Monday, October 31, 2005

Kicking Butt on the road to Richmond

According to a recent poll by the Washington Post, Democratic Tim Kaine leads Republican Jerry Kilgore among likely Virginia voters in the governor's race by 3 points, 47 to 44. Independent Republican Russ Potts trails with 4 points.

The Washington Post reports that "Kaine is seen by a majority of voters as having run an honest straightforward campaign. Sixty percent say he has been 'honest in his political dealings' and fewer than half believe he would 'say anything' to get elected."

For the political famished, here are more statistical comestibles to masticate on. Forty-three percent of Virginia voters have an unfavorable opinion of Kilgore; this compares with only 33 percent for Kaine.

Since independents are the least likely people to be fooled by smear tactics with herd-like mentality, Kaine also leads by 52 to 33 percent with independents. They know a strong Virginia requires more than a boogey man with no plan trying to scare them with his latest straw man. Kaine wants to invest in education, transporation and health care for small businesses with a budget that won't bankrupt state coffers.

Kaine's positive campaign of ideas is working. Voters have grown tired of the slash and burn politics of destruction of yesteryears; and with recent White House shenanigans and indictments in full national view, integrity in government is paramount, including honest ads.

Kilgore's campaign to paint Kaine as just another tax and spend willy-ninny liberal didn't pan out. In fact, almost half of independents think Kilgore is "too conservative" for Virginians; but "less than a third think Kaine is too liberal."

Yes, when Tim places his hands on the family Bible and swears to uphold the laws of Virginia, he will uphold them all; not just the ones he likes. And people instinctively know the one-time Salvadoran missionary will carry out his duties with both integrity and honor; he is a public servant in the best sense of the word.

During the past few weeks, a drench of endorsements from local newspapers on behalf of Kaine produced political sunny skies overhead. One of Kaine's initial endorsement was by award-winning Washington Post; and within days, The Roanoke Times, The Fauquier-Democrat, part of the Times Community chain of 19 weekly papers in Northern Virginia, Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bristol Herald Carrier, a large paper in the Southwest, Virginia-Pilot and Suffolk News-Herald, both in Hampton Roads, and Daily Press in Newport News, weighed in to support Kaine.

This long list of newspaper endorsements is but a few drips in the groundswell of support for the soon-to-be governor. Over 3,000 law enforcement members embraced Kaine in late-September; and since then, his list of supporters has exponentially grown, from most Hampton Roads mayors to local firefighters, sportsmen, and average citizens across the state. sure looks like Scott “Slime and Slander” Howell of the same Dallas-based firm who swiftboated Max Cleland, a triple amputee in a campaign in Georgia, failed to work his evil magic in Virginia. The tired and ragged dog just couldn't hunt no-more. Howell's brand in "framing issues" backfired, leaving Kilgore little ammunition during his waning campaign days.

One savvy Kaine media strategist said of Kilgore, "They do have a bit of wind in their faces."

Heck, with a 43 percent unfavorable quotient that is growing by day, the wind looks like it's condensing and compressing into full Hurricane Anti-Jerry force.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Chronicles of Lies to War

According to Knight Ridder Newspapers," the CIA circulated a report on Wilson's trip - without identifying him - to the White House and other agencies" on March 8, 2002,

The New York Times writes a helpful article delving into Vice President Cheney's office deep involvement in fighting back against former-Ambassador Wilson's claim that the reason the US went to work were spurious.

Here are helpful dates in the stream of lies by the administration.

Oct. 15, 2001 - The CIA received the first of three top-secret reports from a foreign intelligence service - which intelligence officials said was Italy's SISMI - that Niger planned to ship tons of uranium ore, or yellowcake, to Iraq.

Sept. 9 - With the White House's public campaign against Iraq in full swing, Nicolo Pollari, head of SISMI, met with then-Deputy National Security Adviser Stephen J. Hadley at the White House. Hadley later took the blame for including the false Niger allegation in Bush's 2003 State of the Union speech.

SISMI was behind similar reports in Britain and France. Paris never put any stock in the reports, according to two European officials. London has stood behind its statement that Iraq was seeking uranium in Africa.

February 2002 - Cheney and other officials asked the CIA to find out more.
Some CIA and Pentagon analysts were impressed with the reporting. But the State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research (INR) was skeptical. Its analysts noted that France controls Niger's uranium mines and argued that Iraq wouldn't risk being caught breaking U.N. sanctions.

The CIA station in Rome was skeptical of the reports from the start.

Feb. 21 - Wilson traveled to Niger at the CIA's request to investigate the purported uranium deal. He said he found nothing to substantiate the allegation. Neither did two other U.S. officials who investigated.

March 8 - The CIA circulated a report on Wilson's trip - without identifying him - to the White House and other agencies.

Oct. 1 - U.S. intelligence agencies sent the White House and Congress their key prewar assessment of Iraq's illicit weapon programs, which said Iraq was "vigorously" trying to buy uranium ore and had sought deals with Niger, Somalia and possibly the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The State Department's INR dissented in the report.

Oct. 5 - Then-CIA Director George Tenet advised Hadley to drop a reference to Niger from the draft of a nationally televised speech that Bush was to give on Oct. 7 because the "president should not be a fact witness on this issue" as "the reporting was weak." The sentence was removed.

The CIA then wrote the White House that "the evidence (of a uranium ore deal) is weak. One of the two mines cited by the source of the uranium oxide is flooded. The other mine cited by the source is under the control of the French."

Oct. 9 - An Italian journalist for the Rome magazine Panorama, owned by Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, a supporter of the Iraq war, gave the U.S. Embassy a copy of the purported agreement by Niger to sell yellowcake to Iraq.

The journalist, Elisabetta Burba, reportedly received the documents from Italian businessman Rocco Martino, who has connections to SISMI.

The Italian government has denied any connection to the forged documents.

The embassy forwarded a copy to the State Department. It raised the suspicion of an INR nuclear analyst, who noted in an e-mail that the documents bear a "funky Emb. Of Niger stamp (to make it look official, I guess.)"

Jan. 13, 2003 - The INR nuclear analyst told other analysts that he believed the Niger documents were forgeries.

Jan. 16 - The CIA finally received copies of the forged French-language documents. It sent them back to the State Department to be translated.

Jan. 17 - A CIA analytical unit known as WINPAC (Weapons Intelligence, Nonproliferation, and Arms Control) said in a secret assessment that there was "fragmentary reporting" on Iraqi attempts to purchase uranium from "various countries in Africa."

Sometime in late January, Robert Joseph, a senior White House staffer, and Alan Foley, the head of WINPAC, agreed that Bush could refer to the uranium claim in his State of the Union speech, but he should cite a public British report.

Jan. 28 - Bush delivered the State of the Union.

Feb. 5 - Secretary of State Colin Powell addressed the U.N. Security Council on the threat from Iraq but didn't repeat the yellowcake allegation.

March 3 - The International Atomic Energy Agency told the United States that the documents were forgeries after an expert used the Google search engine to identify false information.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Was the CIA Fitzgerald's Deep Throat?

The Associated Press wrote an article naming the officials who knew the identity of Valerie Plame as listed in the Libby indictment.

According to the article, there were seven officials: Libby, Vice President Cheney, Karl Rove, Ari Fleischer (White House Press Secretary), Marc Grossman (Undersecretary of State), Cathie Miers (Assistant to the Vice President for Public Affairs) and a "secret" seventh government official.

Now, the seventh person could be the "unnamed" senior official with the Central Intelligence Agency. Or perhaps the CIA briefer of June 14, 2003.

Oh, oh, that makes eight, right...?

Be that as it may, given how chummy everyone from the vice president's office was, my money for "Deep Throat" honors is on the spooks.

As you may recall, the CIA was the first to refer the matter to the Justice Department; and dollars to a donut, the Agency put pressure on Ashcroft to eventually recuse himself. Who else would have that kind of clout?

Let us not forget the "senior administration official" who told the Washington Post in late September 2003 that White House officials were going around calling "at least six journalists" and disclosing Plame's identity. No direct mention of him or her in the indictment, unless he's also Ari Fleischer.

Granted Fleischer left the White House in July, more than four months before the WaPo article, but...if Libby can be referred to as "a former Hill staffer," Ari can surely be "a senior administration official."

