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The Bush Library: Control of History to Save a Sorry Image

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George W Bush, as I have argued many times, has been a spectacularly successful president – if your definition of “successful” includes turning the govt into a sort of combination National Chamber of Commerce and corporate wish-list enforcer. He has virtually gotten everything he’s asked for, usually on his own terms. He had a rubber-stamp Republican Congress for 6 of his 8 years and even when the Democrats won it back in ’06 largely due to the way his ultraconservative, pro-corporate policies devastated the country, they continued to give him pretty much everything he wanted, including FISA, telecom immunity, more troops in Iraq (anybody remember “the surge”?) and worker- and environment-unfriendly trade deals.

But once he’s gone, history is not going to look kindly on him. He hasn’t left yet and already they aren’t. The reasons are simple: his success has been a disaster for the nation in every important area one can think of. Surprisingly, that’s not how he sees it. For example, he’s currently running around insisting that the odious, destructive NCLB has been a major success and even had the gall to warn Obama not to mess with it.

Bush argued that No Child Left Behind has “forever changed America’s school systems” for the better, forcing accountability on failing public schools and leading to measurable improvements among poor and minority students. [There's no evidence whatever it has done any such thing, but since when would a lack of proof stop Bush?]

“I firmly believe that, thanks to this law, students are learning, an achievement gap is closing,” Bush told the audience at General Philip Kearny School.

He also suggested that Obama, who has vowed to overhaul the program, should tread carefully before following through on promises of reform. “There is a growing consensus across the country that now is not the time to water down standards or to roll back accountability,” Bush said.

No, there isn’t. There’s a growing consensus that NCLB has been an utter failure and needs to be re-vamped. Personally, I think it’s so bad there’s no saving it. We ought to throw it out and start over.

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Rove Takes Over The SMU Library/Propaganda Center

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Andrew Weaver writes at Media Transparency that Karl Rove is sitting in the middle of the Bush Library-Institute at SMU (Southern Methodist University) like a spider sitting in the middle of a web.

Bush’s trickster, Karl Rove, “is planning to take charge…of the design, fundraising, and planning” of the Bush presidential complex at SMU. Benjamin Johnson, a history professor at SMU, attended the 2007 annual meeting of the Organization of American Historians. Several colleagues there reported that Karl Rove had been traveling around the country examining research facilities and discussing how to select Bush institute fellows (Johnson, 2007a). One prominent library director said, “Rove seems to know exactly what the square footage is of the building that will be at SMU and where it will be located on campus” (Johnson, 2007a).

Mark Langdale, president of the Bush library foundation recently confirmed that Rove is advising the organization, stating that he is “a critical resource about what happened in the administration, and he has a lot of good ideas about programming and positioning” (Meyers, 2008). This hands-on involvement by Rove demonstrates the importance of the proposed think tank at SMU to Bush insiders.

Unless the UMC takes a stand, neither SMU nor the UMC will have any say over the actions, agenda, or direction of an autonomous $500 million partisan-driven complex at one of its major universities. Karl Rove, who has a long history of hard-ball partisanship, will be in charge and he will roll out a giant Trojan horse and push it right through the front gate. The 99 year lease for a single dollar with a 249 year option (that the Bush foundation has required) means that after July, 2008 the next chance for the church to address the issue is the year 2357 (Peck, 2008).

Which means, of course, that this is the last effective time the Methodist Church will have a chance to challenge the erection of a propaganda center on their campus that will have as its goal the propagation of the Bush Agenda – torture, Constitution-trashing, monarchical presidential power, preemptive war, falsified intelligence, corporate toadying, etc – ruled over by the conscienceless man who made it happen with trickery, deceit, lies, and thievery. It will, as Andrew writes, “recruit, train, support, organize and deploy the next generation of right-wing political operatives.”

And all of it under Rove’s command.

If that doesn’t scare you, read the rest of the article.

