Republican Pundits Gone Wild, WSJ Version

Those Wall Street Journal Editors say the Darnedest things, don’™t they? This time they used the words ‘œhonest’ and ‘œRepublican’ in the same sentence as they discussed Senator Ted Stevens. I’™m thinking they are trying to be elitist or something. Perhaps they are building a rhetorical bridge to nowhere or something.

Commentary By: Steven Reynolds

This is the first sentence of an editorial in the Wall Street Journal concerning the indictment of GOP Senator Ted Stevens of Alaska. From the WSJ:

Yesterday’™s seven-count indictment of Alaska Senator Ted Stevens is another blow to the Republican Congressional reputation for honest government ‘” as well as the party’™s chances of avoiding big losses in November. Minority parties don’™t typically defeat a majority when more of their own Members are being indicted for corruption.

Whe big boys at the Wall Street Journal evidently haven’™t been paying attention these last seven years. The Republican Party, if they ever had a reputation for honesty, lost that reputation long, long ago. We can debate if they ever had such a reputation, and we can debate just when they lost it. Did they lost it when Rove ran the South Carolina campaign against McCain in 2000? Or when the K Street Strategy Abramoffed in their faces? Did they lose it when the Senate Majority leader diagnosed Terri Schiavo via video? Did they lose it under the leadership of Gingrich, DeLay, Bush, or Frist?

Oh, there’™s a lot to debate, but one cannot claim one little bit that the Republican Party at present has a reputation for honest government. Corrupt government, yes. Incompetent government, yes. But the word ‘œhonest’ simply can’™t be used in the same sentence as ‘œRepublican.’

Thursday, July 31st, 2008 by Richard Blair |

Activist Judge Alert: Rules Bush Advisors NOT Immune from Congress Subpoenas

Judge John G. Bates of the US District Court ofor the District of Columbia has ruled against Harriet Miers and Josh Bolton, saying they have no immunity when it comes to testifying before Congress about the firings of US Attorneys. I suppose the Bush appointed judge, a US Attorney himself once upon a time, respects US Attorney independence.

Commentary By: Steven Reynolds

Well, look to the right wingers to hammer Judge John G. Bates of the US District Court for District of Columbia. He’™s made a ruling against the claims by Bush advisors that they hold immunity from Congressional subpoenas. Of course, the Bushies will appeal. They’™re likely going to hope that the US Supremes will find in their favor, as so many of them were appointed by Bush, or are sympathetic to him. From the New York Times:

The House Judiciary Committee wants to question the president’™s chief of staff, Josh Bolten, and former legal counsel Harriet Miers, about the firing of nine U.S. attorneys. But President Bush says they are immune from such subpoenas. They say Congress can’™t force them to testify or turn over documents.

U.S. District Judge John Bates disagreed. He said there’™s no legal basis for that argument. He said that Miers must appear before Congress and, if she wants to refuse to testify, she must do so in person.

‘œHarriet Miers is not immune from compelled congressional process; she is legally required to testify pursuant to a duly issued congressional subpoena,’ Bates wrote.

He said that both Bolten and Miers must give Congress all non-privileged documents related to the firings.

But wait, wait! According to his biography, Judge John G. Bates was appointed in December of 2001. That would mean he was appointed by Dubya himself! So is he an activist judge or not? I’™m thinking the guy is merely following the law. Perhaps this is Bush incompetence at its finest, where they can’™t even appoint judges who will consistently rule in their favor, thus cover for their crimes.

Thursday, July 31st, 2008 by Richard Blair |

Bush Remarks on Iraq Today – Will the MSM Notice?

This morning, George Bush made some glowing remarks about security progress in Iraq, and indicated that he might begin pulling down troop levels prior to the end of this year. We’™ve heard this same refrain many times since the occupation began in 2003.

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This morning, George Bush made a few happy faced remarks about the situation in Iraq. The cornerstone of his remarks is that he’™s hoping to be able to reduce troop levels later this year, and is shortening the standard tour length from 15 to 12 months.

Lost in his remarks is that plans are in the works for increasing troop levels in Afghanistan, and that reverting tour lengths back to 12 months is no more than a return to pre-escalation length of tours. It’™s also a given that troop levels in Iraq will remain above pre-escalation levels, at least through the end of this year.

More than five years into the occupation of Iraq, which was initially forecast to last three to six months in 2003, by sometime next year U.S. military forces will be back to the insufficient levels that were there at the beginning of the invasion.

That’™s progress??

Thursday, July 31st, 2008 by Richard Blair |
Category: Iraq

Israel’s Olmert to Resign

Israeli PM Ehud Olmert announced today that he won’™t be seeking re-election, and will resign as PM when a successor is chosen. Olmert is embroiled in several scandals, but there are those who believe that he’™s been the ‘œresistance point’ in the Bush administration’™s efforts to goad Israel to attack Iran.