After seeing the unimpressive "Goodnight, and Good Luck" recently, I am reminded of the old maxim, "Never mess with the 'man.'" That is, the police, military, FBI or CIA. You will smolder; and as miserable as the White House cabal made it for the CIA during their early glory days, hell hath no fury as an intelligence agency scorned.

Libby Timeline & Stuff

For inquiring minds, here's a link to charges filed yesterday by Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald against Vice President Chief of Staff I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby.

It is a five-count indictment; one count for obstruction of justice, two counts for making false statements and two additional counts for perjury. Libby faces up to 30 years in prison and a total of $1.25 million in fines, if convicted.

With an eleventh-hour testimony, Karl Rove avoided indictment. The investigation remains ongoing, even though the grand jury's term expired yesterday; any new charges would easily be presented with a second grand jury.

A lot of questions still remain unanswered. Chief among them is whether Rove, "Official A" in the 22-page indictment as reported by the Washington Post, will ever be prosecuted.

Someone smarter than I noted Fitzgerald likes to refer to soon-to-be indicted bigwigs as "Official A" when first bringing charges against their buddies.

For example, on May 21, 2003, Fitzgerald charged former Gov. Ryan's lobbyist friend, Larry Warner with a 10-count indictment and referred to Ryan as "Official A." Ditto when Fitzgerald charged Arthur “Ron” Swanson in mid-2003.

Ryan was ultimately indicted by Fitzgerald on December 18, 2003; his trial did not get underway for more than 21 months; only recently did the case go to court (September 28, 2005).

Darn! I guess no trial before next year's election. No doubt, Libby and his laywers will stretch the whole affair until right after the '08 elections but before Bush leaves office. It's a pardon "thang."

Oh well, here is the official timeline, as spelled out in the Libby indictment:

May 29, 2003 - Libby speaks with Under Secretary of State and asks the name of person responsible for sending former Ambassador Joseph Wilson to Niger. In late May or early June a report is sent to Libby.

June 9, 2003 - Classified documents from the CIA are faxed to vice president's office to the attention of Libby and another White House official; it outlines Wilson's trip to Niger without specifically naming him. Liddy and possibly others writes "Wilson's wife" and "Joe Wilson" on the dispatch.

On June 11 or 12, 2003 - Libby is told by Undersecretary of State that Wilson’s wife works at the CIA, and employees from the State Department indicated his wife was associated with the trip.

June 11, 2003- A senior official with the Agency informs Libby that Wilson's wife works at the CIA, and she is credited with sending the former ambassador to Niger.

Earlier than June 12, 2003 - Walter Pincus calls the vice president's office about the Wilson trip to Niger, and Libby with others discuss how to respond to the Washington Post reporter's inquiry.

June 12, 2003 - Libby speaks with Vice President Cheney about Joseph Wilson and is told by Cheney that Wilson's wife works for the CIA in the Counterproliferation Division.

June 14, 2003 – Libby meets with CIA “briefer” and complains about unfavorable CIA leaks about the vice president's office to reporters. In the same context, Libby talks about “Joe Wilson” and his wife, “Valerie Wilson."

Soon after a June 19 story in The New Republic about Wilson’s trip to Niger, Libby speaks with his principal deputy about the article. When his deputy asks if they can share information about Wilson and his wife to rebut charges that the administration knew the yellow uranium documents were forgeries since the vice president had sent Wilson, Libby tells him there are “complications at the CIA in disclosing…[the] information publicly.”

June 23, 2003 - Libby meets with The New York Times reporter, Judith Miller. He complains about “selective leaking” from the CIA on matters of intelligence, and mentions Joe Wilson’s trip to Niger. Also says that Wilson’s wife might work for the CIA.

July 6, 2003 - Wilson’s article, “What I Didn’t Find in Africa.” is published by The New York Times. Wilson is also guest on “Meet the Press” as well as quoted in article by Walter Pincus in the Washington Post.

July 7, 2003- Libby has lunch with White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer. Fleischer tells Libby that Wilson’s wife works at CIA and few people knew about it.

July 8, 2003. Libby meets with Judith Miller in the morning and asks that any information regarding Plame be attributed to “a former Hill staffer.” Libby informs Miller he believes Wilson’s wife works at the CIA.

July 8, 2003. Libby meets with counsel to vice president and asks “what paperwork” exists on spouse of CIA employee that took overseas trip. Between June 2003 and July 8, 2003 - Libby learns from another “government official” that Wilson’s wife works at the CIA. July 10, 2003 - Libby calls Tim Russert of NBC to complain about press coverage about him.

Between June 2003 and July 8, 2003, “Assistant to the Vice President for Public Affairs” informs Libby that Wilson’s wife worked at the CIA; the assistant had learned this information from another government official.

On July 10 or July 11- Libby speaks with "Official A" (Karl Rove) who tells him he has spoken with Robert Novak about Wilson and his wife. "Official A" tells Libby that Novak will be writing a story about the trip to Niger and Wilson’s wife.

July 12, 2003 - Libby flies on Air Force Two with other White House officials. On the return flight he discusses with them what he should tell media inquiries, including one by Matthew Cooper of Time.

On the afternoon of July 12, Libby speaks with Cooper by telephone and was asked by reporter if Wilson’s wife worked at the CIA. Libby confirms the information.

On July 12, 2003, Libby speaks with Judith Miller and discusses how Valerie Wilson/Plame worked at the CIA.

One worthy note. If Libby's case makes it to trial, more than likely Vice President Cheney will have to testify under oath. Documents filed with the United States District Court for the District of Columbia show Cheney told Libby that Valerie Plame worked at the CIA.

Too bad we can't ask him about those secret energy meetings during the early part of his administration, si...?

Friday, October 28, 2005

When Hubris Takes over Established Bloggers

Just yesterday I posted about catty rantings from progressive blogger DailyKos; he attacked Tim Kaine and called him a coward.

You see, Kaine's campaign refused to grovel at the czar blogger's feet; something about withdrawing an ad by email. Kaine had the temerity to pull an ad from a blogger without giving him a personal phone call.

And his thanks for using him in the first place? A nasty shot from the number one blog on the Internet as well as from two less popular sites. Note to future candidates: Get some sort of agreement on terms of termination.

As a hard core abolitionist, this election is too frigging important to allow personal peeve to torpedo the election of Tim Kaine next Tuesday.

Like the 2000 presidential run by Ralph Nader, look where a little gripe and vexation got us? That's more than 2,006 American soldiers dead, 15,520 casualties; a ruined economy; civil liberties gone bye-bye; a right-wing cabal about to take over the final branch of government with the soon-to-come Supreme Court justice; felons back at the White House (in some case, the same felons); the safety net to be pulled under from yet more feet; but at least Nader made his precious point, right?

In doing a little Lexis/Nexis I found a gem of an article that gives background to the Roger Coleman case in the Houston Chronicle. The Knight Ridder article by Leonard Pitts Jr. was also published by the Detroit Free Press, no registration required.

The long and short of it is that DNA currently lying around a laboratory in California could prove a man was wrongfully executed in Virginia; and once Kaine is governor, unlike wussy Warner, he will order the test.

And the good Lord willing, the DNA will prove Coleman was innocent; and then it's Katie bar the door, the movement has a martyr; and we'll be asked for quotes; and the quotes will be picked up by national media; and then; and then...

Lives are at stake here, okay. No time for frigging hissie fits from oversized bruised egos. It's just too damn important.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Progressive Bloggers need to chill...

A sad day for Bloggersville arrived this afternoon with a post by the number one progressive blogger, DailyKos.

At the root of the blogstorm was the withdrawal of ads by Lt. Gov. Tim Kaine from blogger Steve Gilliard of The News Blog. He'd posted a minstrel picture that depicted Republican Maryland Lt. Gov. Michael Steele who is African-American as a modern-day minstrel; you see, Steele had refused to condemn Maryland's governor for attending an event at an all-white country club.

In taking up the cause for the less prominent blogger, Kos said:

We're bloggers. We'll say things that are "controversial." If campaigns don't think they can weather such storms, then by all means they should NOT advertise on blogs.
Then he went on to depict Kaine as just another nervous-ninny Democrat; and lord knows the czar of bloggersphere absolutely despises "Democrats scared of their own shadows."

