Seattle Post-Intelligencer editorial on the missing White House e-mails:
…[A]ccording to The Post, “security was so lax that e-mail could be modified by anyone on the computer network until the middle of 2005.” Naturally, in a related e-mail scandal, the Republican National Committee, which has promised to dig around its archives for e-mails sent by White House officials (such as Karl Rove) using RNC e-mail accounts, also decided to simply stop doing so.
This behavior, from the administration and the party that backs the Protect America Act and the government’s desire to spy and archive our every move or thought expressed, would be screamingly hilarious were it not so galling.
More scrutiny for us citizens, less scrutiny for the government. Just the way it should be. After all, they’re the ones with nothing to hide, right?
Dana Milbank writes in The Washington Post about Bush’s surprise upon hearing from a reporter yesterday that Americans are facing the prospect of $4 a gallon gasoline:
You could’ve knocked Bush over with a feather. “Oh, yeah? he said. “That’s interesting. I hadn’t heard that.”
Uh-oh. The president, once known for his common-guy skills, sounded eerily like his old man, who in 1992 appeared surprised that supermarkets had bar-code scanners. On Wednesday, the $4-a-gallon forecasts had been on the front page of the New York Times, and on NBC’s ‘Today Show’ and CBS’s ‘Early Show.’ In the days before that, the prediction — made by AAA, among others — was in the Associated Press, the Los Angeles Times, the Boston Globe, the New York Post, the Dallas Morning News, even the Kansas City Star. The White House press secretary took a question about $4 gas at her Wednesday press briefing. A poll last month found that nearly three-quarters of Americans expect $4 gas.
Bush’s acknowledged unfamiliarity with the recent cost of gasoline produced some fumes at the pump.
At a Shell service station in the Bay Area city of San Mateo, the price of a gallon of regular had already reached $4.29, well above the state average of $3.42, as measured by the AAA auto club.
Roy Persinco, who filled up his Ford 250 pickup truck for $3.25 a gallon at a Santa Monica Shell station Thursday, said he spent $125 a week on gas.
“I can’t believe that an ex-oilman could be so unaware and ignorant of what is going on around him in the real world, but I’m sure his old buddies in the oil industry can tell him they’re doing just fine,” Persinco said.
I especially like the blaseness of Dubya’s reaction. Not, “Oh, that’s terrible – I have to do something about that,” but rather, “That’s interesting. I hadn’t heard that.” Which roughly translates to, “Boy, that sure sucks for you.”
ROVE: …[Obama] is a very left-wing Democrat. He came out of a very radical background in organizing. His record in the Senate is the most liberal, according to the “National Journal.” He has been a conventional far-left Democrat. And we ought to recognize that. As a result, he has these associations and these people he has been comfortable being with who are not in mainstream America. Look, after 9/11, when he said true patriotism did not consist of wearing a lapel pin – – an American flag lapel pin on your lapel, but instead speaking out on the issues, he was basically, with the back of his hand, being very dismissive to millions of Americans who thought it was a patriotic act to put a flag pin on their lapel.
COLMES: Does he lack patriotism because he does not wear a lapel pan? Is he basically saying, patriotism isn’t about a pin? That is his point of view.
ROVE: Alan, I didn’t say that. What he said was that people — he was implicating that people who did wear a flag on the lapel were not true patriots. My point is not — in America, you get to decide whether you want to wear a flag lapel pin or not. What he did though was say, it was true patriotism to speak out on the issue, not to wear a flag lapel pen. He was the one questioning the patriotism of people with flags on their lapels.
COLMES: I didn’t get that from what he said. What I got –
ROVE: Read the statement carefully. He said, true patriotism — quote, true patriotism consisted of speaking out on the issues, not wearing a flag lapel pin.
COLMES: He wasn’t questioning people who wore it. He was questioning the war.
ROVE: No, he was questioning the patriotism of those who did put a flag on their lapel. Admit it. I’m not questioning his patriotism. But he certainly questioned the patriotism of millions of people who felt the simple gesture of putting the flag on their lapel was a patriotic act, and it was.
Uh-huh. If Obama questioned anyone’s patriotism with that statement, it was the patriotism of people who didn’t speak out on the issues. In other words, people who wore a flag pin but didn’t say or do squat. Or, more to the point, people who just went along with whatever the president told them to do, no matter how insane, ill-advised, unconstitutional, or downright criminal it might be.
President Bush, declining to say if he would disclose which donors will give millions of dollars to build his library in Dallas, said Thursday the facility will probably be funded in part by foreign money.
