Monday, January 30, 2006

Get Angry, Indeed!

Greg Sargent, writing at TAPPED points to Arianna's post at her Huffington Post wherein she wonders when the press will do to the Bushies what Oprah recently did to author James Frey (she called him a liar).

Greg reminds us of a powerful scene from All the Predient's Men (the book, not the movie)wherein a reporter had finally had enough of being lied to and let Clark MacGregor have it.

Greg asks, "when are Russert and the gang going to decide that enough is enough and really, seriously get angry about being lied to all the time?"

The answer is NEVER!

And, as a Democrat, I think it is the wrong question.

My question to my party is when are you Democrats who represent us in the media going to get mad? When folks like Russert or Blitzer just pass along GOP talking points why do Dems think they have to just sit their and politely answer such nonsense.

Case in point. On January 8, Howard Dean appeared on Late Edition and Blitzer and had the following exchange:

BLITZER: Should Democrats who took money from Jack Abramoff, who has now pleaded guilty to bribery charges, among other charges, a Republican lobbyist in Washington, should the Democrat who took money from him give that money to charity or give it back?

DEAN: There are no Democrats who took money from Jack Abramoff, not one, not one single Democrat. Every person named in this scandal is a Republican. Every person under investigation is a Republican. Every person indicted is a Republican. This is a Republican finance scandal. There is no evidence that Jack Abramoff ever gave any Democrat any money. And we've looked through all of those FEC reports to make sure that's true.

BLITZER: But through various Abramoff-related organizations and outfits, a bunch of Democrats did take money that presumably originated with Jack Abramoff.

DEAN: That's not true either. There's no evidence for that either. There is no evidence...
Howard addressed Blitzer's points and was direct and professional. But why did Howard give Blitzer a pass on obviously repeating a GOP talking point?!

And I don't want to just pick on Howard. This is SOP.

So here is a quick message to every D who appears in the media:

The American people will never believe you can defend them when you don't defend yourself!

Imagine instead if Howard had responded to Wolf something along these lines:
DEAN: Excuse me Wolf, but surely you know by now that neither Jack Ambramoff, his wife nor his PAC have give so much as a dime to any Democrat? This is a matter of public record Wolf available online at the FEC that anyone with Internet access can obtain.

Wolf are you just repeating GOP talking points? What is the source for your claim that "Democrats took money from Abramoff?".....
You get the idea. Howard could have gone on forever really shamed Wolf, and should have. Just has Russert should be shamed every time he trys the same bs. EVERY TIME!

If we Dems are waiting for Russert, Blitzer and the rest of the Washington Press clique to save us, than all hope is lost. The modern Washington press are a joke.

So what are the Dems going to do about it.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Fiscal Conservatives, Indeed

AP
Iraqi money gambled away in the Philippines. Thousands spent on a swimming pool that was never used. An elevator repaired so poorly that it crashed, killing people.

A U.S. government audit found American-led occupation authorities squandered tens of millions of dollars that were supposed to be used to rebuild Iraq through undocumented spending and outright fraud.

In some cases, auditors recommend criminal charges be filed against the perpetrators. In others, it asks the U.S. ambassador to Iraq to recoup the money.

Dryly written audit reports describe the Coalition Provisional Authority's offices in the south-central city of Hillah being awash in bricks of $100 bills taken from a central vault without documentation.

It describes one agent who kept almost $700,000 in cash in an unlocked footlocker and mentions a U.S. soldier who gambled away as much as $60,000 in reconstruction funds in the Philippines.
Can you imagine the outcry if this were a Democratic admin? The Rs would be demanding an impeachment.

why is it everytime the Rs take office the fraud out of the DoD goes through the roof? Remember Reagans $10,000 toilet seats?

And the Army is Just Fine

Reuters
The U.S. Army has forced about 50,000 soldiers to continue serving after their voluntary stints ended under a policy called "stop-loss," but while some dispute its fairness, court challenges have fallen flat.

The policy applies to soldiers in units due to deploy for the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. The Army said stop-loss is vital to maintain units that are cohesive and ready to fight. But some experts said it shows how badly the Army is stretched and could further complicate efforts to attract new recruits.
And to the extent that the army is not just fine, it's Clinton's fault for not anticipating a lenghty occupation that the Bushies insisted would never happen,...