Written by Mick

June 21, 2008 at 4:05 pm

Posted in Bush Library, Rove

The Bush Library (7): The Legal Battle

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With Bishop Jones fronting for the Bush family and scorning the wishes and feelings of his own church membership, the effort to stop the Bush Propaganda Center is moving toward the courtroom. Bush’s insistence on siting the Propaganda Center at SMU despite the vote of the UMC’s GC rejecting it has created a legal problem for the Methodist Church. Andrew Weaver explains (from an email).

Our legal team tells us that we need to go to court to give us the best chance to protect the property rights and voting rights of the 290 Jurisdictional Conference delegates who are the elected representatives of the property owners, i.e., the 1.83 million UMC members of the South Central Jurisdiction (SCJ).

Unfortunately, the legal effort needs a member of the SCJ to come forward and act as the plaintiff. That hasn’t happened. Why?

Many fear the consequences to their future ministry if they appear to challenge their bishop, while others fear being countersued by the Bush Foundation.

With the Mafia-like scare tactics and intimidation typical of the Bush family’s dealings since Grandaddy Prentiss played kissy-kiss with the Nazis, George W and Karl Rove have effectively squashed the threat that for once they might have to obey an inconvenient law. With a tame bishop in their pockets and an on-retainer legal team, each ready to punish any Methodist who dares listen to his/her conscience instead of George W Bush, it seems that the Bush family will get away with flouting the law – this time church law - yet again.

Jim Hightower reported last month that Bush has ex-campaign shyster and all-round political hardman Karl Rove setting up the Library/Propaganda Center.

The Bushites have cut a deal with SMU executives to locate his presidential library on this private campus in one of Dallas’s wealthiest neighborhoods. They’ve targeted some Arab oil kingdoms, corporate chieftains, and wealthy heiresses to be the “megadonors” they need to raise half-a-billion bucks to establish George’s ex-presidential palace.

This one is to be markedly different than the usual complex of library, museum, and policy institute that other presidents have built. First (and unsurprisingly), rather than placing the full archive of the administration’s papers in the SMU complex so historians and others have access, Bush is to have a heavily-censored, anti-academic library. None other that Karl Rove will help with the censoring, making sure that historians only peruse documents that cast the Bush-Cheney regime in a glowing light.

(emphasis added)

Rev Weaver notes:

The majority of the delegates feel they can live with the library, even with its current limitation — censorship by the president and his heirs in perpetuity through his Executive Order 13233, signed soon after 9/11.  What many delegates are disturbed by and will vote against is the partisan think-tank to honor George Bush, which is being organized by Karl Rove.  Neither SMU nor the United Methodist Church will have any control over the direction of the partisan institute, and that deeply troubles many. 

So Karl Rove, as we reported some time ago, is going to be the connecting link between the so-called “library” and the Propaganda Center, making sure, in effect, that the library ignores scholarship for Bush worship and the “institute/think tank” ignores thinking for mindlessly pimping W’s policies and ideology. Which includes, Weaver reminds us, his ceaseless support for torture. Weaver makes the argument, as guest blogger at Wallwritings, that “Torture Is Not a Methodist Family Value“. After a short history of Bush’s advocacy of torture and Methodist founder John Wesley’s condemnation of it, Weaver writes:

President Bush refers to himself a “proud Methodist”, but he has shown little sign of contrition, regret or repentance for his personal behavior which violates Methodist standards set long ago by John Wesley. Instead, Bush attempts to justify himself and place a shield of protection around government officials who use torture. 

W may identify himself as a “proud Methodist”, but as investigative reporter Joe Esterhaz proved in his book American Rhapsody and others have confirmed, George W Bush doesn’t attend a Methodist Church and hasn’t since he became born-again under the tutelage of theatrical fundie Arthur Blessit.

Whenever Bush got into trouble, it wasn’t Billy Graham or Methodist preachers he ran to for solace and counsel, it was Pat Robertson and Bob Jones. I began to suspect that Bush’s Methodism was part of Karl Rove’s For Campaign Purposes Only “compassionate conservative” illusion and that he was really a fundamentalist in disguise, a far-right-winger playing to the center. Then, when Graham himself debunked Bush’s account after the publication of W’s campaign biography, ghost-written by a sports writer named Mickey Herskowitz, I knew it.

