Sunday, October 30, 2005

Alito, but maybe also Luttig

Here's what President Katrina has been up to since we last saw him on Friday praising Scooter Libby as a "great patriot"(bold emphasis is mine):

Bush spent the weekend at Camp David huddled with Miers, who remains his White House counsel and is therefore in charge of the judicial selection process, along with Chief of Staff Andrew H. Card Jr., who originally advocated Miers as the first choice to replace retiring Justice Sandra Day O'Connor. As the three talked, White House officials contacted prominent conservatives to test the reaction to various candidates.

One group consulted was the Concerned Women for America, whose decision to oppose Miers last Wednesday became one of the final blows to help kill the nomination. Janet M. LaRue, the group's chief counsel, said it received a call from the White House on Saturday and liked what it heard.

"Alito and Luttig have always been at the top of our list," she said in an interview. "We think either of them would be a supreme pick. There isn't a thing stealthy about them. They've got a long, proven record of constitutional conservatism."

Other conservatives yesterday also embraced Alito, in particular. "Alito, Luttig -- all these people are solid conservatives," Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) said on CBS's "Face the Nation." On CNN's "Late Edition," Gary L. Bauer, president the conservative group American Values, described his criteria for a Supreme Court justice and added, "Certainly, Judge Alito fits those characterizations."


My prediction is filibusters and nukes.

Update: I forgot to mention that they call him "Scalito":

A judge on the Philadelphia-based 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, Alito has been dubbed "Scalito" or "Scalia-lite" by some lawyers because his judicial philosophy invites comparisons to Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia's.

"That is not one of the names that I've suggested to the president," Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., told "Late Edition" on CNN. "In fact, I've done the opposite. I think it would create a lot of problems."

Reid said Bush would be making a "mistake" were he to settle on a hard-liner simply to appease the far right in his party, especially after conservatives' wrath undermined Miers' nomination.


Yes. A big mistake.

Ten reasons to oppose gay marriage

On November 8, Texans will cast ballots on a number of constitutional amendments, among them one which defines marriage as being exclusively between a man and a woman. So when you go into the voting booth, please keep these mind:

1) Being gay is not natural. Real Americans always reject unnatural things like eyeglasses, polyester, and air conditioning.

2) Gay marriage will encourage people to be gay in the same way that hanging around tall people will make you tall.

3) Legalizing gay marriage will open the door to all kinds of outlandish, immoral behavior. As Senator John Cornyn has pointed out, people may even choose to marry their pets, because box turtles have legal standing and can sign a marriage contract.

4) Marriage is a fundamental institution and cannot be expected to be revised on the basis of societal whim. After all, women are still property, blacks still cannot marry whites, and divorce is still illegal.

5) Heterosexual marriage will be damaged if gay marriage were allowed; the sanctity of Britany Spears' 55-hour, alcohol-induced, impulsive marriage would be devastated.

6) Heterosexual marriages are valid because they produce children. Gay couples, infertile couples, and old people shouldn't be allowed to marry because our orphanages aren't full yet, and the world needs more children.

7) Obviously gay parents will raise gay children, since straight parents only raise straight children.

8) Gay marriage is not supported by religion. In a theocracy like ours, the values of one religion are imposed on the citizens of an entire country. That's why there is only one religion in America.

9) Children can never succeed without a male and a female role model at home. That's why our nation has expressly forbidden single parents to raise children.

10) Gay marriage will alter the foundation of society for the worse; we could never adapt to new social mores. This is similar to the way our society has failed to adapt to automobiles, the service-sector economy, and longer life spans.

Be sure to vote against proposition 2.

Friday, October 28, 2005

"Official A"

As Hunter at Kos notes, the Associated Press cites no fewer than "three people close to the investigation" who identify "Official A" as none other than the Turd Blossom himself.

Why is "Official A" the only person not identified by name or title in the indictment?

On or about July 10 or July 11, 2003, LIBBY spoke to a senior official in the White House ("Official A") who advised LIBBY of a conversation Official A had earlier that week with columnist Robert Novak in which Wilson's wife was discussed as a CIA employee involved in Wilson's trip. LIBBY was advised by Official A that Novak would be writing a story about Wilson's wife.


Why the secrecy around the identity of "Official A"? Why the deference to his anonymity? What's going on with "Official A" that isn't going on with anybody else?

At the end of this Fitzmas Day...

... the gifts revealed aren't as significant as the gifts still to be.

**For example (as I asked earlier), from whom did the Vice President learn of Joseph Wilson's wife as a CIA officer? Tenet has claimed it was not he, and the indictment only identifies a "senior officer of the CIA". As Mssrs. Lang and Johnson indicate, we may only learn that at a trial of Mr. Libby.

**Who is the "undersecretary of State" mentioned on page 4 of the indictment who was working with Libby to get information on Wilson?

Why, it could be Marc Grossman, or it could be John Bolton.

**And who is "Official A"?

**Finally, the gift revealed puts to rest the neocon bromide that Valerie Wilson was not undercover, as well as revealing that Libby -- and Cheney -- knew she was undercover. Page 5, top, item #9:

On or about June 12, 2003, LIBBY was advised by the Vice President of the United States that Wilson's wife worked at the Central Intelligence Agency in the Counterproliferation Divison. LIBBY understood that the Vice President had learned this information from the CIA.


Why is this noteworthy? As Josh Marshall clarifies, CPD is where the spies work, not the analysts. Libby and Cheney, with their top security clearances and close association going back to their days at the Pentagon, knew Plame was NOC. There was no way they could not know.

And yes, as Fitzgerald indicated, the investigation continues, but it's no longer just about Karl Rove.

