Reidblog [The Reid Report blog]

Think at your own risk.
Monday, October 31, 2005
Don't call him 'Scalito'
A Democratic "talking points memo" on Judge Alito hits the Italian-American where it hurts: in the mafia... The memo reads in part:
Samuel Alito is a judge on U.S. Third Circuit Court of Appeals. Appointed to this position by President George H.W. Bush in 1990, Alito is often referred to as “Judge Scalito” because of his adherence to Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia’s right-wing judicial philosophy. While serving as a U.S. Attorney, Alito failed to obtain a key conviction, releasing nearly two dozen mobsters back into society. Based on his Third Circuit opinions, Alito has established himself as a potential foe to immigrants, reproductive rights, and civil liberties.

Apparently, we know it's bad because Chris Matthews is not amused. Confirm Them tracks down the writers.

The National Italian American Foundation is not amused either (and they've got more reason to be) ...

Overall, sounds like bad strategy on the part of a couple of press guys. But if all the right has is this, a bunch of wild swings at the canned responses of Democratic Senators, and the "sloppy seconds" quote? I guess the "battle of ideas" is already passe...

Tags: , Politics, SCOTUS, Law, News, ,
posted by JReid @ 11:03 PM  
Back in love again?
The reaction around the right wing portion of the blogosphere has, surprise surprise, being universally positive re the Alito nomination. But what's interesting, is that there's not much praise for Bush himself in the posts -- just a lot of venom against the boogeyman called "the left." Still, Bush has helped himself here, and like his chubby little friend Karl, has dodged a bullet using the world's oldest weapon: supine groveling and giving the bully all your lunch money -- and your allowance, too...

I think the guys at Confrimthem are actually having orgasms over this nomination. Kind of creepy, guys...

Could David Frum be any more nausea-inducing with his contrite entreaties to be returned to the bosom of the White Hosue, now that George has stopped playing presidential dress-up and done what he was told?

The Corner has run out of ingenuity now that they've gotten their way. It just isn't interesting anymore...

Powerline makes my point from the previous post: "We're about to get the fight over Constitutional principles that conservatives have looked forward to for years."

Michelle Malkin has no direct praise for Bush, but likes the fact that he picked a white guy. She would...

LaShawn Barber still sounds a big peevish ("Selecting an experienced, sitting judge for the Supreme Court instead of an inexperienced former employee…what a novel idea!...") satisfied, but peevish ...

Hugh Hewitt is all geared up to fight for his big daddy ... I mean his president ...

Score: pointy headed meanies: 1, Bush (and Hugh Hewitt), 0

Tags: , Politics, SCOTUS, Law, News,
posted by JReid @ 10:12 PM  
Bush's 'sloppy seconds'
Funniest thing I've heard all day...
“Scott, you said that – or the President said, repeatedly, that Harriet Miers was the best person for the job. So does that mean Alito is sloppy seconds, or what?”
John Roberts, you're my new favorite White House correspondent...

Tags: , Politics, SCOTUS, Law, News, ,
posted by JReid @ 5:25 PM  
From indictable to promotable in 60 seconds
Wasn't John Hannah recently warbling to friends about his fear he'd be indicted in the Plamegate case? Oh that's right, he cooperated ... Well, now he's got ole' Scooter's job -- or half of it, anyway... And as for the other guy, Addington ... he was named in last week's Libby indictment, too... Strange goings on in the land of Dick Cheney...

Raw: did Dick lie to investigators?
Wilson: Our 27 months of hell

Tags: , , , , Karl Rove, , White House, PlameGate
posted by JReid @ 5:08 PM  
Take the "A" train
Bush took the easy way out of his political mess by responding to the base's commands and nominating Alito. Democrats shouldn't take the knee-jerk route by responding predictably. C'mon, guys, we're dealing with a weakened, has-been president here, not Ronald freaking Reagan. George W. Bush is so yesterday -- let's focus on 2006; on pulling together a strong message (or any message at all at this point), and on uniting the country behind the idea of new leadership in Washington. The Supreme Court will be fine. Even if by some miracle Alito helps overturn Roe (which I doubt), moderates have long since won the battle over abortion rights, and the states will cancel them at their peril (rather, at Republicans' peril). The left has (in many ways unfortunately) long since won the culture wars (have you watched MTV lately? I haven't, because I can't do so with my kids in the room...). So take a deep breath. Let Dubya have his nominee. It's pretty much all he's going to get.

Related Armando at the Daily Kos manages to miss Bill Clinton's point entirely. The point isn't to fight everything and anything, just for the sake of looking tough, it's to fight smart...

Update: What Bill Clinton said on abortion:

He said Democrats too often aren't willing to talk about abortion because they're afraid of virulent reactions from anti-abortion groups.

But the vast majority of people fall somewhere in the middle, agreeing that abortion is a tragedy but not wanting "to go back to the days when we criminalized the conduct of scared young girls and their doctors," he said.

"So how come we can't talk about it?" he added. "Because we basically let political ads turn every player in this drama into a two-dimensional cartoon instead of a three-dimensional person."
That doesn't sound like a call to arms to abandon the mushy middle to me, it sounds like an appeal to Democrats to embrace the majority.

Update 2: Time has More on Alito ... Don't call him "Scalito" -- at least, not to his face...

Tags: , Politics, SCOTUS, Law, News,
posted by JReid @ 4:03 PM  
Don't fall for the "DistractAlito"
I haven't had much time to blog today, but my take on the Samuel Alito nomination won't take much time: If the Democrats were smart -- and I've never been known to accuse them of that -- they would respond to the nomination to the Court (with the clear evidence of White House distraction politics) with the following emotion: acceptance.

Because he is already a sitting judge, he has already cleared Senate confirmation before, and can hardly be dismissed as either an unqualified crony or as a "crazy." Think of him as the conservative Ruth Bader Ginsberg -- then quietly await the confirmation hearings, and barring breaking news that he's a child molester, confirm him. Deny the most rabid elements of the conservative movement their Armageddon, rain on their judicial warfare parade, and move on to other matters.

Update: I guess restraint was too much to hope for ...

Tags: , Politics, SCOTUS, Law, News,
posted by JReid @ 1:40 PM  
Saturday, October 29, 2005
Really, Tucker?
Tucker Carlson continues to dismiss the outing of Valerie Plame as essentially risk-neutral for the federal government, and not a very important crime. He criticized prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald repeatedly Friday both for failing to indict on the underlying crime of leaking classified info, and then for stating in his opening remarks that the unmasking of Plame harmed U.S. national security, without detailing precisely how (I had no idea that it was part of the prosecutor's burden to explain to the public precisely how our national security was harmed -- and how he'd do that without himself disclosing classified information, but there you go, Tucker's World...) I wonder if the Bow Tie will be watching "60 Minutes" on Sunday. If Drudge's leak is accurate, Tucker may have to eat his words:

Tags: , , , , Karl Rove, , White House, PlameGate
posted by JReid @ 1:16 AM  
Ronnie Earle subpoena's MoveOn's director to counter Tom DeLay's quest to trade his supposedly liberal T-shirt buying magistrate for a Republican judge. He also makes the smart move:
Earle also subpoenaed records from the Texas Ethics Commission of political contributions from 2000 to 2005 by nine judges in Tarrant County, 17 in Dallas County and five in Travis County.

DeLay has requested that his trial be moved out of Austin's Travis County, where Earle is the district attorney and Perkins is the judge. Tarrant and Dallas counties are possible locations should the trial be moved.

Almost all Tarrant and Dallas judges whose records were subpoenaed have made federal political contributions to Republican groups, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.
Your move, money launder man ...

Tags: , ,
posted by JReid @ 1:09 AM  
WaPo breaks down the cabal
The diary of Scooter and old cooter and all their friends who wanted desperately to invade Iraq ...

Tags: , Middle East, War
posted by JReid @ 1:04 AM  
Karl Rove: Witness for the prosecution?
From AP:

AP: Mysterious 'Official A' is Karl Rove

By PETE YOST, Associated Press Writer

Published: October 28, 2005 10:12 PM ET

In a sign of the trouble lingering for the Bush administration, the indictment handed up Friday in the CIA leak probe refers to someone at the White House known as "Official A."

The unidentified official could become a courtroom witness against I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, who left his job as vice presidential aide shortly after his indictment on charges of obstruction of justice, making false statements and perjury.

Several other unnamed officials mentioned in the indictment were identified Friday afternoon by Justice Department officials.

But not "Official A."

The mysterious official is identified in the indictment only as "a senior official in the White House."

No mention is made of Karl Rove, the president's political adviser who remains under investigation by Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald.

It has been known that columnist Robert Novak spoke to Rove on July 9, 2003, saying he planned to report over the weekend that Valerie Plame, the wife of Bush administration critic Joseph Wilson, had worked for the CIA. Rove told the columnist he had heard similar information.

Friday's indictment says "Official A" is a "senior official in the White House who advised Libby on July 10 or 11 of 2003" about a chat with Novak about his upcoming column in which Plame would be identified as a CIA employee.

Late Friday, three people close to the investigation, each asking to remain unidentified because of grand jury secrecy, identified Rove as Official A.
If Rove is now a prosecution witness, that would certainly explain the delay in indicting him -- the better for the prosecutor to hold a dagger over his head and "compel" his truthful testimony. But I'm still wondering just what Rove's attorney handed over that gave Fitzgerald (whom I'm sure is sick of being called "Fitzpatrick" by the talking head parade...) such "pause..." Did he give up a bigger fish in hopes of saving himself? Or did he drive the nail into Libby for the same reason? If so, it suggests the neocons (and possibly the vice president) are drifting into the "them" category versus the George W. Bush bunker...

Meanwhile the Times says the Libby case (should it ever go to trial -- which I doubt) will pitt the source against the journalists. That's a credibility battle that, post-Katrina, the media folks could actually win...

Tags; , , , , Karl Rove, , White House, PlameGate, , Middle East, War, Terrorism, Foreign Policy,
posted by JReid @ 12:54 AM  
Friday, October 28, 2005
Pause for the cause
From the WaPo evening writeup of the Libby indictment:
An attorney for Rove, Robert Luskin, said in a statement this morning, "The Special Counsel has advised Mr. Rove that he has made no decision about whether or not to bring charges and that Mr. Rove's status has not changed. Mr. Rove will continue to cooperate fully with the Special Counsel's efforts to complete the investigation. We are confident that when the Special Counsel finishes his work, he will conclude that Mr. Rove has done nothing wrong."

Rove provided new information to Fitzgerald during eleventh-hour negotiations that "gave Fitzgerald pause" about charging Bush's senior strategist, said a source close to Rove. "The prosecutor has to resolve those issues before he decides what to do."

Tags; CIA leak, Plame, Valerie Plame, Joe Wilson , Karl Rove, Scooter Libby, White House, PlameGate, Iraq, Middle East, War, Terrorism, Foreign Policy, politics
posted by JReid @ 7:47 PM  
The curious history of the neocons and the CIA
I happened across a bunch of interesting links today while trolling for insights into the Libby indictment (ok, and trying to read Patrick Fitzgerald's Brooklyn accented mind...) It seems to me that given the situation in Iraq, neoconservatism is decidedly on the ropes. As evidence, note how many of the core neocons have been driven out of government -- some gently (Wolfowitz was ushered to the World Bank, Bolton to the U.N., Feith and Cambone quietly retired), some not so gently (Larry Franklin charged with passing U.S. secrets to AIPAC, Neocon mouthpiece Judy Miller probably out of a job at the NYT -- have you perused her history? Guess who she once wrote a book with ... and now Scooter Libby indicted after apparently lying to investigators and perjuring himself before agrand jury in order to protect his boss, friend and key neocon patron, Dick Cheney.)

The PlameGate affair grew out of a fundamental dispute between the neocons and their veep, and the CIA, which was, by the neocons standards, not eager enough to embarkupon their signature project: the invasion of Iraq. The neocons have a history of thinking the American intelligence establishment too genteel with the use of war, but they weren't always on the opposite side as the CIA. In fact, there is evidence that they were originally a product of the CIA. Interesting links here, here and here...

Fascinating stuff. The only question is when this prescient paragraph from Lew Rockwell back in 1997 will come to pass, and the Krauthamer, Kristol, Frum wing of the punditocracy will, like their counterparts in government, ushered off the stage:
The grassroots are hated by the neocons for precisely that reason. The man on the street, the movement conservative, the Perot voter, the Libertarian Party man – they all want the troops brought home and the tyranny of the US empire brought to a halt. When the leaders of the empire try to talk down to normal people, they are jeered off the stage. The RRR position – no more war – is more and more the position of the American people. That’s a strike for peace and a strike for liberty.

Tags: , Middle East, War, Foreign Policy, Neoconservatives
posted by JReid @ 7:29 PM  
Bloomin' hell

Poor Freddie Ferrer. How do you beat a supposedly Republican mayor in a Democratic city with stuff like this happening to you? Read the complete Daily News story here.
posted by JReid @ 7:27 PM  
While you were out
Here are some of the headlines you might have missed while watching Scooter Libby take the first step toward his hermetic sealing off from his former compadres in the Bush administration:

Rosa Parks' body to lie in state at Capitol. [More]
Oil industry tries to put positive spin on record profits. [More]
Support for war drops among NC military. [More]
U.S. forces in Iraq hit high of 161,000. [More]
51 fired from New Orleans police department for abandoning their posts during Katrina. 228 still under investigation. [More]
Iran leader defends anti-Israel remark. India, China join in international condemnation. [More]
Islam feminists call for 'gender jihad.' [More]
For first time in its history, Red Cross borrowing funds. [More]
Unwed births in U.S. set a record. [More]
Da Vinci Code author set to go to trial in lawsuit claiming theft of ideas. [More]
Syria's ruling family could be in jeopardy. [More]
Woman wins lottery; but ticket bought with stolen credit card. [More]
NY sex offenders told to make themselves scarce on Halloween. [More]
posted by JReid @ 7:13 PM  
Who supports this war?
When you shear off the neocons, the Hugh Hewitt-like Bush-bots and the partisan hacks (hello, Jay Sekulow!) Who really supports the war in Iraq? The military rank and file, right...? Maybe not so much, at least, not in the red, red state of North Carolina...

More than half the North Carolina military members surveyed in the latest Elon University poll don't like the way President Bush is handling his job and the war in Iraq.

The survey results were released today.

Of the 539 adults surveyed, nearly 53 percent of military members said they strongly disapproved or disapproved of Bush's handling of his job. And 56 percent of that same group said they strongly disapproved or disapproved of his handling of the Iraq war.

Overall, slightly more than 53 percent of those surveyed did not approve of Bush's job performance, while 57 percent didn't approve of his handling of the Iraq war.

The telephone poll was conducted between Monday and Thursday and has a margin of error for the entire sample of plus or minus four-point-three percentage points.

Small sample to be sure, but interesting result...

Tags: , Middle East, href="">War, Foreign Policy, Military
posted by JReid @ 7:07 PM  
Rove believed to be "Official A"
So says David Schuster on MSNBC a moment ago...
posted by JReid @ 7:06 PM  
The 'defiling of the White House"
From Joe Wilson's statement on the Libby indictment, delivered today by his lawyer, Christopher Wolf:
"When an indictment is delivered at the front door of the White House, the office of the president is defiled. No citizen can take pleasure from that. As this case proceeds, Valerie and I are confident that justice will be done..."

Read more here.

Tags; , , , , Karl Rove, , White House, PlameGate, , Middle East, War, Terrorism, Foreign Policy,
posted by JReid @ 4:34 PM  
The four horsemen
Update: Reverse course -- the undersecretary of state is not John Bolton, it's Marc Grossman...
The indictment showed that Libby began seeking information about Wilson and his wife in late May 2003, some six weeks before Plame's identity was publicly disclosed in a July 14, 2003, newspaper column by Robert Novak.

It appears that Libby first learned that Wilson's wife worked at the CIA -- and that she was involved in organizing his trip to Niger -- on June 11 or June 12, 2003 in conversations with the undersecretary of State and a senior officer at the CIA, who were not identified by name. The undersecretary referred to in the documents is Marc Grossman.

The indictment also highlighted Cheney's role. Libby learned from Cheney himself on June 12, 2003, that Wilson's wife worked in the counterproliferation division of the CIA.

Fitzgerald declined to predict when Libby's trial would begin but said he would not be arrested.

As for Rove, legal sources said the key Bush aide could at a later date face perjury charges for initially failing to tell the grand jury he talked to a Time magazine reporter about Plame.
And from an astute Washington Note reader:
The Undersecretary of State referenced in the indictment is not John Bolton -- it is Marc Grossman, the former U/S for Political Affairs. Because Powell and Armitage were out of the country at the time, Grossman was Acting Sec State. Hence, the State Department's INR forwarded Grossman the memo on the Niger stuff and Plame and Wilson's role, and Grossman forwarded it on to the White House.
Nothing sinister -- Grossman was just peforming his bureaucratic function.

There'll be no Moustache chronicle here ... I'll leave the original post active below just for the sheer joy of rampant speculation ...

Original post: Okay, zeroing in on the four horsemen of the Bush apocolypse; three of the four sources for Scooter Libby (the "undersecretary of state," the "senior CIA official," the "counsel" to Cheney and Cheney himself, and the original leaker to Bob Novak -- which may be one of the four, or which could be someone else -- are still out there. Joshua Marshall helps out with the treasure hunt. Following his instructions, I surfed over to the State Department web-site and looked up the organizational chart to locate the undersecretary of state in charge of intelligence and non-proliferation:

Under Secretary for Arms Control and International Security -- Robert Joseph
The Under Secretary leads the interagency policy process on nonproliferation and manages global U.S. security policy, principally in the areas of nonproliferation, arms control, regional security and defense relations, and arms transfers and security assistance.
More on the undersecretary's job description:

"... the Under Secretary attends and participates, at the direction of the President, in National Security Council (NSC) and subordinate meetings pertaining to arms control, nonproliferation, and disarmament and has the right to communicate, through the Secretary of State, with the President and members of the NSC on arms control, nonproliferation, and disarmament concerns. ..."
Mr. Joseph is absolutely not in the crosshairs -- he has only been in the job since June. At that time, the job was vacated by none other than John Bolton.

... As for the veep connection, Google search of "coounselor to the president" during the relevant perios brings up a bona fide member of the White House Iraq Group: Mary Matalin. In fact, Matalin is the only member of the WHIG who fits the description "counsel" or "counselor" to the vice president.

... We also know from news reports that Cheney has at least convinced Scooter Libby that he got the scoop on Joe Wilson's wife from former CIA chief George Tenet, although there's no reason he and Scooter couldn't have dredged up the information during their many trips to the agency trolling for damning information with which to convince the Congress we should invade Iraq.

...And then there's Cheney himself, whom Fitzgerald pointedly refused to point a finger at today, but whom he by no means affirmatively cleared.

All just speculation, but interesting speculation...

Update: The Wash Note's Steve Clemons agrees with me about Bolton, and speculates that Fred Fleitz, a former Bolton aide and a former CIA operative, could be the "senior CIA source."

Tags; , , , , Karl Rove, , White House, PlameGate, , Middle East, War, Terrorism, Foreign Policy,
posted by JReid @ 3:30 PM  
Fitzgerald's findings -- more questions
Bloggers and will surely be climbing over Michael Issikoff and Murray Waas in a race to discover the identity of the four people identified by Fitzgerald as Libby's Plame sources. One is a "senior CIA officer," one is an undersecretary of state (Bolton, perhaps...?), one is a "counsel to the vice president," and one is Dick Cheney.

Speaking of Cheney, here is his statement on Libby's troubles today (courtesy of The Washington Note):

Mr. Libby has informed me that he is resigning to fight the charges brought against him. I have accepted his decision with deep regret. Scooter Libby is one of the most capable and talented individuals I have ever known. He has given many years of his life to public service and has served our nation tirelessly and with great distinction.

In our system of government an accused person is presumed innocent until a contrary finding is made by a jury after an opportunity to answer the charges and a full airing of the facts. Mr. Libby is entitled to that opportunity.

Because this is a pending legal proceeding, in fairness to all those involved, it would be inappropriate for me to comment on the charges or on any facts relating to the proceeding.

Another Fitzgerald paraquote from his presser today on the "why no leak charge" question: "Knowing that [Libby] learned the classified information [about Plame] and knowing that he gave that information to someone outside the government who was not entitled to receive it, and knowing it was classified, is not enough." You need to know that he understood all of those things and disclosed it anyway. "It doesn't matter what statute you use to vindicate the [public] interest. If Mr. Libby is found guilty of the charges, it will vindicate the public interest and hold him accountable. You wouldn't say that he was convicted under the wrong statute."

Fitzgerald is essentially saying that prosecuting Libby perjury and obstruction is another way to get at the same end that prosecuting him on the leak itself would: getting to the bottom of how and why classified information was leaked to unauthorized persons, and punishing those involved (starting with Libby) ...

More Fitzgerald: "This indictment is not about the war, and persons who oppose the war or persons who favor the war ... should not look to this indictment to vindicate their feelings. ... They would be disappointed and I think it would impede the process..." (Fitzgerald also made the point that "there is no law that says if you simply give classified information to someone else, that's a crime." There is no "official secrets act" as in England. There is a narrow statute under which you could charge someone with a serious national security violation.) What it seems is that if Libby hadn't lied to the grandy jury, no indictments would have been handed down, at least at this stage... which leads to more questions -- why would Libby take that chance? He's a lawyer and surely understands the jeopardy he placed himself in. Why did he go so far as to lie to the FBI and "repeatedly" to the grand jury? To protect Cheney? To protect someone else?

I've got more questions than answers or any form of "vindication" at this point...


Bloomberg says the Indictment of One weakens Bush further.

RawStory is reporting that Fitzgerald may be holding out for much more serious charges against Karl Rove, stemming from those forged documents and possible "misuse of classified information..." (more RawStory scoopola here) ...

Libby's replacement has been named, and he's not without controversy...

The Daily News reports on the despondency of the Bush-bots...

Fitzgerald is out with a press release on the charges ...

LAT has a brief history of scandal-plagued aides ...


Tags; , , , , Karl Rove, , White House, PlameGate, , Middle East, War, Terrorism, Foreign Policy,
posted by JReid @ 2:49 PM  
Fitzgerald is speaking now
...and taking questions.

During the Q&A, he confirmed that Libby did try to finger NBC's Tim Russert as the person who gave him the information about Valerie Plame, claiming that Russert plied him with "did you know that all the reporter's know this information?" and that Libby acted as if he was learning the information "as if it were knew" after he found himself "at the end of a long chain of phonecalls."

He made plain the charge that essentially, Libby tried to fool investigators into thinking he passed along the information about Plame's identity thinking he was just spreading around info he'd received from reporters. In fact, Libby had long since gotten the information from the state department and had confirmed it with a senior CIA officer (around June 11, 2003) and from Vice President Cheney on or around June 12. Fitzgerald says "at least four people" told Libby about Plame and her alleged role in sending Joe Wilson to Niger.

He also discussed the information with other government officials. All of this was before Wilson's op-ed.

He confirmed that Libby discussed Plame with Ari Fleishcer (on July 7, 2003).

The prosecutor charged that Libby lied repeatedly by saying he was at the end of a "chain of phonecalls" that carried Plame's identity around the White House and out to reporters, when in fact he was "at the beginning of the chain, and was the first government official to disclose Valerie Plame's name to reporters."

Fitzgerald did not name the original source ("Official A") for Bob Novak's column. He did not name the "counsel to the vice president's office" with whom Libby also shared information on Plame.

Fitzgerald explained why he "only" indicted on obstruction, etc., rather than on the underlying crime of leaking classified information, with a baseball analogy: calling it the equivalent of throwing sand in the umpire's eyes as he tries to investigate a fast ball pitch that turned into a bean ball. Having dealt with that obstruction by prosecuting the sand thrower (Libby) and with his investigation ("mostly concluded") we can assume that Fitzgerald can now conclude his probe of the underlying offenses commited, in his words "not against on person -- Valerie Wilson -- but against all of us," and against the men and women who take the risk of working for the CIA -- believing that they will not be compromised by fellow members of their own government.
Hopefully threre will be a full transcript soon. Fascinating presentation.

Tags; , , , , Karl Rove, , White House, PlameGate, , Middle East, War, Terrorism, Foreign Policy,
posted by JReid @ 2:21 PM  
White House pivot
RedState says the White House will nominate Alito for the Court -- which they hope will provoke a distracting fight with the Democrats and reunite their base for the hunkered down legal battle over the neocon war in Iraq. Just a rumor for now, but RedState seems to have pretty good sources...


Tags: , Politics, SCOTUS, Law, News,
posted by JReid @ 1:54 PM  
Down goes the neocon
Update 2: From a poster at

This is SO far from over
By: maberlin

We'll see what happens with the SCOTUS nomination, but this is NOT over. It is just beginning. Unless Libby cops a plea, there will be a trial. Even if he does cop a plea, it is likely that there will be congressional hearings and perhaps most damaging, a civil 1983 (depravation of civil rights) lawsuit by Joe Wilson. The burden of proof is much lower for a civil case, and you can force anyone, including POTUS, to testify (Remember Paula Jones?).

I see a lot of people here at RS burying their heads in the sand. Do not kid yourself, this is bad.
Wise words. A former deputy independent counsel, Sol Wisenberg, just said on MSNBC that the potential worst case on sentencing for Libby would be 10 - 30 years. He knows Fitzgerald and says the prosecutor would want Libby to cop to a felony in any plea deal.

Update: Carl Bernstein raises the inevitable comparisons to Watergate
Coulter calls ongoing Rove probe "worst possible scenario."

Irving gets indicted and resigns. Rove is spared for now but the investigation into him grinds on. All of the major news sources were on the money. The charges:

Lying to the FBI/investigators (2 counts of making false statements), lying to the grand jury (2 counts of perjury), obstruction of justice. (here's the indictment in pdf or go to Smoking Gun for an HTML version)

Suggested jailhouse reading: perhaps a history of the Ulysses S. Grant administration, the Whiskey Ring, and one Orville E. Babcock.

On a more serious note, ABC News reports Libby will immediately resign. Interesting that Libby was not indicted on the underlying act - outing Valerie Plame -- despite the fact that the prosecutor found that her name was disclosed despite being held secret by the government. (The indictment makes it clear that the prosecutor has found that Libby knowingly passed on secret information to reporters after getting that information from the state department and confirming it with the CIA.) Still, no indictment on those charges.Certainly the Bush defenders will pounce on that. Essentialy it means Libby is going down taking a bullet for his boss, whom he was willing to perjure himself to protect... (you'd think Cheney might have bothered to at least hang around town to support his boy...)

On a cynical note, I somehow doubt this will go to trial. Libby would be better off pleading guilty and avoiding further embarrassment to himself, the administration and the neocon cause. And I wouldn't be suprprised if this all goes away one day with a stroke of the pardon pen...


Tags; , , , , Karl Rove, , White House, PlameGate, , Middle East, War, Terrorism, Foreign Policy,
posted by JReid @ 12:49 PM  
Indictment watch: round 3
The roundup (Announcement expected on special prosecutor's web-site at noon EST):

NYT: Cheney aide likely to be indicted today.
WashPost: Rove reportedly spared indictment for now.
Bloomberg: Investigation into Rove, other officials, to continue
NYT: FBI investigating the forged uranium documents.

Most Intriguing:
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A federal grand jury investigating the leak of a covert CIA operative's identity met in secret on Friday and was expected to bring criminal charges against Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff and possibly other White House officials.

But special counsel Patrick Fitzgerald informed President George W. Bush's top political adviser, Karl Rove, that he would not be among those indicted on Friday, although Fitzgerald indicated that Rove would remain under investigation and in legal jeopardy, legal sources said.
Former impeachment wizard Bob Barr (now with the ACLU) just said on CNN that his sources tell him the investigation going forward is focusing on "the highest levels of the National Security Council." Very interesting, and in Barr's opinion, chilling development...

Barr makes the important point that Valerie Plame was "not just undercover, she was under non-official cover, which is very sensitive, very important, very dangerous ... the CIA and other intelligence agencies always pay much more attention to people under non-official cover which is very expensive, very dangerous, and always more difficult to create than official cover." Once Plame was outed, it "sets in motion the outing of any individuals she had contact with" -- putting her, her contacts, and America's national security at risk. (Somebody call Tucker Carlson, who thinks this is a "no big deal" story...)


Tags; , , , , Karl Rove, , White House, PlameGate, , Middle East, War, Terrorism, Foreign Policy,

posted by JReid @ 11:18 AM  
Indictment watch: round 2
Bloomberg corroborates the NYT version, saying Friday will bring an indictment against Libby, and extension on Rove... sounds like lawyers close to the case are peddling the same story. Not sure if I believe it, unless Fitzgerald is looking to some entirely different charges -- or working to flip Rove in order to land a bigger fish. Or maybe, as Jeralyn Merritt speculates this morning, Rove has cut a deal. ... Who knows... Meanwhile, the WH is denying the Hadley-forged Italian documents story, saying a Sept 2002 meeting between Rice's then deputy and the head of Italian military intelligence was brief and uneventful, from a memo-passing standpoint... Right. Here's a reminder of the original scoop from the American Prospect.

Tags; , , , , Karl Rove, , White House, PlameGate, , Middle East, War, Terrorism, Foreign Policy,
posted by JReid @ 3:56 AM  
No woman, no cry
NYT reveals that the short list Harriet Miers wound up on contained her name and the names of two men: Michael Luttig and Samuel Alito (that's "Scalito" to you). So could the next nomination battle come down to John G. Roberts' pal vs. Tony Scalia's mini-me? Time will tell... to be sure, Laura won't have a say this time around.

Tags: , , Politics, SCOTUS, Law, News,
posted by JReid @ 1:33 AM  
The gang of four?
WaPo says Bush was "beaten" by Will, Krauthammer, Kristol and Frum. But are they his bosses now, or his enemies? NYT asks "when will the nightmares end?"

Hugh Hewitt takes his unqualified Bush support big time, with an op-ed in the enemy encampment (the NY Times) oh wait, Judy Miller used to write for them so I guess they're OK with the VRWC. Hewitt's take: it was not a gang of four that brought down Harriet Miers, it was a gang of three: "National Review's blog, The Corner, and the blog":

The right's embrace in the Miers nomination of tactics previously exclusive to the left - exaggeration, invective, anonymous sources, an unbroken stream of new charges, television advertisements paid for by secret sources - will make it immeasurably harder to denounce and deflect such assaults when the Democrats make them the next time around. Given the overemphasis on admittedly ambiguous speeches Miers made more than a decade ago, conservative activists will find it difficult to take on liberals in their parallel efforts to destroy some future Robert Bork.

Not all critics of Ms. Miers from the right used these tactics, and those who did not will be able to continue on with the project of restoring sanity to the process that went haywire with Judge Bork's rejection in 1987. Conservatives are also fortunate that no Republican senator called for Ms. Miers's withdrawal.

But the Democrats' hand has been strengthened. Voting for or against Ms. Miers would have forced Senate Democrats to articulate a coherent standard for future nominees. Now, the Democrats have free rein.

The next nominee - even one who is a superb scholar and sitting judge who recently underwent Senate confirmation like Michael McConnell of the United States Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit, or a long-serving superstar like Michael Luttig of the Fourth Circuit - will face an instant and savage assault. After all, it "worked" with Ms. Miers. A claim of "special circumstances" justifying a filibuster will also be forthcoming. And will other nominees simply pass on the opportunity to walk out in the middle of a crossfire? A White House counsel with distinguished credentials was compared to Caligula's horse and Barney the dog on National Review's Web site. George Will denounced as "crude" those evangelicals who thought Ms. Miers's faith was a good indication of character in a nominee and a hopeful sign on issues involving the unborn. She was labeled a crony before lunch on the day of her nomination by scores of commentators. Attacks on her competence within the White House followed immediately. She never had a chance, really.
For the record, I hope Hewitt is wrong, and that Democrats won't automatically attempt to "Miers" whomever Bush puts forward. (McConnell looks pretty good to me, and Bush may yet put up an unBorkable nominee -- say, a U.S. Senator...) And I accept Hewitt's point that this process has further weakened President Bush -- he now appears to be the ward of the "pointy-headed meanies" of the conservative movement (with whom I stipulate that I agreed...) But I have to disagree with Hewitt's larger point: that the Miers agonistes shouldn't have happened at all and that she necessarily deserved a hearing and a vote. The Constitution doesn't say that at all -- it guarantees only that the president shall nominate, and the Senate advise and consent (or withhold consent). So Hewitt is showing his non-originalist slip... On this point, I generally agree with Feddie over at ConfirmThem/Southern Appeal:

Harriet Miers wasn’t denied an up-or-down vote in the Senate. She withdrew after it became painfully obvious to all but the most partisan hack that she had no coherent judicial philosophy, questionable writing skills, and a tendency to tell folks whatever they wanted to hear. These are not the attributes I, or many other conservatives, look for in a Supreme Court justice.

And so what if many legal and political conservatives placed pressure on the president and/or Miss Miers to withdraw the nomination? What exactly is wrong with that, Hugh?

Moreover, I don’t recall any prominent legal conservative blogger arguing that the Miers nomination should be filibustered or that she should be denied an up-or-down vote on the Senate floor. But hey, why argue the Miers nomination on the merits when you can easily knock down a strawman of your own making.

I am sorry, but if being a member of the Republican Party requires me to engage in the kind of blind and foolish loyalty you’ve demonstrated over the past few weeks, then count me out.
Feddie is wrong on the filibuster issue -- it was batted around in the upper echelons of the RW blogosphere. And blind loyalty to any president can't be married to principle. After all, Mr. Bush is a president, not a king. And I think it was clear to most people that Miers was thoroughly unqualified for the job, and was deservedly pushed aside. But -- and this is a big "but" -- the damage done to Bush because of the way it was done -- publicly and with a round of sledgehammers -- is very real. Conservatives will have a hard time explaining why it was OK for them to put the hammer to Ms. Miers for not being to their liking, but wrong for Democrats to take the same tack if they don't like the next nominee.

The base may now rush back to Bush's side, but while they're there they will need to hold him up -- assuming he'll still let them touch him...

Tags: , , Politics, SCOTUS, Law, News,
posted by JReid @ 1:01 AM  
Honor Rosa Parks
Good for the Senate. On to the House.

Hush that fuss

Tags: , ,
posted by JReid @ 12:54 AM  
Thursday, October 27, 2005
Indictment watch
NYT says Libby yes, Turd Blossom no... WaPo has no such news, but says the two are assembling legal and public relations teams in anticipation of tomorrow's presumed announcements...

In Ohio, the GOP coin scandal leads to yet another indictment, this one linked to efforts to raise money for the Bush-Cheney reelection campaign...

Tags; , , , , Karl Rove, , White House, PlameGate, , Middle East, War, Terrorism, Foreign Policy,
posted by JReid @ 10:47 PM  
The long short list
With heavy debts to MSNBC, here are the potential Miers seconds (with wingnut heart factors from 1 -- we don't heart you, to 10 -- you rock):

Judge Edith Brown Clement, 57
Tough, "hanging judge" who was voted onto the 5th Circuit 99-0 in 2001. Clement is something of an eternal bridesmaid (she lost out to Roberts the first time and then to Miers), and there's another lady out there I keep confusing her with, also named Edith... Wingnut heart factor: 5 (because she's probably too acceptible to Democrats).

Judge J. Harvie Wilkinson III, 60
Says NVC of the 4th Circuit judge: "He has been consistently conservative in his rulings since being put on the court by Reagan in 1984. Wilkinson wrote the majority 4th Circuit opinion in 1996 upholding the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy that barred gays serving in the military from revealing their sexual orientation." He's white and male so Tucker Carlson and George Will will like him, and Dobson will love the gay thing. WHF: 9

Priscilla Owen, 50
"Owen was confirmed in May for a seat on the 5th Circuit after a drawn-out Senate battle. Democrats argued that Owen let her political beliefs to color her rulings. They were particularly critical of her decisions in abortion cases involving teenagers." -- She'll trigger the nucelar showdown. Democrats and the Gang of Four probably won't stand for her. Besides, she was named in that possibly false story about nominee self-withdrawal... WHF: 10, but she won't be the one.

Miguel Estrada, 44
His nomination to the D.C. court of appeals was deep sixed by Democrats in Bush's first term because he woulndn't come clean on abortion. Plus: He's Latino (Bush loves accion affirmativo) and he's not Alberto Gonzalez (wingnuts hate Albertito). WHF: 8, but like Prissy Owen, he's damned near unconfirmable...

Judge Emilio Garza, 58
"Sits on the New Orleans-based 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and was considered for a Supreme Court seat by the first President Bush." He believes Roe should be overtrned and abortion laws decided by the states. And he's Hispanic! Dubya loves the Hispanics, yknow... But Garza is no Alberto Gonzalez, so even George Will and Tucker Carlson probably won't object to un poquito accion affirmativo. On second thought, Carlson will bitch... WHF: 9

Judge Samuel Alito, 55
A rare conservative on the "liberal" 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals in Philly. They call him "Scalito" -- need I say more? Wingnut heart factor: 10

Judge J. Michael Luttig, 51
"Worked in the Justice Department during the administration of the first President Bush and has served on the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Va. He was a law clerk to the late Chief Justice Warren Burger from 1983-84." I don't know a damned thing about the guy, but I hear he's real, real conservative... WHF: 10

Judge Michael McConnell, 50
"A judge on the Denver-based 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. He enjoys bipartisan support in the academic community. Based on his reading of the law, he opposed President Clinton’s impeachment and the Supreme Court’s 2000 ruling in Bush v. Gore that made George W. Bush president." Hell, even I like this guy! Oh, damn... that's considered "not good," right...? WHF: 6.

Theodore B. Olson, 64
Sure he argued Bush v. Gore, but his wife died on one of those 9/11 planes. Major sympathy votes there. WHF: 10

Larry D. Thompson, 59
Deputy attorney general under that nut-job Ashcroft during Bush's first term. Best known as the Black guy next to Clarence Thomas during the Thomas-Anita Hill hearings (providing fleeting proof that Thomas himself, despite his vehement protests, might himself be African-American...) Primes the Bush "affirmative access" thing -- won't make Black people happy. Hispanics will raise hell. WHF: 3

Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, 50
Only if Bush plans to make room in his bed for a horse's head... or rule the country from Guam...

Edith Hollan Jones, 55
The other Edith in the cereal bowl, this one from the 5th Circuit. She lost out to David Souter in 1990 and probably was on the list Miers ripped up for Dubya this time. Too many friggin Ediths out there. I can't decide. WHF: 7

Janice Rogers Brown, 56
"Newly confirmed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit after a bitter Senate battle and filibuster, Brown is an outspoken black Christian conservative who supports limits on abortion rights and corporate liability." She's the Black Clarence Thomas, and thus, gives me a migraine. Lashawn Barber probably thinks she's aces, which makes me want to risk taking Vioxx for my migraine. WHF: 9 (but she won't be the one. 'nuff Black folk on the Court already...)

