In written answers to questions from the Senate Judiciary Committee, Bradley Schlozman, the former Justice Department official who headed the Civil Rights Division, “admitted that he’d once urged hiring certain prosecutors for his office based on their political affiliation. It’s against civil service laws to do so.” Today marked the 50th anniversary of the creation of the Civil Rights Division. For six years under the Bush administration, it has been the seat of corruption. Read more in today’s Progress Report. (To subscribe, type your email address in the box on the right hand side of the ThinkProgress sidebar.)
The Senate yesterday defied a White House veto threat and overturned “a long-standing ban on U.S. funding for overseas family planning groups that support abortion.” Seven Republicans joined 44 Democrats in reversing the ban, which was first implemented by President Ronald Reagan. President Clinton rescinded it, but it was then reinstated by Bush. (Bush v. Choice has more.)
Today, Rep. John Doolittle (R-CA) denounced his critics as “weasels,” even “as his chief of staff appeared before a federal grand jury investigating Doolittle’s ties to jailed lobbyist Jack Abramoff.” In the past, Doolittle has compared himself to the Duke students who were falsely accused of rape, stating “that the destruction of the reputations of innocent people can occur.”
Osama bin Laden promises broad, across-the-board tax cuts once we embrace the Caliphate:
“To conclude,” bin Laden says, “I invite you to embrace Islam.” He goes on to say: “There are no taxes in Islam, but rather there is a limited Zakaat [alms] totaling 2.5 percent.”
In paradise, not only do you get 76 virgins, but there’s no deadweight loss.
Speaking to reporters in Iowa today aboard his “brightly colored campaign bus,” Fred Thompson spoke about the war in Iraq and the war against terrorist networks. He claimed — without any evidence — that “Americans are beginning to move in his direction in their support for the war in Iraq.” He also dismissed the threat of Osama bin Laden:
Bin Laden is more symbolism than anything else. I think it demonstrates to people once again that we’re in a global war.
Thompson’s statement echoes the sentiments of President Bush, who in March 2002 said, “I truly am not that concerned about” bin Laden, and Ann Coulter, who said in Aug. 2006 said that bin Laden is “irrelevant.”
Yet bin Laden — the man who masterminded the attacks on 9/11 — is more than just a “symbol.” Today he issued a new videotape promising to “escalate the killing and fighting against you.”
In May, U.S. News reported that “bin Laden already has a safe haven in Pakistan — and may be stronger than ever” as al Qaeda “retains the ability to organize complex, mass-casualty attacks and inspire others.” Bin Laden is behind much of this resurgence:
The broader movement inspired by al Qaeda has only grown bigger, largely because of the group’s powerful propaganda machine. Bin Laden and Zawahiri have been able to fill in the gaps between their megaplots with a rising stream of smaller-scale, homegrown attacks.
U.S. intelligence officials are also now admitting that they overestimated the “damage they had inflicted on al Qaeda’s network,” with the war in Iraq serving as an “undeniable boon for al Qaeda.”
UPDATE: Kicking Ass notes that today on Good Morning America, Thompson said, “I think the point is clearly he’s there, clearly he’s somewhere along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border and clearly he’s still giving orders.” Watch it:
So now, what, I can go Google and take us back to the time when The Economist did an “informal poll” of economists and found that “More than seven out of ten respondents say the Bush administration’s tax cuts were either a bad or a very bad idea, and a similar proportion disapproves of Mr Bush’s plans to make his tax cuts permanent.” What’s the probative value of an informal poll like that? I have no idea, but The Economist is a pretty rightwing outfit on economics and even employed Megan in the past and Will currently, so it’s not clear what motive they might have to shade the results in a lefty tilt. And of course yesterday I had Jason Furman’s table. And we’re all familiar with Brad DeLong’s blog. And Atrios’ for that matter. According to Bryan Caplan (PDF) “economists tend to be moderate Democrats.”
I guess I’m honest enough to concede that none of that proves my more anti-tax friends and colleagues wrong, but the point is that their tendency to try to make it out to be that only economic illiterates disagree with them is ridiculous. They’re free to take up an unpopular minority viewpoint, but that’s what it is. There are plenty of cranks and a vast sea of corporate lobbyists who back the general thrust of the modern Republican Party’s approach to taxes; the reputable economic researchers who agree with them, though real, are also relatively few in number.
Yesterday, President Bush nominated E. Duncan Getchell, Jr for a seat on the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Virginia. Sen. Jim Webb (D-VA) issued a statement criticizing the appointment, noting that Getchell was not on a list of nominees recommended by him and Sen. John Warner (R-VA). Instead, President Bush relied on an outdated list created by Warner and former Sen. George Allen (R-VA), whom Webb defeated in 2006:
Warner and then-Sen. George Allen, R-Va., recommended him on a list sent to the White House last year.
But Getchell’s name was not on a list of five people that Warner and Allen’s successor, Webb, sent to the White House this June recommending appeals court candidates.
“Today, despite our good faith, bipartisan effort to accommodate the president, the recommendations that Senator Warner and I made have been ignored,” Webb said last night.
“The White House talks about the spirit of bipartisanship. . . . The White House cannot expect to complain about the confirmation of federal judges when they proceed to act in this manner,” Webb added. [...]
Warner said in a terse statement, “I steadfastly remain committed to the recommendations stated in my joint letter with Senator Webb to the president, dated June 12, 2007, and I have so advised in a respectful, consistent manner in my consultations with the White House senior staff.”
(Hat tip: TPM)
Stop the presses!
Oh, it gets better:
… the statement urges nations to reduce energy intensity by 25 percent by 2030 but does not make an enforceable commitment.
Do they even realize that in just one year, 2006, U.S. energy intensity fell 4% — and energy intensity (energy consumed per dollar of GDP) routinely drops 2% a year in this country, and more in fast-growing countries. If U.S. GDP grew 3% a year for the next 23 years, we could meet that 2030 target even if our energy consumption rose a whopping 75% (and of course, our carbon emissions could rise more than that since this is an energy goal, not a carbon goal).
And it ain’t even enforceable.
If John “You cannot be serious!” McEnroe were dead, he’d be turning over in his grave.
Yesterday, in one of his final speeches as Attorney General, Alberto Gonzales “spent almost an hour” at the Coast Guard Academy “defending the legal decisions his office and the president made to oppose terrorism.” From the Hartford Courant:
He also defended the holding facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and the legal protections of its inmates and said, “Never before in our nation’s history have we given such robust protection to combatants picked up on the field of battle.”
In a question-and-answer session with cadets, he briefly mentioned his decision to resign, announced Aug. 27. “Leaving this position was a difficult decision,” he said. “I’ve had the ride of a lifetime,” though he latter added, “The past several months have been difficult for me personally.” [...]
One cadet asked Gonzales when the war will be considered finished. Gonzales replied, “What I say is: It’s not over today. There are people still plotting against Americans today. I can’t tell you when it’s going to be over.”
At APSA last weekend, biddle indicated that his personal view was that we should leave. But for Very Serious reasons, he feels he should maintain that the surge is an intellectually serious longshot (with a 10% chance of success he hazards) for those who think the costs of leaving are unbearable. More fairly, he also wants to cut the ground out from under the middle options, in the hopes that people will draw your obvious conclusion.
That strikes me as a bit of an odd approach. Also: Did Biddle really say that? I’m pretty sure more than one reader of this blog was at APSA.