Tuesday, July 31, 2007



Lisa comes from a proud tradition of Republicrooks. That's her daddy in the middle, between criminal senator Ted Stevens and Rumsfeld

Tomorrow's NY Times brings up the sticky question of the lack of ethics of the third member of Alaska's corrupt congressional delegation, Lisa Murkowski. While Young and two Stevenses are probably headed for prison, Murkowski, at least so far, just looks like someone without any ethics. A criminal investigation into her doesn't seem to have started, at least not yet.

She comes from a family background where ethics was a word used with complete contempt and disdain. Her father, Frank Murkowski, may well have been the most corrupt-- and disliked-- governor in the history of Alaska. He appointed her senator to replace him when he swapped out of the Senate and into the Governorship.
But she has been forced to defend herself publicly against conflict-of-interest accusations and announced last week that she would sell back 1.27 acres of riverfront land that she had bought for $179,500 from a local real estate developer who is tied to the investigation of Mr. Stevens.

Ms. Murkowski’s announcement came a day after a self-described ethics watchdog group in Washington filed a complaint over the land deal with the Senate Ethics Committee. The complaint accused Ms. Murkowski of paying an Anchorage developer, Bob Penney, only a small fraction of the true value of the land and said the deal amounted to an improper and potentially illegal gift.

Local real estate agents in Alaska said the property, on the banks of the Kenai River, had a value of up to $350,000.

This is a common Republican Party trick used to illegally funnel bribes to lawmakers in return for earmarks, government contracts and special favors. If investigators tie Murkowski's "good deal" to anything illegal, she'll be facing prison just like the other two. She's already denying everything, of course, which they must teach you the first week you become a GOP member of Congress. One of her flacks told the Times that her "decision to sell the land was made before the complaint by the watchdog group, the National Legal and Policy Center, and had nothing to do with it." What a coincidence!

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A day barely goes by without Nancy Pelosi taking the impeachment of another Republican arch-criminal off the table. I'm surprised the Justice Department was able to raid Ted Stevens' home without her claiming it would be disruptive to her plans-- which will be obstructed to death in the Senate like every single thing she does anyway-- for health care for impoverished children in Darfur.

But her exceedingly "moderate" stance on impeachment for the worst constitutional criminals in the history of America-- or at least since they ideological antecedents started the Civil War-- hasn't quieted Cheney down. Today he was on an Infotainment show-- Lindsay Lohan, Paris Hilton and Anna Nicole Smith's breasts being otherwise occupied-- raving about how the hardworking Bush Regime is being persecuted by evil Democratic witch hunters.
With respect to the U.S. Attorneys, there has been, I think, a bit of a witch hunt on Capitol Hill as they keep rolling over rocks hoping they can find something. But there really hasn’t been anything that has come up to suggest that there was any wrongdoing of any kind... Al’s [Abu Gonzo] a good man, a good friend, on a difficult assignment."

Tony Snow is also on a difficult assignment, daily doing a snow job on the American public. Yesterday he created a charming alliteration to mock the congressional investigations of the monumental wrongdoing by the Bush Regime in virtually every endeavor they have undertaken since first stealing the election in 2000. Like Cheney, Snow says the investigations haven't yielded a damn thing. He and Cheney neglect to mention that the Bush Regime has done all in their power-- some of it illegal-- to prevent witnesses from testifying. That's exactly why-- this obstructionist mentality-- that the government is failing to function the way the Constitution mandates.

Oh, and speaking of future indictee Cheney's criminal behavior, he, like the long line of crooks and disgraceful charlatans who have preceded him-- doesn't remember, or as Jane puts it... he's having a ginko moment.

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Taxpayers for Common Sense sent Miss McConnell (R-KY) a letter urging him to ask Stevens to step away from his Senate committee assignments until the FBI/IRS investigation of his criminal conduct is finished. There's no chance McConnell will ask and no chance Stevens would do any such thing. He's on the Appropriations Committee, the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, the Rules and Administration and Joint Library Committee.

In the interests of bipartisanship DWT has sent Miss McConnell a compromise proposal. Stevens should only be forced to step down from the committees he directly used to enhance his bribery scams. The $30 or so million he was able to funnel to VECO, for example, didn't have anything whatsoever to do with the Joint Library Committee. He should step down from the Appropriations Committee and Commerce Committee, allowed to stay on the Library Committee. A panel should be set up to investigate whether or not Stevens used the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee to defraud the taxpayers or not and report back in no more than 90 days at which time it can be decided if he should step down from that committee too. I haven't heard back from Miss McConnell but I ran it by Matt Stoller and he said "it sounds fair."

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As I mentioned a few times, I really like H.R. 333, the bill to begin impeachment proceedings against Cheney. It needs 17 co-sponsors to get off the ground. It has 14. I started calling progressive congressmen. They-- or their staffers-- all read from the same sheet of talking points about why it's a bad idea to impeach Cheney (and Bush). Ari Berman in The Nation got right to the heart of the matter: Nancy Pelosi, the force behind the talking points which, I suspect, came from Rahm Emanuel. Ari points out that if Nancy weren't Speaker she would probably favor impeachment. As Speaker she says she has other priorities: "ending the war in Iraq, expanding health care, creating jobs and preserving the environment. 'I know what our success can be on those issues. I don't know what our success can be on impeaching the president,'" she told Ari. She also told him that the votes aren't there to pass an impeachment resolution.

What about Inslee's bill to impeach Abu Gonzo? She's for children's health care and an energy bill.
She is greatly disturbed by the lawlessness of this Administration and its contempt for checks and balances. "I take an oath to defend and protect the Constitution, so it is a top priority for me and my colleagues to uphold that." She notes the vigorous oversight hearings held by committee chairman like John Conyers and Henry Waxman.

But Pelosi sees impeaching Gonzales and his superiors as a distraction from the ambitious agenda she has crafted for the House. "If I can just hold my caucus together," she says, "I can take them to this progressive place."


Turns out Speaker Pelosi isn't commenting on impeaching Gonzales in a general sense-- but she's just asking that it not be done this week when she has so much on her plate agenda-wise. I can wait an extra week if it's ok with Inslee.

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It wasn't that long ago that Bush was flying high and the extremists who dominated his party were demanding that the chairmanship of the Senate Judiciary Committee not be given to the unpredictable and volatile Arlen Specter (R-PA). Specter was humiliated by the right and forced to agree to a series of horrific demands regarding what he could and could not do if they allowed him to take the chairmanship. He was allowed to huff and puff, but other than that, he had to clear everything with Rove. Now the Democrats control the committee, Patrick Leahy is chairman and Arlen is the ranking minority member. He's getting his revenge on the extremists-- or is he?

According to the Hill he "emerged from a crucial Monday briefing and gave the Bush administration 18 hours to resolve the controversy over apparent contradictions in Attorney General Alberto Gonzales’s congressional testimony." I think Leahy didn't put a date on a similar demand he made Sunday on Face the Nation. We now have 4 influential senators requesting a special prosecutor, half a dozen congressmen introducing an impeachment motion in the House, and the two highest ranking members of the Judiciary Committee demanding an explanation to something that can't be explained without a resignation.

Specter is hinting that Tuesday afternoon will see a bombshell.
“Given the difficulty of discussing classified matters in public, I think it is preferable to have a letter addressing that question [of Gonzales’ veracity] from the administration … by noon tomorrow, which will be made available to the news media,” Specter wrote in the statement. “The administration has committed to producing such a letter.”

Specter expects the letter clarifying the attorney general’s testimony to be addressed to himself and Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), who declined to comment on the matter.

