Saturday, June 16, 2007

McCain Hypocritically Attacks Reid For Criticizing General The Politico leaked word today that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) was critical of outgoing Joint Chiefs chairman Gen. Peter Pace and Iraq commander Gen. David Petraeus during a conference call Tuesday. Reid reportedly called Pace “incompetent.”

Within hours, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) released a statement charging that Reid’s remarks were “incredibly disappointing” and “highly inappropriate.”

McCain’s outrage is pure hypocrisy. Last February, when Gen. George Casey stepped down as the top U.S. commander in Iraq and was nominated as Army chief of staff. McCain was highly critical of his appointment, going so far as to issue an “extremely rare public reprimand” to Casey during a Senate hearing:
While there are very pressing questions about the future of the Army, you will, of course, in this hearing be asked to review the mistakes in American strategy in Iraq during your command, how the previous Iraq strategy was formulated, why it failed, and why it was not changed sooner, and the lessons that were learned…And you’ll need to explain why your assessment of the situation in Iraq has differed so radically from that of most observers and why your predictions of future success have been so unrealistically rosy.
Apparently only John McCain gets to have an opinion on high-ranking military officials.

Bush Delays Signing U.S. Attorney Bill Until Installing One Last ‘Loyal Bushie’ Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) revealed today that Attorney General Alberto Gonzales had once again bypassed the Senate and used an obscure Patriot Act provision to appoint an interim U.S. attorney in California.

The authority Gonzales used was at the heart of the U.S. attorney scandal, and was banned in a bill that passed both chambers of Congress with strong bipartisan support earlier this year. The legislation was sent to the President for his signature on June 4. During a hearing today, Leahy blasted Bush for stalling:
That bill, the Preserving United States Attorney Independence Act of 2007, has been on the president’s desk since June 4th. Do you know it seems he just can’t bring himself to sign it? Instead, we were informed yesterday through the Justice Department that the attorney general has used the power that we voted to repeal again.

It’s almost like they live in an alternate world, as though they’re not realizing the reaction of Democrats and Republicans about this misuse of this power. That’s wrong.
But now President Bush has what he wanted. Thanks to his delay, Alberto Gonzales was able to install George Cardona as an interim U.S. Attorney in the Central District of California. Tonight, the White House released a two-line statement:

On June 14, 2007, the President signed into law S. 214, the “Preserving United States Attorney Independence Act of 2007.”

Giuliani Signals Support For Second Escalation Of U.S. Forces To Iraq In an interview this week with Bloomberg TV, former Mayor Rudy Giuliani declared that he would consider increasing U.S. troop levels in Iraq, beyond the tens of thousands of soldiers ordered in January as part of President Bush’s escalation policy.

Bloomberg host Peter Cook asked Giuliani, “If General Petraeus comes back in September and says, we can win this thing, but it’s going to take more U.S. troops, could you support the notion of adding even more U.S. troops to Iraq?”

Giuliani said he could support escalating Bush’s escalation, provided Petraeus believed he “need[ed] more troops to make it work in order to get Iraq to a situation where Iraq is stable.” When Cook noted that many Americans would strongly oppose such a plan, Giuliani said, “Hey, you know, leadership is about sometimes doing the things you know are right.”

During the most recent presidential debates, Giuliani said that invading Iraq was “absolutely the right thing to do,” and claimed the war would “help reduce the risk for this country.” Giuliani’s current foreign policy advisers include retired Gen. Jack Keane, the architect of the Iraq escalation, and former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton.

But Giuliani often doesn’t wear his support for Bush’s deeply unpopular war policy on his sleeve. A widely-publicized document Giuliani released this week detailing his “12 Commitments” to America doesn’t contain a single reference to Iraq.

Watch the video.