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Kevin's Right

Hayden is saying that the NSA program isn't some kind of large-scale data mining operation that the authors of the FISA act never could have foreseen. Rather, it's "targeted and focused" and involves "only international calls and only those we have a reasonable basis to believe involve al Qaeda or one of its affiliates."

In other words, it's precisely the kind of monitoring that the FISA court already approves routinely and in large volumes. Another few hundred requests wouldn't faze them in the least.
Read the rest of it at The Washington Monthly This is exactly the point.

Monday, January 23, 2006

36%

Percentage of Americans who approve of the way Bush is handling his job according o the latest ARG Poll.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Purple Heartbreakers

James Webb, Vietnam war veteran and Reagan's Secretary of the Navy, has an important Op-Ed in today's NYTs regarding yet another Bush legacy.

You really need to read this. Here's a taste,

IT should come as no surprise that an arch-conservative Web site is questioning whether Representative John Murtha, the Pennsylvania Democrat who has been critical of the war in Iraq, deserved the combat awards he received in Vietnam.

After all, in recent years extremist Republican operatives have inverted a longstanding principle: that our combat veterans be accorded a place of honor in political circles. This trend began with the ugly insinuations leveled at Senator John McCain during the 2000 Republican primaries and continued with the slurs against Senators Max Cleland and John Kerry, and now Mr. Murtha.
_____

During the 2000 primary season, John McCain's life-defining experiences as a prisoner of war in Vietnam were diminished through whispers that he was too scarred by those years to handle the emotional burdens of the presidency. The wide admiration that Senator Max Cleland gained from building a career despite losing three limbs in Vietnam brought on the smug non sequitur from critics that he had been injured in an accident and not by enemy fire. John Kerry's voluntary combat duty was systematically diminished by the well-financed Swift Boat Veterans for Truth in a highly successful effort to insulate a president who avoided having to go to war.

There's much more.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Monday, January 16, 2006

39%

Percentage of American's who approve of the job Gdub is doing according to the latest poll by Zogby International.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

An American Cultural Milepost

I and a friend recently purchased new cars. My friend pointed out to me something I hadn't noticed.

Our new cars do not have ashtrays. Not one. No lighters either, although they both have "power ports" that would accommodate a cigarette lighter.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Deficit BS

Bloggers have accused the admin of this for several years but now it seems the WaPo has busted them.

.... some budget analysts cautioned that the estimate should be considered more of a political mark to inform the coming budget debate than an economic forecast.

This is the third straight year in which the White House has summoned reporters well ahead of the official budget release to project a higher-than-anticipated deficit. In the past two years, when final deficit figures have come in at record or near-record levels, White House officials have boasted that they had made progress, since the final numbers were below estimates.

"This administration has a history of overestimating the deficit early in the year, lowering expectations, then taking credit when it comes in below forecast," said Stanley E. Collender, a federal budget expert at Financial Dynamics Business Communications. "It's not just a history. It's almost an obsession."

Indeed, the dire new forecast came the same day that Treasury Department officials were touting a very different picture: The federal government posted the first budget surplus for December in three years, buoyed by a rush of corporate tax payments that more than offset record spending. On Jan. 6, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office reported that the deficit for the first three months of the fiscal year was about $119 billion, almost exactly where it stood for the first quarter of fiscal 2005.

50 Million Reasons to Say You're Sorry

Prominant Republican Pat Robertson may have proved there is a God.

Of course by now we all know that Pat declared that Sharon's massive stroke was his devine punishment for "deviding the land of Israel." Pat went on to point out that assinated Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin got the same treatment from God for signing the Oslo Accords in 1995.

As many took exception to these remarks Pat remained defiant, insisting that any critism of him or his remarks was the work of the vast left-wing conspiracy.

What you may not have know is that Pat was leading a group of evangelicals in a $50 Million dollar joint venture with the Isreali government to build a Christian heritage center on the Sea of Galilee.

Yesterday, it was reported
Israel on Wednesday said it would go ahead with plans to build an evangelical Christian heritage center in northern Israel -- but without Robertson, after the Christian Coalition founder said Israeli leader Ariel Sharon's stroke was divine retribution for "dividing God's land."

