Archive for May 6th, 2008

Bloch Busted

But is it for being too corrupt… or not corrupt enough?

NPR is reporting that FBI agents have raided both the home and office of Scott Bloch:

FBI agents on Tuesday raided the offices of Special Counsel Scott J. Bloch, who oversees protection for federal whistleblowers. The agents seized computers and shut down email service as part of an obstruction of justice probe, NPR has exclusively learned.

FBI agents also searched Bloch’s home and a Special Counsel field office in Dallas. A grand jury in Washington issued subpoenas for several OSC employees, including Bloch, according to NPR sources who spoke on condition their names not be used.
–snip–
This morning, FBI agents in Washington took Bloch into a separate room at OSC to interview him, while additional investigators searched his office. They also arrived at his home in Alexandria, Va., with a search warrant.

The Office of Personnel Managment’s Inspector General has been looking into allegations that Bloch retaliated against career employees and obstructed an investigation. Sources close to the probe said the FBI’s raid this morning was related to work the Inspector General had already done.

The first thing that ran through my mind was, “Hey, how’s that US Attorney firings investigation coming?”

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.

So, are Bloch and the OSC under fire for their legitimately illegitimate practices (of which there appear to be many, but when has that ever bothered BushCo. before?), or because they were getting too close to paydirt on the US Attorney firings or Rove’s Hatch Act violations? Or as retaliation for helping to boot Lurita Doan out the door?

May 6th, 2008 at 08:51pm Posted by Eli

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

More Republican Diplomatic Brilliance

John McCain apparently thinks Dubya is way too soft on Russia:

President George W. Bush said in 2001 that he had looked Russian leader Vladimir Putin in the eye and “was able to get a sense of his soul.” Senator John McCain says he looked into Putin’s eyes “and saw three letters: KGB.”

McCain, 71, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, favors expelling Russia from the Group of Eight club of industrial powers. He calls for forging a “League of Democracies” to confront Putin and hand-picked successor Dmitry Medvedev, who takes over tomorrow, on Russian threats against former Soviet republics and rollbacks of domestic freedoms.

The candidate’s approach to Russia signals that he has aligned himself with hard-line foreign-policy advisers who favor democracy promotion above all and rejects advocates of doing business with authoritarian regimes when it suits U.S. interests.

McCain’s aggressive policy may encounter difficulties because the U.S. needs support from Russia, a nuclear power, on critical issues such as containing Iran. Russia’s economy, enriched by oil exports, also is less vulnerable to outside pressure than at the start of Bush’s presidency.

Umm… John?  You do know that the Cold War’s over, right?  No, Russia is not exactly a model global citizen (then again, neither are we), but it is not actually our enemy.  At least, not yet…

Oh, and I love this bit here, from Reagan’s old national security adviser, Robert McFarlane:

McFarlane said a McCain administration will be dominated at first by “neocon redux” advisers who favor challenging Russia at every turn. He predicts such a policy will founder on the reefs of Russia’s rising economic power.

“For the first year you’re going to see, very likely, disagreement, public sniping” between McCain and Russian leaders, McFarlane said at an April 28 forum at Simes’s center. “If there’s good news, it is that in the second year all those youngsters will get fired and maybe we’ll settle down to a more really realistic presidency.”

Heh.  Just like Dubya fired all of his neocons as soon as it became obvious what idiots they were.

May 6th, 2008 at 07:39pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: McCain

This Just In: Laura Bush Just As Tone-Deaf And Dishonest As Dubya

Oh yeah, this is a great response to a massive tragedy:

When a country run by a despotic and isolationist regime is laid low by a massive natural disaster, the diplomatic thing to do is to respond with a show of compassion. Not kick ’em when they’re down.

More than 22,000 people have died in the staggering devastation caused by this weekend’s cyclone in Burma. But when First Lady Laura Bush made her first-ever visit to the White House briefing room yesterday, to talk about what’s going on in that country, it was not to deliver a message of goodwill.

Rather than announce the launch of a massive relief effort that could take advantage of a rare diplomatic opening, the first lady instead tossed insults at Burma’s leaders, blamed them for the high death toll, and lashed out at their decision to move forward with a constitutional referendum scheduled for this Saturday.

(…)

Dan Eggen writes in The Washington Post: “Laura Bush condemned the military government in Burma yesterday for its ‘inept’ response to a deadly weekend cyclone, marking an unusual foray by the president’s spouse into a high-profile foreign policy crisis.

“Appearing at a White House news conference, the first lady said the military junta in Burma is preventing the United States and other nations from providing help in the wake of Tropical Cyclone Nargis, and she alleged that the country’s rulers purposely declined to warn people of the impending danger. . . .

“Bush . . . called the Burmese regime ‘very inept’ and urged it to cancel plans for a referendum later this week, which she said would ‘give false legitimacy to their continued rule.’

“…The news conference marked the first time that she presided at the White House briefing room, which is generally used for official pronouncements by President Bush or his senior aides.”

But other countries aren’t holding back — and Burma is apparently begging for help.

Amy Kazmin writes in The Washington Post: “Burma’s government, which is traditionally wary of international aid workers, issued a rare appeal for outside help. The United Nations, the United States, Britain and the European Union all expressed willingness to assist, while India said Monday that it was already dispatching two naval ships with relief supplies.”