Affirmative action foe appointed to Civil Rights panel

Today, the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights appointed Michigan state Rep. Leon Drolet (R), who successfully led efforts to ban affirmative action in the state, to head the state’s advisory committee on civil rights. In a statement, the Michigan Department of Civil Rights denounced the appointment:

“In a state with such a rich history of civil rights and union activism, it is most disappointing that the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights chose a representative with such a shallow civil rights resume. By selecting a candidate with a one-issue civil rights platform at odds with every established civil rights organization, the U.S. Commission has all but erased its credibility as a proponent for civil rights.”

Stephen Colbert: Homosexuals should come with a warning label

On Wednesday, Stephen Colbert announced, I'm disappointed by how little progress we've made on the gay marriage issue. The gays continue to threaten my happy marriage by threatening to have their own happy marriages."

Colbert then reported on an article by surgeon general nominee James W. Holsinger, "Pathophysiology of Male Homosexuality," explaining that "in it, Dr. Holsinger proves that male homosexuality is not only unnatural but a threat to public health."

"I say we get this guy appointed and let him do for homosexuality what previous surgeon generals have done for smoking," Colbert concluded. "For years, we have tolerated smoking, just like we currently tolerate homosexuality, but the surgeon general alerted us to the dangers of smoking with warning labels. With Holsinger at the helm, we can use the same approach for homosexuality. Every gay man and woman should come with a label."

The following video is from The Colbert Report with Stephen Colbert, broadcast on June 13.

Justice Department'S $100 Million Goof


It was a $100 million mistake, and a federal judge said Friday he doesn't have the power to fix it.

The Justice Department goofed last year and cited the wrong law in a binding plea agreement with telecommunication entrepreneur Walter Anderson, the largest tax scofflaw in U.S. history. That mistake made it impossible for the government to recover between $100 million and $175 million, U.S. District Judge Paul L. Friedman said in March.

Prosecutors urged him to reconsider but Friedman reluctantly said Friday that his hands were tied.

"The court is not free to read something into a contract that is not there or to interpret uncertain language in the government's favor," Friedman said.

Though prosecutors described the error as "a typo" and not "something that the court should be getting wrapped up about," Friedman reluctantly said his hands were tied.

He said he would have worked around the problem by ordering Anderson to repay the money as part of his probation. But prosecutors omitted any discussion of probation - a common element of plea deals - from Anderson's paperwork.

Friedman sentenced Anderson in March to nine years in prison ordered him to repay $23 million to the District of Columbia but ordered no restitution to the federal government.

Prosecutors have promised that the IRS would sue Anderson in civil court to try to recover the money. That will require a new round of litigation in a court that does not wield the threat of more jail time. Prosecutors have said that Anderson has money stashed away in accounts around the world, a claim Anderson denied in court.

LSB: Was this just another (in)competent boob (i.e., "Republi-CON") hired by Monica Goodling? Score another one for Team Gonzo!

US arms Sunni dissidents in risky bid to contain al-Qaida fighters in Iraq

The US military has embarked on a new and risky strategy in Iraq by arming Sunni insurgents in the hope that they will tackle the extremist al-Qaida in Iraq.

The US high command this month gave permission to its officers on the ground to negotiate arms deals with local leaders. Arms, ammunition, body armour and other equipment, as well as cash, pick-up trucks and fuel, have already been handed over in return for promises to turn on al-Qaida and not attack US troops.

The US military in Baghdad is trying to portray the move as arming disenchanted Sunnis who are rising up in their neighbourhoods against their former allies, al-Qaida and its foreign fighters. But the reality on the ground is more complex, with little sign that the US will be able to control the weapons once they are handed over. The danger is that the insurgents could use these weapons against American troops or in the civil conflict against Shia Muslims. Similar efforts by the US in other wars have backfired, the most spectacular being the arming of guerrillas against the Soviet Union in Afghanistan.

LSB: Didn't we try this once before when we armed Iraq in their fight against Iran? And to whom did we give those weapons? Saddam Hussein. Which bonehead in the high command approved this and were they "high" when it was approved?

