Archive for May 2007
Not that we could possibly have had anything whatever to do with it, BUT….
The U.S. Justice Department has notified Arkansas’s congressional delegation that Interim Eastern District U.S. Attorney Tim Griffin is resigning effective Friday, June 1. Jane Duke will become acting U.S. attorney. (This is the assistant in the office who the Justice Department once had said had to be passed over as an interim appointee because of her pregnancy. Since it’s illegal to discriminate on account of pregnancy, Justice had to back off this statement.)
Still no word from the White House on selection of a nominee to put through the Senate confirmation process from a slate sent up by Rep. John Boozman.
“This is long overdue and a positive development,” said Michael Teague, a spokesman for U.S. Sen. Mark Pryor. “Credibility is being restored to the leadership postion at the U.S. attorney’s office. We have confidence Jane Duke will do a good job.”
Yeah, it is. And she probably will. So whassup? Was Pryor putting the heat on? And why would anybody, least of all Griffin, care if he was?
I would certainly like to hear the 411 on this development. At this hour, nothing in the big papers or at TPM. Could we have – ?
Noooo……. Could we?
(Link courtesy Avedon Carol)
People for the American Way are reporting that Bush has just nominated yet another racist, sexist, anti-labor judge to a seat on the Federal bench, this time for the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals.
President Bush has nominated Leslie Southwick to fill a seat on the US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. Bush previously tried to fill the seat with Charles Pickering and then Michael Wallace, both of whom faced significant opposition due to their disturbing legal records, especially on civil rights.
“Regrettably, Southwick also has a troubling record and appears to be cut from the same cloth as the others,” said Ralph G. Neas, President of People For the American Way. “First Pickering, then Wallace, and now Southwick – Bush has completely struck out on the Fifth Circuit.”
Found in today’s NYT: “Some Hitherto Staunch G.O.P. Voters Souring on Iraq“:
While a majority of Republican voters continue to support Mr. Bush and the Iraq war, including the recent increase in American troops deployed, there are concerns that the war is undermining the party’s political position.
Would some one please explain to the Times that that train done left the station, like, a year ago?
Republicans are now officially OUT. Of favor, of time, of patience. The country (see, “election, Nov ’06”) has had it. We’re fed up to the teeth with the whole clinically-insane lot of them. With their wars and their stupidity and their greed and their theivery, with their nutbag theories and their bragging and their lies and their lack of connection to any kind of actual, observable reality – all of it.
Maybe we ought to re-name it the New York Times-Warp.
There has been some concern – probably not enough – over Bush’s recent signing of Directive 51. Directive 51 effectively moves responsibility for the management of a “catastrophic emergency” from FEMA and other scattered Federal depts into a single locus – the White House.
Pam Spaulding at pendagon titled her post on this, “Bush: dictator with a stroke of a pen” and called the Directive a “power grab”. In a typical response like several I got in my email over the weekend, one writer put it this way:
“On May 9th, 2007, Bush declared himself dictator, with Directive #51. With any catastrophic event as determined by President Bush, he is able to take over all 3 branches of government until he determines the catastrophe is over. Maybe somebody jaywalking could activate the catastrophe.
Well, it’s not going to be that easy but one takes his point. Loosely constructed and loosely construed, Directive 51 could give Bush dictatorial power if interpreted incorrectly, there’s not much doubt about that. What is in doubt is whether it really gives him the power it seems to.
Those of you not getting Witness via RSS will have noticed a few changes to the sidebar, viz.: a whole new collection of links to “Serial Fiction” blogs. Well, three links, actually. Not so many as to justify the word “collection”, but I digress. Oh, and a new link to an old blog.
Briefly, I discovered, much to my surprise and amazement, that Squarespace Hosting did not after all delete the old Resistance blog. It did delete everything I uploaded – photos and resource materials, most of them in pdf. format – but the blog itself remained intact.
Long story short, I re-animated it. Read the rest of this entry »
I have been hinting (here and here) that the Gonzo tumult is a distraction from the main event: Karl Rove’s use of the Justice Dept to provide cover for his planned theft of the 2008 election. While the Congress – and the country – wastes its time and energy trying to get Gonzo Al to resign (we know Bush won’t fire him under any circumstances), Rove’s USA replacements are gearing up for an election full of dirty tricks and illegal rights-embezzling.
Why, for example, was it so damned important to get a legal non-entity like Tim Griffin into a USA spot in a potential swing state that Harriet Miers was willing to pressure top Rove political aide Sara Taylor (who resigned today, perhaps feeling the investigators breathing down her neck and seeing the writing on the wall) to lean on Kyle Sampson and Monica Goodling to fire Bud Cummins so Timmy could have his job?
Let’s see, shall we?