"From our perspective, such a statement made for a person that is lying in a hospital bed is outrageous," Deputy Tourism Minister Rami Levy told CNN.
Oh, what a difference a day can make. On Thursday, Pat had what some might call a "come to Jesus moment" and wrote Sharon's son,

"My zeal, my love of Israel and my concern for the future safety of your nation led me to make remarks which I can now view in retrospect as inappropriate and insensitive in light of a national grief experienced because of your father's illness," Robertson wrote.

In his letter, Robertson expressed "profound sympathy" .... Robertson also called the 77-year-old leader "a kind, gracious and gentle man" who was "carrying an almost insurmountable burden of making decisions for his nation."

...."I ask your forgiveness and the forgiveness of the people of Israel for saying what was clearly insensitive at the time."

And as for the Israelis?
Israel's Tourism Ministry on Thursday said the decision to continue the project without Robertson still stands, a spokeswoman said.
Who will Robertson blame for this misfortune? No doubt, the pagans, and the abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays and the lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle, the ACLU, People For the American Way, all of them who have tried to secularize America. I point the finger in their face and say 'you helped this happen'.

An emotional (public relations) response:

From Think Progress:
An email from Creative Response Concepts, a conservative public relations firm: “Former Alito clerk Gary Rubman witnessed Mrs. Alito leaving her husband’s confirmation in tears and is available for interviews, along with other former Alito clerks who know her personally and are very upset about this development.”

WaPo on K Street Project

A couple days ago I mentioned the K Street project and it's roll in TAM.

The WaPo now takes up the topic.
....The pivotal point in Washington's changing culture, according to lobbyists and congressional ethics analysts, came in 1995, shortly after Newt Gingrich and his "Republican Revolutionaries" roared to power in the 1994 midterm elections. Tom DeLay, the new majority whip, and his allies began the "K Street Project" -- the pressuring of trade associations and lobbying firms to hire Republican, and to contribute to Republican campaigns if they wanted access to key leaders and committee chairmen in the House.

"We're just following the old adage of punish your enemies and reward your friends. We don't like to deal with people who are trying to kill the revolution. We know who they are," DeLay told The Washington Post.

Monday, January 09, 2006

FISA Warrant vs No Warrant?

Over at the TPM Cafe, I asked the question, FISA Warrant vs No Warrant?

Go check it out.

Blunt Hearts Abramoff

Fired Up America has done an excellent job reporting on Blunt's Ties To And Favors For Jack Abramoff

Bremer TakeDown

Think Progress does a good take down of Paul Bremer as he releases his new book.

Question for anyone who will read the book. Let us know if he tells us were we might find the missing $9 billion dollars (yes,... billion with a "b").

DeLay Losses TX Appeal

Texas Court Won't Dismiss DeLay Charges,
AUSTIN, Texas -- The state's highest criminal court on Monday denied Rep. Tom DeLay's request that the money laundering charges against him be dismissed or sent back to a lower court for an immediate trial.

The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals denied the requests with no written order ....

DeLay's attorney, Dick DeGuerin, said they will continue to push for a quick trial because DeLay faces opposition in the March Republican primary.
Given that DeLay has already admitted guilt to investigators, it's not surprising that the TX court declined to 'fix' his little problem. It's hard to find a group of judges willing to jump on a sinking ship.

DeLay doesn't know it yet, but he won't be seeking reelection come November. The only question is if he will finish his term.

WP Poll on Alito

As Senate hearings begin today, from a very poorly written article in today's WaPo, we're told that their poll shows that 53% of Americans think Alito should be confirmed.

We're also told that "an even larger proportion believe Alito would not vote to overturn Roe v. Wade,..." Although that exact number is never revealed. Instead we're left to do the math from the following,
According to the poll, 38 percent predict Alito will vote on abortion issues in ways that do not significantly alter Roe. Another 26 percent said they expect Alito to favor greater restrictions on abortion but not to strike down the ruling. Slightly fewer than one in five--18 percent--say they believe he would vote to overturn the decision.
So is "the even larger proportion" referenced above the combining of the 38% and 26% for 64%? You won't find the answer in the article.

No matter, the bottom line is that the Ds have some work to do if they wish to derail this confirmation. The only poll numbers that matter are the numbers after the hearings. And Frankly, 53% support at the beginning of the hearings strikes me as very modest support.

So again, message, message, message.

As I've said before, elections have consequences and getting to nominate judges is one of them. It goes without saying that Bush would nominate judges that the Ds would not.

