the lack of response shown by the administration to other Americans during their hour of need. It has dawned on many Americans that this administration puts the success of a small gang of cronies above all. Not many of us are in that small gang, which is really a subset of a subset of a subset. Third, the Alberto Gonzales hearings have demonstrated that for this crowd the department of justice is just another political tool. David Iglesias was on Bill Maher the other night. Maher gave the story perspective. At the end Iglesias was called a hero for putting his country ahead of his party. Maher's house Republicans sat on their hands looking embarrassed.

It sounds like our team is on a roll. We are finally winning. Well, during all of this I have been reading a series of books about the Civil War. You know, during the Civil War there were any number of battles where one side or the other thought it had won. Their soldiers stopped fighting. Sometimes they started looting. The other side rallied and ran the "victors" right off the battlefield.

Yes, Republicans are down right now, but they are down because of their own failures. Primarily they are down because they realize they have supported a maladministration that doesn't really share their core values. They are embarrassed because they have been hosed by the neo-cons. Folks, the Republican base will recover and will gain control of their party, maybe not in time for 2008, but recover they will.

The Democrats have yet to actually achieve anything. The war in Iraq continues unabated. We don't have universal health care. America's industrial base continues to decline. We still face a host of complicated social issues that have yet to be addressed. George Bush's maladministration is still in power. The justice department is still a wholly owned subsidiary of the RNC and is being run by Karl Rove.

Don't become complacent. Don't start bragging. The battle isn't won. If we let up they will rally and we could be run from the field. We need to make sure we remember that right now the Republican rank and file probably feels betrayed. I don't think they have abandoned their basic principles. We need to make sure we are inclusive and thoughtful when arriving at suggested solutions for Americas problems. Some of their basic principles are pretty much basic Democratic principles. Some aren't but there is room for compromise on many issues. This is a time for Democratic compassion.

There's more: "Is The Long Neo-Conservative Nightmare Really Over?" >>

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Hillary Is Just Plain Old Hillary Clinton When She Is Running For President.

Of course when she sends information out to her New York constituents she is Hillary Rodham Clinton.

I make no bones about it. Hillary Clinton is not my favorite candidate. She is the only Democrat I might be tempted to cross party lines to vote against. This story is a perfect example of my problem with Hillary. The woman is 59 years old. She has been married to Bill for 32 years. She is a mother. She has been First Lady. She is the junior Senator from New York. She is very well educated. She is smart. For all of that, the woman isn't comfortable in her own skin. She just doesn't know who the hell she is.

She doesn't even know what to call herself. Somebody has polled New York and discovered that the "Rodham" helps her in that state. Somebody, maybe the same consultant, has polled the rest of the country and discovered that "Rodham" doesn't poll that well. She is "Hillary Rodham Clinton" for one audience and "Hillary Clinton" for another. How does she keep it all straight? As I said she is smart. Smart isn't good enough. All the Democratic candidates are smart.

In her name as in everything else, Hillary goes along with whatever the consultants tell her polls well. We voters have no idea what she really stands for or even if she stands for anything at all. Not an authentic bone in her body.

There's more: "Hillary Is Just Plain Old Hillary Clinton When She Is Running For President." >>

How Quickly He Forgets

Nope, Tom Feeney never wrote a letter for Jack Abramoff. Just for one of his clients.

WASHINGTON - Rep. Tom Feeney insists he never helped convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff, but in 2003 Feeney was among several lawmakers who wrote to the Energy Department opposing changes to a federal program that also were being fought by an Abramoff client.

It was just a few months later that Feeney, just like Nye, was rewarded with the trip to Scotland. He's going down.

Need more - see here, here , here and here.

Does Feeney survive? I don't think so and I'm pretty sure we're going to see a US Attorney scandal expansion here too.

There's more: "How Quickly He Forgets" >>

Call me a mushy-headed liberal, but I don't think you are supposed to treat your friends this way...

It is high time that America takes a hard look at what is happening in Turkey – and accept some responsibility. The internal struggles in Turkey are a direct result of Bush’s pathetic foreign policy. Some folks seem to think that once an ally, always an ally, Turkey is a member of NATO, and wants to join the EU, so screw ‘em – we’ll do what we want and they will like it. And even if they don’t, who cares?

That is a dangerous position to operate from, and nearly impossible to defend.

Turkey is every bit as important as an ally today as it was during the Cold War. It is the only secular and Democratic Islamic state, and the Turks in general have looked favorably on America and the freedoms enjoyed by our people. Turkey is a vital counter-balance to the Islamic fundamentalism that many middle-eastern states espouse. After a long military dictatorship, they began to taste and enjoy the freedoms Americans take for granted for themselves. But foreign policy cock-ups by the gang that can’t shoot straight have threatened Turkey on so many levels…

First of all, the Turks are none to thrilled to have a civil war raging on their south-east border. They are also understandably apprehensive about the emboldened muscle the Kurds are flexing, too.

The quasi-independence of the Iraqi Kurds have become a flashpoint for Kurdish nationalism. Kurdish terrorists are using Iraq as a base for attacks inside Turkey. This situation has prompted the Turkish military to publicly threaten that they will cross the border and clear out terrorist bases.

(I, for one, am horrified at the prospect of the Turkish Army rolling into Northern Iraq and engaging the Peshmerga. The Turks, of course, would annihilate the Kurdish forces. But oh, good God, that would be a bloody, brutal clash, the likes of which modern humanity has not beheld. The brutality that the world would witness would likely be the envy of the Serbian butchers of the 1990’s.)

These rumblings from the Turkish armed forces has led the United States to issue stern warnings, urging the Turks not to do it, and spawned a heavy blast of anti-American editorials in Turkish newspapers, accusing the U.S. of hypocrisy. The Turks, of course, justifiably question why the U.S. can chase "terrorists" 6,000 miles away, but have the temerity to tell the Turks they can’t do so, when they are fighting terrorist on their own border.

Turkey has national elections coming up this year, and the negative perception of the United States in Turkey – only 12% of Turks have a positive view of America, down from 52% before the Iraq war – stands to influence the elections unfavorably. Apprehension is high that the Islamic party will consolidate it’s power on the country by electing an Islamic party president.

Complicating matters further, the Turkish military has weighed in and asserted that the country will remain secular, even if it does so at gunpoint. They have warned that if an Islamic party president is elected, a coup is a done deal.

It’s freakin’ surreal when you contemplate the possibility that a Middle Eastern country with over 80% of the country practicing Muslims threatens a coup to prevent an Islamic government from taking power.

And today, a million people took to the streets to protest the trend away from secularism.

We need to be paying attention to this, and taking input from our ally seriously – or we may not have that ally anymore. This is a huge deal people. Turkey is strategically, culturally, geographically, politically - (hell I could come up with adjectives until sundown) - important. If George Bush manages to go ahead and screw us out of that alliance, we may just end up going the way of the Ottomans. Wouldn’t that be ironic?

