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?
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 "executive privilege". And now, the full House must vote on the citation, at least if that isn't off of Speaker Pelosi's table, too.
It's not a long trip down the road to drive me absolutely insane, but these kind of reports are simply too prevalent in 21st century America:
The mother of an 11-year-old rural Weston girl who died of untreated diabetes says she didn't know her daughter was terminally ill as she prayed for her to get better instead of taking her to the doctor.
Madeline Neumann died Sunday from an undiagnosed and treatable form of diabetes.
Her mother, Leilani Neumann, tells The Associated Press her daughter's condition worsened suddenly, and the parents stayed in prayer, believing she would recover...I have no problem with the parents of this young lady being religious, or even bringing up their child as such. That's a personal decision that people make when they're raising their kids. In fact, it's quite possible that Madeline was cognizant of her own illness, and due to her faith, thought that her parents were doing the right thing.
However, when a child's medical condition worsens, it is incumbent on the parents to seek appropriate care for the child. Failure to do so is nothing short of child abuse, and in this particular case, the authorities should be investigating such an angle.
The Supreme Court has taken up the issue of a restrictive gun control ordinance in Washington, D.C., and is hearing the case today. It goes without saying that uncontrolled handgun proliferation, particularly in urban areas, has become anathema to law enforcement agencies across the country, but don’t look for SCOTUS to uphold the D.C. ordinance.
Perhaps there are other ways, more voluntary in nature, to control the permitting, licensing, and distribution of handguns? Hmmmmmm….
A bandit-infested region of India is trying to persuade men to undergo sterilization by offering to fast-track their gun licence applications, an official said on Tuesday.
Officials in central Madhya Pradesh state’s Shivpuri district decided to adopt the policy — already tried out by some neighboring states — to increase the low vascectomy rate.
“I came to know that it had to do with their perceived notion of manliness,” said Manish Shrivastav, administrative chief of Shivpuri district, part of the Indian Chambal region, which is famed for its lawlessness and bandits.
“I then decided to match it with a bigger symbol of manliness — a gun licence,” he said. “And the ploy worked.” …
They were both treated (or not, as the case may be) at UCLA Medical Center in Los Angeles.
Just to refresh everyone’s memory, Nataline Sarkisyan was the young woman who, just before Christmas last year, was denied a liver transplant by her insurance company until it was too late. She died at UCLA Medical Center on the day that the transplant was approved.
And Britney Spears? Just to refresh everyone’s memory…oh…never mind. But she’s also been treated at UCLA Medical Center on various occasions. Britney gave birth there, and has also had a few encounters with staff in the psychiatric wing of the hospital.
The reason I bring up Nataline is that right after she died, I asked a simple question: why in the hell didn’t the hospital just do the transplant, and figure out the financials at a later time? I don’t believe that anyone at UCLA Medical Center was ever held to account for this lack of decision making that led, directly or indirectly, to the young woman’s death.
However, apparently some staff members at UCLA Medical Center were caught peeping in Britney Spears’ medical files - and have been fired for the offense:
UCLA Medical Center is taking steps to fire at least 13 employees and has suspended at least six others for snooping in the confidential medical records of pop star Britney Spears during her recent hospitalization in its psychiatric unit, a person familiar with the matter said Friday.
In addition, six physicians face discipline for peeking at her computerized records, the person said…
Listen, I’m the last person in the world who would make excuses for any medical personnel violating the privacy of any patient, celebrity or not, by snooping in patient records for prurient information. Anyone at UCLA Medical Center who wasn’t directly involved in treating Britney had no business prying into her personal records, and should have been fired when the discovery was made. That was the correct call. (Interestingly enough, it appears as if staff were fired, but not doctors. Go figure.)
It's looking increasingly like the proposed do-over of the Democratic Party presidential primary is DOA. There have been several proposals batted around, the latest of which is a mail in ballot type of affair. The Dem chairperson in Florida appears to be concerned about the sheer logistics of conducting such a vote:
The head of Florida's Democratic Party said Thursday the proposed vote-by-mail presidential primary is unlikely to go forward because of strong opposition and concerns about conducting the vote...