Addressing the topic publicly for the first time since last week’s formal announcement of the selection of Southern Methodist University for the library, Bush didn’t directly answer questions about how much it will cost and whether Americans should know who’s paying for it.
Mr. Bush said at a news conference that some people ‘like to give and don’t particularly want their names disclosed . . . and so we’ll take that into consideration. . . .
Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., who authored a bill to require disclosure of donations to presidential library foundations, said the prospect of secret donors poses a problem.
“When you have foreign governments and foreign business people and corporations giving huge amounts of money when the president is sitting there able to do favors for them, we ought to have it disclosed,” he said. “I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt that maybe he hadn’t thought it through. … I hope he’ll become more sensitive to it.”
Bush tried to explain his non-answers about the library by saying: “We just announced the deal, and I, frankly, have been focused elsewhere, like on gasoline prices and, you know, my trip to Africa.”
Taking ginormous undocumented contributions from foreign nationals is hard. It’s hard work.
Anyway, it’s not like anyone made a big deal about foreigners giving money to Clinton, right? Right?
This week’s quote is from an unknown gem called Guilty As Charged, wherein Rod Steiger has built a homemade electric chair in the basement of his meatpacking plant, which he uses to execute criminals who have escaped justice. Cast also includes Lauren Hutton, Isaac Hayes, a very young Heather Graham, Mitch Pileggi, Ferris Beuller’s dad, and the Ah-mon! guy from The Fallen Ones.
With the simple misuse of a vegetable slicer, he committed unspeakable acts against your loved ones, your sons and your daughters!
And, of course, there’ll be other people’s cats…
The shadowy and mysterious Codename B. being adorable and sweet.
The president of the Catholic League today blasted Sen. John McCain for accepting the endorsement of Texas evangelicalist John Hagee, calling the controversial pastor a bigot who has “waged an unrelenting war against the Catholic Church.”
Hagee, who is known for his crusading support of Israel, backed McCain’s presidential bid Wednesday, standing next to the senator at a hotel in San Antonio and calling McCain “a man of principle.”
But Catholic League President Bill Donohue said in a statement today that Hagee has written extensively in negative ways about the Catholic Church, “calling it ‘The Great Whore,’ an ‘apostate church,’ the ‘anti-Christ,’ and a ‘false cult system.'”
“Senator Obama has repudiated the endorsement of Louis Farrakhan, another bigot. McCain should follow suit and retract his embrace of Hagee,” Donohue said.
Catholics United, a national online group, also blasted McCain over the endorsement. “By receiving the endorsement of an outspoken critic of the Catholic Church, McCain once again demonstrates that he is willing to sell out his principles for a chance to win the Presidency,” said Chris Korzen, Executive Director of Catholics United in a statement. “We hope Senator McCain will take the principled position of publicly and unequivocally distancing himself from Pastor Hagee’s anti-Catholic comments. Intolerance and bigotry do not belong in American politics.”
TPM Election Central has the same thought, plus more on the extent of Hagee’s crazee.
And when exactly was Farrakhan standing side-by-side with Obama, I’d like to know. I don’t remember Tim Russert demanding that Ron Paul “reject” Stormfront’s support in any of the GOP debates, either.
My first memory of Myron Cope is from over 16 years ago, my first winter in Pittsburgh. He appeared on the local news around Christmastime to perform his surreal rendition of “Deck The Halls,” with a chorus something like “Fa gha gha gha gha, gha gha gha gha.” I heard lots of him after that – he was kind of everywhere. He punctuated his speech with a language all his own, words and phrases like “Yoi!”,“Double yoi!”,“Hm-HA!”, and “okel dokel.”
One of my fondest Myron Cope moments that may have amused only me was several years ago, when I was listening to the NFL draft on the radio, God only knows why. The Steelers had just drafted an offensive tackle named Leon Searcy in the first round, and the very first Pittsburgh media person to get Searcy on the phone was… Myron Cope. Imagine this poor kid, wondering what his new home will be like, and the first person he talks to (after the coach and/or GM) is Myron. I can’t imagine what kind of city of madmen he thought he was headed to.
Goodbye, Myron. I’ll miss you, you one-of-a-kind crazy bastard.
The IRS is investigating the United Church of Christ over a speech Barack Obama gave to its national meeting last year after he became a candidate for president.
Obama is a member of the church.
A spokesman for the denomination says it received notice of the inquiry on Monday.
