Sunday, July 31, 2005

The "Global Struggle Against Violent Extremism"

What happens when you invade a sovereign nation on false pretenses to wage a "war on terror;" prematurely declare "mission accomplished" three weeks later; and then after two years be on the seemingly losing end of one of the most violent insurgencies ever? Well, a "war" is no longer what we're fighting, and the enemy is no longer a noun (which was pretty inane from the start). In the past two weeks, various members of the Bush posse, including the president himself and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, have strategically been referring to the fiasco in Iraq as the "global struggle against violent extremism." Interesting. For two years it was nothing but war. Now that we're getting our asses kicked daily by a exponentially growing insurgency obsessed with suicide bombs, I guess it's time to change the game. Can't lose a "war" if you're not fighting one, right? Jeez, there's no limit to how arrogant and offensive this administration can be. Hey George, just what did happen to the war? It still looks, smells and feels like one, doesn't it? And with five US soldiers killed today and a total of 1800 since this non-war began, the death toll sure smacks of war as well. The Bushies are getting good at bait and switch and smoke and mirrors. They think we're all a bunch of morons who'll suddenly forget what we're doing in Iraq and why we went there in the first place. Well, I suppose they're half right. Many red-staters and party faithful actually will believe this garbage. They're the same misinformed loyalists who proudly slop up their cars with yellow "Support the Troops" decals. If they truly wanted to support our soldiers they'd demand to know when the hell they'll be coming home. But these good 'ole fashioned patriotic Americans don't get too mired in facts and details. Which is why they'll buy into this "global struggle" BS. And pretty soon, Bush just might even have them forgetting we're actually in Iraq. Hey, it worked with WMD. Andy

Friday, July 29, 2005

Frist Splits w/ Bush On Stem Cell Research

The NY Times website yesterday reported that Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tn) has done a 180 degree turnaround and now supports federal funding for embryonic stem cell research. As recently as a month ago Frist reiterated his position against such funding. He'll announce and explain his newfound love of science this morning. A cardiologist, I wonder what he now knows about the procedure/process that he didn't before. Seems quite politically motivated. Oddly though, in choosing to support federally-funded stem cell research he breaks ranks with President Bush, the GOP and the almighty evangelicals...all of whom whose support Frist desperately needs if he's going to run for prez in '08. So why the change of heart if it drains political capitol? What does Frist know that we don't? Is he sensing that America's tired of the religious right dictating how we live our lives? What we believe in? How we should view science and medicine? Is this move an early sign that Frist's going moderate to win over a broader base of voters? Does he view Bush as a low approval-ratings lame duck whose backing he no longer needs? It's all very interesting. Andy

Thursday, July 28, 2005

These Democrats Need Our Support!

There are two Democratic candidates in very important campaigns who desperately need our support. One election is more urgent than the other. Remember Ohio? The state that came about 100,000 votes shy of putting John Kerry in the White House? Oh yeah, that Ohio. Well, there's an extremely close special election taking place August 2nd in Hamilton County for a House seat being vacated by 12-year GOP incumbent Rob Portman, who's taking a trade rep job with President Bush. The Democratic candidate, Paul Hackett, up until four months ago was a unit commander in Iraq. This 43-year-old lawyer w/a wife and three small children put career and family on hold to join the Marines, on and off since graduating college, to defend our country. He's up against 53-year-old Jean Schmidt, a rich banker's daughter, who's putting a ton of her own dough into her campaign. National Republican committees are also stocking her coffers, and Bush himself has recorded campaign messages which she'll be rolling out by phone as election day nears. She's outpaced Hackett 3-1 in fundraising. In short, the Republicans are pulling out the stops to get her elected. This is Bush country; 64% voted for Dubya in '04. As are many southern Ohio counties, Hamilton is a Republican beachhead, and they want to keep it that way. Initially, the Democratic Party wrote this one off. But interestingly, Hackett's been gaining momentum, and it's suddenly a hotly contested race. So the Dem's brought out our own big guns--including James Carville and Max Cleland--and are throwing dollars and workers into the campaign. To be sure, Hackett is certainly no progressive. He's anti-abortion but is against government regulation of it, and he's pro-guns. But he's also vehemently anti-Iraq war and anti-Bush, and calls the president the biggest threat to America. In his own words: "I fought in the Fallujah campaign, took part in reconstruction efforts, and worked side-by-side with Iraqi military and civil personnel. I know what's really happening in Iraq." He's against an immediate pull-out and instead advocates speeding up the training of Iraqi forces so they can take over. His opponent, Schmidt, supports the Bush tax cuts, is also pro-guns, and is a leader of Right to Life of Greater Cincinnati. Unlike Hackett, she'd be very happy if the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade. She's bad news, and she can be beat. Please support Hackett. If you can volunteer, great. If you can shed a few dollars, he'll certainly need it in this final week. I've personally contributed as well. It's money well spent. You can make a donation on his website. If we can overtake Ohio's richly Red 2nd congressional district, that would be a major coup. Next on the list is Bob Casey Jr, Pennsylvania's state treasurer and challenger for Sen. Rick Santorum's seat in the November '06 mid-term elections. Folks, let me say this as firmly and emphatically as possible: Santorum is extremely vulnerable. His poll numbers are down, Casey's are strong, and Casey's been gaining ground. Santorum is an evil, loathsome and dangerous politician. He's as religious-right as they come. We need to do everything in our power to support Casey and rid Washington of this theocratic, right-wing ideologue. Get involved. Volunteer. Send money. Check out his website. You'll feel much better that you did. Andy