...[Karen] Thurman will review comments from Democratic leaders and make a decision by Monday on whether to proceed with the re-vote. But she acknowledged that Obama has had concerns and the Democratic National Committee won't support a proposal unless both candidates also back it. She said there's a serious question over whether the state could legally verify the signatures of a privately run election.
"If this becomes something that we can't do, then we can't do it," Thurman said...When I first heard of the proposal, my thoughts were: ripe for fraud and ballot box stuffing. After all, it would be exceedingly difficult to verify and validate every single one of more than a million-plus ballots.
On the other hand, even if it took days (or weeks) to validate and count, this type of a primary might just be the ultimate in voter enfranchisement. Florida Dems would be able to take some time in casting their votes, and it's probable that doing it this way would result in a huge turnout.
As those who follow this kind of stuff are well aware, the DNC stripped Michigan and Florida of their delegates to the Democratic Party convention as a penalty for moving up the state primaries. Hillary Clinton won both primaries decisively, in what was essentially a "straw vote", since neither state can seat its delegates (as things stand now).
Interesting enough, with the nomination hanging in the balance, and the talking heads chattering that if Clinton can't win both Ohio and Texas tomorrow she should quit the race, Florida governor Charlie Crist has thrown a bit of a monkey wrench into the works. He says he's willing to give the Dems a do-over vote in the Sunshine State:
Florida Governor Charlie Crist said he'd support a repeat of the Democratic presidential primary so the state's delegates can be counted at the party's national convention.
Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean said he's open to the possibility. Primary elections are paid for by a state's taxpayers, so the offer from Crist, a Republican, is "very helpful" because money is an issue, Dean said.
"We're very willing to listen to the people of Florida," Dean said on CNN's "Late Edition" ...It's curious that DNC Chairman Dean would make such a comment, and not dismiss the offer outright.
A motivational coaching company in Utah is being sued by a former employee for using waterboarding as a performance improvement technique. No word yet on whether snarling dogs, loud music, or pictures of Dick Cheney were also being used to properly inspire the employees.
So, you think you have a crappy job?
This is what happens when torture becomes acceptable in the mainstream. It's also quite a stark commentary on the state of corporate employee / employer relationships:
A supervisor at a motivational coaching business in Provo is accused of waterboarding an employee in front of his sales team to demonstrate that they should work as hard on sales as the employee had worked to breathe. In a lawsuit filed last month, former Prosper, Inc. salesman Chad Hudgens alleges his managers also allowed the supervisor to draw mustaches on employees' faces, take away their chairs and beat on their desks with a wooden paddle "because it resulted in increased revenues for the company." ...I've heard of some extreme motivational techniques in the workplace, but this just seems a bit over the top to me. No word yet whether or not the company endorses electrodes clamped to employee's genitalia as an additional incentive not to slack off on the job.
Is this how Prosper, Inc. won the E&Y Utah Entrepreneur of the Year Award in 2005?
There's a Dick Cheney joke in here someplace, but I'm too tired from traveling today to develop it right now.
The question is: will a Democratic Party controlled congress do anything about it?
Army Chief of Staff Gen. George Casey went before the Senate Armed Services Committee today, and told them:
"The cumulative effects of the last six-plus years at war have left our Army out of balance, consumed by the current fight and unable to do the things we know we need to do to properly sustain our all-volunteer force and restore our flexibility for an uncertain future."This isn't news to anyone who has actually been paying attention. Nearly a year ago, I wrote a long article titled, The Hollow Army. Nothing has changed since then in terms of military readiness to address emerging issues around the world. The bottom line is that the U.S. is so hamstrung in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the military is stretched so thin, that nearly any tinpot dictator can get away with nearly anything around the globe that might otherwise require a military response from the U.S.
It's more than just personnel, too. The Bush administration led America into its Iraq folly nearly five years ago. And the troops that are there still aren't receiving the proper equipment to protect themselves and carry out their mission. FIVE YEARS.
Over the weekend, Hillary Clinton was doing some campaigning in Kenosha, Wisconsin. At a Q&A session, a question was raised on what she would do to prevent tragedies such as occurred last week at Northern Illinois University, in which 5 students were killed and 22 more wounded by a former NIU student who had gone off his meds.