Specter has a long and untrustworthy history. He is always on the verge of standing up for what is right... but never does... never. We'll have to see what happens today, but my bet is that Specter and the White House have cooked up some bullshit exculpatory memo that will give him and other Republicans-- and reactionary Democrats-- the wiggle room they need to let Gonzales off the hook. I hope I'm wrong. Update any minute.


The whitewash Specter cooked up with the Bush Regime is late but Tony Snow just announced it will be coming soon. They're still making up crafting the final touches.


This is a bombshell? That it's all classified?

The Regime sent out a legalistic Philadelphia lawyer type of rationale for how Gonzales may have mislead but technically didn't exactly commit perjury. It's pure hogwash. Arlen, you still snarlin'?


Wolf Blintzer had Arlen Specter on today to ask him about the bombshell that never exploded. Actually it didn't even go Pop! Specter seems to think Gonzales' late explanation will be forthcoming any minute, although... "If he doesn’t have a plausible explanation then he hasn’t leveled with the Committee," he told Blinzter.

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Mary Landrieu up in Connecticut campaigning against the Democratic Party nominee

There is only one vulnerable Democratic senator up for re-election in 2008 who is considered vulnerable, Louisiana's Mary Landrieu. Landrieu's difficulties are three fold: her rubber stamp, Republican-like support for much of Bush's toxic agenda, her inability to fight effectively for Louisiana in the wake of Hurricane Katrina (partially because of being stabbed in the back by her old ally Joe Lieberman, Chairman of the Homeland Security Committee) and the loss of much of Louisiana's most loyal Democratic constituency, African-Americans who were displaced by the tragedy and abandoned.

Landrieu has the third most reactionary voting record of any Democrat in the Senate, worse than even Lieberman's. The only two Democrats who vote more frequently with the Republicans are Max Baucus and Ben Nelson. As a result, she more and more frequently finds herself in bed with Republican backers.

Yesterday's Times-Picayune says her donor list is getting redder (just as her voting record is).
When she first ran for the U.S. Senate in 1996, Mary Landrieu enjoyed the financial backing of abortion rights groups, environmentalists and national liberal-leaning organizations eager to keep a Democratic foothold in what was quickly becoming the Republican South.

As she gears up to run for a third term next year, Landrieu has been financially abandoned by some of those early supporters as she has moved steadily and purposefully to the ideological center [they actually mean the extreme ideological right of the Democratic Party but they are victims of Roger Ailes and Rupert Murdoch] as a means of political survival. She has found, however, that especially in a closely divided Senate, it can be quite profitable occupying the middle of the road.

She collects from all sides-- labor, corporations, trial lawyers and business executives, mostly because the unions and trial lawyers are too political lame to understand she's their enemy. Since the Democratic takeover of the Congress right-wing donors find reactionary Democrats like Landrieu the perfect investment. She has no scruples whatsoever and no loyalty to any Democratic or progressive values, so her ass is always for sale to the highest bidder. Her voting record reflects it.
The profile of Landrieu's donor list has shifted dramatically since her first campaign in 1996. Back then, EMILY's List, the San Francisco-based Democratic fundraising powerhouse that backs abortion-rights female Democrats, was her single biggest donor.

The group's political action committee gave Landrieu $10,000 and, through its national network of donors, steered $102,000 to her narrowly victorious campaign, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

Since then, EMILY's List hasn't given Landrieu a dime. In 2002, EMILY's List cut off Landrieu because of her vote to limit a controversial late-term abortion procedure.

Landrieu has likewise seen a slippage of financial support from other liberal-leaning donors such as the National Abortion Rights Action League, the National Organization for Women and the Sierra Club as she has moved rightward and established herself as a business-friendly, moderate senator who is consistently ranked among the most conservative Democrats in the chamber.

The Sierra Group and other environmentalists have been dismayed by her utterly Republican voting record on their issues and they have abandoned her. Her response? "Losing the support of liberals helps Landrieu politically as she woos conservative voters in Louisiana. Her pro-business stands have also paid financial dividends."

Unions are too slow to be effective political players and they still finance her despite her record of consistently voting against their interests. They are still huge donors to her campaign but she gets far more from corporate power players-- and she is far more responsive to their demands. Big Energy, Big Pharma, Big Finance, lobbyists representing communications, anti-health care, oil companies, are who keep her campaign humming and who she pays attention to when it's time to vote.

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Of course you're not supposed to kick a guy when he's down, but surely Ted Stevens--megalomaniac and bully as well as supercrook--has it coming


Aren't you tired of seeing Sen. Ted Stevens' crooked old puss? Just
for a change, wouldn't you rather see, say, his crooked son Ben?

With the entirety of Alaska's First and Second Families, the Stevenses and the Murkowskis, apparently prison-bound, and at least one Young with them, somebody might want to fine-tooth-comb all of this year's congressional appropriations bills--you know, the ones Chimpy the Prez is threatening to veto now that he's discovered fiscal responsibility--to see if there isn't a billion-buck earmark buried somewhere for rush construction of a luxury compound called something like the Ted Stevens and Frank Murkowski Memorial Slammer and Golf Club (Featuring the Don Young Crooked Wing), a facility open only to inmates with Deep Pull.

My wish: When Senator Ted has his "Duke Cunningham moment" for the cameras, announcing his plea bargain (shedding Duke Cunningham tears, one can only hope), the networks will juxtapose it with footage of him in one of his imperial "I Am the Chairman" Senate committiee moments, like the famous hearing where his energy-industry-honcho cronies were allowed to testify not under oath, despite the urgent pleas of some other committee members, and Senator Ted thoughtfully explained, before having them led off to their executions, that there was a simple, logical reason why. You guessed it: "I'M THE CHAIRMAN."

As memory serves, this was not long before the Chairman, in his role as the Senate's ranking expert on technology, deigned to explain to us how those Internet tubes work.

You just have yourself one fine day, Mr. Chairman! And don't forget to offer those feds rummaging around your house some milk and cookies.

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Monday, July 30, 2007



The FBI doesn't go running around raiding the homes of prominent politicians, especially not powerful members of Congress who vote on departmental budgets. The Bush Regime has punished law enforcement officials-- U.S. Attorneys or, I should say, former U.S. Attorneys, who have strayed a little too close to major Republican lawbreakers like Jerry Lewis (R-CA). It was cataclysmic inside the GOP when the FBI raided the homes of corrupt congressmen Rick Renzi (R-AZ) and John Doolittle (R-CA). Just one week ago Karl Rove told Republicans in a closed-door session that the Iraq war didn't do anything to hurt Republicans last November and that it can't touch them-- as long as they don't get associated with corruption and sex scandals.

Alaska has 3 members of Congress, all Republicans, 2 senators and an at-large House member. Judging by the news, neither the House member, Don Young, nor the senior senator, Ted Stevens, is likely to be at large for very long-- and the other senator, Lisa Murkowski, from one of the most corrupt political families in the history of the state, was just caught in some financial and real estate improprieties which aren't likely to be swept under the rug too quickly either.

Earlier today we were looking at the case building against Don Young, the crooked congressman who was named, when Rolling Stone examined the records of every member of Congress, one of the 10 worst congressmen (the third worst, to be exact) and dubbed Mr. Pork. By the time our story was posted, the news about FBI and IRS agents swarming through Senator Ted Stevens' home was breaking. This morning it was Young; this afternoon it was Stevens. Last week it was Murkowski's shady real estate dealings.

Stevens, 83 years old-- and not nearly as mentally alert as he was just a few years ago-- is he longest-serving Republican in Senate history. Tomorrow's Hill paints a dismal picture for the Dean of the Senate Republicans:
The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) raided the home of Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) on Monday, advancing the corruption probe that has ensnared the once-untouchable GOP dean.