Tsk, tsk, seems like bloggers are starting to act like the "establishment," punishing those who stray from the pack.

The truth of the matter is some images are just too painful. And as Kilgore learned too late, controversial ads have unforeseen consequences; especially when they use agonizing images from the past that remind folks of raw history to attack opponents.

It doesn't seem beyond the pale for Kaine to want to steer clear of controvery; especially with a dead-even race and an election less than two weeks away.

Why give the opposition an opportunity to taint your campaign? Mistakes by Kilgore's use of Hitler's image in commercials stopped any momentum he may have had dead on its track.

There is nothing cowardly about Kaine pulling his ad off a blog; and if DailyKos had not raised the issue, nobody would've even known about it.

As one shrewd blogger noted, "Kos is a single-issue voter on this one -- pro-Gilliard," the dissed blogger. But appreciatively from the five to one remarks on the link, progressives do not check their genius at the blogger check-in counter.

The idea of advertising is to bring people to ones side of the ledger. Instead of eating their young, progressive bloggers should support Kaine's campaign with their $$$$. Stop swinging at our side, Swing State.

And Kos, of "every time a campaign freaks out at a blogger and pulls their ads, we're going to raise a stink," keep in mind, too many stink bombs and you'll lose your audience.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

What a crock of bullshit

Much like the lies Republicans keep repeating and lazy journalists parrot regarding Joe Wilson, The New York Times must think if they keep repeating their deceptive line of defense for why Miss-Run-Amok, Judith Miller. was forced to testify, no one will be the wiser. Or at least not too many folks.

Their latest dissembling story thread begins innocently enough, with background on previous government investigations into leaks by reporters and how they mostly ended in dead-ends. The story meanders along when wham, the reader is smacked right between the eyes with out-and-out deceit.

Douglas Jehl, when concluding his story, writes these cagey words: "In ruling in favor of Mr. Fitzgerald this year, a federal appeals court upheld a lower court ruling that ordered Ms. Miller to testify." He then cites a Supreme Court decision, which according to him, has "been interpreted by lower courts as meaning that reporters have almost no protection from grand jury subpoenas seeking their sources."

Well, in the first place, lower courts also ordered Matthew Cooper to testify. Miller was not singled out. And secondly, the "almost no protection" he talks about fails to inform the reader exactly the conditions under which a journalist must testify.

For the uninformed, in Branzburg v. Hayes and ensuing lower court rulings, the public's right to know did not outweigh a government's right to enforce its laws. The decision is rooted in the greater good for the greatest societal good.

The Courts held journalists have an “obligation [like] all citizens [to] respond to a grand jury subpoena and answer questions relevant to a criminal investigation.” But before a reporter is forced to reveal his or her source(s), the government must show proof they have tried every other means to obtain the information and without it, the wrongdoer would go unpunished.

Something the Times conveniently left out.

Moreover, a tenet in the Code of Ethics by the Society of Professional Journalists is that journalists must “recognize that private people have a greater right to control information about them than public figures. This was certainly the case with Valerie Plame before she was outed.

In other words, Plame and the government have rights as well.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Tenets for the faithful

A recent post on a progressive Christian Web site highlighted an oft-quoted article by former PBS host and broadcast journalist Bill Moyers.

In his article, Moyers rails against Christians who are “intoxicated with the delusional doctrine of two 19th century preachers” who not only believed the end of world was near but “believe[d] they had an obligation” to bring it about through political means.

For many devoted Christians, the hijacking of their faith by Taliban Christians is troubling. The “racist, pro-war, gay-persecuting, woman-silencing and child-beating proponents" favor verses from Deuteronomy, Proverbs, Chronicles, Colossians and Revelations to justify their intolerance and apocalyptic vision.

Revelations, the last book in the Bible, charts the end-times as a span of droughts, floods, war, pestilence and other natural and man-made disasters. But the Good News for them is that Jesus comes to judge the living and the dead; and for those who are saved, such as themselves, eternity with God and Jesus await them; naturally, they'd like to help the process along.

Below are a few favorite comestibles from the right-wing fascists who justify subjugating others, yet live in constant fear of a wrathful God. You know, it's a "rapture" thing, popularized in the best selling book series, Left Behind.

Slaves, obey your earthly masters in everything; and do it, not only when their eye is on you and to win their favor, but with sincerity of heart and reverence for the Lord. (NIV, Col 3:22)

Remember this and never forget how you provoked the LORD your God to anger in the desert. From the day you left Egypt until you arrived here, you have been rebellious against the LORD. (NIV, Deut. 9:7)

Forgotten or ignored in their biblical repertoire are the words from their professed Master.

From the book of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, Jesus asks for his followers to love one another, same they love themselves; and he also commands disciples to forgive their fellow man for his transgressions. Always.

Here are a couple passages to mirror the full essence of Christianity.

But I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. (NIV, Luke 6:27-28)

Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, "Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?" Jesus answered, "I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times. (Matthew 18:21-22)

Paramount in the New Testament is taking care of the least of us. And the passage cited above sure seems to preclude capital punishment.

In my recent canvassing for Tim Kaine's campaign for governor in Virginia, miguided Christians seemed astonished to learn a Democratic candidate could actually have a spirit of service as evidenced by missionary work as a young adult in Honduras.

There is nothing more rewarding than to challenge them to vote for the person who most closely exemplifies the tenets they assert are so important to them with actual deeds and not just empty words.

By the bye, just for fun, here's a link to a historical rapture index.

Monday, October 24, 2005

My suspicion gains momentum

This afternoon a story by United Press International adds weight to my earlier post. Fitzgerald has indeed widened his probe. He is now investigating the case of the forged Niger documents that at first glance confirmed Iraq was looking for raw materials to build weapons of mass destruction.

Two sources confirmed to UPI "that Fitzgerald's team of investigators has sought and obtained documentation on the forgeries from the Italian government." The article reports that "Fitzgerald's team [was] given the full, and as yet unpublished report of the Italian parliamentary inquiry into the affair."

You see, the original documents were obvious forgeries with signed names of Italian officials who were no longer in government; and it was these documents, which were alleged to conclusively show Iraq was a menace, that clinched the deal to go to war.

The article reminds readers that "a separate Senate Select Intelligence Committee inquiry [is] still under way, and while the Republican chairman Pat Roberts of Kansas seems to be dragging his feet, the ranking Democrat, Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia, is now under growing Democratic Party pressure to pursue this question of falsifying the case for war."

Oh my goodness, no wonder the president is increasingly getting testy with his junior and senior aides!

Whatever happened to the FBI investigation of the Niger forgeries...?

In re-reading published news articles about the Plame/Novak/Miller/Rove/Libby affair during the last two years, tiny flashes of what might be on the mind of Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald began to form in my mind.

Of special interest was one article by the Washington Post in February 2004. The Post reported of a separate “parallel investigation” by the FBI into bogus intelligence used by the president during his State of the Union speech in January 2003.

At the time, President Bush breathlessly told a nation British intelligence had "learned" Iraqis were trying to buy yellowcake from Niger to enrich uranium, a process to make weapons of mass destruction.

However, the United Nations soon afterwards informed the US government that documents used by British intelligence making the link were bogus; and in the spring of 2003, the FBI “launched an investigation” to find out who was responsible for the forgeries.

Members of the White House staff were henceforth questioned; and the Post article noted that FBI counterintelligence agents had interviewed Karl Rove, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, Scott McClellan; Mary Matalin; White House communications director Dan Bartlett; former White House press secretary Ari Fleischer; Adam Levine, a former White House press official; and Cathie Martin, a Cheney aide.

A couple of months before elections last year, the Washington Post once again reported on the FBI yellowcake investigation; one of the most interesting aspects of the story was how Rep. Conyers of Michigan had recommended that "either a special counsel” be appointed, or Fitzgerald, who was doing making progress in the Plame leak, take over.

Conyers said "the role of U.S. Attorney Paul J. McNulty [had] 'obvious political implications' in an election year" and went on to cite "anonymous allegations in a news report that McNulty had 'put the brakes on' the probe."