We all know about movement conservatives’ mania for “personal responsibility” – if somebody of limited means overextends their credit and gets hit with massive hidden charges or makes their payments late and gets hit with outlandish late fees, why, that’s their “responsibility” and they should have known better. Now they have to pay the price of their ignorance.
We also know that the concept of “responsibility” does not extend to corporations as far as they’re concerned. If corporations duck taxes or make their profits look bigger than they are through unethical accounting tricks a la Enron, WorldCom, Tyco, et al, why, that’s not something they need to take “responsibility” for and regulators need to get off their backs. In fact, armies of lobbyists will descend on legislators to argue that the poor corporations are victims of governmental abuse and in need of relief.
The Republican-dominated SEC (Securities and Exchange Commission) which is supposed to regulate corporate financial accounting to make them “responsible” and keep them from stealing from their investors, the Treasury, and us, apparently agrees. Led by Bush appointee Christopher Cox, it just disemboweled the Sarbanes-Oxley law passed a few years ago to prevent more Enrons and Arthur Andersons.
Evidence has come to light over the past month that the so-called “incompetence” of the Federal response to Katrina is anything but. It has been a calculated effort led by Karl Rove to turn Louisiana from a Democratic state into a Republican state by destroying New Orleans, but it may backfire.
Two weeks ago the WaPo reported that roughly a quarter of a million people are suing the Federal government for damages, claiming that the Army Corps of Engineers screwed up the building of the levees, dams, in fact the whole New Orleans water delivery system.
Ever since the floodwaters receded, the idea that the U.S. government was to blame for the Katrina catastrophe has possessed and angered its victims.
A legion of lawn signs, posted in front of many wrecked homes, wagged a finger at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the federal agency responsible for the flood works: “Hold the Corps accountable!”
Turns out it was more than mere talk. After a massive deadline filing rush recently that is still being sorted through, the United States is facing legal claims from more than 250,000 people here demanding compensation because, they allege, the Corps negligently designed the waterworks that permeate the city.
[O]fficials said the damage claimed against the Corps exceeds $278 billion, an amount that dwarfs even the estimated $125 billion that the federal government has put up for Gulf Coast hurricane recovery.
Win or lose, the volume of claims is a measure of the prevalent sense in this city that the United States created the disaster and that, worse, it has failed to make up for it in disaster aid.
“This was the largest catastrophe in the history of the United States, and people want justice,” said Joseph M. Bruno, one of the plaintiffs’ attorneys handling the case in federal court.
The corporatization of American culture has just taken another step toward total immersion.
Tomorrow, Coca-Cola is opening what I think is our first corporate “museum”. Called, modestly enough, The World of Coca-Cola, it mimics a real museum in every respect with exhibits, Coke-related art, historic “artifacts” (their word), and dioramas. There’s even a movie theater where you can watch old Coke commercials, no doubt while a stentorian voice in the background drones on about the cultural significance of Coke ads. Other companies have built paeans to themselves stocked with “memorabilia” but Coke is the first one I know of to dedicate an entire building to itself and call it a “museum”. It replaces the old WoCC near Atlanta’s underground, a much smaller place that never had museumistical pretensions.
Not content with slapping their names all over everything in sight in exchange for cash, our corporatocracy is now attaching to itself the same mantle of historic and cultural significance as, say, the Smithsonian or the Huntington, equating its ads with folk art and its Art-Deco lunch-boxes with Egyptian ceremonial jars.
What a difference an “R” makes.
In talking to people around me and reading blog comments, I’ve realized that there’s a significant misunderstanding about our voting problems and it all revolves around a single letter: R.
People seem to think that the phrases “vote fraud” and “voter fraud” mean the same thing. They don’t. We need to clear that up before we can move on to the main business here – that the firing of the USA’s is about stealing the 2008 election.
Voter fraud: fraud perpetrated by voters. IOW, somebody pretending to be somebody s/he’s not or pretending to be eligible when s/he’s not. You know, like in Chicago in the old days when the Mayor’s Machine turned out hundreds of people who used phony documents to vote numerous times in the same election.
But that was in the pre-electronic days (almost the pre-electric days) when such things were not just possible but easy. Voter fraud hasn’t been a problem since the 50’s, pretty much, and recent investigations of suspected voter fraud turned up NOTHING. No evidence of a widespread movement. No evidence of a tiny organized cadre. No evidence. Period. As Royal Masset, the former political director of the Republican Party of Texas, put it in the Houston Chronicle, among Republicans it is an “article of religious faith that voter fraud is causing us to lose elections.” Not fact. Not proof. Certainly not on the basis of evidence. Faith.