Her answer was troubling to me - not her stock political answer (background checks, no gun permits for terrorists or the mentally ill) - but that she felt the need to impress Wisconsin voters with her own killing credentials:
"You know, you may not believe it but I've actually gone hunting," Clinton, 60, said at a question-and-answer session with voters at a crammed bratwurst restaurant in Kenosha.
"My father taught me to shoot 100 years ago," she said jokingly...Wait a second. Didn't Mitt Romney say basically the same thing earlier in his own campaign, in an attempt to boost his own machoness / killing cred with New Hampshire voters? Why, yes, yes he did.
And Huck? Boom, boom, and a pheasant sacrifices itself for the greater good of a Huckabee photo op.
What is it about politicians in 2008 that they feel they have to pander to a crowd by proudly proclaiming their ability (past or present) to kill something...a defenseless animal - and by extension, a terrorist; an inner city bad guy robbing a liquor story; a Mexican crossing the border under the cover of darkness? It almost feels sociopathic.
Why is it that the Catholic Church would rather have a single mother become unemployed and/or on welfare than either have an abortion or a job to provide for her child? When a diocese fires a single woman for becoming pregnant out of wedlock, that's the message they're sending.
This is one of those "damned if you do, damned if you don't" situations.
An unmarried 5th grade teacher at St. Felix school in Wabasha, Mn. found herself in an unfortunate position when she became pregnant. True to her faith, she decided against having an abortion - but then found herself on the short end of the employment stick. She was given the choice by school administrators to resign or be fired:
...after learning she was pregnant out of wedlock, she felt the right decision was to be honest with the school's principal.
"She told me that she was glad I made the right choice in telling her," Emily says.
She says after being asked by administration to write a letter to the school explaining what she had done, she was then asked by the principal and the school's priest to resign...
(click for larger version)
Ok, who got to Scottie? He's spinning the words in his book as fast as he ever spun the lies of the Bush administration. Surprised?
Well, ya knew it was too good to be true. A BushCo insider, a "made man", ratting out the boss? It didn't take Scott McClellan long to backtrack on the excerpt made public yesterday from his upcoming book.
Can you say, "damage control"?
WASHINGTON - Former White House spokesman Scott McClellan does not believe President Bush lied to him about the role of White House aides I. Lewis Scooter Libby or Karl Rove in the leak of CIA operative Valerie Plame's identity, according to McClellan's publisher.
Someone tell me what's going on - and if the government is supporting Blackwater's assertion that the company is "an extension of the military"?
The families of the four killed contractors filed suit against the company in January 2005, saying that Blackwater's cost-cutting measures led to the deaths. That lawsuit is still pending as a federal judge tries to determine whether it should be heard in arbitration or in open court.
Blackwater has argued in court that it is immune to such a lawsuit because the company operates as an extension of the military and cannot be responsible for deaths in a war zone.Yep. The neocons have set up their own private army, answerable to no one but government contract officials, apparently.
I wonder what the General Petraeus has to say about Blackwater's assertion?
This week, cadaverous Fred Thompson (R-Law and OrderÃ¢â€žÂ¢) is expected to finally pull the trigger and announce his candidacy for the GOP presidential nomination. I'm hopeful that, as he makes it official, other GOP candidates greet his entrance appropriately. Thompson isn't exactly presidential timber, and there are rumors of a lot of skeletons rattling around in his closet that should be falling out into the public view in 3...2...1...
Bottom line - Thompson may be exiting the race a lot faster than he decided to get into it.
Quixotic candidate Ron Paul, on the other hand, continues to gather a bit of momentum and positive press. On Friday, Associated Press published a rather fluffy piece on Mr. Paul and his growing legion of libertarian GOP supporters:
Passengers on a plane leaving New York could see three words in 4-foot block letters painted on an East Village rooftop terrace as they ascended: GOOGLE RON PAUL. The entreaty to search the Internet for news of the Republican congressman from rural Texas is one of the more visible signs of enthusiasm from a do-it-yourself base of Web fans. Their support doesn't show up in public opinion polls, but it's unmatched among presidential candidates in its passion...