It's about the Vice President of the United States.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Early Fitzmas present or a Pandora's box?

Maybe Fitzmas will finally come tomorrow...

... but today's news about the scuttled Supreme Court nominee, predicted here earlier in the week, produces the same combination of thrill and angst as does the looming announcment from special prosecutor Fitzgerald.

So now what will a petulant, bitter, angry, politically wounded President do -- especially since his brain is preoccupied with self-preservation? Long used to getting his way, Bush has been rumored to revile the Unreligious Wrong going back to his pre-Goobernatorial days. And the fundies now wear the blood of Harriet Miers, one of Bush's closest confidants, on their hands.

So will he throw the Christian lions a piece of red meat, such as Priscilla Owen or Edith Jones -- or will he tell them to "bring it on" again with a 'moderate' nominee like Al Gonzales or Edith Clement?

Is he a uniter (of just the GOP) or a divider (of the entire nation, again)?

Bush is foremost a rewarder of loyalty, and he prefers Texans, and he's got a bit of a retribution hangup, so I'm guessing he taps the beaner.

(Hey, Carlos Mencia uses that word all the time, so don't call me a racist. Besides, I'm married to a Cuban.)

*heavy sigh*


... on the opposite side of the upper deck near the left-field foul pole, 89-year-old L.L. Godwin sat in his chair, his cane tucked under one arm, a blanket over his legs and an Astros cap tipped back on his head.

He, too, attended countless games of the Astros, Colt .45s and, before that, the Houston Buffs. His granddaughter — Debbie Rasmussen of Tomball — recalled how as a child she used to cuddle into bed with her grandfather on visits and fall asleep to the sounds of Astros games on the radio.

It was a loss. The Astros' first World Series is over. But for many, the taste was worth the wait.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

"Big Time" (and "Slam Dunk")

So now we now it was the Vice President who told Scooter Libby the name of Joe Wilson's wife, but who told him?

Larry Johnson fills in the back story:

It also seems pretty clear that the notes show that Libby lied to the grand jury when he claimed he learned the name from reporters. ... Although the NY Times story reports that Libby's notes indicate that George Tenet told Cheney about Plame, there are some intriguing unanswered questions. For starters it is highly unlikely that George Tenet showed up at the White House and just happened to know the name of Valerie Plame. Someone at the White House asked for it first. Tenet clearly came prepared to respond to a White House request. I'm sure the prosecutor, Patrick Fitzgerald, knows who called CIA to ask the question.

I also doubt that Tenet used the name "Plame". Since Valerie married Joe Wilson she went by 'Valerie Wilson'. Someone introduced "Plame" into the equation. Who did the subsequent work up on Mrs. Wilson? Only Scooter? Unlikely. Look for other names to emerge in coming days that will reveal who helped work out the "background" info on Valerie Wilson.


Find the excerpt above here and here.

The situation is worsening quickly. Where does this lead from here?

Steve Clemons thinks there may be a connection to John Bolton:

The question is how did Libby then churn up more info on Wilson without other parts of the "untrusted" bureaucracy spitting in his face or reporting his sins?

My hunch is that he went to trusted spear-carriers for Vice President Cheney -- the office and staff of Under Secretary of State John Bolton. Fred Fleitz, Bolton's chief of staff, maintained his CIA WINPAC portfolio and access as an active duty CIA staff member while he operated as Bolton's "acting" chief of staff. We know that Fleitz was a key part of the intelligence cherry-picking/stove-piping operation when it came to both the intel and policy response to various global WMD concerns -- in North Korea, Libya, Iran, and Iraq.

We also know that David Wurmser and John Hannah, who have both apparently cooperated after threats of legal action (i.e., time behind bars) with Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald worked both for John Bolton's operation and the Vice President's office.

I recently consulted with a number of senior State Department officials about the level of interaction between Vice President Cheney's office and John Bolton's office -- and was informed that there was "intense" exchange between them, constant. One said that "Bolton and his team were operatives of Vice President Cheney inside the State Department establishment -- there to subvert Armitage and Powell wherever they could, and if not subvert, then there to spy on the them and report back.


I'd just like to know if the President gets a pass because we all believe he's too stupid to have known any of this was going on.

Update: The Bolton connection -- specifically Bolton's chief of staff, Fred Fleitz -- was detailed by Arianna Huffington last month. Sheesh, I gotta keep up.

Monday, October 24, 2005

The sorry spectacle of Judith Miller and Harriet Miers

Two women in the middle of two very big messes at the same time -- both the result of their own arrogance: Judith Miller, irascible New York Times reporter and Harriet Miers, woefully inexperienced Supreme Court Justice nominee. Both women find the headlines every day and the stories behind those headlines keep getting worse. And yet neither woman can summon the humility to simply stand up, declare “mea culpa” and walk away -- sparing the rest of us the circus they've both created.

Sunday's New York Times has yet another story by yet another colleague of Miller’s, Byron Calame, “the reader’s representative”, throwing more poisonous darts in an attempt to push her out the door. Coming on the heels of MoDo's missles, it's obvious that there are quite a few of Judy's co-workers who think she deserves to be pushed -- hard.

I suspect we'll see some more of this in days to come as the Gray Lady tries to salvage what little is left of her former reputation. Unfortunately, it will continue to be the kind of spectator sport in which the audience members are tied to their chairs, eyes held open with a speculum ( a la Malcolm McDowell in A Clockwork Orange) and forced to watch as the paper repeatedly flogs itself in an act meant to convince people that, this time, it really means it -- it will change.

Note to the Times: we can only take so much of this.

When President Bush announced the nomination of Harriet Miers on October 3, he called her “a leader of unquestioned integrity.” Much of what we’ve learned since then does not support that claim. To review:

- Miers was suspended from the DC bar for nonpayment of dues.