...That home has fueled the investigation into Stevens’ ties to oil-field services company Veco, whose two top executives recently resigned after pleading guilty to bribery and fraud.

Bill Allen, Veco’s former CEO, is a longtime friend and business partner of Stevens, and investigators are examining Allen’s involvement in a 2000 renovation of the senior Republican appropriator’s house. The construction project added a story to the building, and contractors have reportedly testified before a grand jury that Allen and Veco received the bills for their work.

Stevens has denied any appearance of impropriety in the home renovation, stating specifically earlier this month that every bill he and his wife received was paid with their personal money, “and that’s all there is to it.” The famously combative senator has acknowledged that the federal probe may complicate his reelection effort next year-- a concept still almost unthinkable to many in Alaska, where Stevens’ talent for securing federal dollars has made him a legend.

That legend has become somewhat tarnished of late as Alaskans have come to realize that considerable amounts of those federal dollars have flowed directly into the pockets of the Stevens, Young and Murkowski families. More people now think it is time to elect a new senator in Alaska than think it would be wise to keep Stevens (if, by some quirk, he escapes going to prison).


When the GOP ruled the Senate, Stevens was head of the Appropriations Committee and was able to help funnel more than $30 million dollars into Veco contracts. Veco was very generous to him and his family in return.
Stevens is not the only Alaska Republican to be spending large sums on lawyers, according to congressional financial disclosures. From April through June, Rep. Don Young (R) spent more than $262,000 on two law firms. A local office director for Young formerly lobbied for Veco, and Allen used to hold an annual fundraiser for Young.

Part of Allen's plea agreement included charges that he illegally laundered donations to federal officials by reimbursing company officials for contributions they made in 2005 and 2006 to campaign committees. In that period, Stevens and Young were the top recipients of Veco cash, taking in $37,000 and $30,250, respectively.

Allen also pleaded guilty to illegally underwriting the cost of political fundraisers. the Wall Street Journal reported last week that Young recently amended his campaign filings to show $38,000 in payments to Allen for "fundraising costs." Young has declined to comment on the Veco matter.

Would you think it strange if some visitor came here, looked over our newspapers and assumed the Republican Party was a huge criminal enterprise? Would they be wrong?


While Ken and I were writing about Alaska's criminal congressionals yesterday and today, something kept gnawing at me: why did the FBI wait so long? I mean there have been stories in the papers for weeks about the investigation. Couldn't Stevens-- a wily operator-- have destroyed all the evidence? Michael Froomkin at Is That Legal? may have been thinking along the same lines. He found the same Washington Post line that troubled me:
Stevens said in a statement that his attorneys were advised of the impending search yesterday morning.

And Michael continues: "I spent nearly 9 years as a federal prosecutor. I'm not aware of a single instance when any prosecutor or agent told anyone outside the Justice Department that a search warrant was going to be executed later in the day. Telling outsiders-- especially lawyers for the person whose property will be searched-- defeats one of the principal purposes of a search warrant: SURPRISE to ensure the integrity of the evidence field."

The Anchorage Daily News reports today that the Feds were at Chez Stevens for about 12 hours starting at 11AM and they hauled off "undisclosed items from inside and taking extensive pictures and video." Is it worth anything? I guess we'll have to watch the court case unfold.

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America has finally turned against the Bush Regime's Iraq occupation agenda. Bush and Cheney don't give a damn-- except inasmuch as it's a serious threat to GOP incumbents whose support they need. Mitch McConnell, their Chief Obstructionist in the Senate, for example, would lose his seat if the election were held today. In the Senate, at least 6 rubber stamp Republicans besides McConnell would probably lose elections-- John Sununu (R-NH), Susan Collins (R-ME), Pete "Sneaky Pete" Domenici (R-NM), John Warner (R-VA), Norm Coleman (R-MN) and Ted Stevens (R-AK)-- and in the House literally dozens of rubber stamp Republicans could be swept away.

So Republican congressional leaders have devised a plan to make it seem that they're changing course, while, of course, not changing anything at all. The new GOP mantra, which will be in heavy rotation on Fox and Hate Talk Radio, is "a new approach." The new approach, of course, is the old, failed approach. The premise is that U.S. troops would be taking on "narrowly limited missions" and Bush decides if and when they leave. Doesn't that sound... like more of the same?

Rubber stamp Republicans and WINOs are jumping for joy with the prospect of their brilliant new strategy. Grotesque rubber stamp Republican Phil English thinks he can save his seat. "This is a necessary adjustment in the national debate to reintroduce bipartisanship, to stop the `gotcha' politics that are going on that seem to be driven by fringes on both sides and change the terms of the discussion," said English as he downed a roast chicken, 7 hamburgers and a large chocolate fudge cake. New Mexico' worst rubber stamp phony, Heather Wilson, carefully keeping out of striking distance of English's jaws, agreed, as did the whole contingent of Republicans who have consistently voted to make it possible for Bush to go on the rampage in Iraq-- while they wrung their hands-- from Chris Shays (R-CT) to Mike Castle (R-DE)

Even easier for the rubber stamp Republicans is to just have their old co-conspirators from the media and the "think thanks"-- the ones who cheerled us into Iraq in the first place-- doing all the lying for them. If the Hearst papers' Yellow Journalism bore any responsibility for the Spanish American War and the sense of Manifest Destiny which still plagues this country-- and they did-- then the NY Times and the Washington Post must be held to account for their role in whipping up popular sentiment for the Republican lies that preceded the invasion of Iraq. The Times was back at it again today.

They published an Op-Ed by two notorious Neocon warmongers, Michael O'Hanlon and Kenneth Pollack, claiming progress in Iraq. Glenn Greenwald has all the dope on these two shameless shills. "...the exact same people who urged us into the war in Iraq, were wrong in everything they said, and issued one false assurance after the next as the war failed, continue to be the same people held up as our Serious Iraq Experts. The exact "experts" to whom we listened in 2002 and 2003 are the same exact establishment "experts" now."
The Op-Ed is an exercise in rank deceit from the start. To lavish themselves with credibility -- as though they are war skeptics whom you can trust -- they identify themselves at the beginning "as two analysts who have harshly criticized the Bush administration's miserable handling of Iraq." In reality, they were not only among the biggest cheerleaders for the war, but repeatedly praised the Pentagon's strategy in Iraq and continuously assured Americans things were going well. They are among the primary authors and principal deceivers responsible for this disaster.

Worse, they announce that "the Bush administration has over four years lost essentially all credibility," as though they have not. But let us look at Michael O'Hanlon, and review just a fraction of the endless string of false and misleading statements he made about Iraq and ask why anyone would possibly listen to him about anything, let alone consider him an "expert" of any kind.

And then he does. And it ain't pretty. Of course, neither is this , something which hasn't been addressed by the Bush Regime or it's apologists like McConnell, O'Hanlon, Pollack.
About eight million Iraqis-- nearly a third of the population-- are without water, sanitation, food and shelter and need emergency aid, a report by two major relief agencies says.




I guess Junket John Boehner has his own problems right now, but wonders are wondering why he hasn't forced Don Young to resign from his committee positions, the way he did with Rick Renzi and John Doolittle when it came out they're under FBI investigation on corruption charges. Last week the Wall Street Journal blew the whistle on one of Alska's three most corrupt federal politicians.

Yesterday's Fairbanks Daily News made sure the voters back home where aware what their crooked congressman has been up to.
The Journal article, which cited anonymous sources, is the first time Young’s name has been linked to the criminal investigation involving possible political favors for oil-services company VECO Corp. that has also ensnared U.S. Sen. Ted Stevens and his son, former state Senate President Ben Stevens.