The Ds are the minority party and should be very mindful of the precedents they set. If the Ds tell the Rs that simply being a conservative is reason enough to reject a judicial nominee, than a Democratic President would never be able to nominate any judge without controlling the Senate.

The minority party can only exercise influence to the extent the public supports their position. The Ds can't just cry wolf on every major nominee to placate the base, else they loose any influence they have with the middle. Without the middle, the Ds have no power.

Alito isn't Roberts and has handed the Ds some very good ammo, including his misstatements to Senators, his apparent admission that he is willing to lie to get a job, etc. So the Ds have this week to hammer away at Alito and shape public opinion.

This week we find out what Judiciary Ds are made of. Turn the public on Alito and a filibuster could be a huge victory with implications way beyond just this nomination. Let this opportunity slip away, and they get what they deserve.

What do you think?

UPDATE: Robert Gordon makes The Basic Case Against Alito (Part 1)

Say What You Want, Specter's got Cojones!

From the Los Angeles Times,
WASHINGTON — The chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee said Sunday that he had asked Atty. Gen. Alberto R. Gonzales to testify publicly on the legality of President Bush's top-secret domestic spying program.
_____

Bush has pointed to the congressional resolution that authorized the use of military force against Iraq as giving him the power to order the program.

But GOP Sen. Sam Brownback of Kansas said, "There was no discussion in anything that I was around that gave the president a broad surveillance authority with that resolution."

.... Gonzales' testimony was being sought because he was the principal spokesman for the administration's position, Specter said. The attorney general was White House counsel when Bush initiated the program.

Signs that Hastert May Be Next

I mentioned below that I thought it naive to assume, as the Washington press seemed to do, that DeLay's lieutenants would somehow be unscathed by this scandal. I specifically mentioned evidence of Hastert having been bribed. (and please don't kid yourself, the Speaker worked for DeLay.)

Rep. John E. Sweeney (R-N.Y.) thinks the Rs need a new speaker. “The time is right for us to do some soul-searching and have an open dialogue about the direction of the House. (via Think Progress).

Sweeney is right.

It's A Betrayal of Public Trust, Stupid!

Mark Schmidt is right. This is not a lobbying scandal. The members of Congress caught up in the Abramoff scandal are not the victims here. We are!

This is a betrayal of the public trust! Go read Mark Schmidt.

DOJ's Public Integrity Section

As the Abramoff scandal really heats up and appears to be knocking at the door of some very powerful Rs, I keep waiting for a sudden stop as the AG put the breaks on his prosecutors. Remember, these are not special prosecutors but career lawyers working inside DoJ under Alberto Gonzales. Anyway, so far, there appears to be no boundaries as Public Integrity Section moves full steam ahead.

Paul Kiel, writing the Daily Muck at TPM Cafe has a good rundown.

TPMCafe || The Daily Muck

The K Street Project

You cannot understand the Abramoff scandal without understanding the K Street Project.

Source Watch has a good primer.

And, the K Street Project has its own web page.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

'A Useful Servant'


WILLIAM PHILPOTT / REUTERS

Time has a great cover story this week on Bush's relationship to DeLay. Turns out he's not really their kind of guy. I think ole' Gdub is a little more Connecticut than he wants us to believe.

Here's the money quote,
Even before DeLay's announcement that he would abdicate his leadership post, top Bush advisers tell TIME, the President's inner circle always treated DeLay as a necessary burden. He may have had an unmatched grip on the House and Washington lobbyists, but DeLay is not the kind of guy—in background and temperament—the President feels comfortable with. Of the former exterminator, a Republican close to the President's inner circle says, "They have always seen him as beneath them, more blue collar. He's seen as a useful servant, not someone you would want to vacation with."

Go Howard!

Atrios point to a video clip from Blitzer's show this morning in which Howard kicked Wolf's ass!

Howard Dean did exactly what every D should be doing on every media appearance. Wolf was was literally speachless. Go check it out.

Congress for Sale

From this morning's Los Angeles Times,
WASHINGTON — In a case that echoes the Jack Abramoff influence-peddling scandal, two Northern California Republican congressmen used their official positions to try to stop a federal investigation of a wealthy Texas businessman who provided them with political contributions.

