"To announce that there must be no criticism of the president, or that we are to stand by the president, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public." Theodore Roosevelt
Beware of leaders who drink their own Kool-Aid. The most distressing aspect of Mr. Bush's press conference last week was less his lies and half-truths than the abundant evidence that he is as out of touch as Custer was on the way to Little Bighorn. The president seemed genuinely shocked that anyone could doubt his claim that his friend is the best-qualified candidate for the highest court. Mr. Bush also seemed unaware that it was Republicans who were leading the attack on Ms. Miers. "The decision as to whether or not there will be a fight is up to the Democrats," he said, confusing his antagonists this time much as he has Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden.
If George doesn't condone the use of torture, why would he veto an amendment that would prohibit the use of "cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment" on the detainees?
The Bush administration pledged [Thursday] to veto legislation banning the torture of prisoners by US troops after an overwhelming and almost unprecedented revolt by loyalist congressmen. The mutiny was the latest setback for an administration facing an increasingly independent and bloody-minded legislature. But it also marked a key moment in Congress's campaign to curtail the huge powers it has granted the White House since 2001 in its war against terrorism. The late-night Senate vote saw the measure forbidding torture passed by 90 to nine, with most Republicans backing the measure.
The amendment was attached to the $440 billion defense-spending bill and if Mr. Bush vetoes the amendment, he would have to veto the entire bill.
One could only conclude that George supports the use of torture more than he supports our troops... Un-fucking-believable.
Harriet Miers is a remarkable woman and an accomplished attorney. She has wide experience in the courtroom and at the highest levels of government. And she will be an outstanding addition to our nation's highest court. [...] Because of her skill and record of remarkable achievement, in 2001, I asked her to work in my administration. For the past five years, Harriet Miers has served our nation in critical roles, including White House Counsel, one of the most important legal positions in the country. As counsel, Ms. Miers addresses complex matters of constitutional law, serves as the chief legal advisor during regular meetings of the National Security Council, and handles sensitive issues of executive-congressional relations, among many other essential duties. She has led the effort to help nominate outstanding judges for the federal judiciary.
A Department of Homeland Security memo obtained by The Associated Press said the attack was reportedly scheduled to take place on or around Sunday, with terrorists using timed or remote-controlled explosives hidden in briefcases, suitcases or in or under strollers. The memo said that the department had received information indicating the attack might be carried out by "a team of terrorist operatives, some of whom may travel or who may be in the New York City area."
For 30 years, beginning with the Nixon presidency, advanced under Reagan, stalled with the elder Bush, a new political economy struggled to be born. The idea was pure and simple: centralization of power in the hands of the Republican Party would ensure that it never lost it again. Under George W. Bush, this new system reached its apotheosis. It is a radically novel social, political and economic formation that deserves study alongside capitalism and socialism. Neither Adam Smith nor Vladimir Lenin captures its essence, though it has far more elements of Leninist democratic-centralism than Smithian free markets. Some have referred to this model as crony capitalism; others compare the waste, extravagance and greed to the Gilded Age. Call it 21st century Republicanism.
At its heart the system is plagued by corruption, an often unpleasant peripheral expense that greases its wheels. But now multiple scandals engulfing Republicans - from suspended House Majority Leader Tom DeLay to super-lobbyist Jack Abramoff to White House political overlord Karl Rove - threaten to upend the system. Because it is organized by politics it can be undone by politics. Politics has been the greatest strength of Republicanism, but it has become its greatest vulnerability. The party runs the state. Politics drives economics. Important party officials are also economic operators. They thrive off their connections and rise in the party apparatus as a result of their self-enrichment. The past three chairmen of the Republican National Committee have all been Washington lobbyists.
An oligarchy atop the party allocates favors. Behind the ideological slogans about the "free market" and "liberty," the oligarchy creates oligopolies. Businesses must pay to play. They must kick back contributions to the party, hire its key people and support its program. Only if they give do they receive tax breaks, loosening of regulations and helpful treatment from government professionals. Those professionals in the agencies and departments who insist on adhering to standards other than those imposed by the party are fired, demoted and blackballed. The oligarchy wars against these professionals to bend government purely into an instrument of oligopolies.