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Israeli media is reporting that embattled Prime Minister Ehud Olmert will not be seeking re-election in September, and will step down as Prime Minister:

Olmert is currently under two separate criminal investigations. One involves suspicions that he took bribes from American businessman Morris Talansky and the other, dubbed ‘Olmertours’™ by the media, charges him with submitting duplicate claims for travel expenses during his former office as trade minister and mayor of Jerusalem.

Olmert has denied wrongdoing with respect to the police probes, but has said he would resign if indicted.

The fact that Olmert is stepping down is a very big deal. Indictments may indeed be coming, but most importantly, it’™s become increasingly clear that Olmert can no longer lead an effective governing coalition. Perhaps he’™s just accepting the inevitability of a ‘œno confidence’ vote, were he to remain in power. Olmert’™s favorability rating is at least 10 points lower than George Bush’™s.

Obviously, the million dollar question becomes: who will take his place?

Uber-hawk Benjamin Netanyahu? That seems to be the direction that Bush administration necons would prefer to push. Would that be the last piece of the puzzle that needs to be in place for BushCo to prod Israel to attack Iran before the U.S. elections?

I’™m sure that Dick Cheney is already burning up the phone lines.

Wednesday, July 30th, 2008 by Richard Blair |
Category: Iran,Permalink

House Judiciary Panel Cites Karl Rove for Contempt of Congress

The House Judiciary Committee voted this morning to hold Karl Rove in contempt of congress. Big deal. The entire Bush administration has held congress in contempt for the past seven years. And there is no intent on the part of the House to actually, you know, enforce the citation. So what’™s the point?

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Wonderful.

So what? [/cheney]

The Bush administration has held congress in extreme contempt for the past seven-plus years. For five of those years, it didn’™t much matter. The past two years haven’™t made much of a difference either.

So, Conyer’™s committee cites Karl Rove for contempt of congress because he wouldn’™t comply with a subpoena, claiming ‘œexecutive privilege’. And now, the full House must vote on the citation, at least if that isn’™t off of Speaker Pelosi’™s table, too.

Riddle me this: what difference does it make? Are they gonna send the sheriff to Fox News headquarters in New York to pick up Rove prior to his next appearance on the set? Not a chance. Send a strongly worded letter to his lawyer? Probably. The bottom line is that nothing is going to happen, and in fact, the GOP members of the committee got it mostly correct:

It’™s all political theater. Quit wasting time and taxpayer dollars with stupid stuff** like this that the Democratic Party congressional leadership has absolutely no compunction (or apparently, ability) to back up with action.

** I’™m being snarky, of course. Contempt of congress is not ‘œstupid stuff’; it’™s really a pretty serious charge. But it’™s thoroughly meaningless when there’™s no intent for (or expectation of) enforcement action.

Wednesday, July 30th, 2008 by Richard Blair |

Sam “FISA” Brownback is OUTRAGED that China Will Spy on Guests

International hotel chains are making a fuss about having to install internet surveillance software at their Chinese properties, at the request of China’™s government. Senator Sam Brownback is incensed that another government would potentially spy on their own people, as well as foreigners. Funny, that, since Brownback is one of the more vocal supporters of FISA in the U.S.

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This is snort-out-loud laughable.

Sen. Sam Brownback is hopping mad that the Chinese government is requiring all international hotels in China to install internet monitoring software prior to the Olympics. Apparently, a few of the hotel chains have made a fuss.

Listen, it’™s not like the Chinese government (unlike the American government) hasn’™t been right up front about controlling use of the internet / world wide web within the borders of their country. In fact, back in 2005, China forced Yahoo! to give up email records on dissidents, and Google was forced to redesign their search engine software to make it easier for the Chinese government to spy and conduct oversight:

‘¦However, some [U.S.] lawmakers at the hearing thought this argument dubious at best. Choices to operate in China have also led to Yahoo’™s cooperation with Chinese authorities to arrest a dissident and Google’™ redesign of its search engine to reflect Chinese censorship.

‘œU.S. technology companies today are engaged in a sickening cooperation decapitating the movements of Chinese dissidents,’ human rights subcommittee chair Rep. Chris Smith, R-N.J., said at the hearing. Smith will soon introduce the Global Online Freedom Act of 2006 that aims to ‘œprotect United States businesses from coercion to participate in repression by authoritarian foreign governments.’ ‘¦

So, Sam Brownback is now carrying the anti-spy water for the hotel chains operating in China. As I said at the outset of this post, that’™s quite laughable, coming from one of the strongest proponents of FISA, warrentless wiretapping, and internet surveillance. Glenn Greenwald has the details, but this stands out:

‘œThese hotels are justifiably outraged by this order, which puts them in the awkward position of having to craft pop-up messages explaining to their customers that their Web history, communications, searches and key strokes are being spied on by the Chinese government,’ Brownback said at a news conference’¦

At least you get a pop-up message in China. In the U.S., DHS just pops up at your door.