VECO chief executive Bill Allen pleaded guilty in May to bribing Alaska legislators and has agreed to cooperate with the ongoing investigation.

Young received $157,000 from VECO employees and its political action committee between 1996 to 2006, according to public documents.

According to the report "the story sparked speculation that Republican leadership in the House could ask Young to surrender his committee seats. Young is the ranking Republican on the Natural Resources Committee and a member of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. Young also holds a seat on the House Steering Committee, which doles out committee assignments... House Minority Leader John Boehner has reportedly asked to speak with Young about the investigation. Boehner’s office did not return calls for comment for this story."

A Young flack said communication with leadership is confidential and that the congressman has no comments-- on anything. Young is one of the most hated men inside the House Republican caucus. He has virtually no allies and many Republicans would rather see a Democrat win than see Young come back to Congress. "Republican budget hawks have been contemplating Young’s downfall since a clash between him and New Jersey Republican Scott Garrett caused ruffled feathers on the House floor earlier this month over an attempt to cut education funding beneficial to Alaska Natives."

Young has been spending a great deal of his campaign money on attorneys trying to keep from being indicted, so far over a quarter million dollars. Whether Young winds up in prison before of after the November '08 election, he will have a new opponent. Jake Metcalfe, "former Anchorage School Board president and former head of the state Democratic Party, announced late Sunday that he plans to run against Don Young in the 2008 congressional election."


The more crooked of Alaska's two crooked senators, Ted Stevens, just had his home raided by the FBI and IRS. Is there any way to not wonder if the Republican Party is something other than an organized crime ring?

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No one who favors the rule of law here

Yesterday we had a good laugh over reactionary Democrat Ellen Tauscher's idiotic response to the calls for the impeachment of serial perjurer Alberto Gonzales. Tauscher must still be getting her talking points from Karl Rove's office. Washington Congressman Jay Inslee, on the other hand, is neither a reactionary nor an ignoramus. He also, unlike Tauscher, values the rule of law. Tomorrow he'll be introducing a bill to impeach Gonzales. The text:
Directing the Committee on the Judiciary to investigate whether Alberto R. Gonzales, Attorney General of the United States, should be impeached for high crimes and misdemeanors.
Resolved, That the Committee on the Judiciary shall investigate fully whether sufficient grounds exist for the House of Representatives to impeach Alberto R. Gonzales, Attorney General of the United States, for high crimes and misdemeanors.

Simple enough-- even for an Ellen O. Tauscher.


According to CBS the most hated man in American contemporary politics just loves little Alberto. Cheney may be the only Republican in elective office to support Gonzales but he told CBS he's a "big fan" or Gonzales (and of Scooter Libby's). Since "None of the Above" continues to be the overwhelming favorite in every Republican primary poll, I don't understand why there hasn't been a Draft Cheney Movement. No one represents the heart and soul large intestines of the GOP the way Cheney does.


This weekend the editorial boards were busy. You already saw what the NY Times had to say. But papers from every part of the country were calling on Congress to impeach or on Gonzales to resign:
Brattleboro Reformer: "If Congress wishes to remain a meaningful... branch of our government, it must rein in the executive branch. The tool for doing this is impeachment."
Hartford Courant: Gonzales "put on a pathetic performance" in front of the Senate Judiciary Committtee 7/25, and the nation "would be better served without Mr. Gonzales in charge."
Kentucky Post: Senate Dems' call for a special counsel "would be overkill," because "if Gonzales did willfully mislead, there's no way the president can keep him on."
• Lousiville Courier-Journal: "These days" the WH "operates in a different world... There is ample evidence for the Senate to pursue perjury charges against Mr. Gonzales, and it should do so."
Newsday: "If Gonzales doesn't have the good sense to resign... then the Congress will have no choice but to demand a special counsel... Bush is making a big mistake in placing loyalty above integrity."
New York Times: Gonzales either "lied to Congress," used "a bureaucratic dodge to mislead lawmakers and the public," or else is "helping Mr. Bush cover" up "more wiretapping than has been disclosed." If a special prosecutor is not appointed, "Congress should impeach Mr. Gonzales."
• Norfolk Virginian-Pilot: "How can America tell the attorney general is lying to Congress? His lips are moving." If Gonzales "really" wanted to improve the DOJ's credibility, "he'd resign."
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: "The attempts of the Congress to obtain information" from the WH "are worthy of respect... this kind of 'We are above the law' lack of accountability on the part of Mr. Bush... has now gone far enough."
• Portland Oregonian: Last week "Gonzales sank even further, if that's possible... Every day he remains in office inflicts further damage to the nation's once-respected" DoJ.
Portland Press Herald: "It is the White House that is out of control, not the Congress." The call for a special prosecutor is "justified"


Joining Jay Inslee in co-sponsoring the bill to impeach Gonzales in the House are former prosecutors Xavier Becerra (D-CA), Michael Arcuri (D-NY), Ben Chandler (D-KY), Dennis Moore (D-KS) and Bruce Braley (D-IA). The spans the whole party ideologically. Chandler and Moore are very conservative. Becerra, Arcuri and Braley are pretty progressive.


Although partisan Republican hack Lamar Smith (TX) was screaming hysterically that the impeachment resolution is just a political stunt-- sound familiar? it's what Republicans say about anything they disagree with-- more co-sponsors are signing on by the minute. Tom Undall (D-NM), Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) and Peter DeFazio (D-OR) are now co-sponsors too. Do you know your congressmember's e-mail address or phone number? Let him or her know how you feel about this.

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Only the good die young

A lot of people died today-- not just the regular victims of Bush's venal, toxic agenda in Iraq, but regular folks nowhere near Iraq. One of the world's most important film makers, Ingmar Bergman. The Swedish director was 89 and he is ranked up there with Federico Fellini and Akira Kurosawa in terms of influence on the genre.
In his more than 40 years in the cinema, Mr. Bergman made about 50 films, often focusing on two themes — the relationship between the sexes, and the relationship between mankind and God. Mr. Bergman found in cinema, he wrote in a 1965 essay, “a language that literally is spoken from soul to soul in expressions that, almost sensuously, escape the restrictive control of the intellect.”

...For many filmgoers and critics, it was Mr. Bergman more than any other director who in the 1950s brought a new seriousness to film making.

“Bergman was the first to bring metaphysics-- religion, death, existentialism-- to the screen,” Bertrand Tavernier, the French film director, once said. “But the best of Bergman is the way he speaks of women, of the relationship between men and women. He’s like a miner digging in search of purity.”

Hall of Fame football coach Bill Walsh was 75 when he passed away this morning. And last night Tom Snyder a pioneering and legendary television interviewer also took his last breath.

Earlier today CNN reported that extreme right wing fanatic/Bush Regime Supreme Court Chief Judge John Roberts fell on his head but has probably survived. Having suffered a seizure several years ago, he was rushed to a hospital, but is likely to live. No one will ever know if the fall has effected his ability to function as a judge. Friday we suggested that there are other ways to right the balance at the reactionary activist Court than through the deaths of the right-wing extremists on it.


Apparently Roberts wasn't just a klutz; he had a seizure. When he was found he was foaming at the mouth, something he usually only does when he's confronted with a rational argument in court. The hospital said there was no cause for concern, which could be taken a number of ways, depending on whether or not you care about the welfare of America. One thing is certain-- if Roberts is dead or noticeably brain-dead it will be impossible for Bush to get anyone even nearly as extremist as him confirmed to the bench.