Alice Batchelder, 61
"A judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, Batchelder has been a reliable conservative vote on abortion, affirmative action and gun control. Bush’s father appointed the former high school English teacher to the court with jurisdiction over Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky and Tennessee." Sounds like a nice old lady ... NOT! Maybe she can teach Dubya how to pronounce "nuclear." ... WHF: 8

Karen Williams, 54
"A former trial lawyer, Williams is known as one of the most conservative judges on the nation’s most conservative federal appeals court, the Richmond-based 4th Circuit. In 1999, Williams wrote the 4th Circuit opinion that would have paved the way for overturning the landmark 1966 decision in Miranda that outlines the rights read to criminal suspects. The Supreme Court voted 7-2 to let it stand." Wow, she sounds like one hell of a pill. WHF: 10

Maura Corrigan, 57
"The Michigan Supreme Court justice is a walking billboard for the conservative mantra of judicial restraint — the notion that judges should stick to interpreting the law and not making it. Her resume includes a number of firsts, among them: first woman to serve as chief assistant U.S. attorney in Detroit, first woman to serve as chief judge of the Michigan Court of Appeals." Omigod, another "trailblazer..." WHF: 5

Maureen Mahoney, 50
"Often described as the female version of Chief Justice John Roberts, Mahoney, a lawyer in private practice, clerked for the late Justice William Rehnquist, served as deputy solicitor general under Kenneth Starr and has argued cases before the Supreme Court. Mahoney might upset conservatives with one of her major court wins, the landmark University of Michigan Law School case defending affirmative action." The right grudgingly accepted one John Roberts. They won't swallow two. WHF: 2

Honorable mentions (or dishonorable, as the case may be):
  • Judge Roy Moore (okay, I'm laughing with you...) WHF: 8
  • Sen. Orrin Hatch (he's from Utah, so that means he's against abortion, right?) WHF: 9
  • Former President George Bush (It would make the neocons curl up and literally die, which actually might help little Dubya smile again) WHF: 1
  • Former Attorney General John Ashcroft (to put a little "crazy" on the court -- and stop that sinful dancing!!) WHF: 10
  • Sen. John Cornyn (hey, he's from Texas and he stuck up for Harriet)


Tags: , , Politics, SCOTUS, Law, News,
posted by JReid @ 9:52 PM  
Ahmadine...Jesus, Mary and Joseph!
What the Iranian president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, said:

"The establishment of the Zionist regime was a move by the world oppressor against the Islamic world," the president told a conference in Tehran on Wednesday, entitled The World without Zionism.

"The skirmishes in the occupied land are part of a war of destiny. The outcome of hundreds of years of war will be defined in Palestinian land," he said.

"As the Imam said, Israel must be wiped off the map," said Ahmadinejad, referring to Iran's revolutionary leader Ayat Allah Khomeini.

His comments were the first time in years that such a high-ranking Iranian official has called for Israel's eradication, even though such slogans are still regularly used at government
rallies. ...

... Addressing about 4000 students gathered in an Interior Ministry conference hall, Ahmadinejad also called for Palestinian unity, resistance and a point "where the annihilation of the Zionist regime will come".
Ahmadinejad went on to call for "not settling" for just a "piece of Palestinian land" (namely Gaza) and to warn fellow Muslim states against recognizng Israel, saying "Anyone who signs a treaty which recognises the entity of Israel means he has signed the surrender of the Muslim world ... Any leaders in the Islamic umma who recognise Israel face the wrath of their own people."

So was the Iranian president just feeding his base, as we say in the land of Karl Rove, or has he set the table for war -- meaning actual war -- with the international community over his remarks? He certainly hasn't helped his country's case regarding the development of nuclear technology (Russia, Iran's best friend on the Security Council and the only thing keeping them from being referred for sanctions, has condemned the remarks). Or could Iran be talking tough because they already have -- or are on the verge of acquiring -- nuclear weapons?

Tony Blair is sounding threatening notes from the land that sent a stultifying 11,000 troops to invade the 22 million person nation of Iraq... But can anybody think Blair is serious about a military strike on Tehran? Blair and whose Army? Sorry but ours is a bit occupied... The world reaction has been predictable (Israel called for Iran's expulsion from the United Nations), and the U.N. and American reactions wer downright comical:
Mr Ahmadinejad’s words triggered international condemnation, with Israel demanding Iran’s expulsion from the United Nations. “A country that calls for the destruction of another people cannot be a member,” Ariel Sharon, the Israeli Prime Minister, said. Russia, which has been helping Iran to develop its nuclear programme, called the words unacceptable. Kofi Annan, the UN Secretary-General, expressed dismay. The Bush Administration demanded that Iran behave as a responsible member of the international community.
Way to get tough, Kofi and George ... Reaction from the Arab world has been characteristically muted.

Call me cynical, but I somehow doubt that much of Europe -- let alone the American people - would consent to a war against Iran merely for insulting the Israelis. I for one would take the Pat Buchanan line, and wonder what the point of such a war would be as regards American national security. If the Israelis are sufficiently pissed off about Ahmadinejad's call for their destruction (remember, the Soviets for decades called for the destruction of the Capitalist Pigs of America...) let them invade Iran. Enough of our guys have died in the Middle East for a war Israel should have fought on its own already.

Tags: , Middle East, War, Terrorism, Foreign Policy, Israel
posted by JReid @ 8:45 PM  
Rampant rumors, wild speculation...
The Washington Note has retracted its scoop about Fitzgerald leasing new office space, but has come up with new speculation on the CIA leakfront. More on that in a second.

First, Raw Story has gone on ahead and announced the indictments: namely, two inside the White House (Rove and Libby) and "two people outside the administration..." hmm... Says Raw:

The prosecutor investigating the outing of covert CIA operative Valerie Plame Wilson has secured at least one indictment in the case from a majority of the 23 grand jurors, lawyers and intelligence officials close to the case said Wednesday.

The final outcome of Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald's 22-month federal probe is expected to end Friday with indictments of White House officials. The situation remains fluid, however, and several new scenarios have developed over the past 48 hours that could delay an announcement, lawyers close to the probe said late Wednesday.

Rumors swirled Wednesday afternoon that Fitzgerald was going to seek an extension of the grand jury, which expires Friday. That scenario now seems highly unlikely, sources close to the case said.

However, intelligence officials and those familiar with the case have indicated that Fitzgerald could convene a new grand jury to investigate forged documents used by the Bush Administration that purported to show Iraq was seeking to buy uranium from Niger.

The Chicago-based prosecutor has obtained new information from officials targeted in the leak probe, who are now interested in entering into plea discussions, they added.

Fitzgerald intended to announce that he had secured indictments against I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff, and Karl Rove, President Bush's deputy chief of staff, Wednesday afternoon as well as two people who work outside of the administration, those close to the case said.

But his office was contacted late Tuesday by attorneys representing figures outside the White House, lawyers said, who expressed interest in entering into plea talks with the prosecutor. Several have agreed to enter into last-minute plea negotiations with Fitzgerald in exchange for providing testimony that could result in criminal charges being brought against additional officials inside the White House, they added.
... Rove was offered a deal when his lawyer met with Fitzgerald Tuesday, but did not accept, the sources said. Fitzgerald has sought indictments to charge Rove with perjury and obstruction of justice, they asserted.

An eleventh-hour deal could help Fitzgerald "build a strong case against some very senior officials in the office of the vice president," one attorney said.
So who could those outside fishies be? Cue the Note, and what they have said about a gentleman named Fred Fleitz.

Who is Fred Fleitz, you ask? Short version: he's a former CIA hand who worked for our old friend John Bolton at State -- and he just might have had access to the now infamous memo to Collin Powell which contained the "secret - no foreign" name drop on Valerie Plame Wilson... More on Fleitz here and here. Fleitz surfaced briefly during the battle over John Bolton's nomination as U.N. ambassador. He and Bolton were hip deep in reputed attempts to "shape" CIA intelligence, not just on Iraq, but also on Cuba, China and maybe even North Korea... When he was with the CIA, he worked on counter-proliferation, just like Valerie Plame.

Could Fleitz be one of the "outside the administration" indictees scurrying for last minute deals? Hell, could John Bolton...?

And if a second grand jury is empaneled on the forged documents -- which I would contend is almost as big a scandal as the Plame outing, if not worse, since it carries with it the implication of blatant lies to Congress in order to start a war that has killed more than 2,000 Americans plus countless Iraqis, and maimed tens of thousands of people -- look for the focus to shift straight to Stephen Hadley, and possibly to his former boss, Condoleezza Rice.

Oh, and the Saddam-Zarqawi/al-Qaida link prior to the war looks bogus, too. Says Newsweek:
The allegation that Zarqawi had visited Baghdad in May 2002 with Saddam's sanction—purportedly for medical treatment—was once a centerpiece of the administration's arguments about Iraq. Secretary of State Colin Powell cited Zarqawi's alleged visit in his speech to the United Nations Security Council. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld referred obliquely to Zarqawi's purported trip as an example of "bulletproof" evidence that the administration had assembled linking Saddam's regime with Al Qaeda.

But like the uranium yellowcake claims—since determined to be fraudulent—that are at the heart of the CIA leak case, the administration's original allegations about Zarqawi's trip also seem to be melting away. An updated CIA re-examination of the issue recently concluded that Saddam's regime may not have given Zarqawi "safe haven" after all.

The CIA declined to comment on the draft report. But officials tell NEWSWEEK that Zarqawi probably did travel to the Iraqi capital in the spring of 2002 for medical treatment. And, of course, there is no question that he is in Iraq now—orchestrating many of the deadly suicide bombings and attacks on American soldiers.

But before the American-led invasion, Saddam's government may never have known he was there. The reason: he used an alias and was there under what one U.S. intelligence official calls a "false cover." No evidence has been found showing senior Iraqi officials were even aware of his presence, according to two counterterrorism analysts familiar with the classified CIA study who asked not to be identified because of the sensitivity of the matter.
Why does so much of the bogus reporting seem to revolve around that Powell speech -- whose rejected first draft was apparently written by Scooter Libby? Powell's shop also figures in the Plame memo, and in the person of John Bolton and his deputy -- key salesmen for an invasion of Iraq. That Powell speech -- perhaps even more than Bush's bogus SOTU and those infamous 16 words -- may soon come back to haunt the vice president and his merry band of neocons. (Newsweek has more on that, too.)

Irrelevant, yet irresistible, flashback:
Observer UK, October 2004: Has Bush lost his reason?

Tags; , , , , Karl Rove, , White House, PlameGate, , Middle East, War, Terrorism, Foreign Policy,
posted by JReid @ 7:55 PM  
The 'uh-ohs' keep coming
From today's National Journal online, by the inimitable Murray Waas:
Vice President Cheney and his chief of staff, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, overruling advice from some White House political staffers and lawyers, decided to withhold crucial documents from the Senate Intelligence Committee in 2004 when the panel was investigating the use of pre-war intelligence that erroneously concluded Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction, according to Bush administration and congressional sources.

Among the White House materials withheld from the committee were Libby-authored passages in drafts of a speech that then-Secretary of State Colin L. Powell delivered to the United Nations in February 2003 to argue the Bush administration's case for war with Iraq, according to congressional and administration sources. The withheld documents also included intelligence data that Cheney's office -- and Libby in particular -- pushed to be included in Powell's speech, the sources said.

The new information that Cheney and Libby blocked information to the Senate Intelligence Committee further underscores the central role played by the vice president's office in trying to blunt criticism that the Bush administration exaggerated intelligence data to make the case to go to war.

What's key here is that the withheld information might have shifted the Senate Intelligence Committee's focus away from blaming the CIA for faulty WMD data in the run-up to war, and shifted it onto the neocons in the White House and Pentagon, and specifically onto Cheney, Libby and other vice presidential aides like David Wurmser and John Hannah -- both of whom are rumored to be cooperating with the grand jury in an attempt to save themselves.

Again, putting it all together, it's looking more and more like a conspiracy to lie to Congress before the war, to jin up the case against Iraq, and then to discredit any critic who tried to get in the way (or to derail the war case after the fact). What's not yet known is how deep Fitzgerald is prepared to go in what almost certainly will be indictments, possibly tomorrow.


Tags; , , , , Karl Rove, , White House, PlameGate, , Middle East, War, Terrorism, Foreign Policy,

posted by JReid @ 7:42 PM  
Shocking facts
Hang on a second ... there are lesbians in the WNBA...???

Tags: , Sheryl Swoopes, Basketball, Sports, Storm, NBA.
posted by JReid @ 7:10 PM  
Peering inside the bunker
From today's NYT story on the Miers deep-sixing:

Before Ms. Miers was nominated by President Bush, those said to have been under serious consideration for the Supreme Court seat being vacated by the retirement of Justice Sandra Day O'Connor included Judge Karen J. Williams, 54, of Orangeburg, S.C., who sits on the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, and Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales, who would be the first Hispanic on the Supreme Court.
We know the righties detest Gonzalez, but they're warmer on Williams. Meanwhile, ConfirmThem begins the walk-back to from WTF!!??? ferocity to warm Bush mother-love... They're not alone. The vibe on the right wing blogs is one of victory, but consciouslness of the high cost...

National Review says it's no time for celebration. (Best FReeper take: "I can't wait for the editors at National Review to start demanding the next nominee "just get an up or down vote in the Senate". Natch...)

Hugh Hewitt sounds a tad bit bitter...

Powerline is cautiously optimistic, but crossing his fingers that Bush permantly shelves the diversity card...

The Freepers are all over the place... but I think they're right about one thing: If Bush does play the diversity card again, this time the nominee will be Hispanic (but probably not Gonzalez...)

Update: The skinny cocaine lady says it's "morning in America..."

Laura Ingraham says onward and upward:
GOING FORWARD: It's time to dust ourselves off, as we reflect on the lessons of
the past three weeks. Conservatives built this Republican Party into a majority party and expect that nominees to the Court be unequivocal, courageous, and--yes--experienced judicial conservatives. Harriet Miers wasn't "Borked" or "Miered" or whatever gibberish some are saying. Her public speeches and pronouncements showed us that she was more likely to fine-tune her remarks to whatever audience she was speaking to, than adhere to a conservative judicial (or political) philosophy. (Have you ever met a conservative who references Academy Awards speeches by Barbra Streisand to address the progress of women in America? Harriet Miers did in 1993.) The White House is now in an ideal position to unite the Party by moving quickly to nominate one of the dozen or so stars in the conservative legal community.

Tags: , , Politics, SCOTUS, Law, News,
posted by JReid @ 11:34 AM  
With hat in hand...
Original post - 9:43 a.m.: Hold that TV ad! The White House pulls the plug on Hurricane Harriet. Bloomberg version (with conservative revolt!)

Miers's Letter to the President
Bush's Statement

The Washington Times has more insights into how the withdrawal came to be, includng the "abandon ship" move by a key pro-Miers player.

By yanking the Miers nomination, Mr. Bush has avoided an embarassing confirmation hearing, for Ms. Miers, and for him... but now, the president finds himself with an uncomfortable choice: further kow-tow to the chattering classes within his own party by giving them their Luttig or McConnell or Rogers-Brown, essentially admitting that they, and not he, are in charge (and finding a way to explain how that person could possibly be the second most qualified person for the job, after Ms. Miers)... or, flipping the insurgent base the bird by putting up someone confirmable on both sides, but still unsatisfactory to David Frum and the neocons (whom Bush probably isn't too fond of these days).

Tea leaves: Clearly, Bush cannot now, as Pat Buchanan so brilliantly put it, go running down the halls of the West Wing looking for a woman (and grabbing the first one he bumps into as he seems to have done with Harriet). He cannot appear to be making yet another "affirmative action" pick to fill the "O'Connor seat" -- meaning a woman -- on the Court. To make that clear, Bush would have to go with a male nominee (Orrin Hatch? Ted Olson -- whom Democrats would detest because of his ties to Bush v. Gore, which he argued before the Supreme Court -- correction to earlier post where I incorrectly tied him to the Clinton impeachment... my hat, my hand...), or as I've said before, Bush's dad?).

On the other hand, Bush is in serious trouble these days. He will need his base behind him for the fights -- legal and otherwise -- ahead. To rally the troops, he would have to bow down and give them what they want. In doing so, he would spark a more traditional Democrat-Republican battle on the Hill and in the punditocracy, which just might distract from those nasty little indictments coming down the pike. That would be the Rovian thing to do. But Bush strikes me as a contrarian sort of guy (and Rove has his own hide to worry about these days). Dubya might just be pissed off enough to go the other way...

And now, the reaction:

Malkin has relief (no high fives, just exhausted relief...) all around. A sampling (with proof the Qaida is already instructing the POTUS on how to behave):

Bulldogpundit at ABP: "It's time to move on from the internal squabbles about her nomination. We'll see quickly enough if the President has learned his lessons from this error and nominates a supremely qualified (and properly vetted) conservative jurist in the mold of Scalia and Thomas, as he promised in 2000 and 2004. I trust that he will."

Jonah Goldberg: NO GONZALES. That is my only advice to Bush right now. No Gonzales, a thousand times no Gonzales.
David Frum on NPR today: "I'm greatly relieved. I think Harriet Miers has done the right thing, she's put the president and the party first.... Harriet Miers was not the person the president thought she was."

Confirm them has nit-picking, self-congratulation, fake empathy, and more instructions for the pres...

No gloating from Wizbang, just a roundup.

Update: Did Charles Krauthammer write the Bush-Miers exit strategy? Signs point to "who's running this joint, anyway?"

Update 2: Pat Buchanan on MSNBC with Chris Matthews is calling the withdrawal a "Godsend" for the president, a "glorious day for conservatives" and a much-needed second chance to unite the base. (BTW if you haven't read Buchanan's book "Where the Right Went Wrong," read it. It's damned good.

Update 3: Miers deep six quotes, courtesy of the LA Tmes blog:

"The radical right wing of the Republican Party killed the Harriet Miers nomination." — Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nevada)

"Harriet Miers' withdrawal...demonstrates that ultraconservatives are so determined to swing the Supreme Court sharply to the right that they pounded their own president's nominee into submission." — Ralph G. Neas of People for the American Way

The Koskids say the withdrawal makes Dubya look weak.

Hugh Hewitt (the president's loyal stooge... I mean charge... to the end) says:
I think Ms. Miers has been unfairly treated by many who have for years urged fair treatment of judicial nominees. She deserves great thanks for her significant service to the country. She and the president deserved much better from his allies.
And he gives this more in-depth condemnation of the slash and burn tactics of his own side. For the record, I think Hewitt is right to veel burned by the tactics that usually only singe my side, but you know, Hugh, hardball is hardball. Let's see if you pooh-pooh the tactics the next time they're used against Democrats. Besides, Miers was unqualified, period. The pointy headed meanies were right...


Tags: , , Politics, SCOTUS, Law, News,

posted by JReid @ 11:06 AM  
Widen the probe?
News broke yesterday that more than 40 Democratic congressmen wrote to prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald, asking him to widen the probe in the CIA leak case to include whether senior Bush administration officials -- including possibly the president himself -- violated the law by submitting false information to Congress to persuade the body to authorize the invasion of Iraq. Here's the original letter which was actually sent back in September, spearheaded by NY Congressman Maurice Hinchey. (Hinchey was on MSNBC last night discussing the moves, which he conceded he doesn't believe will come to fruition).

Still, there are reasons to think Fitzgerald might have "lying to Congress" in mind -- particularly the news from the Italian press that the forged document accusing Saddam Hussein of trying to acquire yellow cake uranium from Niger may have been brought into the White House by none other than Stephen Hadley -- the sitting National Security Advisor and then aide to Condoleezza Rice. Clearly, the goal of the Veep's office in smearing Wilson and attempting to tie his Niger trip to nepotism was to defuse what could have been an explosive storyline: that Dick Cheney, Condi Rice and even the president, knowingly presented a false case to Congress and to the American people that Iraq posed a potential nuclear threat to the United States. Without the nuclear piece, it's arguable that the Congress would not have so easily backed broad war-making powers for the president vs. Iraq. And it is increasingly clear that Plamegate came about as a result of an White House effort to discredit the Iraq naysayers in the CIA.

On the rumor front, the Washington Note is reporting that Fitzgerald may be digging in for the long haul -- having leased office space in D.C. Last night on "The Situation," Tucker Carlson speculated that the door to door interviews with the Wilson's neighbors smells more like prep for a trial than a grand jury mop-up... The Note's Steve Clemons (who's recuperating from a car accident) also offers the juicy gossip that WH emissaries approached John McCain to possibly step into the veep spot if Cheney is forced to step down "for health reasons" (meaning, because of Plamegate,) and that McCain's answer was a definitive "no." This is a follow-up to an Oct 25 post that delved more deeply into the McCainations and even predicted a Miers deep-sixing...) McCain sure likes to say "No" to entreaties to join any team. He's clearly not a joiner. Perhaps his ego just won't let him accept being number two ... or maybe he's not interested in going down with this particular ship, even if it could theoretically help him in 2008.


Tags; , , , , Karl Rove, , White House, PlameGate, , Middle East, War, Terrorism, Foreign Policy, ,

posted by JReid @ 10:43 AM  
Wednesday, October 26, 2005
Watch this web-site

Tags; , , , , Karl Rove, , White House, PlameGate
posted by JReid @ 1:44 AM  
Five for fighting
The Washington Note predicts one to five sealed indictments in the Plame affair, delivered tomorrow but not announced until Thursday (or Friday if you believe Jim Vandehei's predictions on MSNBC). This sure makes David Corn look smart, prescient and well sourced, doesn't it? Says the Note's John Clemens: insider sources say the targets already know who they are. If it is five, and I had to guess, my picks would be Rove, Libby (obviously), sitting NSA advisor Stephen Hadley (an historic indictment), onetime Cheney Mideast advisor David Wurmser and the Powerball: Cheney as an unindicted co-conspirator. The charges: perjery, obstruction of justice, and conspiracy (to lie to Congress about the Niger uranium debacle).

Capitol Hill Blue says Andy Card is helping prepare the White House for the worst, including laying out the most plausible scenario for how and why this all went down.

On the Chris Matthews watch: the Hardballer tonight asked the strategic question of why Scooter Libby would make, let alone keep, notes of a conversation with his boss, Dick Cheney, in which he essentially outs Cheney as his source of information on Valerie Plame? And then, given his history of loyalty to Cheney, why would he provide those notes to the prosecutor, and then lie about where he got Plame's name? Stupidity? Not likely. Carelessness? I'd think not. Poor memory? Don't count on it. My guess is that at the time Cheney shared the information about Plame with him, Libby understood -- or was made to understand -- that it was classified; not for sharing -- but that he was to find a way to get it out. He followed orders, but not without protecting himself by taking notes. That notation insures that Libby won't be the last man in line if a prosecutor should come calling -- and that Cheney goes down with him -- mutual exposure, mutual loyalty. Maybe once he was nailed to the wall by Fitzgerald, Libby decided to cash in his insurance policy. Or maybe, just maybe, he wasn't the one who provided the note to the prosecutor...

It's clear that Libby is terribly exposed here. Stories are flying that Libby ordered Wurmser to leak the salient facts to the press, and obviously Scooter and Rove made direct contact with reporters, too. Libby has nothing to lose and everything to gain by casting himself as following -- rather than giving -- orders in the Wilson-Plame debacle.

And then there's Stephen Hadley. If the Italian press reports are correct, his motive in the Plame outing would be to divert attention from the fact that it was he who brought those forged Niger documents into the White House -- documents that became a key source of the nuclear claim (the only other source being the discredited "aluminum tubes.") Chasing reporters away from Wilson would have been important to the office of the National Security Advisor, Condi Rice, because Wilson's nasty habit of talking to reporters was pushing the media toward, rather than away, from the cracks in the nuclear story, and the NSA's role in the blunders/lies.

So both Hadley and Libby had motive. Wurmser had opportunity. Rove was the man who knew how to get it done, hopefully protecting the president in the process.

The only question left is, who else could be on the line? Scott McClellan's predecessor, Ari Fleischer? Rice herself (remember, she was the other main salesperson for the Iraq nuclear "mushroom cloud," along with Cheney, and she had exposure on the forged documents, too). What about John Bolton, Wurmser's then boss? Or perhaps the government's pet reporter herself, Judy Miller...

This story just couldn't be more fascinating. And remember our old friend Bob Novak -- a cooperating witness for the prosecution from the beginning? He has said his original source (before Rove confirmed the info on Plame) was no partisan flamethrower, and so was more likely an insider bureaucrat, a la Wurmser... Of course, the Prince of Darkness could have also gotten the information he needed from Collin Powell, who was in posession of a certain memorandum marked "SNF" for "secret - no foreign..."

Tags; , , , , Karl Rove, , White House, PlameGate, , Middle East, War, Terrorism, Foreign Policy
posted by JReid @ 12:59 AM  
Mother says...
Cindy Adams reports Arnold S. is mad, mad, mad at the White House:
SCHWARZENEGGER is furious. Fu rious at Bush. Furious GOP fund- raisers have been sanctioned in Ar nold's area. Furious because he himself is up for re-election. Furious on account of he wants to cover the state passing the hat. Furious because he his own personal self sent word Washington must stay out of California for now. Furious because the White House as much as showed him he knows what he can do with this hat. The gov is so furious at the prez for invading his territory that he's toying with pickpocketing the Dems. So furious that he's raising the specter of perhaps maybe possibly he's running with the wrong party. It's only a ploy. A carrot. But it's what's being said. And repeated. And now — probably denied.

She also claims special knowledge that Judy Miller won't be returning to the NYTimes, but that Ms. Miller and the paper would make it look like something other than a firing. Nice touch...

A few pages over, at Page Six, tongues are wagging about the new, David Stern sanctioned NBA video game "NBA Ballers" -- which glorifies the very lifestyle Stern is supposedly squashing with his new dress code ... seems the thug life is still good bidness off the court...

And who would want to keep lovely actress Gabrielle Union out of their nightclub? Racists, that's who... the bastards ...

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posted by JReid @ 12:20 AM  
Beauty and the beast
A conservative blogger battles the other "Gorgeous George" (Clooney, that is) over the star's anti-McCarthy flick, "Good Night and Good Luck." Don't wince -- the fight was over the panel discussion; the guy liked the film...

ags; , ,
posted by JReid @ 12:02 AM  
Tuesday, October 25, 2005
Dupe the troops
Did the White House fib to conservative critics about the supposed self-withdrawal of "better" Supreme Court nominees? Signs point to uh-oh...

Tags:, , Politics, SCOTUS, Law, News,
posted by JReid @ 6:47 PM  
We've crossed the 2,000 death threshold
So much for the cakewalk. Here's the DoD breakdown.

Update: A military man says ignore the artificial milestones -- they're all about politics. Salon asks: why don't Americans seem to care about 2,000 dead G.I.s?

Tags: , Middle East, War, Foreign Policy
posted by JReid @ 6:41 PM  
Hillary on the march: Harriet Miers edition
Toward the end of the latest Hillary Blasts Dubya story -- this one out of Atlanta, courtesy of the AP -- comes Hillary's one line attack on Harriet Miers:
Asked about Bush Supreme Court nominee Harriet Miers, Clinton said she's eager for the Senate confirmation process to be played out. She did say there is one question she thinks Miers should be asked.

"Please tell us one thing you disagree with the president on," Clinton said to loud applause from the crowd.
Staying with Miers, Human Events Online reports on a new anti-Miers, pro-Bush television ad, and flubs the name of the organization running it (at least the "dot com" thought to purchase the "dot org" too...) Funny, no one thought to grab a quote from Phyllis Schlaffley...

Tags:, , Politics, SCOTUS, Law, News,
posted by JReid @ 4:49 PM  
The Lion, the Witch and the Italian Judy Miller
The American Prospect has the latest wrinkle in the Plamegate scandal: Just how did the U.S. come to believe that Saddam Hussein's Iraq was seeking to acquire uranium "yellow cake" from Niger? Cue the Italian forgeries, which may have come from a paid intelligence hack via the Italian equivalent of the CIA, delivered directly to one (current) National Security Advisor and (then) Condi Rice deputy, Stephen Hadley and to the U.S. embassy in Rome by a familiar-sounding courier: a female journalist and "favorite" of the Italian regime, just before the president's discredited January 2003 State of the Union address (with the blunder blamed on the CIA initially, but later tracked to the office of the National Security Advisor) ... Read on...

Tags; , , , , Karl Rove, , White House, PlameGate, , Middle East, War, Terrorism, Foreign Policy
posted by JReid @ 3:28 PM  
Your turn, Mr. Powell
Says the American Prospect's Michael Tomasky:
Don’t good things come in threes? Wilkerson, Scowcroft ... A certain someone should be next, if he wants to salvage what’s left of his reputation.
Over at Slate, Fred Kaplan asks the Iraq war critics: what took you so long?

Tags: , Middle East, War, Foreign Policy
posted by JReid @ 3:12 PM  
Dick never quits
As if Dick Cheney doesn't have enough problems, it now emerges that he has met three times with Sen. John McCain to try to get a CIA exemption from the McCain-crafted new rules banning the inhumane treatment of foreign prisoners in U.S. military and other custody. This is made worse by the fact that CIA operatives have been implicated in the Abu Ghraib and other abuses of detainees in Iraq and Afghanistan. Seeking an exemption for behavior we all know has already been exhibited by agency operatives -- and for which U.S. rank and file soldiers continue to take the fall -- is just one more demonstration of Mr. "better things to do during Vietnam than serve his country" Cheney's contempt for the American military, its standards, and its personnel.

Tags: , Middle East, War, Foreign Policy, torture
posted by JReid @ 2:37 PM  
They don't like ALL fake news
The White House orders The Onion to stop using the presidential seal.

Tags: White House, parody
posted by JReid @ 12:07 PM  
Putting it all together
Looks like we're finally getting answers to some of the more nagging questions in the CIA leak case. The NYT has the blockbuster headline that it was Cheney who told his deputy, Scooter Libby, about Plame's work for the CIA, information he reportedly got from then CIA chief George Tenet (doubtful Tenet will cop to that...) Says the Times:

WASHINGTON, Oct. 24 - I. Lewis Libby Jr., Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff, first learned about the C.I.A. officer at the heart of the leak investigation in a conversation with Mr. Cheney weeks before her identity became public in 2003, lawyers involved in the case said Monday.

Notes of the previously undisclosed conversation between Mr. Libby and Mr. Cheney on June 12, 2003, appear to differ from Mr. Libby's testimony to a federal grand jury that he initially learned about the C.I.A. officer, Valerie Wilson, from journalists, the lawyers said.

The notes, taken by Mr. Libby during the conversation, for the first time place Mr. Cheney in the middle of an effort by the White House to learn about Ms. Wilson's husband, Joseph C. Wilson IV, who was questioning the administration's handling of intelligence about Iraq's nuclear program to justify the war.

Lawyers involved in the case, who described the notes to The New York Times, said they showed that Mr. Cheney knew that Ms. Wilson worked at the C.I.A. more than a month before her identity was made public and her undercover status was disclosed in a syndicated column by Robert D. Novak on July 14, 2003.

Mr. Libby's notes indicate that Mr. Cheney had gotten his information about Ms. Wilson from George J. Tenet, the director of central intelligence, in response to questions from the vice president about Mr. Wilson. But they contain no suggestion that either Mr. Cheney or Mr. Libby knew at the time of Ms. Wilson's undercover status or that her identity was classified. Disclosing a covert agent's identity can be a crime, but only if the person who discloses it knows the agent's undercover status.

It would not be illegal for either Mr. Cheney or Mr. Libby, both of whom are presumably cleared to know the government's deepest secrets, to discuss a C.I.A. officer or her link to a critic of the administration. But any effort by Mr. Libby to steer investigators away from his conversation with Mr. Cheney could be considered by Patrick J. Fitzgerald, the special counsel in the case, to be an illegal effort to impede the inquiry.
While it's true that merely passing the information about Plame between them wouldn't necessarily be illegal, the disclosure does shed light on what seems to have been a campaign to discredit Wilson, who was apparently a lot more active in discrediting the administration's (mainly Cheney's) case for war against Iraq based on a supposed nuclear threat, than we've previously understood. Wilson was apparently all over town in 2003, acting as the unnamed source for columns by Nicholas Kristoff and articles in botht the Times and Washington Post disparaging the case for war, well before he published his now famous NYT op-ed (and before Novak outed Plame in his column). Attacking Wilson was central to the administration's defense of the war, and it remains central to their strategy for defending the vice president, Karl Rove, Scooter Libby and others implicated in the Plamegate affair.

As we get closer to the Fitzgerald endgame, it looks more and more like Cheney and his staff were looking to shut Wilson up during the summer of 2003, and that somehow, the information they had was filtered out through the New York Times (which was used disgracefully by the administration to sell the war) and through Novak (other reporters refused to take the bait, though the neocons tried to use Time Magazine, NBC News, the Washington Post and other outlets to discredit Wilson, just as Cheney had used "Meet the Press" to sell the nuclear Iraq idea and later, to try and pin the outing of Valerie Plame on Tim Russert...)

The fact that the leaked note seems to have come from Libby's attorney raises the question of whether Libby is throwing Cheney overboard in an attempt to save himself. Bloomberg raises that possibility today, saying all may not be well between the neocon and his patron.

And Raw Story puts the story together with even more detailed allegations, tying in other neocon players, notably David Wurmser, a name you don't hear as often, but whom you might soon. According to the folks at Raw:

Those close to the investigation say that Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald has been told that David Wurmser, then a Middle East adviser to Vice President Dick Cheney on loan from the office of then-Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security Affairs John Bolton, met with Cheney and his chief of staff I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby in June 2003 and told Libby that Plame set up the Wilson trip. He asserted that it was a boondoggle, the sources said.

Libby then shared the information with Karl Rove, President Bush's deputy chief of staff, the sources said. Wurmser also passed on the same information about Wilson to then-Deputy National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley and then-National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice, they added.

Within a week, Wurmser, on orders from "executives in the office of the vice president," was told to leak her name to a specific group of reporters in an effort to muzzle her husband, Wilson, who had become a thorn in the side of the administration, those close to the inquiry say. It is unclear who Wurmser had spoken with in the media, the sources said, but they confirmed he did speak with reporters at national media outlets about Plame.

"Libby wanted to discredit him right from the start," one source close to the investigation told RAW STORY. "He used David Wurmser to help him do that."

The RawStory account has much more details about Wurmser, including his past machinations to foment a removal of Saddam Hussein and his advisory ties to the Likud governments in Israel. Still doubtful of a neocon plot to seize Iraq from Saddam Hussein dating back to the early 1990s...?

WaPo answers yet another hanging question: why hasn't Novak been dragged before the grand jury multiple times or threatened with jail like Miller and Cooper? Because he cooperated with Fitzgerald from the get-go...

Meanwhile, in the latest blow to the Vulcans, Bush I loyalist Brent Scowcroft -- the man who once groomed a young Condi Rice for Washington power -- opens up to the New Yorker, slams the current administration's poorly executed war on Iraq, and says he doesn't even know Dick Cheney anymore...

Previous posts:

Tags; , , , , Karl Rove, , White House, PlameGate, , Middle East, War, Terrorism, Foreign Policy

posted by JReid @ 11:30 AM  
Hush that fuss...
"Ah, hah, hush that fuss ... Everybody move to the back of the bus..." -- Outkast, "Rosa Parks"

The "mother of the civil rights movement,"Rosa Parks, has died at the age of 92. She lived a life that was as mythic as it was mysterious. The latter obviously fed the former, with the mythology of a spontaneous refusal to give up a bus seat to a white man, by a middle aged seamstress whose feat hurt, which just happened to touch off the Montgomery bus boycotts and launch the career of Martin Luther King Jr., defying evidence that her pioneering moment of refusal was a well-orchestrated masterstroke of public relations by the NAACP. Ms. Parks maintained until the end that her refusal to give up her seat was in fact spontaneous (though she allowed that it was intended as a protest, not just the result of "tired feet.") Whether or not she pre-planned it, once her arrest occurred, the NAACP legal team seized on the opportunity to make a larger case against bus segregation in Alabama. It's hard to believe they were not either lying in wait for such a case, or actively coordinating with groups that could make it happen.)

[The people around Ms. Parks have faltered at times in supposed efforts to maintain the mythology -- a low point being the lawsuit filed a couple of years ago against the rap group Outkast for naming a song after the civil rights pioneer, which seems more like an attempt to take financial advantage of Ms. Parks by the filers...]

The mythology has been helpful in sorting out the good guys and bad guys in the civil rights struggle, and it helped at the time to advance the movement's goal of shaming the American public into abandoning Jim Crow laws. But during that time, the movement was a lot more caustic, and elicited much stronger government approbrium than we generally learn in history class. In fact, civil rights leaders were routinely accused of being communists -- including King,
and Rosa Parks, who was pictured with King -- the Southern Christian Leadership Conference founder, attending a 1957 training class put on by the Highlander Folk School in Monteagle, TN -- Highlander was an interracial organization founded by a member of the Communist Party, which sought to train and organize textile workers (Parks was a seamstress) and others to challenge both unfair work rules and Jim Crow segregation laws through organized strikes and
protests. The FBI surveilled the school, which had ties to Eleanor Roosevelt and was accused of "fifth column" activities, among others, and it also spied on King, and one would have to assume -- Ms. Parks -- during the red-baiting era of the 1950s and beyond. (Parks reportedly attended
Highlander trainings
in 1955, 1956 and 1957).

Keep in mind that Parks wasn't the first woman to refuse to give up her seat on a Montgomery bus -- in fact, she was the third that year (that we know of). One of the first women to refuse, Claudette Colvin, then a 15-year-old, later became one of the four plaintiffs in the landmark Browder vs. Gale case which struck down Montgomery's segregation laws, later upheld by the Supreme Court.) But because the NAACP understood hers to be the most marketable case (the other two women had "issues" ranging from unwed pregnancy to alleged family alcoholism -- not to mention the fact that they were of a lower economic class than Parks, and darker-skinned, and therefore less "marketable"...), and because it fit into a larger narrative of organized protest tactics tied to groups seen as being in dangerous collusion with labor, "commies" and other threats from the left, Parks' refusel was a Big event. It also carried larger implications of Black "insurgency" against the Jim Crow system, and the authorities' reaction played into the hands of groups like the NAACP and SCLC, essentially opening the door for them to come and organize in Alabama.

The movement's ties to "leftist" political groups proved to be an albatross around its neck all through the 1960s, and charges of communism continued to dog King until his murder in 1968. (Highlander still exists as a research and educational foundation today, though the school was closed in 1960 under a cloud of accusations of communism. Read the FBI dossier on the school here.) I know from African-American friends of my mothers who were around at that time and even before the 1950s, that the Communist Party was seen by many Blacks as a friendly institution willing to help them win full equality -- not as either threatening or anti-American, and so more than a few folk signed on. Still, those ties continue to be a sore spot with some conservative critics of King and the movement he popularized. It helps to remember that the civil rights movement itself -- broadly drawn from the late 1940s until the early 1970s, took place in the context of the Cold War ... a fact that washed over everything that could be called "liberal" politics. ...

Whatever the messy truths behind it, there's no denying Parks' pivotal role in launching the modern civil rights movement. Her courage and resolve -- and her mythology -- will be her legacy. Rest in peace, Ms. Parks. You are and were a fascinating, complicated soul.

Tags: , ,
posted by JReid @ 11:26 AM  
The people vs. Gorgeous George
A Senate panel has fired a salvo at 'Gorgeous George' Galloway, the British parliament member who came to the U.S. earlier this year and fired a verbal cruise missile into the chamber with his voluntary testimony, and who more recently participated in a grudge match against Trostkycon Christopher Hitchens on the subject of what Galloway has called an illegal war against Iraq. Says CNN:
UNITED NATIONS (CNN) -- A Senate report presented evidence Monday that it says links illegal oil money from deposed Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein's regime to the political campaign of a British lawmaker and to the accounts of his Jordanian wife.

The report accused British Member of Parliament George Galloway of lying under oath about the payments.

The 65-page report by the U.S. Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations accuses Galloway of perjury and obstruction of congressional proceedings. The evidence will be handed over to the Department of Justice for possible criminal charges.

Galloway -- a left-wing politician known for his theatrical rhetoric and fierce debating style -- appeared voluntarily before the Senate panel on May 17 and denied having taken any money.

His appearance followed the release of a report by the subcommittee alleging that Hussein's government granted Galloway vouchers for some 20 million barrels of oil.

At the time, he challenged the chairman, Sen. Norm Coleman, a Minnesota Republican, to show evidence beyond what had been presented that day, which he called a "schoolboy howler."

"What counts is not the names on the paper; what counts is: Where is the money, senator? Who paid me hundreds of thousands of dollars of money? The answer to that is 'nobody,'" Galloway said at the time.

"And if you had anybody who ever paid me a penny, you would have produced them here today."

He said the investigation was intended to divert attention from the "pack of lies" that led to the Iraq invasion in 2003.

Galloway isn't taking the charges lying down. The BBC reports he is "fully prepared to fly to the U.S. today" to face the charges, and he continued his verbal fusillade against Sen. Norm Coleman, his main accuser, daring the Senate to charge him with perjury. Reports the Guardian:
Today Mr Galloway repeated denials that he had ever received any oil cash, and told Mr Coleman to "put up or shut up" by either bringing a prosecution or dropping the allegations. The Respect MP accused Mr Coleman of orchestrating a "sneak revenge attack" motivated by a desire to avenge his "humiliation" at the hearing in May.
"I am demanding prosecution, I am begging for prosecution," Mr Galloway told Sky News. "I am saying if I have lied under oath in front of the senate, that's a criminal offence. Charge me and I will head for the airport right now and face them down in court as I faced them down in the senate room.