Wednesday, July 30th, 2008 by Richard Blair |

I’ll Take Culture of Corruption for $1000, Alex

Ted Stevens has a PAC that gives to the campaigns of Republicans. Al Franken is the first to call for Republicans, Norm Coleman in particular, to give the money back to the indicted Ted Stevens. No word from Coleman, or any of the others on whether they will keep the tainted funds.

Commentary By: Steven Reynolds

Norm Coleman, Elizabeth Dole, John McCain and Gordon Smith. Will they return campaign money given to them by Ted Stevens’™ PAC?

So, what’™s the question to which these four, and others, are the answer? How about this: Who are embattled Republicans who are recipients of Ted Stevens’™ PAc largess in 2008? If you got that one, you win this round of Jeopardy in the category of ‘œCulture of Corruption.’ Politico has the story of many who received contributions from Stevens, and that Al Franken has taken the lead in asking that the money be returned. No word in that case whether Norm Coleman keeps the tainted Stevens donation or gives it back. Also no word from John McCain, Elizabeth Dole, Gordon Smith, and other Republicans who accepted Ted Stevens’™ money.

The FEC page listing the expenditures for Stevens’™ Northern Lights PAC lists several Senators and Congressmen who have recived contributions from Stevens. It also lists expenditures for some odd fundraising expenses, such as $256 to a place called ‘œPoker Bargains,’ and $206 to a place called ‘œIsland Smoke Shop.

Wednesday, July 30th, 2008 by Richard Blair |

How to Fix the Bush Deficit: Charge Admission to Republican Perp Walks

How could we solve the GOP/Bush budget deficit crisis, which has reached historic proportions? Let’™s charge money to people who want to watch the GOP Preps walk in their orange jumpsuits towards to bench. Yeah, that’™s the ticket!

Commentary By: Steven Reynolds

Today’™s GOP Perp is Ted Stevens. And it comes on the day we hear that the Bush Administration deficits, over 482 billion dollars, plus charges for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, are the highest in the history of our country. But there is a solution. Let’™s rent out a big stadium and charge people to show up to watch folks like Ted Stevens do the perp walk.

How much would they get charging people to see Monica Goodling sashaying down to the bench wearing a chic prison orange jumpsuit? And if they’™d done this starting in the year 2001, when Bush came into office, we could have seen Abramoff in his fedora, Rush Limbaugh smoking a cigar, Ann Coulter smelling up the joint, Bill O’™Reilly and his sexual harassment thing, and so, so many more. Can you imagine watching the perp walk of Larry Craig? He’™d be wide stancing it all down the aisle, wouldn’™t he? How about David Vitter? You could make him walk in an orange diaper or something.

I’™m disgusted. The only way the Bushies could balance the budget is to hold some sort of Roman Gladiator thing where the GOP criminals faced it off in their orange jumpsuits and fought until the loudest whine carried the day. Heck, that would be about thirty seconds.

[/end rant]

Tuesday, July 29th, 2008 by Richard Blair |

The GOP Senatorial Circus! Step Right Up!

US Senators on the GOP side are abandoning the McCain ship. Nine of them aren’™t coming to the GOP convention, and Ted Stevens has been indicted. Even Libby Dole is finding whiney excuses why she can’™t attend her party’™s convention, even though she’™s been a huge speaker there in the past. Meanwhile, Bush keeps running up the deficits.

Commentary By: Steven Reynolds

In the Center Ring, the Senior Senator from Alaska, Ted Stevens, who has been indicted! He’™s the longest serving Republican Senator ever, but he’™s going from a Bridge to Nowhere to a Bridge to the Big House! Step right up! Here’™s the story from ABCNews! The indictment comes in just a few minutes, from a Federal Grand Jury in Washington, DC!

Meanwhile, GOP Senators who are also campaigning for their jobs this year, are running scared. The story is from MyDD, but I’™ll link a few other sources as well. Here’™s a list of GOP Senators who have decided not to show up for the GOP Convention this year. From CongressDaily:

Nine of 12 targeted Republicans running in the most competitive Senate races this fall are either skipping the Republican convention in St. Paul, Minn., or have not decided whether to attend.

Among those who will not attend are Sen. Ted Stevens of Alaska, who is not close to presumptive presidential nominee Sen. John McCain of Arizona, and Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, who is a McCain loyalist. Stevens and Collins will use the convention week to focus on their campaigns.