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Soldiers Not a Priority w/This Congress

Next week Congress goes on Summer recess, reporting back to the Capital after Labor Day. In an effort to get as much done before the hiatus, it's rushing through a flurry of bills, but unfortunately the critical $491-billion Defense bill isn't one of them. The GOP-controlled Congress clearly has other priorities, like passing a bill which insulates gun manufacturers and dealers from lawsuits stemming from gun crimes. Apparently this is way more important than the wartime spending measure. More important than ensuring that our nation is secure and our military personnel are well-equipped, well-paid, and receiving adequate health care and benefits for themselves and their families. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN) decided to shelve the defense bill after fellow GOP'ers, pushing for amendments pertaining to the treatment of detained terror suspects and the closing of certain domestic military bases, failed to give him the needed 60 votes to end debate. The vote was 50-48, with seven Republicans--including John Warner (VA), John McCain (AZ), John Thune (SD) and Lindsey Graham (SC)--joining 40 Dem's and one Indy. Rather than fight it out this week, Frist decided a few more weeks of gravelling and gladhanding might just get him 10 more votes. This is a Republican shitstorm, with self-serving Senators (bases are in their home states) pitted against a stubborn, narrow-minded president who absolutely refuses to budge on how he treats prisoners and protects America. Oddly, Bush is against amendments that define "enemy combatant" and prohibit cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment of prisoners in U.S. custody. Am I missing something here? Is Bush pro-torture? Is there some reason not to support these measures? Bush has threatened to veto any defense bill that limits his ability to fight the war on terror. Pretty vague parameters if you ask me. So the bill intended to protect America and care for its military personnel is stalled...and Smith & Wesson and Daisy get a free pass instead. Unf***ingbelievable. Andy

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

The White House Reeks of Rove Scandal

It's starting to smell real bad in Washington, and the putrid air is blowing straight from the White House. The cast of characters in the Karl Rove scandal now includes not only Rove, the one-time boy wonder whose reputation and political career is on the line, but, among others, former Press Secretary Ari Fleischer, Chief of Staff Andrew Card, Dick Cheney chief Scooter Libby and most likely Cheney and President Bush himself. As old-school political pundit and former presidential adviser David Gergen asked on ABC's "This Week" Sunday, "What did the president know and when did he know it?" Sound a little like Watergate? You bet it does. And the Rove scandal has many parallels to Watergate, including leaks, lies and cover-ups. But just what did Cheney and Bush know is the $64,000 question. And, when did they know it is equally important. We do know that two years ago Rove, Cheney and Libby told Press Secretary Scott McLellan they had nothing to do with the outing of CIA operative Valerie Wilson (nee Plame). McLellan then emphatically, and repeatedly, reiterated this to reporters at several daily briefings. At that time, had Bush asked them himself if they were involved? Given Bush's promises to both investigate and punish leakers, you'd have thought such direct questioning would be de rigueur . If so, did they deny it to him as well, thus making him a patsy? Or did they fess up and therefore Bush has known for years who was involved, thereby lying to both the American public and the press. We know Rove lied. We know Libby lied. And we can assume Cheney lied. We know Card gave his compadres a critical 12 hours to potentially destroy evidence. And we know that Bush either was lied to and duped by trusted aides, or complicit himself. Neither scenario is very becoming for the president. The case is starting to get quite juicy, folks. So much for the Roberts/Supreme Court Weapon of Mass Distraction, huh? The case hinges on testimony provided at special prosecutor Pat Fitzgerald's grand jury investigation; key testimony given by Rove, Card, Cheney and Bush, among others. Will the facts add up? Will testimony of one contradict the others? Does this case ultimately lead back the Oval Office? It sure smells that way. Stay tuned. Andy

Monday, July 25, 2005

Andrew Card's 12 Hours of Lead Time

News is now coming out that on the evening of September 29, 2003, then-White House Counsel Alberto Gonzales was told by the Justice Department that a criminal investigation was forthcoming into the outing of CIA operative Valerie Wilson's (nee Plame) identity. Gonzales was told to inform administration officials so that they could preserve important documents relating to this case. He promptly called Chief of Staff Andrew Card and let him know what was happening, and the two decided to wait until the next morning to inform the WH staff of the news, which Justice allegedly told them was ok to do (BTW, it should be noted that at that time DOJ was run by John Ashcroft, Rove's pal and boss/client for over two decades. This is the same Ashcroft who two months later recused himself from the case due to several conflicts of interest). So that's what they did. Bush himself and key WH personnel were apparently told on the morning of Sept 30. But that gave Card a significant window of opportunity. Did he talk with anyone at the WH immediately after he got off the phone with Gonzales, current US Attorney General? Did he speak with Bush? Cheney? Rove? Folks, a lot of paper shredding, etc. can occur in a span of 12 hours. This is just one more suspicious occurrence that special prosecutor Pat Fitzgerald is hopefully putting under a microscope. Let's check phone records. WH meeting logs. WH visitor lists. And let's get Card before the federal grand jury to answer direct questions about who he spoke with and when. Andy