"Because I publicly humiliated this lickspittle senator Norman Coleman - one of [George] Bush's righthand men - in the US senate in May, this sneak revenge attack has been launched over the past 24 hours."

The Telegraph, which Galloway successfully sued for libel over its previous reporting on the allegations, has Galloway accusing Coleman of "accute attention deficit disorder" and also reprints the Senate findings in depth. (Here are the actual filings courtesy of the Times of London). The Times also runs with potentially damaging claims from admittedly dubious sources: former Saddam henchmen including deposed Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz, contradicting Galloway's denials. Await the lawsuit, London Times...

This one promises to be a colorful slugfest -- with great one liners...

Tags: , Middle East, href="">War
posted by JReid @ 9:51 AM  
I hate hurricanes
The part of Florida where I live took a direct hit from Hurricane Wilma early Monday morning. The storm has pretty much devastated Southwest Florida, toppling huge, once-beautiful trees all over town and generally making my neighborhood look like a war zone. We lost the one remaining adult tree in our back yard (the other was knocked out by a previous hurricane, but a baby coconut palm my grandmother-in-law planted fought to stay standing ... and won), and our fence was flattened. The storm literally stripped dozens of barrel tiles off our and several neighbors' roofs, and we could hear what sounded like a stoning going on on top of our house in the early morning hours Monday. I ventured out with a neighbor to take a look at the area yesterday, and we were dodging toppled trees the whole way (no stop lights working and many roads blocked off). We actually got power back pretty quickly (last night around 7 p.m.) and the Internet came back this morning (Adelphia cable is good for something after all).

This is definitely no Katrina -- curfews were laid down in Miami-Dade and Broward almost immediately to stamp out what little looting there was, and FEMA generally snaps to attention when Florida comes calling. Despite his flaws (authoritarian style, plutocratic slant, tendency toward religious zealotry etc...) we're blessed to be ruled by the smart Bush down here -- he's ruthless, but competent, and when it comes to hurricanes, Jeb gets the job done.

Tags: Hurricanes, ,News, , Florida
posted by JReid @ 9:16 AM  
Sunday, October 23, 2005
Waiting for Wilma
...she should be here in the morning. We're all boarded up and enjoying the TV and lights while the power lasts... best of luck to my fellow Floridians, those in the Caribbean, in Mexico and everyone else in the storm's path...
posted by JReid @ 11:18 PM  
The latest and greatest

Seven of the original Tuskegee Airmen are headed to Iraq to give some inspiration to the air regiment carrying on the legacy of the 332nd Fighter Group. I met one of the airmen at a Black history event at WTVJ in Miami a couple of years ago and was thoroughly impressed by their story, their dedication and their incredibly positive attitude. Great group -- I hope the young bucks appreciate them, and that all come home safely -- though that's generally what the Airmen do.

Tags: , War
posted by JReid @ 8:07 PM  
A new contract with America
George Packer of the New Yorker offers a sound alternative to waiting for the Republicans to finish destroying themselves. A must-read for Democrats ahead of 2006.

The Nation offers its version (which mercifully leaves out a useless diatribe-manifesto on social issues like gay marriage)...

Other versions are sprouting up online, onthe Daily Kos and other sites. And TruthOut takes the Borosage/Nation version and turns it into a document ready for stamps and signatures. Here's the text:
A Progressive Contract with America

If elected to office I promise to fully, enthusiastically and aggressively work to pass legislation that achieves the following goals:

We Will Bring the Troops Home.

Our military has been stretched to the breaking point through a series of unwise deployments, particularly the war in Iraq. We will begin rebuilding America's all-volunteer military by first setting a date-certain for withdrawal from Iraq, beginning with National Guard and reservists. We will pass legislation requiring US troops begin leaving Iraq at the rate of 15,000 a month. We will work as closely as possible with Iraqi government officials to make this withdraw orderly while continuing to provide them the resources needed to train and equip their own soldiers and police forces.

We Will Crack Down on Corruption.

The revolving door between corporate lobbies and high public office must be closed. We will pass legislation prohibiting legislators, their senior aides and executive branch political appointees from lobbying for two years after leaving office. We will let the sun shine into the deepest corners by requiring detailed public reporting of all contacts between lobbyists and legislators and the timely posting of such contacts on the Web. We pledge to apply these rules to all, regardless of party, as one way to take big money out of politics.

We Will Make Public Officials Accountable.

When public officials fail to do their job, as in the pre-9/11 and WMD intellegence faliures, we will require an independent investigation be launched so that no official's actions, regardless of rank or position, escapes review. We will detail action on the urgent needs that this Administration has ignored: Improve port security, bolster first responders and public health capacity, and require adequate defense planning by high-risk chemical plants. And we will attack fraud, waste and abuse, beginning with the pork-barrel squandering of national security funds.

We Will Unleash New Energy for America.

We understand that the "age of oil," is nearing an end. Therefore we pledge to launch and fund a concerted drive towards real energy independence for America. We must approach this task with the same sense of urgency, funding and attention that the nation gave to the Manhattan Project. We will focus these efforts solely on mainstreaming renewable, non-polluting sources of energy such as hydrogen, wind and solar, with the goal of achieving total energy independence no later than 2020.

We Will Rebuild America First.

We will pass legislation rescinding Bush's tax cuts for the already wealthy and corporations in order to create more jobs here than overseas. We will accomplish that, in part, by using the additional tax revenue to create good-paying jobs rebuilding America's decaying infrastructure.

We Will Make Work Pay Once Again.

There are only three nations on earth with such a vast disparity between rich and poor, Russia, Mexico and the United States. It is a disgraceful effect of GOP economic policies that favor corporations and the wealthy while ignoring hard working Americans. While CEO pay has moved steadily upward, the pay of working Americans has fallen, in many cases below the official poverty level. We promise to reverse that trend, beginning by passing legislation raising the minimum wage to a level that reflects current economic reality. We will encourage workers, including white collar workers, to take a hand in their own destinies by joining unions, as well as becoming shareholders in the companies that employ them and fully participating in both union and shareholder activities. We will insist that any companies that receive government contracts pay the prevailing wage.

We Will Make Healthcare Affordable.

We pledge to fix America's broken healthcare system, a to do so quickly. We will study and then propose a single-payer, universal, healthcare system to be in place no later than 2015. We will also immediately reverse the Republican shameful sellout to the pharmaceutical industry by empowering Medicare to bargain down drug prices andallowing people to purchase drugs from safe outlets abroad.

We Will Protect Retirement Security.

We pledge to strengthen Social Security. We will not risk Social Security by privatizing it. Instead we will modernize Social Security by, in part, recognizing that people live and work longer than they did 75 years ago.We will also modernize the ways the Social Security Trust Fund is invested to assure it always grows at least as fast as core inflation. We will also require companies to treat the shop floor like the top floor when it comes to managing their pensions and healthcare benefits.

We Will Keep the American Dream Alive.

We will immediately stop and reverse current GOP efforts to cut eligibility for college grants and to limit loans. Instead we will offer a contract to American students: If they graduate from high school, they will be able to afford college or the higher technical training needed to be successful in today's economy. We will pay for this by preserving the estate tax on the wealthiest multimillion-dollar estates in America.

We Will Provide Real Security for America.

We will foster and lead an aggressive international alliance to track down stateless terrorists, capture or kill them and confiscate their assets. Captured terrorists will be always be treated in accordance with international law. We will increase efforts and funding to track down and secure "loose nukes." We will detail action on the urgent needs that this Administration has ignored: Improve port security, bolster first responders and public health capacity, and require adequate defense planning by high-risk chemical plants. We will also affirm the reality that no nation can ever be secure as long as its borders are not. We will bring order and security to our borders by increasing border patrols and controls and by instituting a fair, manageable and humane guest worker program. We will also aggressively prosecute employers who employ or exploit illegal immigrant workers.



So, maybe you should email or mail this to your elected representative and let him/her know that, if they intend to run for re-election the price of your vote is their signature on this document.
Pass it on...

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posted by JReid @ 12:43 PM  
Mo better blues
The turmoil inside the New York Times newsroom is now so public, the paper is looking more and more like a Jerry Springer family. The agonistes inside America's Paper of Record are a clear indication that management is having serious second thoughts about relying so heavily on its Big little reporter, Judy Miller, and her pre-war cheerleading on behalf of the Chalabi exiles and the Bush administration. It is now clear to anyone who's paying attention that the paper was used and misled by Ms. Miller (something made clear in an internal memo from executive editor Bill Keller) and that she, in turn, allowed herself to be used by Chalabi and by her "sources" in the Bush administration, both to make the case for war with Iraq, and to cover up the involvement of administration sources in trying to prevent critics of the war case from being heard. The Times revists that underlying issue on its front page today. One key point:
"Iraq was at core a war of choice, and extraordinarily expensive by every measure - human life, impact on our military, dollars, diplomatically," said Mr. [Richard N.] Haass, a former senior State Department official under President Bush. "If this war was widely judged to have been necessary along the lines of Afghanistan after 9/11, I don't believe you would have this controversy. If the war had gone extremely well, you wouldn't have this controversy."
That's the point the Bush administration (and the Congress -- Democrats and Republicans -- who supported the war) can't get around, and it's the one that is sinking the credibility of our present government, and taking at least one journalist -- Ms. Miller -- with it. (Interestingly -- and tragically -- today's Times piece makes it clear that the same claque of neoconservatives who dismissed the CIA's assessments of the Soviet Union during the 1980s as too soft, and who would have preferred war, and its disastrous consequences, did so again with Iraq. Only this time there was no Ronald Reagan to shove them into a closet...)

Miller on Saturday shot back at Keller, saying she never lied to her editors and calling his characterization of her behavior "seriously inaccurate." But nobody -- except perhaps the clods who recently gave her a First Amendment Award, seems to be listening much to Miss Run Amok these days -- and both the newsroom and the op-ed desk appear to be in open revolt against her (last week's lengthy front-pager made it clear Miller isn't too popular among many in the Times staff). The Times public editor today cast doubt on whether she'll be able to return to the paper, and now, none other than fellow Timeswoman Maureen Dowd has delivered a right hook to the Plamenator -- saying flatly that if she did come back, the paper itself could be in mortal danger. (For all you cheapskates who don't want to pay for NYT premium, here's the MoDo article in full):

Woman of Mass Destruction


(October 22, 2005) I've always liked Judy Miller. I have often wondered what Waugh or Thackeray would have made of the Fourth Estate's Becky Sharp.

The traits she has that drive many reporters at The Times crazy - her tropism toward powerful men, her frantic intensity and her peculiar mixture of hard work and hauteur - have never bothered me. I enjoy operatic types.

Once when I was covering the first Bush White House, I was in The Times's seat in the crowded White House press room, listening to an administration official's background briefing. Judy had moved on from her tempestuous tenure as a Washington editor to be a reporter based in New York, but she showed up at this national security affairs briefing.

At first she leaned against the wall near where I was sitting, but I noticed that she seemed agitated about something. Midway through the briefing, she came over and whispered to me, "I think I should be sitting in the Times seat."

It was such an outrageous move, I could only laugh. I got up and stood in the back of the room, while Judy claimed what she felt was her rightful power perch.

She never knew when to quit. That was her talent and her flaw. Sorely in need of a tight editorial leash, she was kept on no leash at all, and that has hurt this paper and its trust with readers. She more than earned her sobriquet "Miss Run Amok."

Judy's stories about W.M.D. fit too perfectly with the White House's case for war. She was close to Ahmad Chalabi, the con man who was conning the neocons to knock out Saddam so he could get his hands on Iraq, and I worried that she was playing a leading role in the dangerous echo chamber that Senator Bob Graham, now retired, dubbed "incestuous amplification." Using Iraqi defectors and exiles, Mr. Chalabi planted bogus stories with Judy and other credulous journalists.

Even last April, when I wrote a column critical of Mr. Chalabi, she fired off e-mail to me defending him.

When Bill Keller became executive editor in the summer of 2003, he barred Judy from covering Iraq and W.M.D. issues. But he acknowledged in The Times's Sunday story about Judy's role in the Plame leak case that she had kept "drifting" back. Why did nobody stop this drift?

Judy admitted in the story that she "got it totally wrong" about W.M.D. "If your sources are wrong," she said, "you are wrong." But investigative reporting is not stenography.

The Times's story and Judy's own first-person account had the unfortunate effect of raising more questions. As Bill said yesterday in an e-mail note to the staff, Judy seemed to have "misled" the Washington bureau chief, Phil Taubman, about the extent of her involvement in the Valerie Plame leak case.

She casually revealed that she had agreed to identify her source, Scooter Libby, Dick Cheney's chief of staff, as a "former Hill staffer" because he had once worked on Capitol Hill. The implication was that this bit of deception was a common practice for reporters. It isn't.

She said that she had wanted to write about the Wilson-Plame matter, but that her editor would not allow it. But Managing Editor Jill Abramson, then the Washington bureau chief, denied this, saying that Judy had never broached the subject with her.

It also doesn't seem credible that Judy wouldn't remember a Marvel comics name like "Valerie Flame." Nor does it seem credible that she doesn't know how the name got into her notebook and that, as she wrote, she "did not believe the name came from Mr. Libby."

An Associated Press story yesterday reported that Judy had coughed up the details of an earlier meeting with Mr. Libby only after prosecutors confronted her with a visitor log showing that she had met with him on June 23, 2003. This cagey confusion is what makes people wonder whether her stint in the Alexandria jail was in part a career rehabilitation project.

Judy refused to answer a lot of questions put to her by Times reporters, or show the notes that she shared with the grand jury. I admire Arthur Sulzberger Jr. and Bill Keller for aggressively backing reporters in the cross hairs of a prosecutor. But before turning Judy's case into a First Amendment battle, they should have nailed her to a chair and extracted the entire story of her escapade.

Judy told The Times that she plans to write a book and intends to return to the newsroom, hoping to cover "the same thing I've always covered - threats to our country." If that were to happen, the institution most in danger would be the newspaper in your hands.

Well said, Ms. Dowd.

Tags; , , , , Karl Rove, , White House, PlameGate
posted by JReid @ 12:09 PM  
Power outage
Appearing on Howard Kurtz's "Reliable Sources" on CNN just now, John Hinderaker of Powerline Blog just made the most extraordinary statement I've heard in a while. Sitting on a panel with Jeff Jarvis of Buzzmachine and Slate's John Dickerson, Hinderaker said -- with a straight face -- that the inconvenient stuff about a newspaper reporter acting as a conduit for a campaign of lies by a foreign exile group hoping to fool the United States into invading its home country, and as a virtual stenographer for a presidential administration determined to go along with that campaign, and lying to her own editors in order to do so, and the subsequent naming of a secret CIA operative through a campaign orchestrated by administration officials using journalists as the conduit -- comprise the most "overblown stories" of the year, and that the real story in the Plamegate and Judy Miller affairs -- the one that should be getting all the attention and causing all the brouhaha -- is that Joe Wilson "lied" in his July 2003 op-ed piece in the New York Times.

That's the story everyone should be focusing on: whether Wilson claimed to have been sent to Niger because of questions raised by the vice president's office, and whether his op-ed piece mischaracterized his findings in Niger.

If Hinderaker really orders national priorities that way, I think it's time to officially write Powerline off as a source for commentary on important issues of the day. Sorry but I find it hard to take him seriously after that.

Tags; , , , , Karl Rove, , White House, PlameGate
posted by JReid @ 10:45 AM  
Friday, October 21, 2005
Swiftboat Veterans Against Harriet Miers
Among the myriad ironies in the disastrous Harriet Miers nomination, this one surely beats all: by nominating his insufficiently qualified crony from Texas, George W. Bush has done more than just damage his standing with his base -- he essentially has "Swiftboated" himself; drawing the most vicious of the Kerry slanderers back out into the open and reopening perhaps the biggest gaping wound in his own checkered history: his spotty service in the National Guard.

John Fund breaks down the latest Bush agonistes.
The politics of the Harriet Miers nomination are getting stranger as attention turns toward Ms. Miers's tenure as head of the Texas Lottery Commission. Two key players in last year's presidential campaign--Jerome Corsi, co-author of the Swift Boat Veterans book "Unfit for Command," and Ben Barnes, a former Texas lieutenant governor who claimed President Bush got special treatment when he joined the Texas Air National Guard--are involved in the debate.

In a plot twist worthy of "Dallas," Mr. Barnes is effectively siding with President Bush's appointee, while Mr. Corsi is opposed. Mr. Corsi has written a half dozen Internet stories on the Lottery Commission scandal, while Mr. Barnes is calling the offices of Democrats on the Judiciary Committee and urging them not to question Ms. Miers about the Lottery Commission because it will prove embarrassing to him and other Texas Democrats.
Meanwhile, an October 10 story in the NY Sun goes in-depth on the man who could become the Miers' nomination hearings' star witness.

Ironically, much of the detail on the Texas lottery scandal is coming from what once was a Bush allied site: right-wing World Net Daily ... plus more on the site from Jerome Corsi himself. A year ago, would you ever have expected to read a paragraph like this coming from the heart of the Swiftboat conspiracy:
Why would George Bush want to nominate the only person in the world who would open up the Texas Lottery scandals and the question of whether Ben Barnes used political influence to get him into the Texas Air National Guard? By nominating Miers, Bush called an artillery strike on his own position, something we doubt he learned in the National Guard.
Corsi -- his ruthless smearing of kerry aside -- spins a tale of broad political payoffs that go well beyond whether Ben Barnes was handed a fat, no-bid lottery contract in order to shut him up about Bush's Guard service. He also tacks right back to the story that made the word "pajama" sinonymous with "Dan Rather" and "forced retirement":

CBS was obsessed with Bush-hatred. That's the only explanation for why anyone would forge documents. The story of the Bush National Guard cover-up was always right there, hidden in plain view, as Edgar Allen Poe would remind us.

Then, sometime before 1997, somebody wrote an anonymous letter to U.S. Attorney Dan Mills in Austin, Texas, revealing the ties between George Bush, Ben Barnes, GTECH, the Texas Lottery Commission and how George Bush used influence to get into the Texas Air National Guard. The letter mentioned Reggie Bashur, who at that time was George Bush's chief of staff. The anonymous writer claimed that Bashur made a deal with Barnes that Gov. Bush would not allow the GTECH contract to be opened to competitive bid as long as Barnes kept quiet about having used influence to get Bush in the National Guard. Anonymous letters are always suspect. Still, when GTECH decided to hire Bashur as yet another high paid lobbyist, eyebrows are raised.

The letter also named Robert Spellings, claiming that he was talking about the National Guard story, making "a lot of people nervous."

Who is Robert Spellings? He was chief of staff for Ben Barnes both from 1966 to1968 when Barnes was speaker of the Texas House of Representatives, and again from 1969 to 1973 when Barnes was lieutenant governor of Texas. He then turns up in Washington, married to Margaret Spellings, who President Bush swore in as secretary of education in January.

He even delves into the world usually trod only by what he calls "Bush-hating bloggers":
Everywhere we look there's another skeleton. GTECH, the Rhode Island company running the Texas Lottery, was formed in 1981 and backed by some of Bush's biggest financial backers in Texas – none other than the Bass brothers and their money manager, Richard Rainwater.

... Just go to any Internet search engine and type in "Spectrum 7" or "Harken Oil" and you will find tons of left-wing bloggers claiming that Richard Rainwater is the major reason George Bush is a multi-millionaire. Rainwater allegedly put up the money to buy out Bush's debt-ridden oil company, Spectrum 7, during the 1985-1986 crisis when the price of oil fell to $9 a barrel.

Then, according to the Bush-hating bloggers, Rainwater was the angel who funded Harken Energy to drill in Bahrain. Oh yes, Rainwater also evidently put up a good chunk of the $86 million needed to purchase the Texas Rangers. Bush-bashers then note that the future president's contribution to the baseball deal was some $500,000 that he borrowed from a bank he had once directed.

The person who vetted Harriet Miers at the White House should be fired for incompetence. But, then, the person who vetted Miers was Bush himself. ..."

If Bush is taking this much fire from within his own ranks, and is forced to rely on the restraint of the Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee to save his nominee, is there any way to argue that elevating yet another crony to a position of power -- this time of the lifetime variety -- was worth the cost of undoing the most successfully quashed story of the 2004 campaign?

But once again, we're left with options for the president that don't look good: he could withdraw Miers under fire, and appear weaker than he does now, by meekly handing his al-Qaida (Arabic for "the base" you know) their Janice Rogers Brown or Michael Luttig (with the absurd caveat that one of them is the second-most qualified person for the Court. Or he could withdraw her and flip the insurgents within his party the bird by giving them Gonzalez, or as I offered before, his father. But if he were to do that, he would sever himself from his base forever. Third, he can hunker down and slug it out, in which case Miers probably gets onto the Court, delivering a stinging defeat to the conservative movement that could resonate for many, many years.

So many bad choices, such strange bedfellows.

Tags:, , Politics, SCOTUS, Law, News,
posted by JReid @ 6:14 PM  
The diary of Ronnie Earle
The boys and girls at Fox News and the National Review have been making much of the other Texas Republican prosecuted (unsuccessfully) by Ronnie Earle (oh those wonderful GOP talking points...). Famous Texans remembers the time...
"Would these documents reside anywhere else on any kind of backup? Well, I never authorized the personal or political work to be out there, and I don't want to be criticized for it being out there. And so I want you to go to those backup tapes and remove it all from the backup tapes." -- the quote attributed to Hutchison by grand jury testimony of Deputy Treasurer Michael Barron that ultimately led to Hutchison's September 28, 1993 indictments, including felony counts of tampering with government documents and evidence. ...

... In 1993, Hutchison and her team of attorney's - led by Dick DeGuerin, the $700-an-hour hotshot criminal lawyer and defender of Branch Dividian David Koresh - were fighting charges that she had abused her office as state treasurer. The evidence portrayed Hutchison as a termagant who verbally and physically abused her staff, including testimony that while in a tirade, she hit executive assistant Sharon Connally Ammann, the daughter of former governor John Connally, on the shoulder with a notebook binder. Another deputy had been Warren Idsal, the son-in-law of Hutchison's best friend and mentor, legendary ultra-right-wing Texan and Nixon adviser Anne Armstrong. She fired Idsal and later cited his removal as a threat to a frustrated staffer of her tough approach to personnel management. The evidence also showed she ordered a purge of backup computer tapes containing personal and political documents her executive staff produced for her. Conviction for the Nixon-like charges would have ruined her politically. Hutchison claimed the chief prosecutor, Travis County District Attorney Ronnie Earle, was part of a sinister conspiracy against her.

She was acquitted in February 1994, when Earle declined to proceed with the case. The jury selection had gone badly for Earle. Jurors were exposed to news media which was pressured, according to former Fort Worth Star-Telegram capitol reporter Joe Cutberth, to slant coverage in Hutchison's favor. Her own press secretary Dave Beckwith (former Dan Quayle spokesman), and Republican consultant Karl Rove (former Hutchison campaign manager and later top handler to George W. Bush) were heavily quoted spinning the tale of a politically motivated prosecutor. Finally, presiding judge John Onion refused to make a pretrial ruling on whether he would allow the incriminating tapes into evidence. Stripped of the certainty of using key evidence, the prosecution dropped the charges in the hope of starting over later before a less restrictive judge. Judge Onion outmaneuvered Earle, however. He swore in a jury and immediately ordered them to acquit Hutchison. She then proclaimed the forced verdict proof of her innocence.
Bet Earle has learned a lot since then. ... I wonder how many Texans he's flipped against the smiling exterminator?

Tags: , Politics, Republicans, Congress, Ethics,
posted by JReid @ 2:59 PM  
Arraigny day
Tom DeLay's lawyers call the judge a partisan Democrat and say he should step down. The prosecutor calls him a money launderer. Let's see if a Texas court can wipe that smile off the bug-master's face...

Tags: , Politics, Republicans, Congress, Ethics,
posted by JReid @ 10:20 AM  
Senate to the poor: f*** off
Illustrated scene from Charles Dickens' "Oliver Twist"

Home heating oil prices are expected to soar this winter, but there will be no additional help for the poor. I wonder how newly minted lotto winner Judd Gregg voted... oh, that's unfortunate ...
I guess it's a rich guy thing, right? Except that 9 of the 10 richest U.S. Senators (except John Corzine who didn't vote -- probably campaigning...) voted for the amendment. The exception, who joined Gregg in voting against helping the less fortunate? Everybody's favorite "maverick," and the third wealthiest Republican in the Senate: John McCain. (Proving he's in seriously desperate straights, PA's Rick Santorum also supported the amendment...)


Tags: , , politics, news, society

posted by JReid @ 2:46 AM  
America's most unwanted
Bush turns up at California fundraiser; Schwarzenegger Republicans wince in pain...

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posted by JReid @ 2:25 AM  
Life without you
From WaPo: The White House begins to ponder a world without Turd Blossom, as Karl Rove and Scooter Libby await probable indictment. Says the NYT Friday:
Among the charges that Mr. Fitzgerald is considering are perjury, obstruction of justice and false statement - counts that suggest the prosecutor may believe the evidence presented in a 22-month grand jury inquiry shows that the two White House aides sought to cover up their actions, the lawyers said.

Mr. Rove and Mr. Libby have been advised that they may be in serious legal jeopardy, the lawyers said, but only this week has Mr. Fitzgerald begun to narrow the possible charges. The prosecutor has said he will not make up his mind about any charges until next week, government officials say.
At least now they know to smile for their mug shots... Meanwhile, the writer formerly known as "Fine" opines on poetic justice, hardball tactics and a White House spinning out of control...

Reuters speculates on the charges: it's the cover-up, stupid. And Tim Russert denies he was Libby's source (note to Scooter -- you talked to Lil' Russ after you talked to Judy...) says Thursday's barn burner:

In light of all the disclosures, "it's going to be as difficult for the defense to prove the theory that the White House got the information from reporters as it is for Fitzgerald to prove that the White House leaked the information about Wilson's wife," said Washington-based white-collar defense attorney James D. Wareham.
People are asking: just who was Rove's second source (he's apparently already named Libby...) And don't even bother blaming Tim Russert ...

Tags; , , , , Karl Rove, , White House, PlameGate
posted by JReid @ 1:21 AM  
Thursday, October 20, 2005
The neocon retreat
There were so many problems with the recent Bill Kristol, Jeffrey Bell piece in the Weekly Standard regarding the "criminalization of politics" supposedly being practiced on the hapless GOP (otherwise known as Fox News' newest talking point), it's hard to know where to begin. The idea that Mssrs. DeLay, Frist and Bush are being punished legally for successfully pursuing heartfelt conservative principles is rendered ridiculous by the fact that though between the three of them, they have pushed through lots of legislation, not much of it (massive deficit spending, mammoth expansions to the Medicare entitlement, federal meddling in education and a Wilsonian adventure in Iraq) has been very conservative.

But then again, neither are Kristol and his fellow neoconservatives, who, from within the administration and from outside, in think tanks, on the pages of magazines and as undercover "analysts" across the spectrum of cable TV news, have combined to destroy the presidency of George W. Bush.

Bush's presidency started off poorly enough -- he was the installed regent of the Republican appointees on a politicized Supreme Court, pelted with eggs on his way to the inaugural. Bush had run as a fairly typical conservative: in favor or "small government," religion in the public square, promotion of big business interests and lots and lots of tax cuts for the upper economic class, and opposed to an end to affirmative action and (rhetorically at least), against the broad liberaliation of abortion. That's who the Bushes are and have always been. But once in office, George W. Bush didn't get to govern as George W. Bush. He made the cataclysmic mistake of allowing one Dick Cheney to install himself in the vice president's chair, and from there, to populate the Bush administration with a band of Revolution-minded Jacobins and Trotskyites who called themselves the "Vulcans" -- which was fitting because as exiles from the Wilsonian wilderness of the Democratic Party, they were absolutely alien to the Goldwater/Reagan tradition. (In fact, though they claim to be Reaganites, a key feature of the neocons is that they thought Reagan -- like their nemesis Henry Kissinger -- was too timid during the Cold War, opting for food aid and quiet diplomacy via the Vatican, food aid and the AFL-CIO against what they believed was the imminent threat of nuclear annihilation at the hands of the crazed Soviet Union.) Though few in number, they were tenacious and supremely ideological -- only not in the way other conservatives (like DeLay, Frist and Bush) are. They don't get jazzed about tax cuts, these neocons -- they get jazzed up about war in the Middle East.

I'm currently reading a fantastic book called "Where the Right Went Wrong" -- which happens to be by a guy named Patrick Buchanan -- former Nixon speech writer and one hell of a writer and an obvious lover of history. In the book, Buchanan recounts the history of empire, from the Muslim displacement of the Holy Roman Empire and its long global ascendancy, to the rise of the Ottomans, the British, the French and the cataclysms of war that brought them all down. He delves into the wars between the faiths -- mounting an eloquent defense of the Crusades and a compelling recitation of the history of revolutionary terror, from Robespierre to the Russian revolution and the current wave of Islamist rebellion. At the heart of the book is this proposition: the American empire -- like all of those before it -- has been brought to the brink of doom by a calamitous war, and it finds itself locked in a battle against a revolutionary insurgency that uses terror as a weapon, and which it cannot ever truly defeat or totally irradicate. But like other empires at their tipping point, the U.S. is blowing its resources and its national resolve in trying.

How did we get here? That brings us back to the neocons.

According to many former members of the Bush administration, who suddenly feel free to talk, with the president's approval ratings in the basement, this small group of intellectuals -- inexperienced in military matters but long on military plans -- hijacked the Bush agenda and dragged the country to war to complete their long-cherished dream of toppling Saddam Hussein and rolling up the anti-Israel dictatorships of the oil-soaked Middle East. Those making that charge go far beyond Buchanan, who is often written off as a bitter, quirky Nixonite out of step with modern conservatism. They include other Reaganites like Collin Powell's longtime deputy Lawrence Wilkerson, who recently went before a prominent D.C. think tank and spoke of a "'cabal' led by Cheney and Pentagon chief Donald Rumsfeld" who "hijack[ed] U.S. foreign policy by circumventing or ignoring formal decision-making channels." Here are a few snippets of Wilkerson's comments before the New America Foundation on Wednesday:
"... Decisions that send men and women to die, decisions that have the potential to send men and women to die, decisions that confront situations like natural disasters and cause needless death or cause people to suffer misery that they shouldn’t have to suffer, domestic and international decisions, should not be made in a secret way.

That’s a very, very provocative statement, I think. All my life I’ve been taught to guard the nation’s secrets. All my life I have followed the rules. I’ve gone through my special background investigations and all the other things that you need to do and I understand that the nation’s secrets need guarding.

But fundamental decisions about foreign policy should not be made in secret. Let me tell you the practical reason and here I’m jumping over in, really into both realms. The practical reasons why it’s true.

You’ve probably all read books on leadership, 7 Habits of Successful People, or whatever. If you, as a member of bureaucracy, do not participate in a decision, you are not going to carry that decision out with the alacrity, the efficiency and the effectiveness you would if you had participated.

When you cut the bureaucracy out of your decisions and then foist your decisions on us out of the blue on that bureaucracy, you can’t expect that bureaucracy to carry your decision out very well and, furthermore, if you’re not prepared to stop the feuding elements in that bureaucracy, as they carry out your decision, you’re courting disaster.

And I would say that we have courted disaster, in Iraq, in North Korea, in Iran, generally with regard to domestic crises like Katrina, Rita and I could go on back, we haven’t done very well on anything like that in a long time. And if something comes along that is truly serious, truly serious, something like a nuclear weapon going off in a major American city, or something like a major pandemic, you are going to see the ineptitude of this government in a way that will take you back to the Declaration of Independence. Read it some time again. ...

...And you’re talking about the potential for, I think, real dangerous times if we don’t get our act together. Now, let me get a little more specific. This is where I’m sure the journalists will get their pens out. Almost everyone since the ’47 act, with the exception, I think, of Eisenhower, has in some way or another, perterbated, flummoxed, twisted, drew evolutionary trends with, whatever, the national security decision-making process.

I mean, John Kennedy trusted his brother, who was Attorney General, made his brother Attorney General, probably far more than he should have. Richard Nixon, oh my God, took a position that was not even envisioned in the original framers of the act’s minds, national security minds, that are not subject to confirmation by the Senate, advise and consent. Took that position and gave it to his Secretary of State, concentrating power in ways that still reverberate in this country.

Jimmy Carter allowed [inaudible] Brezinsky to essentially negate his Secretary of State. I could go on and say what Sandy Berger did to Madeline Albright in [inaudible] foreign policy. And I could make other provocative statements, too. Another one in my study of the act’s implementation has so flummoxed the process as the present administration. What do I mean by that? ...

...The complexity of governing is unprecedented. You simply cannot deal with all the challenges that government has to deal with, meet all the demands that government has to meet in the modern age, in the 21st century, without admitting that it is hugely complex. That doesn’t mean you have to add a Department of Homeland Security with 70,000 disparate entities thrown under somebody in order to handle them. But it does mean that your bureaucracy has got to be staffed with good people and they’ve got to work together and they’ve got to work under leadership they trust and leadership that, on basic issues, they agree with.

And that if they don’t agree, they can dissent and dissent and dissent. And if their dissent is such that they feel so passionate about it, they can resign and know why they’re resigning. That is not the case today. And when I say that is not the case today, I stop on 26 January 2005.

I don’t know what the case is today. I wish I did. But the case that I saw for 4 plus years was a case that I have never seen in my studies of aberration, bastardizations, [inaudible], changes to the national security [inaudible] process. What I saw was a cabal between the Vice President of the United States, Richard Cheney, and the Secretary of Defense and [inaudible] on critical issues that made decisions that the bureaucracy did not know were being made.

And then when the bureaucracy was presented with those decisions and carried them out, it was presented in such a disjointed incredible way that the bureaucracy often didn’t know what it was doing as it moved to carry them out. ...

...Read George Packer’s book The Assassin’s [inaudible] if you haven’t already. George Packer, a New Yorker, reporter for The New Yorker, has got it right. I just finished it and I usually put marginalia in a book but, let me tell you, I had to get extra pages to write on.

And I wish, I wish I had been able to help George Packer write that book. In some places I could have given him a hell of a lot more specifics than he’s got. But if you want to read how the Cheney Rumsfeld cabal flummoxed the process, read that book. And, of course, there are other names in there, Under Secretary of Defense Douglas [inaudible], whom most of you probably know Tommy Frank said was stupidest blankety blank man in the world. He was. Let me testify to that. He was. Seldom in my life have I met a dumber man.

And yet, and yet, after the Secretary of State agrees to a $400 billion department, rather than a $30 billion department, having control, at least in the immediate post-war period in Iraq, this man is put in charge. Not only is he put in charge, he is given carte blanche to tell the State Department to go screw themselves in a closet somewhere. That’s not making excuses for the State Department.

That’s telling you how decisions were made and telling you how things got accomplished. Read George’s book. In so many ways I wanted to believe for 4 years that what I was seeing, as an academic, what I was seeing was an extremely weak national security [inaudible]. And an extremely powerful Vice President and an extremely powerful in the issues that impacted him, Secretary of Defense, remember a Vice President who’s been Secretary of Defense, too, and obviously has an inclination that way and also has known the Secretary of Defense for a long time, and also is a member of what Dwight Eisenhower wanted that God bless Eisenhower in 1961 in his farewell address the military industrial complex and don’t you think they aren’t the [inaudible] today in a concentration of power that is just unparalleled. It all happened because of the end of the Cold War.

Wilkerson, who reportedly has fallen out with Collin Powell over his outspoken comments, has been a Bush administration critic before, including calling his part in Powell's U.N. speech "the lowest point in my life." But he's hardly alone in recognizing the deadly combination of arrogance, secrecy, ideological zeal and incompetence that led the U.S. inexorably toward war and quagmire in Iraq.

Other critics, including staunch Reagan/Thatcher conservatives like Stefan Halper and Jonathan Clarke, authors of America Alone: The Neoconservatives and the Global Order, George Will, and a raft of academics, authors, former weapons inspectors, CIA men and former Reagan and Bush administration figures like Larry Korb and Richard Clarke, have zeroed in on the neocon think tankers as the court whisperers who steered a president who ran on an anti nation-building platform in 2000, into that very morass after 9/11.

Ironically, neocons like Kristol, Stephen Hayes (of a previous nefarious leak), Charles Krauthammer and others are rowing their boats as far and as fast from the notion of responsibility for the war as they can get, crying "we weren't the only ones!" on the subject of Iraq's supposed WMD (as Hayes recently did on "Hardball") and insisting that there was some broad ideological consensus to invade Iraq. Well, there was, thanks to the blockbuster sales job of the neocon/Bushocon marketing alliance called the White House Iraq Group (a throwback to LBJ's "White House Information Group" which tried in 1967 to "raise favorable coverage" to sell the nation on Vietnam) -- a WHIG soon to be flipped, big time, by a certain Chicago prosecutor... and the neocons and their backer -- particularly Cheney -- were successful in stifling dissent, both inside the government, including in Congress, and in the media, with a noxious combination of patriotic rhetoric and fear mongering.

As for Bush, he seems to have spent the first year of his second term running most of the neocon war planners out of town (Wolfowitz to the World Bank, Bolton from State to the U.N., Pentagon information twisters Feith and Stephen J. Cambone just out of dodge altogether) while retiring the sycophants who let them run amok (bye bye Tenet old boy, enjoy your medal of freedom). A judge and jury could yet rid him of the remaining detritus, if neocon hard-cores Scooter Libby, Stephen Hadley (implanted at the NSC under Condi Rice and now her successor as National Security Advisor), and god forbid Don Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney himself (Rumsfeld and Cheney are seen more as the neocon's corporate sponsors than members of the intellectual club themsves. Cheney in particular comes across as mostly a corporate profiteer for whom the neocons provide the pretext to deliver him a war) get indicted or worse.

And the president himself has seemed to revert to his original type with the Kristol camp sidelined: nominating two big business justices to the Supreme Court, against the wishes of the fuming neocons (who've become unaccustomed to a president who won't come to heel), not to mention the Christions... roaming the country spouting off about Social Security privatization, and plotting to throw open the southern U.S. border to slave laborers for his corporate friends. And his good buddy Karl Rove has taken the first public step to begin throwing his and Dubya's former neocon friends under the first available bus.

Bush still talks the talk about freedom and democracy, but he doesn't even look like he totally buys the talking points anymore. Rather, Bush looks like a man dying to give two weeks' notice. Too bad the country, the uniformed military, Guard and Reserves, the treasury, American civil liberties and the civilian dead in Iraq have had to pay such a heavy price for his time as the neocons' Dauphin...

Useful links:

Tags: , Middle East, War, Terrorism, Foreign Policy
posted by JReid @ 10:36 PM  
The latest Iraq war casualty:
The U.S. National Guard ...

Tags: , Middle East, href="">War, Foreign Policy
posted by JReid @ 4:23 PM  
Harris County Sheriff's Office/AP

Tom DeLay's people are in top form. Booked on money laundering charges in Texas today, the disgraced lawmaker/bad legislation arm twister followed what was likely excellent P.R. guidance by smiling and appearing fully sober and wide awake for his long-awaited mug shot. The smiling, bright-eyed pic is DeLay's best shot at not filtering to the top of the bad mugshot hall of fame, and denying the opposition the satisfaction of a wigged out looking pic...

Other looks one could try upon negative confrontations with the law:

Stoned, unstable, just glad to be noticed, kookoo, distracted, surprisingly normal, drunk off your ass, possibly homeless, confident in the surefire effectiveness of your one phone call, even happier to be noticed, glad to be somewhere other than at home playing Dungeons and Dragons (and secure in the knowledge that ultimately this won't matter at all), soiling your pants while mentally confronting the fact that you're not really a thug, but could soon be rooming with one ...

