From Eric Schwartz….
It is so hard to keep up with all the Republican scandals these days. One almost needs an instant message service just devoted to these scandals. Admittedly, quite a few came to light even before Congress jump-started its dormant oversight functions early this year. Now that the oversight machine has gotten warmed up, expect a new scandal to surface every couple of weeks or so.
One recent junior-level scandal is about to get bigger. Remember Lurita Doan, the Administrator of the General Services Administration (GSA)? She recently gave testimony before the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform investigating GSA misconduct. If you don’t remember, here is an exchange between Ms. Doan and Rep. Bruce Braley (D-IA) over a meeting she attended, on GSA property, in which the White House Office of Political Affairs presented strategies for winning the 2006 elections. The presentation included things like a list of targeted Democratic seats. Multiple witnesses reported that after the presentation, Ms. Doan stood up and said “How can we use the GSA to help the Republicans in the next election.” She, of course, had no recollection of the presentation or her own statements afterward.
The problem for Ms. Doan is that the activity, on the face of it, violates the Hatch Act of 1939. That isn’t just the opinion of a spiteful liberal like me; in fact, it’s the opinion of the U.S. Office of Special Counsel (here is a pdf version of their report).
The report has gotten Ms. Doan a second date with the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform on June 7.
The Chair of the committee, Rep. Henry Waxman (R-CA), just gave an interview to the Center for American Progress to explain the rationale for asking her back for a second date. In summary:
By pressing forward with the investigation, investigators have revealed a disturbing pattern by Doan to mislead and cover-up her true intent regarding these partisan briefings. Some examples:
- When asked by the OSC investigators about her role in the briefing, she said “she was uninterested in the topic” and “was on her Blackberry…reviewing emails…and only periodically looked up and down.” But a review of her e-mail use during the meeting failed to corroborate that she was checking or sending email via her BlackBerry.
- Doan claimed the GSA employees who spoke out about her were employees who were poor performers. The OSC investigators said that Doan’s claim regarding the witnesses “appears to have been purposefully misleading and false” since none of the seven employees had “between a poor to totally inferior performance.”
- Doan claimed “she does not care about polls or election results.” But investigators report that Doan contributed $226,000 to Republican candidates and Republican organizations. Doan responded by testifying that the contributions had been “taken out of context.”
Here’s the thing. It is possible that this is an isolated case of a senior Bush appointee just not understanding the rules.
It’s possible…but why is it that every time something suspicious is investigated, it turns out that Republican appointees are breaking the law (or at least bending the law to the point of breaking) in order to squeeze out partisan advantage? And they never remember a thing about it afterward!
I’m talking Gonzogate (“I would never, ever make a change in a United States attorney for political reasons”), Monica Goodling (“I crossed the line of Civil Service policy”), Plamegate, the Armstrong Williams & Maggie Gallagher propaganda scandals, a fake reporter in the White House press corps, GAO-gate, and so on and so forth. And we’ve just scratched the surface.
Collectively, it is clear that (1) these people think they are above the law, (2) the GOP comes before country to them, (3) they feel being in power entitles them to use their power to keep power at any cost, (4) this abuse of power is systematic. The Bush administration’s great innovation has been to refine the concept of distributed power abuse it in a way that hasn’t been seen in generations (if ever before). It’s a pernicious, distributed, largely low-level abuse of power at all levels of government. And we have only scratched the surface.
When it comes right down to it, this current pack of criminals in the White House makes Richard Nixon seem like a real amateur.
I imagine Mary Cheney is still a virgin. In any case, she bore a son today.
Cheney and Poe, a former park ranger, have been together for 15 years and live in Great Falls. And no, there’s no more word on how the pregnancy came about.
How, indeed! I wonder if the answer is parthenogenesis? (Hey…I’m not trying to imply that Mary Cheney is a shark—even considering who her father is.) You know, some kind of biological response to prolonged female-female cohabitation? Oh…wait…it can’t be parthenogenesis, because that would always result in a female offspring (two X chromosomes).