The Rove Scandal Heats Up

The Karl Rove scandal, on vacation for a few days after the very strategic timing of Bush's Supreme Court nomination of John G. Roberts last week, is front and center once again. The Sunday morning news shows all devoted major time to this story, with a focus now on perjury. At issue of course is the outing of covert CIA agent Valerie Wilson, nee Plame. Rove says he learned her identity from reporters. Reporters, such as Time's Matt Cooper, say they learned it from Rove. Syndicated right-winger Robert Novak, who started the controversy with his July 14, 2003 column in which he outed Plame and said his sources were "two senior administration officials" , most likely told the federal grand jury investigating the case that he learned this info from Rove and Scooter Libby, VP Dick Cheney's chief, as well. And then there's the classified memo that circulated aboard Air Force One on July 7, 2003 which discusses Plame in a paragraph marked "(S)" for secret. All covert agents' identities are classified as "secret" by the CIA. Therefore, anyone in the Bush administration who read this would've clearly known that the info was classified, and that it'd be a crime to reveal Plame's identity to the press. The memo was given to then-Secretary of State Colin Powell who was flying to Africa with the president. Interestingly, Novak's now-infamous column appeared 7 days later. The timeline is highly suspect. The Bushies were very busy in July of 2003. And everything points to them that month doing whatever possible to undermine the credibility of former Ambassador Joseph Wilson, Plame's husband, whose February '02 trip to Africa refuted the Bushie's claim of a Iraq/Niger uranium deal. Wilson described his conclusions in a July 6, '03 NY Times Op-ed piece. The rest, as they say, is history. And the outing of Plame was payback. Now the focus of special prosecutor Pat Fitzgerald is determining the original source of the leak. With all the conflicting stories circulating in and around the White House, someone, or some people, are certain to be indicted for perjury. People are lying. Rove and Libby are lying. Bush is possibly lying. Dick Cheney is the biggest liar there is, so we know his hands are in this somehow as well. I continue to believe that Fitzgerald has not been spending two years of his time to walk away from this case with nothing. He didn't put NY Times reporter Judith Miller in jail for contempt only to have everyone else escape unscathed. This case is much too large now to just disappear without indictments. Let's hope the liars get what they deserve. And if it ultimately proves true that Plame was a covert agent and not the glorified desk clerk that Rove's supporters claim, then hopefully someone will be doing 10 years in prison for putting her security, and the nation's, in jeopardy. Andy

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Let's Get the Focus Back on Rove!

Last night President Bush named John Roberts Jr to replace Sandra Day O'Connor on the Supreme Court. There was much speculation that this was a well-timed Weapon of Mass Distraction in the Karl Rove scandal, and indeed today it was one. Congratulations George, you threw some reporters off the trail for a bit. But they, and we, are not stupid. Your Rove mess is still here, and so are we. And we're gonna keep pounding away at it, you and Rove for as long as it takes to see that justice is done. And that means the resignation or firing of Rove in the very near future. We're not really sure yet who or what Roberts is and what he represents, and quite frankly I don't care. I'm not saying I think he's a good choice. To the contrary, much of what I've read about him scares me. But, I didn't expect Bush to nominate a liberal. And in these highly partisan times, any conservative Republican he did nominate was sure to have something in his or her past to cause a stir among the left. We simply cannot filibuster everyone Bush nominates and expect to be taken seriously by the American voter. But on balance, for now, Roberts is non-extremist enough for me, as he appears to be for a great many Democrats on the Hill (remember his coasting through to the D.C. Circuit in '03 with just three "no's" from the left?). I predict following some requisite badgering during Roberts' upcoming Senate confirmation hearings, our side will approve. I think most Democrat Senators are already resigned to that. To wage a long, protracted battle over Roberts would be a mistake, especially when we still have a lot of work to do in getting rid of Rove. And let's not forget John Bolton, whose controversial nomination as UN ambassador still needs serious fighting. So let's not allow Bush and the Republicans to succeed in distracting us from these two very important battles. Let them have today. And give them Roberts. But tomorrow please focus back on TurdBlossomGate...the Rove scandal. Andy

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Bush Names John G. Roberts Jr to High Court

President Bush has named John G. Roberts Jr, 50, to replace Sandra Day O'Connor on the Supreme Court. Roberts currently serves the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. He's a Harvard guy, and a former Rehnquist clerk. There's several issues concerning this nomination. First, at 50, Roberts gives new meaning to the term lifetime appointment. He will most likely be able to serve the high court for the next 30-35 years. If you're a liberal, this is not good news. Next, Roberts has little judicial experience, having been named to the D.C. Circuit just 20 months ago by Bush. Prior, Roberts was an attorney at the Washington law firm, Hogan & Hartson, from 1986 to 1989 and from 1993 to 2003. Therefore, there's little paper trail here on his judicial opinions. However, with regard to the emotionally-charged issue of abortion, there are indeed arguments and briefs made--while Roberts served the government as one of its top Supreme Court lawyers--that will no doubt give
pro-choicers cause for alarm. All that said, the situation could be worse, and we could be stuck with someone more in the mold of Scalia and Thomas. Remember, all but 3 Dem's voted for Roberts back in '03. His appointment wasn't so controversial then, and it isn't now. I would like to see the Democrats accept their fate here and move on. We need to get right back to the Karl Rove scandal, and get the media's and the nation's focus back on that. Rove's resignation would be a major coup for us. It's all about choosing one's battles, folks. Andy