- Miers was suspended from the Texas bar for nonpayment of dues.

- Miers repeatedly had tax liens placed on property she owned in Texas for nonpayment of fines and fees.

- Miers received 10 times the market value for a small piece of land she controlled from the state of Texas, awarded by a panel stacked with friends and allies. A mediator ordered Miers to repay $26,000 but she has failed to do so.

These take on added significant because -- since Miers doesn’t have any judicial experience -- Bush is selling Miers’s nomination to the court, in large part, on her “character.”

Harriet Miers needs to withdraw her name from the nomination process immediately. It’s become obvious that a person so full of herself that she would even consider accepting a nomination for the Supreme Court with her glaring lack of qualifications places herself above what's good for the court and the United States.

It's hard to believe that this administration is concerned about avian influenza when it is a raging case of hubris that seems to be affecting nearly everyone in Washington.

Bush praises Miers' character, but that's only because it reflects his own to a T: grab all you can and screw everybody else.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Kay Bailey Hutchison's devolving opinion on perjury

February 12, 1999:

The edifice of American jurisprudence rests on the foundation of the due process of law. The mortar in that foundation is the oath. Those who seek to obstruct justice weaken that foundation, and those who violate the oath would tear the whole structure down.

Every day, thousands of citizens in thousands of courtrooms across America are sworn in as jurors, as grand jurors, as witnesses, as defendants. On those oaths rest the due process of law upon which all of our other rights are based.

The oath is how we defend ourselves against those who would subvert our system by breaking our laws. There are Americans in jail today because they violated that oath. Others have prevailed at the bar of justice because of that oath.

What would we be telling Americans -- and those worldwide who see in America what they can only hope for in their own countries -- if the Senate of the United States were to conclude: The President lied under oath as an element of a scheme to obstruct the due process of law, but we chose to look the other way?

I cannot make that choice. I cannot look away. I vote `Guilty' on Article I, Perjury. I vote `Guilty' on Article II, Obstruction of Justice.

I ask unanimous consent an analysis of the Articles of Impeachment be printed in the Record.


October 23, 2005:

I certainly hope that if there is going to be an indictment that says something happened, that it is an indictment on a crime and not some perjury technicality where they couldn’t indict on the crime so they go to something just to show that their two years of investigation were not a waste of time and dollars.


As ThinkProgress points out, Kay's probably forgotten that perjury is a technicality punishable by up to five years in prison.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Moneyshot Quotes of the Week

I'm a little behind on these, so let's catch up with the comics:

"President Bush is getting a lot of grief from conservatives about Harriet Miers' lack of legal opinions, which is kind of surprising. A woman without any opinions? That's like a Republican's dream, isn't it?"
--Jay Leno

"But this sort of barrenness is threatening to the Republican base because they're generally people who hate sex and are bad at it. So they fear that their own population will dwindle because there won't be enough Republicans willing to **** each other. Harriet Miers isn't using the equipment God gave her for making babies, and that's just wrong. It's like God giving you a beautiful garden and you not strip mining it for coal."
--Bill Maher, on the fact that Harriett Miers isn't married with children

"Over the weekend at one of the games---Houston and St. Louis---one of the camera men caught former President Bush and his wife Barbara Bush kissing. Y'know, by God, you know you're at a dull game when you'd rather make out with Barbara Bush."
--David Letterman

I don't know what to do to keep from getting the Avian Flu, but my first step is staying away from any bird running a fever.
--Will Durst

"According to the latest polls, just 39% of Americans approve of the job Bush is doing. The White House is jumping on this 39% thing, they're saying he's now the president who represents minorities."
--Jay Leno

Bill O'Reilly: There's a lot of bad people out there and it's our job to go after them.
Jon Stewart:
So when are you going to start?


It's a beautiful day in Houston, so I'm pushing away from the computer for the rest of it. Have a nice weekend.

Friday, October 21, 2005

Now THIS mugshot might be fake...


I think "Hot Tub" Tom is probably standing on some phone books...

" tell her that I just ate an MRE and crapped in the hallway of the Superdome"

From the e-mail exchanged between "Heckuva Job" Brownie and the regional FEMA chief, Martin Bahamonde, in testimony before Congress on the Katrina disaster and the incompetent response by the government. Here's a fuller excerpt:

Bahamonde to FEMA Director Michael Brown, Aug. 31, 11:20 a.m.

"Sir, I know that you know the situation is past critical. Here some things you might not know.

Hotels are kicking people out, thousands gathering in the streets with no food or water. Hundreds still being rescued from homes.

The dying patients at the DMAT tent being medivac. Estimates are many will die within hours. Evacuation in process. Plans developing for dome evacuation but hotel situation adding to problem. We are out of food and running out of water at the dome, plans in works to address the critical need.

Sharon Worthy, Brown's press secretary, to Cindy Taylor, FEMA deputy director of public affairs, and others, Aug. 31, 2 p.m.

"Also, it is very important that time is allowed for Mr. Brown to eat dinner. Gievn (sic) that Baton Rouge is back to normal, restaurants are getting busy. He needs much more that (sic) 20 or 30 minutes. We now have traffic to encounter to get to and from a location of his choise (sic), followed by wait service from the restaurant staff, eating, etc.

Bahamonde to Taylor and Michael Widomski, public affairs, Aug. 31, 2:44 p.m.

"OH MY GOD!!!!!!!! No won't go any further, too easy of a target. Just tell her that I just ate an MRE and crapped in the hallway of the Superdome along with 30,000 other close friends so I understand her concern about busy restaurants. Maybe tonight I will have time to move my pebbles on the parking garage floor so they don't stab me in the back while I try to sleep.