Tags: , Politics, Republicans, Congress, Ethics,
posted by JReid @ 3:10 PM  
Let's do it again

WASHINGTON, Oct. 19 - The Supreme Court nomination of Harriet E. Miers suffered another setback on Wednesday when the Republican and Democratic leaders of the Senate Judiciary Committee asked her to resubmit parts of her judicial questionnaire, saying various members had found her responses "inadequate," "insufficient" and "insulting."

Senators Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, the committee chairman, and Patrick J. Leahy of Vermont, the senior Democrat, sent Ms. Miers a letter faulting what they called incomplete responses about her legal career, her work in the White House, her potential conflicts on cases involving the administration and the suspension of her license by the District of Columbia Bar.

Their letter also asked her to provide detailed accounts of private reassurances about her views given by the White House or its allies to some conservative supporters who have been anxious about her positions on abortion and other social issues.

The letter asked Ms. Miers to respond within a week. Mr. Specter said he had scheduled hearings on her confirmation to begin Nov. 7, overruling Democratic objections that they did not have enough information to evaluate her because of her scant record on constitutional issues before joining the White House. Both Mr. Specter and Mr. Leahy said they would not set any deadline for the conclusion of the hearings.

"If the questions are not answered or their answer is incomplete, as they have been, then it's going to be a long hearing indeed," Mr. Leahy said.

Veteran senators and aides said they could not recall another occasion when the committee had sent back a nominee's answers to a questionnaire because they were incomplete. Former Senator Daniel R. Coats of Indiana, the administration's appointed guide for Ms. Miers on Capitol Hill, defended her answers in the Senate questionnaire as a work in progress.
Um ... Perhaps a nice nomination to the post of Supreme Court staff secretary would be in order...? Then again ... even that job might require some ability to fill things out ...

Meanwhile, buried at the bottom of the WaPo version, Alberto Gonzalez hands out the "someday our turn will come" consolation prize to disappointed Hispanic Court watchers. At this rate, "someday" may be sooner than you think, amigo mio.

Tags: Politics, Supreme Court, Pro-life, Reproductive Rights, Religion, , , Politics, SCOTUS, Law, News
posted by JReid @ 1:29 AM  
Tick ... tick ... tick ...
"That little snitch... "

Did Karl Rove rat out Scooter Libby to the grand jury? Signs point to "save your own petard and damn the torpedoes..."

White House adviser Karl Rove told the grand jury in the CIA leak case that I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, Vice President Cheney's chief of staff, may have told him that CIA operative Valerie Plame worked for the intelligence agency before her identity was revealed, a source familiar with Rove's account said yesterday.

In a talk that took place in the days before Plame's CIA employment was revealed in 2003, Rove and Libby discussed conversations they had had with reporters in which Plame and her marriage to Iraq war critic Joseph C. Wilson IV were raised, the source said. Rove told the grand jury the talk was confined to information the two men heard from reporters, the source said.
Hm. I wonder which reporters? And Rove may have been standing too close to Judy Miller beneath the turning Fall leaves (oh, sorry, that's Scooter's position) ... in that he seems to have caught "don't recall a thing" disease when it comes to who told him what. Says WaPo:

Rove has also testified that he also heard about Plame from someone else outside the White House, but could not recall who.
Perhaps a fifth appearance before Mr. Fitzgerald's jury would help...? Even before the latest revelations, WaPo's Dan Froomkin already had compiled a full menu of "waiting for indictments" stories re the CIA leak probe. Highlights: Bush did know of Rove's involvement in the Plame leak (and chastized him for it):

Thomas M. DeFrank writes in the New York Daily News: "An angry President Bush rebuked chief political guru Karl Rove two years ago for his role in the Valerie Plame affair, sources told the Daily News.

" 'He made his displeasure known to Karl,' a presidential counselor told The News. 'He made his life miserable about this.' . . .

"A second well-placed source said some recently published reports implying Rove had deceived Bush about his involvement in the Wilson counterattack were incorrect and were leaked by White House aides trying to protect the President.

" 'Bush did not feel misled so much by Karl and others as believing that they handled it in a ham-handed and bush-league way,' the source said."
But now, Bush is circling the wagons around Rove, DeFrank writes.

" 'Karl is fighting for his life,' [another] official added, 'but anything he did was done to help George W. Bush. The President knows that and appreciates that.' "
ABC News the Note says DeFrank's story "might be a window into some new White House thinking on how best to position the President in advance of any possible indictments."
National Journal's Murray Waas goes in-depth on the possible case against Irv "Scooter" Libby... Waas' suggestion that third man on the totem pole, Cheney's deputy chief of staff John Hannah may have tried to save his own skin by flipping on his boss, Libby, is backed up by the following contention in today's Post:
John Hannah, an aide to Cheney and one of two dozen people questioned in the CIA leak case, has told friends in recent months he is worried he may be implicated by the investigation, according to two U.S. officials.

It is not clear whether Hannah had any role in unmasking Plame, or why he should fear Fitzgerald's probe. But the eleventh-hour emergence of another possible target shows how Fitzgerald has cast his net so widely over the past two years that it is impossible to know who, if anyone, it might ensnare.

Fitzgerald and his team have interviewed or taken before the grand jury at least two dozen officials or staffers from the White House, the vice president's office, the State Department and the CIA, according to people involved in the case.

Fitzgerald has dug into the deepest corners of the administration, pressing for information about everything from the mechanics of a secretive group of officials tasked with selling the Iraq war, to the State Department officials who assembled information on Wilson, the diplomat-turned-Iraq war critic, according to people familiar with the case. The focus has been on who leaked Plame's name, and who else knew about it.

But many unknowns remain. What role did Hannah play? What, if any, role was played by former White House spokesman Ari Fleischer? Who was the second source for Robert D. Novak, the columnist who first disclosed Plame's name and role in July 2003? Who was the White House official who leaked word about Wilson's wife to The Washington Post's Walter Pincus, who has never publicly revealed his source?
Meanwhile, the MSM is debunking the Paul Bedard USNWR story suggesting Cheney would resign and Bush would elevate Condi Rice to veep (how convenient for 2008, but do we really want this woman to continue failing upward?)

Tags: , , , , , Karl Rove, White House, PlameGate, '',
posted by JReid @ 1:01 AM  
Hillary on the march: war chest edition
NYO pegs the 2008 front runner.

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posted by JReid @ 1:00 AM  
Wednesday, October 19, 2005
Originalism unplugged

The other blockbuster on OpinionJournal today (the first being the Bork piece reference in this post): Alan Pell Crawford reviews the book "Dark Bargain" by Lawrence Goldstone and defends the three-fifths clause to the original (slave-owner-accommodating) U.S. Constitution. I wonder how Robert Bork would have ruled on the constitutionality of the 13th Amendment, which clearly did not arise from the founders' original intent...)

Tags: , , ,
posted by JReid @ 1:13 PM  
Aye, Dios mio...
Conservatives aren't buying Bush's immigration "reform" plan... and oddly enough, neither do advocates for more rights for illegal migrants...

Tags; , Politics,,
posted by JReid @ 12:56 PM  
Harriet Miers: Occasional Litigator
Harriet Miers' congressional questionnaire offers little insight, but a few interesting tidbits. She's been down with Girls, Inc., (formerly the Girl Scouts), whom Christian evangelicals generally loathe... And she once joined something called the Progressive Voters League, a "local political organization" that "no longer exists" (lucky for her...) She's been to court maybe eight times, represented the Bush campaign in a 2000 lawsuit over whether Bush and his veep/nemesis/Dark Lord overseer Dick Cheney could constitutionally serve since both technically resided in the same state; and she has had cases turned back by the Big Court from time to time. Okay, sounds qualified to me... Oh, and she once vowed to support a constitutional near-total ban on abortion back when she was a candidate for a city council seat in Texas (which hasn't stopped the questionnaire from landing like a thud among conservatives)...

David Frum isn't impressed.

Terry Eastland says Miers' views on Roe may now be "clear" (so are Anthony Kennedy's dear)

Also at the WS, Duncan Currie (shouldn't all conservatives be named Duncan Currie?) asks: where's the meritocracy?

At OpinionJournal, David Taranto asks whether Hurricane Harriet could be anti-abortion but pro-Roe (then adds that she probably hasn't thought it through in any depth, so who cares...?)

And conservative judicial hero Robert Bork goes in for the kill (no smiley face Chrismas card for him, and no invitation to go huntin' and fishin' with the POTUS, either ...) opening salvo:
With a single stroke--the nomination of Harriet Miers--the president has damaged the prospects for reform of a left-leaning and imperialistic Supreme Court, taken the heart out of a rising generation of constitutional scholars, and widened the fissures within the conservative movement. That's not a bad day's work-- for liberals.

Tags: Politics, Supreme Court, Pro-life, Reproductive Rights, Religion, , , Politics, SCOTUS, Law, News
posted by JReid @ 12:37 PM  
Where in the world is Judy Miller (ethically)
Courtesy of

The New York Observer climbs inside the tussle at the Times over Judy Miller's accounting of her actions (and inaction) in the Plamegate affair. Says today's MediaBistro mailer, "As the (NY Times) rushed to cover its own crisis, editors did not know whether their own reporter would be on board. Miller agreed to cooperate and publish her own story only after considerable pressure by Bill Keller..." Update: The NYO piece also contains some extraordinary revelations, including the fact that Ms. Miller had an un-bylined co-author for her choppy first-person account in the Oct. 12 Times, and it wasn't her lawyer, Bob Bennett...

At a hearing on Capitol Hill, Judy Miller squares off with the Justice Department -- not over her dreamy "source" Irv Libby, but over a proposed journalistic shield law. Says AP by way of WaPo:
In prepared testimony, she acknowledged her own stories suggesting Iraq had weapons of mass destruction were flawed by sources with wrong information. But Miller argued that "even flawed reporters should not be jailed for protecting even flawed sources."

Many sources with accurate information needed by the public will provide it only to reporters who promise confidentiality even before the reporter can assess the information, she claimed.

Representing the Bush administration, Chuck Rosenberg, a U.S. attorney in Texas, said in prepared testimony that the bill as drafted would seriously impede the government's ability to "enforce the law, fight terrorism and protect the national security."
That and the leaves in August that turn brown in the misty dew of morning, cleaving to the prior testimony of other reporters who said I'm not guilty ... Continuing:
Miller noted that some have said her source "did not deserve confidentiality because his motives were not pure." But she argued that while journalists should try to learn leakers' motives, "what counts far more ... is the truth and significance of what they are saying."

"Those who need anonymity are not only the poor and the powerless, those whose lives or jobs might be in jeopardy if they speak up publicly, but even the powerful," Miller said. "All are entitled to anonymity if they are telling the truth and have something of importance to say to the American people."

On Tuesday, Miller told a journalists' convention in Las Vegas: "I did not go to jail to protect wrongdoing. I did not go to jail to get a large book contract or to martyr myself. Anyone who thinks I would spend 85 days in jail as a canny career move knows nothing about jail and nothing about me."

...The bill would replace Justice Department guidelines designed to make news media subpoenas a tool of last resort. It would ban compelling news media members from identifying sources except where "necessary to prevent imminent and actual harm to national security."

Rosenberg said the Justice Department has "a fundamental objection to the principle of a reporter's privilege as an exception to every citizen's duty to give testimony in a federal criminal proceeding."

He said the bill's standard would "prevent the government from obtaining potentially life-saving source information in a murder-for-hire investigation" and "preclude subpoenaing source information in many cases involving leaks of classified information."

Rosenberg said the government had demanded confidential source data in only 12 of 243 media subpoenas since 1991.
The proposed shield law is being sponsored by Richard Lugar and fellow Indianan Mike Pence, who's quickly emerging as one of the more interesting members of the House. More on his take:
A leading House conservative, Pence said conservatives had scorned him for "trying to create new rights for reporters." But the former radio talk show host told a broadcasters lunch Tuesday his bill "is not about protecting reporters' rights. It's about protecting the public's right to know."

"As a conservative, I believe the only check on government in real time is a free press."
Amen, brother. Now about Armed Forces Radio...

Meanwhile ... Jacob Weisberg at Slate tells Democrats not to get all hopped up about Plamegate, because in the end, it's bad, bad, BAD!
Hold the schadenfreude, blue-staters. Rooting for Rove's indictment in this case isn't just unseemly, it's unthinking and ultimately self-destructive. Anyone who cares about civil liberties, freedom of information, or even just fair play should have been skeptical about Fitzgerald's investigation from the start. Claiming a few conservative scalps might be satisfying, but they'll come at a cost to principles liberals hold dear: the press's right to find out, the government's ability to disclose, and the public's right to know. ...

... No one disputes that Bush officials negligently and stupidly revealed Valerie Plame's undercover status. But after two years of digging, no evidence has emerged that anyone who worked for Bush and talked to reporters about Plame—namely Rove or Scooter Libby, the vice president's chief of staff—knew she was undercover. And as nasty as they might be, it's not really thinkable that they would have known. You need a pretty low opinion of people in the White House to imagine they would knowingly foster the possible assassination of CIA assets in other countries for the sake of retaliation against someone who wrote an op-ed they didn't like in the New York Times.

But in the hands of a relentless and ambitious prosecutor like Fitzgerald, the absence of evidence that you've broken a law just becomes an invitation to develop a case based on other possible crimes, especially those committed in the course of defending yourself, like obstruction of justice and making false statements. ...

... Fitzgerald's questions to Judith Miller suggest the possibility of indictments under the much broader and seldom used espionage law or Section 641 of the U.S. Code, which deals with the theft of government property. The Justice Department has used 641 in at least one case, to prosecute a Drug Enforcement Agency analyst who leaked a name from an agency file to the British press. ...

... Already, Fitzgerald's investigation has proved a disaster for freedom of the press and freedom of information. Reporters, editors, and publishers have been put on notice about the legal risk of using blind sources, which most consider an essential tool of news-gathering. Any ambiguity about a press privilege under federal law has been resolved, not in favor of the media. According to some anecdotal accounts, journalists' failure to fully protect their sources in the Plame case has already chilled official leaks to reporters. Should Fitzgerald win convictions under the espionage law or Section 641, any conversations between officials and journalists touching on classified information could come become prosecutable offenses. That would turn the current chill into permafrost. ...
Weisberg then goes on to slam the short-sightedness of the ham-fisted New York Times... He's not the only one who thinks the Grey Lady has a few screws loose... and how much has "schadenfreude" become the new "it" word of pundit-journalism?

Tags: , , , , , Karl Rove, White House, PlameGate, '',
posted by JReid @ 11:37 AM  
Guardian reporter missing in Iraq
Breaking news.

"The Guardian today confirmed that its Baghdad correspondent Rory Carroll, an Irish citizen, is missing, believed kidnapped, in Iraq." Developing ...

This comes as Saddam Hussein's trial open (and is adjourned) in dramatic fashion in Baghdad.

Update: He has been found alive and well, thank God. Apparently rescued by some locals.

Tags: , Middle East, War, Terrorism, Foreign Policy, Media
posted by JReid @ 9:59 AM  
No news is good/bad news
Looks like there will be no "Fitzgerald report" in the CIA leak investigation. That either means definite indictments or 20 years or more of "Deep Throat" style intrigue surrounding the Plame affair...

Tags: , , , , , Karl Rove, White House, PlameGate, '',
posted by JReid @ 9:42 AM  
Tuesday, October 18, 2005
Charles Dickens' America
If America in the '90s was defined by the "go-go" Internet boom, paper napkin plan-instant millionaires and "Hollywood Bill" Clinton, the present era is a lurch back to America's Dickensian past -- fabulous wealth married to a sliding middle class and a growing wash of poverty. Here's a glimpse of what's happening in my neck of the woods, from today's Miami Herald:

Posted on Tue, Oct. 18, 2005

Cheap homes vanish; a crisis looms

Despite a growing demand for affordable housing, South Florida leaders are endorsing the demolition of affordable units in the name of redevelopment.


When Shannon and Aaron Ray Sr. married, the young couple decided to stay in Hollywood, their home city, but soon found their only affordable option was a mobile-home park.

Now, they're regretting that decision. A proposal to redevelop the Okomo Mobile Park into condos, town houses and shops threatens to push the Rays and nearly 200 other families out of the city.

It is a scenario playing out all over South Florida as high land costs and the push for redevelopment squeeze out the neediest of the needy.

Low-rent apartment buildings and mobile-home parks are being bulldozed to make way for more pricey developments.

Meanwhile, elected officials who talk about the need for affordable housing approve projects that demolish their cities' affordable-housing stock.

And in the middle of the redevelopment whirlwind are people like the Rays, who have no idea where they will find a home they can afford. ''This was supposed to be our home for a while,'' said Shannon, 23, a student at Sheridan Vocational Technical Center. She wants to become a teacher. Her husband, a roofer, earns about $16,000 a year.

``We can't afford to rent anything and we can't afford to purchase anything, so we are kind of stuck right now.''

The stock of affordable housing has declined gradually nationwide, said John McIlwain, a housing expert at the Urban Land Institute in Washington, D.C.

Rising land costs have made it difficult for many families to afford a new home.

In Broward County, the median home costs $378,000. That means a family earning $55,000 -- the county's median income -- would need a down payment in the neighborhood of 60 percent, assuming they had little or no other debt and were willing to borrow aggressively. And some communities where affordable rents and homes could be found now are being targeted for redevelopment.

But redevelopment is not the problem, said McIlwain, though he admits most redevelopment plans price out existing families. ''Redevelopment is not only good, it's necessary for cities to grow. The problem is most plans don't take into account the impact on families already living there,'' he said. ``You also disrupt and break up communities that have held together for many generations.''

In Hialeah, for instance, Hialeah Acres, a mobile-home park, is slated to be demolished for new luxury town houses. The same is true for mobile-home parks in Hollywood, Davie and unincorporated Miami-Dade.

Low-rent, public-housing apartment complexes in Liberty City also were recently torn down to bring in new developments.

Miami-Dade County Commissioner Dennis Moss, who supported the Liberty City project, said he would have required the developer to include more affordable units before approving the project, if he had to do it over again.

The project will eliminate about 800 units and replace them with 160 low-priced units spread among market-priced, single-family homes, small apartment complexes and town houses. Moss said most governments weren't prepared for the housing-price boom and didn't plan for affordable housing.

Hollywood Palms apartments, known for its low rents and dilapidated conditions, went for $500 to $650 a month. About 23 families stand to lose their apartments.

The apartments could be replaced by 112 town houses, condos and lofts, which would cost about $300,000.

If governments don't get involved, affordable housing will cease to exist, said Hollywood Commissioner Cathy Anderson, who voted Oct. 10 to allow the developer to move forward with plans for the Hollywood Palms project.

''We have to demand that affordable housing be built,'' she said. ``We'll have a bunch of homeless people if we don't try to do something. These people have been living in Hollywood and providing services for us and they should be entitled to the houses that we're building.''

Fort Lauderdale Commissioner Carlton Moore plans to propose an ordinance requiring any new development of at least six units to include some affordable housing. Moore has proposed similar measures in the past, each time unsuccessfully.

In Miami-Dade, leaders are looking at an ''inclusionary housing'' ordinance, which could require developers to include affordable units totaling as much as 20 percent of each new development, Moss said.

Cities may have to assemble land to offer developers for affordable housing, McIlwain said.

Hollywood has taken that approach on a project a few blocks away from Hollywood Palms, which will bring 60 new town houses starting from about $150,000.

The proposal for Okomo Mobile Home Park does not include affordable housing and no plan has been set to relocate the families.

Cities need to consider what becomes of people who lose their homes to redevelopment, McIlwain said.

''No one really knows what happens to those people,'' McIlwain said. ``From the point of view of some people, they simply disappear and that seems to be fine.''

Add eminent domain to the picture and all that's missing is William Howard Taft, or McKinley and the railroad barrons.

Tags: , , , News, Society,
posted by JReid @ 3:15 PM  
Tipster to the rich punished
The guy who tipped off the well-heeled in New York about the recent phony subway terror threat has had his security clearance stripped. He's now officially less important than Judy Miller.
posted by JReid @ 1:30 PM  
A time for love?
Just got an email from a friend confirming that Al Franken is definitely running for Senate in Minnesota. (The friend, who's on a committee that will be hosting a private reception/mini-fundraiser for Franken in San Francisco on November 5th, calls Franken's candidacy a reason to "love politics again" after five years of wading in hate.) And Franken apparently has a campaign heavyweight on his side: Donnie Fowler (formerly of Clinton-Gore, and more recently the short-lived head of the Wes Clark for president campaign). Fowler is a political wunderkind (he was my candidate of choice for DNC chair). If anyone can help get Franken elected, he can.

Good news. I'll have to try and catch a bit of Franken's radio show to hear if he announces. Franken belongs in the Senate, which if nothing else, should be a place where you can get laughs. That and I like his politics ... And sorry Bill O'Reilly -- your louffas won't be safe for a long, long time...

Tags: , , , , air america
posted by JReid @ 12:41 PM  
The MSM falls for the same act all over again
Juxtapose these two things for me if you will:

From the front page of today's Washington Post:
In a move people involved in the case read as a sign that the end is near, Fitzgerald's spokesman yesterday told the Associated Press that the prosecutor planned to announce his conclusions in Washington, where the grand jury has been meeting, instead of Chicago, where the prosecutor is based. Some lawyers close to the case cited courthouse talk that Fitzgerald might announce his findings as early as tomorrow, though hard evidence about his intentions and timing remained elusive.
And now this "breaking news" from just a few minutes ago:
Security threat closes Baltimore tunnel

BALTIMORE, Maryland (AP) -- One of two tunnels carrying traffic under Baltimore's harbor was closed Tuesday and another was partially shut down in response to what an official said was a security threat.

The Baltimore Harbor Tunnel was closed while the Fort McHenry Tunnel was partially closed, with one lane of traffic moving in each direction, said Lt. Col. David Franklin of the Maryland Transportation Authority Police.

The closures were in response to a threat, a federal law enforcement official said. The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue, did not provide further information about the nature of the threat.

But another federal law enforcement official said the threat was phoned in to authorities by a person claiming to have information from abroad. Authorities are skeptical of the claim, but are checking it out nonetheless out of an abundance of caution, the official said. That source also spoke on condition of anonymity.
Yep. There are definitely gonna be indictments... When they pull out the terror threat gambit, you know something big and bad is coming. And how like CNN and the other lemmings of the MSM to stop all other news coverage and jump right on board... Oh yes, and the decision to air the threat info "came from the Maryland government and the Maryland government alone." Same scenario as New York City. Feed the local pols and the media and watch the Pavlovian response.

Tags: , , , , Karl Rove, White House, PlameGate, '', News, , , Terrorism
posted by JReid @ 12:31 PM  
Invasion of the 'Friends and Allies'
The Bush communications team's "Friends and Allies" program -- which includes disseminating daily talking points to some 80 friendly journos, pundits and assorted talking heads -- including news anchors -- is in full swing ahead of the possible indictments of White House staffers in the CIA leak case. This week's talking point: "the criminalization of politics." ThinkProgress switches on the Fox-o-meter and finds the "fair and balanced" network pinging, big time, in the FaA department.

Also: the Daily News is up with its Cheney in the bulls-eye story.

Previous posts:
Tags: , , , , , Karl Rove, White House, PlameGate, ''
posted by JReid @ 11:55 AM  
Ed-heads will roll
Original post: 12: 29 a.m.: So Armed Forces Radio has backed out of its prior commitment to make the Ed Schultz show the only non-right wing broadcast to U.S. troops (amid 62 hours per week of conservative talk.) Not surprising. And who do you think made the phonecall? Allison Barber - the same flak who was caught on tape coaching U.S. troops for that disastrous, embarrasing phone-link with the president. Priceless.

Updated update: The Washington Post is up with their version of the story. I'm awaiting a call back from Barber's office for comment (though not holding my breath...)

Perusing the AFRTS web-site, however, I begin to see Schultz' problem. Following is the mission statement for the Armed Forces Radio and Television Service, as available on its web site:

"... The AFRTS mission is to communicate Department of Defense policies, priorities, programs, goals and initiatives. AFRTS provides stateside radio and television programming, "a touch of home," to U.S. service men and women, DoD civilians, and their families serving outside the continental United States. AFRTS includes the Radio and Television Production Office (RTPO), The Pentagon Channel NewsCenter, and the Defense Media Center.
If that is the mission -- essentially one of internal policy reinforcement -- talk radio that doesn't affirm and promote Bush administration policy clearly doesn't fit the bill. The bigger question is, is that an accurate depiction of the mission of our armed forces main information source? Signs point to "no."

From the Center for American Progress' daily email today:

REGULATIONS REQUIRE ARMED FORCES RADIO TO BE BALANCED: Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA) has worked hard to bring balance to AFN. With his leadership, the Senate passed a resolution "asking, that AFRTS meet its own mandate, as generally articulated in Department of Defense Regulation 5120.20R. That regulation calls for AFRTS political programming that is 'characterized by its fairness and balance,' as well as news programming guided by a 'principle of fairness' that requires 'reasonable opportunities for the presentation of conflicting views on important controversial public issues.'" At the time, Harkin said he believed "the bias that exists in the social and political commentary portions of this talk radio service is not intentional." Perhaps he was being too generous.
Read the acutal DoD guildelines here. The guidelines define censorship as "The intentional withholding or editing of news, information or entertainment programming, when such action is not supported by legitimate host-country sensititivities or by broadcast restrictions imposed by program owners." There's also definition DL1.1.22 - "Public Affairs," defined as "DoD public affairs provides a free flow of general and military information, withouth censorship or propaganda, to the men and women of the Armed Forces and their family members." And there's something else -- an apparent discrepancy between the mission statement as posted on the AFRTS web-site (above) and the one in the DoD playbook. That one reads:

The mission of AFRTS is two-fold:

C1.2.1 - To provide military commanders overseas and at sea with a broadcast media resource to effectively communicade DoD, Service-unique, theater, and local command information to personnel under their commands, and

C1.2.2 - To provide U.S. military members, DoD civilians, and their families stationed outside the Continental United States and at sea with the same type and quality of American radio and television news, information, sports and entertainment that would be available to them if they were in the CONUS.
There is no mention of "communicating Department of Defense policies, programs, goals and initiatives." What's the frequency, Kenneth? Are Barber and Co. even following DoD regulations in making choices for Armed Forces media...?

Update 3: ThinkProgress also has the original Pentagon e-mail to Schultz, which seemed to confirm his show would air, starting Monday.

Tags: , ,
posted by JReid @ 11:51 AM  
Flipping their WHIG
The special prosecutor has zeroed in on the White House Iraq Group -- that small group of hacks and neocons whose job it was to "market" the invasion of Iraq to the American people. But increasingly, it's looking like another key focus of this investigation is the chief nuclear scaremonger himself: Dick Cheney: his fued with the CIA over intel, his bullyboy tactics to force the war, and his motive to defend himself against Joe Wilson's charges that he knew better when he said Iraq was reconstituting its nuclear weapons.

TalkLeft's Jeralyn Merritt is convinced there will definitely be indictments, given that the announcement, whenever it takes place, will happen in D.C., where the principles are, rather than in Chicago.

And if Raw Story is correct, and the NY Daily News really does have scoop that someone in the WH flipped (TalkLeft thinks it would be Rove giving up Cheney, to save his own skin. I'd say Rove giving up Scooter Libby or Cheney or both), then we've got ourselves a politial bombshell of the Watergate order.

Related: Congressmen John Conyers and Ike Skelton demand answers from the House of Rumsfeld regarding a certain embedded reporter's unique security clearance...

Tags: , , , , , Karl Rove, White House, PlameGate, ''
posted by JReid @ 12:36 AM  
Dear Hillary: Please send cash
In an Aug. 19 fundraising letter, Jeanine Pirro told potential supporters of her race to unseat Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, “I cannot win without your support.”

Pirro sent one of those appeals to:

Hillary Clinton
1600 Pennsylvania Ave.
Washington, D.C. 20500-0030

How do you say "not a snowball's chance in hell" in Italian?

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posted by JReid @ 12:21 AM  
Monday, October 17, 2005
Harriet Miers: The Re-mix
She's relaunched! She's new and improved! Her new talking points are religion-free! And yet, if you make her your next associate justice of the Supreme Court, Roe v. Wade is as good as ... okay that's a bad metaphor ... it's toast!!! (pssst! Don't tell the Democrats...)

Tags: Politics, Supreme Court, Pro-life, Reproductive Rights, Religion, , , Politics, SCOTUS, Law, News
posted by JReid @ 3:15 PM  
The Judy Miller Show
She's headed to Vegas (and did you know her father invented the lounge lizard...?)

Tags: , , , PlameGate, ''
posted by JReid @ 3:11 PM  
Dick Cheney may not be a candidate for president in 2008, but he sure is a candidate for indictment in the Valerie Plame leak case. Here's the story Bloomberg has been cooking:

The special counsel, Patrick Fitzgerald, has questioned current and former officials of President George W. Bush's administration about whether Cheney was involved in an effort to discredit the agent's husband, Iraq war critic and former U.S. diplomat Joseph Wilson, according to the people.

Fitzgerald has questioned Cheney's communications adviser Catherine Martin and former spokeswoman Jennifer Millerwise and ex-White House aide Jim Wilkinson about the vice president's knowledge of the anti-Wilson campaign and his dealings on it with Libby, his chief of staff, the people said. The information came from multiple sources, who requested anonymity because of the secrecy and political sensitivity of the investigation.
and this:

One lawyer intimately involved in the case, who like the others demanded anonymity, said one reason Fitzgerald was willing to send Miller to jail to compel testimony was because he was pursuing evidence the vice president may have been aware of the specifics of the anti-Wilson strategy.
Of course, the article points out that Fitzgerald ultimately reports to the attorney general, who would have to approve any indictments. Question is, would Al Gonzalez pull the trigger against his bosom buddy Rove? Against the apparently less than friends with Goerge veep or his deputy? Or anyone?

Oh, and the article ends with this delicioius little irony:

In an interview yesterday, Wilson said that once the criminal questions are settled, he and his wife may file a civil lawsuit against Bush, Cheney and others seeking damages for the alleged harm done to Plame's career.

If they do so, the current state of the law makes it likely that the suit will be allowed to proceed -- and Bush and Cheney will face questioning under oath -- while they are in office. The reason for that is a unanimous 1997 U.S. Supreme Court decision ruling that Paula Jones' sexual harassment suit against then-President Bill Clinton could go forward immediately, a decision that was hailed by conservatives at the time.

Tags: , , , , , Karl Rove, White House, PlameGate, ''
posted by JReid @ 2:56 PM  
(New post title) Scootie and Judy
With Judy Miller's side of the story aired ... well ... at least her recollection of her notes regarding her side of the story to the best of her recorded recollection of what she believes to be her best memory of events ... all eyes are now on Irving Lewis "Scooter" Libby, Dick Cheney's uberhawk, neocon chief of staff. Libby could be on the line for obstruction of justice charges if the grand jury decides his poetic missive to Judy Miller was an attempt to shape her testimony in the Plamegate case. Judy Miller's attorneys sure seem to be trying to steer media attention in that direction. Could that be because Sunday's exhaustive NYT story, plus Judy's own spotty recollections of "Valerie Flame" are refocusing attention on her mysterious ties to the White House war hawks, her unique security clearance (with its echoes of the bad old days of CIA operatives in the newsroom), and the growing perception that she was more than just a reporter, but rather was part and parcel of the drive to market the war to the American people? Just asking...

On a related note, TalkLeft dispels the notion, fueled by Raw Story, that Miller's attorney Bob Bennett's hand in writing -- or at least reviewing -- her Sunday Times article (which was pretty darned evident given the careful wording) means she's on a fast track to indictment. To me the more interesting thing about the Raw Story story builds on what the NYT and other stories on Miller and Plamegate have revealed: that disgust with Miller -- and with the Times management that supported her -- is growing inside the halls and cubicles of the grey lady. Raw Story's piece was sourced to "Three senior New York Times reporters close to the internal issues surrounding Judith Miller's 'tell-all' in Sunday's paper" including one who reportedly said:

"I think she was afraid of letting people know how deeply she was involved," one Times reporter remarked. "For her, it was better to say as little as possible and Bennett helped her in that regard. It was very important that she didn't say anything that strayed from her testimony." ...

In the wake of Sunday's expose, reporters are growing increasingly upset with the editor of the nation's premier daily newspaper. Several who spoke to RAW STORY this weekend are now strongly questioning the paper's leadership.
Update: In today's SF Chronicle: Judith Miller's Actions Assailed by fellow reporters. A sample:

Jay Rosen, a New York University journalism professor, said Miller's limited cooperation was "unforgivable" and provided "dead giveaways of someone who's hiding the truth."

"I just don't think there is any more Judy Miller credibility," Rosen said, while crediting Times editors with "telling some uncomfortable truths about themselves."


E&P: Miller Story Shows White House-CIA Tension
E&P: Sulzberger Says It's Time To Put the Miller Case Behind Us, As She Describes Finding 'Flame' Notebook for First Time
E&P: SPJ Reaffirms Decision to Give Judith Miller 'First Amendment' Award
Salon: Judy Miller and the neocons
New York Magazine: Judy's Sources of trouble

Much ado about Judy

Tags: , , , , , Karl Rove, White House, PlameGate, ''
posted by JReid @ 12:05 PM  
Meditations on the new Roe
The latest "Roe" abortion case has the FReepers howling. A unanimous Supreme Court, including newly minted Chief Justice John G. Roberts, voted to lift a temporary stay blocking a federal judge's order to allow a Missouri inmate to be transported to a clinic for an abortion:

The inmate, called Jane Roe for purposes of concealing her identity, has been held at Vandalia prison in Missouri since Aug. 22 and is 16 to 17 weeks pregnant, according to court records reported by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. She is in her twenties, serving a four-year term for violating parole, according to official documents.

Prison officials have blocked her request for weeks, citing a three- to four-month-old policy that also bars state money for prisoner trips to funerals and the bedsides of sick relatives.

"It is not the prison that has imposed the burden, but the prisoner's violation of the law that resulted in her incarceration that has imposed the burden," Assistant Attorney General Michael Pritchett stated in court documents. "And, even if the result were plaintiff carrying her child to term, it ought not be held that this result -- having a child -- is a harm at all, much less an irreparable one," he argued.
What has the FReeprati all charged up is that the vote to lift the temporary stay (which had been imposed by Clarence Thomas on Saturday) was unanimous. Said one commenter:

the article said a unanimous court voided the stay and allowed her to be transported. That means "our" justices, Thomas, Scalia and Roberts(?) also voted with the abortionist crowd.
And said another:

Unanimous. Think about that.

You can throttle down any outrage about Miers. There are other things going on in the court. Anyone want to stand up now and admit that all the paper trail and supposed commitment of Scalia and Thomas means nothing? Anyone?

How about me? Okay, I will.

They do mean nothing. Miers not having a paper trail means Exactly The Same Thing. Nothing.
Couldn't have said it better myself. Still, there's hope for the distraught FReeper faithful: the unanimity question seems to be contradicted by the WashPost version of the story:

The Supreme Court does not issue vote counts when it acts on stays of lower court orders, so it was not possible to determine how Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. voted in the matter. Nor does the court's action constitute an endorsement of the lower court's holding or set any precedent.

So the case isn't exactly a litmus test on how the Roberts court will rule on the question of aboriton or Roe v. Wade. But it does illustrate the extent to which law and precedent rule the court versus ideology. Thomas put the power of ideology on display when he granted the temporary stay, but he may have joined the full court in holding to law and precedent. So who can you count on, Christian crusaders? And would a Roberts court plus Miers the Evangelical make any difference?

And the biggest rub of all: in the best of FReeper worlds, if Roe were to fall, there would still be the matter of American public opinion, which, with some caveats, remains pretty firmly in the "choice" camp.

Tags: Politics, Supreme Court, Pro-life, Reproductive Rights, Religion, , ,
posted by JReid @ 11:34 AM  
Sunday, October 16, 2005
Sunday best
The Philly Inquirer has lots of good stuff today. On the main site, a story that attempts to get closer to the truth about the Harriet Miers disasterination: it's about Bush protecting the presidential power and prerogatives he's built up for the the GWOT (or is it still the Global Struggle Against Violent Islamist Extremism?) since 9/11...

Meanwhile Philly I blogger Attytood has the biggest story of 2005 (actually from a couple days ago) Dick and George don't like each other anymore...

At first, there was just speculation. Earlier in September, Nora Ephron wondered aloud on the Huffington Post why Cheney had been absent from the initial days of the Katrina fiasco. She speculated there was lingering resentment from the incident in May of this year when a private plane strayed too close to the White House: Cheney was rushed to a bunker while a bicycling Bush wasn't informed, even though his wife was in the White House at the time, Ephron compared Cheney to "the dog that did not bark" and wrote:

So I can only suppose that something has gone wrong. Could the President be irritated that Cheney helped con him into Iraq? Oh, all right, probably not. Could Cheney – and not just his aides -- possibly be involved in the Valerie Plame episode? Is Cheney not speaking to Karl Rove? Does the airplane/bicycle incident figure into this in any way?

A few days later, Jeralyn Merritt over at TalkLeft moved the story from the land of speculation into the arena of gossip. Cheney had told a friend that he was tired of Bush's screw-ups:

A few months ago, I heard of a lunch conversation that Cheney had with a political type in Wyoming. I have no idea if it's true or not, but it makes some sense. Here's the tale:

Cheney has been getting tired of being called upon to fix Bush's mistakes. Cheney said Bush is almost incapable of making any decision. He waffles and waffles. Then, once he makes a decision, he refuses to change it. Because of his born-again faith, he says "It's in the hands of G-d now" and washes his hands of it. Then Cheney is called in to repair the damage.

If this story is even remotely true, this may have been the final straw for Cheney, and he decided to let Bush try to wiggle his way out of his Katrina inaction on his own.

Perhaps. We believe the two have fallen out, and the issue involved is a much more pressing one: Who's to blame for the Valerie Plame CIA-outing scandal, which is threatening right now to topple either Bush's closest aide, Karl Rove, or Cheney's closest aide, Lewis "Scooter" Libby, or both.
Also by way of Attytood, an unfortunate U2 re-mix for Rick Santorum, what a guy's got to do to get some in Iraq, and the real CIA leak scandal: "Scooter's" real name is Irv...

In the "I have no shame" file: I'm still refusing to pay for the NYT columnists, and so I have to get my Frank Rich fix by cribbing it from someone who does pay. Hellooooo Ed Strong! Rich's bottom line: the details of the Plame leak case are the appetizer. The main course are the lies used to sell the country on an unnecessary invasion of Iraq:

Deep in a Wall Street Journal account of Judy Miller’s grand jury appearance was this crucial sentence: “Lawyers familiar with the investigation believe that at least part of the outcome likely hangs on the inner workings of what has been dubbed the White House Iraq Group.”

Very little has been written about the White House Iraq Group, or WHIG. Its inception in August 2002, seven months before the invasion of Iraq, was never announced. ... Its eight members included Mr. Rove, Mr. Libby, Condoleezza Rice and the spinmeisters Karen Hughes and Mary Matalin. Its mission: to market a war in Iraq.
Rich goes on to explain the timeline that followed the "marketing", prosecution and disturbing revelations about the Iraq war...

Aside from breaking the news that Karl Rove intends to resign if indicted (does that count as news or just common sense?) Time Magazine also delivers this nugget (ht to TalkLeft):

Another character in the drama remains unnamed: the original source for columnist Robert Novak, who wrote the first piece naming Plame. Fitzgerald, says a lawyer who's involved in the case, "knows who it is—and it's not someone at the White House."
And Jeralyn Merritt proves she has a terrific memory, because I definitely didn't remember this from Joe Wilson:

"Bob Novak called me before he went to print with the report and he said a CIA source had told him that my wife was an operative," Wilson said. "He was trying to get a second source. He couldn't get a second source. Could I confirm that? And I said no."

Wilson said he called Novak after the article appeared citing sources in the Bush administration.

"What was it, CIA or senior administration?" Wilson said he asked Novak. "He said to me, 'I misspoke the first time I spoke to you.' " [CNN]

The WaPo has an interesting front pager about why foreign nannies really come to America. Trust me, it's not to be around children...

