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Thursday, February 23, 2006

AG or not AG - is that really a question?

ThinkProgess is linking to this report that says
In a court filing, lawyers for I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby said the indictment violates the Constitution because Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald was not appointed by the president with the consent of the Senate.

The defense attorneys also said Fitzgerald's appointment violates federal law because he was not supervised by the attorney general or approved by Congress.
Obviously, I'm no lawyer. But this one strikes me as the Mary-est of Hails. Here's the body of the December 30, 2003, letter James Comey wrote to Fitz when Comey appointed him to the position of Special Counsel:
By the authority vested in the Attorney General by law, including 28 U. S .C. §§ 509, 510, and 515, and in my capacity as Acting Attorney General pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 508, I hereby delegate to you all the authority of the Attorney General with respect to the Department's investigation into the alleged unauthorized disclosure of a CIA employee's identity, and I direct you to exercise that authority as Special Counsel independent of the supervision or control of any officer of the Department.
Comey was Acting AG at the time due to John Ashcroft's recusal. I'm guessing that Libby's filing would mean that you couldn't have Acting AG's at all, since any person serving as Acting AG would ex hypothesi not have been nominated by the President nor confirmed by the Senate as non-acting AG. Thus I don't see how AG recusals would ever be possible under Libby's theory of the law.

Let's assume it turns out that Comey cited real and controlling statutes in his letter to Fitz, so that Fitz was legitimately appointed Acting AG. Then it's obvious that the contention that Fitz "was not supervised by the attorney general or approved by Congress" is worse than a non-sequitur: Fitz is the AG for purposes of this investigation, and he was made AG by (someone who was made AG by) the AG who was indeed nominated by POTUS and confirmed by the Senate.

So either this is a Hail Mary or, more likely, it's meant to stall while throwing red meat---however maggot-infested---to the talk radio denizens.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006


Much has been made recently of Google's collaboration with the Chinese to limit the scope of the powerful internet search engine within mainland China. Republicans got all up in arms about it, finding the issue perfectly suited to their red-bashing tastes. That's all well and fine, but you can't shake hands with the devil and then pretend he ain't your friend.

So let me move on to a less remarked upon instance of corporate cowardice -- the case of Yahoo banning the use of ``allah'' in email names, even if those sensitive five letters are buried within another name.

I've spoken briefly of the Allah cartoon flap, and i decided that i'm not sure how i stand on the actual publication of the offensive cartoons. Yes, i know, very brave of me.

But the point is it ain't easy...it's particularly hard because the impetus to run some of these cartoons seems to have been merely the urge to offend a key demographic. Just run porn if offending people gives you your jollies, people.

But this seems to test the limits of tolerance, from the other end. CHB was once accused of religious insensitivity for using the word ``pigskin'' when speaking to religious Jews. The context was straight forward: a football game. But you'd think that innocent ol' CHB had actually force-fed these people pork rinds or something.

I'm offended every day -- twice last Thursday, when i had the misfortune of coming face to face with John Ashcroft on two separate occassions. It was not an entirely pleasant experience. But such is life. We try to make lemonade out of lemons, not molotov cocktails.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Powerball drops on the hometown

Friday, February 17, 2006

Friday finally II

Bushholes and Cheneyholes and scads of GOPholes. Enjoy...

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Peace be unto all of us

I've avoided talking about the cartoon controversy -- no, this isn't the one involving Marmaduke -- for good reason: CHB wasn't sure how to feel. There can be no doubt that riots and bloodshed are a bit over the top when it comes to protesting a political cartoon published half a world away. But freedom of expression must be tempered by respect for others. This, in a nutshell, is what Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., was getting all in our grills about back in '19.

However you feel about the publication of cartoons deemed offensive to Islam -- and let me note here that there is much that seems to offend the Muslim street these days, not to mention the Christian one -- we can all agree that in the scheme of things, cartoons are at the low range of global importance.

And what about the destruction of the prophet's home? If the U.S., or Denmark for that matter, were to pave over the prophet's home on the Arabian peninsula to make way for more development, wouldn't the Muslim street be on fire? What if it was the Saudis who did the paving?

The wingnuts of the American right aren't the only ones easily manipulated into political hate. But we're all too busy spinning ourselves -- here, and abroad.

Or just try the freedom fries, Iranian style!

A secret seizure

So Dick Cheney has the unilateral power to declassify government information. Nifty.

