Archive for April 25th, 2007

Chopping Bloch?

Well, this is an interesting tidbit from Novak about Fearless OSC Crusader Bloch…

The beginning of this investigation marks an unlikely course of events in a long-running saga in which President Bush has been trying to purge Special Counsel Bloch, his own appointee. Just a year ago, Bloch looked like he was the one sinking, about to be removed from office, maligned among prospective employers, and perhaps even prosecuted. But all of the sudden, it is the White House in hot water, and Bloch may be untouchable.

Bloch first ran into trouble shortly after arriving in the administration. His decision to change the department’s website to reflect the statutory language on sexual orientation and discrimination in the federal workforce — replacing what he viewed as the overreaching, pro-homosexual policies of his predecessor — was what caused the burst of rage against him. He was subsequently accused of just about every misdeed possible in his position — including incompetence and discrimination against his own employees. All indications are that the office is run well, however. This controversy is complicated and probably far less significant than all the attention it received would suggest. But because it touched such a hot-button issue, it became a symbolic battle and there was no turning back. Congressional Republicans bowed to Democrats’ wishes — especially those of Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) — in exercising oversight and holding hearings on Bloch, but he performed well under the scrutiny — no one could pin anything on him.

The liberal groups stoking the controversy reportedly did not expect any of their complaints to go anywhere, but they did not count on White House officials’ championing their cause and attempting to purge Bloch — who refused to go quietly. Not only did the White House not come to Bloch’s defense, it initiated a full investigation into his official conduct, demanding an exorbitant amount of money from his agency’s budget in order to do so. Clay Johnson, Bush’s Texas friend, even demanded Bloch’s resignation, and referred the matter to the inspector general for the White House Office for Personnel Management (OPM).

Quite frankly, this smells like a pre-whitewash whitewash to me. The OPM investigation is not being pursued aggressively, and I think Novak is just being a good little Republican tool and trying to establish Bloch’s bona fides as an independent operator. Check out this Mother Jones story that Christy linked to and tell me if this guy sounds like a rebel to you.

(h/t NeoLiberal)

1 comment April 25th, 2007 at 10:57pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Corruption/Cronyism,Politics,Republicans

The Compassionater-In-Chief

By way of The All-Seeing Eye Of Froomkin, I give you today’s contender for The Least Believable Statement Ever Made:

Listen, you Americans, Laura Bush wants you to know the President is suffering over Iraq. In fact, Laura told Anne Curry on the Today Show, that the American people need to know that “no one suffers more than their President and I do.”

Wow. Either there are a whole lot of troops an Iraqis and their families who are Oscar-calibre actors, or the President and First Lady are.

I ask you, have you ever seen Dubya look like this:

lbj_regretting_vnw.jpg

Have you ever seen him (or Laura) register any deeper emotion than petulant annoyance?

I can’t even begin to count the number of people Laura has insulted, but it’s literally in the millions.

8 comments April 25th, 2007 at 06:28pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Bush,Iraq,Quotes,Wankers,War

Bubblicious

How you like your Deciderer now?

The disconnect that is destroying what’s left of the Bush presidency was clear in an image from the Oval Office this week. President Bush was sitting warily in his chair, pursing his lips as if he had just eaten a bad radish, as a reporter asked about the performance of Attorney General Alberto Gonzales in recent congressional testimony concerning the firing of U.S. attorneys.

Prominent Republicans had criticized Gonzales’s testimony as evasive and inadequate. But Bush responded blandly that his attorney general had given “a very candid assessment and answered every question he could possibly answer . . . in a way that increased my confidence in his ability to do the job.”

Now, say what you like about Gonzales, but only a visitor from another planet would describe as “very candid” the responses of a man who, by one count, repeated 64 times during his testimony the phrase “I don’t know” and similar variants. It was as if Bush didn’t know or care that everyone in Washington had watched Gonzales duck questions before a Senate committee a few days earlier.

(…)

Something’s got to give. That’s the sense around Washington this week as the news from Baghdad worsens and the president defiantly continues an Iraq policy that many military leaders question. Unfortunately, what’s giving way right now is the national interest….

(…)

If you want to hear despair in Washington these days, talk to Republicans. The Democrats are exulting in their newfound political power and are eager to profit from Bush’s difficulties. But Republicans voice the bitterness and frustration of people chained to the hull of a sinking ship.

I spoke with a half-dozen prominent GOP operatives this past week, most of them high-level officials in the Reagan and Bush I and Bush II administrations, and I heard the same devastating critique: This White House is isolated and ineffective; the country has stopped listening to President Bush, just as it once tuned out the hapless Jimmy Carter; the president’s misplaced sense of personal loyalty is hurting his party and the nation.

“This is the most incompetent White House I’ve seen since I came to Washington,” said one GOP senator. “The White House legislative liaison team is incompetent, pitiful, embarrassing. My colleagues can’t even tell you who the White House Senate liaison is. There is rank incompetence throughout the government. It’s the weakest Cabinet I’ve seen.” And remember, this is a Republican talking.