Supreme Court Announcement Tonight

President Bush will go before the cameras and the American people tonight at 9PM to announce his choice for Justice Sandra Day O'Connor's replacement to the Supreme Court. There's been much speculation these past two weeks over whether he will choose another woman. There's also been much talk since last week that Bush will use this potentially controversial appointment to divert media attention away from the growing Karl Rove scandal. As such, I am predicting television's Judge Judy will be the lucky gal. A) she's a woman; and B) she's certain to cause quite a stir. The newspaper and cable news folks will have a veritable field day with this. Look, it's not so far-fetched. She's got years of experience on the bench, she's feisty and she calls 'em as she sees 'em. The high court could use her moxie. Ok, back to reality. Bush has a very major opportunity of historic significance tonight. He can either show he is truly a "uniter not a divider," or he can throw our country further into its already widening partisan canyon. Let's hope he makes the right choice for all Americans and not just the evangelical wing of the GOP. Andy

Monday, July 18, 2005

Bush Remains Mum on Rove; Softens "Threat"

President Bush remained silent yet another day when asked by reporters to comment on the growing scandal involving his "Brain," chief advisor Karl Rove. The standard GOP response, which the ever-articulate Bush has seemingly mastered, is that as long as the case is being investigated by special prosecutor Pat Fitzgerald, it's going to be itsnay on Rovesnay. Bush said today: "We have a serious ongoing investigation here and it's being played out in the press. It's best people wait until the investigation is complete before you jump to conclusions. I don't know all the facts. I want to know all the facts. I would like this to end as quickly as possible. If someone committed a crime, they will no longer work in my administration." Notice the ever so subtle change in language, from "is responsible for leaks," which is what he's previously said, to "committed a crime." Nice backpedal, George. I think this makes you a flip-flopper. Now that he definitively knows, as does the rest of the nation, that Rove indeed outed ex-CIA agent Valerie Wilson (nee Plame), and is therefore the source of the now-infamous leak, the stakes have changed, and the language parsed. Now Rove has to be found guilty of committing a crime before his boss will toss 'ole Turd Blossom to the political curb. Why am I not surprised? This administration, and Bush himself, has consistently thumbed its nose at the constitution and the rule of law. Its arrogance knows no boundaries. For its abuses of power, and veil of secrecy, it has no peers, except for the Nixon gang. Let's hope this is one mess that Rove cannot sweep under the proverbial rug, especially since he's at the center of the storm. Andy

Sunday, July 17, 2005

NBC's "Meet The Press-ure"

What a show it was this morning. Tim Russert, host of Meet The Press, trying to get a straight answer out of RNC chair Ken Mehlman. He'd have had an easier time getting Dick Cheney to say there was never any WMD in Iraq. Discussing the Karl Rove saga, Mehlman went head to head with ex-Clinton chief of staff John Podesta, president of the Center for American Progress. As painful as it is to watch Mehlman speak (and believe me, nothing makes me want to throw my shoe at my beloved 56" projection TV more than seeing Mehlman's lips moving on it), ya gotta give him credit. He does his job quite well. Of course, that is if his job is to lie through his teeth and robotically offer up the day's talking points instead. What we were treated to this morning from Mehlman was the new Right Wing script: that the information that came out this past week about the leak of CIA agent Valerie Plame's name actually "exonerates and vindicates Rove, not implicates him." As if this wasn't either delusional and/or arrogant enough, Mehlman went on to say that those Democrats who've been "smearing" Rove these past few weeks now "owe him an apology." And while he repeatedly said that he has 100% confidence in special prosecutor Pat Fitzgerald, he repeatedly ducked when Russert directly asked if he'd then respect and accept--without publicly criticizing--an indictment of Rove if that's what's handed up by Fitzgerald's federal grand jury which is investigating the Plame leak. Sure, he has 100% confidence in a guy who he will publicly rip to shreds if he doesn't like the outcome. Also on Meet the Press this morning was Time reporter Matt Cooper, who repeated what he told the grand jury last week (and which will be the focus of Time's cover story tomorrow) that he first learned that Plame was a CIA operative from Rove. This without question directly contradicts what Rove told Press Secretary Scott McClellan back in 2003, and which McClellan then told reporters at a White House briefing, that neither Rove, VP Dick Cheney, or Cheney's chief of staff Scooter Libby had anything to do with the outing of Plame. Not just a direct contradiction, mind you, but it shows Rove out and out lied. Next, Rove is in apparent violation of the Non-Disclosure Agreement he's required to sign as someone with classified clearance. Conservative columnist Robert Novak, at the center of this scandal because of his 7/14/03 column which named Plame by name, sought confirmation from Rove that Plame was in fact a CIA agent and had authorized her husband, former ambassador Joe Wilson's, trip to Africa in February 2002 to investigate claims that Iraq was seeking to purchase Uranium Yellowcake from Niger for use in making WMD (a claim which Wilson concluded, and wrote in his July '03 NY Times Op-ed piece, was not factual. That started the GOP smear campaign against Wilson and the revenge taken on his wife). Rove replied to Novak, "Yeah, I heard that too." Well, on page 77 of the Briefing Booklet Classified Information (known as SF 312), it clearly states that Before confirming the accuracy of what appears in the public source, the signer of SF 312 must confirm through an authorized officer that the information has, in fact, been declassified. If it has not, further dissemination of the information or confirmation of its accuracy is also an unauthorized disclosure. It was Rove's duty to not acknowledge to Novak that he knew what Novak was telling him. By confirming this, he violated the covenants he took as a top security official. That, coupled with his '03 lie to McClellan about not having anything to do with the leak, is obvious grounds for his firing. This is what President Bush told reporters on September 30, 2003: "Let me just say something about leaks in Washington. There are too many leaks of classified information in Washington. There's leaks at the executive branch; there's leaks in the legislative branch. There's just too many leaks. And if there is a leak out of my administration, I want to know who it is. And if the person has violated law, the person will be taken care of." Let's see if Bush keeps his promise. Andy