There's more: "Call me a mushy-headed liberal, but I don't think you are supposed to treat your friends this way..." >>

Give That Gal A Medal For Creative Use Of The Internet

Over at firedoglake Christy Hardin Smith has posted something on this morning's Condi Rice Magical Sunday Morning Talking Head Tour called "So Much For That "Imminent Threat" Talking Point." The post focuses on deconstructing Condi's appearance on Stephanopoulis's talking head show this morning. Smith concludes it

Sucks when your political party becomes synonymous with political dirty tricks, lying, incompetence and failure, doesn't it, GOP bigwigs? But then again, what did you expect when you sold your party's soul for a few pieces of K Street silver and bought a fetid turdblossom in a poke with it? Chickens, meet roost.
What is wonderful about this post is that it is truly multimedia. It comes with its own extremely appropriate music video: "Little Lies" by Fleetwood Mac. Very creative. Probably violates Fleetwood Mac's copyright, but I am willing to argue "fair use." Check it out if you haven't seen it.

Now if we could talk the Sunday morning talking head shows into using music videos in the background.

There's more: "Give That Gal A Medal For Creative Use Of The Internet" >>

CSpan Copyright Policy

Nearly every time you see television from statements made in the House and Senate you are looking at a CSpan feed. Here is CSpan's copyright policy pertaining to statements made in the House and Senate.

Although C-SPAN is the only news media organization that regularly televises the legislative proceedings of the U.S. House and U.S. Senate, it does not hold a copyright in that video coverage. That government-produced video is in the public domain which means that it belongs to the American people and may be used without restrictions of any kind.

There's more: "CSpan Copyright Policy" >>

A Good Compromise For Funding The Troops?

John Avarosis has come up with a great Iraq compromise idea. The President has loudly announced that he wants to wait until September to see if the "surge" is working. OK, Congress funds the troops to September 30. Not a day longer. If early in September the President can convince Congress the surge is working, Congress will consider spending more money. If he can't, the troops come home immediately. Power of the purse, Baby, power of the purse.

There's more: "A Good Compromise For Funding The Troops?" >>

Why I Am A Lousy Blogger

I like to start my day with a cruise around the net. Usually I post something I find here. This morning I found something right away and instead of cruising, I lingered for an hour. Bill Moyers Journal has just posted Friday's show on the web. If like mine, your local public television show is doing a fundraising auction or if your local public television channel doesn't carry Moyers, spend an hour this morning watching his show. He has interviews with Josh Marshall and Jon Stewart, and a story about the late David Halberstam. Trust me, the hour you spend watching Moyers will be better spent than watching Tim Russert's dog and pony show.

Sorry for not finding the outrage or bit of humor this morning. Blue Girl needs to pay me more if she doesn't want me distracted by high quality television.

There's more: "Why I Am A Lousy Blogger" >>

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Durbin Tells What He Knew About WMD 4 Years Late.

Senator Dick Durbin is now and during the run up to the Iraq war was a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee. Yesterday he dropped a bombshell on the Senate floor. It seems the Senate Intelligence Committee was being told the truth while the Administration was lying to the American people. They knew there was scant evidence of WMDs in Iraq. What is the point of having oversight from an intelligence committee if they are unwilling to actually provide oversight and blow the whistle. In my mind he is just as big a liar as Dick Chaney or President Bush. Every member of that whole f**king committee should resign the Senate--right now. Maybe in a while I will calm down, but right now I am pissed. Watch his confession and be just as angry as I am.

This is one time I wish I knew how to load video on this site. Cue Blue Girl.


UPDATED 4/29 @ 4:58 p.m.

Here is the youtube:

There's more: "Durbin Tells What He Knew About WMD 4 Years Late." >>

More Praise for Moyers

I have been enthralled with the Bill Moyers Journal series on PBS. Last night I watched the Moyers interview with Josh Marshall.

You know what? We do have a liberal media.


And it's us.

There's more: "More Praise for Moyers" >>

A New Area Of Massive Corruption By The Bush/Gonzales DOJ Is Exposed: Bankruptcy/US Trustee Fraud

Is there any area of the public trust and governmental fiduciary duty on behalf of all US citizens that the Bush Administration has not corrupted, sold out and eviscerated? No! None! Pick a rock, any rock; turn it over and you will find a new and insidious way that Bush and his Republican enablers have screwed the American people.

The latest example appears to be a systematic effort by political appointees under Alberto Gonzales to give literally giant gifts to big business and corporate crony donors by slashing the amounts recovered by the US Trustee's Office, on behalf of the American public, from businesses filing for bankruptcy and their corporate creditors. It appears as if the Bush DOJ, through the Executive Office of the United States Trustee has aided, abetted and enabled a consistent pattern of direct fraud upon the American public. There is very little in the public domain to date on this substantial issue. Although difficult to read due to a complicated series of facts, and complex bankruptcy language, this article by Laser Haas will give a good idea as to how big this issue really is.

What Haas describes is inherently consistent with other, more familiar, actions we have seen out of the Bush/Gonzales DOJ such as the insane reduction of the penalty sought on the tobacco litigation and other penalties and assessments either not sought, or sought in inexplicably reduced amounts, against big corporate and business friends. Admittedly, bankruptcy fraud does not have the glossy outrage factor of the US Attorney aspect, but it would be every bit as much a breach of the public trust and fiduciary duty. If the pattern that Haas describes is in fact true, and at this point of the miasma with the Bush crew it must be assumed that it is, billions of dollars are being left on the table to the benefit of their corporate cronies and to the detriment of everything the people need to fund such as education, healthcare, infrastructure etc.

There's more: "A New Area Of Massive Corruption By The Bush/Gonzales DOJ Is Exposed: Bankruptcy/US Trustee Fraud" >>

Backpeddling from expectations of progress

If you read between the lines of David Sanger’s feature on the front-page of today’s New York Times, it becomes clear that the administration has resigned themselves to the fact Iraq is not going well and they are scaling back expectations of progress. (Probably a good idea since there isn’t any to point to.)

They are laying the groundwork to pass this mess off to the next administration. (We have known that was the plan, but now the house of cards is taking shape.)

He is trying to fight fires coming from every direction,” Ryan C. Crocker, the newly arrived American ambassador to Iraq, said of Mr. Maliki this week, speaking by telephone. “We have to be clear to him on where our priorities are, so that we can buy him the time he needs. And we have to buy the time now because he is going to need it in the future. (Hmmm….You know, if you change “Ryan Crocker” to “Mitch McConnell” and “Mr. Maliki” to “Mr. Bush” that sentence works just as well...)

Mr. Crocker said that he had told Mr. Maliki that evidence of progress “is important in American terms” because “to sustain American support we have to be able to see that Iraqis are stepping up to hard challenges.”

To sustain American support that is as close to an acceptance of reality as I have seen yet. And the month of September is featuring prominently for both Democrats and Republicans.

By the time Ambassador Crocker and General Petraeus complete a comprehensive assessment of progress in September, three months after the troop increase has been fully in place, American officials are hoping that some of the pieces of crucial legislation will have passed.