More here.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

No longer waiting to exhale

Katrina survivors tell their stories

Adele Bertucci, 53, hospitality worker, native of Cuba and 35-year resident of New Orleans:

The worst experience for me was being alone for maybe four days in the airport. That's something I'll never forget. There were bodies. There were people bleeding. There were people lying in their own waste. One after another. If you take Gone with the Wind and the Nazi War and the Vietnam war, and visualize that in one place, that's how I would describe the airport. When you watch it on TV, it's like watching a Walt Disney versus an R-rated movie. You only see what they want you to see. You can't smell it.


Calvin Dawson, 36, brick mason, former resident of Jackson Avenue in Orleans Parish:

I saw a shotgun fired off. I saw a shotgun pumped and stuck under a lady's throat. Cops standing at gung ho, ready to fire. A guy ran over a pop bottle and dude was like on the crowd with a fully automatic weapon in the west bank. He was ready to kill us, man! And he like blasted the crowd with a shotgun over our heads. Boom! Because people were trying to get on the bus! They were only bringing in two at a time and there were 600 people under the West Bank bridge! People were trying to get on the bus with little tiny babies. They had been standing on their feet all night long. They were sick and tired. They were stressed out. They had lost everything they owned. They were literally at their wit's end.


Lorrie Beth Slonsky and Larry Bradshaw, emergency medical technicians from San Francisco who were in New Orleans for a convention when Katrina struck:

As we approached the bridge, armed Gretna sheriffs formed a line across the foot of the bridge. Before we were close enough to speak, they began firing their weapons over our heads. This sent the crowd fleeing in various directions. As the crowd scattered and dissipated, a few of us inched forward and managed to engage some of the sheriffs in conversation. We told them of our conversation with the police commander and of the commander's assurances. The sheriffs informed us there were no buses waiting. The commander had lied to us to get us to move.


There are more stories at this link.

I thought 'detail-oriented' was one of her strengths...

The legal counsel to the President of the United States -- yes, the one he has appointed to serve on the United States Supreme Court -- let her license to practice law in the nation's capital lapse because she neglected to pay her dues (scroll down to 11 a):

Earlier this year, I received notice that my dues for the District of Columbia Bar were delinquent and as a result my ability to practice law in D.C. had been suspended. I immediately sent the dues in to remedy the delinquency. The non-payment was not intentioned, and I corrected the situation upon receiving the letter.


She also received -- and ultimately paid -- ten property tax liens from the city of Dallas, where once she served as a city council member:

The year Harriet Miers began work as a senior presidential aide in the White House, the city of Dallas slapped three liens in three months on a property she controls in a low-income minority Dallas neighborhood, records show.

The city placed the liens in 2001 to force her to reimburse it for clearing the vacant lot of tall grass, weeds and debris after Miers failed to have the work done herself, as required by city law, and after she did not respond to city notices to maintain the property.

It was not the first time the city had to take action. Records show that since Miers assumed power of attorney for her ailing mother in 1995, the city has issued seven other liens on vacant lots that Miers controls in the same neighborhood around Tipton Park.


Goodbye, Harriet. We hardly knew ye.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Fitzmas!

I had posted my Christmas in October wishlist earlier this week, but georgia has a better name for the national celebration that will accompany Patrick Fitzgerald's indictments announcement, to occur sometime in the next ten days (before his grand jury is dismissed on October 28).

Fitzmas! And here's a few suggestions on how to cope with the anticipation:

  1. Put down the caffeine: For the next 48 hours, cleanse your body of java, aspartame, splenda, and whatever other shit you've been putting in your system. Your body will be producing more adrenaline during Fitzmas than it did when you were a hormone-crazed teenager, so don't fuel the fire.

  2. "Refresh" is the AntiChrist: Resist the urge to press "refresh" every TWO SECONDS. Checking into Drudge every minute won't make any indictments come any faster..it'll just give him hits and make Drudge's head swell even more. Eww. I put "Drudge" and "swell" and "head" in the same sentence. I just grossed myself out.

  3. Gossip Folks: Don't believe anything in the next 24-48 hours. Guess what!! I can report on my blog that Condi will be VP when Dick resigns...and because it's on a blog, it must be true! And my scoop will fly through the internets at twice the speed of sound and I'll be so convincing, Condi herself will hear my scoop and think "Shit. I need new shoes!" and next thing you know New York Daily News will be reporting that Condi was in NY shopping for Jimmy Choo shoes that look "Vice-Presidential" and Teresa Heinz passed her by and called her a "bitch." Get my point?

  4. Turn off the TV: Why submit yourself to the torture of watching The Situation Room and listening to Wolf's "I'm-reading-a-script-but-I'm-trying-to-make-it-sound-live" voice in the hopes that some pundit will throw out something like "Rove will be indicted"? You all KNOW that the talking heads don't know shit, and that their dirty little secret is that they really get their info from the, gasp!, blogs, so why waste your time? So, Kristol says Rove and Libby will be indicted. Um...99% of the pajamajadeen have said the same thing for the last couple months. Give your blood pressure a break and turn off the TV.

=======================

Personally, I'm going to wait for Cheneykkah.

Or maybe Fitztivus. Yeah, that's it. I'm ready for the airing of grievances. Who's got the pole?

Cheney aide flips, and Dick thinks about leaving

Raw Story has this:

A senior aide to Vice President Dick Cheney is cooperating with special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald in the outing of CIA agent Valerie Plame Wilson, sources close to the investigation say.