Roberts was let out of the hospital today but USAToday reports that he's "facing a greater risk" after his second seizure. Don't count on a more moderate Supreme Court based on the chances of an early demise for Roberts though. That's up to God, not you. Still, "Patients with a history of seizures would be advised to not drive for several months, not swim alone, avoid heights and take showers rather than baths... 'It's not rare that people drown in the bathtub from a seizure. Mark Twain's daughter died that way.'" You just can't count on it.


Say what you want about all those other Mrs. Giulianis, but Donna Hanover suffered enough just being married to the slug all those years


Sometimes you have to draw lines.

Now, with respect to the present Mrs. Rudy Giuliani (see Howie's post below), while I've never met the woman, I'm prepared to believe most any nasty or evil thing that's reported about her.

I just want to pencil in a line where the linkage occurs between Howie's unarguable observation that "Giuliani is well-known for making terrible choices in people" and the entire roster of folks our Rudy has been married to. I'd like to have that line wrap carefully around the longest-suffering of the Giuliani Wives, Donna Hanover.

Now, I've never met Ms. Hanover either. (Okay, if you're going to put it that way, I really haven't met much of anybody.) But I haven't heard of anybody who doesn't think of her as a nice and pretty classy lady.

In fact, she illustrates a quality of Rudy's that may be as disturbing as his propensity for hanging out with cheesy lowlifes: his apparent ability to cloud men's--and obviously women's--minds to see him as something other than, well, what he is. There shouldn't be any surprise that lowlifes gravitate to him--surely they can spot one of their own. But quite reasonable people seem open to believing the false images he creates of himself.

His image as a crusading U.S. attorney, for example--even though a staggering percentage of the convictions he won were chucked on appeal. Or his self-presentation as a pillar of law and order, even though as mayor of New York City he flouted the law whenever he felt like it, and sneeringly dared anyone who didn't like it to sue, opening the way for just about everybody who did sue to win and drain a steady flow of settlement money out of the city coffers.

Nobody knows better than Donna Hanover that she's made at least one whoppingly bad choice in her life. Well, which of us hasn't? I guess, back when Rudy was the object of such general adulation, it was possible to look at him and see . . . I'm sorry, you'll have to ask them what they saw. All I ever saw was a vicious little pile of crud who had presumably grown up having the stuffing kicked out of him by bullies, and who determined therefrom that he knew what he wanted to be if and when he ever grew up: the most ruthless and self-aggrandizing bully in town.

I don't know how long it took the second Mrs. G to discover the scope of her bad choice. She did, after all, have two kids with the slug. Possibly she thought that deep down she saw a prince, where those not vision-impaired by love saw a really hideous frog. At some point, though, she must have seen what's what. Nevertheless, she remained steadfastly private about her problems, even as Rudy began to humiliate her publicly.

If she had wanted payback, I think it's safe to say that she knew she had the goods with which to humiliate the son of a bitch into career oblivion. Yet she never said a word. You figure she didn't want to drag her children into the public eye, and wasn't about to contribute to the public embarrassment of their father, whatever she herself had come to think of him. (Plus, of course, considering how long she had stuck by him, anything she might have told us about him would hardly have reflected well on herself.)

If you want to think really ill of Rudy, you can speculate that he understood this about her, and took advantage of it when he kicked his career as Public Slimeball No. 1 into high gear, flaunting his relationship with Princess Judi*--and then blurting out publicly his intention to divorce his wife without, apparently, troubling to discuss it privately first.

It's a mark of Rudy's character that two of the luckiest strokes of his adult life were prostate cancer and 9/11. First, the cancer made it harder for people to hate him as much as growing numbers of New Yorkers had come to--harder, but not impossible. Then came his big score with 9/11, and literally overnight people forgot how low he had sunk in most every sense, including popularity.

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*Yes, I know the princess insists on being called "Judith." Knowing that being called "Judi" drives her nuts is why I think we should take pains to do so.

This is in accordance with what I call the Chipper Jones Rule. In the years when the New York Mets were struggling to escape perennial domination by the Atlanta Braves, no Brave loomed larger as a Mets-killer than third baseman Chipper Jones (the 1999 NL MVP). It turned out, though, that Chipper has an Achilles' heel: He can't stand being called Larry.

Now, there's nothing at all wrong about being named Larry, nothing the least bit embarrassing, but Mets' fans discovered that it just about made him weep, and so took care to chant vigorously, every time he came to bat: "Larry! Larry! Larry!" It didn't lead to any more wins that I recall, but it felt better just knowing how rotten it made him--make that "Larry"--feel.

Sometimes you settle for the small victories.

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Virginia wingnut Bob Goodlatte has one of the hardest jobs in Congress. He's head of the Republican incumbent retention program. Hapless NRCC Chair Tom Cole has charged him with keeping Republican members, already sick of minority status (and the relative difficulty collecting regular bribes), from resigning. Last year the NRCC enlisted Bush to pressure Planet Denny Hastert into not resigning. Hastert gave Bush another term. He isn't expected to do it again and, in all likelihood, a carpenter and Iraq vet, whose parents were missionaries, will be the next congressman from IL-14.

And Hastert is hardly the only problem facing Goodlatte in Illinois. Longtime Hastert ally, Ray LaHood, already served notice on the GOP last week that he's had it. And Don Manzullo (IL-16, Rockford and the extreme NW of the state) is likely to bail too. And Illinois is just part of the dire situation for the Republicans, who are unlikely to feel comforted by Rove's good cheer last week that if they can just not get caught stealing or having sex with children, they can probably weather the little Iraq kerfuffle and get re-elected.

Of course, Goodlatte's most immediate problem is one he has no sway over, what today's RollCall doesn't called the Republican Culture of Corruption.
Several Members with ethical woes also are on the retirement watch list, including GOP Reps. Rick Renzi (Ariz.), Jerry Lewis (Calif.), John Doolittle (Calif.) and Don Young (Alaska)-- all of whom are under federal investigation.

RollCall is so polite-- and they left out so many potential indictees, like Gary Miller (R-CA), Tom Feeney (R-FL), Virgil Goode, Jr. (R-VA), Duncan Hunter (R-CA)... so many more. But let's leave the potential felons for the police and concentrate on the ones who just want out on their own.

Most likely to leave, aside from the Illinois trio are the two Republicans who were at the heart of the scandal of the way our vets were mistreated at Walter Reed, C.W. "Bill" Young (R-FL) and John McHugh (R-NY). Young's St. Petersburg Democratic-leaning district is unlikely to remain in GOP hands if he retires and McHugh's North Country district is also ready to say goodbye to the Republican Party forever, like so many upstate NY district's have since the national party took a sharp turn towards the extreme right in the last two decades.

Also on retirement watch are Ralph Regula (OH-16), the universally despised Barbara Cubin (WY), and Jo Ann Davis (VA). The other Virginia Davis, Tom, will likely leave his seat to run for the U.S. Senate if John Warner retires, which is likely. Davis will be soundly defeated by popular Democrat Mark Warner and his northern Virginia House seat will be lost to the Republicans.

Cole and Goodlatte are trying to put a best face forward but "privately, party strategists know they have some critical months ahead. September could be key for the GOP, as retirement announcements generally flourish after Members have spent the August recess back at home and have had down time to contemplate their futures. The state of the Iraq War by the fall also could have an impact on those deliberations. While not all retirements will produce competitive races, most open-seat contests end up costing the incumbent party some money."