(…)

When a presidency is as severely damaged as this one, the normal drill is to empower a strong and politically adept White House chief of staff to make the necessary changes….

The current White House chief of staff, Josh Bolten, needs to mount a similar salvage mission, argue several prominent Republicans. They question whether he’s politically adept enough. But most of all, they question whether Bolten or anyone else can break through Bush’s tight, tough shell and tell him the truth. What’s starting to crack isn’t the obdurate Bush, but the country.

Fascinating stuff. The Republican Party is becoming increasingly dismayed as they realize just how large and putrescent is the dubyatross that hangs around their necks.

Better yet, they have yet to show the will to cast him off, and after marinating in his stink for the past six years, they will find it very difficult to wash themselves clean in time for next year’s elections. And if they think Dubya smells bad through their Rove-issued clothespins, he smells even worse to the rest of us.

Of course, the downside is that Dubya is so oblivious, and so committed to his stubborn=resolute, loyalty=competence theory of governance, that he will never ease up on the accelerator as he drives this country towards the edge of the cliff.

The question is, is the cliff more than 21 months away? Will Dubya’s (hopefully) Democratic successor have enough time to hit the brakes or swerve away? Will the corporate media and congressional Republicans let him (or her)?

5 comments April 25th, 2007 at 05:51pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Bush,Iraq,Politics,Republicans

Surreal News Of The Day

Another reason why you should never put your faith in heroes:

A doctor dressed as Captain America was arrested after groping a woman at a bar and fighting with her boyfriend, authorities said.

Patrons at the bar were dressed in costumes as part of a bar crawl Saturday night, police spokeswoman Jill Frederiksen said.

A man carrying a burrito and dressed as Captain America approached her, began to say dirty things and touched her inappropriately, police said. He then brawled with her boyfriend, authorities said.

(…)

After he was arrested, he tried to flush marijuana down a toilet at a police station, police said.

Adamcik was released on a $2,500 bond and faces charges of possession of marijuana, destruction of evidence, disorderly conduct and battery.

For some reason, the fact that “Captain America” was holding a burrito just completes the story for me.

2 comments April 25th, 2007 at 03:35pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Comics,Weirdness

Wednesday Why-I-Love-The-Weekly-World-News Blogging

Another idea whose time has come:

Bank-vault maker Leigh Industries wants you to shower in safety — behind four hundred pounds of stainless-steel fiber.

“Our new Bath-os Shower Curtains resist soap scum, mold and knife-wielding psychotics,” said company chief Simon Wark.

Wark said that he expects his first customers will be motels.

“Mostly Gothic Victorian ones, on lonely rain-swept hills,” he said, adding that ordinary consumers might be put off by the hefty price tag and difficult installation.

“We’re still working on how to hang them from traditional plastic curtain rings,” Wark explained.

Weekly World News received a full demonstration of the shower defense system at the Gein Motor Lodge, off Route 99.

“If an intruder approaches the shower, the pressure-sensitive bathmat — sold separately — activates a screeching alarm,” Wark said. “But you’ll have already seen the trespasser on our shower head security camera — also sold separately — which shoots the bathroom from up to fifty angles and displays the photos on a special soap-on-a-rope.” The long-lasting soap with multiple video bubbles is also extra.”At any time, a bather can press the soap dish-mounted call button,” Wark went on. “The device can be programmed to connect to any phone number, so you can summon police, loved ones–or, if you’re so inclined, the Gein Lodge house specialty: casaba melon in chocolate syrup.”

Wark also noted that bodies are impossible to wrap up in the massive curtain, another deterrent for would-be murderers.

“Killers just can’t get a break,” Wark said. “Hence our slogan: ‘With our curtains, it’s never curtains for you.'”

You had me at the part about resisting mold and soap scum…

April 25th, 2007 at 11:53am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Weekly World News

How Much Will Bloch Tackle?

Okay, so, here’s the good news:

Most of the time, an obscure federal investigative unit known as the Office of Special Counsel confines itself to monitoring the activities of relatively low-level government employees, stepping in with reprimands and other routine administrative actions for such offenses as discriminating against military personnel or engaging in prohibited political activities.

But the Office of Special Counsel is preparing to jump into one of the most sensitive and potentially explosive issues in Washington, launching a broad investigation into key elements of the White House political operations that for more than six years have been headed by chief strategist Karl Rove.

The new investigation, which will examine the firing of at least one U.S. attorney, missing White House e-mails, and White House efforts to keep presidential appointees attuned to Republican political priorities, could create a substantial new problem for the Bush White House.

First, the inquiry comes from inside the administration, not from Democrats in Congress. Second, unlike the splintered inquiries being pressed on Capitol Hill, it is expected to be a unified investigation covering many facets of the political operation in which Rove played a leading part.

“We will take the evidence where it leads us,” Scott J. Bloch, head of the Office of Special Counsel and a presidential appointee, said in an interview Monday. “We will not leave any stone unturned.”