Individuals familiar with Fitzgerald’s case tell RAW STORY that John Hannah, a senior national security aide on loan to Vice President Dick Cheney from the offices of then-Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security Affairs, John Bolton, was named as a target of Fitzgerald’s probe. They say he was told in recent weeks that he could face imminent indictment for his role in leaking Plame-Wilson’s name to reporters unless he cooperated with the investigation.

Others close to the probe say that if Hannah is cooperating with the special prosecutor then he was likely going to be charged as a co-conspirator and may have cut a deal.


And U.S. News has this:

Sparked by today's Washington Post story that suggests Vice President Cheney's office is involved in the Plame-CIA spy link investigation, government officials and advisers passed around rumors that the vice president might step aside and that President Bush would elevate Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

"It's certainly an interesting but I still think highly doubtful scenario," said a Bush insider. "And if that should happen," added the official, "there will undoubtedly be those who believe the whole thing was orchestrated – another brilliant Machiavellian move by the VP."

Said another Bush associate of the rumor, "Yes. This is not good." The rumor spread so fast that some Republicans by late morning were already drawing up reasons why Rice couldn't get the job or run for president in 2008.

"Isn't she pro-choice?" asked a key Senate Republican aide. Many White House insiders, however, said the Post story and reports that the investigation was coming to a close had officials instead more focused on who would be dragged into the affair and if top aides would be indicted and forced to resign.


My, oh my.

There have been rumors on the Internets for quite some time that Big Time Dick would pull the plug on himself and that the 2008 GOP heir apparent would assume the vice-presidency. Even with Dubya's loyalty to fealty, and the amount of sense this actually makes for Republican prospects of holding the White House for twelve years, I don't think Dr. James Dobson would allow a pro-choice African-American female to be promoted.

Now... Rick Santorum? More like that.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Jack Cafferty torments Wolf Blitzer

CNN's resident curmudgeon has really turned harsh on the GOP, in his role as foil to Wolfie's straight man in "The Situation Room". A few weeks ago, in a wrapup to whatever the most recent legal troubles -- at the time -- of Tom DeLay were being reported, Cafferty asked "Has he been indicted yet?"

He actually said this before the Bug Man had gotten one.

And Cafferty did it again today, seemingly predicting the future once more:

Jack: He might want to get measured for one of those orange jump suits Wolf, because looking at old Karl, I'm not sure that he- they'd be able to zip him into the regular size...

Wolf: Well he's actually lost some weight...

How do you suppose Blitzer would know that?

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Neocondom

Who's getting indicted?

Libby? Certainly:

From here on in, we can expect Libby to be charged. The only question is what evidence Fitzgerald may or may not have that leaking this information was part of a multiperson conspiracy to distribute it.

Based on Rove's conversation with Time reporter Cooper, he may have a very, very strong case for that as well.


Rove? Very likely:

Special counsel Patrick Fitzgerald appears to be seriously weighing a perjury charge for Rove's failure to tell grand jurors that he talked to TIME correspondent Matthew Cooper about Plame, according to a person close to Rove.


Cheney? Could happen:

A federal prosecutor questioned New York Times reporter Judith Miller about whether Vice President Dick Cheney himself was aware or authorized her discussions with his chief of staff, Lewis Libby, about a covert CIA operative, Miller said on Saturday.


Frank Rich says it's not about Libby and Rove any more, but Bush and Cheney (article behind paid registration):

This modus operandi was foolproof, shielding the president as well as Mr. Rove from culpability, as long as it was about winning an election. The attack on Mr. Wilson, by contrast, has left them and the Cheney-Libby tag team vulnerable because it's about something far bigger: protecting the lies that took the country into what the Reagan administration National Security Agency director, Lt. Gen. William Odom, recently called "the greatest strategic disaster in United States history."


And the worst could actually be yet to come. The GOP appears to be even more worried about what the outcome of the investigation into the affairs of Jack Abramoff might reveal:

And while the CIA leak investigation by special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald, now in its second year, has yet to yield indictments, the investigations of Abramoff have resulted, so far, in bank fraud charges against him; obstruction charges against David Safavian, the Bush administration's former chief procurement official; and the withdrawal of President Bush's nomination of Timothy Flanigan, a onetime associate of Abramoff, to be the No. 2 official at the Justice Department.

Abramoff has had close connections with leading Republicans, including Bush; U.S. Rep. Tom DeLay of Sugar Land, the former House majority leader; Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania; party strategist Grover Norquist, head of Americans for Tax Reform; and strategist Ralph Reed, the former Christian Coalition executive director and Bush campaign official who is now running for lieutenant governor of Georgia.


This is going to be the worst month for the GOP since 1974.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

(Corrupt) business as usual

Yesterday Rep. Mike Conaway, of the 11th Congressional district of Texas, hosted a fundraiser for Tom DeLay at the Petroleum Club in Midland, Texas.

I don't have any report on how it went, but I do know a little about the Petroleum Club, as I went there a few times when I lived in Midland and in Beaumont as well. As you might imagine, it's the dining room for the captains of industry, and not just oil barons but cattle barons too, and also bank presidents and newspaper publishers and corporate executives and independent businessmen. Emphasis on 'men'. Extra emphasis on 'white'. The waiters in both cities where I attended functions were all black, but that was it. Don't know if any of that has changed; this was in the mid-'80's to early '90's.

The Houston Business Journal describes the Petroleum Club as one of the "most prestigious and influential organizations," with "a roster of members who are on the forefront of the Texas and global oil and gas industry." (A history on the club's website says the original conception was for "an exclusive, handsome club of and for men of the oil industry.")

"This is a very secure, comfortable place where our members can do their business without having anyone in their business," said Anna Schmidt, the Houston club's director of membership development.


