Salon.com’s Joan Walsh highlights a strange moment on tonight’s Hardball: “Without mentioning what had been discussed on Sunday, Matthews asked Mitchell, rather out of the blue, to talk about what Petraeus was telling senators. ‘It’s a good thing you bring that up,’ Mitchell replied, and she went on to say that Petraeus recently held a ‘closed circuit briefing’ for senators of both parties, ‘Democrats as well as Republicans.’ But Mitchell also repeated her claim from Sunday that ‘moderate Republican senators’ were privately saying they opposed Bush’s so-called troop surge, but would publicly support it out of respect for Petraeus, and give the general and the president until the summer to make progress in the war.”
During an interview with John Bolton, CNN’s Suzanne Malveaux “did not note that a Republican-led delegation met with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in Damascus on April 1. Malveaux also did not point out the White House’s inconsistency in criticizing Pelosi for her trip while remaining silent on the GOP-led visit. … Malveaux’s final question to Bolton in the interview was, ‘Do you think that this also perhaps portends to something that might happen in the future? I’m being somewhat flip, but you know, Syria today, Iran tomorrow. I mean, where does it end?‘”
A Navy sailor deployed in Iraq returns home to surprise his six-year-old son.
More than 145,000 U.S. soldiers remain in Iraq.
In February, Vice President Cheney traveled to Australia to visit with his close ally Prime Minister John Howard. At the top of Howard’s agenda was a plea to release Australian Gitmo detainee David Hicks. Last Friday, Hicks became the first person to be sentenced by a military commission convened under the Military Commissions Act of 2006, accepting nine months of imprisonment and a gag order that will not allow him to discuss the case for 12 months.
Howard lobbied Cheney during the February visit for the trial to “be brought on as soon as humanly possible and with no further delay.” The plea bargain itself was brokered by Susan Crawford, the top military commission official and a former Department of Defense inspector general under then-Secretary of Defense Cheney, without the knowledge or input of the lawyers prosecuting Hicks. The lead prosecutor expressed shock over the light sentence.
Given the nature of the deal, suspicions are being raised that the plea agreement may have been an orchestrated gesture by Cheney to benefit Howard in his re-election fight. Howard, who is lagging behind Labor Party rival Kevin Rudd in the polls, faces a tough election contest in less than nine months. Now, legal experts on both continents are sounding alarms. Some examples:
– Terry Hicks, David’s father, said in a statement that “it is clearly a political fix arranged between Mr. Howard and the Bush administration to shut up Hicks until after the election in November.”
– Bob Brown of Australia’s Green party described the deal as a political “fix” meant to benefit Howard, saying that “the message has gone very clearly from Canberra to Washington to Guantanamo Bay: don’t allow Hicks to be released until after the elections and certainly don’t allow him to speak.”
– Lex Lasry, an Australian who observed the trial, remarked, “What an amazing coincidence that, with an election in Australia by the end of the year, he gets nine months and he is gagged for 12 months from talking about it.”
– Lawrence Wilkerson, former chief of staff to Colin Powell, said: “I’m not naive. I know that they probably worked out – I’m quite sure they worked out – a plea bargain, that would allow the United States to appear to have effected a reasonably fair proceeding, would allow David Hicks to return to Australia, and satisfy Prime Minister Howard’s needs.”
Andrew Sullivan emphatically states, “If you think this was in any way a legitimate court process, you’re smoking something even George Michael would pay a lot of money for. It was a political deal, revealing the circus that the alleged Gitmo court system really is.”
Number of articles on the U.S. Attorney scandal in the last five issues of Time magazine.
Ever wondered about that implausible-sounding Coriolis Effect business? Well, I have. And thanks to the magic of Adium and Brian Beutler’s trip to Argentina we were able to conduct a little experiment:
So, having been disabused of the Coriolis disinformation for a few years now, Matt and I conducted a (wasteful) experiment. It turns out that when you fill up and drain my kitchen sink here in Buenos Aires it drains clockwise. AND, perhaps evidince of swirl-rumor confirmation, Matt’s toilet flushes counter clockwise. But nothing’s ever that simple. Because my toilet down here flushes counter clockwise as well.
I have no idea how regular hemisphere-wide toilet-flush trends are, and if there is a physical explanation, I have no idea what it is. My guess would be that swirl direction is purely a function of how the relevant pipes are structured. But I’ll leave that to the blogosphere (which I know to be a trustworthy and mature resource) to decide.
Take that, science!
The K Street Project was the legislation-for-money peddling scheme that helped bring down former Majority Leader Tom DeLay and exposed the corrupt culture in which Jack Abramoff’s criminal activity was encouraged and rewarded. DeLay once explained the partisan nature of the Project as “punishing your enemies and rewarding your friends.”
