“In an about-face by the U.S. government four years into the war in Iraq, America’s fallen troops are being brought back to their families aboard charter jets instead of ordinary commercial flights, and the caskets are being met by honor guards in white gloves instead of baggage handlers with forklifts.”
Last week on Meet the Press, Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) tried to disparage the record of U.S. Attorney Carol Lam:
HATCH: She was a former law professor, no prosecutorial experience, and the former campaign manager in Southern California for Clinton, and they’re trying to say that this administration appoints people politically? Of course they do. That’s what these positions are.
In fact, as Rachel Maddow found, Lam had more than 14 years experience as a prosecutor, and was neither a law professor nor a former campaign manager.
In response, Hatch sent a letter to Meet the Press host Tim Russert asking him to correct the record. Hatch said that his attack was meant not for Lam but her predecessor, Clinton-appointed U.S. Attorney Alan Bersin.
I would appreciate your help in correcting a mistake I made on your show last Sunday, April 1, 2007.
My comments about Carol Lam’s record as a U.S. Attorney were accurate, but I misspoke when making the point of discussing politically connected U.S. Attorneys. I accidentally used her name, instead of her predecessor, Alan Bersin, who was appointed by President Bill Clinton.
Hatch’s “point” is that Bersin was an unqualified, “politically connected” appointee. In fact, Bersin was arguably well-qualified for the position:
– Graduated magna cum laude from Harvard University
– Served as a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford University
– Received his J.D. degree from Yale Law School
– Served as a senior partner for 17 years at the Los Angeles law firm Munger, Tolles & Olson, where he “specialized in complex RICO, securities, commercial and insurance litigation before state and federal trial and appellate courts”
– Special Counsel to the Los Angeles Police Commission
After stepping down as U.S. Attorney, Bersin served as Superintendent of Public Education in San Diego City Schools, the nation’s eighth largest urban school district, and was named California’s Secretary of Education in 2005.
Now, the question is: this Sunday, will Tim Russert simply read Hatch’s statement disparaging Bersin’s qualifications? Or will he state the full facts about Bersin’s record? You can email Meet the Press HERE to encourage them.
The other thing about the Pelosi story is that I don’t even understand which Syria policy Pelosi is supposed to have violated. We have diplomatic relations with Syria. Bush has not sought to change that fact. Nor has he sought new sanctions against Syria. He ordered our ambassador to come home, he ordered the State Department to cease contacts with Syria’s ambassador in the US, and proclaimed there would be no high-level executive branch contacts. This policy has accomplished nothing in terms of Syrian behavior vis-a-vis Iraq, nothing in terms of Syrian behavior vis-a-vis Lebanon, and nothing in terms of Syrian behavior vis-a-vis Iran. It’s a stupid, pointless policy.
But that’s the policy. If Bush wants to institute a new policy wherein members of congress or members of the press can’t go to Syria — or can go, but can’t speak to officials of the Syrian government — he needs to ask congress to pass such a law, since the president isn’t a God-King who gets to just arbitarily decide where people can go or who they can talk to.
The Wall Street Journal editorial page, with typical judiciousness, gets the Pelosi trip quite wrong. First, George Logan was not a member of the Congress when he made his “pacifist” trip to France. (He was elected to the Senate three years later, in 1801.) Second, Pelosi did not make the trip to negotiate with Assad, but to talk with him. Third, this is not a “wartime” situation–in fact, we continue to have diplomatic relations with Syria. Fourth, as others have noted, numerous Republican members of Congress have gone to speak with Assad. In fact, it was a Republican, Chris Shayes, who first told me that I should go over and interview Assad. Fifth, the media coverage of this on CNN and elsewhere has been abysmal. (Do you think CNN would repeatedly call itself the best political team on television if it actually was?)
Something about the utter absurdity of the press reaction to this trip seems to me to have really gotten to people. Time and CNN are, of course, part of the same company. And Washington Post op-ed columnist Eugene Robinson is here on Hardball rightly dissing the Post‘s inane Pelosi-bashing editorial. I mean, the WSJ editorial page is in the business of vicious smears, but the Post and CNN are really unusually off the rails here. On the other hand, the Post‘s been dabbling in neoconservatism for years now and CNN, too, decided a while back that it would rather be Fox-lite than a news channel.