That's a big problem for the Republicans; they don't have any. The NRCC under Cole is a disaster and in debt by millions of dollars. They won't be able to help any newcomers in open seats. Cole's Democratic counterpart, Chris Van Hollen is outraising him by a factor of 10. The DCCC has nearly $20 million in the bank and no debts. The NRCC has around $2 million and is loaded with debt after being forced to respond to Howard Dean's 50 state strategy and spend money on what were previously considered rock solid Republican districts in places like Idaho, Nebraska, Kansas, Wyoming, etc.

Even an optimist like Mark Kirk (R-IL), who is likely to be defeated at the polls next year, feels that if the Republicans lose more seats-- plus, as looks likely, the presidency-- there will be an overwhelming rush for the exits.

Kirk said that while there could be a significant number of GOP retirements, he thought most Republicans were willing to wait to see the outcome of the 2008 race for the White House.

“Except for the really senior guys, most Members, I think, would like to serve at least at the start of a new presidency because they’d get to survey the lay of the land and understand who the new players are, and all of their future prospects are brighter if they’ve known and met the new team, and the new team could be very fun to work with,” Kirk said.

If you'd like to keep this ball bouncing in the right direction, let me point you to potential replacements for Planet Denny Hastert, John Doolittle, Randy Kuhl, and Mean Jean Schmidt, all of whom can use some assistance.


We knew it intuitively, but now the Writers Guild gives us the nuts 'n' bolts of why 'n' how TV-news viewers are so wildly under- and mis-informed


"A CBS television newswriter says: 'We take a lot of stuff from 'Entertainment Tonight.' We watch it at 6:30 and decide what to use.'"
--from a new report, "Broadcast Newswriters Speak About News Quality," prepared by the Writers Guild of America, East

Here's a report in which it's safe to guess that not a word will surprise any of us and yet every detail will still shock. For anyone who believes that the devil is in the details, and the really bad news can usually be found in the nuts 'n' bolts of how things get done, this report is self-recommending.

Actually, I haven't read the report itself yet. It's called "Broadcast Newswriters Speak About News Quality," and it comes from the Writers Guild of America, East (WGAE), and I can't help feeling that it will be just too depressing. But I have read the Daily Kos diary about the report by WGAE's Michael Winship.

I'll be surprised if the summary of Michael Winship's diary doesn't make you want to read the whole thing (and then the whole report):
It's a fact: Media conglomerates' labor practices are harming the quality of TV and radio news.

A CBS television newswriter says: "We take a lot of stuff from 'Entertainment Tonight.' We watch it at 6:30 and decide what to use."

Most Americans still get their news from "old media" like newspapers, TV and radio. There's concern about how Rupert Murdoch will gut the Wall St. Journal when he gets his hands on it. MSNBC Anchor Mika Brzezinski recently tried to burn a script on air in frustration over being asked to lead the day’s news with a story about Paris Hilton rather than Richard Lugar’s declaration that Bush’s Iraq strategy is failing. Who can we trust to tell us what's really going on? Now, a new study of broadcast journalists from the Writers Guild of America, East (WGAE) gives an inside look at how the media conglomerates are destroying broadcast news quality with the same tactics other big companies are using against their workers.

Want more? Winship poses the question: "Can you believe what you see on CBS?"
A recent article in New York Magazine about Katie Couric noted that CBS' Evening News budget was cut almost in half from 1991 to 2000 ($65 million to $35 million). CBS has cut the number of full-time news staff by about 60% since 1980, replacing many of them with temps and part-timers. In 1989, CBS network television news employed 28 researchers; by 1999, those positions were all gone. But what do these staff cuts mean to the public? Half the WGA members reported that at least several times a week, they use no more than a single website to check the accuracy of stories. I wonder how often that single website is Wikipedia. Some WGA members work "off the clock" to ensure that they are up-to-date on news developments and that facts are properly checked. Members tell lots of stories about how management pressures them for more fluff, more often. In fact 49% of all WGA members responding to the survey said that hard news stories were bumped for fluff or puff at least once a day. For local news outlets, that number went up to 57%.



Giuliani is well-known for making terrible choices in people. No one knows exactly how many times he's been married. His business partners are all wanted by the law. His campaign managers are diaper-wearing sex perverts and cocaine dealers. And who does he want to saddle us with as First Lady? Where once we had a Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy and Nancy Reagan, we would have... Judi Nathan, what the new issue of Vanity Fair describes as "an opportunistic, puppy-killing homewrecker who has a full-time hairstylist and needs an extra seat on planes for 'Baby Louis,' her Louis Vuitton handbag."

The Vanity Fair story isn't online yet but reactionary Republican Hillary ally, Rupert Murdoch, previews it in his sleazy tabloid, the NY Post:
Judith thinks she's royalty, Bachrach maintains, and that's why she wore a tiara to her wedding at Gracie Mansion in 2003. "She really does see herself as a princess," a former Rudy aide is quoted. "Not as a queen. Queen is her goal. Queen is who she wants to be."

And don't call her Judi. Bachrach writes, "After her second divorce, she upgraded herself to 'Judith' with such vehemence that one Rudy aide confides, 'at City Hall we were prohibited from calling her Judi. She would bawl us out if we did.'"

Vanity Fair delves into the circumstances of how Rudy and Judith met. Bachrach claims it was at Club Macanudo in 1999: "It was she who approached Giuliani, who was then married and a father, with words of admiration and a proffered business card."


They don't like her. They start with a snarky question: "Who does Judith Stish Ross Nathan Giuliani think she is? These days, even with her husband, a freshly minted multi-millionaire, far ahead of the competition in the Republican presidential polls, no one, least of all Judith, 52, seems to have a clue. In a way, this is understandable. There have been so many different Judiths. As her second husband, Bruce Nathan, has told friends, 'She is in an ever changing mode upward.'"

It goes downhill from there. Example:
For years she appeared, in the public record, to have had only one failed marriage, but as it turned out she'd had two. It seemed that she had gone to Pennsylvania State nursing school, as The New York Times once reported, but she had not. She completed two years of nursing school, but left hospital work before a year was up. Nonetheless, Giuliani has publicly referred to her "expertise" in "biological and chemical" disasters, and believes she would be a help in the event of an anthrax attack.

She sure makes Jeri Thompson seem like a bargain.




Rudy, Thompson, Flip-Flop Mitt

The good news for the most extreme elements of the GOP-- all the candidates are committed to more extreme right wing ideologues for the Supreme Court of the Scalia-Thomas-Roberts-Alito genre-- regardless of the fact that Americans are becoming increasingly alarmed that the Court is seriously out of balance. They're worried though because Giuliani supports a woman's right to choice (as well as other social issues they find repugnant-- and most of the country finds perfectly fine). Today's NY Times examines the dilemma of the radical right fringe of the GOP, the fringe that has pretty much controlled the nominating process, especially in Iowa and South Carolina, but now faces a new-- unthinkable-- reality: "a convergence of forces, including the early primaries in moderate states like California, may have diminished the influence of the anti-abortion movement on the Republican nominating process."

Not that there is some far right dragon slayer they can all rally behind. Flip Flop Mitt is an untrustworthy cult member who changes his "values" more frequently than his underwear. And Republican lobbyist Fred Thompson follows the money; he gets behind whoever pays the most-- including, as a lobbyist-- pro-choice groups.
At the Republican straw poll in Iowa next month, abortion opponents will circulate a petition calling on the party to reassert its values, honor its platform and choose an anti-abortion nominee. “We have our eye on the goal,” said Kim Lehman, president of the Iowa Right to Life Committee, who said that the overwhelming majority of Iowa caucus-goers oppose abortion. “Our goal is to get a pro-life president, so we can be confident of his position on legislation and confident of his judges.”