"While I have no reason to question Mr. McNulty's integrity," the congressman said, "he is not a career prosecutor, but instead is a political appointee whose previous employment was principally with Republican politicians."

Reports of an early 2001 Niger embassy break-in fueled talk about stolen blank forms later used to forge the yellowcake documents. At the time, the Niger embassy in Rome reported nothing was stolen.

According to The New York Times, "in December 2001, a few months after the CIA first heard the Niger claims," Michael Ledeen, "an American specialist...with a long-standing commitment to Israel...flew to Rome...and [met with] two officials" from a group set up by Cheney crony, neocon Douglas Feith, called the Office of Special Plans (OSP). One of the OSP members was Larry Franklin.

Yes, the very same Lawrence A. Franklin recently indicted, convicted and then offered a plea deal by ubiquitous and busier than a bee U.S. Attorney Paul J. McNulty. Earlier this month, Franklin pleaded guilty for "conspiring to channel classified Defense Department secrets to an Israeli Embassy official and a pro-Israel lobbying group."

Meanwhile, the chaps in Rome made nice and met with the Italian security service, Sismi; and lo and behold, only a few months later, fake documents proving Iraq was trying to build weapons of mass destruction show up in Rome. It seems a "Roman businessman linked to Sismi" sold the concocted evidence to an Italian journalist.

Recent whispers of an expanded Fitzgerald investigation that includes the original FBI forgery inquiry may have been initially sparked because many of the players in the Plame leak are also persons of interest in the yellowcake case.

Just who "fabricated the Iraq evidence"remains unknown. But apparently McNulty did a heck of a job. President Bush announced Friday plans to nominate him for the number two spot in the Justice Department.

Where exactly the ongoing investigation that was said to be at a "critical stage" nearly one year ago is today no one knows. But maybe Fitzgerald was able to morph the two inquiries into one, and we will soon learn not only who outed a CIA operative, but also who forged documents to take the nation to war.

Disecting the tea leaves...

In reading a recent post by Digby in Hullabaloo, I was reminded of something I failed to write about last week when I initially read Judith Miller’s tome.

In odd rhetorical form, Miller puts to pen what Libby told her in a way that suggests there could be a whole lot more to the story.

“My notes indicate…, [m]y interview notes show…, as the interview notes…, my notes show…, according to my notes…, my notes suggested…, [m]y notes contain, my notes do not show…, my interview notes do not show….”

Yikes. Everything is through the prism of the Book of Notes.

Digby thinks Miller is sending “a carefully scripted message to Libby, and perhaps to other sources.”

My initial reaction was that Miller was taking great care to not disclose anything new; to stick to what she’d already told the special counsel. This sentiment grew even stronger when it was reported Edward Bennett, her personal attorney, helped her write the New York Times story.

Yet in thinking about what Digby said, I can see how Miller’s little one-trick pony story may have actually been two-trick ponies: a device to lessen legal jeopardy for her in the future, and as a way to communicate to her sources that full testimony only revealed what was evident through her notes.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Big Leak Players

A careful read of the latest New York Times story on the outing of covert CIA agent Valerie Plame could well tell readers the names of players in the administration who will be indicted by Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald.

Drum roll please...!

Bush administration's justification for the war in Iraq...preoccupied the White House for more than three years, repeatedly threatening President Bush's credibility and political standing, and has now once again put the spotlight on Vice President Dick Cheney, who assumed a critical role in assembling and analyzing the evidence about Iraq's weapons programs.

Lawrence Wilkerson, the former chief of staff to Colin Powell while he was secretary of state, who complained of a "cabal" between Mr. Cheney and Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld when it came to Iraq and other national security issues

[F]ocus on the threat from Iraq has put some of his aides, especially I. Lewis Libby Jr., his chief of staff, in the middle of an investigation by a special prosecutor into the leak of the C.I.A. operative's name.

"[T]he leak case has ensnared other officials, most prominently Karl Rove, Mr. Bush's senior adviser.

Mr. Libby's involvement in assembling the case that Iraq's weapons constituted an urgent threat began well before the invasion. Along with Paul D. Wolfowitz and Douglas Feith, then senior Pentagon officials, Mr. Libby was immersed in painting a dark picture of Iraq's weapons capabilities and alleged that Iraq had ties to Al

Mr. Libby's deputy, John Hannah, had close ties to John R. Bolton, then the under secretary of state for arms control; David Wurmser, a Bolton aide who later joined Mr. Cheney's office; and Robert Joseph, then the senior director for nonproliferation on the National Security Council.

So the players in the leak are Cheney, Rumsfeld, Liddy, Rove, Wolfowitz, Bolton, Douglas Feith, John Hannah, David Wurmser and Robert Joseph.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

“It’s getting hot in heere. So hot!” But no, you don’t need to take your clothes off, as hip hop wrapper Nellie invites. Just stay tuned and watch Tim Kaine and Jim Kilgore slug it out to the end to win the hearts and minds of Virginia voters.

According to recent polls, the governor's race is statistically tied with the wind at Lt. Gov. Kaine's back. Republican candidate Jerry Kilgore, the former attorney general, had been ahead for most of the year but during the last few weeks, his campaign has faltered. Kilgore ran a slimy commercial decrying Kaine's death penalty stance and used Adolph Hitler imagery to hone the message; any momentum stalled.

In the ad, Kilgore asked Virginians to measure Kaine's death penalty stance based on religion as equal to Kaine closing his eyes to evil and condoning it. In a recent TV spot for Kilgore, a bereaved father puts down Kaine for defending his son murderer and says if it were up to Kaine, evildoers equal to Adolph Hitler would go unpunished.

The ad has caused an uproar. A quick glance at a weekly community paper in russet red Fauquier County, 47 miles southwest of the nation’s capital reflects the thoughts of many Virginians.

This week, the local paper published a voter's letter who asks, “Have you no shame, sir, no shame at all?”

Adam B. Siegel writes,

“Your campaign’s latest ad attacks Lt. Gov. Tim Kaine on death penalty issues. Using the father of victims as your mouthpiece, you ad states that Kaine ‘voluntarily’ represented the death row inmate.

That a judge assigned Kaine to the case—he was a court-appointed attorney—is a piece of information that viewers aren’t told.”
Oops…perhaps voters aren't so dumb after all.

Indeed, the perfect storm arrived at the Atlantic shoreline just in time for Kaine. Raising Kaine, a progressive blog reports that a fat cat Kilgore donor has switched political sides and in August contributed $100,000 to the Kaine campaign; in September yet another $100,000.

Listen to what "Randal J. Kirk of Radford, President and CEO of New River Pharmaceuticals and Senior Managing Director of investment firm Third Security, LLC" had to say of Kilgore.

If you believe the main thing the commonwealth needs to be doing to improve the plight of its people is to kill more people, then by all means you should vote for Jerry.
The small community paper in Warrenton further blasted Kilgore for making Kaine’s moral stance an issue in yet another op-ed; and another one extolled Kaine's proposal to allow communities to “charge…developers impact fees to help pay for schools,” roads, and other infrastructure.

The Fauquier-Democrat, a newspaper that has steadfastly refused to endorse candidates in the past came as close as they could without officially breaking their self-imposed canon in an Oct. 18 editorial, “Kaine Plan worth a look."

They write,

Lt. Gov. Tim Kaine says he wants to change that infrastructure formula. He wants to put the onus on developers to build only where the infrastructure is in place or to pay for the needed work. After all, he reasons, the developers will reap jillions from their projects, so why shouldn't they pay to support them?

Like all Republicans, Mr. Kilgore opposes the idea. He knows where his campaign cash is coming from.We think it's an idea long past time for enactment. We can't continue asking taxpayers to support spending hundreds of millions on public works projects while developers take their Brinks trucks full of money and head on down the road.

Call me crazy, but that sure sounded like an almost ringing endorsement. The planets seem to be aligning for Kaine.

Gitty-up, here comes yet another donkey victory to the wire!

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Twenty First Century solutions for 21st century problems

In recent history, politicians have used the law and order deck card to win political blackjack. Think back to the famous Willie Horton ad used by former President Reagan against Michael Dukakis during the 1980s to show him as a raging liberal, soft on crime, who could not be trusted to keep the public safe.

