Sara and I were in Blue Hill sitting on a picnic table with a five year-old girl, a seven year-old boy and their grandma waiting for the fireworks to start. It had gotten too dark for me to read my book, so I was playing Tetris on my cell phone — a game the kids found fascinating and had apparently never seen before. The girl asked if she could try. I wasn’t quite sure what to say, but grandma interceded on my behalf “no, that’s not a toy.” RIght, I thought, except it sort of is. “Well,” said the boy, “it’s a toy for grownups.” This seemed very wise and I don’t even have my iPhone — the real toy for grownups — yet.
According to the New York Times, Republican sources say that Karl Rove did not have an “extensive” role in the commutation deliberations “because his participation would have been awkward“:
Karl Rove, the chief White House strategist and one of Mr. Bush’s closest and longest-serving aides, had been implicated in the leak investigation, and it was unclear how extensive a role he played in the deliberations.
The special prosecutor in the case, Patrick J. Fitzgerald, ultimately decided not to pursue charges against Mr. Rove. Some Republicans said they believed that Mr. Rove steered clear of the pardon discussions, perhaps because his participation would have been awkward.
“I talk to Karl a lot, and I just never got any sense that he was involved in that at all,” said Vin Weber, a Republican former congressman who said he believed that Mr. Libby should be pardoned.
Last week, a group of “50 high school seniors in the Presidential Scholars program” handed a letter to President Bush urging him to put a halt to “violations of the human rights” of terror suspects held by the United States. The handwritten letter said in part, “We do not want America to represent torture.” The young woman who handed Bush the letter, Mari Oye, talked with Democracy Now’s Amy Goodman about the interaction:
OYE: [Bush] read down the letter. He got to the part about torture. He looked up, and he said, “America doesn’t torture people”. And I said, “If you look specifically at the points we made” — because we were careful to outline specific things that are wrong with the administration’s policy. He said — so I said, “If you look specifically at what we said, we said, we ask you to cease illegal renditions,” and then I said, you know, “Please remove your signing statement to the McCain anti-torture bill.” And then I said that for me personally, the issue of detainee rights also had a lot of importance, because my grandparents had been interned during World War II for being Japanese American.
At that point, he just said, “America doesn’t torture people” again. And another kid, actually, from Montana came forward and said, “Please make the US a leader in human rights.” And that happened in the space of about a minute, but it was a very interesting minute with the President of the United States.
Watch a video of the interview here.
The House Judiciary Committee, “upset after Bush’s decision to grant clemency to I. Lewis ‘Scooter’ Libby,” will hold a hearing on July 11 to examine presidential clemency power. From a statement issued by Conyers’s office:
In light of Monday’s announcement by the president that he was commuting the prison sentence for Scooter Libby, it is imperative that Congress look into presidential authority to grant clemency, and how such power may be abused. Taken to its extreme, the use of such authority could completely circumvent the law enforcement process and prevent credible efforts to investigate wrongdoing in the executive branch.
More than four years after the initial invasion, the decision to go to war in Iraq has come to be widely viewed as the “worst foreign policy mistake” in our nation’s history. But the architects of the Iraq war have largely avoided taking accountability for their respective roles in that terrible decision.
In April 2006, ThinkProgress produced a report reviewing the key architects of the Iraq war. ThinkProgress has updated the report with the latest information on where the key architects are now, expanding it to include a few more integral planners of the conflict.
The original thesis remains the same: President Bush still has not fired any of the architects of the Iraq war; instead, they continue to reap rewards for their disastrous incompetence. Just this week, we witnessed two glaring examples of this fact:
Paul Wolfowitz: As deputy secretary of defense, he aggressively pushed for war, repeatedly making false assurances about the ease of victory in Iraq. Bush later rewarded him with a post at the World Bank, which he was forced to resign in disgrace after becoming embroiled in a corruption scandal. But last week, Wolfowitz announced he was landing at the American Enterprise Institute, a right-wing think tank that “has the President’s ear” on national security issues.
Scooter Libby: Even though the administration had failed to hold him accountable, a jury of his peers did. But, like many of his Iraq war architects, Libby was given safe refuge by President Bush and spared from serving any prison time, despite lying and obstructing justice in a federal investigation that had its roots in the decision to go to war.
Check out the updated report HERE.
One comment on my already infamous “Global Warming Imperils 4th of July” post reads:
What Joe also likes to do is select areas of the US that are most likely to be in drought and portray drought events in these areas as unusual or lay blame on rep. politicians from those states.
No. I do occasionally point about droughts where conservative global warming denyers come from, just for irony’s sake. But we’ve been seeing severe droughts in quite unusual places, which is suggestive of — though not proof of — the hand of climate change.
Consider today’s New York Times article, “Drought Saps the Southeast, and Its Farmers,” which notes:
The region’s most severe drought in over a century has farmers here averting their gaze from a future that looks as bleak as their fields.
They run an amazing graphic of the unusual drought:
The commenter (hippie with a pistol) thoughtfully provided a link to a U.S. map of the “percent of time in severe and extreme drought, 1895 to 1995,” which makes clear that most of this region rarely gets anywhere near this dry:
The President “defended his Iraq war policy in a patriotic Fourth of July talk, saying that while he honors the sacrifice of U.S. troops, now is not the time to bring them home. … Bush said victory in Iraq will require ‘more patience, more courage and more sacrifice.’”
In 2003, Congress passed the President’s Emergency Programme for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), which provides HIV/AIDS drugs and funding to 15 countries plagued by the virus. However, President Bush and the conservative-controlled Congress tacked a restrictive provision to PEPFAR requiring that one-third of prevention funding go to promoting abstinence education.
Last month, the House rejected the policy, passing legislation that would allow Bush and future presidents to waive the abstinence-only provision. In response, Bush threatened a veto, claiming “he would veto any legislation that weakens current policy and laws on abortion.”
In an interview with CNN’s Suzanne Malveaux this week, First Lady Laura Bush disagreed with her husband’s right-wing agenda, stating that she believes condoms are “absolutely essential” and supports waiving the abstinence-only provision. Watch it:
While the U.S. spends the most money on AIDS relief, the abstinence-only provision hinders programs that could use more money for treatment.
Furthermore, a Government Accountability Office report in 2006 found that 12 of the 15 “focus-countries” were forced to reduce spending on HIV/AIDS prevention in order to meet the abstinence requirements. Programs backing safe-sex practices subsequently lost necessary funding.
UPDATE: The Center for Health and Gender Equity has more on Laura Bush’s statements.
Transcript: Read more
A new Rasmussen analysis finds that George Washington continues to be the nation’s most popular president, with 94 percent of Americans viewing the Father of our Country favorably. The highest unfavorable rating for any president — 60 percent — is earned by Richard Nixon.” But close “Nixon’s heels for most unpopular is the current president, George W. Bush. Fifty-nine percent have an unfavorable opinion of him.”
The sale of 4 acres of public land to Rep. Ken Calvert (R-CA) and his investment partners by the Jurupa Community Services District in 2005 violated California state law, according to a grand jury report released yesterday. The report said that the group should have first offered the land to other public agencies, including the local park district that wanted it.