Friday, July 15, 2005

The Ostroy Report Had it Right: Rehnquist Says He's Staying

As predicted here on July 5 (see post below) in The Ostroy Report, Supreme Court Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist has finally announced, late last night, that he will remain on the high court despite what every major political pundit has expected now for weeks, even months. Rehnquist told reporters "I want to put to rest the speculation and unfounded rumors of my imminent retirement. I am not about to announce my retirement. I will continue to perform my duties as chief justice as long as my health permits." Bravo, Bill! That's exactly what we said you'd do. Renhquist had been hospitalized this week in Virginia after complaining of fever. In reaction to the news, President Bush praised the chief's service and expressed happiness that he'll be staying. Yeah, right. The vultures that have been hovering over this possible retirement for months--the Bushies, the GOP, the evangelicals--had hoped they'd have two shots now to shove the court even further to the Scalia/Thomas Right. Justice Sandra Day O'Connor's announced retirement was a nice added bonus after months of speculation about Rehnquist. Now, to get that second shot, I guess they'll have to hope that Justice John Paul Stevens peers over O'Connor's fence and gets jealous of all her newfound golf time. With Rehnquist staying on, we have a great chance of maintaining the overall balance if Bush does the right thing and nominates a moderate as O'Connor's replacement. Or, since they only have one shot here at making the court much more conservative, the Bushies might cave under intense pressure from the evangelicals and appoint an extremist. In any event, the stakes just got much higher overall. Regardless, Chief, you made the right choice. We're glad you're staying. And we know you'll fight this beast called cancer as hard as anyone. Good luck to ya (and please, stay on as long as possible. Scalia/Thomas is enough). Andy

Thursday, July 14, 2005

RoveWatch Day 3: 'Turd Blossom' Still on Hotseat

Ya gotta love our president. Only in BushWorld can a nickname like "Turd Blossom" be a term of endearment; a moniker for a great friend and trusted, loyal ally. Well, 'ole Turdy was on the hotseat yet again today, this time with the president perhaps putting some distance between himself and what I hope to be his soon-to-be-former top advisor. While Karl Rove sat just a few feet behind Bush at a cabinet meeting, that closeness seemed to be in physicality only. Given opportunities to publicly defend Rove, the best Bush could muster was "This is a serious investigation. And it is very important for people not to prejudge the investigation based on media reports.'' I'm sure Rove was just thrilled with that emphatic vote of confidence. Over at the White House press room, another day of ScottieBall took place at the daily briefing. After three days of getting kicked around by journalists, press secretary Scott McClellan declared,''It may not look like it, but there's a little flesh that's been taken out of me the past few days.'' Get used to it, Scottie. Until your boss and Turdy B come clean, your head has 'soccer ball' written all over it. Give those Repubbies credit. Their well-oiled spin machine this week has spit out talking points faster than Bush's approval ratings have plummeted: Rove's a victim; Rove's being smeared by the Left; Rove's a true, honest American; He never mentioned Plame by name; Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah...Now what they're all hoping for is for Bush to nominate someone to the Supreme Court so that that battle can hog the news and drag attention away from bad boy Rove. Well my friends, if that happens, I promise to keep the spotlight on 'ole Turd Blossom as long as these trusty fingers can still type. I will not be distracted! Andy