DeLay certainly feels comfortable there. In fact, according to the Washington Post, it was at the Petroleum Club that DeLay received the corporate contributions at the center of his (alleged) money-laundering scheme:

Some corporations were careful to specify that their contributions were solely meant to defray legally permissible administrative expenses. TRMPAC solicitations being investigated did not mention the restrictions. For example, DeLay was the featured “special guest” at a fundraising luncheon for TRMPAC at the Houston Petroleum Club, where donors were asked to contribute $15,000 to be considered a co-chair and $25,000 to be listed as an underwriter.

Corporate checks are acceptable,” the invitation stated, according to a copy obtained by The Post.


That event took place on August 19, 2002. A few weeks later, TRMPAC official John Colyandro wrote this check, (allegedly) funneling corporate cash to the Republican National Committee, which is now at the heart of the indictment against DeLay.

Is there anyone who would like to hold accountable the Republicans who represent them in the US Congress for this in-your-face corruption?

Thursday, October 13, 2005

A couple of memories of New Orleans

Borrowed and brought over:

Cafe au lait and Beignets at two in the morning; a great way to top off an evening in the French Quarter. Powdery sugar all over your face while the pigeons peck for scraps on Decatur Street; chicory-laced coffee piping hot slurped down while viewing an other worldy scene of Jackson Square and Saint Louis Cathedral. Another day of trolling the Big Easy just hours away.

Goodnight my friends; I will never let you forget New Orleans.


And in response to that, this was written:

I hate cafe au lait.

My memories of New Orleans aren't so typical. I remember standing in line with my first girlfriend to see the King Tut exhibit at City Park. I remember being terrified of watching my grandfather placed in his tomb, and wandering around the graveyard instead. My sister and I found a section of the graveyard that was being repaired, and there were a couple of tombs broken open, and some bones scattered around.

A cousin of mine had a neighbor that had a black bear as a pet. Somewhere there was an old corner store with a wooden floor that echoed like a warehouse where my parents took us to eat po-boys. I remember my Aunt Valerie's house, and circling the block because her old house smelled of cigarettes too much for me to bear.

I remember my great-great aunts Maddie and Evelyn, and their old shotgun duplex, and the little brick courtyard that was always dank and in shadows. I remember when Evelyn died, and my father searched their house and found a sock full of Kennedy silver dollars on top of a newspaper from the Sunday after Kennedy was shot. I still have that newspaper, I think. There is an article about Oswald, and it gives his address on Magazine Street, about two blocks from where my mother grew up. That surprised my mother. The article ended with a sentence that Oswald was going to be moved from the Dallas courthouse that morning.

I remember my father's shock when he found a picture of Aunt Maddie with an old boyfriend who was black. We all thought it was cool, but my father was surprised. Aunt Maddie always looked more Creole than Cajun anyway.

I remember riding to New Orleans on Highway 90 as a little kid, lying on the back dash of the car and watching the city lights flick by over my head. I remember when the I-10 bridge from Slidell was built, and I was so scared to cross it that I hid on the floorboard and prayed that the bridge wouldn't collapse.

I remember meeting a cousin at a funeral parlor and never seeing her again. Weddings, funerals, suburban streets, canals, antebellum mansions under oak trees, memorials to the War of 1812, soccer fields along the levy, the river roads out of the city...

There is so much more to New Orleans than the French Quarter, and there is no way it won't all come back. Too many people have too many memories.


I'll drink to all that.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Christmas in October this year?

From of all sources, the Wall Street Journal (page 3A today, and temporarily free online):

Mr. Fitzgerald's pursuit now suggests he might be investigating not a narrow case on the leaking of the agent's name, but perhaps a broader conspiracy.

* * *
Lawyers familiar with the investigation believe that at least part of the outcome likely hangs on the inner workings of what has been dubbed the White House Iraq Group. Formed in August 2002, the group, which included Messrs. Rove and Libby, worked on setting strategy for selling the war in Iraq to the public in the months leading up to the March 2003 invasion. The group likely would have played a significant role in responding to Mr. Wilson's claims.

Given that the grand jury is set to expire on Oct. 28, it is possible charges in this case could come as early as next week. Former federal prosecutors say it is traditional not to wait for the last minute and run the risk of not having enough jurors to reach a quorum. There are 23 members of a grand jury, and 16 are needed for a quorum before any indictments could be voted on. This grand jury has traditionally met on Wednesdays and Fridays.


Dear Santa:

For Christmas, could I please have a Johnny Jump-o-Leen and some Rock 'Em Sock 'Em Robots and a Red Ryder BB Gun and Karl Rove and Scooter Libby in handcuffs and leg irons, with Dick Cheney (at least) as unindicted co-conspirator?

Please?

Your friend, PDiddie

Hurry up and RIP, Tom...

Go here for a clearer image.

DeGuerin subpoenas Earle

Yeah, right.

Kuff, Josh Marshall, and Talk Left elaborate. ITPT gives good snark.

This will be a non-starter, but as Kuffner quotes from the subscription-only Roll Call piece:

"Everything will be in play," said one high-ranking House Republican (cockroach, from safely behind the baseboard). "We will throw everything we can at Ronnie Earle."


You know what this reminds me of?

Sometimes even when you spray, and stomp, and stomp again, that nasty little bastard's antenna keeps twitching.

But he will die soon enough (as the cartoon above demonstrates).

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Kevin Brady's having a really bad week

The Republican Congressman representing many of the eastern Texas counties devastated by Hurricane Rita is in a world of hurt lately. Let's summarize his woes; first from the Houston Chronicle (all emphasis mine):

Rural East Texans cried and vented frustration today over the lack of relief aid they've received and their belief that federal and Red Cross aid is being unfairly concentrated on urban areas where the suffering is not as great.