In the latest political incarnation, Jerry Kilgore, the Republican candidate for governor in Virginia has a commercial with a sad, broken hearted father railing against Tim Kaine, the Democratic candidate and former defense attorney, for defending the person who killed his son and daughter-in-law.

"Tim Kaine voluntarily represented the man who murdered my son, the grief stricken man says to his audience. "He stood with murderers in trying to get them off death row. No matter how heinous the crime, he doesn't believe that death is a punishment."

There is nothing more devastating than to lose your child. But...let's have a little perspective. Isn't every citizen entitled to receive legal representation before the courts?

After a great gnashing of teeth and ample pontification with accusations and counteraccusations by droves, the hatchet job did not hurt Kaine. In fact, Kilgore’s poll numbers are now worst than they were before the ad.

So much for law and order hysteria to whip up the masses. Looks like Kilgore’s campaign is a wee bit passé and out of step with the 21st century. Voters agree everyone is entitled to competent defense; and the issue of crime doesn't appear to be the silver bullet to knock off opponents.

With drug wars and drive-by shootings fading with the past, transportation, emergency preparedness, education, and the high cost of gasoline and health care are the issues on the minds of today's voters.

Crime is a nonissue. So much in fact that a recent study by the Virginia Department of Health shows more people die at their own hands than at the hands of others.

A story by the Washington Post reports, “Suicides accounted for [substantially] more than half of all violent deaths in Virginia in 2003, with the majority committed by white men with marital troubles and a history of depression.” In fact, 60 percent of all violent deaths in Virginia are from suicide.

The millions of dollars spent in correctional institutions with Draconian truth-in-sentencing laws might be more effectively put to use by providing mental health care for Virginians and reduce this shocking statistic.

Moreover, Kilgore should leave the boogey man of yesteryears to the trash bins of past demogoguery. No going back to the politics of fear and hate-mongering. Virginia's next governor needs to focus scarce resources on real issues and keep Virginia moving forward.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Media Scoop Envy

On MSNBC's "Countdown tonight, Dana Priest of the Washington Post said that breaking news by RAW STORY that a Cheney lieutenant "from the offices of then-Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security Affairs" had flipped and was now testifying for Fitzgerald was actually old news.

Just an unsubstantiated rumor, nothing more.

If indeed this breaking story is merely old gossip from media chatterboxes, you would think it would have been reported by someone, even if only a blogger.

What is more, the article says, "[a] senior aide to Vice President Dick Cheney is cooperating with special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald in the outing of CIA agent Valerie Plame Wilson [according to] sources close to the investigation."

Is Priest saying RAW STORY just made up sources, ALA Jayson Blair, in their report?

In the future, mainstream media may want to give more deference to breaking news before they disparage a report. Seems like just last Wednesday RAW STORY wrote about Cheney's possible involvement in the Plame/Miller/Rove/Libby several days before The New York Times and Judy Miller's tome came out.

RAW STORY once again used " individuals close to Fitzgerald" as their source; and after a number of articles by mainstream media during the last couple of days, including the Washington Post, looks like RAW STORY was right on the money.

Monday, October 17, 2005

A Whodunnit Theory

In the Miller/Libby/Rove/Plame whodunnit story, one thread could point to Bolton, and here’s a penny’s worth of guesswork from Howling Latina.

After dissecting more than 9,000 words from the New York Times article and Judith Miller’s personal tale, one paragraph that caught my eye was the jailhouse conversation between Miller and Libby in mid-September.

Judy writes, “When he talked to me about how unhappy he was that I was in jail, that he hadn’t fully understood that I might have been going to jail just to protect him [Libby] thought there were other people whom I had been protecting.”

How sweet and tender. But exactly why would Vice President Cheney’s chief of staff believe such a notion, unless he knew exactly who this mysterious other person is?

The Raw Story reports Fitzgerald is aware of who leaked Valerie Plame’s name to the media; and “it’s not someone at the White House.”

This would preclude Rove and Libby, but certainly fits nicely with my theory that Bolton is the key to this whole mess.

Bolton certainly had access to the intelligence and was ballsy enough to carry out the dirty deed.

We also know he made several inquiries into the names of several intelligence officers and the Senate ultimately filibustered his nomination to the United Nations because the administration refused to turn over the list.

Moreover, the ambassador was fast friends with Miller who certainly didn’t get the name of “Valerie Flame” out of thin air.

Bolton as a suspect favorably matches with three ingredients of crime: motive, means and opportunity.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Deal with the Devil

As the nation ponders future prospects for Harriet Miers to be confirmed as associate justice to the Supreme Court, the wise words of former presidential candidate, Arizona senator and father of the early conservative movement, Barry Goldwater, hanker to be retold.

During the nomination of Sandra Day O’Conner to the Court by President Reagan in 1981, the Moral Majority and Jerry Falwell had been quick to condemn her nomination; and Goldwater had enough, giving a speech on the Senate floor.

With few choice words directed at those who were denouncing her, Goldwater said.

I'm frankly sick and tired of the political preachers across this country telling me as a citizen that, if I want to be a moral person, I must believe in A, B, C or D....I am even more angry as a legislator who must endure the threats of every religious group who thinks it has some God-granted right to control my vote on every roll call in the Senate.

Taking a walk down memory lane is a fine place to unearth historical gems of prescient proportions. Read on.

"I don't like the New Right," Goldwater said to his fellow senators.

"What they're talking about is not conservatism." ” [L]ook at the carnage in Iran,” he warned. “[T]he bloodshed in Northern Ireland, or the bombs bursting in Lebanon," all can be laid at the feet of “religious issues into the affairs of state."

"By maintaining the separation of church and state," Goldwater added, "the United States has avoided the intolerance which has so divided the rest of the world with religious wars."

”[T]he religious factions that are growing throughout our land...a divisive element… could tear apart the very spirit of our representative system, if they gain sufficient strength."

It has taken religious modern-day Pharisees only 24 years to gain enough political clout to call their chits and demand the president appoint a religious nutwing to the nation's highest court.

And like the Democratic Party of old that allowed Southern racists to join them in the seats of power with a wink and a nod, the current party of Lincoln made a similar Faustian deal with the Christian right in advancing their vile unholy agenda in exchange for support.

This was not only morally corrupt, but politically untenable; the chinks eventually fall off. Witness the recent fallout over the Supreme Court nomination with directives from religious leaders from the right for the president to appoint a person who is like-minded; pay the piper or else.

Just as President Johnson stood up to segregationists during the 60s, Republicans need to confront religious zealots and sacrifice facile victories for the good of our nation. Press ideas in the court of public opinion and have faith in the democracy you like to talk about so much.

And to the truly Christian Republicans, I submit a a quote from your professed Lord."Put your sword back in its place," Jesus said to him, "for all who draw the sword will die by the sword.” Matthews 26:52.

Honor both the Bible and constitution, butt-out of Supreme Court politics or suffer at the hands of your own political sword.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Media Lying bastard...

Last night while visiting with my rabidly Republican brother-in-law, the issue of Bush’s sinking poll numbers came up; and all the buzz in the media, which according to him, was premature folly.

Yes, no need for glee, he sagely told me. You see, as low as Bush’s polling numbers are, even more people dislike Democratic leaders in Congress.

And how does my brethren know...?

Last night on The O’Reilly Factor, host O’Reilly, the man of no-spin on Fox News, told him so.

Twirling and spinning faster than tumbleweed across the desert during a sand storm, this is what O'Reilly said: :

Now you would think the Democrats would be looking better to Americans because the Republican administration is having so many problems, but according to a new poll taken by Pew last week, Americans like the Democratic leadership less than they like Mr. Bush.

The poll question asked do you approve or disapprove of the job the Democratic leaders in Congress are doing? Only 32 percent approve; 48 percent disapprove; 20 percent don't know.

So 40 percent of Americans approve of President Bush's job performance, according to the latest FOX News poll. And only 32 percent approve of the Democratic leadership.

You gotta love this guy for once again taking “diassembling” to the homespun Republican Spin Zone.

Here are the facts. Although the most recent poll by the Pew Research Institute does in fact show only 32 percent of Americans approve of the job Democratic leaders are doing in Congress, there is a big, humongous, colossal, walloping bit of context missing from O'Reilly's remarks, such as Republican leaders in Congress fared just as poorly. Only 32 percent think Republicans are doing a good job.