Yeah – like that oil law that puts Exxon-Mobile ion the catbird’s seat, letting them charge Iraqi’s in perpetuity for infrastructure that will never be paid for. Get that puppy signed, and maybe we’ll start talking about drawing down…

But Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates found himself pressing Mr. Maliki last week to keep Parliament from taking a two-month summer break. If lawmakers remain in Baghdad, said one senior American official who did not want to be identified because he was discussing internal White House deliberations, “we’ll have some outputs then.”

He added, “That’s different from having outcomes,” drawing a distinction between a sign of activity and a sign of success, which could take considerably longer.

Yeah – the American public has had it, and is ready to call it a day in the desert. Politicians are beating the drum about September, and the Iraqi Parliament had to be forced to stay in session rather than take a two month break – while their freakin’ country is going up in flames.

Here is what I think – I think the Iraqi’s in charge don’t give a damn – they think Americans are staying forever because of the god-damned oil. (Could be they are correct in that). As long as there is oil under the desert and America’s appetite for it can not be sated, they think they can just continue to screw around and remain feckless.

For Gods sake, I’ve had enough. What the hell do you people who support this spectacular cock-up purport to be supporting, exactly? And how the hell does your wanting it for them translate into them wanting it for themselves?

[The PG-13 version of this post can be found at Blue Girl, Red State]

There's more: "Backpeddling from expectations of progress" >>

So THAT'S why Mark Pryor Wants Gonzo Gone So Bad...

Well now. This article from the Saturday Washington post sure sheds a bit of light as to the nature of the specific burr Mark Pryor has had under his saddle where the Attorney General is concerned. I would be just a wee bit steamed my own self if I were him…In fact, no amount of groveling or ass-kissing by the feckless loser currently calling himself the attorney general would have swayed me under these circumstances, either.

Turns out that When Bud Cummins, the U.S. Attorney for Arkansas was being considered for termination by Main Justice for not being quite the Loyal Bushie that the Administration had in mind, the White House called Rep. John Boozman (R-Ark.) "and pretty much told him what they are doing with this appointment and how they are going about it,"

The message indicates that Bush administration officials told Boozman about their plans to fire Cummins at the same time that Sen. Mark Pryor (D-Ark.) and other Democrats say they were being stonewalled.

Pryor has accused Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales and other Justice officials of lying to him about the firing of Cummins, who was replaced by Tim Griffin, a former Rove aide and an opposition researcher at the Republican National Committee.

Boozman said that when he spoke with Justice officials last summer, they told him Griffin would be subject to Senate confirmation. However, Gonzales appointed Griffin as interim U.S. attorney, using authority that has since been repealed by Congress.

To Boozman’s credit, he objected strenuously to the plan, citing Cummins professional reputation in the legal and political communities in and around Little Rock. His objections were overruled, but he does get credit for protesting the injustice emanating outward from Main Justice.

[Cross-posted from Blue Girl, Red State]

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Limbaugh and "Barack the Magic Negro"

Here is the real reason you should go to Crooks and Liars this morning. They have updated coverage of the story breaking over comedian Rush Limbaugh and his offensive "parody" song entitled "Barack the Magic Negro."

There's more: "Limbaugh and "Barack the Magic Negro"" >>

Monica Goodling and JiffyLaw

OK, you now know what site I was looking at this morning. Crooks and Liars has also posted Jon Stewart's take on Monica Goodling and Regent Law School. Again I don't know how to post the video so follow the link. Here is a link to an older Bill Maher take on Regent University.

There's more: "Monica Goodling and JiffyLaw" >>

Jon Stewart Examines The Media's Reponse To V-Tech

Crooks and Liars has posted Jon Stewart's take on the response of the media, especially the Media Whores (tm) of Cable TV, to the Virginia Tech Massacre. You can follow the link to the Video. I would post it here but I don't want to run afoul of Comedy Central's copyright team. Well, actually I don't know how to do it, and saying that I am worrying about copyright makes me sound more lawyer like and less like a dolt.

Hey everybody, I added an image of Jon Stewart. Isn't that Glenn Beck over his shoulder? Cool

There's more: "Jon Stewart Examines The Media's Reponse To V-Tech" >>

Friday, April 27, 2007

Wow, A Scandal About Sex.

ABCNews is reporting that

Deputy Secretary of State Randall L. Tobias submitted his resignation Friday, one day after confirming to ABC News that he had been a customer of a Washington, D.C. escort service whose owner has been charged by federal prosecutors with running a prostitution operation.
And I thought that Republicans didn't have sex scandals. Who knew?

There's more: "Wow, A Scandal About Sex." >>

Worldwide Terror Attacks Up 25%

What is it the President is so fond of saying? "We can fight them in Iraq or we will fight them here." The argument implies that we have the terrorists tied down in Iraq.

McClatchy's Washington Bureau is reporting that next week the State Department will release a report on terrorism indicating that in 2006 worldwide there were 14,338 terror attacks, up 29 percent from 11,111 attacks in 2005. Forty-five percent of the attacks took place in Iraq.

Worldwide, about 5,800 people were killed in terrorist attacks, also up from 2005.

The figures for Iraq and elsewhere are limited to attacks on noncombatants, and do not include strikes against U.S. troops in Iraq.
I don't recall Iraqis being asked if they want to die over there, so we can be safe over here. Frankly, I don't think the President's logic holds, but I do know that a lot of innocent people are dying when we should be talking peace.

Hint: If the terrorists really wanted to die here, they could do it for the price of an airline ticket. Considering what we did to them in Afganistan after 9/11, I don't think they want to attack us right now. The last think the terrorists want to do is piss off the American people.

There's more: "Worldwide Terror Attacks Up 25%" >>

"Boehner" is synonymous with "Hypocrisy"

Back in 1993, as the situation in Somalia (which Bush 41 saddled Clinton with, by the way) John Boehner cast numerous votes opposing deployment of troops to Somalia, and even backed a six-month timeline for withdrawal of forces.

Times change, I guess. Boehner now attacks those who take the exact same tack he did then as "defeatests" who want to set a "date certain for surrender."

Boehner, however takes it to a new level - In spite of his public record of opposing Somali intervention, he had the audacity to say yesterday that we can't bail on Iraq "just like we did in Somalia."

Watch it:


Details on Boehner’s Somalia votes below:

Boehner voted to reduce troop timeline in Somalia from one year to six months: “Gilman, R-N.Y., substitute amendment to reduce from one year to six months the authorization of U.S. participation in Somalia and delete the section of the bill complying with the War Powers Resolution of 1973 (PL 93-148).” (House roll call vote #179, 5/25/93)

Boehner voted to move up the deadline to bring troops home from Somalia: “Gilman, R-N.Y., amendment to change the deadline for the removal of U.S. troops in Somalia from March 31, 1994, to Jan. 31, 1994.” (House roll call vote #555, 11/9/93)

Boehner voted against $1.8 billion in funding for the operation in Somalia: “Passage of the bill to provide $1.8 billion in new budget authority in fiscal 1993, including funds for Operation Restore Hope in Somalia.” (House roll call vote #188, 5/26/93)

(Hat tip to Think Progress for the legwork on the voting record and for posting the video for me to steal.)