Meanwhile, the grand jury in the Valerie Plame case prepares to conclude its work. In August, it called Rove's assistant Susan Ralston to testify. As it happens, she had formerly been Abramoff's assistant. And it was revealed that before she allowed people to meet with Rove, she cleared them with Norquist. Rove, for his part, often used Abramoff and Norquist as his conduits to DeLay. Now all the investigations are coming to a climax. Will it mean the decline and fall of the Rovean empire? "Rove is the ultimate center of everything," said Wittman. "All roads lead to Rove. If it's Rove, everything collapses. People say there is no indispensable man. That's not true." But more than the fate of one man or even a ring around him is at stake. For decades, conservatives created a movement to capture the Republican Party and remake it in their image. Under Bush, Republicanism as a system dominates. With astonishing arrogance and bravado, the Republican oligarchy wired politics and business so that they would always win. But in believing that they actually possessed absolute power they have overreached. Now their project teeters on the brink.
Only 28 percent say the country is headed in the right direction while two-thirds, 66 percent, say it is on the wrong track, the poll found. [...] Among those most likely to have lost confidence about the nation's direction over the past year are white evangelicals, down 30 percentage points since November, Republican women, down 28 points, Southerners, down 26 points, and suburban men, down 20 points.
An official from the Department of Homeland Security told CNN the agency had received intelligence regarding "a specific but not credible" threat to the subway system "in recent days." The official said the intelligence community concluded the information was of "doubtful credibility."
Bush said, "The level of cooperation between the federal government and the local government is getting better and better, and part of that level of cooperation is the ability to pass information on. We did and they responded." A Bush administration official said the threat to New York's subway system involved the use of explosives hidden in baby carriages, but added that he believes New York officials made the threat public, "out of an abundance of caution."
Bloomberg said the threat was "more specific as to target, timing," and "not the kind of thing that appears in the intelligence community every day." Law enforcement sources told CNN the threat information was passed along after an individual in Iraq took a polygraph test and, although he failed some sections of the test, passed the section pertaining to the information about the New York threat.
[October 6, 2005] The Department of Defense promulgated rules over seven months after the original law's deadline. Senator Dodd called the rules "late and incomplete," as they didn't cover many of the pieces of safety equipment the DoD should be providing. Dodd then offered a revised amendment that was different in two ways from the original one:
* It expanded the time during which applicable purchases would be reimbursed.
* It transferred authority to reimburse from Secretary Rumsfeld to the each serviceperson's unit commander.
The amendment was co-sponsored by Sens. Byrd (D-WV), Durbin (D-IL), and Kerry (D-MA). After [Senator Dodd's] speech, and some further words in support by Senator John Warner (R-VA) the amendment was approved unanimously in a voice vote. (This was an unexpected and welcome turn of events; we had anticipated having to wait for a roll call vote.)
The amendment is now attached to the Defense Appropriations Bill which is still being debated by the Senate. If it passes, the bill will be reconciled with the House version in a conference committee, and presented to President Bush (who vowed to veto it if it includes Senator McCain's anti-torture provisions).
Leaders of a Senate committee including its Republican head bluntly accused the Bush administration on Thursday of sabotaging a bill to provide Medicaid health assistance for victims of Hurricane Katrina. "Unfortunately, the White House is working against me behind the scenes, and I resent that, considering how I've delivered so much for the White House over the last five years," Finance Committee Chairman Sen. Charles Grassley said at a hearing on recovery efforts from the U.S. Gulf Coast hurricanes. [...] In Louisiana, Medicaid officials have turned away more than 6,000 people, or 55 percent of hurricane evacuees housed in shelters who sought aid, the New Orleans Times-Picayune reported this week.