O'Reilly also failed to point out to his viewers that in the same poll, participants want to see Democrats win in next year's election by the not-too-shabby margin of 9 percent.

What's more, when our no-spin tube master cited a 40 percent approval for Bush and compared it to the Democratic approval rate, he was using two cross polls, one by Pew Research and the other by Fox News. You had to be paying extra close attention to catch it.

Hmm...let's see. Using O'Reilly's "no-spin" methodology, we can now report only 37 percent of Americans approve of the job President Bush is doing. By the substantial margin of 9 percent, Americans also hope Democrats win Congress in next year's election and hold the president accountable.

That’s fair and balance, no…? One figure from CBS; the other from Pew; and concluding analysis courtesy of the very partisan Howling Latina.

Indeed, and most unscrupulous. "He uses statistics as a drunken man uses lamp posts - for support rather than illumination." Andrew Lang

Thursday, October 13, 2005

The Fruits of Denial

Interesting observation by Dana Milbank in a recent Washington Post article.

Only the president's closest friends and family know (if anybody does) what he's really thinking these days...Bush has not been viewed up close; as he took his eighth post-Katrina trip to the Gulf Coast yesterday, the press corps has accompanied him only once.

So Bush hasn't been seen up close by anyone....? And Laura was once again tagging along.

Hmm...if you recall in a post by Howling Latina when the National Enquirer broke the story Bush had fallen off the wagon a few weeks ago, she wrote of warning flags to look for; and specifically listed evidence of isolation from the media and a short leash by family members as tell-tale signs.

The fact the press hasn't been allowed to jet alongside the president might have a more sinister reason than White House spin of "logistics," a broad in content excuse that does not preclude a hung-over president as its bedrock.

During Matt Lauer's interview with Bush, the "blur of blinks, taps, jiggles, pivots and shifts" could surely be the morning shadows of hard night drinking and daybreak alcohol withdrawal.

Bush's feigned bravado on NBC's Today Show reminded me of the morning-after cocky drunkard who dares someone to prove what is blatantly obvious: the open secret of "slips" that allow family (extended or immediate) to hide behind their circustancial nature in full-blown denial.

Yep, the media and country, Bush's extended family may well be in denial. Only pictures of Bush rolling on the floor ALA daughter Janna can force the nation to come to terms that a boozer sits and governs from the White House.

All drunks need capable enablers to keep the charade of sobriety going. No need to suffer the consequences of ones action, just bring along either Poppy, The Enforcer, or Steady-as-she-Goes-Laura.

And perhaps they can keep Bush off the sauce; but if they fail, well they can at least make sure he showers, brushes his teeth, puts on clean clothes and smiles for the cameras and audience.

Now look straight into the lens and say cheese; and a round of Paxil for everyone's trouble.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Fitzgerald Ready to Cook More than One Goose...

It looks like Judith Miller had more than one source in the shameful outing of a covert CIA agent, and recently she was asked/directed to testify once more.

In spite of her bluster in front of an Alexandria court house that any future testimony by her would be limited to Libby, mainstream media now speculates a broadening of Fitzgerald scope with additional testimony from both Miller and Rove.

The Wall Street Journal reports that "prosecutors are now looking into contacts between administration officials and journalists" with attorneys familiar with the case saying Fitzgerald has started asking questions about the White House Iraq Group (WHIG), a cabal of administration insiders dedicated to promoting the war in Iraq at all cost.

Jane Hamsher of Firedoglake has been blogging on the Rove/Miller/Plame case and like me, thinks a likely Bush administration candidate as a source for Miller is none other than John Bolton.

If the Wall Street Journal is right and the investigation now includes all WHIG members, then that surely would not only include Bolton but help explain his affectionate visit to Judy in jail as well as why Bushie had to pay him off with a UN appointment.

And if Bolton had a hand, he would become the latest captain in the White House mafia family to come under pressure to come clean and turn evidence against his mob bosses.

Monday, October 10, 2005

The flip side of bias for Catholic candidates for public office

Equal to Catholic bias for Supreme Court justices within conservative insiders, the faithful face political prejudice when they try to win elected office in Bible Belt states.

To illustrate, after watching the debate between Republican governor candidate Jerry Kilgore and Democratic candidate Tim Kaine on C-SPAN for the Virginia race, it was obvious Kilgore was trying to make political hay out of Kaine's personal religious beliefs as a devout Catholic.

The recent ruckus over newly appointed Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts and whether or not he would ensconce his own religious convictions into case law makes it difficult to reconcile Kilgore's attack on Kaine and the death penalty when measured against unanimous support by Republicans for Roberts, another Catholic, who persumably agrees with church doctrine.

Here's what Kaine had to say on the matter during the debate: "I'm against the death penalty and abortion. That's what my church teaches and those are the beliefs that I've come to believe in 47 years of adult life. I don't apologize for my religious belief, and I'm not going to change my religion just to get elected."

To which Kilgore replied: "While I was busy abolishing parole and bringing truth in sentencing to Virginia, he was busy trying to abolish the death penalty."

Kaine has the better philosophy. Virginia's lovefest with the death penalty is a disgrace to humankind and justice. For example, new evidence that exonerates a death row inmate must be submitted within 21 days or it is inadmissible; and there is ample evidence the Commonwealth has executed more than one innocent person in the past.

Only a few years ago, as attorney general, Kilgore tried to destroy evidence in a California laboratory that could prove Roger Coleman, a man killed by the state in 1992, was wrongfully executed; the laboratory refused to turn over the DNA and the evidence is still being safeguarded by Edward Blake, "a nationally known authority in forensic DNA analysis who conducted tests on the evidence in 1990."

"I'm not sending it anywhere," he told the state when they tried to force him to ship it. "It's my work product."

In yesterday's debate, Kilgore besmirched an entire religion by equating noble tenets as a mark of weak character; and showed a total lack of moral discernment while promoting even more crimes to the already too long list of crimes punishable by death.

Society problems cannot be solved through easy answers and 15-second political sound bites. In an overwhelming one-party state, it takes a strong leader to address and try to solve complex issues, not a Richmond party hack or rubber stamp who vilifies an opponent's religion for political gain.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

More on Judith Miller and friends...

In reading a post by Clarice Feldman of The American Thinker, one point that set off instant alarm bells was her contention that both Scooter Libby, chief of staff to Vice President Dick Cheney, and Deputy White House Chief of Staff, Karl Rove, found out about Valerie Plame from reporters.

Feldman refers readers to a news story by the Washington Post, which she feels is proof positive that newshounds were the ones bantering the name of CIA operative Valerie Plame in the first place.

Although her logic is circuitous, at best, if her hunch is correct and reporters did indeed start the rumor mill talking about Wilson/Plame, then the logical next question is who told the chatty reporters to begin with?

Inevitably, it comes back to a secret hunch of my own: underneath the Miller/Libby/Rove/Plame drama lies the name of embattled United Nations ambassador John Bolton.

If you recall, during Bolton's senate confirmation hearings, we learned Bolton tried to fire any intelligence analyst who had the temerity to disagree with him on the subject of weapons of mass destruction.

And as undersecretary for arms control, Bolton would certainly have been the logical first person to learn of Valerie Plame's association to former Ambassador Joseph Wilson who was starting to squawk about White House claims of aluminum tubes, yellow cake and Niger.
Also remember, Plame was a CIA operative on weapons of mass destruction.

This past summer, we also learned Bolton was going around demanding larger office space even before he'd been cofirmed to the UN or received his presidential recess appointment; so sure was he that he would get the nod.

Finally, we also know that Bolton paid Judith Miller a friendly visit while she was in jail.

Call me a conspiracy nut case if you will, but am I the only soul who sees a likely Bolton thread...?

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Is there a Catholic bias in the conservative movement?

Could the reason for gnashing of teeth by conservatives be that Miers is a former Catholic, born-again Protestant? Is there now Protestant animus in the conservative movement, and you must be a practicing Catholic like Scalia, Thomas and Roberts to make it to the highest court in the nation?