What really baffled me is the pea-brained proceduralism of something like USA Today‘s editorial on the subject holding that Pelosi “violated a long-held understanding that the United States should speak with one official voice abroad — even if the country is deeply divided on foreign policy back home.” This rule has, simply put, never stood. Members of congress have always voiced their opinions on foreign policy questions. Foreigners have always listened more to the president since he has, you know, all this power. Worse: “smiling photos of Pelosi and the Syrian president convey the unspoken message that while the U.S. president is unwilling to talk with Syria, another wing of the government is.” This is nonsense on its face. The problem with Pelosi’s decision to talk to Assad was that it sent the message that Pelosi is willing to talk to Assad? They even go on to agree with Pelosi on the merits that Bush’s Syria-freeze policy is stupid. So what’s the problem?
It’s as if they think that maybe if we all close our eyes and just believe hard enough, Bush will suddenly become a non-terrible president and so there’s no need to actually challenge his policies and doing things that puncture the bubble of faith are positively harmful.
I went down to the annoyingly named Fashion Centre at Pentagon City to play with the gadgets on display in the stores and have reached the following conclusions:
- You may think my vlogging sucks, but if I had a Mac Pro with all the fixins, Adobe Creative Suite, and Final Cut Studio, my movies would be awesome. I promise.
- I feel like it’s gotten less hype than the XBox 360 or the Wii, but from this non-gamer’s perspective, the Playstation 3 seemed pretty sweet.
- On the other hand, if Sony expects me to buy a Blue-Ray player they really ought to, you know, have some on display in the Sony store. That they have all these gorgeous TVs hooked up to conventional DVD players while the Blue-Ray equipment is off in a corner connected to nothing makes it all seem like a scam.
- It’s possible that the only reason I thought the PS3 was cool was because I was playing NBA Live 2007 against some kid. This confirmed my longstanding suspicion that Dallas swept Miami in the Finals last year because Udonis Haslem obviously can’t guard Dirk Nowitzki. Either that or the kid was much better than me at the game.
- The mall is weirdly busy during business hours. Don’t all these people have jobs?
Beyond that, I’m fairly certain that every single one of my friends likes Ted Leo more than I do. And yet, nobody but me seems aware that he has a new album out. And it’s good.
UPDATE: Christian sources indicate that today is Good Friday and some people may be off from school/work.
Monica Goodling, counsel to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, has resigned, CNN reports.
UPDATE: Goodling’s letter to Gonzales, via ABC News, does not explain the reasons for her resignation:
I am hereby submitting my resignation to the Office of the Attorney General, effective April 7, 2007. It has been an honor to have served at the Department of Justice for the past five years. May God bless you richly as you continue your service to America.
UPDATE II: NBC’s Pete Williams: “It doesn’t really put her on any other [legal] footing, in terms of testimony. I mean, it makes it pretty clear that she won’t be represented in any way by the government, but she has retained private counsel, who have been quite muscular in their dealings with Congress, saying she’s simply not going to show up.”
UPDATE III: CNN’s report:
UPDATE IV: Sen. Schumer (D-NY) on Goodling’s resignation: “Attorney General Gonzales’ hold on the department gets more tenuous each day.”
UPDATE V: A spokesperson for the House Judiciary Committee told Raw Story that Chairman Rep. John Conyers (D-MI) “remains committed to questioning Monica Goodling, especially with this new development. Her involvement and general knowledge of what happened makes her a valuable piece to this puzzle.”
UPDATE VI: Goodling’s mother, Cindy Fitt of Osceola Mills, Pa., on her daughter’s resignation: “She told me I’m to say ‘no comment’ for everything.”
Steve Benen notes that pre-election charges against an aide to Gov. Jim Doyle (D-WI) by a Bush-appointed U.S. Attorney have now been dropped.
Greg Sargent highlights Washington Post columnist Eugene Robinson’s appearance on Hardball. Robinson “defends Pelosi’s trip to Syria, but he also says a couple things about his colleagues on the editorial page, which is edited by Fred Hiatt. He says this: ‘I’m pleased to be able to tell you I’m not a member of editorial board.’”
Sargent has more HERE.
Jessica Valenti writes about abusive treatment of women in online fora, noting: “Most disturbing is how accepted this is. When women are harassed on the street, it is considered inappropriate. Online, though, sexual harassment is not only tolerated – it’s often lauded. Blog threads or forums where women are attacked attract hundreds of comments, and their traffic rates rocket.” This seems true. Somewhere at the intersection of the general background hum of sexism in society and the general background home of high-volume, low-quality comment threads, a distressing level of indifference has arisen about the treatment of women.