There's more: ""Boehner" is synonymous with "Hypocrisy"" >>

Fox and Friends, Real Journalism, You be the Judge.

This is too good to be true, but ThinkProgress reports that

On Tuesday, Fox News morning show “Fox & Friends” aired at least eight segments on a purported “news” story that was actually a parody article written by a publication similar to The Onion.

The backstory: Last week in the town of Lewiston, Maine, a group of Somalian Muslim middle school students were the subject of a cruel prank when their peers placed a ham steak next to them in order to personally offend the students. School officials filed a report because the students considered the act to be a hate/bias crime.

This actual story was then spoofed by a parody site called Associated Content, which made up quotes and details, such as the school’s intention to “create an anti-ham ‘response plan.’”

On Tuesday, Fox & Friends reported these parody quotes and details as actual news. Poking fun at the students, hosts asked whether ham was “a hate crime…or lunch?” and showed screen shots of ham sandwiches, starving Somalians, belching, animal noises, and mock “reenactments” of the incident. Ironically, the hosts assured viewers several times, “We’re not making this up!”
The ThinkProgress site has a link to the video.

The has an expanded story.

Say it isn't so.

I wonder if BillO thinks Steven Colbert is an admirer?

Watch a compilation:


There's more: "Fox and Friends, Real Journalism, You be the Judge." >>

Feeney and Ney Went Up the Hill to Carry Abramoff's Water

Ney fell down and broke his crown.
Feeney came tumbling after.

Today, the Orlando Sentinel ran a story that uncovers Feeney's ties to Jack Abramoff's slush fund. We now know that the Scotland golf trip cost $150,226.32, about $18,750 more than Feeney reported.

ThinkProgress compares the Feeney trip to convicted felon, former Congressman Bob Ney, right down to Abramoff's instruction to underreport the trip and to show it being paid by the National Center for Public Policy Research, same group as Feeney's. And, they include this little tid bit from the Sentinel story:

Feeney has declined to answer detailed questions this week about how he
determined his $5,643 share of the trip’s expenses.

Fortunately, the St. Petersburg Times has discovered exactly how Feeney's office determine what to report, as I outlined in an earlier post.
But an e-mail obtained by the St. Petersburg Times on Wednesday shows that
Abramoff's office sent specific instructions on how to report the trip expenses to a handful of people, including Feeney's congressional assistant.

The e-mail from Holly Bowers, Abramoff's then-assistant, instructs
recipients to say a conservative think tank, the National Center for Public
Policy Research, paid for the trip at a cost of $5,643 per person.

As I highlighted, Feeney's office specifically outlined how to report the trip which, by the way, was not reported until December 29, a full four months after the trip occurred.

The hits just keep on coming. Florida Today, another of Feeney's hometown newspapers, has also been asked by the FBI for a tape of an interview Feeney conducted with the Editorial board of the paper. This is in addition to the requests to the St. Petersburg Times and Orlando Sentinel.

Feeney says the FBI says he is not a target of the investigation but it's getting harder and harder to believe that. He's just lying way too much.
  • Feeney denies having a relationship with Abramoff. Abramoff was on the golf trip with Feeney and eight others, one who has already plead guilty for doing exactly what Feeney did. Feeney has visited Abramoff's restaurant and picked up a $2,000 tab on at least twice.
  • Feeney didn't know Abramoff paid for the trip. The email from Abramoff's office speaks for itself. It makes it clear that 1)there was a relationship developed enough so that Feeney's office would take instructions on how to fill out a required reporting form and 2) that Feeney's office knew that Abramoff paid for the trip.

And, he sounds just like Ney did about this time.


I am absolutely outraged by the dishonest and duplicitous words and actions of Jack Abramoff."

He has said his actions benefiting Abramoff had nothing to do with the favors he received. He said he was misled by Abramoff and his associates.

I, like these Indian tribes and other members of Congress, was duped by Jack Abramoff."

Ney has said he was misled by Abramoff about who paid for the trip. "In April, 2002, I was approached by Mr. Abramoff, who I believed to be a respected member of the community, and asked to go on a trip to Scotland which Mr. Abramoff said would help support a charitable organization, that he founded, through meetings he organized with Scottish Parliament officials."


Feeney has said he did no favors for Abramoff in exchange for the trip.

In a 2005 Orlando Sentinel story, Feeney, an Oviedo Republican, said he was misled about who paid for the Scotland visit. In January of this year, he used stronger language, saying he was "duped and lied to" about what he thought was a fact-finding trip with Abramoff, who has pleaded guilty to corruption charges.

There's more: "Feeney and Ney Went Up the Hill to Carry Abramoff's Water" >>

Renzi Denies Resignation Rumors

Roll Call reports that:

Despite rumors to the contrary, Rep. Rick Renzi (R-Ariz.) said in a brief statement Friday morning that he intends to serve out the remainder of his current term, his third in the House.

There's more: "Renzi Denies Resignation Rumors" >>

Why income inequality matters

I don't know about you, but I could make do with only $1 million or $2 million a year. I bet I could cut a few corners and still pay my bills with those measly sums. Apparently, though, a mere millionaire's lifestyle doesn't work for certain folks, as The New York Time's Paul Krugman notes today.

Last year, according to Institutional Investor’s Alpha magazine, James Simons, a hedge fund manager, took home $1.7 billion, more than 38,000 times the average income. Two other hedge fund managers also made more than $1 billion, and the top 25 combined made $14 billion.
Why does this matter?
How much is $14 billion? It’s more than it would cost to provide health care for a year to eight million children — the number of children in America who, unlike children in any other advanced country, don’t have health insurance.
That's the Bushies Law: Send more money to those who don't need it by cutting taxes for the superrich and keep yelling about how the U.S. doesn't have the money to take care of our children. Yup, that's America for you. Ignore the poor. Help the rich.

Are you as outraged as I am? Talk about hogs.
Alas, the Krugman column is hidden behind The Time Select paywall.

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Renzi Near Resignation?

The Phoenix Business Journal reports that

U.S. Rep. Rick Renzi, R-Ariz., could soon step down in the wake of a federal investigation into his involvement in a federal land swap deal and FBI raids of an insurance agency owned by his wife.
His resignation could come as early as today.

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Taking the Generals to task for their failures

George Bush keeps yammering on about how he won’t accept a bill from Congress that “ties the hands of our Generals.”

I’m not so sure that would be such a bad idea. (For the record, I have never thought it would necessarily be a bad idea to rein in the current crop, familiar as I am with some of their past work.)

A sea-change among the officer corps is signaled today with the publication of A Failure of Generalship by Lt. Col. Paul Yingling in the May issue of Armed Forces Journal.

Yingling doesn’t beat around the bush – he makes his charges early – then he lays them out.

America's generals have failed to prepare our armed forces for war and advise civilian authorities on the application of force to achieve the aims of policy. The argument that follows consists of three elements. First, generals have a responsibility to society to provide policymakers with a correct estimate of strategic probabilities. Second, America's generals in Vietnam and Iraq failed to perform this responsibility. Third, remedying the crisis in American generalship requires the intervention of Congress.