Also sending regrets is former Rep. Bob Schaffer of Colorado, running for the seat being vacated by retiring GOP Sen. Wayne Allard.

Six others ‘” Sens. Roger Wicker of Mississippi, John Sununu of New Hampshire, Elizabeth Dole of North Carolina and Gordon Smith of Oregon and challengers John Kennedy of Louisiana and Rep. Steve Pearce of New Mexico are still on the fence. Their spokesman offered responses ranging from ‘œthere are no plans yet’ to ‘œno decisions have been made.’

Let’™s add Libby dole to that list. As reported by McClatchy, Mrs. Dole will not be attending the GOP convention this Fall. No, she will not be there to cheer on John McCain:

Her spokeswoman, Katie Hallaway, said people shouldn’™t read too much into the decision ‘” either about the senator’™s support for John McCain, her party’™s likely nominee, or about how she views the security of her re-election in November against Democratic state senator Kay Hagan.

‘œShe’™s got a busy week scheduled in North Carolina,’ Hallaway said. ‘œWhen there are breaks in the Senate schedule, she spends as much time as possible in North Carolina.’

Dole will be visiting with businesses, organizations and other constituent groups, but Hallaway said the schedule is not yet finalized.

Her absence from the Republican convention in St. Paul, Minn., is a notable one. Dole is a bona-fide GOP rock star, the type of speaker who could rally the faithful at the daily state delegation breakfasts.

In addition, she’™s a former presidential candidate herself, running briefly in 2000, and the wife of popular former U.S. Sen. Bob Dole of Kansas, who was the party’™s standard bearer in 1996. The co-chair of the GOP platform committee is her fellow North Carolina senator, Richard Burr.

Elizabeth Dole had a prime-time television speaking role at the last GOP convention in New York City, where she praised President Bush and talked in support of traditional marriage, freedom of religion and the sanctity of life.

I’™m not sure I’™d call Mrs. Dole a ‘œrock star,’ but it is important to note she’™s got as many connections to Presidential politics as anyone in the Republican fold, and for her not to show up for the GOP convention to anoint the next Republican candidate is a very important bit of news. I love that they note she’™s not worried about her reelection, but she’™s skipping the most important party event in order to campaign. Does the dole campaign think everyone is an idiot? Oh, she’™s worried alright, though I’™d still say that Kay Hagan, her opponent and a very attractive candidate, is a dark horse. (You can donate to Hagan here.) I’™m thinking Dole is worried about being seen with McSame. Libby dole doesn’™t want to be associated with the potential landslide that McCain might lose by.

As Todd Beeton of MyDD notes, precious few GOP Senators up for election will be joining John McCain in Minneapolis. Mitch McConnell and Norm Coleman. They’™ve got some interesting challengers, and maybe they should think twice as well.

Meanwhile, John McCain is flip flopping on the 100 years war in Iraq, following Barack Obama’™s lead on a 16 month timeline. Look for him to flip flop again when he finds out it was Obama’™s idea. Perhaps his people will tell him this week, and after he calls them names only suited for screaming at his wife, he’™ll change his story. Of course, McCain, not a big expert on economics, has to carry the record deficits of the Bush Administration ‘” $482 BILLION, and that’™s without the costs for Iraq and Afghanistan thrown in. Yes, the Bush Administration is setting records for fiscal irresponsibility, and John McCain is going to get saddled with that sorry record, as he should.

McCain has indicted Senators in his party, Senators who won’™t attend his convention in order to wish him well, and a President who has saddled him with the worst deficits in US history. I don’™t feel sorry for him, though.

Tuesday, July 29th, 2008 by Richard Blair |

Gitmo Prosecutor: Flight 93 Was Shot Down on 9/11?

Even after 7 years, questions persist about what actually happened to Flight 93 over Pennsylvania on 9/11/01. Yesterday, a Gitmo tribunal prosecutor added fuel to the conspiracy fires…

Commentary By: Richard Blair

Wow.

I haven’t been paying much attention to the first Gitmo-based military tribunal of Salim Hamdan, but this caught my eye yesterday evening (via Atrios):

But prosecutor Timothy Stone, in an attempt to draw a link between Hamdan and the al Qaeda leadership in the first Guantanamo war crimes trial, told the six-member jury of U.S. military officers who will decide Hamdan’s guilt or innocence that Hamdan had inside knowledge of the 2001 attacks on the United States because he overheard a conversation between bin Laden and his deputy, Ayman al-Zawahiri.

If they hadn’t shot down the fourth plane it would’ve hit the dome,” Stone, a Navy officer, said in his opening remarks…

Either a poor choice of words, or a slip of the truth. Which is it?

Thursday, July 24th, 2008 by Richard Blair |
Category: Terrorism,Weird
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