From the IHT, forget Espanol; American students are lining up to learn Chinese. Tells you something, doesn't it?

Talk about role reversal: Iran accuses Britain of sponsoring terrorist acts on its soil...

And in Iraq, it's not just the Sunni who are armed to the teeth and menacing. The Shia are getting into the militia act, too... Meanwhile, Tariq Aziz is trying to broker a deal for his own freedom, while not agreeing to testify against his former boss, Saddam Hussein ...

The Sunday Times got a sneek peek at the posh new digs members of Parliament would repair to in case of a major terror attack on the U.K. ... Must be nice...

Tags: , , , , , , Iraq, News
posted by JReid @ 3:25 PM  
Much ado about Judy
Judith Miller finally breaks her silence ... sort of ... on the CIA leak case. Most interesting tidbit: special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald wanted to know if Cheney knew what his chief of staff Scooter Libby was up to, Plamewise... The rundown:

NYT has a long, triple-bylined piece on Judy's notebook, and "Valerie Flame..." Judy claims she doesn't know how the misspelled name notation wound up in the same notebook as her jottings from a June 2003 convo with Libby. She also reveals:
Once Ms. Miller was issued a subpoena in August 2004 to testify about her conversations with Mr. Libby, she and The Times vowed to fight it. Behind the scenes, however, her lawyer made inquiries to see if Mr. Libby would release her from their confidentiality agreement. Ms. Miller said she decided not to testify in part because she thought that Mr. Libby's lawyer might be signaling to keep her quiet unless she would exonerate his client.

Of course, Libby's lawyer denies that one... Ms. Miller is also revealed as (surprise!) a pretty controversial figure inside the NYT newsroom. "Ms. Run Amok" she apparently called herself, because "I can do whatever I want." Great... More importantly, we can now add the following to the timeline of events leading to the outing of Ms. Plame:
On June 23, 2003, Ms. Miller visited Mr. Libby at the Old Executive Office Building in Washington. Mr. Libby was the vice president's top aide and had played an important role in shaping the argument for going to war in Iraq. He was "a good-faith source who was usually straight with me," Ms. Miller said in an interview.

Her assignment was to write an article about the failure to find unconventional weapons in Iraq. She said Mr. Libby wanted to talk about a diplomat's fact-finding trip in 2002 to the African nation of Niger to determine whether Iraq sought uranium there. The diplomat was Mr. Wilson, and his wife worked for the C.I.A.

Mr. Wilson had already become known among Washington insiders as a fierce Bush critic. He would go public the next month, accusing the White House in an opinion article in The Times of twisting intelligence to exaggerate the Iraqi threat.

But Mr. Libby was already defending Vice President Dick Cheney, saying his boss knew nothing about Mr. Wilson or his findings. Ms. Miller said her notes leave open the possibility that Mr. Libby told her Mr. Wilson's wife might work at the agency.

On July 8, two days after Mr. Wilson's article appeared in The Times, the reporter and her source met again, for breakfast at the St. Regis Hotel, near the White House.

The notebook Ms. Miller used that day includes the reference to "Valerie Flame." But she said the name did not appear in the same portion of her notebook as the interview notes from Mr. Libby.

During the breakfast, Mr. Libby provided a detail about Ms. Wilson, saying she worked in a C.I.A. unit known as Winpac; the name stands for weapons intelligence, nonproliferation and arms control. Ms. Miller said she understood this to mean that Ms. Wilson was an analyst rather than an undercover operative.

Ms. Miller returned to the subject on July 12 in a phone call with Mr. Libby. Another variant on Valerie Wilson's name - "Victoria Wilson" - appears in the notes of that call. Ms. Miller had by then called other sources about Mr. Wilson's wife. In an interview, she would not discuss her sources.

Two days later, on July 14, Robert D. Novak, the syndicated columnist, wrote that Mr. Wilson's wife had suggested sending him to Niger, citing "two administration sources." He went on to say, without attributing the information, that Mr. Wilson's wife, "Valerie Plame, is an agency operative on weapons of mass destruction."

Ms. Miller's article on the hunt for missing weapons was published on July 20, 2003. It acknowledged that the hunt could turn out to be fruitless but focused largely on the obstacles the searchers faced.

Neither that article nor any in the following months by Ms. Miller discussed Mr. Wilson or his wife.

It is not clear why. Ms. Miller said in an interview that she "made a strong recommendation to my editor" that an article be pursued. "I was told no," she said. She would not identify the editor.

Ms. Abramson, the Washington bureau chief at the time, said Ms. Miller never made any such recommendation.

In the fall of 2003, after The Washington Post reported that "two top White House officials disclosed Plame's identity to at least six Washington journalists," Philip Taubman, Ms. Abramson's successor as Washington bureau chief, asked Ms. Miller and other Times reporters whether they were among the six. Ms. Miller denied it.

"The answer was generally no," Mr. Taubman said. Ms. Miller said the subject of Mr. Wilson and his wife had come up in casual conversation with government officials, Mr. Taubman said, but Ms. Miller said "she had not been at the receiving end of a concerted effort, a deliberate organized effort to put out information."

The Times article also reveals that in meetings between Miller's and Libby's attorneys, Miller was told in advance that Libby had told the grand jury he was not the source of Miller's information on Valerie Plame's undercover status. Says the Times:
That raised a potential conflict for Ms. Miller. Did the references in her notes to "Valerie Flame" and "Victoria Wilson" suggest that she would have to contradict Mr. Libby's account of their conversations? Ms. Miller said in an interview that she concluded that Mr. Tate was sending her a message that Mr. Libby did not want her to testify.

According to Ms. Miller, this was what Mr. Abrams told her about his conversation with Mr. Tate: "He was pressing about what you would say. When I wouldn't give him an assurance that you would exonerate Libby, if you were to cooperate, he then immediately gave me this, 'Don't go there, or, we don't want you there.' "

Mr. Abrams said: "On more than one occasion, Mr. Tate asked me for a recitation of what Ms. Miller would say. I did not provide one."

In an e-mail message Friday, Mr. Tate called Ms. Miller's interpretation "outrageous."

"I never once suggested that she should not testify," Mr. Tate wrote. "It was just the opposite. I told Mr. Abrams that the waiver was voluntary."

He added: " 'Don't go there' or 'We don't want you there' is not something I said, would say, or ever implied or suggested."

Telling another witness about grand jury testimony is lawful as long as it is not an attempt to influence the other witness's testimony.

"Judy believed Libby was afraid of her testimony," Mr. Keller said, noting that he did not know the basis for the fear. "She thought Libby had reason to be afraid of her testimony."

Ms. Miller and the paper decided at that point not to pursue additional negotiations with Mr. Tate.

The two sides did not talk for a year.

The article also gets into the internal bleeding that went on during the Miller jail period at the Times, where reporters were scrambling to find out the identity of Judy's source, while their editor knew the name all along and didn't tell them. And the paper seems to be admitting it utterly failed in its duty to its readers by killing stories that "hit too close to the bone on Judy's situation" and allowing itself to be scooped by rival papers, just to avoid covering the case. And Ms. Miller emerges as an odd and rather self-aggrandizing figure, holding out for a personal phone call and practically demanding to be beseached to testify by Scooter Libby before she would do so.

Of course, Miller also bylines her own account of her grand jury testimony, shorn of any flowery journalistic language, and basically a timeline with adjectives. She also makes a point of noting, for the record, that Fitzgerald told her she was testifying as a "witness, not a target" of the grand jury... and she says this:
During my testimony on Sept. 30 and Oct. 12, the special counsel, Patrick J. Fitzgerald, asked me whether Mr. Libby had shared classified information with me during our several encounters before Mr. Novak's article. He also asked whether I thought Mr. Libby had tried to shape my testimony through a letter he sent to me in jail last month. And Mr. Fitzgerald asked whether Mr. Cheney had known what his chief aide was doing and saying.

My interview notes show that Mr. Libby sought from the beginning, before Mr. Wilson's name became public, to insulate his boss from Mr. Wilson's charges. According to my notes, he told me at our June meeting that Mr. Cheney did not know of Mr. Wilson, much less know that Mr. Wilson had traveled to Niger, in West Africa, to verify reports that Iraq was seeking to acquire uranium for a weapons program.

As I told the grand jury, I recalled Mr. Libby's frustration and anger about what he called "selective leaking" by the C.I.A. and other agencies to distance themselves from what he recalled as their unequivocal prewar intelligence assessments. The selective leaks trying to shift blame to the White House, he told me, were part of a "perverted war" over the war in Iraq...
She then goes on to describe three Wilson-related meetings with Libby, her confusion as to who gave her Plame's name and her fuzzy recollection on where she learned that Plame was an undercover agent, as well as her impressions of the warm and gooey "get out jail" letter Scooter sent her this fall (she worried it would make it appear Libby wanted her testimony to jibe with his.)

Howard Kurtz handles the WaPo's version of the Judy Miller tale -- basically an encapsulated version of the lengthy NYT article ...

The REv. Moon's Washington Times runs the AP piece focusing on Miller's inability to recall just who gave her the goods on Valerie Plame...

E&P, which has been harshly critical of the Times, calls the NYT article "devastating" in its critique of the paper's own methods and Ms. Miller's apparently limitless autonomy and her practices when it comes to sources.

I don't know how "devastating" it is -- but the Times expurgation left me with more questions than answers. Ms. Miller is so vague about the who's, when's and why's of both her Iraq coverage (we all got it wrong, not just me) and her seeming kinship with Libby's criticisms of the CIA and it's walk-back from the Iraq wmd fiasco, the only thing that seems clear to me is that she believed Libby feared her testimony unless she definitely would exonerate him (although I'm not sure why that would be more true for her than for the other five or so journalists involved, unless he really did share classified information with her), and that she set an extraordinarily high bar to protect a source who was clearly out to undermine a critic.

Do I respect Judy Miller more after this airing? Not really. Do I have any better idea who might get indicted, as early as next week? No way.

Finally, Jim Romanesko posts a letter asking the question most on my mind at this point: why on earth is Ms. Miller getting a First Amendment award? It seems that speaking freely was the last thing on her mind when she was cooling her heels in jail to protect a source who not only is the very opposite of a whistleblower, but who says he wanted her to testify all along...

, , , , , Karl Rove, White House, PlameGate
posted by JReid @ 2:18 AM  
And greet yourself warmly while in Fallujah...
Could the purported letter from al-Qaida number two Ayman al-Zawahiri to America's Iraq nemesis Abu Musab al-Zarqawi be just another example of fake news? (sigh) maybe so... Sorry, Fox News. Sorry right wing pro-war guys... Please return your administration talking points to the basket marked "crapola."

Tags: , Middle East, War, Terrorism, Foreign Policy, Media
posted by JReid @ 2:15 AM  
On top of everything else, it now appears Armstrong Williams may not have even done the work... Enter the U.S. Attorney ...

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posted by JReid @ 2:10 AM  
A critique worth reading
If you're a Democrat and want to win, rather than just carp with your friends on Democratic Undergrond...
Among the major points made in the study:

• "The myth of mobilization." Democrats are not going to be able to win with the old liberal orthodoxy by simply energizing the party's base and bringing voters "to the polls in record numbers." In an electorate "where conservatives outnumber liberals 3-2 and where ideology so closely predicts voting behavior, Democrats cannot win the game of 'base' ball."

• "The myth of demography." Democrats are fooling themselves if they think the population growth among major minorities such as Hispanics "will secure a Democratic majority for decades to come." "Along with rising Hispanic voter rolls has been a dramatic increase in Hispanic incomes, and these newly affluent voters behave more like the rest of the middle-class electorate."

• "The myth of prescription drugs is our shorthand for the proposition, which seems to bewitch Democratic political consultants, that Democrats can win present-day national elections by avoiding cultural issues, downplaying national security, and changing the subject to domestic issues such as health care, education and job security."
Hallelujah! Praise the lord! And I'll add one more: "the myth that Black people will turn out for us in the end." Not in the volumes you think, and not for much longer if you remain so far left on cultural issues... remember, Dems: the fast-growing part of the Black electorate are immigrants. And they're religious, including lots of Cathlic, and they think you're way off base on life issues, marriage, religion in the public square and more...

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posted by JReid @ 2:08 AM  
Condi peers into Vlad Putin's soul... and sees a little Iranian guy ...
Results of presidential gal pal Condi Rice's bid to sway Moscow to take the U.S. line on Iran: failure. And this is the woman Dick Morris says can save the GOP in 2008? She's the next Eisenhower??? Has she ever gotten anything right...? Oh, that's right, she did pull off that strategic bathroom break for her husb... I mean, the president...

Tags: , , , , , Foreign Policy
posted by JReid @ 1:16 AM  
Saturday, October 15, 2005
Strike it from your Christmas list...
Conservative groups are calling for a boycott of American Girl dolls... Now what you really want to get your right winger in training is one of these... er, I meant these... or if you really want to keep the little squirt on the straight and narrow, try one of these...

Tags: , , ,
posted by JReid @ 4:21 PM  
What is it good for?
On the "will today's Iraq vote help President Bush's poll numbers?" front, my guess would be it won't, at least not for more than a few days. From a September 29 PIPA poll: Americans reject the use of the military to spread democracy. On the "you said it, brother" front, former Carter NSA advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski writes about Bush's "suicidal statecraft."

Tags: , Middle East, War, Foreign Policy
posted by JReid @ 3:20 PM  
From the desk of: Harriet Miers
More brilliant prose from our possible-unless-run-out-of-town-on-a-rail Supreme Court justice:

Harriet Miers hosts "Ask the White House" -- October 29, 2004

Hello, this is Harriet Miers. I am Deputy Chief of Staff for Policy at the White House, and I am delighted to be here to answer your questions this Friday afternoon. This is always a great weekend because we will all get an extra hour of sleep Saturday night. And given all that is going on, I have to say, we here at the White House are looking forward to that extra hour!


James, from Mountain View, CA writes:
Are we better off now than we were four years ago?

Harriet Miers
Thanks, James, this is a very good question, and I am pleased to give you my views. What we did not know fully in January of 2001 turns out to be very important in answering your question. In January of 2001, there were problems facing the Nation that we did not fully perceive. First, as 2001 progressed we saw the stock market continue a decline that had begun in the middle of 2000 before the Bush Administration took office. We also witnessed an economy slipping further into a recession as 2001 unfolded. We also learned as time passed that corporate misbehavior in the nineties resulted in the eruption of scandals that shook the foundation of trust that we had in the strength and integrity of our economy.

And we all know that on September 11, 2001, we learned that there had been gathering dangers for the United States that would materialize in terrorist attacks that would kill innocent Americans as well as people from countries around the world and dramatically impact the economy, including tremendous loss of jobs and shock to our airlines industry. [Breathe, Harriet, for god's sakes, breathe...!!!]

In response to the economic problems, the President acted immediately to implement tax relief to get the economy going again. He signed into law corporate governance reforms to address the wrongdoing that had been occurring, and those reforms were the most far-reaching since President Franklin Roosevelt’ s time. The President’s optimism and faith in the American people and our economy helped inspire a remarkable recovery. Just today, we saw new statistics showing that our economy continues to grow solidly and compensation for our workers continues steady growth. Working families now keep more of their paychecks, and we are growing faster than any other among major industrialized nations.

The President responded swiftly to the attacks on September 11th. He has our country on the offensive against terrorism. American is waging a global war on terrorism with the help of many friends and allies from around the globe. The President believed it important to confront regimes that harbored or supported terrorists as well as the terrorists. And he is also confronting outlaw regimes that pursue weapons of mass destruction, and he is committed to ensuring that the terrorists do not obtain the world’s most dangerous weapons. At the same time, the President led in the creation of the Homeland Security Department and strengthening our defenses here at home. Although I am sure the President would be the first to say more needs to be done, we are a safer Nation today than we were four years ago.

Additionally, with victories in Afghanistan and in the toppling of Saddam Hussein in Iraq and other efforts around the world, we are promoting freedom and democracy in the greater Middle East as well as elsewhere. Sowing the seeds of freedom around the world brings the goal of peace for all nations ever closer. All these efforts require great resolve and sacrifice, but we are making our Nation safer and we will leave a better world for our children and grandchildren. The last four years have been in many ways difficult years, but we have accomplished a lot and as the President has said: "because we have made the hard journey, we can see the valley below. Now, because we have faced challenges with resolve, we have historic goals within our reach, and greatness in our future. We will build a safer world and a more hopeful America -- and nothing will hold us back."

So, James, as you can tell, I think we are much better off than we were four years ago. And that belief is without discussing many, many other areas where I believe great progress has been made also. For example, with the President’s effort in education and the implementation of No Child Left Behind we are seeing much needed improvement in our schools. The President and Mrs. Bush believe in the power of quality education. That is why immediately upon taking office, the President introduced a bill to improve our education system. I could go on and on, but it is time to take another question.

Oh golly, I sure hope it's not a tough one!
Billy, from Bethel, CT writes:
Hi, I would like to say that Bush is has the right idea about the "No Child Left Behind" program. Now clebrating its second year, for the first time children in the grades 3-8 will be tested with reading and math tests to figure out their abilities to work with such subjects. Great job and keep up the good work. Billy

Harriet Miers
Hi, Billy, and good next question! That is where I left off in the last answer. Many had given up on improving our public education system, but we should never think a problem is too big to solve. Our progress in education is a great example why.

Your comments about the No Child Left Behind Act mirror what we have seen around the Nation -- the President's education reforms are working. Last March, the Council of Great City Schools released a study and reported that the achievement gap in both math and reading between African Americans and whites, and Hispanics and whites, is narrowing.

Our reforms were designed to challenge what the President calls the "soft bigotry of low expectations," and the early results show that we're making incredible progress. For the first time, children in grades 3-8 will be tested every year on basic reading and math skills to measure their progress. And these annual test results are being published so parents can measure school performance and statewide progress, and evaluate the quality of their child’s school, the qualifications of teachers, and student progress in key subjects.

Parents and students now have options for improvement when their schools don’t measure up. These reforms are so important to the President because he knows that a good education has always been a fundamental part of achieving the American Dream and maintain excellence in innovation and our economy.

Thanks for your question, Billy.
Okay, I can't stand it anymore. Read the rest yourself here. Add to Ms. Miers' qualifications for the Court: she mouths those talking points with English-as-a-second-language, hell-fire accuracy! Yeehaw!

Tags: , , Politics, SCOTUS, Law, News,
posted by JReid @ 3:10 PM  
Top ten reasons to be wild about Harriet
Cheer up, Bush supporters and conservative snobs! Harriet Miers' ain't so bad, and here are nearly a dozen reasons why:

  1. 1. With her on the bench, Clarence Thomas would no longer be the least qualified Supreme Court justice...
  2. 2. It could have been worse. Bush could have picked Dan Quayle ...
  3. 3. Grammatically-incorrect smiley-face mail for everybody!
  4. No husband puttering around the Supreme Court halls trying to look busy (or to help "proof read" decisions), and no pesky dancing boy...
  5. Since they're both single, maybe she and Souter could hook up and put an end to all those unfortunate rumors...
  6. She knows the secret to winning the Texas lottery. Helloooo deficit reduction!
  7. Her presence would make the Supreme Court funny. And God knows it could use a little lightening up.
  8. Look at her hair. I'm thinking hit, prime-time "Supreme makeover" show...
  9. She thinks George W. Bush is "cool" -- maybe the two of them could hang out in the Court chambers a lot over the next three years and keep him away from the actual government. Think of the additional damage he'd be unable to do ...
  10. How bad could she be? She's a late-blooming Christian from Texas ... hang on, on second thought...

Bonus reason: she's an excellent bowler...

Tags: , , Politics, SCOTUS, Law, News,
posted by JReid @ 2:52 PM  
What's up, Doc?
The right is defending that staged Bush "teleconference with the troops," but just how many public affairs officers does it take to screw up a propaganda video...?

Michelle Malkin, Instapundit's Glenn Reynolds and others have made much of a blog entry by Army SGT. Ron Long, a combat medic serving in Iraq who was one of the soldiers who participated in that stilted videoconference chat with President Bush this week. Long, who blogs at They Call Us, "Doc", posted a response to all the "bashing" the spectacularly bad, staged event took in the MSM and in the blogosphere. Putting aside the fact that the media has, and has shown, the videotape of the interview prep, Long says in this post heard round the Iraq-war-supporting world, that all the troops (including five officers) did was prepare for a visit with their commander in chief:

First of all, we were told that we would be speaking with the President of the United States, our Commander-in-Chief, President Bush, so I believe that it would have been totally irresponsible for us NOT to prepare some ideas, facts or comments that we wanted to share with the President. We were given an idea as to what topics he may discuss with us, but it's the President of the United States; He will choose which way his conversation with us may go.

We practiced passing the microphone around to one another, so we wouldn't choke someone on live TV. We had an idea as to who we thought should answer what types of questions, unless President Bush called on one of us specifically. [emphases his]
Sgt. Long goes on to say that the president told the troops they were supported at home, but it sure doesn't read that way when the MSM insists on "rip(ping) down" the president and the troops morale by criticizing. He then links to a version of the video on the Pentagon channel (nope, no propaganda there...)

Okay, Sgt. Long. We've got a bead on you. But could you tell us a little bit more about the other troops, including apparently, five officers, who participated in the Iraq infomercial with you? How were the ten of you selected? And what about the female soldier from New York whom your commander in chief highlighted (and pretended to remember meeting after 9/11) during the "chat?" According to the Village Voice, Sgt. Corine Lombardo's job as a public affairs officer in Tikrit is to put on a good show for the press inside a fortified compound, not to participate in the training of Iraqi forces, as her canned answers to the president implied. Was she the only public affairs officer among you? And how, in your opinion, can she give the president a proper assessment of what's going on on the ground there? (HT to the folks at Iraq War News and Comment).

The Bush administration would never dream of staging "good news" from the troops fighting in Iraq, would they? Okay maybe they did that one time they sent the same glowing letter home from supposed soldiers in multiple hometowns... or when they sent a G.I. onto CNN to announce the start of a Fallujah offensive that wouldn't happen for three weeks ... or the staged Jessica Lynch rescue, or the lies about Pat Tillman's death in Afghanistan or, hell, every broadcast about the war every night on Fox News (straight fromthe Pentagon -- leading me to wonder why bother creating a Pentagon channel ...?) Not to mention the biggest propaganda coup of the war, the staged "uprising" kicked off when a U.S. military vehicle pulled down a statue of Saddam Hussen in Firdus Square in Baghdad, with what looked like a huge crowd surrounding them... (see the back story here and here). But other than that, all the administration wants to do is disseminate the unvarnished truth to the American people. Right...? Right...?

Which is why the administration puts so much effort into cherry picking audiences and straining out dissenting voices to include only the most robotic Bush supporters and those willing to make exhortations of total, almost creepy devotion to the "commander in chief." (BTW Sgt., with all due respect, you wouldn't by any chance have been tasked by your commanding officer to post that blog entry, were you? Sorry, but your blog strikes me as an awfully sanitized view of the war...) I'm more inclined to buy into the candor of de-enlisted soliders like Paul Rieckhoff, who writes this on the OpTruth blog:

Not only were the teleconference troops told what to say by Deputy Assistant Defense Secretary Allison Barber, they were also prevented from speaking freely by the looming threat of their ground commanders. Undoubtedly there was a PAO (Public Affairs Officer—likely someone ranking Major or higher) standing directly off-camera making sure the soldiers spoke in line with White House directives. Every troop presented an upbeat view of the situation on the ground in Iraq. There was no talk of armor issues or mortars attacks. A token Iraqi soldier in the group at one point gushed to President Bush, “Thank you very much for everything. I like you!”

When I was an Infantry Platoon leader in Iraq, I was interviewed by CBS 60 Minutes. As the tape was rolling, my commanding officer stood behind the camera carefully listening to my every word with his arms crossed. I knew it wouldn’t be fun for me if I strayed from the prescribed talking points. That incident was one of the motivating factors that led me to create Operation Truth--an organization that truly represents the candid voice of our troops and Veterans. The voices we heard today were neither candid nor representative.
Bottom line: this is the most secretive, propagandistic administration in modern memory. They thrive on press manipulation and obfuscation. They rarely deal in the plain truth. And they do all of this because to tell the truth about the war -- the reasons for it and the conduct of it -- would be to dissolve what little support for it is left among the American people. This is the same crowd that demanded that participants sign loyalty oaths in order to sit in the audiences for Bush's staged "town hall meetings" during the campaign (the Q&A was scripted in those, too).

And by the way, if the enemy had captured American soldiers and stuck a camera in front of their faces and had them read enemy-boosting propaganda to the world, we would be firing up the bunker busters. The president is misusing the armed forces by essentially turning them into tools for political propaganda (just as his administration has done repeatedly with the press and reminiscent of how they've politicized everything from the courts to FEMA.) Sorry Sgt. Long, I know you're a big-time Bush fan, but that isn't what the military you so bravely serve in is there for. Hell, even some Pentagon officials are peeved that soldiers were being coached before a supposedly spontaneous Q&A with the president. That's because they understand that the job of soldiers is to carry out U.S. foreign policy, not to propagandize for it.

Update: Rightie dears, comparing the staging of events with the troops by the president of the United States using the armed forces to the media or Cindy Sheehan is ... well ... kinda stupid. The media is the media... and Cindy Sheehan is a private citizen. If you folks don't hold your president to a higher standard than an individual mom or Michelle Kosinski, no wonder this country is in so much trouble... You might as well say Dubya is doing great if he just meets the Geraldo standard. Then again, maybe that's what you do say...


Tags: , War, Foreign Policy,
posted by JReid @ 12:53 PM  
Friday, October 14, 2005
The 4 C's of Harriet Miers
According to conservative critics of Harriet Miers, including Professor Bainbridge (who takes apart that other Limbaugh who doesn't know a darned thing about the U.S. Constitution in this post), the new "three C's" of Supreme Court politics are: "commitment, credentials and cronyism" (don't worry Dems, we've still got "corruption and competence" cooking for '06...) And now for the fourth "C": "Coulter." Stated for the record, I think Ann Coulter has got to be on something powdery and white most of the time, but this column was pretty damned good. Best line:
"Let me just say, if the top male lawyer in the country is John Roberts and the top female lawyer is Harriet Miers, we may as well stop allowing girls to go to law school."

Natch. Hat tip to Willie Buck Merle.

Tags: , , Politics, SCOTUS, Law, News,
posted by JReid @ 6:05 PM  
Doubts all around

Margaret Thatcher mugs more than a few people on her way to her 80th birthday bash, including Tony Blair. It seems the British soul sister of Ronald Reagan isn't where the neocons might surmise she'd be on the war... odd, that...

Update: Not to pile on, but apparently the Church of England is urging "Western Christians" to apologize for the Iraq war:

The committee of bishops, chaired by the bishop of Oxford, Richard Harries, also linked U.S. "imperialism" to the influence of U.S. evangelicals, who seemingly pose the real threat to world peace: "No country should see itself as the redeemer nation, singled out by God as part of his providential plan," the bishops warned America, which is ostensibly consumed with religious zeal for conquest.

I guess those bishops won't be invited to the White House Christmas party...

Meanwhile, the Neocons take on the suddently Bush-tepid "Fine" for his latest Newsweek piece, and try to wriggle out of the uncomfortable suit of chief war-promoters ... I don't blame them. I wouldn't want to be too closely associated with this disaster either...

Tags: , , , Middle East, War

posted by JReid @ 1:12 AM  
Nothing succeeds like ... uh-oh...

According to the latest Pew poll (via AP):
  • Forty-one percent of respondents said Bush's presidency will be seen as unsuccessful in the long run, while 26 percent said the opposite. Thirty-five percent said it was too early to tell ... In January, 36 percent said successful and 27 percent said unsuccessful. [AP] ... More people now believe that Bush will be viewed as an unsuccessful president than said that about President Clinton at any point in his administration. [Pew]
  • Seven in 10 said they want the next president to offer policies and programs that are different from the Bush administration's. ... Only half said they wanted the next president to offer different policies in 2000, at the end of the Clinton presidency. [AP]
  • By a 2-1 margin, people said the Bush administration has had a negative impact on politics and the way government works. [AP]
  • People were inclined to say Bush's policies have made things worse on a wide range of issues such as the federal budget deficit, the gap between rich and poor, health care, the economy, relations with U.S. allies, the tax system and education. By 47 percent to 30 percent, those surveyed said Bush has improved the situation with national security. [AP](National security is the only issue mentioned on which a clear plurality (47%) says Bush's policies have made things better.) [Pew]
  • Almost half of Republicans said Bush's policies have made the deficit worse and just 12 percent say he has improved that situation. [AP]
  • For the first time since the war began, a majority of Americans (53%) say the U.S. military effort there is not going well. Half of Americans now say the decision to use military force in Iraq was wrong, up from 44% last month. Support for keeping U.S. forces in Iraq, which had remained stable over the past year, also has declined. As many Americans now say the U.S. should bring its troops home as soon as possible as favor keeping the troops there until Iraq is stable (48% vs. 47%). [Pew]


posted by JReid @ 1:05 AM  
Oh ... my ... God ...
"OK, so let's just walk through this," Barber said. "Captain Kennedy, you answer the first question and you hand the mike to whom?"

"Captain Smith," Kennedy said.

"Captain. Smith? You take the mike and you hand it to whom?" she asked.

"Captain Kennedy," the soldier replied.

And so it went.

"If the question comes up about partnering — how often do we train with the Iraqi military — who does he go to?" Barber asked.

"That's going to go to Captain Pratt," one of the soldiers said.

"And then if we're going to talk a little bit about the folks in Tikrit — the hometown — and how they're handling the political process, who are we going to give that to?"
Why is it that no matter how many times they get busted for it, the Bush administration just can't stop manufacturing the news by staging supposedly spontaneous interactions between the president and "just folks?" (including "just troops"...?) And why is it that they consistently do it so very badly? Bush looked like a kid who showed up on class presentation day with his big brother's paper from last year. And what's with the stepford grins on the faces of the hand-picked "audience" for this audience with the king? Could this thing have been more freaking awkward??? (NBC video: Troops coached ahead of Bush rally)

If things are going south this quickly with things just at the grand jury stage, what's gonna happen if Rove actually gets indicted, or worse yet, goes to prison? Are these clowns gonna send Dubya out on the South Lawn without his pants on or what...? By the way, according to Operation Truth's Paul Rieckhoff, five of the ten "just troops" Bush bantered with were officers. And then there was this guy:
The president also got praise from the Iraqi soldier who was part of the chat.

"Thank you very much for everything," he gushed. "I like you."

Yeah, he likes you too, buddy. Sheesh...

Update: Oh, so this is why they keep doing it ... I guess there's a suck-up wire reporter under every bedroll...

Tags: , Middle East, War, Foreign Policy, Media

posted by JReid @ 12:44 AM  
Is our nominees learning?
I didn't blog at all yesterday ... too busy and too exhausted. However ...

This just couldn't go by unnoticed. David Brooks unearthed what could be the biggest problem for Harriet Miers yet (even bigger than thinking that GWB is, like, so cool...) namely, she writes like this:
'We have to understand and appreciate that achieving justice for all is in jeopardy before a call to arms to assist in obtaining support for the justice system will be effective. Achieving the necessary understanding and appreciation of why the challenge is so important, we can then turn to the task of providing the much needed support.' ...
My God, Dubya really did nominate himself ... Read the full Brooks column for free! courtesy of Deep Thoughts.

Tags: , , , , , , Politics, SCOTUS, Law, News
posted by JReid @ 12:33 AM  
Wednesday, October 12, 2005
According to MSNBC and the HuffPo, Bloomberg and the WSJ are working on stories that suggest the CIA leak special prosecutor has a bigger, fatter, jucier target in mind than just mere White House aides... two hints: he's rarely seen in broad daylight and has a bad ticker...

Item: we learned last week that Fitzgerald's office may have leaned on Scooter Libby to give Judith Miller the "personal, unambiguous waiver" she insisted upon before spilling her guts (as she's doing yet again before the GJ today.)

Item: Are Bush and Cheney's staffs at each other's throats? Other rumblings out there include in-fighting between the Andy Card and Karl Rove factions at the WH. Something wicked their way must be coming if everyone is scrambling for the life boats already...

Tags: , , , , , Karl Rove, White House, PlameGate
posted by JReid @ 1:36 PM  
The candidate of last resort?
According to the Los Angeles Times, Harriet Miers may have been Bush/Andy Card's Court selection more out of necessity than choice. According to the paper, in his briefing to James Dobson, Karl Rove told the evangelical leader that having already decided to give Laura a female nominee, the president was left with fewer choices, and that some of the ladies on the White House short list took themselves out of contention -- not wanting to be nominated for fear of the "vicious, vitriolic" confirmation process. The Times quotes an advance transcript of Dobson's Wednesday radio show:
"What Karl told me is that some of those individuals took themselves off that list and they would not allow their names to be considered, because the process has become so vicious and so vitriolic and so bitter that they didn't want to subject themselves or the members of their families to it," Dobson said, according to the transcript.

Dobson said that he and Rove did not discuss Roe vs. Wade, the Supreme Court decision that established a woman's right to end a pregnancy, or how Miers might judge abortion-related cases.

"I did not ask that question," Dobson said. "You know, to be honest, I would have loved to have known how Harriet Miers views Roe v. Wade. But even if Karl had known the answer to that — and I'm certain that he didn't, because the president himself said he didn't know — Karl would not have told me that. That's the most incendiary information that's out there, and it was never part of our discussion."
We did hear from the RW blogosphere that Priscilla Owen bowed out just days before Miers' name was dropped like a lead balloon on Bush's supporters, but the press at the time portrayed Edith Jones as an eternal bridesmaid, not someone who wanted to be out of contention.

More of what Dobson was reportedly told, via the LA Times/AP:
On a radio show being broadcast Wednesday, Dobson said he discussed Miers with
Rove on Oct. 1, two days before her nomination was announced. Dobson said Rove
told him "she is from a very conservative church, which is almost universally
pro-life," but denied he had gotten any assurances from the White House that she
would vote to overturn the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion.
Whatever the case, I think it's becoming clearer and clearer that Mr. Dobson needs to testify under oath before the Senate, as does Karl Rove...

Tags: , Politics, SCOTUS, Law, News,
posted by JReid @ 12:58 PM  
Parting shots
Out-going German Chancelor Schroeder takes a couple of swipes at President Bush...

Tags: News, , Foreign Policy
posted by JReid @ 12:48 PM  
Hats off to the New York Post for the year's best headline. Oh, Papa Smurf... (Updated video link here, in the immortal words of ThePete, "your childhood memories smurfed all to hell...")

Tags: News, ,

posted by JReid @ 2:02 AM  
Life is like a box of Bushes
With all the GOP in-fighting over Harriet Miers, it seems almost poetic that the right is finally facing the consequences of its own past compromises in pursuit of power. Pulling up that quote again from Daniel Henninger in Friday's WSJ:
In 1982, five years before Ronald Reagan nominated Robert Bork to the High Court, law students at several top-tier schools founded the Federalist Society, dedicated to shaping a robust, coherent conservative theory of jurisprudence. Robert Bork was a society lodestar, the most formidable conservative jurist of his generation. The Democrats destroyed his nomination by personalizing their disagreement with him. After that, reforming and retaking the Court became a personal crusade for many conservatives.

While this battle raged in 1987, George Bush was a businessman in Texas. He was in no sense an active participant in the political or intellectual wars being waged in Washington. Seven years later, he entered Texas politics as governor. ...
Not active? He wasn't a particpant at all, by all accounts. Thirteen years later, in 2000, Governor George Bush seems to have shown not a whit more interest in the monumental ideological struggles of the day, whether over Roe vs. Wade or the "runaway" courts or public prayer (read Molly Ivins if you don't believe me). As Texas governor, he seemed more jazzed about tax cuts, baseball and speaking Spanish than about whether judicial activism had turned the federal courts into super-legislatures.

Conservatives -- and especially the neoconservatives and American Enterprise Institute types -- knew that, and they had cultivated a long list of intellectual peers destined for government (or for unprecedented influence over government), but none of those, except for Donald Rumsfeld, had ever run for president. For whatever reason, few on the right (except Bill Kristol and other neocons) trusted John McCain to carry the conservative banner into the White House. Perhaps the other cogs in the movement wheel -- particularly evangelicals -- just couldn't get over his loathing of leaders like Jerry Falwell. Instead, the right settled on a 2000 presidential nominee who was so far outside their camp, he weren't even in the woods. (Pairing him with Cheney helped, but apparently, Cheney has lost his grip on the leash...)

Conservatives decided of their own volition to throw their support behind an essentially blank slate whom they knew could win, and therefore could carry their projects forward and cement enough federal power to see them through. Karl Rove sold Bush as the guy who could turn conservative theory into reality. In Dubya, the three "provinces" of the conservative movement -- evangelicals, free market ubercapitalists and Wilsonian neocons, essentially got a vessel they could pour their dreams into. But only one province -- the capitalists -- were getting the real deal (on tax cuts and corporate rewards from the public tiller, though not on spending.) What the intellecutals gave up, however, was someone truly committed to the conservative ideological struggle, and who could articulate and truly advance the cause. Now George W. Bush is giving the conservative movement exactly what he was for them: a blank slate who can theoretically win, but who doesn't advance the cause.

It's important that those conservatives who most vehemently oppose the Miers nomination -- in sharp contrast to the Brit Hume, Sean Hannity or Rush Limbaugh types who spend much of their time in relation to this president on their knees -- oppose her even if they are willing to assume she will ultimately vote exactly as they want her to. Their goal stretches beyond winning the head counts -- they wanted someone who could articulate more than 30 years of conservative legal reasoning to the full Court and to the country, giving hard-won legitimacy to the ideas and ideals embodied by their former standard-bearer, Judge Bork. Miers, even if she appends herself to Tony Scalia and joins Clarence Thomas as the Italian Scallion's other echo, can't do the job, because like the president she adores, she hasn't really thought through the big questions and issues conservatives built whole think tanks just to wrestle with all these years.

Even first rate legal mind John Roberts, because he has been so coy about his judicial philosophy and views of the law, fails the test because his nomination makes short work of hte notion that jurists with well-known, publicly articulated stands on monumental issues have no future as Supreme Court justices. Bush could have corrected that, in the eyes of conservatives, with his second nomination. Why he chose not to will be the debate among political junkies like me for some time...

Ironically, it didn't have to be this way. Conservatives could have had a card carrying member of their intellectual star chamber, who was an original signatory to the Project for a New American Century and the founder of his own think tank, who had put conservative educational ideas to the test in the real world by co-founding a charter school, who is by all accounts something of a religious zealot (Terri Schiavo and the faith-based prison come to mind), who loathes affirmative action (as opposed to his brother's mumblings about "affirmative access"), who seems to have long desired nothing more than to be president, and who could have carried both the political and the intellectual banner of the conservative movement, along with the requisite name brand: his name was Jeb Bush. (There's also a great deal of grime there, partcularly in his business dealings and ties to questionable characters in the Cuban-American community, not to mention his disfunctional family, but there you go...)

It's one of those little bugaboos of history that had Jeb won his 1994 gubernatorial race and his older brother lost his, Jeb likely would have been the one running for president in 2000. Had he won, there there probably still would have been a war in Iraq but there might well have been no Dubya clone headed to the Supreme Court today (Jeb lost because he was up front about his hard core right wing principles, while George presented the image of mushy "compassionate conservatism" in Texas). (Sidebar: Jeb Bush seems to be a mean S.O.B. -- even surlier than his brother according to people I've talked to who have dealt with him. He would have put up Priscilla Owen and Michael Luttig and ordered the Democrats to like it or get bent.)

Now that his brother and father have made such a mess of the presidency, and possibly poisoned the Bush name in the conservative lexicon forever -- not to mention among the sane electorate -- Jebbie probably won't ever get his chance to show his team what he can do.

Sounds like the wingers gambled on the wrong Bush.

Tags: , , Politics, SCOTUS, Law, News,
posted by JReid @ 12:57 AM  
Laura unplugged
The First Lady was pretty damned feisty in her defense of fellow SMU grad Harriet Miers on the Today Show on Tuesday. She even threw down the "sexism" gauntlet -- against what's supposed to be her own side ... Wonder how that will go over with the right wing blogosphere... Here's a hint: one blogger from the "soon to be former core Bush supporter" camp put it this way:
I never thought I would ever write the following words, but they must be written: Shut up, Mrs. Bush.
Aye, dios mio!