What Lt. Col. Yingling gives voice to is a largely discontented command-level officer corps. Captains, Majors, and Lt. Colonels are unhappy. This is reflected in the fact that they are resigning commissions at a rate unseen since Vietnam – and entirely unprecedented in an all-volunteer military. "Talk to the junior leaders in the services and ask what they think of their senior leadership, and many will tell you how unhappy they are" asserts retired Marine Col. Jerry Durrant, now working as a contractor in Iraq.

Younger officers have been privately voicing their discontent with the conduct of this war by a feckless president and a general officer corps that has been all-too willing to enable his folly. In so doing, they have betrayed the men and women who are subservient to them in the ranks, the men and women, who must, by UCMJ statute, follow their every order so long as it be legal. (Moral and legal are not synonymous.)

Some younger officers have stated privately that more generals should have been taken to task for their handling of the abuses at Abu Ghraib prison, news of which broke in 2004. The young officers also note that the Army's elaborate "lessons learned" process does not criticize generals and that no generals in Iraq have been replaced for poor battlefield performance, a contrast to other U.S. wars.

Top Army officials are also worried by the number of captains and majors choosing to leave the service. "We do have attrition in those grade slots above our average," acting Army Secretary Pete Geren noted in congressional testimony this week. In order to curtail the number of captains leaving, he said, the Army is planning a $20,000 bonus for those who agree to stay in, plus choices of where to be posted and other incentives.

And still they resign. In droves. It is to the point that the Army is short 3500 officers and the Army Reserves has 11,000 unfilled billets in the Lieutenant and Captain ranks alone.

Lt. Colonel Yingling (I say bypass the bird and slap stars on his shoulders today – and yes I know that’s not how things are done – I’m just sayin’…) beseeches Congress to review the performance of flag-rank officers as they retire and to exercise its power to retire them at a lower rank if their performance is deemed inferior. The threat of such high-profile demotions would restore accountability among top officers, he contends. "As matters stand now, a private who loses a rifle suffers far greater consequences than a general who loses a war”

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Thursday, April 26, 2007

Renzi Death Watch

[Updated below. The death-spiral nears the desert floor...]

It looks like things are about to get much, much worse for Rick Renzi (R-AZ-01). Roll Call is reporting that he has resigned his seats on the Natural Resources and Financial Services committees.

The guy who represents the Grand Canyon is on his way out the door when he resigns his seat on the Natural Resources Committee – and with it his seat on the Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests, and Public Lands.

Just Sayin...

Leave your guesses as to his departure in comments.

UPDATE: Via Think Progress Via War & Piece:

Rep. Renzi may resign.

“Rep. Rick Renzi, R-Ariz., could soon step down in the wake of a federal investigation into his involvement in a federal land swap deal and FBI raids of an insurance agency owned by his wife. His resignation could come as early as Friday or soon after, according to sources familiar with the matter. Top Republicans, including U.S. Sen. Jon Kyl, have been meeting to discuss what they will do if Renzi resigns and his rural congressional seat opens up.”

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Bill Kristol, meet your conscience

Bill Kristol was confronted by a military wife from Ft. Hood Texas whose husband is on his third tour in Iraq during a C-SPAN appearance this morning. This woman is tired. You can hear it in her voice. She is dealing with the reality he helped make, and you can see him squirm.

It's a lot harder to dismiss her than it is to laugh off Juan Williams.

Watch it.

Transcript Here

[Tip O' the Hat to Edger for his help capturing the video.]

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Leaving Baghdad

This is just so sad and so telling, it is difficult to express. I cannot know this pain nor can any of us who have lived this war without sacrifice.

Three or so years ago, I first read the blog, Baghdad Burning. It wasn't updated as often as most blogs - reality set the pace - but you could get the sense that there was an honest and real strife captured in the writings. If there was no blog for months on end, it was literally because Baghdad was broken. I cannot imagine this of my home.

Today, many blogs - Andrew Sullivan, Daily Kos, Crooks and Liars, and others - are covering the story that truly tells us how lost the war is. Riverbend, the author of Baghdad Burning , is leaving. Because it is so personal, yet so representative of hundreds of thousands, this is truly the saddest thing I have ever read connected to this atrocity we have started.

On the one hand, I know that leaving the country and starting a new life somewhere else- as yet unknown- is such a huge thing that it should dwarf every trivial concern. The funny thing is that it’s the trivial that seems to occupy our lives. We discuss whether to take photo albums or leave them behind. Can I bring along a stuffed animal I've had since the age of four? Is there room for E.'s guitar? What clothes do we take? Summer clothes? The winter clothes too? What about my books? What about the CDs, the baby pictures?

The problem is that we don't even know if we'll ever see this stuff again. We don't know if whatever we leave, including the house, will be available when and if we come back. There are moments when the injustice of having to leave your country, simply because an imbecile got it into his head to invade it, is overwhelming. It is unfair that in order to survive and live normally, we have to leave our home and what remains of family and friends… And to what?

It's difficult to decide which is more frightening- car bombs and militias, or having to leave everything you know and love, to some unspecified place for a future where nothing is certain.

I am ashamed.

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Anti-Americanism on the March

About five pages into the GAO’s latest report on the image of America and Americans abroad, especially in the Muslim world, I was muttering aloud that it sure would be nice to have a functioning State Department about now!!!

The report is an indictment of a State Department in disarray; not merely understaffed, but with an existing staff that is largely unqualified for the positions they hold.. In May 2006, the GAO reported that approximately 15 % of the worldwide public diplomacy positions in the State Department were vacant. Updated information shows that this problem has worsened, with approximately 22 % of such positions currently vacant. Embassy officials indicated that insufficient numbers of staff (and the lack of staff time for public diplomacy activities) hinder outreach efforts. Keep in mind that key objectives of U.S. public diplomacy are to engage, inform, and influence overseas audiences. The department is in such disarray that recipients of American aid are often wholly unaware of the source of that benificence.

The State Department continues to experience significant staffing shortfalls in foreign language proficiency in embassies around the world. This is especially acute in the Muslim world. In May 2006 the GAO reported that 30% of language-proficiency-designated diplomatic positions are filled by officers who lack the level of language proficiency required for their jobs. The current report indicates this figure is up to 36%. Today. This has a negative impact on the ability of the diplomatic officers to engage with the public in the countries hosting our embassies.

In addition to communications deficits, the report highlighted a lack of strategic planning and inadequate coordination among embassy personnel pursuing various efforts and aims. Additionally; no standardized metric of measuring performance and results. This was first pointed out in a GAO report in 2003. Four years later, no strategy has been released, but State swears it will happen real, real, real soon...

State has not issued guidance on how its assorted public diplomacy activities will be coordinated to achieve these goals. In addition, posts’ public diplomacy efforts generally lack important strategic communication elements found in the private sector, which GAO recommended that State adopt as a means to better communicate with target audiences. Key steps in this approach include defining core messages, identifying target audiences, developing detailed communication strategies and tactics, and using research and evaluation to inform and re-direct.