The supporters have an entrepreneurial drive and get their political news from Internet sources outside the mainstream media, especially blogs and news aggregators that rely on popular vote to determine news value.
That same spirit inspires them to canvass parade routes in 100-degree heat, argue campaign strategy in two-hour meetings or paint the roof of a Manhattan apartment building.
"To get your arms around everything and understand what is going on is really impossible to do," Paul spokesman Jesse Benton said of supporters roaming the Web...Then, on Saturday - let's not forget it's a holiday weekend here in the states - the Texas GOP held a presidential candidate straw poll. Voting was not open to just anyone who had the price of admission in their pocket (as was the recent straw poll in Iowa). The Texas GOP straw poll was only open to current and former state-level and federal-level GOP convention delegates. In other words, Bush's base. How did Paul finish? Third, behind anti-immigrant jingoist Duncan Hunter and aforementioned Thompson.
On the face of it, a third place finish might not seem like such good news for Mr. Paul's campaign. Digging a little deeper, though, reveals that it's another energizing finish for his supporters. Let's be realistic. Participants in this poll were die hard Republicans, and probably more to the point, die hard TEXAS Republicans. They are anti-immigration in the extreme, ergo one of the reasons that Hunter garnered so many votes:
...Hunter got 534 votes, or 41% of the vote. Former Sen. Fred Thompson of Tennessee, who is expected to announce his candidacy this week but was not at the event, came in second with 266 votes, or nearly 21%. Rep. Ron Paul of Texas came in third with 217 votes, or 17%.
Crowd support seemed split between Hunter and Paul, whose supporters waved signs and chanted his name throughout the day...
GOP congressman and presidential candidate Ron Paul continues to fly under the radar of both the media and the top-tier candidates for the 2008 GOP nomination. However, based on the results of Saturday's GOP straw poll in Iowa, the big dogs in the race need to be watching their rear view mirrors very closely. Candidates in the mirror may be closer than they appear...
The GOP Iowa straw poll was conducted on Saturday, with results being delayed because of a voting machine glitch (as Steve Benen says, insert joke here). There were few surprises.
Why should anyone care about GOP presidential politics at this early stage of the game? Believe me, it's completely unimportant that most of the chatter surrounding the Iowa GOP straw poll is centered on the strong showing by Mitt Romney. His wide-margin first place finish was expected.
Today, corporate media folks are keying on the relatively strong second place showing by former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee, with Sam Brownback and Tom Tancredo close on his heels. All three were slugging it out for the fundie vote, and it looks like they sliced this desirable GOP demographic pretty much cleanly into thirds. Essentially, if you add up the fundie votes for Huckabee, Brownback, and Tancredo, it's clear that Romney didn't win the straw poll - the fundies in Iowa won the straw poll by a wide margin.
Most surprisingly, perhaps, is that GOP congressman Ron Paul was competitive. While he finished 5th in the polling, he wasn't a distant fifth, and the straw poll will certainly give his supporters a big lift. If nothing else, the Iowa straw poll is about strength of the respective candidates organizations, and Ron Paul's finish shows that he has some organizational juice behind his campaign.
In online discussions of the Wednesday Night Ambush, one question goes unanswered that I have yet to see anyone ask: why didn't the subject of the ambush come up during Alberto Gonzales' confirmation hearing in January, 2005?
White House Counsel Gonzales and Chief of Staff Andy Card accosted an ailing John Ashcroft on March 11, 2004, two days after major surgery to relieve his pancreaitis, in an effort to get him to sign off on the Bush regime's domestic wiretap program. As previously noted, Ashcroft refused, and the subsequent mutiny almost cost the regime its entire senior leadership at the DOJ (Ashcroft, Comey, and others threatened to resign before Bush pulled back).
The actions of Gonzales and Card didn't happen in a vacuum or under a cloak of extreme secrecy. Even if it did, secrets are hard to keep in Washington, DC. Someone (or multiple someones) knew of the Wednesday Night Ambush. On November 11, 2004, George Bush nominated Gonzales to replace Ashcroft as Attorney General. The subsequent confirmation hearings were contentious, but seemed to focus on a narrow set of issues (primarily, Gonzales' role in establishing the regime's torture doctrine). Illegal wiretapping was secondary, at best.