Dozens of residents gathered under tight security at First Baptist Church in Deweyville, which sits on the Texas-Louisiana border, to talk with Red Cross and Federal Emergency Management Agency representatives. Many said their homes are uninhabitable and the only power they have comes from generators.

U.S. Rep. Kevin Brady, R-Texas, who wore a bulletproof vest under his dress shirt, attended meetings in Jasper, Newton, Deweyville and Buna today with plans to visit Orange, Vidor, Kountze and Woodville on Tuesday.

Brady spokeswoman Sarah Stephens said she couldn't offer specifics about the extra security, but said, "It's certainly not a fashion accessory and something we don't normally do when we're in the district."

As Brady stepped up to the church altar, four Texas Department of Public Safety troopers lined up in front of the lectern, separating the congressman and other federal officials from the rural residents who say their needs have been neglected.


East Texas is where I grew up, and where my parents still call home. In fact, my 79-year-old mother just made it back to her home in Orange County last Friday after evacuating ahead of the hurricane; she still doesn't have electricity after two weeks.

But back to Brady. He was jailed just last Friday night when he returned for his university's homecoming festivities:

U.S. Rep Kevin Brady was arrested and charged with driving under the influence while in South Dakota, according to a published report.

The Texas Republican was pulled over by a state trooper Friday night for a problem with the tail lights of his vehicle, The Dallas Morning News reported.

Authorities were waiting for results of a blood test to determine Brady's blood-alcohol level at the time of the arrest. The legal limit in South Dakota is 0.08. If convicted of the misdemeanor charge, Brady faces up to $1,000 fine and a year in jail, Clay County Sheriff Andy Howe said. Brady was in East Texas on Monday and could not be reached for comment, spokeswoman Sarah Stephens told the newspaper.


Poor Ms. Stephens is really having to earn her salary, isn't she? At least she didn't have to front for the Congressman regarding the dirty DeLay money he refuses to return:

While U.S. Rep. Kevin Brady, R-The Woodlands, did not receive money from TRMPAC, he did receive $10,000 from ARMPAC in 2003.

"I'm certainly not going to return it," Brady said Thursday. "Tom DeLay has been fighting for everything important: less taxes, stronger national security and to protect our families. He has helped us restore sales tax deductions to Texans, and he played a key role in getting federal road dollars."


You really think highly of Mr. DeLay, don't you sir?

"As for me, the Tom DeLay I know is principled and respects the law. I just don't believe he would break the law, and this (the matter of his indictments) is going to give us a chance to see all the facts."


I expect that the good people of Southeast Texas are about ready for a new Congressman. And there's lots of good Democrats over there who should delight in taking on this challenge.

Expect to see announcements about this race here frequently in the coming election season.

Monday, October 10, 2005

A smattering of local events (and some scuttlebutt)

There's a slew of activities going on in Houston this week in opposition to Prop. 2, the amendment to the Texas Constitution defining marriage as exclusively between a man and a woman, set for the November 8 ballot. Note in particular the debates, one probably concluding at the University of Houston as I post this.

(It seems to me that the GLBT community locally has not yet mobilized for a strong GOTV to defeat this proposition. I hope I'm wrong.)

Houston City Council candidates are rushing to the finish line with thirty days to go until the municipal elections. Jay Aiyer and Sue Lovell make a joint appearance tomorrow at the Harris County Democratic Party's brown bag luncheon; Peter Brown is Celebrating the Arts downtown, John Parras and Mayor pro-tem Carol Alvarado are holding fundraising soirees this week.

The calendar is full for the state house candidates as well -- Rep. Alma Allen, Ana Hernandez, and Borris Miles all have meet-and-greets going on this week.

Barbara Radnofsky
speaks at the IH-10 Democrats meeting in Baytown on Wednesday the 12th, and next Monday U.S. Rep. Gene Green has his birthday party/BBQ and David Van Os appears at an open house in his honor at The Woodlands.

The Chicano-Latino Leadership and Unity Conference is this Saturday.

Greg's got a wrap with more local political goings-on...

And there's lots of rumors swirling around about candidates seeking to challenge HCDP chair Gerry Birnberg, but if he chooses not to run for re-election, then my money and support will go to John Cobarruvias, whom I am fortunate to count among my friends.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Bring on the Redbirds!

Another truly bad week for Republicans

Deputy Attorney General nominee Timothy Flanagan's name is withdrawn after his connections to Jack Abramoff are revealed.

The anti-torture bill is passed by the Senate 90-9 (Texas' John Cornyn is one of the nine voting in favor of torture). The president, stubborn as ever, will veto it anyway.

Hurricane-relief contracts awarded with little or no competitive bidding will be done over.

Bush finally gives up on Social Security reform and additional tax cuts. For the time being.

Tom DeLay fielded a second indictment, and Karl Rove is about to catch his first.

Did I forget to mention that the GOP is tearing itself in two over the nomination of Harriet Miers? Or that two polls now show Bush's support has eroded into the 30's?

It's hard to believe that things could get worse for the ruling party in the days and weeks to come. But they could, if gas prices don't recede, if more of our soldiers continue to die in Iraq and Afghanistan, if someone in addition to Rove gets indicted, if we suffer another terror event ...

There's about a year for the Republicans to regain their footing, along with some semblance of credibility with the electorate, of course. Several people who know more about this sort of thing than me sense a shift in the political landscape of historic proportions.

I come down on the side of history (and my confidence in that outcome will naturally depend on the minority party's candidates doing their part in the next twelve months to present a viable alternative).

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Miers gets borked

... and by none other than Bork himself.