(…)

The 106-person Office of Special Counsel has never conducted such a broad and high-profile inquiry in its history. One of its primary missions has been to enforce the Hatch Act, a law enacted in 1939 to preserve the integrity of the civil service.

Bloch said the new investigation grew from two narrower inquiries his staff had begun in recent weeks.

One involved the fired U.S. attorney from New Mexico, David C. Iglesias.

The other centered on a PowerPoint presentation that a Rove aide, J. Scott Jennings, made at the General Services Administration this year.

That presentation listed recent polls and the outlook for battleground House and Senate races in 2008. After the presentation, GSA Administrator Lorita Doan encouraged agency managers to “support our candidates,” according to half a dozen witnesses. Doan said she could not recall making such comments.

(…)

In the course of investigating the U.S. attorney matter and the PowerPoint presentations, Democratic congressional investigators discovered e-mails written by White House personnel using accounts maintained by the Republican National Committee.

So far, so good. Unfortunately, Bloch sounds like a real piece of work, and he has a history of protecting the administration from whistleblowers rather than the other way ’round. So some of my liberal blogobrethren are suggesting that this whole investigation is some kind of strategic whitewash/smokescreen/inoculation against less congenial investigations by big ol’ meanies like Waxman and Conyers and Leahy. I can buy this only partially, and I don’t think it will work.

Yes, given Bloch’s history, there’s a very good chance that the investigation will be a whitewash, but I don’t believe that it was the plan all along. The investigation was at least partially initiated by fired US Attorney David Iglesias, who appears to be a genuinely straight arrow. And because his situation is part of the much larger story of the Attorney firings, the administration politically cannot afford to ignore or bury his complaint. The best they can do is to have the OSC go through the motions of an investigation and then claim to have found nothing improper. And as far as using this investigation to somehow shield the administration from congressional investigations, my legal counsel in the FDL comments don’t think that will fly (largely because the OSC’s investigations are administrative rather than criminal), although they certainly can and will use the can’t-comment-on-an-ongoing-investigation dodge with the media.

Whether or not a whitewash will be successful really depends on your definition of success. If your definition of success is “conduct an investigation that doesn’t end with a recommendation to fire Karl Rove,” then sure, there’s an excellent chance of success. If your definition of success is “salvage the reputation of the Bush administration and the Republican Party as a whole,” I really don’t see it working. If anything, I think it’ll make things worse.

First of all, the very existence of an internal (i.e., not Democrat-driven) investigation of an overall pattern of political tampering with the basic nuts-and-bolts of government calls attention to that pattern and gives it added legitimacy; ironically, in much the same way partisan US Attorneys’ investigations can damage the reputation of opposition party members, even if they’re never indicted or convicted. In short, this is simply not a conversation the Republicans want to be having.

Second of all, and even more ironically, declaring that the governmental investigation into the improper politicization of government found no wrongdoing will, in fact, only reinforce the idea that the government is improperly politicized.

And all the while, Waxman et al. can continue with their own investigations if it doesn’t look like this one is being pursued aggressively. And in 2008, Democratic candidates for House, Senate, and President can remind voters that all of this politicization, and all of the unethical (and probably illegal) activities that took place, were all enabled by the Republican (Enablican?) Congress’ refusal to live up to its oversight responsibilities. They can hammer home that the Republicans cheat on a scale never before seen in American history, and that they will always party over country, Every. Single. Time, without fail.

I can live without Rove’s scalp, if the tradeoff is the destruction of Republican credibility for the next 20-30 years.

1 comment April 25th, 2007 at 07:47am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Bush,Corruption/Cronyism,Politics,Republicans,Rove

Bastard Of The Day

I’m beginning to realize that “Wanker” is just not strong enough…

Last week, a House Foreign Affairs subcommittee held a hearing on the Bush administration’s practice of extraordinary rendition, whereby hundreds of “terror suspects who had never been indicted for any crimes” have been abducted and flown to either secret agency prisons or to foreign countries such as Egypt or Syria where they are tortured.

Throughout the hearing, Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) aggressively defended the U.S. rendition program and attacked the witnesses, three members of the European parliament, who testified that rendition actually hinders prosecutions of terrorists.

Rohrabacher told the witnesses that Nazi leader Adolf Eichmann would still be alive if they were in charge. He said the witnesses were free to doubt the motives of U.S. rendition since “I know there’s a lot of people who hate America.”

At one point, Rohrabacher argued that imprisoning and torturing one innocent person was a fair price to pay for locking up 50 terrorists who would “go out and plant a bomb…and kill 20,000 people.” When members of the audience groaned, Rohrabacher said, “Well, I hope it’s your families, I hope it’s your families that suffer the consequences.”

Of course, if they’re Christians, they won’t mind…

5 comments April 25th, 2007 at 06:55am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Iraq,Politics,Prisoners,Republicans,Terrorism,Torture,Wankers,War


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