Tags: , , , Politics, SCOTUS, News,
posted by JReid @ 12:38 AM  
Tuesday, October 11, 2005
The owner of the Florida web site that traded free access to its porn content to U.S. soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan in exchange for pictures proving they were serving overseas is cooling his heels in jail, charged with 300 misdemeanor and one felony obscenity counts.

The question initially wasn't so much the porn arrest last week, it's whether Chris Wilson (a former cop, btw) is being singled out specifically because he crossed the U.S. military brass, which certainly didn't want the more gruesome pictures of dead Iraqis shown. Wilson's lawyer was on Air America's morning show "Morning Sedition" Tuesday morning saying he was having trouble bonding Wilson out, and the prosecutor in this case has admitted to being in touch with the military (which isn't prosecuting the G.I.'s).

Of course, there's more to the story than that, and Wilson isn't exactly a golden boy:

Wilson had been investigated by the Sheriff's Office before. Charlie Gates, a detective who specializes in criminal activity involving computers, received a complaint about Web sites run by Wilson in March 2003. The Web sites were called and

Gates contacted Wilson by telephone and told him he might be in violation of Florida's pornography statute. Wilson agreed not to promote or distribute pornography in Polk County in the future, according to a report by Gates.

In November 2004, Gates began another investigation into Wilson, regarding his current Web site. Gates was off for some time because of an illness, but when he returned he saw an article in The Ledger about the Web site.

He contacted prosecutor Brad Copley and told him he was conducting a possible obscenity investigation. Gates purchased a membership to the Web site and began documenting what he saw.

He collected 80 graphic images and 20 short movies that appeared to be obscene, and presented them to County Judge Angela Cowden, who determined there was probable cause to think all of the images were obscene.

"From September 28 until October 7 I accessed Wilson's Web site many times. The Web site almost always had over 1,000 people logged on at any one time," Gates said in the affidavit.
Still, whatever you think of Wilson, the idea that his porn site was singled out, with so many others out there, and given the connection between the site and unedited images of the war that Pentagon types certainly wanted squashed, the case is an unsettling First Amendment test (we won't even go into whether the government in a free society should even be able to censor pornography that doesn't arise from some clearly illegal underlying act, as in child pornography...) In this case, Wilson is charged with violating Florida laws, not federal laws, although the Supreme Court has been known to step in on the Sunshine State from time to time.

Florida has strict and exhaustive obscenity laws on the books, and even sports statutes forbidding adultery and cohabitation, to go with the specific 2005->Ch0847->Section%200135#0847.0135">laws against computer pornography (which deal almost exclusively with the abuse and depiction of abuse of minors). There's some evidence that Wilson knew -- or at least suspected -- that he was under investigation and that he continued to operate anyway (perhaps the lure of press attention was too much to resist?)

Bottom line: this might be a good First Amendment case saddled with a relatively unsympathetic lead character -- kind of like Larry Flynt Goes to Washington...

The war on pictures

Tags: , Middle East, War, Foreign Policy, Media
posted by JReid @ 11:54 PM  
Forget "can" -- SHOULD Iraq survive?
One regional scholar says "no."

Tags: , Middle East, href="">War, Terrorism, Foreign Policy
posted by JReid @ 11:52 PM  
Like war president, like unelected ally
In the aftermath of the deadly South Asia quake, some newspapers in Pakistan are editorializing that "the [Musharraf] government's ability to cope with such a catastrophe was found [to be] extremely wanting." Message to Dubya: you are not alone...

Meanwhile, other papers are exhorting the Muslim faithful not to look upon this horrific tragedy as some sort of vengeance from an angry God. At the same link (above) there's also a link to this interesting Times of London article about that 2004 Irish TV interview with President Bush (note: the reporter wanted to "slap him..." and I think the unnamed female Bush staffer might have been Nicole Devenish?)

Tags: , , ,
posted by JReid @ 11:35 PM  
Who runs things?
Another tidbit from Monday's John Fund article that says interesting things about the workings of the White House these days:
The White House professes to be sanguine about Ms. Miers's reliability, while at the same time expressing irritation with conservatives who won't fall into line. Time magazine quotes a Bush adviser as saying that the "driving force" behind Ms. Miers's appointment was White House chief of staff Andy Card, not Karl Rove. "This is something that Andy and the president cooked up," the adviser told Time. "Andy knew it would appeal to the president because he loves appointing his own people and being supersecret and stealthy about it." Despite his lack of hands-on involvement, Mr. Rove has stoutly defended the Miers pick to allies as a brilliant "Trojan horse"--a conservative nominee who will avoid any possible Democratic filibuster.

This jibes with what Howard Fineman and other White House watchers have been saying in recent days: that Rove is being sidelined at the White House due to his many, mounting problems. Another sign: Scott McClellan putting distance between Rove and the Katrina clean-up.
posted by JReid @ 2:43 PM  
Hurricane Harriet: WSJ edition
On Friday, WSJ's Daniel Henninger summed up the trouble with Harriet this way: by naming her for the court, George W. Bush essentially nominated himself:

In 1982, five years before Ronald Reagan nominated Robert Bork to the High Court, law students at several top-tier schools founded the Federalist Society, dedicated to shaping a robust, coherent conservative theory of jurisprudence. Robert Bork was a society lodestar, the most formidable conservative jurist of his generation. The Democrats destroyed his nomination by personalizing their disagreement with him. After that, reforming and retaking the Court became a personal crusade for many conservatives.

While this battle raged in 1987, George Bush was a businessman in Texas. He was in no sense an active participant in the political or intellectual wars being waged in Washington. Seven years later, he entered Texas politics as governor. ...

Yep, she does sound like Dubya. Yesterday, John Fund took one giant step away from the Miers nomination:

I have changed my mind about Harriet Miers. Last Thursday, I wrote in OpinionJournal's Political Diary that "while skepticism of Ms. Miers is justified, the time is fast approaching when such expressions should be muted until the Senate hearings begin. At that point, Ms. Miers will finally be able to speak for herself."

But that was before I interviewed more than a dozen of her friends and colleagues along with political players in Texas. I came away convinced that questions about Ms. Miers should be raised now--and loudly--because she has spent her entire life avoiding giving a clear picture of herself. "She is unrevealing to the point that it's an obsession," says one of her close colleagues at her law firm.

White House aides who have worked with her for five years report she zealously advocated the president's views, but never gave any hint of her own. Indeed, when the Dallas Morning News once asked Ms. Miers to finish the sentence, "Behind my back, people say . . .," she responded, ". . . they can't figure me out."
Oh, and there's this:
... it was Richard Land , president of the Southern Baptist Convention, who went so far as to paint Ms. Miers as virtually a tool of the man who has been her client for the past decade. "In Texas, we have two important values, courage and loyalty," he told a conference call of conservative leaders last Thursday. "If Harriet Miers didn't rule the way George W. Bush thought she would, he would see that as an act of betrayal and so would she." That is an argument in her favor. It sounds more like a blood oath than a dignified nomination process aimed at finding the most qualified individual possible .

Well when you've lost John Fund ...

Tags: , , Politics, SCOTUS, News,
posted by JReid @ 1:12 PM  
Hey kid, want some free music ... and an intractable insurgency...?
The Army's newest recruiting plan is patriotism-light, Kanye West heavy. Why not just give the poor slobs free porn while you're at it ...?

Tags: , War, ,
posted by JReid @ 12:54 AM  
Who should rebuild New Orleans?
Low-paid Mexican workers, legal and illegal, or the American citizens evacuated from there? At last, Jesse Jackson finds a mission that makes sense (though he and Nagin clearly don't see eye to eye on much, including logistics). Meanwhile, who's spending what in Louisiana, and how, is already becoming an issue.

Tags: , Katrina, New Orleans, Hurricane Katrina, href="">Politics, News,
posted by JReid @ 12:48 AM  
Karl, this isn't good for you
Missing e-mail no longer missing...

Tags: , , , , , Karl Rove, White House, PlameGate
posted by JReid @ 12:41 AM  
Harriet Miers, major league suck-up
We're now getting a clearer picture of what George W. Bush sees as Harriet Miers unique qualifications to be a Supreme Court justice: she worships the ground he walks on.
AUSTIN, Tex., Oct. 10 - "You are the best governor ever - deserving of great respect," Harriet E. Miers wrote to George W. Bush days after his 51st birthday in July 1997. She also found him "cool," said he and his wife, Laura, were "the greatest!" and told him: "Keep up the great work. Texas is blessed."

Ms. Miers, President Bush's personal lawyer and his selection for a Supreme Court seat, emerges as an unabashed fan in more than 2,000 pages of official correspondence and personal notes made public on Monday by the Texas State Library and Archives Commission in response to open-records requests.

Well golly! Did they exchange super-secret "best friends for life" decoder rings, too???

...Newsweek's chief dress degreaser Michael Isikoff peels the lid off the internal grumblings by e-mail of a select group of conservative thinkers charged with helping the White House sell the world on its number two nominee. A sample from anti-affirmative action scold and civil rights commission mole Abigail Thernstrom sums it up nicely:
"We are keeping quiet. And hiding from the media ... As for undermining trust in the president, I am afraid he has accomplished that all on his own—without any help from us."

Okay, can't resist one more:
The e-mails, copies of which were obtained by NEWSWEEK from one of the participants, illustrate the depth of conservative angst over the Miers selection. Many on the e-mail trail fretted about their own "credibility" if they publicly took up the cause for Miers, who seemed to lack the credentials they value. "It no longer matters whether she's the second coming of John Marshall; the cronyism charge has stuck, bec. [sic] it's so obviously true," wrote Michael Greve, a legal scholar at the conservative American Enterprise Institute. Greve wondered what was next. Would Bush, he asked, replace Fed chair Alan Greenspan with "a young lady in the basement of the West Wing who did a terrific job on the TX Railroad Commission [and was the] first Armenian bond trader in Dallas ..."
Meanwhile ...Slate offers sound advice for GOP Senators considering their "big move" to oppose the Miers nomination and win the hearts of FReepers everywhere...

Tags: , , Politics, SCOTUS, News,
posted by JReid @ 12:19 AM  
Monday, October 10, 2005
The vault
Quake produces natural disaster headline deja-vu:
West's response condemned as slow an inadequate
Victims Cry Out for Help Days After Quake
Hungry Looters Raid Shops in Pakistan

Bush poll numbers:
Latest CBS: Majorities say president doesn't share their priorities, most want U.S. troops to leave Iraq immediately;

Helloooooo, Iowa:
U.S. offer of major farm subsidy cuts gets warm welcome from Europe. " The last time the administration called for major reform, it backed off after fierce opposition on Capitol Hill. The 2002 bill, enacted before that year's mid term elections, helped Mr Bush and the Republicans make gains in the Mid-West and the cotton- producing South. ..."

This is just too mean ... click on it anyway ...
posted by JReid @ 11:54 PM  
Battle scars
An Iraq war hero, seen on the front pages of newspapers carrying an injured Iraqi child in the spring of 2003, is arrested for firing a weapon in a three-hour standoff with police.

Dwyer's family says he's suffering from post traumatic stress disorder and that he's fallen through the cracks of the Army mental health system since he returned two years ago to Fort Bliss, Texas, from his tour of duty as a medic in Iraq.

"If you look at the picture, he's holding this baby, but he's got an M-16 on his back," said Dwyer's older sister, Christine Dwyer-Ogno, 38, of Mount Sinai, crying. "These guys need help ... I didn't know how much pain he was in. I don't want him to be in any more pain."
Other soldiers are coming home from Iraq with mysterious illnesses. And Newsweek has a story on women soldiers and "shell shock..."(hat tip to Camp Hope.) Kind of makes you wonder just how much more we're willing to let our troops put up with before we cut our losses and get them the hell out of there, for the Iraqis' sakes and our own...

News update: Arab League delegation attacked in Iraq

Previous: The disaster chronicles

Counterpoint: 'Peace is not the answer'

Tags: , Middle East, War, Terrorism, Foreign Policy
posted by JReid @ 1:42 PM  
The me nobody knows - Harriet Miers edition
More insight on Harriet Miers. She don't like "greedy trial lawyers..." and she just might be an ink blot ...

Update: Gary Bauer vs. Nathan Hecht.

Tags: , , Politics, SCOTUS, Law, News
posted by JReid @ 12:31 PM  
Prod and prejudice
Was the "voluntary waiver" from Scooter Libby, which Judy Miller held out for in such breathless, Joan of Arc fasion really consentual? Perhaps not so much...

Tags: , , , Karl Rove, White House, PlameGate
posted by JReid @ 12:20 PM  
Their own private Baghdad

The reaction to the Harriet Miers nomination from across the miniature Iraq that is the Republican Party (and its in-fighting provinces of fiscally conservative paleos, anti-immigration border watchers, religious fanatics, and neoconservative think-tankers) has been one of one big, collective "how dare you!" to the president. For now, the provinces are fighting the Miers insurgency as a united front, but eventally, they'll turn on the neocon Kurds...

Why? Because having pushed the president to gamble his legacy on their pet project in Iraq, and having lost, big time, the neocons have not only robbed this president of his political capital (not to mention stripping the American government of its reputation -- a disrobing the White House completed with its penchant for cronyism and stilted response to Katrina), they've robbed themselves of the power to pull the president's strings, produced a rebellion on Capitol Hill and --- proving that Karma is truly circular -- put their Iraq project in jeopardy.

Still, the neocons have become accustomed to having their way, after hijacking the tax-cutting agenda of the traditional conservatives in favor of a wildly Wilsonian foreign policy married to a Lyndon Johnsonesque social and economic policy that is an anathema to the other tribes. (Sorry, GOP, but that's who neoconservatives are -- they're Wilsonian Democrats who figured out that only the Republican Party had the arrogance to enact their agenda...) So is it any wonder the neocons are now so hell-bent on regaining control of George W. Bush's behavior? They've got to get him back in line before the other provinces turn on them, resulting in an Iraq-style political civil war. The Miers nomination in many ways signaled Bush's decision to retake control of his presidency and to make decisions on his own -- without the neocons and pointy headed intellectuals and without the religious right. He's reaping the whirlwind now, but in many ways, so are the think-tankers, who now find themselves in a desperate fight to implement the wishes of the religious right and with anti-neocon enemies like Pat Buchanan and George Will against the president they once programmed ...

Tags: , , Politics, SCOTUS, News,
posted by JReid @ 12:03 PM  
Running on empty
Who wants to be a GOP candidate in 2006? Not even Joe Scarborough... The question for the Dems is, are there enough competitive seats to take back the Senate, or even the House? Here's a look at what's available. The Dems have a good chance of knocking off a couple of big targets, especially Rick Santorum of PA (which would also scuttle his 08 presidential plans should he have them) and I believe Harold Ford will become the second African-American member of the Senate (from Tennessee, now that Bill Frist is retiring to (smirk) run for president.) The Dems also very likely hold onto Michigan, W. Virginia, Michigan, Vermont and good ole' Florida, now that it's just Bill Nelson and crazy Kathy Harris in the race. And Liddy Dole is apparently no great shakes as NRSC chair (so much for getting tapped as the GOP's answer to Hillary Clinton...) And keep an eye on Ohio.

Most political analysts are saying it's doubtful there will be a change of hands in either house of Congress (redistricting probably assures that on the House side), but I'm not so sure. If the GOP continues to founder (due to Iraq and the various scandals swirling around the White House and Capitol Hill) and Democrats successfully nationalize the election as one about the three c's -- corruption, competance and "can't afford to fill my gas tank" ... and if they keep the argument there and not on the social issues, now that Bush has drawn the abortion fanatics into a battle against him -- they could be looking at a very different situation on the Hill, including a virtual tie in the House and a possible Senate majority. Of course the key, is finding a succinct national message and staying on it.

Update: more signs of the GOP apocalypse --
Senate Repblicans getting cold feet on tax cuts ...

Tags: , , , , ,
posted by JReid @ 11:27 AM  
The war at our door?
More from the Moonfolk at UPI this morning, this time regarding the fractured U.S.-Venezuela relationship, and the possible repurcussions for our already-beleaguered oil supply:
Two key economic decisions by the government of Venezuela's populist president, Hugo Chavez, could be signs of an impending economic war against the United States, which is increasingly wary of the former paratrooper's growing influence in Latin America and his ties with Cuban leader Fidel Castro.

On Thursday, Venezuelan authorities ordered the temporary closure of top U.S. businesses, including IBM and Microsoft, for alleged tax irregularities in a move that comes days after the government was reported to have shifted some $20 billion in U.S. Treasuries into funds sent to Europe.

Microsoft and IBM were ordered to close for 24 to 48 hours along with Honda Motor, Ericsson, Siemens and Nokia as part of a "zero tax evasion" policy. Venezuela's tax agency, Seniat, said the firms would be fined heavily for irregular book-keeping.

Earlier in the week, according to the Financial Times, Venezuela shifted between $10 billion and $20 billion in U.S. Treasuries into funds sent to Europe amid frigid relations between President Hugo Chavez and the Bush administration.

The economic action notwithstanding, the Bush administration and many countries in South American are increasingly worried by what they see as Chavez' quest for weapons, which he can pay for with oil revenues that have increased because of the spike in the global price of oil. This, they fear, could fuel a region-wide arms race.

His main supplier is likely to be Russia, which may be interested in selling Venezuela three submarines besides its Lada diesel electric boats, which have six 533mm torpedo tubes, with 18 torpedoes and/or anti-ship missiles.

This besides Chavez' plans to expand his military's paramilitary units. He has also placed a huge order for Russian assault rifles and Russian and North Korean rifles, leading to fears the weaponry will find its way into the hands of the Marxist Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, and the National Liberation Army, or ELN, which are fighting the Colombian government.

"Nobody has been able to explain why Venezuela is buying so many weapons. It can't be to defend itself against Colombia, because our country has no intention of invading Venezuela or giving it any military trouble," former Colombian Finance Minister Juan Manuel Santos told the Cambio newspaper in an interview published Monday. "But we should be concerned about having a neighbor armed to the teeth that wants to replicate its regime in the rest of Latin America. That generates a military imbalance in the area."

Despite this, however, and past announcements that several multinationals owe millions in back taxes, Chavez has continued to cozy up to U.S. oil companies.

Earlier this week, Venezuela awarded a natural gas exploration and extraction deal with Chevron Corp. and OAO Gazprom of Russia. Chevron won rights to one block for $5.6 million off the country's western coast and OAO Gazprom was awarded rights to two blocks with offers of $15.2 million and $24.8 million. The contracts for the Rafael Urdaneta natural gas project, which comprises 29 blocks spanning some 11,580 square miles, are valid for 30 years.

Venezuela, already a major oil producer, also has large and untapped natural gas reserves.

"Here it's shown that we have relations with the whole world -- an American company, Chevron," President Hugo Chavez said Tuesday. "We are good friends, good partners and good allies of many U.S. companies that work with us."

Chavez, who is a close ally of Castro, has been engaged over the past year in a war of words with the United States, which he accuses of trying to kill him. Washington has called the charges absurd and, in turn, accuses Chavez, a democratically elected former military paratrooper, of stifling democracy in his country.

Despite the friction, however, the United States is still the top buyer of oil from Venezuela, the world's fifth-largest oil exporter. And after deadly hurricanes struck the U.S. Gulf Coast, devastating a significant portion of the U.S. refining capacity, Caracas pledged to send an additional 1 million barrels of gasoline to the affected.

At least two more gasoline cargoes will be sent this month, an official from the state-owned Petroleos de Venezuela S.A. said.

"He has to recognize economic reality," said Ted Galen Carpenter, vice president for defense and foreign-policy studies at the libertarian Cato Institute, told United Press International in a telephone interview. "He'll sell oil to the highest bidder and that happens to be the U.S."
Read the rest here.

Tags: , Politics, chavez, Hugo Chavez,
posted by JReid @ 11:20 AM  
The disaster chronicles
Not yet convinced the Iraqi neocon experiment has utterly failed? Here are three chances to change your mind. The first is from columnist Jackson Diehl, writing in today's Washington Post:

Iraqis' Broken Dreams

Three years ago Kanan Makiya and Rend Rahim were among the most persuasive advocates of a U.S. invasion of Iraq. Both liberal Iraqi intellectuals and eloquent English speakers, they made the case that Saddam Hussein's removal was a cause to be embraced on moral and human rights grounds, and that its result could be the replacement of the Arab world's most brutal dictatorship by its first genuine democracy.

They were widely heard in Washington. Once, over dinner, I watched as they argued passionately to a senior administration official -- one of the architects of the then-approaching war -- that the Bush administration should stop focusing on Hussein's supposed weapons of mass destruction and openly justify intervention on grounds of democracy and human rights. The official was clearly moved, but demurred. Iraq's WMD, he replied, was the single motivating factor that united the administration's own factions and constituencies.

I found the two compelling. They reminded me of Central European dissidents, such as Adam Michnik and Vaclav Havel, who challenged Soviet totalitarianism on the same grounds -- and who, that fall of 2002, also chose to endorse intervention in Iraq. We all knew Iraq would be different and more difficult than Poland or Czechoslovakia. But Makiya and Rahim, among other liberal Iraqis, nurtured the dream that there, too, a democracy could arise out of the rubble of dictatorship.

That's why it was so sobering to encounter Makiya and Rahim again last week -- and to hear them speak with brutal honesty about their "dashed hopes and broken dreams," as Makiya put it. The occasion was a conference on Iraq sponsored by the conservative American Enterprise Institute, which did so much to lay the intellectual groundwork for the war. A similar AEI conference three years ago this month resounded with upbeat predictions about the democratic, federal and liberal Iraq that could follow Saddam Hussein. This one, led off by Makiya and Rahim, sounded a lot like its funeral.

Makiya began with a stark conclusion: "Instead of the fledgling democracy that back then we said was possible, instead of that dream, we have the reality of a virulent insurgency whose efficiency is only rivaled by the barbarous tactics it uses." The violence, he said, "is destroying the very idea or the very possibility of Iraq."

The Iraqi liberals can fairly blame the Bush administration for not listening to them: for failing to deploy enough troops, for refusing to quickly install the provisional government they advocated, for rejecting the Iraqi fighters they offered to help impose order immediately after the invasion. But Makiya, a former adviser to the Iraqi government in exile who now heads the Iraq Memory Foundation, instead scrupulously dissected "our Iraqi failures." Chief among these, he said, was an underestimation of the rootedness of Hussein's Baath Party inside Iraq's Sunni community and its latent ability to mobilize the insurgency that has bedeviled reconstruction while dividing the country along ethnic and religious lines.

The relentless violence had, he said, made political accord impossible and instead was driving Iraq toward a three-way division, accompanied by a civil war that could endure for decades. This course had been crystallized in the Iraqi constitution, which -- hurried toward a ratification vote this Saturday at the insistence of the Bush administration -- is "a fundamentally destabilizing document," he said. "The deal we have is a patently unworkable deal. To the extent that it is made to work it will work toward fratricide."

Take two: will Saddam Hussein be brought to trial? Not the way things are going, says the son of the tea-sipping exile who lured us into this war:

WASHINGTON, Oct. 7 (UPI) -- Saddam Hussein may never come to trial, Iraq's former Special Tribunal director said this week.

Salem Hussein, the nephew of Ahmed Chalabi, Iraqi's powerful vice prime minister for Iraq who is in charge of oil and energy issues, told an audience at the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative Washington think tank Wednesday, that Saddam's trial may never come to fruition.

Incessant delays have afforded Saddam's defense team more time to attack the legitimacy of the Special Tribunal by claiming the 2003 Iraq war that toppled the longtime Iraqi leader was illegal to begin with, Salem Chalabi said.

Amatzia Baram, a senior fellow of the Woodrow Wilson International Center, told the same AEI meeting that growing worries in Baghdad over security threats from the escalating insurgency in Iraq may hinder the current Iraqi government's ability to successfully hold Saddam's trial at this time

The sheer intensity of the Iraq insurgency has also hampered the country's capacity for constructive institution building and the state system there, including the judiciary, is faltering, Salem Chalabi said.

Saddam's trial is currently scheduled to start on Oct. 19, four days after Iraq holds a referendum vote to approve its new draft constitution.
So if we're not even going to see a Saddam trial out of this mess, what can we look forward to? Help from the Arab League perhaps? Perhaps not:

The London-based al-Quds al-Arabi commented that the Iraqi government's rejection of an Arab League initiative for Iraqi reconciliation was expected, especially that the plan was bound to fail from the beginning because it was "neither national nor reconciliatory." The independent Palestinian-owned daily argued there can be no national reconciliation between Iraqis who resist the American occupation and those who collaborate with and fight alongside the occupation forces. "The initiative was not Arab because the idea came from the American administration, which is trying to find a fast way out of its crisis in Iraq," the paper opined, saying the invasion of Iraq came with a cover by the Arab League and Arab regimes. It added sarcastically that while the Arab regimes "cry over Iraq and complain of Iranian intervention in its affairs, it does not utter a single word on the American occupation, as if Iranian intervention is forbidden but the occupation and killing of 100,000 Iraqis at the hands of the occupation forces is approved according to Islamic laws and the principles of pan-Arab nationalism." The paper insisted it did not want the 22-member Arab League to be a cover to salvage the American plan in Iraq, saying the only Arab intervention needed was to support the Iraqi resistance to end the occupation. "Other than that," the paper demanded, "it will be another great sin added to the many sins of the Arab League."
Ironically, perhaps the best we can hope for is that the Constitution we rammed down the Iraqis throats fails, and that saner heads in Washington agree with Sen. Carl Levin, that the best way to teach the Iraqis to drive their new "democracy" is to get out of the driver's seat.

Tags: , Middle East, War, Terrorism, Foreign Policy
posted by JReid @ 10:52 AM  
It's not what you know...
... It's who's listening when you flaunt what you know...
"When you know some of the things that I know - that I probably shouldn't know - you will understand why I have said, with fear and trepidation, that I believe Harriet Miers will be a good justice." He added, in a reference to aborted fetuses, "if I have made a mistake here, I will never forget the blood of those babies that will die will be on my hands to some degree." -- James Dobson on his radio show, boasting about secret briefings he apparently received from Karl Rove before endorsing Harriet Miers as Bush's Supreme Court nominee.

"If Dr. Dobson knows something that he shouldn't know or something that I ought to know, I'm going to find out. ... If there are back-room assurances and if there are back-room deals and if there is something which bears upon a precondition as to how a nominee is going to vote, I think that's a matter that ought to be known by the Judiciary Committee and the American people." -- PA Sen. Arlen Specter calling Dobson's bluff in response to a pair of questions form George Stephanopoulos on the ABC News program "This Week." Dobson could now be subpoenaed by the Senate committee charged with screening the Miers nomination.

Tags: , , Politics, SCOTUS, Law, News, ,
posted by JReid @ 10:36 AM  
Sunday, October 09, 2005
Ever get the feeling ...
maybe the world is coming to an end?

Tags: ,
posted by JReid @ 2:07 AM  
Karl Rove (c) pictured during first Bush term with
Collin Powell and Paul Wolfowitz, key players in
the launching of the Iraq war. AP

According to AP:
Senior aide Karl Rove denied to President Bush that he engaged in an effort to disclose the identity of a covert CIA operative to discredit her husband's criticism of Iraq policy, say people familiar with Rove's statements in a criminal investigation.

Rove's brief discussion with Bush has been a mystery for two years because the White House publicly referred to it but refuses to say anything about it. ...

...Bush asked Rove in the fall of 2003 to assure him he was not involved in an effort to divulge Plame's identity and punish Wilson, and the longtime confidant assured the president so, people familiar with Rove's account say.

Rove, the deputy White House chief of staff, answered similarly when press secretary Scott McClellan asked him a similar question. ...

...Rove's meeting with Bush occurred amid a public uproar over the Justice Department launching a criminal investigation of who in the administration leaked Plame's identity.

At the time, spokesman McClellan was so adamant in his denials that he told reporters the president himself knew that Rove wasn't involved in the leak.

"How does (Bush) know that?" a reporter asked.

"I'm not going to get into conversations that the president has with advisers or staff," McClellan replied.
And then there's this interesting nugget from Rove's attorney -- note the specificity of the denial: not that he leaked the name, but that he "engaged in a campaign." Go:

Robert Luskin, Rove's attorney, declined to comment Friday on the specifics of the discussion with Bush. But he confirmed that his client maintains he did not engage in an effort to disclose Plame's identity.

"He always truthfully denied that he was ever part of any campaign to punish Joe Wilson by disclosing the identity of his wife," Luskin said.

At my house, we've been placing our bets on who will be the lucky indictees in the Plamegate case (assuming Lawrence O'Donnell's guess is correct and there are three). These days, my money's on Rove, Libby and as I said in a previous post, someone from the state department (since that seems to be where the initial info on Ms. Plame came from). So now hear's the very next paragraph in the AP story:
In addition to Rove's discussions with reporters, investigators are looking into a delay in learning about Rove's contact with Cooper and an e-mail between Rove and now-national security adviser Steve Hadley that referred to the conversation.

Tags: , , , , Karl Rove, White House, PlameGate
posted by JReid @ 1:57 AM  
How did former FBI Director Louis Freeh determine that former President Clinton a) failed to press Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah for help investigating the Khobar Towers bombings and b) used the occasion of a meeting with the Crown Prince to beg for donations to his library without being in the room for the meeting? More importantly, how does 60 Minutes go to air with a story containing such hearsay, not accepting counterpoint from the Clinton camp -- including aides who actually were in the room -- until the last minute, after they are embarrassed into doing so...?

Update 10/10, 10:47 a.m.: Freehbird's "60 Minutes" star turn was a dud. The piece rightly called him out on his own bungling before 9/11, and Freeh's defense was essentially "there was nothing I could do. It's Congress' fault." He at turns has blamed Bill Clinton, Congress, the appropriations process itself (it was pointed out that he could simply have asked Congress for more funds and a change in allocation) and everything but Santa Claus and the Candy Man for his failures as FBI director. Frankly, if Freeh spent his tenure pouting over Bill Clinton's sex life, no wonder we were so ill-prepared for a terror attack...

Tags: , ,, , Media
posted by JReid @ 1:45 AM  
Trailer fabulous?
So where are the feds going to move all those Katrina victims currently cooling their heels in hotels and volunteer homes? Trailer parks. (Sigh.)

Tags: , Katrina, New Orleans, Hurricane Katrina,
posted by JReid @ 1:36 AM  
Things you say to stop the hurt from showing

"I'm not even sure I wanted it, to tell you the truth..."
--Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonin Scalia on
"not expecting" President Bush to elevate him to Chief.

Tags: , , SCOTUS
posted by JReid @ 1:29 AM  
Friday, October 07, 2005
Burning down the house
David Frum -- whose views I normally detest, by the way -- gives an eloquent answer to Hugh Hewitt's lonely calls for the base to rally, one more time, behind the president and his Supreme Court nominee (for the sake of his political position). I also enjoyed his critique of Brit Hume's squawking recitation of Ken Melhman's talking points -- who says Fox News can fool everybody? ... Will and Krauthammer (who thinks busing -- read integration -- is "radical" by the way and that Woodrow Wilson was a worse president than William Howard Taft, Herbert Hoover or ... well ... pick either of the Bushes...) also say dump her.

However ... if the president does withdraw Miers' nomination -- and he has hardly created confidence that he won't -- wouldn't it deal a death blow to what's left of his power? Bush would look like a dog drawing its scraggly tail between it's legs when the base wields a folded up newspaper over his head if he dumps Miers. He would look like a false friend, the way Bill Clinton did when he jettisoned Lani Guinier, a dear friend and potential attorney general. Having been so cowed, Bush would be forced to meekly offer up Edith Jones or Michael Luttig, bowing and scraping to Laura Ingram all the way. And would the base reward him? Why? He'd be a useless lame duck. Nope. Bush's only hope is that Miers withdraws herself (or that some plan B operative can fill in for Karl Rove and usher her quietly -- very quietly -- out the door.)

As a Democrat, I'm enjoying watching the wreckage (though I sympathise with the RW base's arguments). And I also think that my side can't really lose in this fight. If Bush withdraws Miers, he's crippling himself politically, no matter who he nominates. If he picks someone very far to the right, Democrats will rightly scream bloody murder and accuse the president of pandering to extremists within his party at the expense of his office. And there's still the possibility of a fillibuster and a nuclear opition show-down where the Gang of Four could still stop Bush cold. On the other hand, if he doesn't withdraw Miers, she will be confirmed (Dems have no reason to oppose her), but his political capital, as they say, will be worth about a Confederate dollar.


Tags: , , Politics, SCOTUS, Law, News, ,

posted by JReid @ 3:15 PM  
Saving Scott McClellan
...This guy has got to be hating his job by now (full transcript here) ...

Tags: News, White House, Media
posted by JReid @ 2:59 PM  
PlameGate update
Fitzgerald isn't finished with Judy Miller quite yet ... he has more questions for her about her chats with Scooter Libby. Meanwhile, Karl Rove has been making himself scarce at the White House lately... Also from E&P, more on the love ... er... get out of jail free letter Scooter wrote to the Jude.

Update: With hat tip to Romanesko, check out this Judy Miller cartoon in the SF Chronicle. "Bad Reporter..."

Tags: , , , , , Karl Rove, White House, PlameGate
posted by JReid @ 2:44 PM  
Holding the bag
Why is Michael Bloomberg being left hanging out to dry by the Bush administration? After all, it was the federal government that gathered and disseminated the information on the supposed threat to New York's subways. The mayor then made what may have been a premature decision to call a presser, after asking the first newspaper to get the story to hold onto it for a couple of days.

Call me cynical, but this sounds like the old bait and switch to me: it served the administration's purposes for Bloomberg to issue his baby buggy bombers alarm on the same day Bush made yet another "big speech" about the terror threat. But it didn't serve the administration's interests for some journalists (a precious few, but thank god for Keith Olbermann) and others (myself included) to be cynical about the timing. So now, the feds pooh-pooh the soundness of the threat info, while praising the Republican mayor for doing what he thought was best (meanwhile New Yorkers are fleeing from soda cans). The White House gets to take one giant step away from the false alarm, while the mayor is left with eff on his face. (Not to mention yet another example of the near chaos in the U.S. counter-terror protocol where state, local and federal agencies still can't get their uncoordinated acts together...)

Mr. Bloomberg, I think you've been had. I sure hope you at least milked a healthy campaign contribution from the RNC out of it.

Update 3:05 p.m.: My favorite political commentator, Craig Crawford, says the media needs to be much more skeptical when it comes to these curiously-timed terror warnings. Says Crawford to CBS (reiterating what he said on "Countdown" last night):
"I worry at how the news media seems to feel forced to take these dire warnings at face value despite the pattern of politicians provoking these episodes at suspiciously opportune moments..."


Tags: Terrorism,
posted by JReid @ 2:08 PM  
Sometimes it's what you DON'T say...
From AP:
Asked he if would rule out ever seeing Miers' name withdrawn, Bush did not answer directly — substituting instead words of confidence about her confirmation process. "She is going to be on the bench," he said. "She'll be confirmed."


Tags: , , Politics, SCOTUS, Law, News, ,

posted by JReid @ 2:03 PM  
Damned by overt praise
And the Nobel Peace Prize goes to ... the guy who foiled the Bush administration's attempts to tag Iraq with nukes and who the administration tried to run out of the International Atomic Entergy Agency and whose phone you used to tap... Says the Times of London:

... the decision to give the prize to the agency, and especially to its chief, was seen as a slap in the face for President Bush, whose administration was frustrated by the IAEA's failure to find any evidence of a nuclear weapon programme in Iraq before the US-led invasion.

The US was also angered by the publication, just ten days before Mr Bush's re-election, of IAEA correspondent about 340 tonnes of high explosives missing in Iraq.

But Ole Danbolt Mjoes, the Nobel Committee chairman, denied that prize was a veiled criticism of Washington. "This is not a kick in the legs to any country," he said.
Well, not the legs, anyway...

Memory lane: Remember this from 2002?
Collin Powell: regime change not the U.S. goal
Tags: , , Middle East, Foreign Policy,
posted by JReid @ 12:16 PM  
The bad lieutenant
Is Abu Musab al-Zarqawi an out of control employee? According to intercepted messages between the Jordanian instigator in Iraq and the Egyptian number two in the al-Qaeda crime family, Ayman al-Zawahiri, reveals differences over tactics; namely, whether it's okay to kill civilians and fellow Muslims while fighting the infidel. The more PR savvy Zawahiri says "knock it off" -- focus on killing foreign troops. Zarqawi apparently answers "eat my shorts." Can this dysfunctional relationship last? Meanwhile, NBC News says a bad trip to the U.S. may have stoked Zawahiri's anti-Western vibe...

Tags: , Middle East, War, Terrorism
posted by JReid @ 11:44 AM  
Spy inquiry widens
The Philippine government gets into the act...
posted by JReid @ 11:39 AM  
Jen's new man
Okay, so Jennifer Aniston's reportedly got herself a new man who's better looking than Brad, younger than Angelina, and he's got a look-a-like brother (you know, in case she needs a back-up.) Way to one-up that man-stealing publicity-hound, girlfriend! I never even watched one episode of "Friends" but I'm with you all the way on this one!

Tags: , Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie, Celebrities
posted by JReid @ 11:03 AM  
Holy crap...

...This can't be good ... a BBC documentary airing later this month contains claims by Palestinian leaders that President Bush told them he was on a mission from God in the Middle East:

In Elusive Peace: Israel and the Arabs, a major three-part series on BBC TWO (at 9.00pm on Monday 10, Monday 17 and Monday 24 October), Abu Mazen, Palestinian Prime Minister, and Nabil Shaath, his Foreign Minister, describe their first meeting with President Bush in June 2003.

Nabil Shaath says: "President Bush said to all of us: 'I'm driven with a mission from God. God would tell me, "George, go and fight those terrorists in Afghanistan." And I did, and then God would tell me, "George, go and end the tyranny in Iraq …" And I did. And now, again, I feel God's words coming to me, "Go get the Palestinians their state and get the Israelis their security, and get peace in the Middle East." And by God I'm gonna do it.'"

Abu Mazen was at the same meeting and recounts how President Bush told him: "I have a moral and religious obligation. So I will get you a Palestinian state."

The White House has of course been quick to denounce the story, which appears on the front page of the BBC News web site this morning, as well as the Indepdendent UK, the Guardian (complete with cheeky photo), as well as a bit lower down the fold in the conservative-leaning Independent UK . Although, Scott McClellan's pronouncements are carrying less weight these days...

This is a potentially disastrous development for Mr. Bush, who just today issued a lengthy rehash of his Iraq war argument, actually naming Osama bin Laden multiple times (after seeming to forget who he was for two years or so) and challenging the extreme ideology of religious fanatics who he said are hijacking the Muslim faith, while seeking to "enslave the whole world." Oh yeah, the Muslim world is going to love that dichotomy.

Update -- What would Jesus say ... to you if he really talked to you ... literally: Nabil Shaath says when he and other Palestinian leaders heard Bush's God talk, they never actually thought God was talking to him directly...

“We never thought that he literally had God speaking to him,” Shaath told Reuters Friday. “It was really a figure of speech (by Bush). We felt he was saying that he had a mission, a commitment, his faith in God would inspire him ... rather than a metaphysical whisper in his ear.”

Well that's comforting.

Tags: , , Middle East, War, Terrorism, Foreign Policy, Media, , , , ,

posted by JReid @ 2:20 AM  
Absurdum this
Hey Bennett: here's a thought experiment for you -- what's the correlation between religiosity and crime...?

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posted by JReid @ 2:18 AM  
D-day for Turd Blossom
Question on Karl Rove: did he jump back into the grand jury (out of a desperate need to clean up his earlier testimony, per Lawrence O'Donnell for HuffPo) or was he pushed (as the New York Times alleges)? It might not matter much if O'Donnell is right: he's predicting three indicted administration officials and at least one unindicted co-conspirator. (O'Donnell doesn't name them, but you could hazard a guess of Rove, Scooter Libby and the original "source" of the info contained in that infamous Air Force One memo -- hm... wasn't John Bolton still in the State Department at that time...? And Ari Fleischer sure has been scarce ...) He also points out that the grand jury is set to expire in a mere 13 days, so we're sure to find out soon... Hey! Stop smirking over there...!