In fact, despite the first lady’s claim that Burma was blocking delivery of international aid, “Richard Horsey, a spokesman for the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, said that the Burmese authorities ‘are receptive to international assistance’ and that ‘discussions are taking place in New York and on the ground about what is needed, what the U.N. can provide and how to get it to the people.'”

(…)

Richard Walden blogs on Huffingtonpost.com: “…Laura Bush read the administration’s long-standing talking points on Myanmar while simultaneously demanding that its government accept a team of US disaster officials to make an independent assessment of its needs. That the International Red Cross, the United Nations, the European Union and a number of highly competent relief agencies were already on the ground doing exactly that did not seem to matter. Giving Laura a mike and a little halo seemingly was the intent, especially with George W. Bush’s popularity hovering at 27% in the polls.”

The first lady tried to make a big deal of the aid the government had already provided: “Americans are a compassionate people and we’re already acting to provide help. The U.S. has offered financial assistance through our embassy.” But that financial assistance has thus far amounted to a total of $250,000 — a mere trifle considering the scope of the disaster.

Ah, but the awesomeness has only just begun…

And then she started talking about Jenna’s wedding.

As Huffingtonpost.com reports: “A White House press conference given by First Lady Laura Bush took a bizarre and insensitive twist when the focus of the conference, the devastation wrought by a powerful cyclone in Myanmar, switched to Jenna Bush’s upcoming wedding.”

Andrew Malcolm blogs for the Los Angeles Times that “alas, MSNBC’s directors in New York, who were carrying the Q and A part of her appearance live, left up the caption from the earlier part — ‘Breaking News First Lady talks about deadly cyclone in Myanmar’ — and continued showing looped news footage of the devastation while the bride’s mom obligingly answered wedding queries about their idyllic country getaway, their daughter’s happy day and getting their first son in the family.”

Here’s how the first lady’s briefing on Burma concluded:

Q. “Is it true there is an altar of limestone –“

Mrs. Bush: “That’s right, the President told that this morning on ‘ Good Morning America.’ This was his idea, to build this beautiful limestone altar, and it’s the Texas limestone — the same that our house is made out of — from a local quarry, and they’re the ones that made it — “

(…)

Q: “When some grandchildren come will they be named George — “

Mrs. Bush: “George or Georgia — Georgina. Georgette. (Laughter.)”

It’s so inspirational and uplifting how the Bushes are always able to find hilarity in the face of tragedy, isn’t it?

Also, Laura has a lot of chutzpah criticizing anyone else’s government for piss-poor response to a natural disaster.

2 comments May 6th, 2008 at 06:29pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Bush,Wankers

For Those Of You Who Refuse To Vote For Obama (Or Hillary) In November

Just a little helpful reminder:

Republican presidential candidate John McCain said on Tuesday he would appoint judges in the mold of conservatives John Roberts, Samuel Alito and former Chief Justice William Rehnquist if he were elected in November.

In an excerpt from a speech McCain was to give in Winston-Salem on Tuesday, the Arizona senator said he would “look for accomplished men and women with a proven record of excellence in the law, and a proven commitment to judicial restraint.”

“I will look for people in the cast of John Roberts, Samuel Alito, and my friend the late William Rehnquist — jurists of the highest caliber who know their own minds, and know the law, and know the difference,” McCain said.

John Paul Stevens would be 92 at the end of President McCain’s first term, and Ruth Bader Ginsberg would be 79.  So if you like the idea of having wingnuts solidly in control of the Supreme Court for the next 20-30 years, then by all means, stay home or vote for McCain on Election Day.

May 6th, 2008 at 11:35am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Democrats,Elections,Judiciary,Politics,Republicans

Democrats Not Just Like Republicans

Yeah, this sucks, but at least Ohio’s Democratic state government is doing the right thing and not the Right thing.

Risking impeachment, Ohio’s attorney general on Monday refused demands from the governor and other fellow Democrats that he resign over a sexual harassment scandal in his office and an affair with a subordinate.

Gov. Ted Strickland told reporters that Democrats will begin drafting an impeachment resolution against Attorney General Marc Dann right away. Republican House Speaker Jon Husted said Monday that his chamber — which takes the first step in any impeachment — was already reviewing the process.

Virtually every state-level Democratic officeholder urged Dann to resign in a letter late Sunday after Strickland tried twice during the day to persuade him to leave office.

A sexual harassment investigation uncovered an atmosphere in Dann’s office rife with inappropriate staff-subordinate relationships, heavy drinking and harassing and threatening behavior by a supervisor. On Friday, Dann admitted to an extramarital affair with a subordinate after the investigation threatened to reveal the relationship.

“I would hope the Attorney General will understand that his effectiveness as an attorney general has been so diminished that in my judgment he can no longer effectively serve in that office,” Strickland said Monday. The governor and Dann were among many Ohio Democrats swept into office in 2006 in the wake of a Republican scandal over state investments.

“I think it’s important for Democrats to send a very clear message that we will clean our own house,” Strickland said.

Amen to that.  I wish their AG weren’t a moron, but I love that the Ohio Democrats are collectively repudiating him rather than covering for him.  It makes a very clear distinction between how the two parties handle corruption in their ranks (See: Foley, Mark; Firings, US Attorney).

(h/t Rafael Noboa)

May 6th, 2008 at 07:40am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Corruption/Cronyism,Democrats


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