A wonderful headline, written by my friend Prairie Weather (whose weather turned a bit more even than ours here in H-Town) and containing the excerpt from ABCNews.com:

Among conservatives, William Kristol, editor of The Weekly Standard, and the anti-abortion group Operation Rescue called for Bush to withdraw the Miers nomination. Former federal judge Robert Bork whose nomination to the Supreme Court the Senate rejected in 1987 described the choice of Miers as "a disaster on every level."

"It's a little late to develop a constitutional philosophy or begin to work it out when you're on the court already," Bork said on "The Situation" on MSNBC. "It's kind of a slap in the face to the conservatives who've been building up a conservative legal movement for the last 20 years."

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Assembling to talk about preventing the next cluster


That's the traffic jam I was in a couple of weeks ago -- I-45 northbound, from Houston to Dallas. Apparently there's going to be task forces and committees and meetings to talk about improving the process of evacuating millions of people the next time it becomes necessary to do so.

I certainly hope they get something accomplished.

Update (10/11): Charles Kuffner and Stace Medellin follow up with good thoughts on the subject.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

More indictment rumors swirling -- this time in D.C.

There are two different sources posting scuttlebutt this afternoon regarding indictments, Karl Rove, and the Plame case.

That's right; blog postings about the fact that there are rumors that there will be indictments. Perhaps, after the last few weeks, it's just too good to be true.

Then again, a man can dream ...

Update: The Washington Post reports that yes, rumors are certainly swirling.

Update II (10/6, a.m.): Think Progress lists the 21 administration officials involved in Leakgate, and details their whereabouts, actions, grand jury appearances, etc.

Update III (10/6, p.m.): NYT ...

Stephen Gillers, a New York University law professor, said it was unusual for a witness to be called back to the grand jury four times and that the prosecutor's legally required warning to Rove before this next appearance is ''an ominous sign'' for the presidential adviser.

''It suggest Fitzgerald has learned new information that is tightening the noose,'' Gillers said. ''It shows Fitzgerald now, perhaps after Miller's testimony, suspects Rove may be in some way implicated in the revelation of Plame's identity or that Fitzgerald is investigating various people for obstruction of justice, false statements or perjury. That is the menu of risk for Rove.''

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Executive privileges

From the NYT's report on the President's press conference today:

Bush also sent a clear signal that he would resist, on grounds of executive privilege, providing senators documents related to Ms. Miers's work in the White House. At least some Democrats are likely to seek such records, especially since Miers, who has never been a judge, has no "paper trail" of opinions.

"I just can't tell you how important it is for us to guard executive privilege in order for there to be crisp decision-making in the White House," Bush said.

The Constitution does not specifically mention executive privilege, but the Supreme Court has recognized the need for confidentiality between high government officials and their advisers. The court has concluded, however, that executive privilege is not absolute.


How about that; there's no right to 'executive privilege' in the Constitution. Now is that the same thing as 'privacy'?

Sauce for the goose ...

Monday, October 03, 2005

Just when you thought the news couldn't get any worse for the GOP...

Tom DeLay gets a second indictment.

And I was all set to write about how Harriet Miers was involved in the coverup of George Bush's TANG records, when it was revealed that, while she was the boss of one of Dallas' largest law firms, she was either involved in a Ponzi scheme or was too stupid to know it was going on.

And the hits just keep on comin' ...

Harriet Miers

Who?

No judicial experience? A 60-year-old unmarried woman who zealously guards her privacy, who donated to Al Gore's campaign, who once said Bush "was the most brilliant man she ever met"?

I want lots of questions asked of, and answered by, this nominee.

And I expect the Senate, including my two GOP toadies, and especially the 22 Democrats who voted for John Roberts, to zealously act in that regard.

Update: David Frum has already removed his quotation of Miers listed above. Thanks to the wonders of technology, we have his original paragraph saved here.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Astros gOing to the playoffs


The first team since the 1914 Boston Braves to come from 15 games under .500 to advance to the postseason.

Moneyshot Quote of the Week

"He's been gut-shot politically," said A. R. ('Babe') Schwartz, who served 25 years as a Democrat in the Texas Legislature and is now a lobbyist in Austin. "You can take a glancing blow sometimes, you can be accused of many things and still get elected to public office. But an indictment for a felony, no matter how much yelling you do about how false and how flimsy and how fake it is, the public says the guy got indicted, and where there's smoke there's probably fire."


You can help nail The Hammer to a billboard by clicking here.

Saturday, October 01, 2005

Johnson-Rayburn Dinner last night

The annual Johnson-Rayburn Dinner at the Westin Galleria last evening was a smash, clustering the beautiful and the powerful in a schmooze-athon of galactic proportions.

So what were you doing there, PDid (you're thinking)?

Well, I got an invitation from some of the inside playaz, and I didn't have to pay...

Kristi Sliwa-Thibaut, working for the Borris Miles campaign before she begins working for her own, dropped the news on me early in the week, and I managed to wedge myself in to sit next to the candidate himself. But he barely sat down the whole night, as he was the room's hardest worker. So we visited a little with Jolanda Jones (yes, that JJ).

Greg Wythe has the comprehensive wrap, so I'll just break my little bulletin: Barbara Radnofsky, as we chatted at the entrance, was floating about six inches off the ground with the news that she will be feted at a fundraiser next month with Harry Reid, Dick Durbin, and Debbie Stabenow, among others.

Oh, and the next Attorney General of Texas and his wife were our unexpected houseguests last night (they had so much fun that they decided to skip their flight back to San Antonio).

My, it's grand being connected ... *burp* *scratch*

Update: Stace Medellin has some takes also.