Update: Rove's reappearance before the grand jury is an ominous sign, former prosecutors tell Salon's Jim Grieve:
So Karl Rove is returning to testify before the grand jury investigating the outing of Valerie Plame, and he's doing so without any guarantee that Patrick Fitzgerald won't prosecute him. How big of a development is this? "Stunning," a former federal prosecutor tells us. "There is no reason for Rove to make this appearance unless he and his counsel believe he is at serious risk of indictment. None."

It's always risky to go before a grand jury. You can't take your lawyer into the room with you, and you don't know what the grand jury knows or doesn't know. It's especially risky if you've already testified once -- or, in the case of Rove, three times -- before: The odds of introducing inconsistencies into your testimony increase each time you give it. That's why, the former prosecutor tells us, a defense lawyer would advise his client to make a return appearance before the grand jury only in extreme circumstances.

New York University law professor Stephen Gillers offers a similar assessment to the Associated Press. He calls Rove's return trip to the grand jury room an "ominous sign" that suggests Fitzgerald "has learned new information that is tightening the noose" around Rove's neck. "It shows Fitzgerald now, perhaps after [Judith] Miller's testimony, suspects Rove may be in some way implicated in the revelation of Plame's identity or that Fitzgerald is investigating various people for obstruction of justice, false statements or perjury. That is the menu of risk for Rove."

It's possible, of course, that Rove is returning to the grand jury in the hope of saving someone other than himself. Conversely, it's also possible that he's testifying in the hope of implicating someone other than himself.

But what's clear, either way, is that Rove himself is now at risk of prosecution. According to the AP, Fitzgerald has sent Rove's legal team a letter in connection with his upcoming testimony in which the prosecutor says he can't guarantee that Rove won't be charged with a crime. The U.S. Attorneys Manual requires federal prosecutors to issue such a warning before anyone they consider a "target" or a "subject" of an investigation appears before a grand jury. As the manual explains, "target" is "a person as to whom the prosecutor or the grand jury has substantial evidence linking him or her to the commission of a crime and who, in the judgment of the prosecutor, is a putative defendant." A "subject" is "a person whose conduct is within the scope of the grand jury's investigation."

So is Rove a "target" or at least a "subject" now? We don't know for sure, but the fact that Fitzgerald felt compelled to give him a warning suggests that he might be.

But isn't Rove's lawyer still insisting that his client hasn't been told he's a target? Not exactly. Back in July, Robert Luskin told the Los Angeles Times that prosecutors had told him previously that Rove was not a target and that he had been "advised recently that his status has not changed." But when the AP asked Luskin about Rove's status today, he answered the question more narrowly. "I can say categorically that Karl has not received a target letter from the special counsel," he said.

Got that? "Karl has not received a target letter." Has his attorney received such a letter -- or has Rove or his attorney been informed in some other way that Rove is now a target? Luskin's previous statements on the matter would have swept away such possibilities. His narrow words today do not.

Tags: , , , , , Karl Rove, White House, PlameGate

posted by JReid @ 2:09 AM  
Thursday, October 06, 2005
Timing is everything
...So the president gives a big speech about the war on terror, stay the course, Iraq central front, blah blah blah, and low and behold! The Republican mayor of New York announces a major terror alert in New York City the same day!!! The MSM, which long since lost its sense of irony, covers both with equal blank obsequity, even though the "credibility of the source is in question..." and the threat is curiously "unspecific..."

Oh, and Karl Rove is going to testify before the Plamegate grand jury again, this time with no assurances from the special prosecutor that he won't be indicted...

Welcome to the new world order...

Tags: News, , , , Middle East, Terrorism, Foreign Policy, Media, Karl Rove, PlameGate
posted by JReid @ 5:56 PM  
It ain't over till the fat man squeals

Sheila Jackson Lee took to the radio ariwaves today to announce that she and other members of the CBC aren't just going to sit back and let the Bill Bennet abort-a-negro controversy die down. She wants an FCC investigation, and wants Bennett's radio syndicator fined, just as in the Janet Jackson boob fiasco. For his part, Bennett is proving that stupid is as stupid does, firing the first shot at the CBC himself in the course of defending his verbal gamble, and throwing in Ted Kennedy for good measure (and to remove all doubt that his dignity is officially craps):

The combative Bennett appeared on Fox News' "Hannity & Colmes" program last Thursday. Without Senator Kennedy's name being raised, Bennett issued a broadside: "I'll not take instructions from Teddy Kennedy. A young woman likely drowned because of his negligence. I'll take no moral instruction from him. That's much worse than legal gambling what Teddy Kennedy did. He should make no judgments at all about people. He shouldn't be in the Senate. As far as racist and all this other stuff, I'll put my record up with Howard Dean, with Harry Reid."

Also unprompted, he attacked the Congressional Black Caucus.

"Let me tell you, when it comes to abortion, my wife's program, Best Friends, has kept more young women from having abortions because they don't get pregnant because they take her good counsel...She has done more for inner city black girls than the entire Black Caucus. So I will not bow my head to any of these people. I will not give up the ground of compassion or sympathy. But I'll tell you, we have real issues and we have got to talk about them candidly."

The day after his controversial remarks, Bennett accused his critics of trying to discredit him. On his radio program, he said: "Well, there's a campaign making hay of my remarks and taking them out of context and totally reversing my obvious meaning. The author of Freakonomics, Steve Levitt, engages the theory that abortion reduces crime. And he does that in an extended debate on I was referring to this debate and pointing out how tricky it is to argue for a pro-life position because of economic benefits..."

In fact, over a three-day discussion on, Levitt argued the opposite.

"As an aside, it has been both fascinating and disturbing to me how the media have insisted on reporting this is a study about race, when race really is not an integral part of the story," he said. "The link between abortion and unwantedness, and also between unwantedness and later criminality, have been shown most clearly in Scandinavian data. Abortion rates among African-Americans are higher, but overall, far more abortions are done by whites. None of our analysis is race-based because the crime data by race is generally not deemed reliable."

After Bennett misrepresented his book, Levitt stated: "There is one thing I would take Bennett to task for: first saying that he doesn't believe our abortion-crime hypothesis but then revealing that he does believe in it with his comments about black babies. You can't have it both ways."

Largely missing from the extensive reporting on Bennett's remarks are discussions about Bennett's underlying supposition that crime is somehow genetically linked to race. In Bennett's blanket "analysis," he made no allowances for education or economic status.

More importantly, little thought was expressed on disparities in the criminal justice system that show that even in categories in which Whites and Blacks were said to be committing crime at the same rate, Whites less likely to be punished than African-Americans.
Did Bennett even read the book he was critiquing before he went on his verbal bender, and has he every perused (whose William Saletan ruthlessly dismantled the arguments of his various defenders recently)? Does he think his latest round of shrillery is going to save what's left of his reputation? Most importantly, why does anyone continue to take this person seriously?


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posted by JReid @ 5:35 PM  
Just for the righties: How do the Bushes really feel about abortion?
George W. Bush's grandfather, Prescott Bush, was an acquaintance of the Eugenicist founder of Planned Parenthood, Margaret Sanger, and "served as treasurer for the organization's first national fundraising campaign in 1947" according to biographies...

Laura Bush is, from all acounts, pro-choice, though the White House insists those are her private beliefs, and not reflective of the president ...

George W. Bush is clearly on the record favoring reducing the number of abortions and curtailing practices like partial birth abortion (putting him about where Hillary Clinton is). And he has pushed policies to eliminate the taint of federal funding, even once removed, for the practice. But a check of his pronouncements on the subject going back to 1998 finds not a single instance where he indicated he would like to see it banned. Here's a pretty thorough list, including some blatant contradictions (on RU486 for instance)

  • Build a culture of life. (Feb 2005)
  • Partial birth abortion is a brutal practice to be banned. (Oct 2004)
  • Not going to spend taxpayers' money on abortion. (Oct 2004)
  • First president to fund embryonic stem cell research. (Oct 2004)
  • Kerry voted no on partial-birth abortion ban. (Oct 2004)
  • Must make a place for the unborn child. (Sep 2004)
  • Kerry's abortion stance shows the wrong priorities. (Jul 2004)
  • Supports adult stem-cell research but limits on embryos. (Jun 2003)
  • No funds to international groups that offer abortion. (Jan 2001)
  • Accepts FDA approval of RU-486 but concerned about overuse. (Oct 2000)
  • Ban partial-birth abortions, and reduce abortions overall. (Oct 2000).
  • Approval of RU-486 is wrong. (Sep 2000)
  • Good people can disagree; but let’s value life. (Aug 2000)
  • Every child born and unborn ought to be protected. (Jun 2000)
  • Welcome all children; supports adoption tax credits. (Apr 2000)
  • Supports GOP abortion plank but disagrees on exceptions. (Feb 2000)
  • No Republican will allow partial-birth abortion. (Feb 2000)
  • Ideal: Value every life; but many steps to get there. (Jun 1999)
  • Supports Parental Notification Law for minor girls. (Jun 1999)
  • Ban partial-birth; ban taxpayer funding. (Mar 1999)
  • Encourage fewer abortions via adoption & abstinence. (Jul 1998)
    28 full quotes on Abortion

    All of which is mushy and vague and leaves me to wonder (for the umpteenth time) what is it that makes the religious right think George W. Bush is one of them? This man is a Methodist. Having been a Methodist, I can tell you they're not very extreme on anything. Ask yourselves, angry basists, were you duped on the promises, or on the man himself...? And that brings up another point, isn't it possible to be personally, morally pro-life, but pro-choice in terms of actual policy and "real life/real world" situations? If that is possible, then maybe that's where Mr. Bush stands, and his little Court nominee, too...

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  • posted by JReid @ 5:22 PM  
    Second thoughts?
    Uh oh... James Dobson is apparently having second thoughts on Harriet Miers... that can't be good for the president, since Dobson has been one of the few on the right to come out in support of her nomination, which he did on October 3rd, though with some cautions. On a more important note, how did this guy get a secret briefing from the White House???


    Tags: , , Politics, SCOTUS, Law, News, , ,

    posted by JReid @ 3:15 PM  
    About that no-bid contract thing...
    FEMA reassesses...

    Tags: , Katrina, New Orleans, Hurricane Katrina, Politics
    posted by JReid @ 2:56 PM  
    The axis of corruption: Abramoff, Blunt & DeLay
    So glad to be rid of Tom DeLay as House lea... hang on, what's this about his successor (temporary, of course) Roy Blunt?
    Oct. 5, 2005, 8:18PM

    GOP leaders moved money through unregulated groups
    Data show funds raised to throw parties went to charity, consulting and a candidate
    Associated Press

    WASHINGTON - Tom DeLay deliberately raised more money than he needed to throw parties at the 2000 presidential convention, then diverted some of the excess to ally Roy Blunt through donations that benefited both men's causes.

    When the financial carousel stopped, DeLay's private charity, the consulting firm that employed DeLay's wife and the Missouri campaign of Blunt's son all ended up with money, according to campaign documents.

    Jack Abramoff, a Washington lobbyist charged in an ongoing federal corruption and fraud investigation, and Jim Ellis, the DeLay fundraiser indicted with his boss last week in Texas, also came into the picture.

    The transactions are drawing scrutiny in legal and political circles after a grand jury indicted DeLay on charges of violating Texas law with a scheme to launder illegal corporate donations to state candidates.

    Lawrence Noble, the former chief election enforcement lawyer, said the Blunt and DeLay transactions are similar to the Texas case and raise questions that should be investigated regarding whether donors were deceived or the destination of their money concealed.

    "These people clearly like using middlemen for their transactions," Noble said. "It seems to be a pattern with DeLay funneling money to different groups, at least to obscure, if not cover, the original source." Noble was the Federal Election Commission's chief lawyer in 2000 when the transactions occurred.

    None of the hundreds of thousands of dollars in donations DeLay collected for the 2000 convention were ever disclosed to federal regulators because the type of group DeLay used wasn't governed by federal law at the time.
    Oh, and don't forget this:
    Much of the money — including one donation to Blunt from an Abramoff client accused of running a "sweatshop" garment factory in the Northern Mariana Islands — changed hands in the spring of 2000, a period of keen interest to federal prosecutors.

    Remind me again, why do we want a Republican majority in Congress?

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    posted by JReid @ 2:31 PM  
    Miraculous headlines ... or not
    It's a miracle! ... or not ... "An Italian committee is causing uproar by debunking a host of the nation's favourite religious miracles..."

    ... which I suppose is okay, since the Catholic Church no longer vouches for the total accuracy of the Bible...

    If Ten Commandments Judge Roy Moore becomes governor of Alabama, do you think he could stop future hurricanes from hitting the Gulf region with only the power of prayer...?

    ... and speaking of hurricanes: The Mississippi Hiltons want those pesky Katrina evacuees to get gone so the chain can honor preexisting reservations ...

    At least one lucky evacuee can aford to book a proper reservation now...

    In the "rendering unto Caesar" front, the Washington Nationals are following President' Bush's example on baseball stadiums and eminent domain...

    Oh, and Harry Potter is a homosexual. Have a nice day!

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    posted by JReid @ 2:09 PM  
    Alien invasion begins
    Incident III: Tom Cruise has impregnated the female human.

    Tags: , Katie Holmes, Scientology, War of the Worlds, Celebrities
    posted by JReid @ 1:43 PM  
    A spy in the ointment?
    Update: ABC News has a disturbing look at the security situation in the White House. Question: how, four years after 9/11, do we wind up with the "first case of espionage inside the White House in modern history?" Aragoncillo worked inside the White House for three years, spanning the Clinton and Bush administrations, though the alleged spying took place after he was assigned to Dick Cheney's office, and the stolen info may even have come from the vice president's computer. Incredibly, in 2005, Aragoncillo was foolish enough to think he could get away with transferring the classified contraband by email... If security inside the White House is that bad, think what that means for the country...

    Oh, yeah, and former defense analyst Larry Franklin spied for the Israelis.

    Original post, 10:13 a.m.: The case of alleged spy Leandro Aragoncillo, a Phillipino-American former Marine, just got dicier. It seems the onetime FBI analysts, already accused, along with another man, Michael Aquino, of passing classified information from the FBI, CIA and State Department to the former president of the Phillippines (with possible coup implications) may have downloaded some of the contraband info from Vice President Cheney's computer. Says WaPo:

    Joseph Estrada, the former Philippine president who was forced from office four years ago by mass demonstrations, has acknowledged receiving documents from Aragoncillo while the suspect was still in the Marines. Estrada told a Philippine newspaper last month that Aragoncillo had passed material while visiting him at the Veterans Memorial Medical Center in Manila, where the former president was receiving treatment while being held on corruption charges from 2001 through 2003. Part of that stay would coincide with Aragoncillo's time in Cheney's office.

    Estrada, who remains under house arrest, said in a statement published in the Philippine Daily Inquirer that the information was "non-classified" and that he was unaware of any illegal activity by Aragoncillo.

    "Why would they include me in that mess? I know nothing about issues involving him," Estrada told the newspaper.

    The prosecutions of Aragoncillo and Aquino have ignited a political firestorm in the Philippines, and officials from the two countries say the United States is now caught in a feud between President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and rivals attempting to force her from office.
    The blog Inside PCIJ has a lot more on the Aquino/Aragoncillo case, including the actual DOJ filings (more on that here) and details about the apparent lead man in the reputed spy ring, Aquino:

    FBI investigation also revealed that Aragoncillo transmitted classified information 17 times via email, phone and SMS (text messages) to Aquino and still unnamed Philippine public officials.

    If found guilty, Aquino faces a maximum penalty of 15 years’ imprisonment and $500,000-fine, while Aragoncillo will assume an additional maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and $250,000.

    Aquino was a chief inspector of the defunct Presidential Anti-Crime Commission (PACC) headed by then Vice Pres. Joseph Estrada. When the PACC was disbanded to form the now also defunct Presidential Anti-Organized Crime Task Force (PAOCTF), he was promoted as senior superintendent. During his stint as a PACC agent, Aquino was implicated in five bank robberies and the Kuratong Baleleng rubout case, along with his superior, erstwhile chief superintendent (now senator) Panfilo Lacson, and 32 other police officials. The case was dismissed by a Quezon City trial court judge in 2003.

    The PACC’s trail of bungled cases and bloody corpses was also the subject of the PCIJ’s three-part investigation in 1995.

    An American of Filipino descent, Aragoncillo was a graduate of the College of Commerce and Accountancy of the University of Santo Tomas. He was among nine alumni recognized as outstanding Thomasians during the college’s 71st anniversary celebration in 2004.
    Reports in September said that the Philippine government was preparing to hand over three of its politicians for U.S. prosecution, and there are a number of subplots to this story, including the scandal-plagued presidency of current Philippine President Gloria Arroyo, who was forced to apologize for campaign irreguarities earlier this year, the Philippines own internal war on terror, which has bonded Arroyo's government to that of George W. Bush, and a not-so-subtle chorus of anti-U.S. feeling percolating inside yet another U.S. ally, where some people are asking, what was the U.S. government doing gathering damaging information about a supposedly friendly government?

    Tags: , , , spying, security, ,
    posted by JReid @ 1:38 PM  
    At long last, a betrayal
    I'm neither a Republican nor a Christian rightist (these days I'm feeling more and more like a political agnostic) but I sympathise with the right's complaint on the Miers nomination for two reasons:

    The first is that I recognize that while a right-wing Supreme Court is not necessarily what I would want, it is what was promised to movement conservatives not only by this president, but by preceding Republican presidents going back to Ronald Reagan (and if you ask them, even before that). The bargain has been: just work to get us elected, and we will undo the things you loathe: social degradation, welfare, sexual liberalization and most especially, the legalization of abortion, which to evangelical rightists, is murder. This is a promise always made at election time, but never, ever kept after the swearing in (mostly because keeping the promises, especially on outlawing abortion, would be politically disastrous for the GOP). Evangelical Christians have been drawn into politics by a promise that in my opinion, Republican politicians and their political operatives never really meant to keep. And while they can be unbearably harsh people, condemning the very act of being a Democrat as tantamount to being the tool of Satan, I feel badly for the right wing base -- not the jerks on radio or the Internet who lead them, but the ordinary Joes and Janes in churches across the U.S. who worked their asses off for the opposite team from me in the last election -- being outright lied to.

    The second reason is that I agree with George Will, David Frum and others that by shrinking from the fight over ideology and the courts, the president has squandered the second big moment of his presidency (the first being 9/11). This fight could have been bloody -- dragging in questinos of Senate prerogatives (the nuclear option?), the meaning of advise and consent, and most importantly, the proper role of the judiciary in American life. We will now have to settle for a battle over whether Ms. Miers went to a snooty enough law school.

    Two big quotes from today's papers. First, the Washington Times:
    "This was a teaching moment, a chance for the debate on the role of the court and precisely how we want to bring it back to respecting the Constitution," Christopher C. Horner, an attorney with the Competitive Enterprise Institute, told Mr. Gillespie. "Instead, the president punted, on one issue where we least want to guess [about the outcome]."

    At one point, Mr. Gillespie said criticism of Miss Miers was "sexist," but that remark only angered conservatives, who accused Mr. Gillespie of using a false argument against critics, because no one at either meeting addressed Miss Miers' sex as an issue.

    "Conservatives have waited nearly 20 years to undo the damage done to [rejected 1987 Supreme Court nominee] Robert Bork and the politicizing of the confirmation process by the Democrats," said lobbyist Richard Lessner. "Real people have paid a real price in this fight, from Judge Bork to Clarence Thomas, Miguel Estrada, Janice Rogers Brown and others. Their sacrifices now have been rendered meaningless.

    "By selecting a stealth candidate, an unknown quantity, President Bush has sought to avoid a confirmation fight that was vitally important to preserving our constitutional system," Mr. Lessner told Mr. Gillespie.

    Mr. Weyrich said he has been through "five trust me's" beginning with President Nixon, recalling how, in 1990, a White House emissary had assured him conservatives would "absolutely love" David H. Souter, the senior President Bush's nominee for the Supreme Court. Justice Souter is now a reliably liberal vote on most of the court's cases.
    And the second, which captures the dangerous gulf now separating the president from his base, as reported in the Washington Post:
    "The message of the meetings was the president consulted with 80 United States senators but didn't consult with the people who elected him," said Manuel A. Miranda, a former nominations counsel for Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.), who attended both private meetings.

    ...Another conservative captured the mood, according to a witness, by scorning Miers. "She's the president's nominee," he said. "She's not ours."
    Actually there's a third reason I take the Frum/Kristol/Will side on this: by picking a female candidate so clearly inferior to his first pick, John Roberts, on the qualifications scale, Mr. Bush insults, rather than bolsters, women lawyers. He has also put one hell of a straight jacket on any lawyer who hopes to be a judge one day but who now might think twice about developing a strong judicial or ideological philosophy -- or at least about putting that philosophy down on paper where some future Senate panel might one day subpoena it. And that, which may be fitting for this most anti-intellectual of presidents, will ultimately lead to more politically savvy, but less useful and dimensional, judicial candidates -- at least from the right. And I think both sides will agree that we need strong, well developed intellects from both camps, right and left, to have a highly effective Court.

    Am I saying I would have liked to see two fire-breathing Borks seated on the Supreme Court by Bush? No. But had he tried, the Democrats would surely have thrown everything in their arsenal at those nominees, and the country would have been better for the fight. I somehow doubt that a Judge Bork could get onto the Supreme Court at this stage, given the number of moderate Republicans in the Senate (ever heard of the Gang of 14?) Either way, Bush owed his base at least one battle. He got a rightful pass from the right on Roberts -- because Roberts was such an outstanding intellect. He has no right to a pass from anyone on Miers, who may be a perfectly wonderful human being, but who clearly was not the best pick Mr. Bush could have found (Like father -- Clarence Thomas -- like son).

    Tags: , , Politics, SCOTUS, Law, News,
    posted by JReid @ 12:36 PM  
    Do the right thing
    Kudos to the Senate for passing John McCain's amendment setting Geneva Convention standards for prisoners held by the United States military. The move reaffirms the highest standards and excellence that should be, and mostly are, endemic to our armed forces. McCain has also helped himself with his base (independents) -- not that that will do him any good in the primaries... and the White House's insistence on threatening to veto a 90-9 decision just makes them look like pro-torture dullards. Who is running that shop these days, anyway? Karl Rove isn't even under indictment yet and they're already misfiring on every political front... sheesh...

    By the way, here are the nine 'no' votes:

    Allard (R-CO), Bond (R-MO), Coburn (R-OK), Cochran (R-MS), Cornyn (R-TX), Inhofe (R-OK), Roberts (R-KS), Sessions (R-AL), Stevens (R-AK)

    The co-sponsors were Linsey Graham (SC), Chuck Hagel (NE), Gordon Smith (OR), Susan Collins of Maine, Lamar Alexander (TN), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Carl Levin (D-MI), John Warner of Virginia, Lincoln Chafee of RI, John Sununu of NH and, in my opinion, the Latino politician to watch in the coming years: Ken Salazar, Democrat of my former state, Colorado.

    It's good to know that politicians can do the right thing once in a while. As blogger Seibuone put it to the president, the message from the Senate (at least the non-torture approving majority) was: veto it, we dare you.

    Update: Not surprisingly, John McCain is coming under fire from the likes of His High-ness Limbaugh over his and other Senators "prioritizing the treatment of terrorists" over other, more "important" matters in the midst of the war on terror ("That's what you get when you have a bunch of Ivy Leaguers who think they're better than everybody else," Rush said on his radio show, apparently blissfully unaware that he just described the current president of the United States, to whom he routinely gives the full Monica... and his dad, too...) Incidently, Rush also excoriated McCain and one of his key supporters in 2000, Bill Kristol, for being the real ones to blame for the nomination of Hurricane Harriet. To whit: their pooh-poohing of the nuclear option rendered Mr. Bush powerless to set up a judicial battle royale over a Luttig or Rogers-Brown.

    So in Rush's opinion, the presidency is so weak and enfeebled, the commander in chief requires vote certainty in the Senate in order to act according to his own priciples? Interesting take, Rush...

    Update 2: Kudos also goes to the Israeli Supreme Court for striking down the cruel use by that country's military of Palestinian civilians as human shields.

    Tags: , Human Rights, Iraq, Politics, Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib, War, News
    posted by JReid @ 11:37 AM  
    Hurricane Harriet ill wind is blowing over Capitol Hill...

    The right is still howling over the nomination of Harriet Miers for the Supreme Court (could Bush's no-news speech today be an attempt to reset the dial/change the subject? If so, without something new to say, it won't work, any more than yesterday's blanket recitations of Ms. Miers' religious conversion nine years before she gave money to Al Gore did.) The outrage has wafted from the blogosphere , right wing radiosphere and magazinosphere (where some analysts were claiming it was confined) right on over to the mainlineosphere yesterday, as elected Republicans began blasting away at the White House choice.
    Republican activists yesterday lashed out at President Bush's nomination of Harriet Miers to the Supreme Court, excoriating White House emissaries at two "off-the-record" gatherings of Washington conservatives.

    "I can't stomach another 'trust me' from a Republican" in the Oval Office, Free Congress Foundation President Paul M. Weyrich told Republican National Committee Chairman Ken Mehlman at Mr. Weyrich's regular Wednesday conservative coalition luncheon.
    But now comes the other shoe to drop. If movement conservatives can't argue Ms. Miers out of the picture, might they be able to scandalize her off the stage? If so, you could see an unprecedented marriage of right and left-wing bloggers who's opposition research on Ms. Miers could theoretically force Mr. Bush to withdraw her (though most analysts highly doubt the no-doubt president will do that). Still, many on the right may think it's worth a try, and the ammunition comes straight from Texas. From left-wing blogger Ed Strong:

    So you thought that Harriet Miers, George W. Bush’s new Supreme Court pick has no dirty linen? You were wrong.
    One of Miers only qualifications for the high court -- as she hasn’t an ounce of judicial experience -- is that she was the head of Locke, Liddell & Sapp; a sleazy corporate law firm based in Dallas, Texas.

    According to the InterNet Bankruptcy Library (IBL), Locke Liddell & Sapp paid $22 million in a suit alleging it aided a client in defrauding investors.

    The Dallas-based firm agreed in April of 2000 to settle a suit stemming from its representation of Russell Erxleben, a former University of Texas football star whose foreign currency trading company, Austin Forex International, was a pyramid get-rich Ponzi scheme.

    Erxleben later pleaded guilty to federal conspiracy and securities-fraud charges. "It's a very simple legal proposition: a lawyer can't help people steal money," George, of George & Donaldson told reporters at the time. George’s firm had represented investors who lost close to $34 million in Erxleben's company.

    All this was going on while Harriet Miers was co-managing partner of the law firm at the time. Miers denied that settling the suit indicted that they her firm was somehow complicated in Erxleben’s criminal activities.

    “Obviously, we evaluated that this was the right time to settle and to resolve this matter and that it was in the best interest of the firm to do so," Miers said.
    And it doesn't stop there. Strong goes on to dredge up yet another skeleton the Bushies would just as soon shove back into a closet: his spotty National Guard service. Strong makes the link between the Texas Lottery Commission, when Miers was the head lass, and former Texas House Speaker Ben Barnes, the guy who claimed he helped Dubya jump the line and get into the Guard (and out of the way of Vietnam). That can't be helpful, and this time, the FReepers won't be there to squash the rumors with Swift-boatery.

    Which brings me to the central point: perhaps the biggest miscalculation on the part of the president, was nominating someone who was so unacceptable to his base, that he has effectively removed the cloak of protection sheathed around him since 9/11 by the hard right. The "movement" conservative base has shielded Mr. Bush from criticism on the bad intel regarding Iraq, on the Abu Ghraib and other torure scandals, on the deficit, the middle class economic squeeze, gas prices and most of all, on his service -- or lack thereof -- during the Vietnam war, and all the uncomfortable implications for a commander in chief. They did so, despite their severe doubts regarding his immigration strategy and lack of spending restraint, for one reason, and one reason only: the courts. It was all about the courts -- especially the Supreme Court -- and Bush's ironclad promise to move those courts firmly to the right. Ken Mehlman can make every argument this side of begging, and he can't change the fact that neither the Roberts nor the Miers nominations indicates such a clear, unarguable shift. If anything, it sounds like the Rehnquist court with a better looking, younger Rehnquist.

    Now that the base gets that, and if they no longer are willing to protect their president; indeed if they themselves begin confronting previously unthinkable doubts about him out of rage over his abandoning them on such a crucial issue, Bush is toast.

    ags: , , Politics, SCOTUS, Law, News, ,
    posted by JReid @ 11:14 AM  
    The president's speech
    ... this is the new and breathtaking detail??? It sounds like the last ten speeches he's given on Iraq and the WOT. What gives???

    Tags: , Middle East, War, Terrorism, Foreign Policy
    posted by JReid @ 10:29 AM  
    Wednesday, October 05, 2005
    Hugh Hewitt: A man alone
    Conservablogger Hugh Hewitt continues to stand almost alone in defending the Miers nomination. He's also lashing out at his fellow RWers who've left the Bush plantation, including the seemingly law school snooty David Frum. From Frum's blog:
    Those who object to the Miers nomination do not object to her lack of credentials. They object to her lack of what the credentials represent: some indication of outstanding ability.

    The objection to Miers is not that she is not experienced enough or not expensively enough educated for the job. It is that she is not good enough for the job...
    Ouch! Frum goes on to say that the Miers nom actually "does a disservice, not just to conservatives, but to the whole country":
    All Americans are entitled to know that those judges who exercise the power of judicial review have thought hard and deeply about the immense power entrusted to them. If the courts were just about getting the votes, then the preisdent should have chosen Dennis Hastert for the Supreme Court. But to change American law, it's not enough to win the vote count. You have to win the argument. And does anybody believe Harriet Miers can win an argument against Stephen Breyer?
    And to boot, he makes an argument against Miers that I for one, agree with: that the nomination of Miers was an act of pure presidential authority-mongering -- a paternal approach to governing that's downright King George I:
    The president's defense of Miers in many ways amplified the problem. His case for her boils down to: "Because I say so" and "She really is a nice person."

    But "because I say so" is not an argument. It is an assertion of pure authority. And have not the great conservative legal minds of the past three decades warned again and again that the courts have gone wrong precisely because they have relied too much on authority and too little on argument?

    "She really is a nice person" likewise is a statement grounded on feeling rather than thought. And don't conservatives object to legal liberalism precisely because it is based on sloppy emotion rather than disciplined thought?

    Legal conservatism is a powerful and compelling school of thought. The Scalias and the Thomases and the Rehnquists have changed the law not by forcing their positions on the country by brute vote-counting, but by persuasion. That's why, to pick out just one example, that Bush v Gore was decided by a 7-2 majority and not lost 3 to 6.

    This president has never believed much in persuasion. He believes that the president should declare and that the country should then follow. But judges cannot and should not do that. He should have chosen a justice who could lead by power of intellect, and not because she possesses 1/9 of the votes on the supreme judicial body...
    But back to Hewitt ... in a subsequent post, Hewitt takes aim at arguably the Republicans' best 2008 presidential nominee, John McCain (good news for Hillary...) asserting what could be the kiss of death argument against the Arizona Senator from those on what we can, for now, still call the "Bush right": he's loyal only to his own ambition.

    Tags: , , Politics, SCOTUS, Law, News, , ,
    posted by JReid @ 3:18 PM  
    Miers online
    Progress for America is up with its Harriet Miers site. Not very content-rich, but there you go...

    Tags: , , Politics, SCOTUS, Law, News
    posted by JReid @ 3:13 PM  
    The diary of Nathan Hecht
    Harriet Miers meets with key conservative Senators today, to try and shore up support with what Bush calls "the opinions that count..." Meanwhile, on the front pages, the subject of her religious fatih (she switched from Catholicism to evangelical Prtestantism in her mid-30s) is being ing rolled out, mostly in the person of old friend/former junior law partner/possible ex-paramour? Nathan Hecht, who supposedly witnessed her "come to Jesus" moment. Hecht now is carrying much of the responsiblity (along with Jay Sekulow and Miers' former Dallas pastor), of shoring up Ms. Miers' conservative bona fides prior to the confirmation hearings.

    Bad news for the Bushies: once you've lost Laura Ingram, you might have lost the movement...

    Good news for the Bushies: Miers' church is anti-abortion rights and anti gay-marriage (back to the bad news, that doesn't mean she agrees with them...)

    The papers:

    The New York Times reports that in terms of overt evangelical politics, Miers in Texas wasn't a standout, and "wasn't furniture..." and along with a detailed description of her religious conversion, plays the Hecht card heavily:

    A close relationship with Justice Hecht - also a longtime member of Valley View - who frequently appears with Ms. Miers at social functions in Washington and in Texas, has been a steady feature of her life for nearly 30 years. Justice Hecht is known as one of the most conservative members of the Republican-dominated Texas Supreme Court.

    Newspapers in Texas have reported that Justice Hecht and Ms. Miers were romantically involved, and when asked in an interview whether that was still the case, Justice Hecht responded that they were close, without going into great detail. "She works in Washington, I work in Austin," Justice Hecht said. "We have dinner when she's here; if she invites me to Washington I happily go. We talk on the phone all the time."

    Justice Hecht and Ms. Miers spoke on Sunday evening, but she did not tell him about the pending announcement that she had been offered the nomination, he said. "She's a stickler for the rules," he said. He never asked Ms. Miers how she would vote on the issue of abortion if it came before the Supreme Court, he said. "She probably wouldn't answer, she wouldn't view it as appropriate."

    "Yes, she goes to a pro-life church," Justice Hecht said, adding, "I know Harriet is, too." The two attended "two or three" anti-abortion fund-raising dinners in the early 1990's, he said, but added that she had not otherwise been active in the anti-abortion movement. "You can be just as pro-life as the day is long and can decide the Constitution requires Roe" to be upheld, he said.
    All rather vague, of course, and probably not satisfying to the FReepers...

    WaPo is rather more bold in dispelling any lesbian rumors that could surround Ms. Miers, calling Hecht her "on-again, off-again boyfriend" right in the first paragraph. They also frame her views on abortion much more categorically:
    "I know she is pro-life," said Hecht, one of the most conservative judges in Texas. "She thinks that after conception, it's not a balancing act -- or if it is, it's a balancing of two equal lives."

    Hecht and other confidants of Miers all pledge that if the Senate confirms her nomination to the Supreme Court, her judicial values will be guided by the law and the Constitution. But they say her personal values have been shaped by her abiding faith in Jesus, and by her membership in the massive red-brick Valley View Christian Church, where she was baptized as an adult, served on the missions committee and taught religious classes. At Valley View, pastors preach that abortion is murder, that the Bible is the literal word of God and that homosexuality is a sin -- although they also preach that God loves everybody.

    White House spokeswoman Dana Perino declined to comment on Hecht's recollection yesterday but said President Bush did not ask Miers her personal views on abortion or any other issue that may come before the court. "A nominee who shares the president's approach of judicial restraint would not allow personal views to affect his or her rulings based on the law," Perino said.
    Are we getting someplace, right wingers? Maybe, maybe not:
    Even in Dallas, home of groups such as the Texas Eagle Forum and the Republican National Coalition for Life, some religious conservatives say Miers, 60, has demonstrated an insufficient commitment to family values. They cited a questionnaire she filled out for a gay rights group in 1989 as a candidate for Dallas City Council, indicating that gay people should have the same civil rights as straight people and that the city should fund AIDS education and services. After her election, she appointed an openly gay lawyer to an influential city board.

    "For goodness' sake, why elevate AIDS over cancer? She shouldn't have filled out that questionnaire at all," said Cathie Adams, president of the Texas Eagle Forum. "President Bush is asking us to have faith in things unseen. We only have that kind of faith in God."

    But on the same questionnaire, Miers opposed the repeal of a Texas anti-sodomy law and said she was not seeking the endorsement of the gay rights group. In a meeting with the group, she said that her "personal conviction is not consistent" with the "homosexual lifestyle," according to one activist's notes.

    Hecht suggested that it would be difficult to attend Valley View regularly and support gay rights. At the same time, he said, Miers's faith made her more sympathetic to the struggles of others, and her duties as an at-large City Council member transcended her personal views.

    "She represented those people, and she wanted to represent the whole city," Hecht said. "It doesn't mean that you approve of their lifestyle."
    Now, what was that void again...?

    Take 3: the Washington Times focuses on Pastor Ron Key, the man Miers reportedly will follow to his new, more mission-centered church. It also rather strategically compares her religious conversion to that of President Bush:
    While the rest of the country debates the merits of Miss Miers' judicial qualifications, her Christian friends and confidants says she is a solid believer who, like President Bush, had a religious conversion in her 30s.

    This was in June 1979. Within a few days of her decision, she was baptized at Valley View Christian Church, a conservative Protestant congregation in north Dallas with 1,200 members. The church is not affiliated with the similarly named Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), a liberal mainline denomination.

    "The whole basis for becoming a Christian is that you've made mistakes," said Mr. Key, who was pastor of the church at the time. "Obviously, at that time in her life, she became aware of the fact that she needed Jesus, and she committed her life to Him."

    Like George W. Bush, who at 39 made a similar life-changing decision in the summer of 1985 during an encounter with the Rev. Billy Graham, Miss Miers was looking for a spiritual change. She was 33.

    Nathan Hecht, then a fellow lawyer at the Dallas law firm of Locke, Purnell, Boren, Laney & Neely and now an associate justice of the Texas Supreme Court, played the piano at Valley View. They began to go out together, and one day he invited her to church.

    "She had made partner, had a great practice, lots of clients, making a good living, the works," Justice Hecht said. "She got to thinking about her life: 'Is this all there is?' She decided she wanted a stronger faith."

    The two "argued about it some," he recalls, and one day, she "came down the hallway to say she had made a decision. She had made a personal commitment [to Christ]."

    Not only did this affect her financially -- "If you see her tax returns, you'll see she gives 15 percent to the church," Justice Hecht said -- but it also transformed her views on issues such as abortion.

    "After her conversion, she thought more about things in a serious way. She realized life begins at conception. Taking a life after conception was serious business, and therefore you could not do it without a good reason," the judge said.
    ...Which again says absolutely nothing. Ms. Miers' conversion came in 1979, and NYT says that after that, she began leaning Republican. But those tricky donations to the Gore campaign came years later, in 1988 ... Clearly this was not Dubya giving up the sauce cold-turkey. And what would Ms. Miers consider to be a "good reason" to have an abortion? Inquiring minds on both sides of the abortion debate want to know...

    Tags: , , Politics, SCOTUS, Law, News,
    posted by JReid @ 1:59 PM  
    Miers unplugged?
    OK, this is hysterical...
    posted by JReid @ 2:19 AM  
    The Axis of Mediocrity, take two
    The more you read about Harriet Miers, the more she actually sounds like Clarence Thomas: basically an affirmative action pick, designed to fill a "female seat" on the Court but said to be a more conservative version of the Justice she's replacing (as Thomas ... to the horror of many including myself, took the "Thurgood Marshall seat.")

    And while no one (except the president, apparently,) really knows what her geopolitics are -- she could be a Scalia/Thomas or a more FReeper-bedeviling Souther/Kennedy/O'Connor -- I wouldn't be at all surprised if she wound up being very much like Thomas on the bench (should she get there): someone who seems to graft herself to a more experienced and ideological soul mate and essentially vote in tandem with them, the way Thomas does with Scalia, without much overt input (of course, not everyone agrees with this view of Thomas, but consider it a "thought experiment..." besides, there is plenty of ammunition in the 92 percent correlation between the Thomas/Scalia votes).