Following an unsatisfactory set of answers at Gonzales' rubber stamp confirmation hearing, Sen. Russ Feingold wrote a letter to Gonzales...
I'm not sure anymore what constitutes "business as usual" in Iraq, either at GZBG's or elsewhere in-country. 24 bodies turning up in Baghdad in a single day? Another journalist going dead? A bus being hijacked and seven people onboard are executed?
Business as usual.
I first read the story of UK Prime Minister Tony Blair's unannounced stop in the Green Zone on his Farewell Tour sometime this past weekend. While Blair was saying his "goodbyes" in the Green Zone, a mortar landed in the British embassy compound just before his arrival. The U.K. Independent picks it up from here:
After a mortar dropped on the British embassy compound in Baghdad just before Tony Blair arrived yesterday, his spokesman said there was "nothing to suggest anything other than business as usual". That was accurate, but probably not in the way he intended.In other words, Blair's spokesperson is intimating that there's a total breakdown not only in social order, but in security - somehow, even though his visit was ostensibly "secret", someone on the other side knew he was flying in and where he'd be, and approximately when. The same thing happened to Dick Cheney during a "secret" visit a few days back - and even worse, the Independent reports:
No warning sirens went off when a rocket detonated in the zone during Vice-President Dick Cheney's visit last week, presumably because his staff did not want the sound booming out of TV screens across America.So, Cheney's entourage was willing expose everyone in the Green Zone to rocket / mortar fire, because they didn't want sirens wailing on American TV screens? And this wasn't reported in the American media because....?
Business as usual.
On the same day that the Department of Justice was singing its own praises for busting an alleged terror ring in New Jersey, mostly unnoticed was the fact that the DOJ may have intentionally tanked the prosecution of an international terrorist in our own midst.
As a result, convicted terrorist Luis Posada Carriles is a free man today.
Yesterday, U.S. District Judge Kathleen Cardone threw out immigration charges against Posada Carriles, and ordered his electronic tracking bracelet removed. He had been free on bail, pending an immigration trial that was scheduled to begin this week.
I've been following this saga for a long time, and it's no surprise that Judge Cardone took this action. In fact, given the history of this case, it's almost crystal clear that this was the intended result of the Department of Justice's case against Posada Carriles. Since he was first detained in the U.S., the DOJ has displayed a level of case management skill that is beyond mere incompetence - in fact, to the untrained outside observer, it's easy to draw the conclusion that the prosecution of this case was intentionally botched.
According to CNN, the departments of Justice and Homeland Security are "reviewing Cardone's decision", and it is not clear at this point whether or not the judge's ruling will be appealed.
What is clear, beyond all reasonable doubt, is that Posada Carriles is an international terrorist who was trained and financed by the U.S. government. Whether he was operating as a freelancer, or at the behest of his CIA handlers when he carried out his terrorist acts is completely beside the point. Documents from the U.S. government make it clear that the man plotted the bombing of a Cuban airliner that killed 73 people, and he has admitted being involved in hotel bombings in Havana. In fact, he's quite proud of his curriculum vitae as a terrorist.
Today, the Bush administration's favorite terrorist is strolling the South Beach waterfront in Miami unencumbered, grateful that the concept of quid pro quo has stood the test of time, and proving once again that in some cases, there is indeed honor among thieves.
-Hunter S. Thompson
I spent a couple of hours yesterday evening mulling over what may be one of the more amazingly candid and bizarre stories from the war zones of Iraq and Afghanistan that IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve ever read. ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s an interview with a contractor, identified only as Ã¢â‚¬Å“NeroÃ¢â‚¬Â�, who has spent time in both McMurdo, Antarctica, and (presumeably) sipping Mojitas at the Baghdad Country Club.
As you sit at your desk today, and on a day when the government is reporting that U.S. employers added the fewest new jobs in over two years, and that unemployment figures rose, I promise you that Nero's story will get you to thinking.