Agreement ends there. One hysterical extremist, James Bopp of the National Right to Life Committee is on Team Romney, even though most Christians are aghast at the idea of a satanic cultist in the White House. The Southern Baptist Convention's Richard Land is behind Fred Thompson and Jimmy Dobson is pushing for Newt Gingrich. Another neo-fascist leader, Phylis Schafly is looking for the lesser of a lot of evils. Many Republican elected officials, feeling Giuliani's more moderate stand on choice makes him the only electable Republican, are less sticklers for ideological purity. Texas congressional wingnut Pete Sessions and Louisiana sex pervert David Diapers Vitter are heading up Giuliani's campaign in some of the more backward, less enlightened parts of the country.

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Sunday, July 29, 2007



Karl Rove says it was the Republican Culture of Corruption in DC, more than Iraq, that did the GOP in last November. And he thinks Iraq won't hurt them much in 2008. Apparently he's lost his mind. But let's humor him for a moment.
Rove's clear advice to the candidates is to distance themselves from the culture in Washington. Specifically, Republican candidates are urged to make clear they have no connection with disgraced congressmen such as Duke Cunningham and Mark Foley.

I don't know whether or not Rove mentioned John Doolittle, Rick Renzi, Tom DeLay, David Diapers Vitter, Katherine Harris or Bob Ney in his little closed-door Tuesday chat with GOP House candidates and their (chatty) aides, but Bob Novak didn't mention any of them in his report of the off-the-record event.

Perhaps someone should, since, in all likelihood, at least some of these Republicans will be in the news between now and the Republican electoral debacle of 2008. Not to mention serial perjurer Alberto Gonzales, a bevy of Bush Regime-connected war profiteers, and... a certain over-tanned, weepy, House minority leader. All recent polling data shows conclusively that the Republican Party can't escape the DC web they created, broadly called the "Culture of Corruption," any more than they can escape the catastrophic war they started in Iraq. Off the top of my head I can name a dozen Republican House members being investigated by the FBI and other law enforcement agencies, at least some of whom are likely to be indicted-- and I'm not just talking about the low hanging fruit like John Doolittle, Gary Miller and Rick Renzi. Friday's NY Times mentions that "Among members of Congress, Mr. Doolittle is far from alone in feeling heat from the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Justice Department. More than a dozen current and former lawmakers are under scrutiny in cases involving their work on Capitol Hill."

Alaska has three members of Congress, a House member (Don Young) and two senators (Ted Stevens and Lisa Murkowski). It's hard to imagine that at least two of them won't be indicted-- possibly all three.

Abramoff is still a potent weapon if Bush doesn't pardon him and insiders say he will take down several GOP congressmen unless Bush springs him soon. If Abramoff starts talking Tom Feeney (R-FL) is likely to be the first-- but by no means the last-- to be arrested. Similarly, Duke Cunningham could certainly testify effectively against his old buddies, Jerry Lewis (R-CA), Duncan Hunter (R-CA), Virgil Goode, Jr. (R-VA), Tom DeLay (R-TX), Katherine Harris (R-FL) and God knows how many others. Many of these Cunningham-related crooks are also involved with several other unraveling cases, involving GOP rainmakers like Brent Wilkes, Bill Lowery, Thomas Kontogiannis, and Mitchell Wade.

And, since Rove, brought it up (Mark Foley), Republican sex and hypocrisy scandals certainly didn't begin and end with Foley and Vitter. "Everyone" in DC knows, for example, that extreme right-wing fanatic Larry Craig (R-ID) is as gay as he is homophobic. "Everyone" in DC knew about Foley too-- that he was gay and that he was molesting young men-- but no one told his constituents. (Now Rove wants people like Denny Hastert, Tom Reynolds, John Boehner, John Shimkus-- the people who covered up for Foley for years-- to claim they never knew him?) Even after he was caught, drunk and randy, trying to break into the congressional interns' dormitory, the Republican House leadership kept covering up for him; they didn't want to lose that seat. Well, there are at least a dozen Republicans in similar situations. Larry Craig's is starting to get noticed back in Idaho. Los Angeles radio hosts don't even use the word "alleged" any longer when referring to anti-gay Republican congressman David Dreier's homosexuality. Just last week a Columbia, South Carolina radio station did a spoof on Lindsey Graham's secret gay life and Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell's quick expulsion from the Army-- for fondling a private's privates-- is finally being discussed in Kentucky.

Something tells me that Iraq plus corruption is far greater than the individual parts and that the American public knows all it needs to to have already made up its mind about Rove's political party.

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Japan's Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe, is a right wing kook cut from the Bush mold. And, like Bush, his widespread unpopularity has turned to disdain and even hatred. That unpopularity and disdain was expressed today at the polls when Japanese voters elected a new upper house of Parliament, something like our Senate. And the same way that most political observers see well-known Bush's rubber stamp senators like Susan Collins (R-ME), Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Norm Coleman (R-MN), Pete "Sneaky Pete" Domenici (R-NM), Ted Stevens (R-AK), John Sununu (R-NH), possibly even John Cornyn (R-TX), Elizabeth Dole (R-NC), and John Warner (R-VA), many of Abe's most loyal rubber stamps went down to ignominious defeat today at the hands of the Democratic Party.
The main opposition Democratic Party seized control of the upper house by a landslide, capturing seats not only in cities but also in rural districts that have long been strongholds of the Liberal Democratic Party. The rout was widespread, with household names in the governing party falling one after another before opposition newcomers.

In a devastating rebuke to Mr. Abe, angry voters punished him for his mishandling of bread-and-butter issues and a series of scandals in a government seemingly in disarray. Past prime ministers have resigned in the face of similar losses, but Mr. Abe, even before all votes were counted, tried to head off inevitable questions about his leadership.

Instead of working on actual bread-and-butter problems that Japanese voters are concerned with, Abe "rammed through laws to instill patriotism in schools, elevate the status of Japan’s military and prepare for a referendum on revising the pacifist Constitution." Of the 121 seats being contested, Abe's coalition needed 64 to maintain a majority. They eked out only 43.

Unlike Republicans in the U.S., who would do anything to disassociate themselves from Bush and Cheney but can't, the misnamed Liberal Democrats (they are a right-wing party, a kind of cross between the GOP and the Nazi Party) are expected to kick Abe out of the leadership before the next election. The leader of the Democratic Party, Ichiro Ozawa, "focused on building support in rural areas whose backing the Liberal Democrats had secured for decades with public works projects and agricultural subsidies. Results showed that Mr. Ozawa’s party won overwhelmingly in rural Japan." It might be worth noting that last year in the U.S., the Democratic Party defeated quite a few Republican incumbents in once-safe rural strongholds. In 2008, Democrats are likely to win at least 2 dozen House seats in largely rural areas, from upstate New York to Illinois, Ohio, Missouri, Arizona, and California.




Good Germans know what is expected of them

My first contact with another human being this morning-- not counting when I woke up and turned on the TV in time to see a Howie Kurtz discussion of McCain wearing "gay sweaters," while he boldly changed into a... gay sweater-- was an IM from a friend who works as an Air America host. He wanted me to read a blog post at Whatever about the unlikelihood of the Bush Regime being able to pull off a coup to perpetuate itself in office. Personally I didn't find it persuasive enough in an overall sense since it didn't take into account the catastrophe that the Regime could employ to trigger it-- something that would make the Reichstag Fire and 9/11 look like child's play, like a nuclear explosion in Manhattan or in Congress, something only the most illegitimate and heinous figures in American history could ever conjure. But let's leave that argument for another day. One of the premises of the post is that the Bush Regime is simply too incompetent to pull off a coup.