The question is what other powers has W signed away to Dick under cover of secrecy? The executive orders issued by W can be found on the White House website, but are all of them there? Take a wild, leaping guess humans.

If you've been listening these past six years, you know that you and everyone else in this country isn't on a need-to-know basis with the administration's truth. Cheney is whisked around from secret locations to Studio B to exclusive vacations on a continuous basis. He doesn't do the glad-handing; that's for our Strutter-in-Chief. He's squirreled away doing the heavy lifting of policy bungling while W plays the part perfectly on tv.

So how much of this heavy lifting did W subcontract out to Cheney? W basically bragged about how he would do precisely that. With delegation comes the necessity for accountability. The only kind of accountability W brought to Washington unfortunately was the re-branding of the GAO.

Can you smell what CHB is cooking? Cheney doesn't report to anyone -- and clearly feels no need to report to his own boss, or his boss's boss: all of us. He blasted away a hunting buddy and was perfectly content to remain silent. So we hear about the Veep's shotgunning of an Austin attorney by way of an eyewitness who may or may not have actually been an eyewitness. The guy is an autocrat for whom laws and transparency are concepts of convenience. With a jello mold as president, you can be sure Cheney squeezed as much authority out of W as he could -- and we're getting another bitter taste of that.

Goes to show what kind of limited imagination John Nance Garner had. Cheney clearly isn't satisfied with warm piss. Human blood, however, yes he is.

Update: In the spirit of full disclosure, Cheney and CHB were both born in Lincoln, Nebraska. You've got to take the bitter with the better i suppose.

Monday, February 13, 2006

The Snog of Solomon

As tempted as i am to riff more on the gang that can't shoot straight (be it in the Texas bush, the Washington parlor or the Babylonian desert), i'm not yet ready to put John Solomon's poison kiss to the Democrats down yet.

As CHB earlier noted, the AP Washington Bureau's John Solomon has a history of quick-hit jobs painting Democrats in the most unflattering terms -- typically using feeds provided to him by the Republican National Committee. To some extent, all reporters are dependent on their sources. But it's one thing to request information for the sake of contextualizing it and another entirely to issue journalism rehashed from party talking points. In his latest piece Solomon notes nothing illegal or unusual by Minority Leader Reid -- and, shocking to at least one FOCHB, buried his lede by not saying until the 16th paragraph that Reid had taken no Abramoff money and that he had done nothing of note on behalf of Abramoff's clients.

A similar story by Solomon during the '04 election painted Sen. Kerry as on-the-take by collecting speaking fees from shady interests. An election year mud sling as Kerry did nothing but give a speech for his fee -- he didn't push through legislation favorable to the folks underwriting his gas-baggery, nor did he insert something happy-sounding on their behalf in the Congressional Record. Solomon fails to point out that there was no quid for all that speaking fee quo. The hints suggest otherwise, actually.

This would all be curious enough if Solomon were strictly a reporter. He isn't. In apparent violation of standard protocols at AP -- a union organization -- Solomon serves as both a reporter and editor. He is also a bureau official (last i was told he was assistant bureau chief). He has no beat of his own, per se, but is allowed to cherry pick on other reporters' beats as he sees fit.

This presents a compounded conflict of interest for Solomon. As CHB understands it, news organizations are supposed to have internal controls that prevent editorial bias from running amok. A piss-poor report has, in theory, the chance to be fixed or killed before it hits the presses -- so to speak, as AP is a newswire. But if that piss-poor report is authored and pushed through by an editor who also serves as a senior manager, what chance does the regular editorial process have to curb the obvious excesses?

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Cheney Shoots Man....Accidentally

Who knows if he was being negligent or just short-sighted, so to speak, but Dick Cheney shot a man over the weekend. This report says it was an accident, so I assume it was. But you have to wonder if Cheney would be able to pass an exam on the NRA's gun-safety rules.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Fetch me my story, intern

John Solomon's latest dispatch is attracting the attention of plenty, including Josh Marshall. Solomon, senior AP scribe in the DC bureau, has long faced accusations of GOP-leaning bias. He eats so politely from the RNC's hand, the meme goes.

And it's utterly with merit.

What is missing from the Solomon analysis, however, is knowledge of the man's towering laziness. Consider the following, from a source unmatched in CHB's wonderful universe:
but knowing what I know about solomon and how he operates (sending editorial assistants to RNC headquarters to pick up manilla envelopes filled with opposition research -- and then hammering out a damning story on it in less than an hour). well, you know.