While I can't vouch for the authenticity of the interview, it rings true, or at least has a ring of truth to it. When I earlier described the Green Zone in Baghdad as reminiscent of the Mos Eisley segment in the movie Star Wars (click the BCC link above), my analogy was apparently wholly appropriate. Perhaps I was able to sniff this out because in my own life, I've worked some fairly exotic jobs, and run into guys like Nero while drinking beer in places like BCC...
It's impossible not to be concerned about the exploding story of deadly pet food, and way more importantly, the now confirmed entry of the problem into our own food chain.
CNN is reporting this evening that as many as 2.5 million people may have recently eaten chickens that were fed with contaminated feed. And the more I read about the melamine tainted wheat gluten issue, the more I'm realizing that the FDA is dealing with the potential enormity of this disaster about as effectively as FEMA dealt with Katrina.
Here's CNN's lede:
People have eaten millions of chickens that were given feed tainted with recalled pet food, federal officials said Tuesday, though they said the threat to human health is minimal.
The announcement came after an investigation of chicken farms in Indiana found that 38 of the facilities had given contaminated feed to poultry raised for human consumption, and that 2.5 million to 3 million people ate them.
The officials added that they expect to discover that chickens on possibly hundreds of farms in other states were also given tainted feed...Additionally, the article goes on to report that potentially contaminated pork has been sold in some areas of the U.S. The upshot? Basically, any grain fed livestock, free-range or not, is potentially at risk. The FDA's response? In essence, it would appear that they're doing little more than damage control for the Chinese government, and engaging in an ass-covering exercise for the U.S. companies involved...
28%-er Bill Thomas of Copperas Cove, Texas, decided recently to give George Bush one of the three purple hearts that he had been awarded in Vietnam. Bush was so blown over by this gesture that he invited Thomas and his wife, Georgia, to the Oval Office for the presentation...
There are days when I think about the topic of equality, in all its various forms, and lament the fact that America still has miles to go in terms of accepting our national diversity. And then there are days when I learn a bit of history, and allow that we've come a long way in a (relatively speaking) short period of time. This morning, David Parham's life story taught me a little bit of that history.
He was the first African American to be promoted to the rank of Captain in the U.S. Navy, which is one step shy of flag-rank Admiral. I don't suppose that this would be particularly remarkable, except that it happened fairly recently - 1966. Parham was also the second black chaplain in the U.S. Navy chaplain corps, having entered the corps in 1944, a few years after being told by a Navy recruiter that his application couldn't be taken because of his color. He finally retired in 1982.
Capt. David Parham passed away on April 16th. The story of his life, which I've only synopsized above, is truly inspirational. If you need a bit of a lift today, check it out.
In yet another demonstration that the Bush administration's "Global War on Terror" is nothing but a jingoistic paper sham, Luis Posada Carriles was released on bail yesterday, and has been flown to his Miami home under "house monitoring".
For those of you unfamiliar with the Posada Carriles saga, click here - but the short story is that Posada Carriles has been convicted of blowing up a Cuban airliner several years ago, killing 73 people, and has been involved in a lot of Latin American skullduggery over the years as a paid CIA operative. But note that he was only detained on immigration charges when he re-entered the U.S. two years ago:
Posada was freed from a New Mexico jail after he posted $250,000 bond and his family put up another $100,000. He must wear an electronic monitoring device while under house arrest at his wife's home in Miami pending his May 11 trial on immigration fraud charges...Yes, Luis Posada Carriles is a terrorist with quite an impressive resume. In fact, Cuba has referred to him as the "Osama bin-Laden of the Western hemisphere". But since it's Cuba making the accusations, Posada Carriles' history is marginalized.
It's already established that he had long and deep and dark Latin American connections to George H.W. Bush's CIA, and in particular, John Negroponte. So, with today's release of Posada Carriles, perhaps this is a demonstration that there is honor among theives, after all...and that the Bush regime feels that terrorism is OK - as long as the guy is our terrorist.
We have a terrorist that bombed an airliner loose in our midst, and no one in the U.S. government (or America, in general, for that matter) seems to give a damn. He was released on bail because the Bush regime DOJ declined to bring terrorism charges against a convicted terrorist, for fear that he'd be extradited and tortured.