The idea that the Bush family itself is Methodist in any legitimate sense must of necessity be questioned when we consider, say, Poppy’s unusually close relationship with whacko fundie Rev Moon. A relationship so close that he hosted Moon at his presidential library in (where else?) Texas after Moonie “interests” donated $$1M$$ to said library.

The fiction that any member of the Bush family is actually and in reality Methodist has persisted right to the present day even though there isn’t an iota of evidence to support the proposition from any quarter. Poppy and Barb are Moonies, and W is a born-again fundie evangelist whose chief spiritual advisor is the guy who thinks hurricanes are caused by homosexuality.

Given that his Methodism is now a busted myth, why all the determination to make sure the library gets sited at a Methodist university? The answer is simple, especially if you’ve ever studied the way Bush and Rove do things: it’s cover.

Rove helped Bush to run the most secretive presidency in US history because he knew bloody well that if the public caught on to the real Bush agenda, we’d throw them out on their asses. So it was common for Rove to provide cover to distract or hide their real policies: Orwellian names (“Healthy Forest” for a bill opening public lands to commercial logging), foxes in charge of henhouses (a corporate lawyer who specialized in breaking unions appointed to head the Labor Dept), and the standard Bush bait-and-switch (promising to increase funding for Pell Grants days before he cut them out of his budget). This is simply another cover.

Rove and Bush both know that if the Methodists knew what was actually going to go on at the Propaganda Center, they’d revolt. But Bush needs the reputation of the Methodists as centrists and mainstream religious bi-partisans in order to provide his radically ideological “institute” with a patina of legitimacy. “We can’t be cranks, we’re part of a Methodist university.”

IOW, the Methodist Church is being used by the Bushes. It is to be the sheep’s-clothing under which the wolf hides so unsuspecting prey will think they’re safe and wander close enough to be eaten. Is that the role the UMC wants to play? Clearly not, but Bush is in an apparent position to force them to be his “beard” whether they like it or not.

Not that the opposition is giving up. They have an alternate plan.

Over the past several months we have systematically analyzed the 290 delegates of the SCJ with the help of delegates or clergy from each annual conference.  I have personally spoken with over 40 delegates.  We identified about 130 progressives, 100 conservatives and 60 moderates in the 11 annual conferences.   We need 146 votes to win.  If we can educate the delegates about the dangers of the Bush partisan think thank to the academic integrity of SMU and the good name of our church, we can win the vote.  Most United Methodists, including most bishops, are people who seek to do what is right and good.

I wish them luck.

Written by Mick

May 10, 2008 at 2:21 pm

Calling it Quits and Other Scams

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Ex-Wisconsin Gov Tommy Thompson has ended his quixotic bid to be president, which is going to come as a shock to those of you who didn’t know he was running. Poor Tommy. He couldn’t even get his dog to take him seriously.

On a lighter note, Karl Rove has become the latest in a slew of escapists to bail out of the Bush Administration one step ahead of a subpoena. Best Post Title Award goes to cul heath of ratboy’s anvil, who sums it up nicely.

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Tony Auth

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Jim Borgman

In other significant news:

The Washington Post devotes three precious pages of yesterday’s Business section to the importance of upscale grocery stores to the economy.

Linda Chavez proves once again that Republican gullibility is, to all intents and purposes, a bottomless pit.

Giant Bluefin tuna near extinction thanks to Bush policies deregulating commercial fishing.

Musical chairs CEO game continues as Chrysler hires fired and disgraced ex-Home Depot CEO Robert Nardelli as its new chief. If he does for them what he did for HD, Chrysler will be bankrupt in 6 months and Nardelli will walk away with yet another record-breaking severence package.

Google allows corporate shills to counter negative news stories with positive propaganda.

Bush privatization drive stymied by renegade EEOC.