FBI agents examined computers in Vice President Dick Cheney's office and talked to former and current White House aides Thursday as they investigated an FBI intelligence analyst accused of passing classified information to Filipino officials. Meantime, former Philippine President Joseph Estrada acknowledged receiving an internal U.S. government report on the Philippines from the analyst, Leandro Aragoncillo, but played down the importance of the information, comparing it to material aired in his country's media. The FBI is looking at whether Aragoncillo, a former Marine, took classified information about the Philippines from the White House when he worked for Vice Presidents Al Gore and Cheney from 1999 to 2002.
Now that Harriet Miers, Bush's latest Supreme Court nominee, is in trouble with conservatives, her religious faith and how she lives that faith are becoming central to the case being made for her by the administration and its supporters. Miers has almost no public record. Don't worry, the administration's allies are telling their friends on the right, she's an evangelical Christian .
Let's be clear: It is pro-administration conservatives, not those terrible liberals, who are making an issue of Miers's evangelical faith. Liberals are not opposing Miers because she is an evangelical. Conservatives are telling their friends to support Miers because she is an evangelical.
Overall the United States and our partners have disrupted at least 10 serious al-Qaida terrorist plots since September 11, including three al-Qaida plots to attack inside the United States. We stopped at least five more al-Qaida efforts to case targets in the United States or infiltrate operatives into our country.
Seriously Mr. President, you can't have it both ways. Are you sure this isn't just a little bit of story telling in hopes of raising that 37% approval of yours?
I will preface by stating as individuals we should all error on the side of caution, but Christ...
Timing is everything, and this is a wee bit too precise. I can't be the only one that smells the stench of turd blossom in the air. With the CIA leak indictments to be handed out any day now, numerous indictments for Tom DeLay and soon Bill Frist, the lowest approval ratings ever, growing dissent from the right concerning Harriet Miers's nomination, the quagmire otherwise known as Iraq, the federal deficit, our failing healthcare system, rampant cronyism and subsequent incompetence, the list goes on... Bushco has hit rock bottom. Red alert! Time to crank up the fear. The sheep are getting out of line.
Call me a cynic, but we have all been though this before. How ironic that this "Specific Threat" comes on the heels of today's War Is Peace speech. Hell, Tom Ridge has even admitted to being pressured to elevate the threat level based on "political" circumstances. I have to ask: How many coinkydinks will it take before a solid majority become hyper sensitive to seemingly unrelated events, and start connecting the dots?
President George W. Bush asked Congress on Tuesday to consider giving him powers to use the military to enforce quarantines in case of an avian influenza epidemic. He said the military, and perhaps the National Guard, might be needed to take such a role if the feared H5N1 bird flu virus changes enough to cause widespread human infection. "If we had an outbreak somewhere in the United States, do we not then quarantine that part of the country? And how do you, then, enforce a quarantine?" Bush asked at a news conference.
For the first time, scientists have made from scratch the Spanish flu virus that killed millions of people in 1918. [...] Researchers believe their work offers proof the 1918 flu originated in birds, and provides insights into how it attacked and multiplied in humans. On top of that, this marks the first time an infectious agent behind a historic pandemic has ever been reconstructed. [...] The Spanish flu of 1918 was a worldwide contagion that in a few months killed an estimated 20 million to 50 million worldwide, including roughly 550,000 in the United States. In severe cases, victims' lungs filled with fluid and they essentially drowned in a disease process that took less than a week.
Federal prosecutors have accepted an offer from presidential adviser Karl Rove to give 11th-hour testimony in the case of a CIA officer's leaked identity and have warned they cannot guarantee he won't be indicted, according to people directly familiar with the investigation. The people, who spoke only on condition of anonymity because of grand jury secrecy, said Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald has not made any decision yet on whether to file criminal charges against the longtime confidant of President Bush or anyone else.
Rove has already made at least three grand jury appearances and his return at this late stage in the investigation is unusual. The prosecutor did not give Rove similar warnings before his earlier grand jury appearances. Rove offered in July to return to the grand jury for additional testimony, and Fitzgerald accepted that offer last Friday after taking grand jury testimony from the formerly jailed New York Times reporter Judith Miller. Before accepting the offer, Fitzgerald sent correspondence to Rove's legal team making clear that there was no guarantee he wouldn't be indicted at a later point, as required by the rules.