Reps. John T. Doolittle and Richard W. Pombo joined forces with former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay of Texas to oppose an investigation by federal banking regulators into the affairs of Houston millionaire Charles Hurwitz, documents recently obtained by The Times show. The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. was seeking $300 million from Hurwitz for his role in the collapse of a Texas savings and loan that cost taxpayers $1.6 billion.

Brownback's On-board

From Think Progress,

This morning, Sen. Sam Brownback (R-KS) added his name to the growing list of conservatives who have expressed disapproval of Bush’s illegal warrantless wiretapping program, further undermining the right-wing spin that the only critics of the program are liberals. On ABC’s This Week:

STEPHANOPOULOS: Are you confident that the administration has acted lawfully in this case?

BROWNBACK: I think we need to hold hearings on it and we’re going to. Both in the intelligence committee, there will be closed hearings and then the judiciary committee will have open hearings.

I think we need to look at this case and this issue. I am troubled by what the basis for the grounds that the administration says that they did these on, the legal basis, and I think we need to look at that far more broadly and understand it a great deal.

I think this is something that bears looking into and us to be able to establish a policy within constitutional frameworks of what a president can or cannot do.

STEPHANOPOULOS: You don’t think the 9/11 resolution gave the president the authority for this program?

BROWNBACK: It didn’t, in my vote. I voted for that resolution. That was a week after 9/11. There was nothing you were going to do to stop us from going to war in Afghanistan, but there was no discussion in anything that I was around that that gave the president a broad surveillance authority with that resolution.

Workable Lobbyist Reform

Ellen Miller writing at the TPM Cafe offers aPrimer on Disclosure (And Lack Thereof).

While Ellen doesn't think disclosure is the "ultimate answer" she thinks we certainly need more of it. Regarding the publics ability to learn what trips their congressional representatives or senators have taken, what gifts they were given, meals they were treated to, or campaign donations they've raised, Ellen notes that the public often can't get this info because,
Many of these rules and regulations [requiring disclosure]were passed in different laws, and documents and reports go to different agencies. Some go to the Federal Election Commission in Washington, others go to the two records offices on Capitol Hill. And some of these documents are only available in paper form if you visit Washington, D.C.
Every time such scandals break we again begin the search for the panacea to solve all our problems. Well guess what? There isn't one.

I think diclosure is the ultimate answer. At least the ultimate answer that is actually workable.

Americans have a constitutional right to petition Congress and lobbying is an essential aspect of our government.

Disclosing every contact (meeting, call etc.) with a lobbyist is too onerous. What constitutes a "meeting"? A 3 minute conversation in a hallway or at a social function? Every member of Congress as well as their staffers speak to lobbyist dozens of times every day even while just walking through the hall of the Capital. Just imagine how much unsolicited mail they receive from lobbyists? Deminumus non-disclosures would be used by challengers to suggest an appearance of corruption.

But certainly every gift, gratuity, job, trip etc. to members, senior staff and their immediate families should be disclosed regularly and posted on the Web for all to see. The same for all campaign contributions. Any time a member, senior staff or their immediately family received anything of value at less than the price offered the public they would be required to make a complete disclosure.

Of course, inventive members, lobbyist etc. will figure ways around this. For instance, the jet was provided by the RNC,...but where did the RNC get the jet? But it is a step in the right direction and would be managable.

Certainly, other disclosures could be included in this. The bottom line is that the only really reasonable reform we can expect to have some success is based upon disclosures made on a regular basis to a central agency such as the FEC, and are easily accessed by the public.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

56%

AP Poll,
....of respondents in an AP-Ipsos poll said the government should be required to first get a court warrant to eavesdrop on the overseas calls and e-mails of U.S. citizens when those communications are believed to be tied to terrorism.

Agreeing with the White House, some 42 percent of those surveyed do not believe the court approval is necessary.
Winning the wiretapping debate should not be hard with just a little message discipline.

Gdub and crew are using a huge red herring to try and justify their refusal to seek warrants. The Ds cannot let them or the idiots in the media who parrot them to go unchallenged.

The FISA court was designed nearly 30 years ago just for the purposes to which the Bushies seem to claim they must bypass the court. The FISA court has approved more than 19,000 warrant requests only turning down five!