Nope…nothing of scientific interesting going on here.
This is just another typical case of a virgin Mary giving birth to a son.
Attorney General Alberto Gonzales is in trouble. His problems have moved well beyond the scandal surrounding the firing of U.S. attorneys.
Last week former acting Attorney General James Comey gave testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee that can only be described as devastating to Gonzales:
Gonzales said in 2006 that there was no “serious disagreement about the program,” a claim that flies in the face of the extraordinary testimony delivered by former Justice official James Comey yesterday. In the letter, the senators ask Gonzales if he stands by his claim
Comey’s testimony portrayed a Gonzales with genuine contempt for the Justice department while he was still White House Counsel. The testimony comes on the heels of a series of other scandals within the Justice department that have taken place under Gonzales’ leadership. As a result, the Senate is preparing for a vote of no-confidence in Gonzales that may be acted upon this week.
Today, President Bush still stands by his man:
“He has done nothing wrong,” Bush said during a news conference at his ranch.
“I frankly view what’s taking place in Washington today as pure political theater,” Bush said, sounding exasperated with the furor swirling around his longtime friend. “I stand by Al Gonzales and I would hope that people would be more sober in how they address these important issues.”
Reading Bush’s words, I have to wonder…is Bush even capable of recognizing when someone has “done something wrong?” It’s hard to imagine he can when I watch a video of him openly lying to the American people on the very same topic—getting court orders for wiretaps (White House transcript, 20 Apr 2004 ):
Bush didn’t have to lie here…he made a deliberate choice to lie.
Senator Arlen Specter (R-PA) predicted yesterday that Gonzales would resign before the no confidence vote. Even so, Gonzales and Bush can hold out indefinitely.
I’ve seen two lines of speculation swirling about the internets as to why Bush will stubbornly resist to the bitter end. The first is that there are secrets within the Justice Department that are so devastating to the Bush administration that he cannot risk losing a friendly Attorney General. If so, the potential damage must be large because Bush prefers a dysfunctional Justice Department to possible disclosure of “issues.”
The second (and less conspiratorial) reason is that Bush is waiting until the Senate is in recess to make a recess appointment of a administration-friendly AG. Or…maybe not.
Ultimately, there is only one way to force Gonzales out of office, and Robert Greenwald has launched a video and petition to help make that happen:
The impeachment petition can be found here.
The vengeful side of me is enjoying the impotence, and, yes…even the damage, caused to a rogue Bush administration as they cling to Gonzales while he drags them all over the cliff. In that sense, the longer he stays, the better. But as a patriotic American, I feel strongly that a well-functioning, effective, and lawful Justice Department is critical for our democracy. I sure hope Fredo falls on his sword soon.
Some citizens are upset with Port of Seattle Commissioner Pat Davis:
Davis, who has been a commissioner for 22 years, is accused of malfeasance and misfeasance for her role in signing a memo extending payments of retired port Chief Executive Mic Dinsmore’s $339,841 salary by up to one year past his retirement date.
[King County Superior Court Judge Charles] Mertel ruled that the allegations of wrongful conduct in office are legally and factually sufficient to merit allowing the petition to continue.
“These are sad things when public officials are called to answer to charges like these,” Mertel said after issuing his decision, which allows the petition’s charges to be condensed into a 200-word ballot synopsis to be reviewed by his court Thursday.
“Maybe it is well justified, maybe it isn’t, but obviously the voters will have to answer that.”
The next step for Davis will be to appeal to the state Supreme Court. If not, or if she loses there, the “pro-recall” folks will need to get 149,124 signatures to place the recall on the ballot.
(Postman has more.)
Man…if only the process could be that simple for the PUSA!
Raymond Shaw Reagan Dunn
King County Council
I enjoyed reading your empassioned column in today’s Seattle Times hawking your “transparency in taxation” proposal. Like you, I have my King County property taxes paid through my mortgage company. It’s easy that way. But that means I don’t get a report on how my taxes are being spent.