Reps. Tom DeLay and Roy Blunt, the deputy who succeeded him as House majority leader, orchestrated a political money carousel in 2000 that diverted donations secretly collected for presidential convention parties to some of their own pet causes. When it all ended, DeLay's private charity, along with the consulting firm that employed DeLay's wife and the Missouri campaign of Blunt's son, Matt, who now is the state's governor, all ended up with a piece of the pie, according to campaign documents reviewed by The Associated Press.
The FBI's counterterrorism unit has launched a broad investigation of US-based theft rings after discovering some vehicles used in deadly car bombings in Iraq, including attacks that killed US troops and Iraqi civilians, were probably stolen in the United States, according to senior US Government officials. [...] The inquiry began after coalition troops raided a Falluja bomb factory last November and found a Texas-registered four-wheel-drive being prepared for a bombing mission. Investigators said there were several other cases where vehicles evidently stolen in the US wound up in Syria or other Middle Eastern countries and ultimately in the hands of Iraqi insurgent groups, including al-Qaeda in Iraq.
The Republican-controlled Senate voted overwhelmingly Wednesday to impose restrictions on the treatment of terrorism suspects, delivering a rare wartime rebuke to President Bush. Defying the White House, senators voted 90-9 to approve an amendment that would prohibit the use of "cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment" against anyone in U.S. government custody, regardless of where they are held.
As if it needs to be stated: They were all Republican.
With all the weeping and gnashing of teeth we have witnessed on the right, how can anyone take these numbers seriously?
Overall, 44% of Americans rate President George W. Bush's choice of Miers to replace Sandra Day O'Connor on the Supreme Court as "excellent" or "good," while 41% rate the choice as "only fair" or "poor." [...] Not unexpectedly, Miers' rating is highly related to people's partisan orientation. Overwhelmingly, Republicans give her a high rating (72% excellent or good, just 16% fair or poor), while Democrats give her a low rating (24% excellent or good, 62% fair or poor). Independents are evenly divided: 41% give her a high rating and 41% a low rating.
For the traitorous, the fashionistas at Radar Magazine say -- stripes accessorized with shackles -- is all the rage...
The D.C. Rumor mill is thrumming with whispers that 22 indictments are about to be handed down on the outed-CIA agent Valerie Plame case. The last time the wires buzzed this loud — that Tom DeLay would be indicted and would step down from his leadership post in the House — the scuttlebutters got it right. Can it be a coincidence that the White House appears to be distancing President Bush from embattled aide Karl Rove? "He's been missing in action at more than one major presidential event," a member of the White House press corps tells us. If the word on the street is right a second time, we have a bit of advice for Rove: Go with vertical stripes, they're way more slimming.
The president's "argument" for her amounts to: Trust me. There is no reason to, for several reasons.
He has neither the inclination nor the ability to make sophisticated judgments about competing approaches to construing the Constitution. Few presidents acquire such abilities in the course of their pre-presidential careers, and this president particularly is not disposed to such reflections.
Furthermore, there is no reason to believe that Miers's nomination resulted from the president's careful consultation with people capable of such judgments. If 100 such people had been asked to list 100 individuals who have given evidence of the reflectiveness and excellence requisite in a justice, Miers's name probably would not have appeared in any of the 10,000 places on those lists.
In addition, the president has forfeited his right to be trusted as a custodian of the Constitution. The forfeiture occurred March 27, 2002, when, in a private act betokening an uneasy conscience, he signed the McCain-Feingold law expanding government regulation of the timing, quantity and content of political speech. The day before the 2000 Iowa caucuses he was asked -- to ensure a considered response from him, he had been told in advance that he would be asked -- whether McCain-Feingold's core purposes are unconstitutional. He unhesitatingly said, "I agree." Asked if he thought presidents have a duty, pursuant to their oath to defend the Constitution, to make an independent judgment about the constitutionality of bills and to veto those he thinks unconstitutional, he briskly said, "I do."