As Think Progress recently noted,
If we know that U.S. persons are communicating with al Qaeda or al Qaeda affiliates, the surveillance would be approved by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. (Remember, doing so would not slow the process down because you can obtain the approval up to 72-hours after the surveillance has begun.) Evidence obtained with a warrant from the FISA court, in most cases, can be used to charge and prosecute a suspect. In fact, Section 218 of the Patriot Act amended FISA to make it easier to introduce evidence obtained with a FISA warrant to prosecute people.
There is simply no reason to go with warrant-less wiretaps unless you know you are breaking the law.

With just a little message disapline and some good talking points to those speaking on TV about this issue, and Ds could bury the GOP.

'The Hammer'

Josh does an excellent job of explaining just how DeLay's Machine worked so well.

Here's the jist,
One of the great questions of the last decade is how congressional Republicans managed to maintain such unprecedented party discipline. The standard answer is that that's how Tom DeLay earned his nickname 'The Hammer', by squashing anyone who threatened to get out of line. Only that's not really quite how the House GOP Caucus functioned. Notwithstanding the reputation DeLay liked to cultivate, he worked a lot more with Carrots than Sticks. And that means money. Lots and lots and lots of money. A lot of it unaccountable money; a lot of it 'don't ask where it came from' money; but lots and lots of money, and as long as you were there with the caucus on the important votes, a lot of it would be yours.

You can't understand the K Street Project or the sort of slush fund Jack Abramoff was running without understanding that Tom DeLay had built a very effective patronage machine -- one that organized a great deal of the money in the city in the hands of the political leadership.

Strange Assumptions about the House Leadership?

On Friday the WaPo had a good rundown of the power struggle shaping up in the House, post DeLay.

After Abramoff, a GOP Scramble

I can't quibble with the work of the reporters but I do find it hard to accept, as I mentioned below, the wide assumption that even as DeLay goes down in massive flames all his lieutenants will just rise up and continue to run the show.

Why would ambitious House members not seize this opportunity to do in the whole lot of them? Why would any of them support Blunt in particular?

The article also tells us that it is again widely assumed that Hastert will come out of this unscathed even as they remind us of what appears to me to be a clear case of bribery,
Hastert appears secure in the speakership, despite his own ties to Abramoff-related fundraising and other activities. Abramoff's guilty pleas have renewed scrutiny of a letter the speaker sent to Interior Secretary Gale A. Norton in June 2003 urging her to block a casino opposed by Abramoff's Indian tribe clients. The letter was sent just days after Abramoff's tribal clients contributed more than $20,000 to Hastert's political action committee at a fundraiser at Signatures, the swank restaurant the lobbyist owned at the time.
I think this is yet another example of Washington insiders (not just the players but all those too cozy reporters who cover them) who just don't get it.

What do you think?

DeLay Abandons Leadership Position

With all the Abramoff indictments coming down the pike, Ronnie Earle is the least of DeLay's problems. His action today only confirms this.

From the WaPo,
Rep. Tom DeLay (R-Tex.), one of the most powerful and feared Republican leaders in Washington, abandoned his quest to regain his House majority leader post yesterday, bowing to pressure from fellow Republicans worried about the growing corruption and campaign finance scandals linked to his office.
Blunt wants the job, and maybe he gets it, but how can the Rs hold on to all of DeLay's lieutenants even as the dump him? Why would they?

Friday, January 06, 2006

'Dean Puts Boots On The Ground'

More than once, I've been critical of Howard who has seemed to me to be MIA. Apparently, that is not the case.

So hear is some good news from Hotline On Call: Dean Puts Boots On The Ground,
"Howard Dean has turned out to be the biggest surprise of the season. He's a good man. And he truly gets it."

Those are the words of Charles Soechting, the TX Dem chair who when Dean announced his bid for DNC chair had Soechting grtting his teeth. At the time, the Texan worried that Dean didn't get the problems parties grappled with and certainly didn't possess the regional sympathy to figure out how to win elections in the South.

But now, closing in on Dean's 1st anniversary as DNC chair, Soechting has seen enough to convince him that Dean "knows what it to makes Texas truly competitive."

Veterans of Dem politics who work on state and local campaigns are eager to praise Dean. In part, that's because Dean has devoted the bulk of the DNC's staff, energy and time to fulfilling his chairman's campaign promise: to revitalize the Dem Party at the precinct level.
There's more.