Bush's overseer for (un)fair elections at the FEC

Donna Brazile, former campaign manager to Al Gore, says about Von Spakovsky in Roll Call:

“Who is Hans von Spakovsky?” It’s a fair question, especially if you’re not familiar with the new barriers that have been imposed on our electoral system, making it harder for certain Americans to register and vote. Von Spakovsky has been referred to by leaders in the civil rights community as one of the “chief architects” behind efforts to suppress and dilute the voting rights of minorities in this country. If Senators care about the right of all citizens to participate in our electoral process, they ought to attend the hearing and ask this nominee to answer some of the allegations.

Some of us have come to expect that a nominee to the FEC, or any government agency that is responsible for upholding and enforcing our nation’s laws, would have a real interest in “fair election” issues. One also might think that nominees, regardless of their political affiliation, would be committed to policies that encourage the full participation of every eligible citizen in our electoral process. Unfortunately, von Spakovsky seeks a return to an era when laws were used not to protect the rights of all citizens, but to prohibit certain citizens from fully exercising their right to participate in the electoral process.

Senator Obama has issued a statement on von Spakovsky:
Mr. von Spakovsky’s role in supporting the Department of Justice’s quixotic efforts to attack voter fraud raises significant questions about his ability to interpret and apply the law in a fair manner, [..] Unless Mr. von Spakovsky can provide legitimate explanations for his conduct in these matters, I believe that he should not be confirmed to this important position.
Nicole Belle, Crooks and Liars

Tony Snow and McCain attack Harry Reid for allegedly blasting Gen. Pace (who is being fired by Bush)

Joe Sudbay (DC), If [Joint Chiefs of Staff, Marine Gen. Peter "I was forced out"] Pace is so competent, why is he losing his job as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff while we are in the middle of a war?

Is Tony Snow telling us that it's Pace's competence that has led us to where we are in Iraq? Pace is being fired as our top military commander either because he's incompetent (which is fine) or for purely political reasons (which is not fine in the middle of a war), so which one is it? Either way, Bush made the decision to get rid of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs "in a time of war." And now that Harry Reid agrees with Bush for once, he's the bad guy? Then who is to blame for how horribly things are going in Iraq? Not Bush, apparently. And not the military commanders either, we're now being told. So does the White House blame the troops, or did some magic pixie run the war into the ground when nobody was looking?

Pace is out for incompetence, but Gonzo is still here?

Washington Post:

The Justice Department is investigating whether Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales sought to improperly influence the testimony of a departing senior aide, two of its senior officials said yesterday, adding a new dimension to the troubles already besetting the nation's chief law enforcement official.

The Justice Department officials, in a letter released yesterday by the Senate Judiciary Committee, said their inquiry into the firings of nine U.S. attorneys includes an examination of a meeting Gonzales held in mid-March with his then-aide Monica M. Goodling, who testified last month that the attorney general's comments during the session made her feel "a little uncomfortable."

The topic of discussion at the meeting was what had happened in the months leading up to firings of the U.S. attorneys, and Gonzales recounted his recollection of events before asking for her reaction, according to Goodling's congressional testimony in May. She said Gonzales's comments discomfited her because both Congress and the Justice Department had already launched investigations of the dismissals.

Goodling's account attracted attention partly because Gonzales had told Congress that he could not remember numerous details about the prosecutors' dismissals because he had purposely avoided discussing the issue with other potential "fact witnesses."

Justice Department spokesman Brian Roehrkasse repeated yesterday a previous statement by Gonzales that the attorney general never sought to influence Goodling's testimony. A White House spokesman also reiterated that President Bush "fully supports the attorney general," who this week was the target of an unsuccessful no-confidence vote organized by Senate Democrats. ...

"It's remarkable that he's under investigation and that he's still attorney general," said Stephen Gillers, a professor at New York University School of Law. "At some point, it can no longer be done internally. This cannot be done by Gonzales's subordinates."

LSB: Why is he still the Attorney General? Would Gonzo overlook obstruction of justice and lying under oath from a Democratic Senator? Doubt it, so why hasn't the Senate passed their "non-binding No Confidence" vote? Oh, that's right - RepubliCON minions of the White House used procedural manuevers to block a vote that would have shown them supporting this scum bucket.

