The Iranian diplomat released Tuesday preceding the announcement that Iran would free the 15 British sailors it had taken hostage was being held in a joint Iraqi and American facility, and was released in part because of a decision at the highest levels of the American government.
The decision to release Jalal Sharafi on Tuesday was made at the White House, according to an administration official who asked to be anonymous because of the sensitivity of the information. [...]
Pentagon and White House spokesmen on Tuesday and Wednesday insisted publicly that the release of Mr. Sharafi was solely an Iraqi decision.
Mary Ann Akers of the Washington Post explains why President Bush’s recess appointment of Sam Fox as ambassador to Belgium may break the law:
To fight the Fox appointment, Democrats are questioning the Bush administration’s plan to have Fox serve in a voluntary capacity — receiving no pay for his duties as ambassador. This is an important legal technicality, as federal law prohibits “payment of services” for certain recess appointments. However, if the recess appointee in question agrees that he or she will take an unpaid position and not sue the government at a later date for compensation, then the appointment can go forward, at least as the White House sees it. …
But here’s the rub that makes Democrats view Bush’s recess appointment of Fox as a major-league no-no: Federal law prohibits “voluntary service” in cases where the position in question has a fixed rate of pay, as an ambassadorship does. That’s how the Government Accountability Office, an arm of the Democratic-controlled Congress, interprets the law.
Sen. Chris Dodd (D-CT) said today, “I intend to seek an opinion on the legality of this appointment from the General Accountability Office and invite other Senators to join with me in that request.”
So I read on the internet that it’s wrong to make naked movies of your girlfriend and then post the results on your blog. Instead, I thought I would make a fully clothed movie of my girlfriend discussing education policy research and post that on my blog. Hot! Hot like neuroscience. Or, at least, hot like skewering misguided misrepresentations of neuroscience (if you know what I mean).
Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) today announced that fund-raiser Fred Malek had joined his team as a national finance co-chair. David Corn reminds us of Malek’s history in the Nixon administration:
Nixon summoned the White House personnel chief, Fred Malek, to his office to discuss a “Jewish cabal” in the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The “cabal,” Nixon said, was tilting economic figures to make his Administration look bad. How many Jews were there in the bureau? he wanted to know. Malek reported back on the number, and told the President that the bureau’s methods of weighing statistics were normal procedure that had been in use for years.
Among Malek’s other highlights — being arrested as a young man for killing, skinning, and barbecuing a dog.
“Canceled insurance policies and skyrocketing rates” are a premonition of the future under a warming climate. “What we have seen in recent years in terms of insurance losses are but a harbinger of things to come,” said Tim Wagner of the Climate Change and Global Warming Task Force for the National Association of Insurance Commissioners. “Insurance is priced based on statistics and probability. What climate change has done is create ambiguity and uncertainty in the pricing scenario.”
The AP reports:
The strains of fighting in Iraq have forced the Marine Corps to forego training in jungle warfare and other skills that are the traditional backbone of the Corps, the Marines’ top general said Wednesday.
“We’re not training for the other kinds” of combat that could arise at short notice, Gen. James T. Conway, commandant of the Marine Corps, told a group of Marines at the U.S. naval headquarters for the Persian Gulf.
“We are the nation’s shock troops,” he said, stressing that Marines have to be prepared to make amphibious landings and conduct operations that require training they are not getting now because Marine infantry and air units returning from Iraq have time only to get ready for their next tour of duty there.
“We’ve simply got to get back some of those skills,” like firing artillery, he said.
Newt Gingrich apologizes for calling Spanish the “language of living in the ghetto,” in Spanish:
Here’s the English version.
When former Bush strategist Matthew Dowd first publicly criticized President Bush, conservatives questioned whether “emotions” over his son’s deployment to Iraq were having an “impact” on his judgement. This talking point, which was repeated by President Bush during his press conference yesterday, has been sharply criticized as “insulting to the hundreds of thousands of Americans whose sons, daughters, sisters, brothers and spouses have served or will serve in Iraq.”
So conservative pundit Robert Novak has stepped in to offer a new strategy for smearing Dowd.
In his political report today, Novak tests the waters for a new attack on Dowd’s credibility, claiming that he is acting with partisan motivations:
Dowd views Bush as trapped within a bubble formed by his closest advisors, and blind to the public’s demand for withdrawal from Iraq. Some Republicans, however, question this sudden reversal, particularly since Dowd is a former Democrat and he expressed interest in working for Sen. Barack Obama’s (D.-Ill.) presidential campaign.
So desperate to undermine Dowd’s criticism of Bush’s Iraq strategy, the right wing is incredulously claiming that the man who dedicated six years of his life to getting President Bush “to the Oval Office and keeping him there” is really just a partisan Democrat.
An independent federal watchdog agency is investigating whether the firing of former U.S. attorney David Iglesias violated a federal law that prohibits job discrimination against members of the U.S. military. To justify his dismissal, Justice officials accused Iglesias of being an “‘absentee landlord‘ who was spending too much time away from the office.” But as TPMmuckraker notes, “Iglesias did, in fact, leave the office for 45 days each year. But that’s because he’s a a captain in the Navy Reserve — something that was no secret to his superiors.”