The IRS says there is reason to believe the speech violated restrictions on political activity for nonprofit groups. The denomination denies any wrongdoing.
Church officials say they had consulted with lawyers before the Democrat’s June 2007 speech and made clear before Obama’s address that he was speaking as a church member, not a political candidate.
Sure, it’s not like there’s a bunch of fundie preachers and leaders out there endorsing candidates and telling their congregations that the Baby Jesus wants them to vote Republican or anything. Way to go, IRS.
Jim Oberweis, the Republican Congressional candidate in IL-14, appears to have broken federal election law by triggering the Millionaires’ Amendment without notifying his opponent as required by law. This would not be the first time Oberweis broke the law or tried to deceive voters.
“Jim Oberweis has a disturbing pattern of violating federal election law and deceiving voters” said Jennifer Crider, Communications Director at the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. “This time, it looks like Jim Oberweis personally and deliberately failed to follow the law, pouring money into this race that he made investing in Chinese companies that threaten American jobs. Jim Oberweis acts like the rules and law don’t apply to him – Illinois voters deserve better.”
The Millionaires’ Amendment is a part of the McCain-Feingold campaign finance reform law. McCain-Feingold increases contribution limits for candidates facing opponents who put substantial sums of their personal funds into their own campaigns. An individual who puts in more than $350,000 into their House race risks triggering the Millionaires’ Amendment. Once the millionaire candidate trips this threshold, the candidate must notify his opponents and the FEC by filing a FEC Form 10 within 24 hours. The opponent can have access to higher limits depending on his or her own spending and fundraising. [http://www.fec.gov/press/bkgnd/MillionairesAmendment.html]
How interesting that his second contribution is a mere $10,000 under that $350,000 threshold. Almost as if he knew exactly what that threshold was and was trying to duck it. He looks an awful lot like a money launderer making multiple $9,000 deposits to dodge the $10,000 reporting threshold.
Of course, we don’t have a functioning FEC right now, thanks to Bush and McConnell’s insistence that Hans von Spakovsky be included in the slate of commissioners to be confirmed, so I’m skeptical that Oberweis will face any consequences. Look for a lot more of this before November, or until the FEC gets a quorum that isn’t completely corrupt and in the bag.
Monica Marie Goodling, of Alexandria, is engaged to be married to Michael Krempasky, of Falls Church. The wedding is planned for later this year.
The future bride, a consultant, previously served as senior counsel to Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales and White House liaison at the U.S. Department of Justice. She graduated cum laude from Messiah College and received J.D. and M.A. degrees from Regent University.
Mr. Krempasky is a senior vice president at Edelman, a full-service, global public relations firm. He is also a founder of RedState, a leading conservative blog.
Although Monica Goodling and Mike Krempasky are a “power couple” here in Washington, their story goes back more than a decade and originates outside the Beltway. Look for more details later, either in these pages or elsewhere (e.g., their official engagement or wedding announcement).
Aww, how sweet. I hope the wedding is well-documented in photos and video because, well, the bride kinda has trouble recalling stuff. Her former boss and coworkers, too.
It was a month or so before the start of spring training, and Phil Hughes had no weekend plans. Hughes is 21 and single, a Californian living in Tampa, and he needed some advice.
“So tomorrow I have nothing going on and have the option of either a monster truck event at Raymond James Stadium, or a George Strait concert at the St. Pete Times Forum,” Hughes asked readers of his new blog on Jan. 18.
“I’m not really a fan of either, but I wanna get out of the house and am going more for the experience than anything. So what will it be? The Gravedigger crushing a few 1990 Ford Tempo’s or ‘All my Ex’s live in Texas?’ ”
Hughes had just joined the online community that week, yet 61 fans posted comments with suggestions. Hughes, a Yankees right-hander, went to the concert and said he had fun.
Hughes has seen a lot on his Web site, philhughes.wordpress.com, since starting it Jan. 16. Through Monday afternoon, the site had attracted more than 340,000 visitors from six continents.
Hughes has posted entries on 27 of the first 41 days, offering contests, chats, song lists and the occasional cellphone picture — an alligator on a golf course, Ian Kennedy’s changeup grip, buckets of fan mail in the clubhouse.
There are also illuminating and inoffensive slices of a young player’s life. On Jan. 31, Hughes admitted, “I can’t get enough Food Network!” After the Super Bowl, he wrote, “That catch by Tyree in the 4th quarter had my house shaking.” On Feb. 17, he let a teammate have a turn: “Jeff Marquez says hi. He wanted me to post that.”
