Saturday, March 24, 2007

Dying to not have to return to Baghdad?

So the Democrats actually managed to stick together on this new "emergency" war spending bill with the withdrawal language included and get it passed. Pelosi & Co. needed 218 votes and amazingly they got 218 votes. Very impressive, particularly when you think of how fractious the Democrats are at the best of times. Naturally, there were some sweeteners thrown in, a little pork here and there, to induce the skittish to adhere to party discipline, but measured by GOP standards it is an almost pristine piece of legislation.

Of course, W. hit the roof and accused the Dems of "political theater." He then proceeded to put on his own political puppet theater holding a press conference with military family members providing a backdrop. Do they just have these people on call or did Rove do his own head count and expect disaster? In any case, the clock is running and the pentagon needs its war fix, so W. says, "Congress needs to send me a clean bill that I can sign without delay. I expect Congress to do its duty and fund out troops."

That's rich, coming from a guy who has sat around for 4 years and let Rummy get away with short changing the troops from biscuits to bullets. 'You're doing a heckuva job Rummy!' Under the Decider's tenure families of troops have had to pony up the bucks for body armor, GIs became dumpster divers looking for hunks of metal to strap to their unarmored vehicles and when they get injured they come home to lousy military hospitals.

He's got some nerve lecturing the Congress on what they need to do, as if they work for him. That's what he may be used to in the past, but there's a new sheriff in town and it's called the will of the American people. And, again, how many times did W. use the word "partisan?" Didn't his good buddy Tom DeLay write a whole book about the virtues of partisanship? When he had a compliant rubber stamp Congress, Karl Rove's partisan terror tactics were business as usual, now that its coming back to slap him on the ass, he's all of a sudden concerned about doing the "people's work."

This guy and his bunch of incompetents have had four years to get Iraq straight and they've fubar'd it up from A to Z. His solution is more of the same, doubling down with this new surge plan, which has as much chance of working as all the previous surges did. We hear a lot about dazzling successes and positive signs that this time it will really work, but in the last week the mayor of Sadr City was almost killed for collaborating with US troops, an Iraqi deputy prime minister was almost blown to smithereens and while Nuri al-Maliki was trying to show UN general sectretary Ban Ki Moon how safe Baghdad was, a Katusha rocket almost blew both of them to the moon. It's the same old story, what the White House says and what's actually happening on the ground.

Pretty much this is the choice facing us; cut the political support for the war now or expect many more years of more of the same. Do we want in ten years' time to have today's 8 year-olds echoing Staff Sgt. Brian Mancini, 28, 4th Brigade's 1st Battalion, 28th Infantry Regiment, in Baghdad who joked to a WaPo correspondent: "If I die in Iraq this time, I don't have to worry about coming back again?"

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Al Gore for president, again.

Boy, Al Gore looked very statesmanly, some might even say presidential, on Capital Hill yesterday, didn't he? He swooped right into those two hearings and vaquished all comers. Not that the competition was that stiff. I mean, making James Inhofe and Joe Barton look like the Neanderthals they are isn't really that difficult.

For me, the best moment was either, when Gore lectured Inhofe about reading science fiction novels instead of helping a child with a fever, or when Barbara Boxer picked up the gavel and told Inhofe to give Gore a chance to answer, telling him, "I get to do this now, not you. Elections have consquences."

Gore, though, is kind of reminding me of a song from that 60's TV show about another famous Tennesseean: "Daniel Boone was a man, yes a big man." He is big, isn't he? Too big to run for president? Maybe, but Eleanor Clift writes in the latest edition of Newsweek that:

"A leading indicator of his intentions could be Gore's waistline. The theory is that slimming down will be a signal he intends to run."

Hmmm . . . intriguing. This presidential season, so far, isn't too silly is it? Some dork puts Hillary's face in an Apple ad with her cast as Big Brother and everybody is having a fit. Who cares? It's actually kind of funny. Lighten up Hillary followers, it's only March of '07. Jeez!

My money is on Gore, though, he'd blow Hillary out of the water and make Obama look like the little kid in nickerbockers he really is. I fell really bad for John Edwards, though, I really like him. I don't thnk he has a chance in hell of getting the nomination in '08, however. Maybe down the road he'll have a shot, but he just has really bad luck. Being strattled with John Kerry as a running mate sure hasn't helped him any. (Man that had to hurt!)