Honoring our troops

John Aravosis (DC), Treating our troops as expendable political props because you're too afraid to admit you made a huge mistake doesn't honor them - it gets them killed.

Al Gore: G8 agreement on climate change a "disgrace"

MILAN (Reuters) - Former U.S. Vice President Al Gore denounced a deal by world leaders on curbing greenhouse gases as "a disgrace disguised as an achievement," saying on Thursday the agreement struck last week was insufficient. ...

"It was a disgrace disguised as an achievement," Gore said at an event in Milan, where he praised [German Chancellor Angela] Merkel for her efforts.

"The eight most powerful nations gathered and were unable to do anything except to say 'We had good conversations and we agreed that we will have more conversations, and we will even have conversations about the possibility of doing something in the future on a voluntary basis perhaps."'

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Is Mullen Gates' "Broom" at the Pentagon? [Chiefs of Staff Chairman Peter] Pace is the first Joint Chiefs Chairman not to be renominated for a second term since the military was centralized under the joint chiefs position 21 years ago. The selection of [Navy Adm. Mike] Mullen (shown on the right) also marks the first time in 21 years that both the head of the Joint Chiefs and the CentCom Commander, Adm. William Fallon, have been Navy officers. …

When Fallon was appointed in January to lead CentCom, analysts noted the choice of a Navy officer reflected “a greater emphasis on countering Iranian power, a mission that relies heavily on naval forces and combat airpower to project American influence in the Persian Gulf.” In announcing the nomination of Mullen this afternoon, CNN Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr said that Mullen “watches Iran closely.”

LSB: This doesn't foreshadow anything good. Two of the top military leaders - and Cheney - with their eyes on Iran? How can this spell anything but trouble?

Update Nico at Think Progress: The foreign policy feud in the White House, at the end of it, is between those who have realized that attacking Iran right now is insane and would rather wait for a better time and opportunity as opposed to the neocons who want to start that fight as soon as possible no matter what the state of the American military and are going out of their way to manufacture excuses for such an attack.

Update Cernig, The Newshoggers: Although Pace famously derailled the neocon narrative on Iran after the Baghdad Briefing, he was soon pulled back on message - and over the years he has definitely been a consistent Rumsfield-appointed yes-man for most of the neocon misadventure. Further, his belief that gays are, by definition, immoral wasn't going to go unquestioned in any re-confirmation hearings. Like many in the Bush administration ranks, his loyalty to the message was always the important thing.

It seems plain to me that Mullen is being brought forward, in part, to clean house for Gates and consolidate his position at Defense by sweeping out all the old Rumsfield hangovers. That won't please Cheney, who was always the closest to Rummie in White house circles as the two of them headed the neocon cabal.

Perhaps significantly, Gates also recently appointed a Navy man as the new head of Centcom - and that Admiral went on to say that an attack on Iran would not happen on his watch.

Does anyone else get the impression that the real feud in the Bush administration in coming days won't be the much publicized Cheney-Rice spat but instead a Cheney-Gates one?

Doan report delivered to White House. Gov Exec reported on Friday, “The Office of Special Counsel confirmed that it delivered to President Bush today its investigative report concluding General Services Administration chief Lurita Doan violated the law that limits political activity in federal agencies, leaving Doan’s future in the hands of the White House.” The article also noted that Waxman has received transcripts from the Office of Special Counsel’s interview with Doan:

In related news, OSC has provided the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee with redacted transcripts of their nine-hour interview with Doan, along with the e-mail records obtained by OSC to determine whether Doan was using her Blackberry during specific time periods during the January meeting. The panel’s chairman, Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., and ranking member, Rep. Tom Davis, R-Va., both received copies of the report, the OSC spokesman said.