The crowning absurdity of the president's wallowing in such nonsense is the obvious assumption that the Supreme Court is, like a legislature, an institution of representation. This from a president who, introducing Miers, deplored judges who "legislate from the bench."
To that I say: What do you expect? A stupid is, a stupid does. You voted for him. Suck it up.
George W. Bush has just rung the death knell for his presidency. For the Supreme Court of the United States, a president under fire for cronyism has chosen the ultimate crony. For the highest court in the land, a president criticized for a lack of gravitas has chosen a woman whom the president's own former speechwriter describes as "a taut, nervous, anxious personality."
For one of the nine highest legal positions in the entire country, this president has ignored dozens of candidates with impeccable credentials -- top law school honors, judicial clerkships, distinguished careers in academia, lengthy experience arguing cases before the Supreme Court, superb records as federal judges -- and chosen somebody whose qualifications, on paper, are pretty good only for a lower judgeship, if she were 10 years younger.
But forget pure qualifications: The worst thing about this nomination, if you want a successful presidency, is that it will be a political disaster. Bush already is on the ropes in the opinion polls because his White House is seen as being out of touch (guitar-playing camera mugging after Hurricane Katrina will do that to you) and for its notorious fondness for inside baseball ("Brownie, you're doing a heck of a job").
Bush once described Miers as "a pit bull in size 6 shoes." It's worth remembering that many are the dog owners who rue the day they unleashed their favorite pit bulls.
President George W. Bush asked Congress on Tuesday to consider giving him powers to use the military to enforce quarantines in case of an avian influenza epidemic. He said the military, and perhaps the National Guard, might be needed to take such a role if the feared H5N1 bird flu virus changes enough to cause widespread human infection.
"If we had an outbreak somewhere in the United States, do we not then quarantine that part of the country? And how do you, then, enforce a quarantine?" Bush asked at a news conference.
There has been one consistently missing piece of this puzzle, a piece whose absence would be unutterably galling had that absence not become so drearily predictable. With all that is assaulting the White House, the Republican majority in Congress, and indeed the entire substructure of conservative political philosophy, the absence of a vocal, united, organized Democratic opposition to crystallize the reality of our wretched estate and offer a compelling alternative is, simply, astonishing.
Call it cowardice. Call it cynical. Call it a conspiracy. Call it a custard pie, for all the good it will do. Adjectives and invective wither before the yawning abyss that stands between the words of Democratic officeholders, and the deeds they have thus far failed so completely to accomplish. One hears that they are "keeping their powder dry." All this protracted, disorganized silence leads one to assume they have the driest powder this side of the Sahara. If it does not get used soon, it will blow away like so much dust.
The leadership caste of the Democratic party - those worthies and also-rans in the Senate and the DNC - should take a walk down to the Rayburn House office building and find Representatives Conyers, Lee, Woolsey, Abercrombie, Sanders, McDermott, Waters and Waxman. This crew has been keeping good company, has been burning the midnight oil, and has been speaking the truth of this administration all day and every day. The leadership caste of the Democratic party would do well to drink deep a draught of the courage and integrity that can be found there.
There has been a fair amount of talk recently about the number of scandals surrounding the Bush administration and the Republican party, inspiring allusions to the historic Congressional reversal in 1994. Back then, it was Democratic scandals and seeming scandals that swept the Republicans into power. More than that, it was the organized, motivated and energetic actions of the GOP, which exploited the gaps and ran to daylight at every opportunity. They've been essentially running things now for eleven years, and are learning a few lessons on the dangers of hubris and the nature of the American justice system.
Yet the outcome of this will not be another historic Congressional reversal in 2006, or in 2008 for that matter, if the Democratic party continues as it has been. Give the people a choice between the devil they know and the fathomless, mindless, tidal wanderings of the deep blue sea, and they will choose the devil every single time. Memo to the Democratic leadership, in the words of departed comic Bill Hicks: "Step on the gas, man."