As a homegrown Yankee with talent, Hughes was bound to be popular. But his blog has forged an uncommon connection. A young medium has further endeared a young player to the fans.
“I think his blog is a success because it makes Hughes more than a number or a grouping of statistics, it makes him not only human, but approachable,” Alex Belth, who has run the blog Bronx Banter since 2002, wrote in an e-mail message. “It makes him seem not so very different from his readers, no small deal in an era when fans feel the distance between themselves and the players more than ever.”
“Fans get enough baseball information from you guys; that’s your job,” Hughes said, referring to the news media. “I don’t try to do any of that. I want them to feel they have a connection with me. That’s kind of the main idea.
“To me, baseball players always seemed so larger than life. I guess one of the points I’m trying to make is that it’s not really that way. You can idolize players, but you realize they’re just guys. That’s kind of what I want to get across. I’m not any better than anybody else. I just happen to have this ability that not many other people have.”
Good for Hughes. I hope he makes it big, and that he keeps blogging.
From Neil Best’s blog at Newsday, which is typically about sports. But since “Mike and the Mad Dog” (Mike Francesa and Chris Russo) decided to talk about the Oscars on their very popular sports talk radio show…
Mike just said he thought “Gentleman’s Agreement” was about Quakers.
I have no idea where that came from, but I found it very amusing.
And Chris just called Emile Zola “Emily” Zola.
I love this job.
(UPDATE: I think they just mixed up “Three Faces of Eve” and “All About Eve” and a movie that doesn’t exist called “Five Faces of Eve” but I just don’t know anymore. It’s all a blur now. I have to stop.)
(ANOTHER UPDATE: Chris called “Patton” a George C. Scott “farce” and “Gone With the Wind” a Vivien Leigh “farce.” Did he mean “tour de force?” I don’t know.)
They should probably stick to sports, where they are a farce to be reckoned with.
The citizen-soldiers who fought for the Confederacy personified the best qualities of America. The preservation of liberty and freedom was the motivating factor in the South’s decision to fight the Second American Revolution. The tenacity with which Confederate soldiers fought underscored their belief in the rights guaranteed by the Constitution. These attributes are the underpinning of our democratic society and represent the foundation on which this nation was built.
Um, yeah. ‘Cuz if there’s one thing I associate the Confederacy with, it’s freedom, democracy and human rights. Okay, three things. I’ll come in again.
A Panhandle lawmaker wants a “Confederate Heritage” license plate to join the 109 specialty tags already available in Florida.
The extra $25 motorists would pay for the tag would go to educational programs run by Sons of Confederate Veterans, graveyard maintenance and museum exhibits.
Rep. Donald Brown, R-DeFuniak Springs, filed the bill (HB 1007) last week. The plate would feature a shield displaying the rebel battle flag symbol surrounded by several flags from the Civil War era. He says it would give motorists a way to show pride in their heritage.
Fantastic. For every Florida motorist “showing pride in their heritage,” I reckon there will be two or three others cringing in embarrassment or outright horror.
First of all, in case you haven’t been following, the Don Siegelman case, in which Alabama’s Democratic former governor was convicted and imprisoned on trumped-up charges brought by a partisan Republican prosecutor at Karl Rove’s behest, finally hit 60 Minutes:
The CBS piece, for which I was repeatedly interviewed, came through on its promise to deliver several additional bombshells. The most significant of these was the disclosure that prosecutors pushed the case forward and secured a conviction relying on evidence that they knew or should have known was false, and that they failed to turnover potentially exculpatory evidence to defense counsel. The accusation was dramatically reinforced by the Justice Department’s failure to offer a denial. It delivered a fairly elaborate version of a “no comment,” and even that came a full twenty-four hours after it had conferred with the prosecutors in question. The gravity of the accusations made and the prosecutors’ failure to deny them further escalates concerns about the treatment of the former Alabama governor.
[Former Arizona] Attorney General [Grant] Woods has this to say about the Bush Justice Department’s prosecution of Siegelman: “I personally believe that what happened here is that they targeted Don Siegelman because they could not beat him fair and square. This was a Republican state and he was the one Democrat they could never get rid of.”
In other words, not being able to beat Siegelman at the polls, Woods believes that his own party corruptly used the criminal justice process to take out an adversary. This is an extraordinary, heavy accusation. Not something that a senior Republican would raise easily about his own party. And the facts back the accusation up, beginning to end.