Assuming Bush did decide to declare martial law over the entire nation, how on Earth is he going to enforce it? The federal government, even at this late stage in the Bush administration, is not entirely composed of Regent University graduates; there aren't enough people in the government itself who would be willing to follow Bush down that road. And even if there were, does anyone believe the sort of people the Bush administration appoints-- folks who we know are picked for ideological purity over actual competence in their job -- are going to be able to administer a coup of this magnitude? For God's sake, it took them a week to find the Superdome after Hurricane Katrina. It's on maps. Does anyone really believe that this bunch could manage martial law-- an infinitely more complex undertaking-- any better?

That makes sense but, I moved on quickly to my e-mails and the first one I opened was from an old pal who manages a band that's recording their new album in Europe. He wanted to call my attention to a story I had just finished reading in this morning's Washington Post, Bush Aide Blocked Report-- Global Health Draft In 2006 Rejected for Not Being Political. Now we're back at Regent University output. Actually I don't know if the dull-looking hack referred to by the Post is a Regent U. alum or not-- like Bush, he could have gone to Yale, for all that it matters-- only that he's the son of a right-wing Republican congressman from Wisconsin who once hired Cheney to be his intern, is Bush I's godson, and got his job through cronyism via former Wisconsin Governor/Secretary of Health and Human Services Tommy Thompson. And his job is Director of Global Health Affairs.

You may recall a week or two ago there was another of those passing scandals in the Bush Regime that might have caused more of a stir in a less controversial context, a context, say, where there isn't an impeachable offense committed on a weekly basis. This particular scandal had a whole gaggle of Surgeon Generals complaining to Congress how the Bush Regime tramples science-- and the nation's health and safety-- in the name of extremist ideological purity, not unlike what fascist dictators who have been admired in the Bush family have done in the past.
A surgeon general's report in 2006 that called on Americans to help tackle global health problems has been kept from the public by a Bush political appointee without any background or expertise in medicine or public health, chiefly because the report did not promote the administration's policy accomplishments, according to current and former public health officials.

The report described the link between poverty and poor health, urged the U.S. government to help combat widespread diseases as a key aim of its foreign policy, and called on corporations to help improve health conditions in the countries where they operate.

A few of the issues it focuses on, such as AIDS treatment and research, have been public health priorities for the Bush administration. But others-- including ratifying the international tobacco treaty and making global health an element of U.S. foreign policy-- are more politically sensitive. The report calls on the administration to consider spending more money on global health improvement, for instance. And it warns that "the environmental conditions that poison our water and contaminate our air are not contained within national boundaries... The use of pesticides is also of concern to health officials, scientists and government leaders around the world."

"Public health advocates have accused Steiger of political meddling before. He briefly attained notoriety in 2004 by demanding changes in the language of an international report on obesity. The report was opposed by some U.S. food manufacturers and the sugar industry." Bush appointed Steiger to be the U.S. Ambassador to Mozambique; he hasn't been confirmed.

Ex-Surgeon General Carmona had been trying to get the report that Steiger bottled up released-- but to no avail. "Thomas Novotny, a former assistant surgeon general who ran the global health office before Steiger, said, 'It's embarrassing, just ridiculous that the report hasn't come out.' Novotny, who served at HHS in the Clinton and in both Bush administrations, said that many nations have made health issues central to their foreign relations and trade policies, but that the United States has been reluctant to embrace that idea. 'It made perfect sense for the surgeon general to take up the issue because the U.S. used to be a leader in this field,' Novotny said. 'For the nation's top doctor to be unable to release the report shows that leadership is gone.'"

My pal over in Europe wrote that it's great that more decent people are starting to speak out. I hope it isn't too late. I suspect there are an awful lot of smiling Steigers out there, just waiting for their orders.

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You know how most of us at DWT feel: impeach Bush and Cheney and the rest of the rotten regime can be taken care of within the bounds of the criminal justice system. That would include Bush's shameful excuse for an Attorney General, his pathetic Texas crony Alberto Gonzales. The Times has been 6 months or so behind us on most everything and they're not there on impeachment... yet. This morning, however, they do make the case-- or a mini version of the case-- for Gonzales' impeachment.

The editorial starts with the absolute premise of incompetence and then moves on to perjury. "Americans have been waiting months for Mr. Bush to fire Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, who long ago proved that he was incompetent and more recently has proved that he can’t tell the truth. Mr. Bush refused to fire him after it was clear Mr. Gonzales lied about his role in the political purge of nine federal prosecutors. And he is still refusing to do so-- even after testimony by the F.B.I. director, Robert Mueller, that suggests that Mr. Gonzales either lied to Congress about Mr. Bush’s warrantless wiretapping operation or at the very least twisted the truth so badly that it amounts to the same thing."

The Times, in passing, also makes the case for Bush's own impeachment but, like I mentioned, they're still 6 months from figuring that out and speaking about it out loud. The Times is far more comfortable ignoring Bush and going for the low lowest hanging fruit, Abu Gonzo.
Democratic lawmakers are asking for a special prosecutor to look into Mr. Gonzales’s words and deeds. Solicitor General Paul Clement has a last chance to show that the Justice Department is still minimally functional by fulfilling that request.

If that does not happen, Congress should impeach Mr. Gonzales.

He won't; it's not. They should start Monday but they're afraid of the right-wing media, so they probably won't.


Think Progress has a riotous report out this morning about how Faux News talking head Chris Wallace tried to find a right winger to come on and defend Gonzales. None would. He contacted the far right senators on the Judiciary Committee-- Orrin Hatch, Jon Kyl, Jeff Sessions, Lindsey Graham, Tom Coburn, John Cornyn, Sam Brownback, Chuck Grassley-- who are all Bush Regime rubber stamp shills who will always vote to do whatever Bush and Cheney tells them to do. But none would make public spectacles of themselves, not even on their own propaganda network-- defending Abu Gonzo. Newt Gingrich, on the other hand, has this to say:
Both the president and country are better served if the attorney general is a figure of competence. Sadly, the current attorney general is not seen as any of those things. I think it’s a liability for the president. More importantly, it’s a liability for the United States of America.

The closest anyone would come to defending Gonzales is Utah's far right nutcase and Regime apologist Chris Cannon who, when asked by Chris Matthews last week if Gonzales is "a good attorney general," said, "He's a good guy."


Ellen Tauscher (D-CA) has a record that not only merits firing, but makes me think she should refund her salary for the last year. She was singing a variation on the Democratic Leadership's anti-impeachment talking points. (Yes, my friends, the Democrats have talking points too. I called 7 progressive congressmembers in a row last week to ask them to co-sponsor H.R. 333 and it was word-for-word exactly the same message from each one.) But Tauscher went a step further when she wrote to one of her constituents to explain why she wouldn't support the impeachment of Alberto Gonzales. Tauscher's response:
The Attorney General serves at the pleasure of the president in a non-impeachable office. Unless convicted of an illegal act, the Attorney General cannot be removed from office without the president asking for or accepting his resignation. However, please be assured that I will keep your thoughts and concerns in mind as I review the circumstances surrounding recent allegations of impropriety within the Justice Department.

Apparently Ellen O. Tauscher has never read the U.S. Constitution, something that doesn't surprise me one bit. She's a reactionary horse's ass with a voting record only a Republican could like. The Constitution is very clear about impeachment-- Article II, Section 4:
The President, Vice President and all civil Officers of the united States, shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.

I took the liberty to emphasize a few words; Thomas Jefferson surely never imagined we would have elected officers in government as stupid and ignorant as Ellen Tauscher. Perhaps Ellen Tauscher can't be impeached-- but that's what primary elections are for.

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