I thought back then if Dean was going to be out of the picture then Edwards should have been the nominee, but the leading minds of the party said he was too young and didn't have the gravitas of a Kerry (gag!). Loose thinking like that is what made Karl Rove's job so easy. It's one thing to get Bush in after stealing the election, but to actually get him elected in his own right . . that takes some doing. And, guess what, the same bunch who made it all possible in 2004 are backing Hillary this time around. Can you say, 'wilkommen, aboard the Hindenburg?'

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Mistakes are still being made. W. will go to the mat for empty suit.

Wow, it's good to see the White House is really reading the tea-leaves here and dealing with this prosecutor firing crisis in a cooperative and non-confrontational way (as usual). According to the WaPo: "President Bush sought yesterday to defuse the controversy over the firings of U.S. attorneys."

Mission not accomplished!

NYT reports: "A House Judiciary subcommittee today authorized subpoenas for Karl Rove, President Bush’s political adviser, and other senior White House officials in the investigation into the firing of eight United States attorneys."

Yesterday, Fred Fielding, the president's new counsel, offered Congress a deal they couldn't refuse. Apparently, though, this new Congress isn't going to roll over and play dead. W.'s offer to allow Karl Rove and Harriet Miers to have a nice visit with a few selected members of the several congressional committees looking into this mess isn't flying. The fact that they wouldn't be under oath and there wouldn't be any transcript of what was said has left the Judiciary Committee cold. The real kicker is that on top of all that, Congress wouldn't be able to subpoena either of them afterwards. Such a deal!

That notorious pain in the ass Patrick Leahy, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said 'no dice.' [Imagine that, the nerve of that man!] What a difference an election makes; a few days ago when people started calling for Al Gonzales to be fired, Arlen Specter, the former chairman, said resignation was "A question for the president and the attorney general, but I don't think there have been a lot of problems. Before we come to any conclusions, I think we need to know more facts." See, that's the way it should be done.

Let's get some facts first, let's not be hasty. [He'd make a great Ent, wouldn't he?] Because that strategy worked so well during Specter's tenure: He sure got the facts on Abu Ghraib, torture memos, warrantless wire tapping, Gitmo, abuses of the Patriot Act etc. What's supposed to happen here is that the chairman gets all huffy for the cameras, thus giving the appearance of a co-equal branch of government exercising its oversight prerogative, and then Cheney swoops in and tells him to shut up. End of investigation.

This time, not so much. Leahy says the White House offer is "Not constructive, and it is not helpful to be telling the Senate how to do out investigation or to prejudge its outcome." But that's exactly what it's supposed to do! Doesn't he get it? I guess not, he's got his subpoena pen out and he's getting writer's cramp.

Here comes that scary "constitutional crisis," watch out. W. said yesterday that he'll take this to court if Congress doesn't back down. He says he's concerned about setting "precedents that would make it difficult for somebody to walk into the Oval Office and say, 'Mr. President, here's what's on my mind.'" As if anyone has ever had the courage to do that before. [Give me a break!]

The right wing "legal experts" on the talking head shows are having a tough time with this one, the White is so plainly f'd, so they're trying to frighten everyone about the impending showdown between the White House and Congress. We wouldn't want that -- heavens to Betsy no -- because the White House would lose.

The problem with an 'executive privilege' argument, is that Rove and Miers weren't talking to W. about firing these less than Bushie approved U.S. attorneys, they were talking to Gonzales' chief of staff and various other administration political hacks. There were no privileged discussions going on between them and W. about this. Or were there? If they want to say that W. was in on this, that's another matter, but do they want to go there?

Besides, hauling White House staff members up to Congress to testify under oath is nothing new. As a panel of legal minds on the NewsHour last night agreed, the Republican lynch mob during Clinton's presidency had pretty much every employee of Bubba's staff up to the Hill, including the kitchen sink. As former Clinton administration Soliciter General Walter Dellinger pointed out:

"A total of 47 times, Clinton senior White House officials testified in public, under oath, with a transcript, so it will be very hard for Congress to accept any less in these circumstances where we don't know what the facts are. . ."