On Wednesday Doan is scheduled to appear before the oversight committee to discuss her allegations that GSA employees who testified about her statements at the Jan. 26 meeting were biased and poor performers. Waxman also said Doan may be asked other questions about her previous statements to the committee and to officials involved in the OSC investigation.

Web Comments:

  • “…leaving Doan’s future in the hands of the White House…” Don’t worry, Lurita, you’re in good hands. Just ask Scooter Libby how it all worked out.
  • If the report doesn’t have pictures in it, will Brush even bother to read it?
  • Even though Bush claimed that if elected he’d “return honor and dignity to the White House” my guess is that he’ll stand behind this latest criminal and say she did a heckuva job.

Powell: Close Guantanamo Now, Restore Habeas » This morning on NBC’s "Meet the Press," Gen. Colin Powell strongly condemned the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay, calling it “a major problem for America’s perception” and charging, “if it was up to me, I would close Guantanamo — not tomorrow, this afternoon.”

He also called for an end to the military commission system the Bush administration has created to try Guantanamo detainees. “I would simply move them to the United States and put them into our federal legal system,” Powell said. He scoffed at criticism that the detainees would have access to lawyers and the writ of habeas corpus: “So what? Let them. Isn’t that what our system’s all about?”

“[E]very morning I pick up a paper and some authoritarian figure, some person somewhere, is using Guantanamo to hide their own misdeeds,” Powell said. “[W]e have shaken the belief that the world had in America’s justice system by keeping a place like Guantanamo open… We don’t need it, and it’s causing us far more damage than any good we get for it.”

Powell also sounded off on conservatives, including Vice President Cheney, who oppose diplomacy with Syria and Iran, calling their view “short-sighted.” Powell endorsed direct talks “not to solve a particular problem or crisis of the moment or the day, but just to have dialogue with people who are involved in this region in so many ways.”

Click here for the video.

Holy Gaffe!

Vatican City - US President George W Bush drew gasps at the Vatican on Saturday by referring to Pope Benedict XVI as "sir" instead of the expected "His Holiness", pool reporters said.

They could clearly hear the US leader say "Yes, sir" when the pope asked him if he was going to meet with officials of the lay Catholic Sant'Egidio community at the US embassy later during his visit.

A handful of pool reporters were on hand as Benedict greeted Bush at the door of his private library ahead of a private audience of about half an hour.

On his way to see the 80-year-old pontiff, the US leader apparently recognised someone he knew, and could be heard greeting the person with a casual "How ya doin'?"

The pool reporters also noted Bush's relaxed posture, crossing his legs "Texan style" while facing the pope across his desk in the private study of the apostolic palace.

LSB: Lord knows I don't cut Bush-lite much slack, but he's a Methodist (as I am) and he was probably a little humbled (if that's possible) to be in the Pope's presence so I'm not gonna rag on him for this little gaffe. (True, he's got a whole State Dept who should have briefed him on Vatican protocol, but he never was much of a student.)

How does the Don't Ask Don't Tell policy apply to Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC)?

John Aravosis,

CBS reports that GOP Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) served as active duty military recently in Iraq. This raises a very serious question of national security.

I'm sorry, but I'm not comfortable having a US Senator serve active duty in Iraq as a "colonel" when there has been persistent chatter about his sexual orientation and whether it conforms to the Don't Ask Don't Tell policy.

The Republicans, and Senator Graham, can't have it both ways. Did the Pentagon investigate the rumors about Senator Graham's orientation prior to choosing to have him serve active duty? Doubtful. But the rumors are out there, and the Senator's very presence has been known to fuel such rumors, so it is not out of the realm of the possible that others with whom he served had the same questions. And once they have those questions, per Don't Ask Don't Tell, there is a threat to unit cohesion. So why did the Pentagon risk unit cohesion in this case?

I'm serious. They can't have it both ways. Either there is a problem with gays, or people who are suspected to be gay, serving in the military or there isn't. But Senator Graham, the Pentagon, and every other supporter of the gay ban can't talk about how the presence of someone known (or thought) to be gay would destroy unit cohesion, but at the same time let a senator serve who may not meet the criteria of the ban itself.