[T]he evidence on which the Siegelman conviction was secured was false, and was known by the prosecutors to be false from the beginning. Indeed, the evidence of this is now so overpowering that the Justice Department refused to answer charges on camera, just as it has resisted Congressional demands to turn over documents and wrongfully failed to comply with FOIA requests. The key testimony at trial came from a man named Nick Bailey, who, unbeknownst to Siegelman, was a crook. He never contested that fact. And he’s now in prison, where CBS interviewed him—notwithstanding the Justice Department refusal to authorize an interview. The prosecutors nabbed him and then told him he could get a light sentence if he worked with them to nail Siegelman, their real target. This very process is a perversion of the justice system, which as former U.S. Attorney Jones very properly says, requires that prosecutors investigate crimes and not people. But it gets still worse. Bailey testifies that he saw a check change hands at a meeting at which Scrushy’s appointment to the oversight board was decided. This is the evidence that landed Siegelman in prison. And it was false. And the prosecutors knew that it was false.
JONES: They got a copy of the check. And the check was cut days after that meeting. There was no– there was no way possible for Siegelman to have walked out of that meeting with a check in his hand.
PELLEY: So, Siegelman could not have had that check–
PELLEY: –in his hand that Bailey–
JONES: It was–
PELLEY: –testified to seeing?
JONES: Absolutely impossible and they knew that, absolutely impossible.
PELLEY: That would seem like a problem with the prosecution’s case…
JONES: It was a huge problem especially when you’ve got a guy whose credibility was going to be the linchpin of that case. It was a huge problem.
…[The Justice Department] stated that Siegelman’s case was pursued and developed by career prosecutors, that it was based on the law, and justified by fair evidence.
First, we know that the first two career prosecutors assigned to the case, including the most experienced prosecutors who worked on it, came to the same conclusion that Grant Woods did: no reasonable prosecutor would ever have charged this case. The Justice Department has consistently made false statements about the roles of the two earlier prosecutors, and their role only emerged in the last few months. It’s extremely noteworthy that throughout the history of this case, whenever a career prosecutor concluded that charges should not be brought, that career prosecutor ran into a bump in his career and was off the case. The message to the remaining career prosecutors was plenty clear. In fact it is clear that the career prosecutors’ views were overridden by political appointees driven by a strong partisan political agenda.
Second, they claim that the case was brought on a fair reading of the law. It was not, and indeed reasonable career prosecutors never would have acted on the basis of the reading they advanced, and a fair detached judge never would have allowed the case to go forward. This case offered neither.
Third, they claim that evidence was produced to sustain the charges. But the key evidence that the prosecutors brought forward was false, and they knew it was false. In this case proceeding on the basis of that false evidence was a corrupt wielding of prosecutorial power, pursued for a corrupt partisan political end – the elimination of a political adversary. They withheld the Bailey notes which would have demonstrated that his memory on this was conflicted or wrong and would therefore have devastated his testimony. There is mounting evidence that one or more witnesses were unethically pressured to give false evidence or face retaliation. This suspicion surrounds not only Nick Bailey, but also Jefferson County Republican Commissioner Gary White. Note the affidavit of his wife, which a federal judge in Birmingham stated only two weeks ago he found “established a prima facie case of impermissible conduct” by the prosecutors. The claim put forward there goes precisely to these facts. White was pressured to give false evidence supporting Bailey on his false claims about the meeting. It is suggested that he would be prosecuted if he failed to do so. He refused, saying the testimony would be false. And he was prosecuted. This seems to summarize the crooked criminal justice system that Karl Rove and his friends have promoted in Alabama.
CBS conducted dozens of interviews and has much more that it hasn’t shown. The additional footage concerns the Canary team—husband Billy who advised the campaign of Republican gubernatorial candidates against Siegelman, and wife Leura Canary, whose prosecution of Siegelman was essential to the G.O.P.’s efforts to secure the Montgomery statehouse. And they have much more on the inexplicable conduct of federal Judge Mark Fuller, appointed by George W. Bush, a former member of the Alabama G.O.P.’s Executive Committee, and a man who publicly stated that Siegelman had a grudge against him—but who refused to recuse himself from the case.