Clearly this has been bothering you. On your web site, you stated that you were “stunned to learn recently that nearly half of the property owners in King County do not receive a summary of where their property taxes go.” I’m not sure why it took you so long to finally come to this stunning realization…. I mean, I was so upset when I first moved here that I did something about it.
I learned that there was something called “the Internets,” where all kinds of information is stored in a series of tubes. It was all very confusing and the information was difficult to find until I learned about “the Google.” Now, with a few seconds of work, “the Google” brings me to this tube. When I manipulate my mouse over the proper spot on that tube, and depressed the leftmost switch on the mouse, I find helpful reports on how my tax dollars are being collected and spent. A useful spending summary for 2007 can be found in this tube.
I was thinking…it would cost me a couple of extra buck in property tax to pay to have all this information mailed to me. Don’t you think this borders dangerously on an unnecessary tax increase and growth in government? (Funny…I never used to think of you as a “big government” type.) Instead of growing the government, why not just let people know how to find the proper tubes on the internets for this information?
I found another interesting tube as well: Taxfoundation.org. There I learned that Washington state residences have a tax burden that is just a hair above the average for the United States. The U.S. average is a state and local tax burden of 11.0%, whereas Washingtonians have a state and local tax burden of 11.1%. I noticed that, for the previous 30 years, Washington state residents have had about a 0.5% higher state and local tax burden than the U.S. average. So, the 0.1% we have now is pleasant, but perhaps a little alarming at the same time. I mean, do we really want someplace like Alabama to serve as our model for taxation and government?
Anyway, good luck with your “transparency” project
Raymond Reagan, and may the tubes be with you.
The White House has finally ended its long and agonizing search for a “war czar.” The lucky individual will be something of an acting commander -in-chief for the Iraq and Afghanistan theaters.
The lucky applicant is Army Lt. Gen. Douglas Lute.
Hmm…General Lute…what a terrific choice to accompany President Lyre.
Goldy won’t be there tonight, but us second stringers will.
Join us tonight for another exciting edition Drinking Liberally (Seattle Chapter). We meet at 8PM at the Montlake Ale House, 2307 24th Avenue E.
If you find yourself in the Tri-Cities area, check out their chapter of Drinking Liberally. Jimmy will have the details. For dates and times elsewhere check out the Drinking Liberally web site to find a chapter near you.
And if you don’t find a chapter near you, start one!
For the most part, Americans are detached from this war in Iraq.
The Bush administration has avoided an unpopular draft through the use of extended deployments and stop-loss programs. They have deferred raising taxes while spending hundreds of billions of dollars in the war effort by charging it to the national credit card. And they have avoided any wide-scale programs to conserve aluminium, rubber, or petroleum resources for use in the war effort.
Thank God…because without the distractions of war we can do what’s really important: go shopping.
I guess that’s why they also keep the caskets out of sight.
(via The General.)
Last Saturday (April 28th) was a day filled with pro-impeachment events in over 125 locations in the U.S., and even a few locations overseas. The nationwide impeachment protests were organized by A28.org, and consisted of many types of public display of free speech. Here is an example from Madison Park in Seattle:
One of my favorite forms of this type of exercise in free speech is the posting of signs along the freeway. And the foremost proponent of this technique is Scarlet, a.k.a. The FreewayBlogger, who has personally posted over 4,000 such signs. (I believe it was Scarlet who first used the word “Chimpeachment.”)
Here is FreewayBlogger’s collection of freeway blogging from the April 28th Impeachment Event.
Locally, the Backbone Campaign has been busy placarding in Seattle for some time. They’ve recently had a showdown with the police, but it appears that the police backed down. I’ve not heard of any police-related incidences from this weekend.