Christian and born-again Harriet Miers, recently nominated to the Supreme Court, has been pilloried by the very conservatives who should be ecstatic with her nomination.

Despite assurances from Bush that Miers is a true conservative, recent calls for her to withdraw have reached a dissonant cacophony of angry screeches.

A wide range of conservative personalities as far reaching as columnist Charles Krauthammer to Operation Rescue, the radical pro-life activist group, have condemned the Miers nomination and asked her to withdraw. Krauthammer writes, "There are 1,084,504 lawyers in the United States. What distinguishes Harriet Miers from any of them, other than her connection with the president?"

Accused as a lightweight and Bush crony, former Bush administration speechwriter David Frum chimed in with the following disparaging observation. "There is scarcely a single knowledgeable legal conservative in Washington who supports this nomination." And sure enough, conservative media pundit and former Republican presidential candidate Patrick Buchanan piled on and said that Miers lacked legal gravitas. “Were she not a friend of Bush, and female," he says, "she would never have even been considered.”

Well, dah. That could be said for half the staff on the Hill and every female government official.

Besides...whatever happened to presidential prerogative in naming a Supreme Court justice? Since when did a Supreme Court nomination become a plebiscite?

The record reveals very little about Miers; but when the Bush administration stopped the 50-year practice of asking the American Bar Association to grade potential Court nominees in 2001, Miers argued against this new policy, a good call.

She was once a Democrat who financially supported Al Gore's presidential bid in 1988; and was herself president of the state bar association, nemesis to Republican corporate hacks.

From my perch, I say confirm Miers. So what if she didn’t graduate from an Ivy League law school? I mean speaking of cronyism, if it hadn’t been for the influence of our dear leader's dad at Yale, Junior might've trailed Miers at Southern Methodist University, with a few strings pulled at that.

And as to her legitimacy to Christ, she came to the Lord through a coworker, a new church and in accordance with evangelical preaching, the power and grace of the Holy Spirit.

Indeed, Protestant denominations teach the Holy Spirit convicts and reveals; to each in accordance with God's will. And from Mathews 22:20-21, the Good Book says, "Render...unto Caesar the things which be Caesar's, and unto God the things which be God's."

In other words, keep them separate. Sort of like what our constitution prescribes.

It would be refreshing for the Court to have a judge who is a devout Christian of a different flavor. One who is guided by the rule of law and leaves the Christian gospel for Sunday worship service and nightly prayers.

Friday, October 07, 2005

Campus Police Gone Wild – Repost & Update

A student was stripped of his right to speech by an overly zealous campus police officer only 24 hours before Democratic gubernatorial candidate Tim Kaine was to debate third-party Independent aspirant Russ Potts at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia.

Wearing a sign on his chest that said, “Recruiters Lie, Don’t be Deceived,” the student stood in front of military college campus recruiters as they tried to drum up business; and the military headhunters, not liking his message soon began yelling at him; and before too long, one officer ripped up his sign.

With all the shouting and mayhem, campus police were alerted and when they arrived, they asked the student for some identification; because he had none, they then promptly arrested him: without identification, the student unavoidably became a trespasser.

Tariq Khan, 27, a Pakistani American who has already served four years the U.S. Air Force, says a barrage of ethic slurs followed the exchange and his arrest. Maybe if you look Middle Eastern and protest on campus, police has the right to arrest you and make disparaging remarks about your ethnicity in the process.

What is troubling about this incidence is that Khan wasn't even trespassing. He had a right to be on campus as a sociology student at GMU, equal to campus police and military recruiters.

Besides, when did it become a crime to walk around a free country without identification?

Police eventually learned Khan was an actual student at GMU; and had to cover their hindparts with new excuses for hauling him off.

The charge for trespassing remained, only the reason switched; it's no longer because Khan was not a student but rather because he was passing out flyers without a permit. Oh yea, and creating a ruckus.

A source at GMU's police department says campus police have very little people skills and no training. Instead, their focus is on bio-terror and emergency preparedness; and commands by immediate superiors are to be strictly and promptly obeyed, without question. I suppose they expect the rest of the world to follow their lead, whether a situation warrants such extreme allegiance or not, as was the case with poor hapless demonstrator.

A Timely Civics Lesson

With all the corruption in Washington, a civics lesson on the constitutional line of succession may be appropriate.

I mean, let's say Bush and Cheney are indicted and have to resign, and the overweight Hastern and frail Stevens both have a stroke, who would then be our president....? seems our very our own Condi Rice becomes commander in chief. Just like Geena David On TV's "Commander in Chief."

Here is the line of succession:

1. Vice President.
2. House Speaker
3. Senate President Pro Tem
4. Secretary of State.
5. Treasury Secretary
6. Defense Secretary
7. Attorney General
*8. Homeland Security (per bill passed by the Senate and waiting House approval, promotes
security chief from 18th spot to the eighth).
9. Interior Secretary
10. Agriculture Secretary
11. Commerce Secretary
12. Labor Secretary
13. Health and Human Services Secretary
14. Housing and Urban Development Secretary
15. Transportation Secretary
16. Energy Secretary
17. Education Secretary
*18. Veterans Affairs (see #8)

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Rove in the Short Crosshairs of Fitzgerald

Now that Judy-of-a-billion-excuses-and-changing-principles has chatted with Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald, the grand jury is expected to wrap up their work and either indict someone or close shop by the end of October.

Reuters recently reported that Karl Rove’s attorney has stopped asserting his client was not a target of Fitzgerald's investigation in outing CIA covert agent Valerie Plame Wilson.

And there is a deep suspicion that Rove might be indicted. The media has noted a discernible Rove absence at recent White House events; and George Stephanopoulos remark on his Sunday talk show that the president and vice president were directly involved by way of "discussions" with presumably Rove and Libby certainly got the town further buzzing.

The New York Times has already reported that a memo passed around Air Force One on July 7, a week before the famous Robert Novak column appeared in a Chicago Sun-Times column, "identified Ms. Wilson by name and described her as having a role in her husband's selection for the mission to Niger."

And Robert Novak’s column of July 14, 2003 was two full days after evidence has definitively shown ”Rove... knew about Wilson's wife's position at the CIA.” Troubling for Rove is his assertion to "the grand jury that he never saw the memorandum."

Finally, it was reported that Bush spent “more than an hour” answering questions about the Plame leak back on June 24, 2004. At the time, the Washington Post noted that “special prosecutor…and several assistants questioned the president for about 70 minutes in the Oval Office.”

I don’t think they were asking Bush for ranching tips or the intricacies of shrub clearing; and I don't think they were asking Judy when she testified last Friday about her inner child or how it felt to be a private citizen again.

In the latest development, The Associated Press reports Rove has asked "federal prosecutors" to allow him to testify once more. You know, to clear the air. But unlike Rove's previous three testimonies, the special counsel did not give Rove any assurance he would not be indicted in the future.

Stay tuned, boys and girls...

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Iraqi War Veteran for the Senate

The Associated Press reports Paul Hackett of Cincinnati, the Iraqi War veteran who almost won a special election in an overpoweringly red district this past August, will soon announce his candidacy against Sen. Mike DeWine, R-Ohio.

During the summer Hackett ran for the 2nd District House seat against Democratic Jean Schmidt and almost won. On Election Day, as late as 11:00 p.m., the vote was tied. Schmidt eventually won, although with a mere anemic 52 percent in a district that strongly supported Bush during the presidential campaign.

Hackett became a national fixture with visits to MSNBC’s Hardball, CNN's American Morning and others as the race narrowed. And within the last couple of months there has been a buzz about him challeging DeWine; no other candidate appeared interested in running.

Initially, Democrats had hoped Rep. Sherrod Brown of Lorain would run for the senate post, but by mid-August, Brown had declined; and in late September, political guru Larry Saboto reported in his Crystal Ball prognosis that Brown had "toyed with the idea but decided not to run."

Daily Kos further reminds us that only “a few months ago, Brown was being begged to run for Senate in Ohio [but] demurred."

But guess what? Brown is now having second thoughts and may enter the race after all; so much for Saboto's crystal ball.

Backtracking a wee bit Brown's office issued the following narrative. "His statement has not changed at this time. However, Congressman Brown continues to be asked by state and national supporters to run for the United States Senate in Ohio. Personal and professional obligations have changed since his initial decision. He is consulting with supporters and his family about a possible run."