A recent Pew Global Attitudes Project reports finding that favorable attitudes toward the United States in Indonesia (the worlds most populous Muslim country) declined from 75% favorable to a mere 30% between 2000 and 2006. The same time period saw favorable perceptions among citizens of Turkey decline from 52% to 12%. (Turkey, remember, is a NATO ally of the United States.)

Consistently negative polling data is significant because it reveals deeply seated perceptions that are difficult to palliate.

It must be pointed out that correlation is not causation, yet it is obvious that growing anti-American sentiment does nothing to help the United States achieve foreign policy, economic or security goals, and in fact bodes ill for the future of American interests in the Islamic world.

We know that the Iraq War has no singular military solution, that diplomacy will be a key component of the eventual solution.

So…Is anyone feeling inspired?

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Red State, My Ass

As House and Senate Republicans search their souls in preparation for the inevitable veto override votes on bringing troops home from Iraq, perhaps they should ponder this:

New polling in red state Kentucky shows that people are overwhelmingly against the Usurper and on the side of the Democrats on Iraq.


  • 64 percent favor starting to bring troops home this summer, and have them all home by summer 2008.
  • 59 percent oppose - 45 percent strongly oppose - the Usurper's Surge.
  • 67 percent rate the Usurper's handling of the war in Iraq negatively:27 percent "not so good" and 40 percent poor.
Are you listening, Sen. Mitch McConnell? Sen. Jim Bunning? Reps Whitfield, Lewis, Davis and Rogers? You all voted with Dear Leader and against the majority of the Kentuckians you represent. All of you except Bunning are up for re-election next year. Do you really want offer up another opposition campaign commercial on a platter?

The 2008 Victory Train is leaving the station, y'all, and Friends of George will not be allowed on board.

Thanks to mcjoan at Daily Kos for bringing this Democratic Senate Campaign Committee poll to our attention.

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So Veto It!


The Senate passed the Supplemental today, brushing aside threats of a veto and mountains of stale rhetoric and presidential pissing and moaning about Democrats determined to set a “date certain for surrender."

The Dems kinda shrugged and said “Whatever” like a parent ignoring a toddlers temper tantrum. (When my kids screamed "I hate you!" after I had the audacity to set limits and enforce them, I calmly replied "Good. That means I'm doing my job." Same principle applies here.)

From the Blue Dog conservatives to the progressive left, they said “No” to Bush's demand for war money with no policy strings attached. "He's not getting what he wants," said Rep. Dennis Cardoza (Calif.), a conservative "Blue Dog" Democrat. (emphasis mine)

The bill will get to Bush on Monday – and Tuesday will be the fourth anniversary of the farcical dog-and-pony-show on the flight deck of the Abraham Lincoln. You remember Mission Accomplished, right? (I’m guessing he doesn’t whip out the 'ole veto pen before Wednesday.)

Behind the scenes, the talks on the next version have already started, but Democrats are not willing to give any more ground than Bush. House Democratic Caucus Chairman Rahm Emanuel (Ill.) said yesterday that putting the force of law behind benchmarks has always been an issue that has divided congressional Republicans from the White House -- making it a potential wedge to push next week.

The bill passed yesterday sets strict requirements for resting, training and equipping troops but would grant the president the authority to waive those restrictions, as long as he publicly justifies the waivers. The bill also establishes benchmarks for the Iraqi government to meet: Create a program to disarm militias, reduce sectarian violence, ease rules that purged the government of all former Baath Party members and approve a law on sharing oil revenue.

Unless the Bush administration determines by July 1 that those benchmarks are being met, troops would begin coming home immediately, with a goal of completing those withdrawals by the end of the year. If benchmarks are being met, troops would begin coming home no later than Oct. 1, with a goal of completing the troop pullout by April 1.

As the president commences the wailing and gnashing of teeth over being told “No” the Democrats are getting their act together and going on the offense. Democratic leaders in Congress are working in concert with Liberal organizations and planning hundreds of rallies, meet-ups and news conferences to protest the coming veto. Americans Against Escalation in Iraq is organizing what it anticipates – and fervently hopes - will be a historically large outpouring of sentiment against the Iraq war within hours of the anticipated veto. Planned events include news conferences just after the veto and "signature rallies" -- some of which could draw thousands of people -- the following day in about 50 places represented by fence-sitting Republicans lawmakers.

I, for one, am positively spoiling for this fight. I want to see this newfound backbone and resolve calcify and become a permanent fixture of the Democrats and obstacle to the Republican perfidy, malfeasance and flat-out hackery that have been the hallmark of the last six years.

There's more: "So Veto It!" >>

Chilling Relations With Russia

While everyone is focused on the Middle East, we have a much graver problem brewing, if you can get your head around that concept. The cold war may be over, and we may not be calling them Soviets anymore, but the Kremlin never really went away, it just morphed. The brief honeymoon is over and the adversarial relationship with Russia is back, and possibly more nefarious, as it is no longer encumbered by communism.

America’s stubborn insistence on pushing forward with the deployment of a missile defense system (that hasn’t really been successful in testing) has prompted Russian President Vladimir Putin to announce a suspension of Russia's obligations under the Conventional Forces in Europe Treaty

The latest Russian press report, which ran last Sunday the New York Times was disturbing, but underappreciated. It is now official policy that news reports portray the United States as an enemy. The folks who perfected propaganda are cranking up their own Wurlitzer – and theirs is bigger than ours. Their noise machine puts anything we can come up with on either side of the political divide to shame.

Putin leaves office in just over ten months. He is casting the mold for US Russian relations for the next twenty years, and it is looking like we are in for a Big Chill. The dynamic isn’t there for a Cold War Redux, but there is a very real adversarial threat, and I fear we aren’t ready for it because the Mess in Mesopotamia has degraded our military to the point we aren’t able to respond.

Frankly, I am feeling like we have been had. I’m not mad at the Russians for taking advantage of a mendacious administration staffed by Mayberry Machiavellis. I’m mad at the Mayberry Machiavellis for being worthless to us, and useful idiots to our real adversaries.

Remember this – Gates and Rice were spectacularly wrong about the Soviet Union in its final days. They have a perfect track record of wrong where Soviets/Russians are concerned. And Condi is cocking it up again, in real-time.

The furor erupting is over a missile defense system that the US wants to place in Poland and the Czech Republic, ostensibly to protect from a missile attack by Iran. Condi dismisses the Russian concerns out-of-hand, with "The idea that somehow 10 interceptors and a few radars in eastern Europe are going to threaten the Soviet strategic deterrent is purely ludicrous and everybody knows it," Rice told a news conference in Oslo. (Pretty breezy comment from a diplomat, doncha think?)

To the Russians it isn’t a matter of being able to overwhelm the system, it is about a series of broken promises and violations of good-faith agreements. The deal was, NATO was not supposed to expand into former Soviet Republics or place bases in former Warsaw Pact countries. Both things happen. The Russians see NATO bases on their borders as a threat. (Kinda like we would if they put a bomber wing in Ontario.)

Funny, I don’t hear any chickenhawks saying we ought to be bombing the piss out of Moscow for not seeing things our way. Do you? (Note that there has been uttered not a peep from Kristol or Kagan here, where a real threat exists. Doesn't it make you wonder why?)