Written by Mick

August 14, 2007 at 11:04 am

Posted in Aggregator, Rove

How Congress Could Jail Rove & Miers TOMORROW and Why They Should

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Cheney’s absurd notion of unlimited executive power – which is what the so-called “Unitary Executive Theory” amounts to, as Bush’s latest power grab makes inarguable – is forcing a Constitutional crisis. The central notion of what I will call the “Cheney Doctrine” that executive privilege, as Scott Horton put it, “trumps” the Constitution seems to have left the Congress with no alternatives to forcing accountability from the Administration except for criminal contempt citations.

We know what will happen if Miers & Rove et al are served with them: they’ll be ignored on the grounds of executive privilege and the Congress will have to go to court in a system packed with irresponsible Republican judges to enforce both the citations and the original subpoenas Bush has declared invalid. Either that or he’ll pardon them, making the issue moot. Meanwhile, the witnesses whose testimony is crucial to discovering the truth about this Administration hide safely behind the walls of presidential protection like Mafia hitters hiding behind the Code of Omerta.

It looks like a Mexican standoff, but Rutgers law professor Frank Askin says in a WaPo op-ed today that there’s another option to the contempt dance that at once asserts Congressional power and puts the Administration into a PR bind it won’t be easy for them to get out of: either branch of the Congress can have its sergeant-at-arms arrest those who refuse to answer a Congressional subpoena and throw them in the DC jail.

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Written by Mick

July 21, 2007 at 5:09 pm

Courageous Reporter Busts Self

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New York Times reporter Michael Gordon, their Man in Baghdad, wrote a courageous article in yesterday’s paper condemning his own reporting. Gordon, who was the first to accept Karl Rove’s latest rhetorical trick wherein the confusing host of insurgent groups in Iraq is re-labeled “Al Qaeda” for clarity, and then authored a series of reports based on the assumption that the trick was an actual description, criticized the very trick he had been using without once mentioning it was him who’d been using it.

[Bush's] references to Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia, and his assertions that it is the same group that attacked the United States in 2001, have greatly oversimplified the nature of the insurgency in Iraq and its relationship with the Qaeda leadership.

There is no question that the group is one of the most dangerous in Iraq. But Mr. Bush’s critics argue that he has overstated the Qaeda connection in an attempt to exploit the same kinds of post-Sept. 11 emotions that helped him win support for the invasion in the first place.

Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia did not exist before the Sept. 11 attacks. The Sunni group thrived as a magnet for recruiting and a force for violence largely because of the American invasion of Iraq in 2003, which brought an American occupying force of more than 100,000 troops to the heart of the Middle East, and led to a Shiite-dominated government in Baghdad.

Gordon, who is famous for re-writing Rove’s press releases without any sort of independent investigation or evaluation as to their veracity or accuracy, adopted Rove’s term-change from “the insurgents” to “Al Qaeda” the same day it was announced by Bush and has been pushing it in his reporting ever since. Yesterday’s article makes it clear that, as a conscientious newsman, he is no longer going to accept such shoddy journalism from himself.

“Michael Gordon”, Gordon said in an interview today with this site’s editor, “has been shamelessly shilling for an Administration with a penchant for telling lies, and I, for one, am not going to put up with it any more.”

Speaking from Baghdad via AIM (his avatar is a cartoon of Pinocchio whose nose grows as Gordon types), Mr Gordon explained that Gordon’s slack, sloppy approach was an insult to the whole concept of professional journalism.

“This business of Gordon’s simply copying press releases and and military PR handouts and then printing them without asking a single question or verifying a single fact,” Gordon grunted in disgust, “has to stop. It brings our whole profession into disrepute, and I can no longer just sit by and watch Michael Gordon destroy our credibility and the trust our readers put in us. It’s a disgrace and I’m calling him on it.”

Asked if he expected Gordon to defend himself in the light of these revelations, Gordon replied, “I doubt he has the guts.”