When Rep. John Boehner (R-OH) came into power, he pledged to eliminate the K Street project. Conservatives claimed the pay-to-play process had been “consigned to the dustbin of history.” But in fact, the K Street Project continues to thrive.
Roll Call recently reported that “Anti-tax activist Grover Norquist has tapped Sarah Smith, a former College Republican team leader and field representative for the Bush-Cheney 2004 campaign, to be the first manager of the [K Street] project, which is run out of the office of Norquist’s Washington-based group, Americans for Tax Reform.” A blurb in the The Star Democrat — a small Maryland paper — reveals just how aggressively and covertly Norquist and company continue to push the K Street Project.
Tonight, Norquist’s ally Sarah Smith will be attending a gathering of the Chesapeake Republican Women to solicit their support for the Project:
Republican women to meet in Chester April 2
CHESTER — The Chesapeake Republican Women will hold a meeting at 7 p.m. Monday, April 2, at Coldwell Banker Waterman Realty in Chester, with guest speaker Sarah Smith, manager of the K Street Project at the Americans for Tax Reform.
Smith will speak on the efforts of the K Street Project — a program started by Grover Norquist in 1989. Smith, a graduate of Mary Washington College with a degree in international relations, has served as the manager of the K Street Project for the past two years.
Before that, she worked with the Major Donor Programs for the Republican National Committee. Her earlier experience includes serving as Pennsylvania’s Team Captain for the College Republican National Committee dealing with college outreach during the Bush/Cheney 2004 re-election campaign.
Currently she serves on the Board of the DC Republican Women’s group, RightNOW Political Chicks and is a member of the Alexandria Young Republicans, America’s Future Foundation, the Intercollegiate Studies Institute and Women in Government Relations.
Because Americans strongly back a timeline to redeploy from Iraq, conservatives have focused their opposition to the recently-passed Iraq redeployment legislation on the domestic spending that’s attached:
Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY): “They used this serious effort, what should have been a serious effort to fund the troops as an opportunity…to get pork for various and sordid products back home.”
Sen. Trent Lott (R-MS): “So why are we going through this exercise of heaping pork on the backs of our men and women in uniform and trying to put artificial dates which will not occur?”
We know this isn’t true. Just last year, these same conservatives endorsed the emergency supplemental bill that included $15 billion in domestic spending, including “$4 billion for farmers, $1.1 billion for Gulf Coast fisheries, and $1 billion in grants to states.”
The bill also included the notorious $700 million Railroad to Nowhere in Mississippi, reportedly the largest earmark ever, sponsored by Senate Minority Whip Lott. Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) introduced an amendment aimed at eliminating Lott’s egregious pork project, but it was defeated. Fully 18 senators who last week opposed the Iraq spending bill — including Minority Leader McConnell and Minority Whip Lott — voted last year to preserve the Railroad to Nowhere.
Here’s a list of the Senators who (1) voted to kill the Coburn amendment and (2) voted for the pork-filled bill in 2006, but (3) voted against the 2007 Iraq supplemental:
Sen. Bob Bennett (R-UT)
Sen. Kit Bond (R-MO)
Sen. Sam Brownback (R-KS)
Sen. Thad Cochran (R-MS)
Sen. Norm Coleman (R-MN)
Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME)
Sen. Pete Domenici (R-NM)
Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA)
Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchinson (R-TX)
Sen. Trent Lott (R-MS)
Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY)
Sen. Pat Roberts (R-KS)
Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL)
Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-ME)
Sen. Arlen Specter (R-PA)
Sen. Ted Stevens (R-AK)
Sen. David Vitter (R-LA)
Sen. John Warner (R-VA)
Conservatives are complaining about “pork” now to distract from their real problem with the Iraq legislation: the fact that it forces President Bush to change course. These senators want to give Bush a blank check to wage a war without end; they just don’t want to admit it to their constituents.
“Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) on Monday shrugged off White House criticism of her upcoming trip to Damascus… Speaking hours after arriving in Lebanon, Pelosi indicated the Bush administration was singling out her trip to Syria, but ignoring the recent visits by Republican members of Congress. ‘It’s interesting because three of our colleagues, who are all Republicans, were in Syria yesterday and I didn’t hear the White House speaking out about that,’ Pelosi said… ‘I think that it was an excellent idea for them to go,’ said Pelosi, who is to meet Syrian leaders Wednesday. ‘And I think it’s an excellent idea for us to go, as well.’”
Wade Horn, the Bush administration’s point man for welfare reform, Head Start and abstinence education, resigned Monday as assistant secretary for children and families. Horn “oversaw a dramatic increase in funding for abstinence education, which now exceeds $200 million a year” and gave more money to “faith-based groups and organizations that work to help couples improve their marriage.”