Yes, it's not polite to discuss such things. But we do discuss them, we are forced to discuss them, under the very bigoted and not-polite policy that Senator Graham embraces.

Pentagon Confirms It Sought To Build A 'Gay Bomb'

Hank Plante Reporting: A Berkeley watchdog organization that tracks military spending said it uncovered a strange U.S. military proposal to create a hormone bomb that could purportedly turn enemy soldiers into homosexuals and make them more interested in sex than fighting.

Pentagon officials on Friday confirmed to CBS 5 that military leaders had considered, and then subsquently rejected, building the so-called "Gay Bomb."

Edward Hammond, of Berkeley's Sunshine Project, had used the Freedom of Information Act to obtain a copy of the proposal from the Air Force's Wright Laboratory in Dayton, Ohio.

As part of a military effort to develop non-lethal weapons, the proposal suggested, "One distasteful but completely non-lethal example would be strong aphrodisiacs, especially if the chemical also caused homosexual behavior."

The documents show the Air Force lab asked for $7.5 million to develop such a chemical weapon.

LSB: This is how the ballooning Pentagon budget is used?

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Gay Groups Decry Surgeon General Nominee

LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) -- President Bush's nominee for surgeon general, Kentucky cardiologist Dr. James Holsinger, has come under fire from gay rights groups for voting to expel a lesbian pastor from the United Methodist Church and writing in 1991 that gay sex is unnatural and unhealthy.

Also, Holsinger helped found a Methodist congregation that, according to gay rights activists, believes homosexuality is a matter of choice and can be "cured."

"He has a pretty clear bias against gays and lesbians," said Christina Gilgor, director of the Kentucky Fairness Alliance, a gay rights group. "This ideology flies in the face of current scientific medical studies. That makes me uneasy that he rejects science and promotes ideology."

LSB: Rejecting science in order to promote ideology is the theme of this administration.

UPDATE - John Aravosis, Obama is expressing concerns about Bush's choice of an anti-gay bigot, who thinks being gay is something you can "cure," as our next Surgeon General. As he, Dodd, and Hillary are on the committee that needs to confirm this guy, this is important.

Tort Reform Bork sues for $1 million

John Amato, Crooks and Liars:

This story epitomizes the modern conservative movement. They are filled with Frank Luntz talking points, but when it comes down to actual life experiences… well… I give you Judge Robert Bork:

Judge Robert Bork, one of the fathers of the modern judicial conservative movement whose nomination to the Supreme Court was rejected by the Senate, is seeking $1,000,000 in compensatory damages, plus punitive damages, after he slipped and fell at the Yale Club of New York City. Judge Bork was scheduled to give a speech at the club, but he fell when mounting the dais, and injured his head and left leg. He alleges that the Yale Club is liable for the $1m plus punitive damages because they “wantonly, willfully, and recklessly” failed to provide staging which he could climb safely.

Judge Bork has been a leading advocate of restricting plaintiffs’ ability to recover through tort law. In a 2002 article published in the Harvard Journal of Law & Public Policy–the official journal of the Federalist Society–Bork argued that frivolous claims and excessive punitive damage awards have caused the Constitution to evolve into a document which would allow Congress to enact tort reforms that would have been unconstitutional at the framing:… read on (h/t Matt)

He can sue, but you can’t. Scooter can lie and obstruct justice, but you can’t... Sure, some conservatives are very sincere in their beliefs, but when you have the NRO and Fred Thompson crying to Bush about pardoning Scooter Libby and now Bork suing for dollars—then you know they aren’t serious about their positions or the rule of law.

Gonzales No Confidence Vote Set For Monday

WASHINGTON (CNN) — The Senate will hold a politically-charged vote Monday related to a no-confidence resolution in the embattled Attorney General Alberto Gonzales.

In a statement issued Friday, Sen. Charles Schumer, D-New York, an author of the no-confidence resolution, said if all senators followed their conscience, ‘this vote would be unanimous.’”