Written by Mick

July 14, 2007 at 6:09 pm

Posted in Humor/Satire, Iraq, Media, Rove

Our Three Presidents and Who Does What

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Back in the dim, dark days of 2000 when Dick Cheney chose himself to be Bush’s running mate out of a field of thousands, you may remember that there was some relief expressed in both the press and the blogosphere that the inexperienced lout would have a Vice President with experience and “gravitas” (remember that word?). Those of us aware of Cheney’s past and Halliburton’s present were appalled. Our counter was – “Who are we electing, exactly? Who’s going to run the show, Bush or Cheney?” We suspected that the inept Texas Gov would get run over top of by the hard-right machine of a man who’d cut his teeth in the Nixon White House and learned where the ropes-and-pulleys of power were under Reagan.

We sort of forgot that question over the next few years as Bush became the public face of every decision and Cheney hid out in his bunker, emerging only occasionally to make the rounds of the propaganda networks, Fox and CNN, to insist, in that flat, gray, voice that brooked no questions let alone dissension or argument, on the certainty of WMD’s in Iraq before retreating behind a wall of secrecy and rumors of ill health that bubbled into the public sphere through layers of leaks in a process eerily reminiscent of the last few Soviet Premiers before Gorbachev.

It seems we were right to be concerned and wrong to let Cheney escape the spotlight for so long. More than that, we underestimated the extent to which an inexperienced, not very bright president who, like a lazy middle manager in a branch bank, saw his role primarily as one of delegating responsibility to other people, was willing to turn power over to others with stronger presences and less malleable opinions.

As a result, we wound up, it seems, not with one president but with three co-presidents: Bush, Cheney, and Karl Rove.

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Written by Mick

June 25, 2007 at 11:19 am

Stealing ’08: Why Tim Griffin’s Appointment Was So Important

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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?

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Written by Mick

May 28, 2007 at 2:20 pm

Stealing the ‘08 Election: Rove and Reconstruction After Katrina

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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.

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Written by Mick

May 24, 2007 at 12:04 pm

Greg Palast: “The 2008 Election Has Already Been Stolen”

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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.

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Written by Mick

May 22, 2007 at 2:22 am

Cheney Lawyers Claim “Absolute Immunity” in Plame Suit

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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.

(emphasis added)

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 »

Written by Mick

May 18, 2007 at 3:28 pm

The Bush Privacy Board 2: Davis Resigns Over WH Revisions

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This will undoubtedly be buried by the sudden resignation of Paul McNulty, Gonzo’s No 2 in Justice and the man who seems increasingly to be at the center of the USA firing scandal, due to what he calls “‘financial realities’ brought on by ‘college-age children and two decades of public service’” (of course that’s the reason), but there was another resignation today, and it’s potentially more significant than McNulty’s expected bail-out.

Lanny Davis, the only Democrat on the five-member White House Privacy and Civil Liberties Board (you can find brief profiles of the other Board members here), released his letter of resignation to the press, citing what amounts to a charge that the WH watchdog group with Congressionally-mandated responsibility for protecting civil rights has instead been subverting them for months, abandoning its oversight role to see itself instead as “wholly part of the White House staff and political structure.”

In recent months, Davis has had numerous clashes with fellow board members and White House officials over what he saw as administration attempts to control the panel’s agenda and edit its public statements, according to board members who asked not to be identified talking about internal matters. He also cited in his letters criticisms by the former co-chairs of the September 11 commission, Thomas Kean and Lee Hamilton, that the board had interpreted its mandate too narrowly and was refusing to investigate issues such as the treatment of detainees in Guantanamo Bay and elsewhere around the world.

Davis’s frustration reached a peak last month when White House lawyers engaged in what he described in his letter as “substantial” edits of the board’s annual report to Congress. Davis charged that a majority of the board sought to remove an extensive discussion of recent findings by the Justice Department’s inspector general of FBI abuses in the uses of so-called “national security letters” to obtain personal data on U.S. citizens without a court order. He also charged that the White House counsel’s office wanted to strike language stating that the panel planned to investigate complaints from civil liberties groups that the Justice Department had improperly used a “material witness statute” to lock up terror suspects for lengthy periods of time without charging them with any crimes.