As if all of that isn’t disgusting enough, here is the rancid icing on the corruption cake:
I am now hearing from readers all across Northern Alabama—from Decatur to Huntsville and considerably on down—that a mysterious “service interruption” blocked the broadcast of only the Siegelman segment of 60 Minutes this evening. The broadcaster is Channel 19 WHNT, which serves Northern Alabama and Southern Tennessee. This station was noteworthy for its hostility to Siegelman and support for his Republican adversary. The station ran a trailer stating “We apologize that you missed the first segment of 60 Minutes tonight featuring ‘The Prosecution of Don Siegelman.’ It was a techincal problem with CBS out of New York.” I contacted CBS News in New York and was told that “There were no transmission difficulties. The problems were peculiar to Channel 19, which had the signal and had functioning transmitters.”…
Gee, what are the odds of a mysterious “outage” overlapping almost exactly with the time of the Siegelman segment on 60 Minutes? Sure does sound like GOP corruption in Alabama is both broad and deep, doesn’t it.
If you want to participate in moving either of these stories forward, Scott Horton urges his readers to use CBS’s Contact Us form to demand that they follow up on the issues they didn’t fully resolve, and to contact Channel 19 WHNT’s management group, Oak Hill Partners, though Rhonda Barnat at 212-371-5999 or email@example.com.
For once, I’m not disgusted with any of the major Oscar winners. No Country For Old Men was excellent, as were Javier Bardem and Daniel Day-Lewis.
My biggest complaint is that Juno got nominated for Best Picture and Eastern Promises didn’t. Reminds me a bit of the travesty in ’88 when Working Girl was nominated and Eight Men Out wasn’t. Sometimes I wonder what is wrong with these people.
1 commentFebruary 25th, 2008 at 07:01amPosted by Eli
According to DNC chairman Howard Dean, McCain has clearly received a “material gain” from being a part of the public financing program, and as such cannot opt out of it at this point.
First, McCain was able to get around ballot access rules for the primaries in states around the country — at a value of $2-$3 million (what Dean’s own campaign had to spend on ballot access, having not participated in the public financing system in 2004) — by participating in the program. Pulling out now would enable him to reap the material benefit of ballot access offered by the program — again, valued at millions of dollars — without having to abide by the program’s overall spending limit (somewhere in the neighborhood of $54 million).
Second, McCain used the promise of public funds as collateral to help secure a private loan. Once a candidate uses actual public funds in this manner, they have used those dollars, thus locking them into the program. This is key, not only in that it seems to bind him to the program but also in that McCain showed a clear willingness to capitalize on voluntary taxpayer money in order to help him raise more funds from special interest lobbyists (some of whom are at the upper echelons of his campaign staff).
Finally, now that McCain is in the program and hasn’t been certified to pull out — an act that requires a vote of the FEC — it seems that he may have already gone over the spending limit in violation of the law. As of the last campaign finance filing deadline, McCain was already coming dangerously close to the $54 million threshold, and in the weeks since he might have already passed it.
In short, this is an issue of integrity — and John McCain’s lack of it. What the DNC is asking the FEC to do is fairly simple: Require McCain’s campaign to abide by the legally binding contract it created with the federal government to enjoy the benefits of the public financing system — benefits his campaign has already used — in return for abiding by the program’s spending limits. Soon the ball will be in the FEC’s court. Let’s see where they go from here.
I think the McCain campaign’s calculation here is that the FEC is hamstrung by not having a quorum of members, due to Bush’s stubborn insistence that despicable minority vote suppressor Hans von Spakovsky be included in the slate of commissioners to be confirmed by the Senate. And it’s not as if the FEC is particularly swift or effectual even when fully staffed.
Come to think of it, I have to wonder if this is the real reason for Dubya’s insistence on von Spakovsky. Sure, getting a racist, anti-democratic reactionary on the FEC is great, but essentially sidelining the FEC for the 2008 election when Republicans will have a desperate need for every dirty trick in the book is even better.
Under long-standing congressional ethics rules, corporations, unions and other large organizations cannot directly pay senators stipends. But their contributions to senators’ election campaigns can be paid without limit to the children, spouses, in-laws and other relatives of the lawmakers, in a practice that has aroused controversy but is fully legal.
Since 2000, at least 20 members of the Senate dipped into their campaign contributions and wrote more than half a million dollars in checks to their own relatives, typically as payment for fundraising and other campaign work, according to a new report by the watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW).
Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), for example, paid her son Douglas $320,409.17 in campaign donations through his company Douglas Boxer and Associates from 2001 to 2006, CREW found. Douglas Boxer is a lawyer and a 10-year veteran of her political team, a Boxer spokesman said.