Some big names on the blogosphere have split their allegiance between Hackett and Brown. For progressives who prefer the more genteel and polished Brown, Hackett’s “take-no-prisoners” persona and habit of calling Bush a Chickenhawk and son of a bitch seemed a bit over the top. For others, it was exactly the glaring truth that needed to be told in the 2nd District and now to all Ohioans.

Hackett recently flew to Washington, DC and his spokesperson, David Woodruff, said the soon-to-be candidate “had found overwhelming support from the leaders of the Democratic Party, campaign organization and staff.”

In an unofficial poll by Daily Kos of 1,873 readers, Hackett supporters led with 85 percent. During the special election bloggers rushed to Ohio in droves to help Hackett's congressional campaign.

And if online readers on the number one Web site are any indication of Democratic support, it looks like Brown might want to once again reconsider and stick to his daytime job as a congressman.

Foreshadowing a possible future run, Hackett had told supporters on the eve of his loss, keep the faith and "rock on."

Are we rocking yet...?

Monday, October 03, 2005

Pit Bull for Stealth Supreme Court Candidate

What does anyone know about Bush’s loyal flack, recently nominated to the highest bench?

I called my daughter, a Houston attorney with a law firm whose partner as a young man was fast buds with Judge Priscilla Owens (recently filibusterred and ultimately confirmed to the 5th US Circuit Court of Appeals) to learn what she knew of Bush’s latest stealth nominee.

It seems mum is the word. No one knows very much.

“That’s funny,” she said. “Just a few minutes ago my boss just asked me the exact same question."

Well, here’s what we do know. Harriet Miers was president of the Texas Bar Association; member-at-large with Dallas City Council; Bush’s personal attorney in Texas; came to Washington and as White House staff secretary “personally control[led] the flow of written information into the Oval Office.” She received both her undergraduate and law degree from Southern Methodist University and Bush once lovingly called her, “a pit bull in size 6 shoes.”

Last November, when Miers was promoted to White House counsel, the media noted that her allegiance to Bush seemed to be her supreme quality; and her principal qualification was her longtime friendship with the president; and oh, "defusing scandal, a potentially useful asset" for a beleagured White House.

Ain't life swell!

The Associated Press once again points out that "at a time when the president is being accused of cronyism, [he] is certainly opening himself up for that again with this nomination." Andrew Cohen, legal analyst for CBS said, "She's certainly no John Roberts."

As a loyal ally, Bush confidently assured his base that the nominee will be the type of judge he promised. “Harriet Miers will strictly interpret our Constitution and laws. She will not legislate from the bench."

This will be Miers first appearance before the Senate; her prior appointment did not require Senate confirmation. Her testimony, however, will likely reveal little about her. Certainly nothing in her record favorably suggests "life experiences" that Sen. Dick Durbin asked of Roberts that would bode well for "the powerless, the disenfranchised, minorities and others" who might come before her.

"It is the responsibility of every generation to be true to the founders' vision of the proper role of the courts in our society," Miers said in her press briefing. "If confirmed, I recognize that I will have a tremendous responsibility to keep our judicial system strong and help ensure that the courts meet their obligation to strictly apply the law and the Constitution."

In other words, another Clarence Thomas!

A 12-step program in the Plame imbroglio

Am I the only soul who sees conspiracy behind every door, one shadow at a time…?

Media pundits seem to think intrepid reporter Judith Miller went to jail to burnish her tarnished reputation as a journalist. I see something more sinister and simpler.

Indulge me, if you will. Let’s say Judith Miller was in cahoots with Rove, Libby, Bolton and Cheney; and yes, I throw Bolton’s name because I don’t think it was just another wild coinkidink that Bolton visited Miller in jail around the 15th of August and only a "few days" later Miller's counsel gets in touch with Libby's attorney and they began to colloborate, I mean communicate.

Her attorney, Robert Bennett is no idiot; he knows he’s playing with some bad “hombres” but he also knows Fitzgerald may have been getting ready to charge Miller with obstruction. So he takes Bolton's visit as a sign the other side is willing to negotiate.

Bennett calls Libby’s lawyer and says, “Hey, glad you're home 'cause Judy is gonna start singing pretty soon; and unless your client comes up with a few lines of his own, the lullaby she belts might not be to his liking. So they negotiate words to the tune and decide each will sing their own version of the same song.

Miller keeps the secrets of her pre-war misinformation and continues to report on "Iraqi elections and suicide bombers...and the Iranian nuclear program." But only to the extent White House sources feed her tidbits. And Libby gets to wait and see just exactly what Fitzgerald has over operatives at the White House.

Well, here's my advice for nervous villains and skittish reporters. One day at a time and easy does it, two helpful slogans from 12-step programs. No need to avoid "biological threats" of any sort. You can't forestall consequences of past risky behavior; just simply surrender and when it's over, do tell all.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Campus Police Gone Wild

A student was stripped of his right to speech by an overly zealous campus police officer last Thursday at George Mason University campus in Fairfax, Virginia.

Home to last year’s Kerry victory party on Super Tuesday and only a day before one-on-one debate between current Democratic gubernatorial candidate Tim Kaine and third-party Independent Republican aspirant Russ Potts, security accosted a student who was roaming the main building with an antiwar sign.

Not liking his message, the clueless officer asked the student to leave the building; and for good measure arrested him afterwards.

Today university authorities told the study body via e-mail oops, we're sorry.

Intolerance, they said, ran counter to the school's “commitment to freedom of speech." In the future, they would "work to avoid attacks on expressions of free speech, including destruction of signs and other written statements.”

And of course, a full investigation into the matter is underway.

Well I should say so…

Saturday, October 01, 2005

Top Sharks and Other Fish Stories

Sometimes you hear something in the news that sounds a wee bit off-base but you can’t exactly pinpoint the problem so you shrug your shoulders and go on to the next column.

And only weeks or months later when someone articulates the idea that made you feel so leery in the first place, you realize your innermost self knew all along; something just wasn’t quite right, even if at the time, you couldn’t exactly say what it was.

A story by Michael Isikoff and Mark Hosenball of Newsweek on MSNBC’s news web site laid out in words past unease for many--the troubling pattern of White House assurances of Iraqi progress by way of the latest capture or killing of “the second-most-wanted al-Qaeda leader in Iraq.” AGAIN.

Scott Shields of MyDD blog is perplexed by how often top operational guys are being collared or killed. He asks, “Just how many 'Number 2,' 'Number 3,' and 'Number 4' men can bin Laden and Zarqawi possibly have, anyway?”

Assessing information supported by a reality-based world is not the White House way; they accept no constraints. If Abu Musab al-Zarqawi is still out there, then whoever we snatch has got to be the number one or two sand tiger shark in the tank, got it?

The article reports:

In a brief Rose Garden appearance Wednesday morning, Bush seized on the killing of Abu Azzam by joint U.S-Iraqi forces in a shootout last Sunday as fresh evidence that the United States is turning the tide against the Iraqi insurgency.


Bush’s comments came one day after Gen. Richard Myers, the outgoing chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told reporters at the Pentagon that the U.S. military considered Abu Azzam the “No. 2 Al Qaeda operative in Iraq, next to Zarqawi.”

Shields did a little research; actually a simple check, he readily admits. “[N]othing more than the press release” by the Iraqi Interim Government.

The document reveals a less than lofty dollar amount on the head of the latest fish killed. For a number two guy, Abu Azzam had a relatively modest reward: $50,000. Rewards go up as high as $25 million for the truly big shark, $1 million for the minnows and $50,000 for the guppies.

Only this past May the number three guy, Abu Faraj Farj al-Libbi was nabbed; and in June on “Inside Washington,” conservative pundit Charles Krauthammer gloated over the capture of the “number two guy in…Sabul.” But wait...the number two man is the very same person as the number three terrorist

According to a news reports by The Guardian in London, al-Libbi was the number three operative; but in the spin-weary brain of Krauthammer, he got promoted; and any viewer would have reasonably thought we'd nabbed both the number two and number three guy. Kinna like the misguided notion of progress with Bush's latest fish story.

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