That White House Counsel is, of course, Fred Fielding, who cut his teeth on president-protecting in the Nixon WH during Watergate, refined his skills in the Reagan WH during Iran/Contra, and is currently behind the claim that every conceivable piece of paper or electronic transmission that ever passed through a WH office is protected from Congressional scrutiny by “executive privilege”, even the Secret Service-kept logs recording who went in and out. Mr Fielding’s definition of the ground covered by executive privilege is so broad, so all-encompassing, that if Bush’s tame SCOTUS were to uphold it, no president would ever again have to divulge anything or comply with Congressional subpoenas in any way, shape, or form. Ever.

In Fielding’s view, the royal prerogatives of a King and the executive privileges of a president are synonymous.

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Written by Mick

May 15, 2007 at 11:26 am

The Week in Bush: Gitmo, Warrantless Wiretaps, and Inspecting Inspectors (Updated)

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This has been a week in which the Bushies have pulled out all the stops. Under siege from every direction, it seems, up to and including their own party, and in the face of scandals, investigations, and tumbling approval numbers, the White House has significantly stepped up its war against – us.

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Written by Mick

May 3, 2007 at 2:20 pm

Bush Acknowledges Congress’ Right To Weigh In on War

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That’s the headline in today’s WaPo.

So this is what we’ve come to. It’s front-page news worthy of a headline in a major paper when Bush  admits the Congress is Constitutional and nobody seems to think that’s a tad…odd.

“The Congress is exercising its legitimate authority as it sees fit right now,” Bush said. “I just disagree with their decisions. I think setting an artificial timetable for withdrawal is a significant mistake. It sends mixed signals and bad signals to the region, and to the Iraqi citizens.”

The reason this is news is that the “White House” – no attribution as to exactly who sent these things out – has been saying the opposite for weeks.

These answers seem to fly in the face of White House statements that the House and Senate war-funding bills — which include dates for the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq — are both misguided and unconstitutional. On March 19, the White House threatened to veto the House bill, which would require U.S. combat troops to leave Iraq by Aug. 31, 2008, and said it would “infringe on the President’s constitutional authority as Commander in Chief to manage the readiness and availability of the Armed Forces.”

The White House raised similar constitutional concerns about the Senate legislation, which sets a goal of withdrawing troops by March 31, 2008.

So the Emperor doesn’t even control his own WH’s public statements? Who does? Wouldn’t be the Dynamic Duo DC/KR, by any chance?

Written by Mick

April 16, 2007 at 11:47 am

The Bush Library 3: Rove in Charge, SMU Flushing Its Rep?

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Via Benjamin Johnson at the Bush Library Blog comes the news that intellectual and ethically-challenged democracy bete-noir Karl Rove has been spending a bunch of his precious time dealing not with Gonzo or the DoJ Scandal or the Emperor’s abysmal poll numbers or the Republicans’ self-immolation or the Iraq mess but with the much-ballyhooed Bush Library.

Last weekend while at the ever-scintillating meeting of the Organization of American Historians I ran into a few friends in administrative positions at research libraries. The Bush people, they told me, have been scoping out research facilities, taking a look at how institutions try to set themselves up to house both archival records open to a wide range of researchers and provide a productive working environment for fellows. The person leading this effort was nobody other than Karl Rove, the President’s chief political strategist, and — whether you like him or not — undeniably one of the great political geniuses of American history. Rove is personally going around to these libraries, meeting with their directors and checking out their facilities. According to one colleague, he seems to know exactly what the square footage of the building will be and where it will be located on campus.

I don’t know whether to laugh or cry. The picture conjured up of one of the nastiest, most unscrupulous political dirtbags since Lee Atwater running what is supposed to be a public institution for historical research is enough to make you either gag or dissolve into giggles.

I mean, Karl Rove? In charge of a presidential library? Good grief. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Mick

April 11, 2007 at 12:06 pm

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