Who'da thunk it?
One upside to the emergence of blogs is that many people have come to recognize that there's a certain eliteness to the Washington press corpse. As a result, we're more likely to calibrate our bullshit detectors accordingly when we read reporting and opinions written by those who consider themselves insiders. Over a period of time, it's pretty easy to spot the journalists and pundits who act more as propaganda conduits and stenographers rather than true reporters. Unfortunately, inside the beltway bubble, there are a lot more of the former than the latter.
The annual Correspondent's Dinner is just one example of collegial atmosphere that exists between the elected (and non-elected) power brokers, and those in the fourth estate whose ethics should require them to maintain a professional distance from the people they cover. And this gives rise to an even more dangerous media type: the milquetoast opinion shaper. In other words, the wordsmiths who try to play both sides of the fence. Charlie Cook is one such guy - an insider's insider...
As I dressed this morning, MS-NBC was on in the background - and by the time I finished pulling up my socks, I was ready for Imus to return. Why?
The anchors were blowing a huge volume of smoke up George BushÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s skirt, simply because heÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s traveling to Virginia Tech today for a memorial service. Ã¢â‚¬Å“Mourner-in-ChiefÃ¢â‚¬Â�. Ã¢â‚¬Å“Represents all of us.Ã¢â‚¬Â� Ã¢â‚¬Å“Has a lot of experience dealing with grieving families.Ã¢â‚¬Â� Ã¢â‚¬Å“Brings out his greatest stregths.Ã¢â‚¬Â�
Listen, I think the President of the United States should be in Blacksburg, Virginia today. But then, I think he should have been in New Orleans the day after Katrina hit, too, rather than strumming a guitar in San Diego. What really bothers me is how this event will be ultimately politicized, and the media will be looking breathlessly for a poll bounce next week.
Why does there have to be a political angle to absolutely everything? Why do I even have to consider that there might be an ulterior motive for his trip today, and that maybe he wouldnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t be making this trip if Cheney or Rove didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t goad him into it?
I hate that I even think this way sometimes, and that IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m so cynical. Why canÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t I just believe that he would be making this trip out of true sympathy and to represent the nation in this time of tragedy?
We wake up this morning to a sunny forecast in Iraq, from none other than John "I Misspoke" McCain. Even as a 60 Minutes interview prepares to air this evening in which McCain reportedly backpedals on his upbeat assessment of the continuing quagmire, he pens an op-ed for the Washington Post that shows his rose colored glasses are still firmly welded to his face.
The only explanation I can come up with is that he's desperately courting the GOP presidential nomination endorsement of the Bush / Cheney regime. With the approval of the war (and George Bush and Dick Cheney) hovering at or below 30%, one would think that a campaign strategy which requires McCain to keep his lips firmly planted to the butt cheeks of the current regime would be a loser. For whatever reason, though, he apparently doesn't think so.
In his WaPo op-ed, John McCain takes the media to the woodshed for not reporting the good news out of Iraq, and lists some examples. This is almost too easy - but let's examine the claims, one by one...
It's hard to believe that nearly two years after Hurricane Katrina devastated the U.S. gulf coast, the national conversation is still centered on total mismanagement by the Bush regime.
Recently, reports have have surfaced that the Army Corps of Engineers installed defective flood control pumps in the New Orleans levee system last year. While this incident didn't generate a whole lot of outrage, it's just another example of the complete lack of attention being paid to reconstruction by the overseers in the Bush administration. It seems almost axiomatic that after many such displays of incompetence in the federal response to the disaster, someone with a level of access equivalent to a cabinet official should have been appointed to coordinate the federal efforts. Again, there is no responsibility being assumed, butts kicked, or names named.
What else is new?
Anyway, Senator Mary Landrieu (D-La) is mad - so mad that she's put a hold on the Bush regime's nominee to head the Army Corps of Engineers:
To protest what she called mismanagement of the New Orleans levee system, Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., has placed a hold on the nomination of Lt. Gen. Robert Van Antwerp to head the Army Corps of Engineers.
