“Sen. Conrad Burns (R-MT) and his staff met Jack Abramoff’s lobbying team on at least eight occasions and collected $12,000 in donations around the time that the lawmaker took legislative action favorable to Abramoff’s clients in the Northern Mariana Islands,” AP reports. Abramoff’s firm was helping to block new labor regulations on the islands’ numerous garment sweatshop factories.
Cheney yesterday skipped the White House Christmas party to headline a fundraiser for Rep. Tom DeLay (R-TX). Top ticket prices were $4,200, where donors could attend a VIP reception, take photographs with Cheney, and receive recognition. For $2,100, attendees could rub elbows and take photos with DeLay. Regular tickets (the lowest cost for admission) were $500.
I guess they needed people inside. You can get in pretty cheap. I didn’t want to give too much.
When DeLay is relying on feminist, anti-war protestors to fill his campaign coffers, you know his days are numbered.
“In a sharp break with the [Council on Foreign Relation's] own traditions, Bush is being allowed to speak — for 50 minutes — then leave without taking any questions. ‘Obviously, we strongly suggested — certainly made the case — that it would be in the interest of the president and in the interest of our membership that the president take questions,’ council vice president for communications Lisa Shields told me this morning. ‘But true to his format, they declined.‘”
A host of ethical scandals now plague Congress. Yesterday, four lawmakers came forward to unveil a proposal to bring integrity back to the halls of Congress.
Rep. David Obey, the ranking member on the House Appropriations Committee, joined with colleagues Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA), Rep. David Price (D-NC), and Rep. Tom Allen (D-ME) to propose “rules changes that would make it more difficult for lawmakers to sneak provisions into legislation on behalf of special interests.” They appeared together at an event hosted by the Center for American Progress to detail their reform legislation.
Afterwards, Congressmen Obey, Allen, and Price sat down with Think Progress to answer some of our questions about the ethical problems pervading Congress, from the leadership on down.
Some highlights from the interview: Read more
The right’s latest campaign to build public support for Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito? Convincing you he’s the Christmas candidate.
The right-wing Commitee for Justice yesterday began airing a radio ad in Colorado, Wisconsin, and West Virginia, trying to convince conservatives that he will lead the fight against the so-called “War on Christmas.” As slingshot.org notes, the Committee was formed at the behest of Sen. Trent Lott (R-MS) and Karl Rove to funnel business money into the Supreme Court fight. From the ad:
It’s the season when Americans celebrate our traditions of faith … and once again religious freedom is under assault. … Some courts and judges have supported this radical agenda, but not Judge Sam Alito, President Bush’s nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court. Throughout his career, Judge Alito has consistently upheld the Constitution’s protection of free religious expression. [Listen to the ad here]
Right-winger Jay Sekulow, who has helped the White House with its Supreme Court nominee strategy and chief counsel at the American Center for Law and Justice, has created his own Christmas resource center and hints that more ads pairing Alito and Christmas and attacking Alito’s critics as “anti-God” may be forthcoming:
This is going to be the dominant theme on the Alito nomination until the end of the year-the convergence of a Supreme Court nomination, the Christmas season, and a judge who has a well-staked-out position on support for religious expression.
Evidently the “well qualified” conservative argument wasn’t working well.
On Sunday, Sen. John McCain — regularly lauded for his nonpartisan “straight talk” — attacked Rep. John Murtha for having “become too emotional” over the Iraq war.
McCain was simply repeating the line he had given Byron York in an interview for the New Republic. That piece is now online, and as you’ll see below, McCain was even more personal when speaking to York:
John Murtha is “a lovable guy,” but “he’s never been a big thinker; he’s an appropriator.” Using language that Bush never could, McCain tells me that Murtha has become too emotional about the human cost of the war. “As we get older, we get more sentimental,” McCain says. “And [Murtha] has been very, very affected by the funerals and the families. But you cannot let that affect the way you decide policy.”
We’ll put aside whether 69-year-old John McCain should be referencing 73-year-old John Murtha’s age to dismiss his policy positions. But with McCain’s comments about Murtha’s intellectual capacity in mind, it’s worth noting some of Murtha’s accomplishments.
For three decades, U.S. presidents of both parties have turned to Murtha for advice on our nation’s most sensitive national security issues. For instance, he “worked closely with President George H.W. Bush” in the lead-up to the first Iraq war. Murtha also authored a highly-praised book that one reviewer described “an analytical history of defense and foreign affairs matters that Murtha has been involved in from the Vietnam War through Sept. 11.”
Pretty good for someone who’s “never been a big thinker.”
Introduced caller “Ray from New Orleans,” where, he said, “They’re getting back to normal in the city.” “Things are not returning to normal,” said Ray. “I wish you would come down here to see for yourself. … None of the things that [Bush] promised are happening.” (Via C&L)
Throughout the confirmation process, Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito has had difficulty standing by his words and taking responsibility for his actions.
For example, when he was nominated to a federal appeals court in 1990 he promised the Senate that he would recuse himself from any case involving the investment firm Vanguard because of his substantial investments with the company. In 2002, he ruled on a case involving Vanguard anyway.
Instead of taking responsibility for his actions, Alito has made excuses. In a letter sent to Alito yesterday, Sen. Ted Kennedy documented six different excuses Alito has floated to avoid taking responsibility. Here’s a summary:
1. It wasn’t really a promise. He was free to dissolve his responsibility at anytime.
2. It was an oversight.
3. It was OK because the specific investments he owned were not at issue.
4. It was OK because he “voluntarily” recused himself once a complaint was filed.
5. It was a “harmless error.”
6. It didn’t matter because the defendant was representing herself.
These excuses are contradictory and irrelevant. But biggest concern is not that his excuses are bad but that he’s taken the time to make so many. It is essential for Supreme Court justices accept accountability for their words and actions. Alito has shown he has trouble doing either.
UPDATE: Read more
“Two CIA secret prisons were operating in Eastern Europe until last month when they were shut down following Human Rights Watch reports of their existence in Poland and Romania. Current and former CIA officers speaking to ABC News on the condition of confidentiality say the United States scrambled to get all the suspects off European soil before Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice arrived there today.”