Voter fraud simply doesn’t exist except in the paranoid ravings of rabid Republican extremists – you know, the people who run the GOP these days: Karl Rove, Grover Norquist, Karl Rove, James Dobson, Karl Rove, the Texas Republican party, and everybody who reports to Karl Rove – which is, as we’ve been learning lately, pretty much everybody in the Bush govt.
Vote fraud (no “r”): fraud perpetrated on the voting process. IOW, an attempt – usually by a political party and its operatives – to subvert an election in order to obtain a victory they would otherwise not enjoy. IOOW, to steal it.
Unlike voter fraud, vote fraud is very, very real. The evidence isn’t just available, it’s overwhelming.
Which brings us to Greg Palast.
In an interview with the online zine BUZZFLASH’s Mark Karlin, Palast – who broke the story of the wholesale suppression of minority voting rights in Florida in 2000 – was asked if the 2008 election was going to be stolen and replied, “It already has been.”
The prosecutor firings were 100% about influencing elections — not about loyalty to Bush, which is what The New York Times wrote. The administration team couldn’t tolerate appointees who wouldn’t go along with crime. In the book I present the evidence that Karl Rove directed a guy named Tim Griffin to target suppressing the votes of African American students, homeless men, and soldiers. Nice guy. They actually challenged the votes and successfully removed tens of thousands of legal voters from the voter rolls, same as they did in 2000. But instead of calling them felons, they said that they had suspect addresses.
In case you thought it did, the Plame Case hasn’t gone away. Buried beneath the unsurprising news that the Bush Administration’s political office (read: Karl Rove) originally wanted to fire not 9 USA’s but 30 and that Paul Wolfowitz is out after gaming the system for his girlfriend and doing absolutely nothing he promised to do when he was hired (corruption and broken promises being the hallmark of neoconservatives everywhere), the Joe Wilson/Valerie Plame lawsuit filed against Li’l Dick, Scooter, MC Rove, and Dick Armitage is actually in court. Sort of.
Led by SCOTUS Judge Sam Alito’s former law clerk and current Dep Asst AG in Gonzo’s civil division, Jeffrey Bucholtz, govt lawyers went before U.S. District Judge John D. Bates and asked him to dismiss the case. Their reason for dismissal? Pure D-for-Dick “Unitary Presidency” Cheney:
[A]ny conversations Cheney and the officials had about Plame with one another or with reporters were part of their normal duties because they were discussing foreign policy and engaging in an appropriate “policy dispute.” Cheney’s attorney went further, arguing that Cheney is legally akin to the president because of his unique government role and has absolute immunity from any lawsuit.
The judge, who apparently wasn’t sure he was hearing right, wanted to make certain he understood what they were saying.
“So you’re arguing there is nothing — absolutely nothing — these officials could have said to reporters that would have been beyond the scope of their employment,” whether the statements were true or false?
“That’s true, Your Honor. Mr. Wilson was criticizing government policy,” said Jeffrey S. Bucholtz, deputy assistant attorney general for the Justice Department’s civil division. “These officials were responding to that criticism.”
Now, before I go on I have to note that asking for a dismissal is a standard defense tactic nowadays, and that many defense lawyers will do it, especially in high-profile cases, even if they don’t think they’ve got a snowball’s chance in hell of winning the argument. That, in turn, has led to them often coming up with some pretty creative legal grounds for the dismissal that have little to do with legal precedent and everything to do with desperation. There was, for instance, the famous example of a lawyer who claimed that one of her cases should be dismissed because a proper defense would require her to call the plaintiff’s dog to the witness stand.
This might be one of those “It sucks but this is the best we’ve got” arguments, but I don’t think so. Read the rest of this entry »
Here’s a good one. Fidelity Investments, a mutual funds outfit headquartered in Boston, was recently praised for divesting itself of stocks in companies that are either accused or guilty of human rights violations and have ties to the regime in Khartoum. In a panic, it called a press conference to reassure its clients that it hadn’t suddenly developed a social conscience.
Fidelity Investments, which has long sought to distance its investment choices from political questions, said yesterday its sharp reductions of holdings in oil companies targeted by human-rights activists over their ties to Sudan’s rulers were not a coordinated corporate response to the criticism.
Rather, said Anne Crowley, a spokeswoman for the Boston mutual-fund giant, the sales were decided by the managers of individual Fidelity funds. Each “works to take into account factors that could have an appreciable impact on the potential return of the stock in the short term or the long term,” Crowley said. “Fidelity doesn’t tell fund managers how or when to buy or sell any given stock,” she said.
Those “account factors”, Crowley insisted, did NOT include irrelevant matters such as whether or not the corporations they invested in bankrolled genocide, torture, and assassination – although she didn’t use those words, of course.
But critics weren’t buying it.