Sen. Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.) paid his daughter-in-law Danielle Enzi $306,718.18 from his campaign accounts over the same period, according to the report. She was a fundraiser before she married into the Enzi family, an Enzi spokesman said. Sen. Jim Bunning (R-Ky.) paid his daughter Amy Towles $138,933.37 over six years, CREW found. Bunning’s office said it was for campaign accounting.
“It is an area that’s ripe for abuse, for someone who wants to turn campaign funds into personal use,” said Craig Holman, a lobbyist for the nonprofit group Public Citizen. Although most lawmakers do not abuse the practice, he said, “those campaign funds always come from special interests, and those special interests are always looking for something in return.”
Senators took up the issue before passing the Honest Leadership and Open Government Act on Jan. 18, 2007. The law tightened rules on accepting meals, private plane rides and other perks from lobbyists. But an amendment to ban the practice of paying relatives for their campaign work was rejected 54 to 41, with Boxer voting “present.”
Even senators with no relatives listed in the CREW report criticized the measure, offered by Sen. David Vitter (R-La.), as overly harsh. “I see no evidence of anything improper in this body,” said Senate Rules and Administration Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) during the floor debate.
Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) said: “I have never had a relative on my campaign payroll. I just don’t see why we would want to get into the issue. . . . As long as it is a fully disclosed expense, which it would be through campaign finance reports and campaign disclosures, then the voters can judge whether it is appropriate.”
Everything’s fine… Move along… Nothing to see here…
I admit, I initially had some doubts about NYT’s McCain-literally-or-figuratively-in-bed-with-lobbyist story. Not so much about whether it was true – everything except the Iseman stuff is pretty well-sourced and beyond dispute, and there appears to be ample evidence that she exerted undue influence on him. Whether or not there was an actual affair, or even whether McCain’s staff thought there was, is kind of beside the point.
No, what I was worried about was that NYT was actually using this story to immunize McCain from charges of corruption, just like CBS used the Killian memos to immunize Dubya from charges that he used the ANG to dodge service in Vietnam (and then dodged his service in the ANG). When the right-wing attack machine attacked the credibility of the memos, CBS’s response was managed by CBS News President Andy Heyward, the same guy who tried to stop the ANG report from airing, and the same guy who personally took charge of vetting the memos.
Perhaps you remember CBS’s brilliant strategy for defending the report, which was to swear up and down that the memos were legit, effectively staking Dan Rather’s reputation on it. Not once did they point out that the rest of the reporting was rock-solid, and that the story held up perfectly well without the memos. No, they focused solely on defending the memos, so that when they finally folded on those, they folded on the whole story. Rather resigned in disgrace, and no-one could question Dubya’s ANG service again without looking like a crackpot.
So when the NYT story came out, followed immediately by conservatives howling that there was no proof of an affair (which the NYT never actually claimed), I worried that the NYT might follow the same pattern; i.e., digging their heels in on the inappropriate personal relationship between Iseman and McCain rather than defending the story as a whole. Not to worry:
At a news conference on Thursday, Mr. McCain denounced an article in The New York Times that described concerns by top advisers a decade ago about his ties to Ms. Iseman, a partner at the firm Alcalde & Fay. He said he never had any discussions with his advisers about Ms. Iseman and never did any favors for any lobbyist.
One of the McCain campaign’s statements about his dealings with Ms. Iseman was challenged by news accounts on Friday. In discussing letters he wrote regulators about a deal involving another of Ms. Iseman’s clients, Lowell W. Paxson, the campaign had said the senator had never spoken to her or anyone from the company. But Mr. McCain acknowledged in a 2002 deposition that he had sent the letters after meeting with Mr. Paxson.
On Glencairn, the campaign said Mr. McCain’s efforts to retain the loophole were not done at Ms. Iseman’s request. It said Mr. McCain was merely directing the commission to “not act in a manner contradictory to Congressional intent.” Mr. McCain wrote in the letters that a 1996 law, the telecommunications act, required the loophole; a legal opinion by the staff of the commission took the opposite view.
A review of the record, including agency records now at the National Archives and interviews with participants, shows that Mr. McCain, Republican of Arizona, played a significant role in killing the plan to eliminate the loophole. His actions followed requests by Ms. Iseman and lobbyists at other broadcasting companies, according to lobbying records and Congressional aides.
By November 1998, the F.C.C. was planning to strike down broadcasting marketing agreements, a potentially ruinous development for Glencairn. But after receiving Mr. McCain’s Dec. 1 letter, it put off consideration of the issue.
“To the extent the F.C.C. shows itself incapable of following Congressional intent,” the letter said, “these issues will become part of our overall review of the commission’s functions and structure during the next session of Congress.”
