The House Democratic caucus voted tonight to strip Rep. William Jefferson (D-LA) of his seat on the Ways & Means Committee. Jefferson is currently under criminal investigation for allegedly accepting bribes to help a technology company win several contracts and business deals. He had been asked to voluntarily give up the seat but refused.
CNN Headline News host Glenn Beck reacts to the possibility that global warming could lead to the flooding of Shanghai and surrounding areas, home to 40 million people: “Does anybody really care? I mean, come on. Shanghai is under water. Oh, no! Who’s gonna make those little umbrellas for those tropical drinks?”
Press Secretary Tony Snow acknowledged recently that his retirement plan is based on his prior membership in a union — the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists. Without a union, Snow would have had to rely on Social Security. AFL-CIO notes the irony.
Kevin Drum says “the Supreme Court has decided to eviscerate the Bill of Rights a bit further today.”
A letter from former Rep. Duke Cunningham to the Department of Homeland Security that urged Shirlington Limo be given a $21.1 million contract has “mysteriously disappeared from DHS files.” More from Harper’s.
A State Department report details the items given to federal employees in 2004 by “foreign government sources.” “President George W. Bush received a $10,000 sniper’s rifle, six jars of fertilizer, 11 antique handguns, ten pounds of dates, and a DVD of ‘Singin’ in the Rain’ from various foreign leaders.”
And finally: Photo of the day: Rick Santorum’s new wardrobe? Or Chief of Staff Josh Bolten playing bass with his band, “The Compassionates,” on the White House lawn?
What did we miss on the blogs? Let us know in the comments section.
Here’s a graphic timeline explaining how House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-IL) used a federal earmark to turn a $1.5 million profit:
August 2002: “Hastert and his wife bought a 195-acre farm in Plano in 2002, of which 69.5 acres had no access to roads.” The parcel is located in Hastert’s congressional district (IL-14).
February 2004: Hastert and two partners purchase another 69 acres adjacent to the original property. Here’s a picture of the two parcels, outlined in yellow:
August 2005: Hastert secures $207 million in federal dollars to build the “Prairie Parkway” through his district. The Chicago Tribune describes it as a “pet project” of Hastert’s that will “cut through valuable farmland and increase suburban sprawl.” President Bush comes to IL-14 to sign the bill. Here’s a picture: Read more
House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-IL), encouraging his colleagues to vote for the sham Iraq resolution during today’s debate on the Iraq war:
We in this Congress must show the same steely resolve as those men and women on United flight 93, the same sense of duty as the first responders who headed up the stairs of the Twin Towers. We must stand firm in our commitment to fight terrorism and the evil it inflicts around the world.
Full transcript below: Read more
White House Press Secretary Tony Snow was asked this afternoon if President Bush had any reaction to the death toll for U.S. troops in Iraq reaching 2,500. Snow responded: “It’s a number.”
Snow added that the President “feels very deeply the responsibility for sending men and women into harm’s way, and feels very deeply the pain that the families feel.” To illustrate, Snow reminded the press corps of when “you had this crowd of servicemen and women who were cheering loudly for the President, and he got choked up.” Watch it:
Transcript: Read more
Yesterday, Donald Rumsfeld’s office issued a 72-page briefing book to help war supporters argue their case during today’s House debate on Iraq. The office apparently soon realized it had sent the memo to a larger list of recipients than intended. The following message was sent last night:
From: Scott, Traci CIV OSD LA [mailto:(email redacted)]
Sent: Wednesday, June 14, 2006 5:41 PM
Subject: Recall: Prep Book
The sender would like to recall the message, “Prep Book”.
Obviously, the email didn’t work.
Last month, news reports revealed that the administration was “secretly supporting secular warlords” in Somalia against Islamic militias as a way to “crack down on terrorism” in East Africa. Some of these secular warlords “reportedly fought against the United States in 1993.”
The Islamic groups have since taken Mogadishu and are “consolidating their hold over a large swath of Somalia.” Some American officials believe our actions “thwarted counterterrorism efforts inside Somalia and empowered the same Islamic groups it was intended to marginalize.”
Having seen their policy fail, the administration is now “preparing for a more diplomatic kind of intervention“:
On Thursday, the US will initiate a “Somalia contact group” of interested countries and organizations to begin deliberating on how the international community can help stabilize what experts consider to be a “failed state.” The tone suggests a carefully revised US position on Somalia, analysts say. The broader lesson, they add, may be that instead of rejecting Islamist political groups outright, the US will have to do more to differentiate friend from foe within Islamist political movements.
“It sounds like Plan A didn’t work, so we’d better try Plan B,” says Jim Bishop, who was the last US ambassador to Somalia, before the US evacuated its embassy there in 1991. [...] “Of course, we want stability and we don’t want to see a terrorist haven there, but discussion and finding a compromise is better than Plan A.”
Leave it to the Bush administration to set aside diplomacy as their “Plan B.”
Radio/television host Don Imus and White House Press Secretary Tony Snow attacked former President Jimmy Carter yesterday. Imus called Carter a “dope” and claimed his presidency had “humiliat[ed] America,” prompting laughter from Snow. Snow then drew two “comparisons” between Carter and Bush:
1. Whereas Bush “snuck off” to visit Iraq, Carter “used to sneak off and fish on the weekends.”
2. “[U]nlike in the Carter years, where…you had the humiliation of hostages being taken in Iran,” in Bush’s case, “you’ve got the president who’s showing up in Baghdad and talking with the new government.”
A couple points:
1) Tony Snow is in no position to mock President Carter for vacationing. President Bush has spent more time vacationing than any president in modern history, with 319 days worth as of August 2005. President Carter took 79 vacation days during his 4 years in office, the lowest of any president in modern history.
2) Kidnapping has become a “scourge of Iraqi unrest.” Tony Snow claims the hostage crisis in Iran was a humiliation for President Carter. But “at least 280 foreigners” — including many Americans — “and thousands of Iraqis…have been taken hostage since the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003,” and Baghdad has become the “kidnap capital of the world.”
In any case, apparently it’s now acceptable for a sitting White House Press Secretary to publicly level ad hominem attacks against a former President of the United States.
Full transcript below: Read more
Earlier this month, efforts to ban gay marriage by amending the Constitution failed badly in Senate. Now the religious right is considering appealing to state legislatures to call a Constitutional Convention under an obscure provision of Article 5 that would allow amendments to the Constitution without congressional approval. The Evans-Novak report has the details:
Meeting after the big failure at the offices of the social-conservative Family Research Council, the top leaders of the marriage movement — Catholic, Protestant and Mormon leaders among others — discussed the possibility of an unprecedented Constitutional Convention. Two-thirds (34) of the state legislatures would have to call for such a convention — which could be done only with great difficulty. Even then, no one knows what such a convention would look like or what sort of amendments could result from it.
Right-wing pundit Bob Novak, who writes the report, appears to be pushing the idea even as he calls it “rather fanciful.” Novak argues banning gay marriage through a constitutional convention would be difficult but not impossible:
[I]f such a convention were to pass a marriage amendment, we estimate that 28 states would easily ratify it. Another eight states may do so only after a protracted and bloody political fight (which could span an election cycle). That leaves supporters with two more states to go to reach the threshold of 38 (three-fourths), and only the most difficult ground to fight on — states such as Maine, Rhode Island, Oregon and Nevada are probably not ideal places to win such a fight, although not all would be unwinnable.
Novak notes that such a convention would give liberals the opportunity to write their own amendments. He’s convinced, however, “that there are more than 13 states with legislatures willing to block anything too far out on the left.” That’s a relief.