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

RoveWatch Day Two: The Bushies Keep Squirming

There's a fun new game in Washington this week. It's called, Let's see how many times we can get Scott McClellan to say "We're not not going to answer questions relating to an ongoing criminal investigation." White House correspondents in particular just love playing ScottieBall! My new favorite media trio, CBS's John Roberts, ABC's Terry Moran and NBC's David Gregory have mercilessly, and deservedly, pummeled McClellan, White House press secretary, ever since the news broke yesterday that Newsweek magazine has proven that "Bush's brain" Karl Rove was at least a source, if not the super-duper-double-top-secret source, of the identity leak of CIA covert operative Valerie Plame, wife of former Ambassador Joseph Wilson. Wilson, you'll recall, was sent to Niger (we're still not sure by whom exactly) to find out if Iraq was attempting to purchase uranium used in WMD. They weren't, he concluded, and wrote about it in his July 6, 2003 NY Times Op-ed piece, which really pissed off the Bushies. Jump to this week, where the daily press briefings are quickly becoming McClellan's new workout regimen. He sweats at the podium more than I do on the treadmill. Thank God the journalists' gloves are now officially off. Too bad it only took five years and two Bush wins for it to happen. But the press is now firmly on message. No more namby-pamby pacifism in the press room the second a snide, flip comment or shut down comes their way. Like sharks smelling blood, the White House press corps won't let go. Can ya blame 'em? They've endured their share of pummeling these past five years, and feel as lied to and deceived as we do. McClellan is on record having stated numerous times in the past two years that neither Rove, VP Dick Cheney or Lewis "Scooter" Libby, Cheney's Chief of Staff, had anything whatsoever to do with Plame's outing. And, both McClellan and Bush have previously promised to fire anyone in the administration who's leaked classified information. The press is demanding to know if McClellan and his boss will stand by these statements. They fired hardball after hardball at Scottie yesterday and today. And that's how ScottieBall, was started. The daily press briefing is my new favorite show. I can hardly wait for 12:30 tomorrow. In between the daily briefings, we're treated to the usual Republican double-talking spin monkeys that are doing their damnedest to defend Rove and his actions. My favorite is the "He never mentioned her name" defense. Once you knew that Wilson's wife was in the CIA, as Rove so generously offered up in '03 to various reporters including Time's Matt Cooper and most likely the NY Times' Judith Miller and syndicated right winger Robert Novak (whose July 14, 2003 column actually named her) it would've taken a 5th grader all of one minute for a Google search of Wilson's bio to find Plame's name. One plus one equals, duh, two. My next favorite tactic, as demonstrated nobly tonight on Chris Matthews' Hardball by conservative talking head Tucker Askew, is to point out that Wilson voted for Kerry in '04. Huh? What the hell does this have to do with anything? I guess anyone and everyone who votes Democratic must be part of some larger conspiracy to undermine society, and therefore anything and everything they say must be a lie. Sure, let's smear the crap out of anyone who disagrees with us or criticizes us. Well, at least the GOP's consistent. Next, we have McClellan's incessant "protection" of the "ongoing investigation." An investigation, mind you, that he and Bush had no problem talking about publicly for the past two years. I guess now that Rove's been caught in the henhouse it's time to get righteous. Lastly, I love the one about how Rove was merely trying to inject some truth and integrity into these reporters' stories. Ha! Now that'll keep me laughing all night......Andy

Monday, July 11, 2005

Administration Under Fire; McClellan Clubbed at Briefing Today

After two years of emphatic denials about the Bush administration's involvement in the outing of covert CIA operative Valerie Plame, and after many public promises to fire anyone caught leaking classified information, White House press secretary Scott McClellan dipped, ducked and dodged bullet after bullet from reporters at today's White House press briefing. It was downright ugly, and damned deserved. This administration has gotten way too comfortable flipping the bird at the press. Bush and McClellan were on the hotseat today after Newsweek magazine reported that top Bush advisor Karl Rove was indeed the super-duper-double-top secret source involved in the case, leaking information about Plame to Time Magazine reporter Matt Cooper in July 2003. Steadfast and stoic, McClellan repeatedly refused to answer direct questions about his and the president's past statements and denials: "I have said for quite some time that this is an ongoing investigation and we're not going to get into discussing it." The case has been under a federal grand jury investigation for the past two years. Sorry Scott. The press wasn't buyin' it. They were uncharacteristically aggressive in an attempt to get McClellan to respond substantively. In particular, NBC's David Gregory was unrelenting (bravo David!) in seeking an explanation why it was ok for McClellan to comment on the case many times in the past but not today. Calling McClellan's non-answers "ridiculous," Gregory, to no avail, demanded to know--challenging McClellan "to be honest with the American public"--if McClellan and the White House would be standing behind its past denials and previous promises to fire leakers. The White House clearly feels the intensifying heat, and is in damage-control mode. What to do next is the $64,000 question. It's main problem are the statements Rove made to the grand jury--where he's testified three times--and whether or not this testimony jives with Cooper's notes, or the previous statements and/or denials of Rove, McClellan and the White House. The real issue is whether someone in the White House, namely Rove, violated the Intelligence Identity Protection Act--a treasonous crime--in leaking Plame's identity. There's also the question of perjury. Regardless, this case is gaining serious traction, and could very well bring down Rove politically. As for criminal prosecution, say tuned. Andy