Landrieu made the announcement Tuesday at a news conference near the 17th Street Canal levee in New Orleans that was breached after Hurricane Katrina.
"We cannot protect our communities without effective leadership and competent management," Landrieu said...While it's easy to applaud Sen. Landrieu's move, it's also important to remember her own moves during and after Katrina. While thousands were suffering in the SuperDome and New Orleans Convention Center, she was apologizing for the Bush regime's incompetence on national television. While the French Quarter of New Orleans is once again alive, large sections of the city remain uninhabitable. While there is some semblance of law and order, the criminal justice system in New Orleans is so broken that a judge recently ruled that he'll no longer hear cases for defendants who are represented by public defenders.
Perhaps I'm being a bit harsh, but Mary Landrieu's protest seems a little too little, a little too late.
The construction of surveys and analysis of the results is an art form unto itself. Every public opinion poll is influenced by the phrasing of questions, the order in which questions are asked, the skill of the interviewer, underlying personal bias of the responder, and survey sample representation. Most of us aren't survey / polling wonks, and don't claim to be experts at analyzing survey results - but we can read and make some basic interpretations.
Only a Rupert Murdoch publication (The Times, UK) could positively spin the results of a survey that indicates one in four Iraqis have had a family member murdered since the invasion of Iraq four years ago:
MOST Iraqis believe life is better for them now than it was under Saddam Hussein, according to a British opinion poll published today.
The survey of more than 5,000 Iraqis found the majority optimistic despite their suffering in sectarian violence since the American-led invasion four years ago this week..."Optimistic"? Hardly...
The new head of Walter Reed Army Hospital would - and did.
As a followup to yesterday's post on the sacking of the head of Walter Reed Army Hospital because of the Washington Post exposÃƒÂ©, we find today that the interim head of Walter Reed used to run the place. You would think that perhaps this was a good thing - bring someone in with experience in running the facility in the past. You would be wrong.
Apparently, Lt. Gen. Kevin Kiley, the guy that's been appointed to head the hospital, was at the genesis of many of the reported problems. And he was one of the first people that the Pentagon trotted out of the gate to decry the WaPo expose that ran nearly two weeks ago. Here's the take on Kiley from the wife of a Republican congressman:
In 2004, Rep. C.W. Bill Young (R-Fla.) and his wife stopped visiting the wounded at Walter Reed out of frustration. Young said he voiced concerns to commanders over troubling incidents he witnessed but was rebuffed or ignored. "When Bev or I would bring problems to the attention of authorities of Walter Reed, we were made to feel very uncomfortable," said Young, who began visiting the wounded recuperating at other facilities.
Beverly Young said she complained to Kiley several times. She once visited a soldier who was lying in urine on his mattress pad in the hospital. When a nurse ignored her, Young said, "I went flying down to Kevin Kiley's office again, and got nowhere. He has skirted this stuff for five years and blamed everyone else."NPR's Morning Edition ran a quick piece on Kiley this morning that is worth a listen. Here's an excerpt:
And even last week, as the Pentagon promised swift action, Lt. Gen. Kiley was publicly blasting The Washington Post for what he called "one-sided reporting." So the decision to have Lt. Gen. Kiley lead Walter Reed in the interim has left some senior pentagon officials fuming. One said, in private, "they fired the wrong guy and promoted the wrong guy." Ã¢â‚¬Â¦For gawd's sake, this is like putting Michael Brown back in charge of FEMA!!
The Senate Armed Services Committee is meeting next week on the Walter Reed issues. That's not soon enough. Sen. Carl Levin needs to move on this TODAY, not next week. Kiley has absolutely no business being in charge of wounded vet medical care, whether it's an interim appointment or not.
You know what to do. If you're as outraged as I am, make the call this morning. I'm not blaming the GOP for this one - I'm blaming the Bush regime in general, and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, specifically. And speaking of the GOP, we need to know - and we need to see - John McCain blasting out of the gates on this issue this morning. He has the bully pulpit, and military issues are his "pet project" as he careens toward the 2008 GOP presidential primaries.
Take a stand, Sen. McCain.