[Cross-posted from Blue Girl, Red State]

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Uh oh!

The noose is tightening around Tom Feeney. Remember that he strongly denied any relationship with Jack Abramoff and firmly denied that anyone knew the Scotland golf trip was tied to Abramoff. Well, once again, it turns out that was a lie:

But an e-mail obtained by the St. Petersburg Times on Wednesday shows that Abramoff's office sent specific instructions on how to report the trip expenses to a handful of people, including Feeney's congressional assistant.

The e-mail from Holly Bowers, Abramoff's then-assistant, instructs recipients to say a conservative think tank, the National Center for Public Policy Research, paid for the trip at a cost of $5,643 per person.

The email was sent to Feeney's Executive Assistant as well as to Mark Zachares, the guy who just plead guilty to this conspiracy.

Oops! Wonder what Feeney will say now.

There's more: "Uh oh!" >>

Shorter Dana Perino-The Hatch Act Doesn't Apply To Republicans

Talking Points Memo has posted an interesting transcript from this morning's White House News Gaggle.

Reporter: How about this political interference with the Hatch Act?
Dana Perino: There wasn't political interference within the Hatch Act. What you're talking about is --

Reporter: Use of the government agencies?

Perino: It is perfectly lawful for the political appointees at the White House to provide informational briefings to political appointees at the agencies. No laws were broken, and we provided more information about that last night.

Reporter: Was that all vetted through the Counsel's Office prior to those sorts of sessions happening? What sort of oversight was done within the White House?

Perino: Yes, generally -- because it's not unlawful and it wasn't unusual for informational briefings to be given. They were run by Sara Taylor and Scott Jennings.

Reporter: But there's a higher standard, obviously, at the White House than no laws were broken. Aren't there ethical questions, as well?

Perino: There were no -- what ethical (rules) would have been broken?

Reporter: No, in terms of using federal resources, federal people to encourage people. The allegation is out there that people were being encouraged to help Republicans.

Reporter #2: And targeting certain Democrats --

Perino: There is no prohibition under the Hatch Act of allowing political appointees to talk to other political appointees about the political landscape in which they are trying to advance the President's agenda. None.

Reporter: You say it's not a violation of the Hatch Act.

Perino: Not a violation of law, or of ethics.

Reporter: So why is the Office of Special Counsel investigating it, if you're still saying that it's clearly fine, why would they be investigating?

Perino: You'll have to ask them. You'll have to ask them.
For starters the Hatch Act doesn't talk about political appointees. It talks about employees who may engage in partisan political activities and those who can't. Political appointees can engage in partisan political activities, but their participation is limited. A publication of the Office of Special Counsel says they may not
*use official authority or influence to interfere with an election
*solicit or discourage political activity of anyone with business before their agency
*solicit or receive political contributions (may be done in certain limited situations by federal labor or other employee organizations)
*be candidates for public office in partisan elections
*engage in political activity while:
on duty
in a government office
wearing an official uniform
using a government vehicle
wear partisan political buttons on duty
These briefings were given at government offices. That they were more than informational was clearly established at the Doan hearing last month. You can see the video here. A legal memo from The Congressional Research Service on the issue is clear. Political activities may not be conducted by any Federal employee while on duty or at a government office. I guess if you look a little like Cameron Diaz you think you can lie and reporters will believe you. The Special Counsel might not conduct a real investigation of this mess, but a real investigation is warranted.

Update: I was not entirely accurate when I said political activities may not be conducted by any Federal employee while on duty or at a government office. The Hatch Act does allow the President and Vice President, certain Presidential aids and a limited number of political employees (generally cabinet officers or others whose appointment was confirmed by the Senate)to participate in political activities while on duty or at government facilities. However, most of the political employees attending Parino's coffee clatches were not members of the limited class. Moreover, criminal penalties apply to supervisors who are overtly coercive in demanding subordinate Federal empolyees participate in political activities. 18 USC 610. If Doan said to her suborinates, "You will attend the Scott Jennings brown bag" that statement might be considered a command and she might be liable criminally.

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The Missing Bullet Points

In a review of the documents from the US Attorney scandal, I find the Plan the most interesting. It is laid out "Step 1, Step 2" and so on. I've posted a copy of the Kyle Sampson email with the plan below:

I included this because what is becoming increasingly important in this scandal are the people whose names were whited out of Step 1. In the preciseness of responding to the request, information was provided only on the eight known attorneys. If Ryan and Cummins were part of step 1, they would be on this list because their names were included in the request.

Note - they are NOT on the list yet there are still three names missing. This is a question we should all be asking: Who were the other three US Attorneys included in Step 1?

I know there are three missing and that one is not Cummins because in a September 13 email from Sampson to Harriet Miers, Cummins was identified as a "USA in the Process of Being Pushed Out.

Under "USA's We Now Should Consider Pushing Out, the six - Charlton, Lam, Chiara, Bogden, and McKay - are identified. There are three whited out lines. Once again, if Ryan were on that list, his name would have appeared.

Based on prior actions where a USA is removed to impede an investigation, it makes sense that US Attorney Paul Perez in charge of the Middle District in Florida might be one of the missing. His is the District covering the Tom Feeney investigation.

I don't know for sure but the three missing names are a question Congress should be asking. Why aren't they?

There's more: "The Missing Bullet Points" >>

Karl Rove's Shop Conducted Briefings At 15 Agencies

The Washington Post's R. Jeffrey Smith reports that last year Karl Rove's office

conducted 20 private briefings on Republican electoral prospects in the last midterm election for senior officials in at least 15 government agencies covered by federal restrictions on partisan political activity, a White House spokesman and other administration officials said yesterday.

The previously undisclosed briefings were part of what now appears to be a regular effort in which the White House sent senior political officials to brief top appointees in government agencies on which seats Republican candidates might win or lose, and how the election outcomes could affect the success of administration policies, the officials said.
As you may recall earlier this month the Office of General Counsel launched an investigation into allegations that General Services Administration chief Lurita Doan violated the Hatch Act by conducting one such briefing at her agency.

Of course, Doan is but another sad victim of partial memory loss epidemic among loyal Bushies appearing before Congress. Known as "Alberto Gonzales' Disease" this terrible malady affects loyal Bushies like Doan, D. Kyle Sampson, and Gonzales who have had recent contact with Karl Rove and J. Scott Jennings. This tragic disease targets the memories of otherwise normal public officials depriving them of the ability to recall events occurring during their official duties.

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Useful Idiots

I'm talking about the press.

I watched Bill Moyers Journal; Buying the War on PBS tonight, about how this clusterf*** of a war was sold to us, and really, that term is the most apt descriptive I can come up with for the press corps in the lead-up to the Iraq invasion. The press in this country was every bit as useful to the war criminals war hawks hot for a war they would not have to fight, as Soviet sympathizers were to Lenin.

If you didn't see it, download it.