Duke Wore a Wire!

Atrios points to this:TIME.com: Disgraced Congressman 'Wore a Wire'

Just A Photo OP.


Doug Mills/The New York Times

Yesterday's WH meeting of 13 former Secretaries of State and Defense was nothing but a photo-op. It began with a 40 minute briefing celebrating our great victory in Iraq.

And what followed?

From the NYTs,
...if it was a bipartisan consultation, as advertised by the White House, it was a brief one. Mr. Bush allowed 5 to 10 minutes for interchange with the group - which included three veterans of the Vietnam era: Robert S. McNamara, Melvin R. Laird and James R. Schlesinger - before herding the whole group into the Oval Office for what he called a "family picture."

Those who wanted to impart more wisdom to the current occupants of the White House were sent back across the hall to meet again with Stephen J. Hadley, the national security adviser, and Gen. Peter Pace, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. But as several of the participants noted, by that time Mr. Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld had gone on to other meetings.
Nothing will ever change with this White House.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

The Politics of Fear

I've always maintained that Bush has used fear to maintain power. The last election was all about fear. Note that the DHS Alert has not been elevated once since the last election.

Anyway, Glenn Greenwald, writing at Hullabaloo has an excellent post on this topic.

Here is the money quote,
The argument which needs to be made is...that living in irrational fear of terrorists and sacrificing our liberties and all of our other national goals in their name is the approach of hysterics and cowards, not of a strong, courageous and resolute nation.
A great line in a great post. I intend to plagarize this line in the future.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

TAM vs. ABSCAM

I've posted some thoughts at the TPMCafe.

TAM?

Josh has posted a very insightful email he received from one of his readers.

The email is required reading as we move forward. Although many of you will think I'm nuts, Washington, as of this morning, is a different place.

So will the House leadership still attempt to hold off elections until February or will they be too busy to worry about such things as they set up their legal defense funds?

How much longer can the AG resist setting up a special prosecutor?

Abramoff Cops a Plea!

As pridicted, Abramoff has cut a deal.

WASHINGTON (AP) - Lobbyist Jack Abramoff will plead guilty to federal charges in Washington and Miami, clearing the way for him to cooperate in a massive government investigation of influence peddling involving members of Congress, lawyers said Tuesday.

As part of the deal, prosecutors were filing conspiracy, fraud and tax evasion charges against the embattled lobbyist, a Justice Department official said.

Abramoff was scheduled to appear at a hearing in U.S. District Court here later Tuesday, said department spokesman Bryan Sierra. Abramoff was expected to plead guilty to three charges as part of his agreement.

Abramoff was then to plead guilty to two criminal charges in Florida stemming from a 2000 purchase of a fleet of gambling boats, said Neal Sonnett, his attorney there.

Abramoff will plead guilty to two of the six charges in a federal indictment, Sonnett said.

U.S. District Judge Paul C. Huck has scheduled a telephone status conference for later Tuesday. Four other charges in Florida will remain pending.

Any such plea agreement likely would secure the Republican lobbyist's testimony against several members of Congress who received favors from him or his clients. The Justice Department is believed to be focusing on as many as 20 lawmakers and aides.

It's interesting that he cuts a deal but some charges will remain "pending". Normally, any deal includes all pending charges. For Abramoff to agree to such a deal tells me that they really have a lot on him. I assume the Feds want the charges to remain pending as a hammer for his cooperation.

The size of this scandal will be hard to comprehend. This will be one of the largest political scandals in our nation's history. And there will be Ds swept up as well. It seems to me that Congressman Kennedy has problems, if for no other reason than some sense of "balance".

Can you imagine how many Congressman are completely freaked out this morning? I couldn't be happier.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

DoJ Wouldn't Sign Off on Domestic Spying

On the front page of this mornings NYTs is this very interesting story: Justice Deputy Resisted Parts of Spy Program.

The short of it is that when then AG Ashcroft was hospitalized for gallbladder surgery, the WH tried to get his number 2, James Comey, to sign off on their scheme. Comey wisely refused, forcing now AG Gonzales and Andy Card to go to the hospital to get Ashcroft himself to sign-off. Although the NYTs could not confirm Ashcroft's reaction, it appears he refused as well.

UPDATE: Newsweek reports in their cover story on this topic, that Ashcroft refused to over-ride Comey.