And what about Condi, didn't she tell 60 Minutes a few years back that she couldn't testify at the 9/11 Commisson because she was defending an "important principle" about not allowing a national security adviser testify in Congress -- and then she went ahead and testified under pressure? That's not a precedent, though, because they say it isn't.

So, the bad PR defense is about the best they can do. 'Sure they did a bad job rolling this thing out, but there's no evidence of any criminality here.' Not yet, there isn't, that's why this investigation crap has got to stop.

Micheal Carvin, a former Reagan official and Bush lawyer during the 2000 election mess, on the NewsHour parreted the party line:

"I really think this is much ado about very little. I'm not saying that they haven't mishandled this from a public relations perspective. They clearly have. But the notion that firing eight U.S. attorneys with White House personnel involved is somehow shocking is like saying you're shocked to discover there's gambling in Casablanca."

Play it again, Sam. And they will, again and again.

By the way, has anyone counted how many times W. said "partisan" yesterday in his comments on the matter? He says he's not going to allow any "show trials" involving his top aids, no siree Bob! That's only for those bad guys at Gitmo. W. stormed, "We [the royal we?] will not go along with a partisan fishing expedition aimed at honorable public servants." That sounds kind of funny coming from a guy who said the high point of his presidency was catching a fish. [Newshounds] But, never mind about that, Republicans are not into fishing expeditions, unless they're the ones standing in the boat. This whole thing is all about partisan politics -- well, not the whole thing, just the Democrat thing. The firings themselves were totally justified and had absolutely nothing to do with politics. Those eight prosecutors weren't getting the job done.

AP reports: "Six of the eight U.S. attorneys fired by the Justice Department ranked in the top third among their peers for the number of prosecutions filed last year, according to an analysis of federal records," but that's not the point -- oh right, that is the point.

Al "waterboard" Gonzales told Congress under oath that it was, anyway. Performance, performance, performance. But, then again, how would he know? He said it was all Kyle Sampson's fault. "I was not involved in any discussions about what was going on. That's basically what I knew as attorney general." [TIME] So he wasn't in on any political hatchetry, he's just incompetent. I have full confidence in him, don't you? I know this is the guy I want hunting down terrorists poised to attack the U.S. again. You bet.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Smoking Guns?

The countdown to Alberto "waterboard" Gonzales' imminent political demise is winding down. I think it's pretty much down to which day this week. I'm thinking maybe Friday after 5:00 PM?
The WaPo reports today that "the White House has already launched a search for Gonzales's replacement ." The way these revelations about Prosecutorgate are coming out, they'd better hurry.

I'm thinking this thing might blow up into something much more than just a few prosecutors being shown the door to make way for one of Karl Rove's handpicked hacks. What's got me thinking about this whole thing is the conspiacy theory the rightwingers have been pushing that Clinton fired all 93 federal attorneys when he came into office in order to get rid of one who "had dirt on him." Fire all 93 to hide the one you really want.

In this latest case, what if these 8 were fired to get rid of one in particular, one who was delving into some very troubling territory for some of Randy "Duke" Cunningham's fellow, as of yet, unindicted co-conspirators? Carol Lam, the prosecutor in San Diego, was about to lower the boom on Brent R. Wilkes and Kyle "Dusty" Foggo, two old friends from the Iran/Contra days.

Yesterday the WaPo reported:

"The U.S. attorney in San Diego notified the Justice Department of search warrants in a Republican bribery scandal last May 10, one day before the attorney general's chief of staff warned the White House of a 'real problem' with her, a Democratic senator [Feinstein] said yesterday."

Kyle Sampson sent an email to William Kelley in the White House counsel's office saying "Please call me at your convenience to discuss the following. [t]he real problem we have right now with Carol Lam that leads me to conclude that we should have someone ready to be nominated on 11/18, the day her 4-year term expires."

The real problem apparently might have something to do with Foggo's dirty dealings going all the way back to procuring protititues for congressman Jerry Lewis back in the Iran/Contra days, for startes.

Check out this Mother Jones article.

Can you say "smoking gun?"
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