The fact is, this is generally considered free speech protected by the first amendment. But, state and local laws may restrict where signs can be placed. Here’s an easy way to find out what is legal in your area:
It is your right as a citizen to display non-commercial signs and banners, with some exceptions. Rules regarding signposting along roadways vary from state to state, and locality to locality. So, call your local department of transportation to find out more. Ask for public relations and say you’d like to put up some American flags and “Support the Troops” signs… they will likely be more than helpful. Don’t feel bad if that’s not precisely what you intend to put up: this is America, and the rules apply equally to all points of view.
And Scarlet offers these defiant words of inspiration:
It is our contention that the town square of colonial times has now become the interstate: for better or for worse, that’s where all the people are. With this in mind, we feel it is our God-given and constitutionally-granted right to post our messages on the interstates, freeways, or wherever-the-hell-else-we-think-people-will-read-them and we’re willing to fight for this right all the way to the Supreme Court.
But you’ll have to catch us first.
Interested in doing you own freeway blogging? As can be seen in his video the making of signs is extremely easy. For about a buck per sign, you too can reach 100,000 readers a day!
The really fun part comes after you make the signs. “Picking locations for signs is something of a chess game,” Freeway Blogger told me last July when he showed up at the Seattle gathering of Drinking Liberally. I’ve been saving large pieces of cardboard ever since….
Bill Maher listed off some New Rules yesterday.
In doing so, Bill pointed out that a recent poll showed 25% of Americans think the second coming of Christ would happen sometime this year.
Those 25% may be on to something. You see, way back in the early 1990s, televangelist and former presidential candidate Pat Robertson predicted, based on happenings in the Middle East and using some good old biblical numerology, that the world would end this year. In fact, he predicted that it would end tomorrow, on Sunday, 29 April 2007.
Its been nice knowing y’all. So long, and thanks for all the hits.
The United States of America is truly one of the greatest countries on earth. A shining example is our higher education system, which doubles as the world’s greatest producer of science. The fundamental right to free speech combined with a strong culture of academic freedom have fermented into a higher education system unparalleled in both academic training and research productivity. The American research university is truly the envy of the world.
One of the profound privileges that members of university communities experience is the free exchange of ideas between scholars from all over the world. Frequently this comes about by inviting scholars from other institutions to visit and speak. On any given day at a major university campus, there will be dozens of talks on topics ranging from sub-atomic particles to comparative cross-cultural cosmologies. (For example, today I attended at seminar by Harvard’s renowned political scientist Dr. Gary King on statistical methods for measuring public opinion through blogs.)
For weeks now, I’ve been looking forward to attending a talk by Dr. Riyadh Lafta, a well-known Iraqi epidemiologist. Dr. Lafta was scheduled to give a talk at Kane Hall on Friday evening at the University of Washington campus. The talk is on the recent rise in cancer rates among Iraqi children. Things went awry something over a week ago:
“The University of Washington wanted him, but the U.S. denied his entry,” said his colleague at [Simon Frasier University (SFU)], Tim Takaro….”best they’re going to get is a video feed.”
Once in Canada, Dr. Lafta will present estimates that paint a damning portrait of the war’s ravages on children: that birth defects are on the rise since the war began, and that the number of children dying from cancers such as leukemia has risen tenfold.
Dr. Lafta had tried for six months to get a visa into Seattle to speak in Washington, and was ignored a half-dozen times, Dr. Takaro said.
Apparently, the Bush administration is willing to sacrifice academic freedom on their alter of wingnut ideology. How is it that the Bush administration even noticed Dr. Lafta? Do they really scrutinize the content of every epidemiological talk given by a foreigner? In this case it seems clear that Dr. Lafta is being targeted by the Bush administration because he is a coauthor on a couple of controversial epidemiological studies: the two “on the ground” studies that estimated the increase in all forms of mortality in Iraq since the U.S. invasion.
Okay, so the Bush administration gets to partially suppress the talk. It is now scheduled to be done by video link from Canada. Within the last day, however, the plans have changed once again.