“However, the president will certainly exert pressure to support the attorney general, his longtime friend,” Schumer added. “We will soon see where people’s loyalties lie.”

The attorney general is under scrutiny by Congress over last year’s dismissal of eight U.S. attorneys.

Paul Weyrich: Goo-Goo Syndrome

John Amato, Crooks and Liars:

Paul Weyrich, father of the right-wing movement and co-founder of the Heritage Foundation, Moral Majority and various other groups tells his flock that he doesn’t want people to vote. That’s why the GOP is obsessed with voter fraud—only they want to disenfranchise voters because as Weyrich said back in the ’80’s…the more voters there are—the less of a chance the wingers have in any election.
Weyrich: “Now many of our Christians have what I call the goo-goo syndrome — good government. They want everybody to vote. I don’t want everybody to vote. Elections are not won by a majority of people, they never have been from the beginning of our country and they are not now. As a matter of fact, our leverage in the elections quite candidly goes up as the voting populace goes down.

Rule of law?

Steve Benen, Crooks and Liars:

On the issue of whether Bush will pardon Scooter Libby, the NYT reported:

A former senior administration official with his own ties to the case said Mr. Libby had failed to meet the general standard for a pardon by not showing contrition or serving any time. This official also noted that Mr. Libby had also been found guilty of lying to investigators, the same offense that led to the impeachment of Mr. Clinton.

The former official, who requested anonymity to speak frankly about the president, said: “It would show a deep disregard for the rule of law if he was to do it right now, when there has been no remorse shown by a convicted felon and no time has been served. How’s this going to fit in his long-term legacy?”

As Steve M. responded, “Yeah — apart from this, his record on the rule of law is perfect! And his legacy is rock-solid! Why on earth would he want to spoil them by doing something so out of character?”

Gates says Pace is out because he didn’t want him to face a confirmation hearing

From Crooks and Liars:

Defense Secretary Robert Gates said that he didn’t want Gen. Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to face a confirmation hearing so he let him go. Surprisingly–Barbara Starr reported that this is an unusual move because Pace’s job is supposed to be Bush’s call and not Gates.
Gates: It would be a backward looking and very contentious process. (Video)
A reporter asks Gates if he’s depressed by this move. It’s very telling to see that a major man in the military is ousted because the administration (was this Gates decision alone?) doesn’t want him to answer question about the Iraq war in front of Congress. Do you remember his take on gays serving in the military… He also wrote a letter of support for Scooter Libby… How’s that surge working?

Get Rove on the record, under oath. Now.

John Aravosis,

As David Iglesias,, the fired U.S. Attorney from New Mexico, said, "All roads lead to Rove." The NY Times is right -- it's time to hear from Karl -- under oath, with a transcript:

Congress has now heard from everyone in the Justice Department who appears to have played a significant role in the firings of the prosecutors. They have all insisted that the actual decisions about whom to fire came from somewhere else. It is increasingly clear that the somewhere else was the White House. If Congress is going to get to the bottom of the scandal, it has to get the testimony of Mr. Rove, his aides Scott Jennings and Sara Taylor, Ms. Miers and her deputy, William Kelley.

The White House has offered to make them available only if they do not take an oath and there is no transcript. Those conditions are a formula for condoning perjury, and they are unacceptable. As for documents, the White House has released piles of useless e-mail messages. But it has reported that key e-mails to and from Mr. Rove were inexplicably destroyed. At the same time, it has argued that e-mails of Mr. Rove’s that were kept on a Republican Party computer system, which may contain critical information, should not be released.

This noncooperation has gone on long enough. Mr. Leahy should deliver the subpoenas for the five White House officials and make clear that if the administration resists, Congress will use all available means to get the information it needs.