Chief Bush Operative Karl Rove at it Again

Newsweek magazine reports today that Karl Rove, Bush's top advisor and trusted ally, indeed discussed former ambassador Joseph Wilson and his wife, CIA covert operative Valerie Plame, with Time Magazine reporter Matthew Cooper in 2003. It is illegal to knowingly reveal the identity of an undercover CIA agent. Wilson, at the recommendation of his wife to her superiors, traveled to Niger in 2002 to investigate claims that the Iraqis were shopping for uranium. In a July 6, 2003 NY Times Op-ed piece, Wilson stated his findings that Iraq had not purchased the materials. Just eight days later, on July 14, syndicated conservative columnist Robert Novak broke the story about Plame, citing two senior administration officials as his source. Was this outing of Plame payback by an angry Bush White House that felt betrayed and/or frustrated with Wilson's lack of kool-aid-drinking concerning Iraq's purported weapons programs? Did it undermine the administration's justification for war? You bet. For the past two years there's been an investigation into this treasonous leak, headed by special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald, to determine whether or not it came from the Bushies in an effort to discredit Wilson after he publicly contradicted the president's claims about Iraq's WMD. Both Cooper and NY Times reporter Judith Miller were required by a federal grand jury to turn over their notes relating to this story. Miller refused and has been sentenced to jail. Cooper saw the light and acquiesced. The Newsweek story reports that just days before Novak's column was published, Cooper sent his boss an email describing his conversation with Rove: "it was, KR said, Wilson's wife, who apparently works at the agency on wmd (weapons of mass destruction) issues who authorized the trip.". Now while Rove may not have specifically mentioned Plame by name (wink, wink), his intent was clear, and the damage was done. It would subsequently be quite easy for a reporter to obtain and verify her actual identity. Furthermore, this discussion with Cooper also directly allegedly contradicts earlier statements Rove gave the grand jury, and those his attorney Robert Luskin gave to the press, denying any involvement in this case, or having had any conversations with reporters about it. Rove has had quite a checkered past in terms of questionable, unethical and/or illegal political tactics. It would surprise and shock no one if it's soon determined that he was the secret source of the outing. If true, he may finally face the music. His firing may not be enough. Acts of treason, as the outing of Valerie Plame is, should be properly prosecuted, and he should be jailed. This administration needs to learn a very valuable lesson: that it's not above the law, nor can it manipulate the law to further its extremist agenda. Andy

Saturday, July 09, 2005

Ed Klein's Unbelievable Comment Today About Rape

Ed Klein, in his new trash tome, "The Truth About Hillary: What She Knew, When She Knew It, and How Far She'll Go to Become President," ironically provides little actual truth. It's so off the charts with lies and outlandish claims that The New York Times and others refuse to review it (they regularly review books by politically conservative authors such as Hannity, Limbaugh, Coulter and others, so the Right's frequent claim of "liberal media" censorship has no legs whatsoever). In his book, Klein sucker-punches the Clintons on everything from power and ambition to sexual dysfunction. He writes that Bill Clinton allegedly raped Hillary in 1979 while the two were vacationing in Bermuda. Klein was discussing his book today (not sure if it was taped or live) with Monica Crowley, the Cruella de Ville of conservative talk radio. And it was on this program that I heard him make one of the most reprehensible, disgusting and shameful comments I've ever heard. I could not believe my ears. In discussing this particular Bermuda episode, he said he actually believes that Clinton did not rape his wife. And why does Klein feel this way? Because, and I quote, "Bill Clinton is too much of a wuss to rape anybody." Holy mother of Jesus! What kind of thing is that to say? Apparently in Klein's sick, twisted mind, rapists are revered, respected and must have qualities such as strength and manliness that he obviously believes Bill Clinton does not possess....therefore making him a "wuss" and not capable of rape. Will the "established" media pick up this incredible piece of news? Will he be admonished for making such a loathsome, insensitive comment about one of the worst crimes one human being can commit on another? I doubt it. Andy

Friday, July 08, 2005

The Rehnquist Tease

So, the reporter asks the most powerful jurist in the nation--Supreme Court Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist--if the rampant rumors today of his imminent resignation are true. And the always eloquent Rehnquist crustily mutters back as he enters an awaiting car, "That's for me to know and for you to find out." That would've been a brilliant comeback had the Chief been 8 years old. Rather, he's an extremely ill 80-year-old, whose highly accomplished career is rapidly coming to a close. I guess the reality of that has settled in. He sure looked mighty frail today. However, I still hold onto my belief that they'll have to carry him out. No resignation. Although I must say I got a little nervous today with all the hullabaloo coming from the pundits who are already restless and bored with the O'Connor resignation. Just one isn't enough for the bloodthirsty Fourth Estate. They want two...even three vacancies. O'Connor, Rehnquist...they even started conjecturing today about the 85-year-old John Paul Stevens who, surely they surmised, must be getting jealous of all this retirement talk. With three vacancies we won't just have a battle, we'll have all-out Armageddon. And that, my friends, sells lots of newspapers and jacks up the cable news ratings. Hell, the media frenzy will be so huge and the need for punditry so insatiable that I just might find myself on Hardball (fantasy) offering up my keen insights to Chris Matthews (idol) and debating Ken Mehlman (even bigger fantasy). For now, the day has almost passed and Rehnquist still has his job. Almost all the media bigwigs think it's a given he'll resign (Bob Novak earlier today said his very trusted, reliable inside source predicted the Chief would step down today) maybe over the weekend now. Perhaps they're right, and I am incredibly naive. Or maybe they're wrong and.........Andy