After he couldn’t get a visa to tell Americans about an alarming rise in cancer levels among Iraqi children, a renowned Iraqi epidemiologist has been told he can’t fly through Britain en route to give a similar talk in Canada.
Riyadh Lafta — best known for a controversial study in the respected medical journal The Lancet that estimated Iraq’s war dead at more than half a million — said in an e-mail to his U.S. research colleagues that he had two choices: Fly to England without the transit visa, or turn around and go home.
“[British consular officials] refuse to give us a transit visa just to change airplanes,” Dr. Lafta wrote from Amman to colleagues at the University of Washington, and to B.C.’s Simon Fraser University, where he planned to give a talk on Friday.
You don’t think the British government would deny a scientist a 4-hour “transit visa” just because he has co-authored a peer-reviewed scientific article? Well…maybe. I mean, the article estimates that, following the U.S. led invasion of Iraq, mortality rates increased to genocide-levels (the article was published in The Lancet, one of the most respected biomedical journals in the world).
The suppression of Dr. Lafta’s visit goes beyond an inconvenience of free exchange of ideas at a University. These actions will also impede the bread-and-butter research of Dr. Lafta and his colleagues at SFU and UW:
With Dr. Lafta are scores of documents that will help researchers from Simon Fraser, Washington and Iraq determine how badly the U.S.-led war in Iraq affects children — whether birth defects in Iraq are on the rise, and whether Iraqi children are suffering a tenfold increase in cancers such as leukemia, said Simon Fraser professor Tim Takaro.
So…I guess the “culture of life” doesn’t apply to childhood cancers and child mortality in Iraq. What a bunch of fucking hypocrites!
The pattern is clear. The Bush administration has a single guiding principle: ideology is everything! Nothing else is sacred. They have attempted to destroy everything that offers the least resistance to their ideology: our national reputation, the lives of our young people, a CIA nuclear weapons counter-proliferation program, our justice system, our national emergency response, the national coffers, and several parts of the constitution to name a few. Of course, they have launched a number of well-known assaults against science, higher education, and academic freedom as well.
In the end, the Bush administration will lose this battle. A U.S.-based coauthor on the mortality paper is prepared to step in for Dr. Lafta. That will change the focus from childhood cancers to the astonishing increase in overall mortality following the U.S. led invasion of Iraq. Ultimately technology will completely circumvent the wishes of the Bush administration—video link-ups are not rocket science.
The Bush administration has charted a course back to the medieval dark ages where, as the joke goes, we are all mushrooms—kept in the dark and fed bullshit. If this attack on academic freedom pisses you off as much as it does me, please take a moment to write to your Representative and Senators (find contact information here).
(Hat tip: SeattleJew, cross-posted at HominidViews.)
The Seattle chapter of Drinking Liberally meets tonight (and every Tuesday), 8PM at the Montlake Ale House, 2307 24th Avenue E.
Come joins us for some good beer and spicy politics. Tonight we’ll celebrate the opening of the 200th chapter of Drinking Liberally, with the arrival of the Pagosa Springs, Colorado chapter.
Not in Seattle? Liberals will also be drinking tonight in the Tri-Cities and Vancouver. A full listing of Washington’s eleven Drinking Liberally chapters is available here.
Today is Goldy’s birthday!
That makes it a good day to raise a toast to Goldy for his political activism—for using his sense of humor, writing skills, and his ability to engage in thoughtful and intelligent debate, to change the world for the better. I suppose there are others who will see it differently—who see Goldy as a foul-mouthed, treasonous, political hit-man, who probably organizes and practices election fraud while being paid by the Democrats. Whatever.
You are reading this. You probably came here hoping Goldy left something to entertain, inspire, educate, or outrage you. So take a moment to leave a comment for the birthday boy.
And, while you’re at it, today is an excellent day to buy Goldy a birthday beer. (It’s easy using the tools on the right sidebar.)