Fired gay Arabic-linguist service member pens Op-Ed in New York Times

John Aravosis,

We're at war, we don't have enough men and women in uniform, we definitely can't keep up with translating all the terrorist chatter, so we're kicking out the very people who can translate them. Did you know that we intercepted a key conversation in Arabic the day before September 11 saying that the attack was imminent? We didn't get it translated in time. It's a very simple calculation. What matters more to you - keeping gays out of the military or stopping the next September 11?

From Stephen Benjamin's op ed in today's NYT:

The lack of qualified translators has been a pressing issue for some time — the Army had filled only half its authorized positions for Arabic translators in 2001. Cables went untranslated on Sept. 10 that might have prevented the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11. Today, the American Embassy in Baghdad has nearly 1,000 personnel, but only a handful of fluent Arabic speakers.

I was an Arabic translator. After joining the Navy in 2003, I attended the Defense Language Institute, graduated in the top 10 percent of my class and then spent two years giving our troops the critical translation services they desperately needed. I was ready to serve in Iraq.

But I never got to. In March, I was ousted from the Navy under the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, which mandates dismissal if a service member is found to be gay...

Consider: more than 58 Arabic linguists have been kicked out since “don’t ask, don’t tell” was instituted. How much valuable intelligence could those men and women be providing today to troops in harm’s way?

In addition to those translators, 11,000 other service members have been ousted since the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy was passed by Congress in 1993. Many held critical jobs in intelligence, medicine and counterterrorism...

In response to difficult recruiting prospects, the Army has already taken a number of steps, lengthening soldiers’ deployments to 15 months from 12, enlisting felons and extending the age limit to 42. Why then won’t Congress pass a bill like the Military Readiness Enhancement Act, which would repeal “don’t ask, don’t tell”? The bipartisan bill, by some analysts’ estimates, could add more than 41,000 soldiers — all gay, of course.

Is Bush drinking again?

John Aravosis,

Bush is an alcoholic. We have the right to know if he's fallen off the wagon, as this would be incredibly serious in any job, let alone the leader of the free world, and the commander in chief during war time. It is irrelevant whether you love Bush or hate him, whether you think this is a private matter or not. If Bush were running a major corporation and were an alcoholic who had fallen off the wagon, he'd likely be removed from his job by the board. If he were a general, he'd be fired. He clearly drank from either a beer or a near beer in Germany. Which one was it? And in any case, near beer contains alcohol (0.5% or less), something is verbotten to alcoholics. And keep in mind that American beer is between 2.8% and 3.8% (or so) alcohol content, so 0.5% is actually larger than it seems. That's potentially 1/6 of a beer, or, rather, if you drink 3 of them, that's half a beer - something that, in my lightweight case, still gives me a small buzz. For an alcoholic, that small buzz is everything. And in any case, what would an alcoholic be doing touching alcohol at all? I thought even a sip was off limits?...

UPDATE: It does appear to be a near beer. But as there is some controversy over whether near beers should be drunk at all by alcoholics - they can still contain 1/6 the alcohol of a "real" American beer - I'm not sure why our commander in chief shouldn't be erring on the side of caution. Reportedly, Alocholics Anonymous recommends against alcoholics drinking near beers. I'd like to confirm this.

De-Authorize the War... Now!

From the Bill Richardson for President website:

Bill Richardson is the only major candidate pushing for immediate action to end this war and get all of our troops out.

Despite the fact that Congress recently passed a war spending bill that didn't include a timeline for withdrawal, I know that together we can convince them to end this war. I KNOW that you, the people, and the voters are with us. We are sick and tired of waiting for Bush to do the right thing and end this war. We need Congress to come through for us -- before they leave for the summer... If we wait for fall to do something more people will die and the situation in Iraq will only worsen...

Congress has approximately one month before they leave for the summer -- that is enough time to exercise their Constitutional authority and revoke the 2002 war authorization, stripping Bush of the legal authority to perpetuate this war. If Congress de-authorizes now, Bush would be compelled to bring troops home and we could have most of them out of Iraq this year. And de-authorization is veto-proof.

The time has passed for allowing this President to send more American soldiers to fight for his ill-conceived and incompetently-executed adventure.