If the Wingnuts' initial reaction to Harriet Miers's nomination was utter disappointment, just wait until they find out about what Aravosis has dug up:
While Miers said on the gay group's questionnaire that she wasn't seeking their endorsement, she chose to fill out their questionnaire anyway - this was Texas in 1989, filling out the gay rights group's questionnaire was hardly a political necessity - and she chose to then go the gay rights group's screen session to be questioned about her views. I'll say it again. These are not the actions of Pat Robertson's preferred Supreme Court choice. I'm not saying she's gonna be a closet liberal. But she's hardly walking and talking and quacking like a solid conservative duck.
The question that begs to be asked: Is Dubya aware of this?
A Texas grand jury indicted Rep. Tom DeLay on a new charge of money laundering Monday, less than a week after another grand jury leveled a conspiracy charge that forced DeLay to temporarily step down as House majority leader. Both indictments accuse DeLay and two political associates of conspiring to get around a state ban on corporate campaign contributions by funneling the money through a political action committee to the Republican National Committee in Washington.
How much bad news can the Conservatives handle in a day?
Iran's judiciary chief issued orders on Monday for the spread of a recently launched "Plan to Combat Trouble-makers" from the Iranian capital to other parts of the country. Ayatollah Seyyed Mahmoud Hashemi Shahroudi told senior judicial officials in a meeting today that the plan had so far been very successful in increasing national security. Since early September, the "Plan to Combat Trouble-makers" has been in effect in the Iranian capital. The crackdown was recently extended by Tehran's Islamic Revolutionary Prosecutor, Saeed Mortazavi, who announced that it would last until at least October 26 and may be extended once again.
During Monday's judiciary session, Shahroudi announced, "This plan must continue decisively throughout the country so as to prevent social conflicts". "The most important effect of this decisiveness is the creation of a pre-emptive atmosphere", the Judiciary Chief said. Iranian officials often refer to millions of unemployed young men, who are often beset by frustration and despair, as "trouble-makers". Thousands of young men have been arrested in Tehran under the scheme and hundreds have been sentenced in special Islamic courts and jailed.
Conservatives are "pretty demoralized" over President Bush's surprise nomination of Harriet Miers to the U.S. Supreme Court, says Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol. Kristol noted, in an interview with Fox News, that with liberal Republican Sandra Day O'Connor leaving the court, Bush had a unique opportunity to put his conservative stamp on the Supreme Court. Instead, Kristol suggests Bush "flinched."
"It looks like he capitulated," a pessimistic Kristol said. The conservative commentator noted she has absolutely no judicial record, and he fears she will be "another O'Connor, another Souter." While O'Connor and current Associate Court Justice David Souter had served as judges, their judicial records were obscure at the time they were nominated for the Supreme Court.
Kristol sees Bush's pick of Miers as a slap in the face to conservative women jurists. "He has passed over conservative judges, including female judges, who have long and distinguished records on the federal and state supreme courts," Kristol said. "Maybe he is right. Maybe she will be a first-rate justice, but you don't know that. "This is not a Scalia, a Rehnquist or, for that matter, a John Roberts in terms of quality of pick," he added. "It's hard to interpret this as anything but flinching from a fight."
Kristol suggested the Bush administration may have feared a nomination fight with Democrats on judicial philosophy, which he said is a fight that most conservative Republicans would have welcomed. "It sends a bad signal," Kristol said. Conservative judges, particularly conservative women, that have been making the case for 5, 10 or 15 years, have been passed over in favor of someone with no record. That's hard to explain to conservatives."
Well there goes the faithful 40% that's been propping Dubya up for the last 5 years. Time to just sit back, and enjoy the show.
The White House is embarking on a new effort to try to leaven the bleak accounts emerging from Iraq. Administration officials tell Time that Steve Schmidt, counselor to Vice President Cheney and one of the White House's most aggressive strategists, will leave for Baghdad early this week to spend up to a month assessing media relations in the war zone. Back home, Cheney and President Bush will give major speeches this week on Iraq's Oct. 15 constitutional referendum. Administration officials say the addresses aim to define the terrorist insurgency as an enemy with a clear strategy, and to portray dire consequences if the U.S. were to withdraw. Vice President Cheney flies to Camp Lejeune, N.C., for a Monday rally with Marines, while President Bush motorcades to the Ronald Reagan Building on Thursday.