The letter, sent from Mr. McCain’s office by his staff at the commerce committee, was also signed by Senator Conrad Burns, Republican of Montana and chairman of a communications subcommittee. It was uncharacteristic of Mr. McCain, according to a review of dozens of letters sent by him to the commission during the same period.
It was the only letter that contained a suggestion that a failure to act would result in the possible overhaul of the agency.
The letter said that “as a leading participant in the passage of the 1996 Act, I have a very clear understanding” of the law’s intent and why it required the ownership loophole to be preserved. Mr. McCain was one of five senators — and the only Republican — to vote against the act. He has also been an outspoken critic of it.
While other companies also complained to Congress about the plan to close the loophole, the issue was particularly important to Sinclair because it had more marketing agreements than any in the nation. For its part, Glencairn appeared to have been getting little support in Congress until it retained Ms. Iseman in 1998.
Edwin Edwards, who was the president of the company at the time, said in a recent interview that after retaining Ms. Iseman, he was able to get heard by Mr. McCain.
After the commission postponed consideration of the issue, Mr. McCain signed a second letter to the agency on Dec. 7, 1998, in support of local marketing agreements, and a third one on Feb. 11, 1999. The third letter was signed by four other lawmakers. Ultimately, the F.C.C. loosened the rules to permit a company to own two television stations in some markets.
The letters Mr. McCain wrote to the commission in the Paxson matter were sent in late 1999 and prompted the agency’s chairman to chastise him for interfering in a licensing matter. The incident embarrassed Mr. McCain, then making his first presidential run, because Mr. Paxson was a campaign contributor and fund-raiser.
While the campaign said Thursday that Mr. McCain never spoke to anyone from Paxson or Ms. Iseman’s lobbying firm before sending those letters to the commission, an article posted Friday on Newsweek’s Web site said Mr. McCain had previously acknowledged first speaking to Mr. Paxson. Recounting that conversation, Mr. McCain testified in the deposition, “I said I would be glad to write a letter asking them to act.”
The Washington Post reported Friday on its Web site that Mr. Paxson acknowledged in an interview that he had met with Mr. McCain to discuss the letters before they were sent and that Ms. Iseman was probably at the meeting.
That’ll do, NYT. That’ll do.
(Although if you happen to have any more, that would not be unwelcome…)
2 commentsFebruary 23rd, 2008 at 07:02pmPosted by Eli
They may not leap off the shelves into the best-seller category, but the books shortlisted for the oddest book title prize certainly grab the attention.
“I was Tortured by the Pygmy Love Queen” recounts the tale of a fictional U.S. World War Two fighter pilot who is captured by jungle pygmies led by a sadistic woman.
Its sequel, which is not on the shortlist released by trade publication The Bookseller (www.thebookseller.com) Friday, needs no explanation: “Go Ahead, Woman, Do Your Worst.”
“How to Write a How to Write Book” and “Cheese Problems Solved” are likewise self-explanatory as is the equally eclectic niche tome “People who Mattered in Southend and Beyond: From King Canute to Dr. Feelgood” that strives to put the English east coast resort on the map.
While none of the above may challenge the sensibilities too much, others are likely to prove more divisive. Try “If You Want Closure in Your Relationship, Start With Your Legs” or “Are Women Human? And other International Dialogues.”
“I confess: I have been anxious that as publishing becomes ever more corporate, the trade’s quirky charms are being squeezed out,” said Horace Bent, The Bookseller diarist and custodian of the prize.
Bent paid tribute to those books that failed to make the list, including titles such as “Drawing and Painting the Undead” and “Glory Remembered: Wooden Headgear of Alaska Sea Hunters,” wishing them better luck next year.
Any list that “Drawing and Painting the Undead” and “Glory Remembered: Wooden Headgear of Alaska Sea Hunters” can’t crack, is one exclusive list.
On the February 22 edition of MSNBC Live, conservative radio host and columnist Armstrong Williams said of a February 21 New York Timesarticle about Sen. John McCain’s relationship with a telecommunications lobbyist, “I think what it does more than anything else, it causes those of us in the media to lose credibility. People begin to question what we print, whether there’s any truth to it, whether we do our research.” But Williams himself has been embroiled in controversy that undermined his “credibility.” In January 2005, USA Todayreported that Williams received $240,000 from the Bush administration in December 2003 to promote President Bush’s No Child Left Behind legislation “on his nationally syndicated television show and to urge other black journalists to do the same.”