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Reality Check

Most Americans are awakening this morning to learn that there's been a highly orchestrated series of terrorist bombings in London involving the subways and buses. Casualties are mounting as I write, but thankfully it appears that the overall scale is much smaller as compared to the tragic events elsewhere in Madrid and the U.S. for example. While not confirmed, it sure smells like the work of Al Qaeda or a similar Middle Eastern terror group. The deaths and injuries are a bitter pill to swallow. The resulting fear, panic and sadness is another. And that I'm sure is monumental. Our thoughts, prayers and support go out to the Brits. We certainly feel their pain. And it's a major wake up call. We're now dramatically reminded of our own vulnerability once again. With no attacks here at home since Sept. 11, 2001, we've been lulled into a false sense of security. But these horrific episodes can--and according to most experts will--happen here again in a matter of time. Today promises to be one of those days in America where people are in a subtle state of shock. We'll talk about this all day. We'll analyze, theorize and strategize. We'll express and share our anxiety and fear. We'll worry about our loved ones. And we'll talk of Iraq. And then we'll get angry. Damned angry. We'll get angry that we're squandering a tremendous amount of military and financial resources on an unjust war that is serving the U.S. no purpose other than to be a colossal distraction and diversion from the real war we need to be fighting. The war against those barbarians who snake through the world's underground unnoticed--without uniform or address or official standing--and carry out horrific, murderous attacks on innocent civilians, wreaking havoc on families and societies. These beasts are our enemy. And I know I'm not alone in wishing we were expending 100% of our political, military and financial resources to battle them, not Iraq. Let us all remember, it is not the Sunnis who may someday wreak havoc in Americas cities; in our subways; in our buses; in our malls. With the ever-growing dissatisfaction with the war, it will be interesting to see how all this plays out in Britain, whose populace has already lost its patience with PM Tony Blair and is dissatisfied with England's role in the war. And it's sure to stir up extremely strong emotions and political fallout here at home as well. Andy

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

GOP Rebukes Evangelicals: Is the Tide Turning?

Gazing at the front page of my NY Times this morning I saw a headline that literally made my day: "G.O.P Asks Conservative Allies To Cool Rhetoric Over the Court." This is what I and millions of Democrats have been waiting for. Even the slightest sign that we may have reached a tipping point is very, very exciting. We've been sick of these religious zealots practically running the country, influencing policy and undermining the Democratic process, but now Republicans are fed up too? Pinch me! What they're really worried about is how these evangelicals could very well undermine the GOP agenda if they're allowed to continue to run amock unchecked. Now, the higher word has come down from Bush, Frist & Co. that is. And it all started over US Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez, over whom conservatives have gotten their panties in a collective snit because of his loosey-goosey views on abortion, the only issue that seems to matter to these fanatics (oh, forgive me....I left out gay-marriage, prayer in school and public display of religious items...thus comprising the four most pressing issues facing Americans and the entire world today). The mere thought of Gonzalez being nominated by Bush to replace the retiring Sandra Day O'Connor on the Supreme Court has sent the pro-lifers into vitriolic orbit...going from zero-to-sixty in nanoseconds. The all-star fanatical "values" team of Tony Perkins, Grover Norquist, Gary Bauer, James Dobson and C. Boyden Gray to name a few have rallied the troops, opened the cash register and begun slinging the mud in a very aggressive, public campaign to kill a Gonzalez nomination. All because of one issue: abortion. Not torture of war prisoners, which the infamous Gonzalez memos seemingly condone, or his extremist views of the Geneva Conventions. But that's ok. The evangelicals are fine with a little torture now and then. So now we have the president, Bill Frist and others in the White House and Senate telling these myopic fanatics to stop the attacks on Gonzalez. A mere slap on the wrist? Maybe to you. But to me it signals that the religious zealots have finally gone too far. And the GOP itself may have had enough, sensing that the very same people who put them in ofice can just as easily be their political kryptonite as well. Stay tuned. Andy

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Rehnquist to Stay on Supreme Court

I'm going to go out on a limb here. Despite what almost every political pundit predicts, I believe that Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist will not--I repeat--will not step down this Summer. Yes he has cancer. Yes he is a very sick man. But if you've ever known anyone with cancer, you know that they often muster an inner strength in confronting this beast; a strength like nothing they've ever known. They possess a tremendous will to live; a need to be productive, useful and victorious over their dreaded disease. And that does not--I repeat--does not come from packing it in and sitting in a rocker waiting to die. Justice Rehnequist is an extremely ambitious, powerful and important man. You don't get to be Chief Justice of the Supreme Court by being passive and dispassionate. He's a fighter, and he will fight cancer on his own terms. And that means in the court. So, I predict that he will don his black robe until he literally cannot any longer, until they have to carry him out. Quitting the court is tantamount to quitting life to someone like Rehnquist. I will be shocked if he is not back on the bench this Fall. Andy