One of Schmidt's missions, administration officials say, is to determine whether the White House can take any logistical steps to help American reporters and other journalists to gather news at a time when it is often too dangerous for them to leave their compounds. The officials say Schmidt's trip is at the request of the U.S. ambassador to Iraq, Zalmay Khalizad, but is supported at the highest levels of the White House. "We want to see if there's a disconnect between what people in the United States are seeing on their televisions and in their newspapers, and the reality on the ground," a senior administration official said.
She is currently serving as White House Counsel; Bottom line: NO JUDICIAL EXPERIENCE. Add - what appears to be - another corporate sympathizing Bush crony to the list:
Miers met Bush in the 1980s, and was drafted to work as counsel for his 1994 gubernatorial campaign. In 1995, he appointed her to the Texas Lottery Commission. After working as a lawyer in Bush's presidential campaign, she came to Washington with him in 2001. "I remember seeing him in her office many years ago, before he was governor, before he was running for anything," Clements said. "So it's been a long relationship and a very loyal relationship. She really is one of those people that the practice of law and all things associated with that really has been her life."
By the way, the other side is not too happy either.
New York Times reporter Judith Miller tried a year ago to make a deal with the prosecutor investigating the leak of a CIA operative's identity but the prosecutor would not agree then to limit her testimony to Vice President Dick Cheney's top aide, her lawyer said on Sunday. Some lawyers involved in the case said prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald's decision to reject the deal a year ago -- only to agree last week to limit the scope of Miller's testimony to the subject of Cheney's chief of staff, Lewis "Scooter" Libby -- suggested Libby may have become increasingly important to wrapping up Fitzgerald's case.
"I'm not really clear how much a billion dollars is, but the United States — our United States — is spending $5.6 billion a month fighting this war in Iraq that we never should have gotten into. We still have 139,000 soldiers in Iraq today. Almost 2,000 Americans have died there. For what?" - Andy Rooney (video, transcript)
More bicycles than cars have been sold in the United States over the past 12 months, with rising gas prices prompting commuters to opt for two wheels instead of four. Not since the oil crisis of 1973 have bicycles sold in such big numbers, according to Tim Blumenthal, executive director of Bikes Belong, an industry association. "Bicycle sales are near an all-time high with 19 million sold last year -- close to the 20 million sold during the oil embargo in the early 1970s," said Blumenthal, whose association is based in Boulder in the western state of Colorado. The US Chamber of Commerce says more bicycles have been sold than cars over the past 12 months.
Those who still live in the reality-based community, however, may sense they're watching the beginning of the end of something big. It's not just Mr. DeLay, a k a the Hammer, who is on life support, but a Washington establishment whose infatuation with power and money has contaminated nearly every limb of government and turned off a public that by two to one finds the country on the wrong track.
The bottom line, Mr. Ferguson wrote, was a culture antithetical to everything conservatives had stood for in the Gingrich revolution of 1994. Slaying a corrupt, bloated Democratic establishment was out, gluttony for the G.O.P. and its fat cats was in. Mr. Abramoff and his gang embodied the very enemy the "Contract With America" Congress had supposedly come to Washington to smite: " 'Beltway Bandits,' profiteers who manipulate the power of big government on behalf of well-heeled people who pay them tons of money to do so." Those tons of Republican money were deposited in the favors bank of K Street, where, as The Washington Post reported this year, the number of lobbyists has more than doubled (to some 35,000) since the Bush era began in 2000. Conservatives who once aspired to cut government "down to the size where we can drown it in the bathtub" - as a famous Norquist maxim had it - merely outsourced government instead to the highest bidder.