The truth is, the stuff running under Solomon's byline can effectively serve as a barometer of sorts. One can measure the stuff of the GOP's next counter-attack. And judging from the latest, it's weak.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

What's a well connected former cabinet secretary to do?

What has Tom Ridge been up to lately?

Without the terror threat meter he so deftly weilded during the 2004 presidential election -- making us alternately crap ourselves raw and scream ourselves hoarse -- he attracts none of the spotlight that he once did. Remember when he was called a possible presidential candidate? Just goes to show how toxic service in W's administration is -- and who, beyond the Russerts of the world, really thinks Condoleezza Rice is such a terrific candidate?

Well, the pastures are greener beyond the confines of the executive cabinet. Ridge knows that; Welcome to Savi Technology, of Sunnyvale, California.

Ridge is a board member of the high-tech firm -- and no, it's not because Ridge was a highly competent programmer and radio frequencies specialist before serving as Pennsylvania's governor. He wasn't. He simply has connections out the wazoo. And they pay off for Savi -- the company was awarded a $202.5 million delivery order this week as part of a $424.5 million contract.

It was...drumroll please...a sole source contract. This means that competition -- that Darwinian advantage capitalism has over, say, cronyism or communism -- was not brooked.

Nice to see that even in retirement Ridge is helping the Bushies keep the homeland safe, one well-connected company at a time. And despite Alberto Gonzalez, who this week asserted that it was no mistake we hadn't had a 9-11 rerun, why am i still so worried about the homeland?

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

For once, Bush isn't to blame

For nigh on many months, CHB has blamed much on W.

Deservedly so, as our Peckerwood-in-Chief has helped pour more fuel on the world's raging fires while doing so much to shake America loose from its rule-of-law foundations.

Today, some blame must fall on the organizers of the Coretta Scott King funeral service. In an otherwise incredible spectacle, featuring four presidents and even Stevie Wonder, we are horrified to find Michael "Assclown" Bolton farting his way through a musical number.


Murtha, Terrorists Win: Bush Plans Cut, Run

The budget President Bush released yesterday includes no money for the war in Iraq after FY2007. That means that the President has no plans to spend money on the war starting on October 1, 2007. Since President Bush's budgets always have been honest, forthright declarations of his fiscal and other policy intentions, the most obvious explanation for omitting Iraq funding is this one: the President plans to start leaving Iraq soon, just as Rep. John Murtha (D-PA) proposed recently.

What was the point of electing George W. Bush in 2004 if he's going to go around appeasing like Murtha and other anti-military cowards?

The President's plan to cut and run means the terrrorists win!

Note for the tonally and contextually challenged: Everything above was sarcasm. I do not think the President plans to start leaving Iraq soon, just as I do not think he really plans to spend nothing on the war in Iraq (or the situation in Afghanistan) after October 1, 2007.

In fact, this President has a long and virtually uninterrupted record of releasing works of fiction (albeit rather dry ones) with a piece of paper declaring "Budget of the United States" tacked on top. In 2001 he started with the dishonest tax-cut stuff --- cuts that would "sunset" within a decade in order to mask their costs. Now---surprise, surprise---he wants to make those cuts permanent. So, you say, he's finally coming clean, right? Wrong

. In order to make the old cuts look "affordable", the President simply ignores the looming crisis in the Alternative Minimum Tax, which he knows Congress will have to deal with soon. So the tax cuts in this budget are actually very costly add-ons that no reasonable person (or even, possibly, Republican moderate) could support if the true budget situation were publicly understood.

And then there's the war funding, which every year has managed to be understated and/or ignored come budget time. Remember that inexpensive little jaunt Rummy, Wolfy, Bushie and Cheney promised? It's into several-hundred-billion-dollars territory now (and the explicit figures ignore all sorts of additional war expenses.

As for Murtha, well he's no one's anti-military guy, having supported DOD funding for decades. He's also no chicken-hawk, having served in Vietnam (though unlike the President he didn't risk flying training missions in the Texas skies).

And lastly, in case it needs to be said (after AG Gonzales's testimony yesterday, it might): no, criticizing the President's miserable performance---in fiscal policy, in prosecuting the war on terrorism, failing to catch Osama Bin Laden, on civil liberties, respect for the law, and so on---does not mean aiding terrorists.