    If so, Miers could turn out to fulfill the right's interests after all, provided she chooses to stitch herself to one of the stallwart rightists on the Court. The obvious choice for Miers would be John Roberts, whom she helped to steer onto the Court. In that case, of course, conservatives would have to assign double the trust in the president -- hoping that both Roberts and his charge vote their way. (If I were in the right's shoes, that would be a bridge too far... ) Or she could become the understudy of one of the older, more experienced justices (hell, maybe she and Ruth Bader Ginsberg could bond based on her former life as a Democrat and Ginsberg's with the ALCU...) Now the fact that Ms. Miers is purportedly an evangelical Christian (or so we're told) could make her a natural ally of Ratneresque Catholic Antonin Scalia. But who knows? I know plenty of evangelical Christians who are also die-hard Democrats, use birth control and are pro-choice...

    And that's precisely the point. Miers is a cinched grab bag, she's mystery meat, she's a box of chocolates: nobody on the left or the right knows what they're going to get.

    One more caveat: since it will be Roberts who, as chief justice, will assign who writes what ruling, it would be interesting to see the interplay of a Roberts court, including just what sorts of decisions he would assign to a Thomas or Scalia vs. the newbie. Thomas, it's said, has most often been called on to write opinions on regulatory and other non-"big issue" decisions. Would the same hold true for the Court's other "affirmative action" hire?

    Previous posts:

    Tags: , , Politics, SCOTUS, Law, News,

    posted by JReid @ 1:23 AM  
    Tuesdays in the Rose Garden with George
    Scene: White House press briefing, south lawn:

    Q: Thank you, Mr. President. Mr. President, of all the people in the United States you had to choose from, is Harriet Miers the most qualified to serve on the Supreme Court?

    THE PRESIDENT: Yes. Otherwise I wouldn't have put her on.

    THE PRESIDENT: ...Adam.

    Q: Thank you, Mr. President. Some conservatives have said that you did not pick someone like Scalia and Thomas because you shied away from a battle with the Democrats. Is there any truth to that? And are you worried about charges of cronyism?

    THE PRESIDENT: Well, I just described to you why I picked Harriet. I'd be glad to go over it again if you like. In other words, she's eminently qualified. She shares my judicial philosophy. She is a pioneer when it comes to the law. ...She's an extraordinary woman. ... I picked the best person I could find...

    Q: Thank you, Mr. President. You've taken time to express that you know her heart, her character, you've emphasized your friendship. So it seems reasonable that over the course of the years you've known her, perhaps you have discussed the issue of abortion. Have you ever discussed with Harriet Miers abortion? Or have you gleaned from her comments her views on that subject?
    THE PRESIDENT: In my interviews with any judge, I never ask their personal opinion on the subject of abortion.

    Q: In your friendship with her, you've never discussed abortion?

    THE PRESIDENT: Not to my recollection have I ever sat down with her -- what I have done is understand the type of person she is and the type of judge she will be.

    THE PRESIDENT: ... John.

    Q: Mr. President, thank you, sir. A couple of weeks ago, you stood here in the Rose Garden with Generals Abizaid and Casey, and you cited the accomplishments regarding the standing up of Iraqi troops there; you said that there were 12 battalions that were working out of Fallujah and the western part, 20 in Baghdad, 100 across the nation. And then that afternoon, Abizaid and Casey went up to Capitol Hill, and said, well, there's one battle-ready battalion, which led some Republican senators to say, well, the situation is getting worse. So the question is, sir, it appears between what you said and what they said, something is not adding up here.

    THE PRESIDENT: Well, what is happening in Iraq is the following: More and more Iraqis are able to take the fight to the enemy. And that's important to achieve our goal. And the goal is for a stable, democratic Iraq that is an ally in the war on terror.

    Right now there are over 80 army battalions fighting alongside coalition troops. Over 30 Iraqi -- I say, army battalions ...

    THE PRESIDENT: ... Iraqi army battalions. There are over 30 Iraqi battalions in the lead. And that is substantial progress from the way the world was a year ago. ... Terry.

    Q Mr. President, you presided over the largest increase in the size, the power and the cost of the federal government since Lyndon Baines Johnson. A lot of your supporters are wondering what's so conservative about that? And can you answer them, and tell the American people, given the budget deficit, the cost of the war, the cost of Katrina, specifically -- by naming a specific program or revenue measure -- how you're going to pay for all this?
    THE PRESIDENT: First, let me remind people that we are at war. And I have pledged to the American people -- and, more importantly, the troops and their families -- we'll make sure they have what it takes to succeed.

    Secondly, when it comes to discretionary spending, non-security discretionary spending, the budget I submitted to the United States Congress actually reduces non-discretionary -- discretionary -- non-security spending. And as a matter of fact, if you look at the trend line for non-security discretionary spending, I think it was 6 percent when I first was elected, it's down to negative now.

    Q Are you still a conservative?

    THE PRESIDENT: Am I what?

    Q Still a conservative?

    THE PRESIDENT: Am I still a conservative? Proudly so. Proudly so. ... Stretch.

    Q Thank you, Mr. President. Getting back to the leak investigation just for a moment, I'm curious, sir, whether you've had any conversations with any of your aides, particularly Karl Rove or Scooter Libby, about any of their dealings with reporters poking around on that issue, and any strategy that they may have come up with to deal with that issue.

    THE PRESIDENT: The special prosecutor made it very clear early in the process that those of us in the White House need not -- need -- should not discuss the case, publicly or privately.


    Q: Many conservative women lawyers have expressed their extreme distress that you chose as a woman nominee for the Court someone whose credentials did not come close, in their view, to the credentials of John Roberts. They feel as though it's kind of old-fashioned affirmative action, women don't have the same credentials. I wonder if you could address that.

    THE PRESIDENT: Sure, thanks. I would ask them to watch the hearings of Harriet Miers. I think they will become as impressed with her as I have become. She is plenty bright. She -- as I mentioned earlier, she was a pioneer in Texas. She just didn't kind of opine about things, she actually led. First woman of the Texas Bar Association; first woman of the Dallas Bar Association; first woman partner of her law firm; she led a major law firm. She was consistently rated as one of the top 50 women lawyers in the United States -- not just one year, but consistently rated that way -- and as one of the top 100 lawyers. ... Bill.

    Q: Thank you, Mr. President. You've spoken a lot today about knowing Ms. Miers and knowing her history and knowing what she's about. Earlier this summer, you stood up for Rafael Palmeiro when you were asked about whether or not you thought he took steroids, and then he tested positive. Do you think he should face perjury charges?

    THE PRESIDENT: I think that steroids ought to be banned from baseball. And Jackson asked me -- sitting right over there -- about his statement, and I said I believed him when he testified. But let me be very clear about this. Steroids ought to be banned from baseball. And I'm sure the Congress will look as to whether or not he broke the law.

    ... Listen, thank you for your time.

    "Get me my agent ... I'm outta here!"

    Tags: , , ,
    posted by JReid @ 12:55 AM  
    On a more serious note...
    ...Regarding Ms. Miers qualifications -- an issue that is the latest to stick in the craw of many conservatives who fear she is an affirmative action hire -- not held to the same standard of excellence as John Roberts (and basically picked as window dressing, plucked from the First Lady's alma mater...) From the Seattle Times, some good news and some bad news:

    Miers, if confirmed, will be the first justice in 34 years who has never been a judge, though some, such as Clarence Thomas, served only a year's apprenticeship in that role.

    Legal scholars point out that some of the most influential justices in history, from William Rehnquist, a Justice Department attorney elevated by President Nixon in 1971, to Louis Brandeis, a private lawyer nominated by Woodrow Wilson in 1916, have not been judges.

    It is only in the past 30 years that nominating judges has been the norm, in part because their judicial opinions are often seen as a good indication of their future rulings.

    The White House is a little touchy about Miers' lack of experience on the bench.

    President Bush mentioned it in his remarks yesterday, and a White House memo addressed the issue.

    According to the White House, 10 of the 34 Justices appointed since 1933 came from within the president's administration, not from the judicial branch.

    Among the other justices for whom the high court was their first judgeship were: Lewis Powell, Arthur Goldberg, Earl Warren, Tom Clark, Hugo Black, William Douglas and Felix Frankfurter.

    But Miers is unusual even among justices with no judicial experience, because as a strictly corporate lawyer in Dallas representing clients such as Microsoft and Disney, she has specialized in commercial law.

    "In terms of what does she think about issues like religious liberty, free speech and the right to privacy, she has thought about it possibly about as much as any educated man or woman on the street," said Douglas Laycock, a constitutional-law professor at the University of Texas.
    Jumping ahead a bit:

    Miers would be the only justice who doesn't hold a degree from an elite, highly ranked university.

    She has undergraduate and law degrees from Southern Methodist University, while seven of the eight other justices have at least one degree from Harvard or Yale. John Paul Stevens attended the University of Chicago and Northwestern University.

    Those distinctions could give Miers a very different — some say welcome — outlook.

    "On the one hand, I think it's important to find out how well she might be able to handle the substance of constitutional law, and her depth of understanding of the law in general," said Temple University law professor Mark Rahdert, a former clerk for Justice Harry Blackmun. "That kind of inquiry takes on a greater and more important dimension when you have someone who hasn't sat on the bench for a long time."

    ... Bush's close relationship with Miers also harkens back to several other high-court picks, some that worked out well and others that were disastrous.

    President Franklin Roosevelt regularly chose close associates to sit on the court, but none turned out to be an embarrassment. President Kennedy chose Byron White, a friend so close he used to participate in Kennedy family football games.

    But three picks by President Truman rank among court watchers' worst, at least in the 20th century. Sherman Minton, Harold Burton and Chief Justice Fred Vinson all were close associates of Truman, but none left a favorable mark on the high court.

    The 19th century is replete with political cronies who had undistinguished careers serving on the court.

    "The truth is that if you compare Miers, just on paper, to some of the political cronies who have wound up on the court, her qualifications put her square in the middle," said court historian David Garrow. "Thirty or 35 years ago, no one would have thought there was anything out of the ordinary about it."

    But Garrow said Miers' nomination, coming on the heels of John Roberts' confirmation, makes her seem less impressive.

    "She's following a 24-karat all star onto the court," Garrow said, referring to Roberts' stellar credentials. "By comparison, she looks inescapably unqualified."

    Tags: , , Politics, SCOTUS, Law, News,

    posted by JReid @ 12:12 AM  
    The 'getting to know you' phase
    Pics: Miers with Bush in August 2002, when she was still serving as his staff secretary:

    President George W. Bush tours a canyon with
    White House Staff Secretary Harriet Miers at his
    ranch in Crawford, Texas, Friday, Aug. 9, 2002.

    President George W. Bush reads over paperwork
    during a White House staff meeting inside a
    telecommunications trailer at the Bush Ranch
    in Crawford, Texas, Friday, Aug. 9, 2002.
    From left are Staff Secretary Harriet Miers,
    personal assistant Blake Gottesman and
    Deputy Chief of Staff Joe Hagin

    While we're on the subject, Keith Olbermann raised an interesting question Tuesday night: as staff secretary, wouldn't Ms. Miers have been the one to hand the president a certain daily briefing memo entitled "Bin Laden determined to attack inside the United States?" Yep, these hearings are going to be much more interesting than the Roberts dog and pony show...

    Tags: , , Politics, SCOTUS, Law, News,
    posted by JReid @ 12:01 AM  
    Tuesday, October 04, 2005
    Let them eat Katrina cake!
    In addition to suspending the Davis-Bacon rules, the Bush administration also waived the affirmative action rules normally governing federal contracting in the rebuilding of the Gulf. Here's the result.

    Previous feasts of bad behavior: Let them eat Astro cake!

    Tags: Katrina, New Orleans, Hurricane Katrina, Politics, ,
    posted by JReid @ 5:07 PM  
    Do you trust the president?
    Some on the right say "no."

    Update: Michelle Malkin posts an exhaustive rundown of conservative reaction to Miers, "the morning after." Hint: it's pretty much a wicked hangover... Exerpts from one of many angry emails posted on Malkin's site:

    I feel duped by Dubya. He can ask all he wants for his constituents to trust him but I don't any longer. He got us into an unpopular war and I trusted him to protect our national security. He promised to protect our country after 9/11 and I trusted him---although the borders are still not secure. He promised to nominate conservative judges to the Supreme Court and I trusted him & he's failed me in this nomination of Miers. I never questioned Robert's nomination as he was a judge and I liked what I read about him. But the cronyism is very revealing and arrogant on this last Bush betrayal. I have spoken to many loyal GOP Bushies who feel the same. ...

    ... I am very angry with the "I told ya so" comments that will now come regarding my support for Bush---TWICE.
    Hey emailer: I told ya so ...

    Update 2: Junkyardblog asks if President Bush's two "stealth nominees" have effectively shoved ideological conservatism into the closet. (He also links to the Malkin posted letter to the president bemoaning the fact that apparently, conservative is the new Black:

    You have lost my support, President Bush. You have failed to deliver the type of judicial nominees that social conservatives prayed you would appoint. If your choices of John Roberts and Harriet Miers turn out to be good picks, we won’t know it for many months, if not years. In the meantime you have proven to me that Republicans treat social conservatives exactly the same way that Democrats treat blacks. Sucker them in long enough to get their vote and then ignore them.

    Interesting theory, and one I've pondered myself. The president's political team clearly needed the Christian right to work the phones and the doors and get him elected in 2000 and 2004. They needed Republican majorities in Congress in order to ram through the neoconservatives ... I mean Mr. Bush's ... decidedly unconservative foreign policy. He doesn't need either of them now. That's the only explanation I can come up with for what appears at the outset to be a purely political Supreme Court pick that has essentially divorced the president from a key part of his base, and from almost any Republican who's seeking reelection.

    On the Court, Mr. Bush apparently wants someone who won't be fillibustered by Democrats (although it remains to be seen if the Republicans might do the 'bustering thiis time) and who is personally loyal to "his philosophy". The idea, if you buy the arguments in his press conference today, was to imprint the "Bush philosophy" -- whatever that is -- onto the Supreme Court for a generation. That is either a statement of profound arrogance or one of pathetic weakness, as many in the right wing blogosphere have pointed out. The big question for social conservatives (as distinct from the fiscal conservative Mr. Bush clearly has absolutely nothing in common with) is whether Mr. Bush's mysterious philosophy (which I take it we will one day discern but which apparently has something to do with Iraqi freedom) jibes with theirs.

    Update 3: This TIME redux of Ms. Miers vast (ahem) writings won't help her with the right:

    An indication of her stance on gay rights comes from this questionaire from the Lesbian/Gay Political Coalition of Dallas Miers filled out while running for the Dallas City Council in 1989. In it, she supported full civil rights for gays and lesbians and backed AIDS education programs for the city of Dallas. (Source:
    Update 4: Memo to the president: If you don't know Harriet Miers' views on abortion, how are your supporters supposed to know...?

    Update 5: Even the FReepers are off the reservation. On an up note for the president, radio talk host Kevin McCullough is running an interview with Ron Key, said to be Miers' pastor of 25 years, on his web-site. In the interview, Key assures McCullough's listeners that Miers is a strict "Constitutionalist." Well that clears that up... future GOP nominees will simply present their ministers for public scrutiny, rather than some semblance of a record on the issues...

    Previous posts:

    Tags: , , Politics, SCOTUS, Law, News,
    posted by JReid @ 12:36 PM  
    The axis of mediocrity
    John Aravosis just made the pivotal point during his debate with Joel Mowbray on "Connected": George W. Bush, in choosing Harriet Miers, has closed the circle of mediocrity for his presidency. Just as he was clearly underqualified for the job he now holds, he has now transferred that mediocrity onto the Court (after aguably making an intellectually superior and more attractive -- if equally ideologically vague -- pick in John Roberts). Most importantly, this was clearly George Bush's decision -- not Dick Cheney's, not Karl Rove's not anybody else's, and because it was his pick, it speaks to his governance and aptitude. After Iraq and Katrina and the deficits and the rest, Americans are belatedly coming to grips with just how little aptitude there is in the White House.

    As Aravosis put it: "you elected a puppet, and your puppet just realized he's president and he can do whatever he wants."


    Update: The right is beginning to ask the previously unthinkable questions: Does the president have "contempt for his own base?" Does he "prize personal loyalty to himself above all else," including the philosophical conservatism he says he believes in? And why did the president so clearly walk away from a national discussion/fight/struggle over the use, role and direction of the courts? These are key questions for the right, which must decide whether it is going to put personal loyalty to the president -- including the almost cult-like devotion its spokesmen and ground troops have exhibited since 9/11 -- ahead of their core principles. And if they're going to throw the philosophical baby out of the moving car in order to save it and ride with Dubya, do their ideas even matter at all?

    On the flip side, Democrats are going to have to have a similar "come to Jesus" moment very soon -- and decide where they stand on the big issues that seem to be pulling George W. Bush's presidency apart: Iraq, government spending, the courts, religion in public life, and more, and they're going to have to present a more coherent, salable stand on the issues that they have managed to either enshrine or avoid, like abortion and gay marriage. Otherwise, Bush's problems won't be worth a warm bucket of spit to them in the '06 or '08 elections, when they will have the chance to regain power by filling the vast leadership void being left by the corruption, excess and incompetence of the GOP.

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    posted by JReid @ 12:22 PM  
    Bill Bennett: Spokesman for the absurd
    Courtesy of Porkopolis, a rare find: sober reasoning from the normally inflammatory Captain's Quarters. The captain breaks down the Bill Bennett racial absurdem this way:

    When one looks at the entire context of the remarks made by Bennett in discussing the Freakanomics argument that three decades of abortion lowered violent crime in America (an argument that suffers by the fact of the violent death of 43 million feti, wouldn't one think?), it should be obvious to reasonable people that Bennett neither argues for aborting black babies nor does he agree with the Leavitt and Dubner hypothesis. Anyone who spends time with Bennett, either listening to his radio show or reading his works, knows that Bennett is no racist.

    However, he makes one mistake in his reductio ad absurdum argument that he should have avoided, one which gives fuel to the entire argument: he assumed that lowering the African-American population would result in a lower crime rate, without any other conditions being met. Here's Bennett's statement:
    But I do know that it’s true that if you wanted to reduce crime, you could—if that were your sole purpose, you could abort every black baby in this country, and your crime rate would go down. That would be an impossible, ridiculous, and morally reprehensible thing to do, but your crime rate would go down.
    Do we know that the crime rate would go down, any more than if we aborted every white baby in America? No, we do not, and that mistaken assumption creates the much smaller but legitimate criticism of Bennett's remarks. At the heart of that assertion, Bennett has to assume that all other things being equal, blacks are more likely to commit crime than non-blacks as part of their innate nature, and not as part of an environment.

    First mistake: using blacks as an example. Had he said "poor", he would have been much closer to the mark. The poor do not have an innate compulsion to commit crime either, but the environment in which they enter the world creates more pressure towards criminal behavior. That does not hold true for "all black children" -- only for those born into that environment.
    Excellent reasoning on CQ's part. And no "reasonable critic" of Bennett's statement, myself included, has accused him of arguing for the abortion of Black babies. We have argued precisely the Captain's point: that to reflexively posit that the elimination of Black babies would necessarily reduce crime, simply due to the absence of Blacks, is both absurd and, because it provides a mirror into his inner reflexive thought process, racist as hell. So I guess we agree then.

    Update: LaShawn Barber fills in for the scandal-hobbled Armstrong Williams in the role of Bennett's Black Defender. In her post, Barber goes on a multi-paragraph tirade about those damned criminal Blacks packing the jails, and all the damned Negroes having abortions, but she forgets to make a single coherent argument that Bennett's statements weren't wrongheaded and racist... (not to mention that she's a bit think skinned for a blogger...)

    On the flip side, USA Today's DeWayne Wickham makes the core, factual case against Bennett's "absurdist" thesis:

    Bennett says his words have been taken out of context by those who decry what he said. "It was an argument absurdum," he said on a subsequent broadcast of his radio show Morning in America. The same case for reducing crime could be made by aborting all kids born to single parents, all males or the entire population, Bennett pointed out.

    I'll grant him that. But the fact is he didn't use any of those examples. He talked, hypothetically, about aborting all black babies as a way of cutting the crime rate. While he hasn't said as much, I suspect Bennett did so because he knows that blacks make up a disproportionately high percentage of the inmates in our jails and prisons.

    Behind the numbers

    Of the men and women behind bars last year, 910,200 were black; 777,500 were white and 395,400 were Hispanic, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics. To the casual observer — and anyone who is looking for some data to back up racist views — this might suggest that Bennett used an apt example.

    Given these numbers, aborting all black babies, however "morally reprehensible" to suggest, could bring about the biggest reduction in the number of crimes that are committed in this country, right?

    I don't think so.

    The Bureau of Justice Statistics' figures represent only those who were jailed for a crime. But according to the FBI's Uniform Crime Reports, more than twice as many whites as blacks (6.7 million to 2.6 million) were arrested in 2003 for committing a crime. Whites made up 70.6% of all people arrested that year — and 60.5% of those arrested for violent crime. Blacks totaled 27.0% of all arrests and accounted for 37.2% of the people arrested for committing a violent crime.

    ... And 2003 was no fluke.

    A check of the arrest statistics gathered by the FBI from 1999 through 2003 shows that substantially, more whites than blacks were arrested in each of those years. Why does the black inmate population in jails and prisons exceed that of whites when so many more whites are arrested?

    I don't think it's a leap of faith to conclude that the scales of justice are out of balance.

    Maybe Bennett and others who view blacks as a criminal class are blinded by their myopia. Maybe they just never bothered to compare the government's data on who gets arrested in the country with who ends up behind bars.
    Ah, statistics...

    Previous headlines:

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    posted by JReid @ 12:01 PM  
    Being Fox News
    Courtesy of Atrios, MSNBC's David Schuster reminisces (in a Herald Times article) about his time as a Fox News reporter:
    At the time I started at Fox, I thought, this is a great news organization to let me be very aggressive with a sitting president of the United States (Bill Clinton)," Shuster said. "I started having issues when others in the organization would take my carefully scripted and nuanced reporting and pull out bits and pieces to support their agenda on their shows.

    "With the change of administration in Washington, I wanted to do the same kind of reporting, holding the (Bush) administration accountable, and that was not something that Fox was interested in doing," he said.

    "Editorially, I had issues with story selection," Shuster went on. "But the bigger issue was that there wasn't a tradition or track record of honoring journalistic integrity. I found some reporters at Fox would cut corners or steal information from other sources or in some cases, just make things up. Management would either look the other way or just wouldn't care to take a closer look. I had serious issues with that."
    Tags: , MSNBC, News, Media, Katrina, Politics
    posted by JReid @ 11:44 AM  
    Oink oink
    The White House pulls out all the conservation stops and rolls out the Energy Hog... no, really, they've rolled out an energy hog...

    Tags: , Environment,
    posted by JReid @ 11:07 AM  
    Don't believe the hype (Generaton Next edition)
    Kanye West has not been dropped by Pepsi. Delete that email that's been going around...

    Tags: , ,
    posted by JReid @ 10:49 AM  
    Don't mess with Texas
    Update: AP notes on the presser.

    A visibly perturbed George W. Bush is holding a live presser on Harriet Miers, Katrina, spending and other issues. He came right off the top defending Ms. Miers as reflecting his judicial philosophy "that judges should strictly interpret the Constitution and not legislate from the bench." He said he "appreciates the reception her nomination has gotten on Capitol Hill," I suppose meaning he doesn't appreciate the reception it got everywhere else ... developing ...

    Tags: , ,
    posted by JReid @ 10:32 AM  
    Tom and Margaret and Jack and jail
    The Mirror UK drops the bomb on top secret documents describing meetings between Tom DeLay and former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, ties to Jack Abramoff, legally questionable luxury trips and even a possible criminal probe involving the "Iron Lady." Read on:
    3 October 2005
    EXCLUSIVE: Secret paper links Thatcher to freebies probe
    By Bob Roberts Deputy Political Editor

    A DOCUMENT linking Margaret Thatcher to a US corruption probe is so explosive civil servants have been asked to ensure it remains "sealed".

    The 79-year-old former Premier is said to have met Congressman Tom DeLay in Britain while he was on a suspected favours-for-freebies scam.

    In return for his free holiday, DeLay - who resigned as Republican leader of Congress last week after being accused of laundering political funds - allegedly backed legislation favourable to lobby groups.

    Disclosing that US authorities were seeking aid from UK counterparts, a secret Home Office briefing says: "One visit to the UK involved a meeting with Mrs Margaret Thatcher.

    "Evidence is sought from her about that meeting and her involvement in the alleged deception and violation of US criminal laws."

    Police will "sensitively" investigate the meeting, which took place in May 2000.

    In the dossier headed "Secret...wider circulation strictly forbidden", civil servants then warn ministers: "There would be considerable press interest in this case if it were to become public knowledge.

    "We have been asked by the US to keep this request 'sealed', which we take to mean as confidential as possible. This has been relayed to the Crown Office and Metropolitan Police.
    Jumping ahead a bit:
    If Lady Thatcher is found to have been involved in the alleged scam she could face a criminal probe in the US or even be banned from travelling to the country.

    Her spokesman confirmed police had been in contact about the DeLay meeting. But he insisted there was no question of wrongdoing.

    The document, leaked to the Mirror, informs ministers there has been an official request for "mutual legal assistance" from the US Department of Justice in Washington.

    It said the request was part of a deception investigation "involving high-profile American and UK-based individuals, including a leading Congressman and former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher". At the centre of the probe is high-profile lobbyist Jack Abramoff, who is already under investigation in the US.

    The document says: "US officials are investigating whether Abramoff was involved in obtaining legislative assistance from public officials in exchange for arranging and underwriting trips to the UK."

    Investigators are also probing whether the public officials filed false reports relating to the trips.

    The holidays involved playing golf at St Andrews in Scotland, dinner with unnamed members of the Scottish Parliament, theatre trips in London and luxury hotel accommodation.

    Mr DeLay's staff also scheduled a meeting with Lady Thatcher.

    The briefing adds that police investigating the meeting "have been asked to handle these inquiries sensitively given the nature of the individual concerned and the background to the request". Members of the Scottish Parliament will be questioned concerning any contacts they may have had with Abramoff, DeLay or members of their party.

    Scottish police will collect hotel record, bills, invoices, and statements.
    It just keeps getting curiouser and curiouser...

    Tags: , , , , ,
    posted by JReid @ 10:30 AM  
    The big letdown
    Conservatives aren't the only ones scratching their heads and grumbling over Bush's nomination of his legal confidante Harriet Miers to take the O'Connor seat on the Supreme Court. Also not pleased: Hispanics, who saw their shot at the Court scuttled yet again by a president who has presented himself as their friend. In the end, however, he went with a pair of white folks, no matter what the diversity dudgeons on the right are saying between gritted teeth...

    Meanwhile, the political heads are asking why Bush doesn't seem to be spoiling for a fight with Democrats...

    Previous headlines:

    Tags: , Politics, SCOTUS, Law, News,

    posted by JReid @ 9:48 AM  
    A change gon' come
    One of the changes Louisiana will face in the coming years: an altered political landscape; including the probable loss of a Congressional seat, and likely gains statewide for the GOP. There you have it. Meanwhile, while the media has mostly moved on, the death toll from Katrina now stands at more than 1,200 people, including 964 in Louisiana -- a modern disaster on par with the sinking of the Titanic (1,500), the Johnstown floods (2,200), not to mention deaths in the Iraq war (1,900 soldiers and untold civilians) and 9/11 (2,000). It's not America's worst natural disaster: that would probably be the Galveston hurricane of 1900 (8,000-12,000), but it's one that shouldn't soon be forgotten.

    Tags: Katrina, New Orleans, Hurricane Katrina, Politics, News
    posted by JReid @ 9:27 AM  
    Judy, Judy, Judy
    Who's to blame for Judy Miller's prolonged incarceration? If you ask Scooter Libby's lawyers, it's Judy herself... Meanwhile, it seems that the Hotline editor was right when he wondered aloud whether Miller's self-martyrdom might have something to do with a book deal... and the NYT will finally bow to calls for a full account of Miller's dealings with the White House and special prosecutor this week.

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    posted by JReid @ 1:17 AM  
    Monday, October 03, 2005
    Justice DeLayed
    A Texas grand jury has indicted Tom DeLay on a new charge: money laundering...

    Tags: ,
    posted by JReid @ 6:39 PM  
    Harriet Miers and the lesbian hair check
    Okay, so nobody knows anything about Bush's Supreme Court nominee other than that she's a total Bush loyalist. That we know. But what really matters at the end of the day, is not whether she was, in fact, hired for a paltry $19,000 to help clean up Bush's National Guard records when he ran for Texas governor, or whether she's even qualified to sit on the Supreme Court (as opposed to being yet another Brownie-style crony hack) -- no, the really important questions is whether this check is a lesbian...

    Item: Ms. Miers is 60 years old, yet like David Souter berfore her, has never been married and has no children -- not even a baby daddy situation ... Statistics show that only about 8 percent of American women fall into that category...

    Item: Miers' only known paramour was a Texas Supreme Court justice named Nathan Hecht (who like her, and Laura Bush, hailed from Southern Methodist University...)

    Item: Let's face it, that's one hellified lesbian hair-do she's sporting. Listen, I used to work for a woman with that hair-cut -- in fact, she and her girlfriend both had that hair-cut... Let's just take a look at others who are similarly coiffed:

    Joan M. Garry, director, GLAAD

    Kim Gandy, NOW

    Del Martin and Phillys Lyon, first lesbian couple to marry in S.F.

    Harriet Miers with George W. Bush
    I hair critique, you decide...
    Tags: , Politics, SCOTUS, Law, News,,
    posted by JReid @ 5:27 PM  
    Throw the bums out
    That call -- or rumblings very close to it -- is increasingly coming, not from the left, but from the right.

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    posted by JReid @ 2:13 PM  
    Stop or I'll abort!
    Bill "Gambles" Bennett is still catching hell over his abort Black babies to reduce crime "thought experiment"... (Dennis Prager has him on for a mutual whining society chat this afternoon...) But the real excitement was the throw-down on this wee's Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace, between Fox's Washington managing editor Brit Hume and NPR's Juan Williams (with Bill Kristol and Mara Liason playing backup). The political teen has both the video and the right-wing spin.

    Earth to Bennett's defenders, and to reiterate Williams' spot-on central point, the problem with Bennett's stupid remarks wasn't that we think he was calling for the extermination of Black babies. It was the unbelievable fact that in 2005, the first place a conservative's puny little mind goes to when confronted with a question about abortion is Black babies and crime. This was a non-sequitor of the first order -- the caller Bennett was responded to asked him about abortion and Social Security, not crime, and nowhere in the book under discussion, Freakonomics, do the authors relate abortion, Blacks and crime. It is Bennett who did that, and Bennett alone. Fawn over the guy all you want, but that's the bottom line: he pulled the Black babies and crime "thought experiement" straight out of his butt, not out of the book. Does that make him a racist? Yep. And a stupid one at that.

    By the way, this is the same Bill Bennett who tried to back up Pat Robertson's lunatic death threats against Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. Why this guy is still allowed to trowell the public arena is beyond me... Oh, and Brit Hume, nice job defending the patently racist idea that Blacks cause most of the crime in this country, and if you just got rid of the pesky little niggas all would be well...

    Update: TalkLeft agrees.

    Update 2 2:50 p.m.: Dennis Prager on his radio show just accused Dem Party talker Ed Shultz of libeling fellow morality czar Bennett, and he's also demanding that those on the left denounce the condemnation of Bennett's remarks as racist, or give up any claim to common decency. Can't wait to hear Schultz's respose...

    Previous headlines:

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    posted by JReid @ 1:41 PM  
    Plamegate rolls along
    Toward the end of "This Week..." Stephanopoulos casually drops the bomb that the CIA leak stench may waft right into the offices of the president and vice president. Also, Huffpo raises new questions about "WMD Judy" Miller (who's buddy Ahmad Chalabi was featured on 60 Minutes this Sunday). Seems lawyers for La Dame Warpants tried to cut a deal with the special prosecutor a year ago and failed... hm...

    Previous posts:
    Tags: , , , , , Karl Rove, White House, PlameGate
    posted by JReid @ 1:33 PM  
    What would Democratic Jesus do?
    Why, he'd speak no ill of the nomine...

    The Democratic line on Harriet Miers should be "wait and see." If they're smart, they'll avoid the PFAW/NARAL reflex of prepping her for a burning at the stake over abortion, even before the hearings. A better posture for the opposition would be the one posited by ... gulp ... Michelle Malkin, who blogged today that " It's not just that Miers has zero judicial experience. It's that she's so transparently a crony/"diversity" pick while so many other vastly more qualified and impressive candidates went to waste..."

    Message to Democrats: Forget the abortion debate. It's the cronyism, stupid. Bush missed his opportunity to shift the debate elsewhere, and I think he's done himself a major disservice here.

    Tags: , Politics, SCOTUS, Law, News
    posted by JReid @ 11:45 AM  
    It's Annoy a Conservative Day!

    Update 3: Kevin Aylward can't bring himself to be negative. In fact, he quotes Tim Russert on why Miers might actually be qualified... Oh, the Bush fan's dilemma.

    Update 2: David Frum took his first crack at Harriet Miers last week... here's the shrapnel, courtesy of SwingStateProject:

    She rose to her present position by her absolute devotion to George Bush. I mentioned last week that she told me that the president was the most brilliant man she had ever met. To flatter on such a scale a person must either be an unscrupulous dissembler, which Miers most certainly is not, or a natural follower. And natural followers do not belong on the Supreme Court of the United States.

    Nor is it safe for the president's conservative supporters to defer to the president's judgment and say, "Well, he must know best." The record shows I fear that the president's judgment has always been at its worst on personnel matters.
    And for good measure, Swing State also reads my mind:
    Michael Brown is a name that should come up a great deal during the Miers' confirmation process. Harriet Miers is a Michael Brown quality pick. Even right-wing bloggers are using the word 'cronyism' and are worried because they know Bush can't afford this.

    The storyline of Bush giving key jobs to completely unqualified political hacks is connecting with the American people. By picking people on the basis of loyalty, rather than effectiveness, Bush has set the stage for the Culture of Corruption that engulfs the entire Republican Party.


    Update: The American Spectator has conservatives on the Hill in full bane over the Miers nomnation, and even talking fillibuster:

    Just spoke with a staffer for a conservative member of the Judiciary Committee whose boss is extremely unhappy about the nomination of Harriet Miers.

    "We heard her name. We made it clear that she was unacceptable as a nominee on the basis of qualifications and her views, which we simply don't know anything about," says the staffer. "We worked with her on policy issues, though, before she was elevated to White House counsel and let's just say we were underwhelmed."

    There is now talk of among some conservatives about a filibuster of the Miers nomination. Never mind the Al Gore donations or the money that was floated to the DNC when Miers was a managing partner in a law firm, those can be explained away as "good for the business of the firm."

    Unfortunately, given the level of support Miers appears to be generating among Democrats, such a move appears impossible, though admirable.

    According to several White House sources, few inside the building took the possibility of a Miers nomination seriously. Now that it's a reality, they are stunned. "We passed up Gonzales for this?" was one conservative staffer's reaction. "I don't know much about Gonzales, but I think I know enough that he's more of a conservative than Harriet is."

    Conservatives staffers inside the White House were pushing a number of names early last week, but said they felt frustrated by lack of traction on any of them. "It became clear on Wednesday that he had a nominee in place and he was just waiting on timing," says another White House staffer.

    According to this staffer the fact that it was Miers was one reason the President chose not to put the name out last Friday as some had hoped. "Between Frist's problems and DeLay's problems, we were concerned that the Miers nomination would have so many conservatives pissed at us that it would just be awful. I can't tell you how unhappy some of us insider here are right now. We go from the high of John Roberts to this."
    Needless to say, a tough day for Dubya...

    Original post: Latest buzz on Bush's counsel-turned-nominee Harriet Miers: she donated money to Al Gore and other Democrats... Also, Miers may be even gayer than John Roberts was supposed to be: she's 60, never married, no kids... Yep. Sounds like the poster girl for conservatism to me... And the supposedly helpful buzz on right wing radio is that she worked at some point, in some capacity, for Exodus Ministries, the ex-gay organization. (A bit of self-loathing at work, perhaps...?) So you think the right hates this nomination? You're damned straight.

    Update: WaPo has the Reid reaction (not me, the one in the Senate):

    “I like Harriet Miers. As White House Counsel, she has worked with me in a courteous and professional manner. I am also impressed with the fact that she was a trailblazer for women as managing partner of a major Dallas law firm and as the first woman president of the Texas Bar Association.

    “In my view, the Supreme Court would benefit from the addition of a justice who has real experience as a practicing lawyer. The current justices have all been chosen from the lower federal courts. A nominee with relevant non-judicial experience would bring a different and useful perspective to the Court.

    That can't make the righties feel good...

    Previous posts:
    Tags: , Politics, SCOTUS, Law, News, ,
    posted by JReid @ 11:24 AM  
    Shafty or crafty? Supreme Court edition
    Why does the hard right continue to be surprised and disappointed by George W. Bush? Earth to righties, Dubya has what he wants. He doesn't need you anymore. Mr. Bush is a blue-blood, corporate conservative. He cares about tax cuts, privatizing Social Security and securing financial and career benefits for his friends and for members of his social class. Your issues are only useful to him at election time, and the last I heard, it's not election time for him...

    On the other hand, Bush has chosen someone loyal to him personally, who he can probably count on to secure his legacy in terms of the war on terror -- an issue he actually does care about having staked his presidency on Iraq... And he has put up a nominee the Democrats will be hard pressed to oppose (which he hopes will help shore up his poll numbers).

    Either way, this nomination, whether it's read as giving the right the shaft (again) or as a crafty political move, was all about George W. Bush and zero about the base.

    Updates: David Frum calls the Miers nomination an unforced error... (I agree -- this was Bush's chance to set the left back on its heels and drown out the various corruption scandals in a knock down drag out fight between his reenergized base and the Dems... he blew it.

    Bill Kristol is "disappointed, depressed and demorazlized..."
    From above, Powerline is equally disappointed ...
    Michelle Malkin is underwhelmed, and sums up the angst of other conservative bloggers...
    NARAL, as usual, is a crushing bore...
    Mary Katherine Ham waxes unenthusiastic at Wizbang...
    Confirm Them is not feeling the love (but they are bringing back the "whoop de whoop"....
    I'm not really sure where the Kos kids stand...
    Talkleft sees another Michael Brown in the making...
    Matt Singer of Left in the West says Miers is seen as sub-par all around...
    FBI Hop says Miers "goes both ways" (ahem... politically ... )and sees potential conflicts of interest...
    The Bay Area is Talking notes the right wing crankiness over the nomination...
    The Swing State Project agrees with me: the knock here is cronyism, and that's a wrap...
    John Podhoretz calls it straight-out dumb...

    Tags: , Politics, SCOTUS, Law, News,
    posted by JReid @ 10:24 AM  
    ...Meanwhile, over in the Chief Justice's wing...
    ...Bush's other Supreme Court pick is proving that he's no ordinary Chief Justice, he's John F. Kennedy...! No wonder half the Senate Democrats couldn't resist him! Somebody's gonna have to hold David Dreier back if this guy makes a trip to the House floor...

    But seriously, the Roberts pick in many ways proves what the Miers nomination proves: that George W. Bush is fundamentally a creature of noblesse oblige. He chooses people based either on family loyalty and personal connection or on the basis of class sympatico. With the Roberts Court, Bush has ushered in an era of cool, calm, corporate jurisprudence -- no wild social boat rocking, no great sympathy for the little guy, and probably a healthy respect for presidential power. Forget Bush the president -- Bush the man seems much more comfortable with people like Roberts, who mirror his social class and upbringing, than with fire breathers like Antonin Scalia, whom the Bush family probably wouldn't mix with socially.

    It's that return to a kind of 19th century social and economic elitism that Bush has been driving at all these years, not base, ideological sops to the poor slobs in the mega-churches who got him elected.

    Tags: , Politics, SCOTUS, Law, News

    posted by JReid @ 10:00 AM  
    Saturday, October 01, 2005
    What've you gotta do to get a veto around here?
    Apparently, the answer is: call on the federal government to reign in the abuse of war prisoners held by the U.S.

    Tags: , War, Foreign Policy, ,
    posted by JReid @ 12:28 AM  
    ReidBlog: The Obama Interview
    Listen now:


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