Useful. Freakin. Idiots. Except where Soviet sympathizers were merely misguided – the mainstream media in this country is (with the notable exception of Knight-Ridder/McClatchy) pretty much guilty across the board of being criminal co-conspirators in the fraud to perpetrate an unjust and unjustified war.

The time is long past for the press in this country to stop with the feckless and make with the integrity. I’m pretty sure the founders had something like accountability of the press to the citizenry in mind when they put specific protections for the press in the Constitution. No other profession has direct Constitutional protection. (So start living up to it already!)

Until then, they'll just be Useful Idiots of the right-wing agenda-whores.

[Cross-posted from Blue Girl, Red State]

There's more: "Useful Idiots" >>

The Prosecutor v. The Crook

It is beginning to look like Paul Charlton, the former US Attorney in Arizona was canned because he resisted efforts to slow the investigation of Congressman Rick Renzi. According to a New York Times Editorial Published April 26, 2007

Mr. Renzi was fighting for his political life when the local press reported that he was facing indictment for a suspect land deal. According to The Wall Street Journal, federal investigators met unexpected resistance from the Justice Department in getting approval to proceed and, perhaps as a result, the investigation was pushed past the election.
The unexpected delays were reported in the Wall Street Journal on April 25, 2007.
Investigators pursuing the Renzi case had been seeking clearance from senior Justice Department officials on search warrants, subpoenas and other legal tools for a year before the election, people close to the case said.
A few weeks later Charlton was fired. Sound familiar?

The Washington Post, among others, is reporting that one of Renzi's aides called the U.S. Attorney's office to ask about the probe. Charlton's office reported the call as required. Charlton is the third of the eight fired US Attorney's contacted by Republican members of Congress or their staffs about politically sensitive investigations they were supervising.
The former U.S. attorney for New Mexico, David C. Iglesias, has told Congress he felt pressured to speed up an indictment of Democrats during phone calls last October from Sen. Pete V. Domenici (R-N.M.) and Rep. Heather A. Wilson (R-N.M.). And former U.S. attorney John McKay of Seattle has said he was called by the chief of staff to Rep. Doc Hastings (R-Wash.) about a preliminary inquiry into voter fraud in Washington state.
The Justice Department denies wrongdoing.

Or maybe they just can't remember doing anything wrong.

The Justice Department doesn't seem to deny the appearance of impropriety, but that old standard is so 20th century. The current behavior standard applied to the Justice Department and its Attorney General is not being convicted of a crime.

In any event we have three of the most important papers in the country closing in on both Renzi and the Justice Department's handling of the case. Any guesses where this leads?

There's more: "The Prosecutor v. The Crook" >>

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

On to the Senate


The House of Representatives has approved the Supplemental, and now the legislation moves on to the Senate where it is expected to pass tomorrow.

It is expected to reach the president on Monday – one day before the fourth anniversary of him standing on the flight deck of the U.S.S. Abraham Lincoln in front of the “Mission Accomplished” banner and declaring major combat operations over.

Since the mission was declared accomplished, more than 3100 more Americans have lost their lives.

I don’t know about anyone else, but I am frankly offended at the audacity of demanding yet another blank check. It is simply jaw-dropping to me that they would have the stones to suggest they should have all the money they want and by the way, the people who have been wrong about everything, think we should just give them what they want with no strings attached?!?!?!?!? In fact, they would rather take nothing than be accountable?

What. The. Hell.?

Veto it George, you spoiled brat. When it comes back, the Appropriations Committees need to take a fresh look at it too. In fact, they need to go over every penny of it, line-by-line. Especially since we learned this week that half of the $94 Billion you asked for is to be used for other GWOT® stuff and is basically an end-run around congressional oversight of that spending.

So yeah, veto it. We want you to veto it. We are feeling our Wheaties, George. Get that pen out, and veto the damned thing. Veto it the week of the anniversary of Chimpy McCodpiece and the “Mission Accomplished” banner.

I hope Congress is spoilin’ for a fight to the same degree I am. I am so far beyond “had it” it isn’t even funny.

There's more: "On to the Senate" >>

House Committee Examines Reform Of Student Lending Laws

The House Education and Labor Committee listened to New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo for two hours as he proposed major reform in the student loan industry.

During his testimony, Cuomo . . . cited a passage from an unnamed lender’s sales manual as evidence of predatory lending practices within the private lending sector, which has long been the “Wild West” of the loan industry.
Student lending practices are one of my pet peeves. We give these predatory lenders legal preferences far beyond anything they deserve. In return, they push unnecessary debt on our children that for most practical purposes can't be discharged in bankruptcy. Read the article posted by Damien Weaver linked above.

There's more: "House Committee Examines Reform Of Student Lending Laws" >>

Mexico City legalizes abortion

Catherine Bremer and Adriana Barrera of Reuters report

The Mexican capital legalized abortion on Tuesday, defying the church but delighting feminists in the world's second-largest Roman Catholic country.

Mexico City lawmakers voted 46 to 19 to pass a leftist-sponsored bill allowing women to abort in the first three months of pregnancy.
The legislation applies only to Mexico City and not to the rest of the country. Opinion polls show that Mexico, though heavily Roman Catholic, is split over abortion. Times they are a changin.

There's more: "Mexico City legalizes abortion" >>

Calling Winston Smith...

The Pentagon just needs to change the name of the American Forces Press Service (the PR arm of the Pentagon) to The Ministry of Truth and be done with it.

Extended Deployments Should Lessen Army Stress, Commander Says
By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, April 24, 2007 – Extended overseas deployments affecting soldiers serving in Afghanistan and other locales overseen by U.S. Central Command should help to alleviate the stress on the Army, a senior U.S. officer in Afghanistan told Pentagon reporters today.

I’m absolutely confident that that’s going to work and that’ll manage the pressure and the stress on the force,” Army Col. Martin Schweitzer, commander of the 82nd Airborne Division’s 4th Brigade Combat Team, said during a satellite-carried news conference.

All active U.S. Army units already operating within U.S. Central Command’s area of responsibility, including Afghanistan, Iraq and the Horn of Africa, or en route there “will deploy for not more than 15 months and return home for not less than 12 months,” Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates announced April 11 at a Pentagon news conference.

The change automatically increased the length of soldiers’ overseas tours in those areas from 12 to 15 months...

The 15-month deployments are needed to ensure that the Army retains the capacity to sustain the deployed force, Army Lt. Gen. Raymond T. Odierno, commander of Multinational Corps Iraq, said April 13 from Baghdad during a teleconference with Pentagon reporters.

The tour extensions will provide more predictability and stability for soldiers and their families, Odierno said, noting the policy “will ensure 12 months at home station between rotations.”

Schweitzer acknowledged difficulty in measuring how the extended deployment affects individual soldiers under his command. However, he expressed strong support for the personnel decisions made by senior defense department and Army leaders.

The Pentagon’s civilian and military leaders “put a lot of rigor and analytical analysis into this (tour extension) to determine what is best for the service and what is sustainable,” Schweitzer said.
(emphasis mine)


In other news: "War Is Peace; Freedom is Slavery; Ignorance is Strength."

Oh...And we have always been at war with Eastasia.

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