Mr. DeLay's latest plight is only a tiny detail within this vast Boschian canvas of depravity. If this were Watergate - and Watergate itself increasingly looks like a relatively contained epidemic of corruption - the Texas grand jury's indictment of the congressman and his associates would be a sideshow tantamount to the initial 1973 California grand jury indictment of the Nixon aide John Ehrlichman and his pals in the break-in at Daniel Ellsberg's psychiatrist's office; Watergate's real legal fireworks were still in the wings.
The most important plot development of the past two weeks, in fact, has nothing to do with Mr. DeLay (as far as we know). It was instead the arrest of the administration's top procurement officer, David Safavian, on charges of lying and obstructing the investigation of Mr. Abramoff. [...] The mother of all investigations, of course, remains the prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald's pursuit of whoever outed the C.I.A. agent Valerie Wilson to Robert Novak and whoever may have lied to cover it up. The denouement is on its way.
We have to hope that the law will get to the bottom of these cases and start to connect the recurring dots. But while everyone is innocent until proved guilty, the overall pattern stinks and has for a long time. It's so filthy that the Republican caucus couldn't even find someone clean to name as Mr. DeLay's "temporary" stand-in as House majority leader last week. As The Washington Post reported in 2003, Roy Blunt, the Missouri congressman who got the job, was found trying to alter a homeland security bill with a last-minute provision that would have benefited Philip Morris-brand cigarettes. Not only had the tobacco giant contributed royally to Mr. Blunt's various campaign coffers, but both the congressman's girlfriend (now wife) and his son were Philip Morris lobbyists at the time.
This is the culture that has given us the government we have. It's a government that has spent more of the taxpayers' money than any since L.B.J.'s (as calculated by the Cato Institute, a libertarian research institution), even as it rewards its benefactors with tax breaks and corporate pork. It's a government so used to lying that Mr. DeLay could say with a straight face that the cost of Katrina relief could not be offset by budget cuts because there was no governmental fat left to cut. It's the government that fostered the wholesale loss of American lives in both Iraq and on the Gulf Coast by putting cronyism above patriotism.
The courts can punish crooks, but they can't reform democracy from the ground up, and the voters can't get into the game until 2006. Meanwhile, on the Republican side, the key players both in the White House and in the leadership of both houses of Congress are either under investigation or joined at the hip to Messrs Rove, DeLay, Abramoff, Reed or Norquist. They seem to be hoping that some magical event - a sudden outbreak of peace and democracy in Iraq, the capture of Osama bin Laden, a hurricane affording better presidential photo ops than Rita - will turn things around. Dream on.
The one notable anomaly is John McCain, who retains a genuine hunger for reform, a rage at the corruption around him and the compelling motive of his presidential ambitions to push him forward; it's his Indian Affairs Committee, after all, that exposed the hideous Abramoff cesspool to public view last year. The Democrats, bereft of leadership and ideas (though not of their own Beltway bandits), also harbor a number of would-be presidents, but they are busier positioning themselves politically than they are articulating actual positions that might indicate what a new governmental order would look like. While the Republican revolution is dead, it says everything about the power vacuum left in its wake that Geena Davis's fictional commander in chief has more traction, as measured in Nielsen ratings and press, than any of the real-life contenders for that job in D.C.
Definitely a political problem but I wonder, George Will, do you think it’s a manageable one for the White House especially if we don’t know whether Fitzgerald is going to write a report or have indictments but if he is able to show as a source close to this told me this week, that President Bush and Vice President Cheney were actually involved in some of these discussions.
A new theory about Fitzgerald's aim has emerged in recent weeks from two lawyers who have had extensive conversations with the prosecutor while representing witnesses in the case. They surmise that Fitzgerald is considering whether he can bring charges of a criminal conspiracy perpetrated by a group of senior Bush administration officials. Under this legal tactic, Fitzgerald would attempt to establish that at least two or more officials agreed to take affirmative steps to discredit and retaliate against Wilson and leak sensitive government information about his wife. To prove a criminal conspiracy, the actions need not have been criminal, but conspirators must have had a criminal purpose.