Tim Goeglein, special assistant to President Bush, resigned this evening after being caught — and then admitting to — plagiarizing articles that he wrote for a local paper. After blogger Nancy Nall revealed that Goeglein had plagiarized a recent Fort Wayne News-Sentinel column, an investigation by the paper found 20 of his 38 columns had parts that were copied. Goeglein had worked for Bush since 2001 as a liaison to social and religious conservatives and is a familiar figure to many evangelical Christian leaders.
A new report issued recently by the Center for American Progress warned that, “as borrowing in the mortgage market slows, credit card borrowing is accelerating — a dangerous trend because borrowers still face weak income growth. That means the credit card market could eventually run into the same problems that now afflict the sub-prime mortgage market. ” Tonight, NBC News reported that credit card debt is nearing a record $1 trillion. The piece noted there is a “credit card binge across the nation as people use their plastic to stay financially afloat.” Watch it:
Today, Attorney General Michael Mukasey “rejected referring the House’s contempt citations against two of President Bush’s top aides to a federal grand jury. Mukasey says they committed no crime.” Mukasey claimed that White House Chief of Staff Josh Bolten and former counsel Harriet Miers “were right” to ignore Congress’s subpoenas in the U.S. attorney scandal.
UPDATE: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) outlines the next steps:
Anticipating this response from the Administration, the House has already provided authority for the Judiciary Committee to file a civil enforcement action in federal district court and the House shall do so promptly.
Congress recently passed the Intelligence Authorization Act, which contained a provision creating a single interrogation standard for the U.S. government that bans the use of waterboarding. CQ reports that President Bush will veto the bill next week:
“The president’s expected to veto it next week,” said Emily Lawrimore, a spokeswoman for the White House. “We received it today.”
Although the exact date for the veto is unclear, the president likely will not act until after Tuesday’s primaries, since numerous lawmakers will not be on Capitol Hill then.
The Gavel has House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-CA) statement urging Bush to sign the legislation.
Two weeks ago, the hastily-passed Protect America Act (PAA) expired after the Bush administration and its supporters refused to approve a 21-day extension of the law. Since then, President Bush and his allies in Congress have engaged in a fear campaign to pressure the House into passing a Senate-approved update of the PAA that includes retroactive immunity for telecoms.
President Bush continued the fear-mongering in his press conference yesterday, bellowing that “no renewal of…the Protect America Act is dangerous for the security of the country, just dangerous.”
Challenging Bush and the GOP to hold true to their rhetoric, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) introduced a bill today to extend the PAA for 30 days while negotiations between the House and Senate proceed:
As we move forward, there is no reason not to extend the Protect America Act to ensure that there are no gaps in our intelligence gathering capabilities. Even Admiral McConnell, the Director of national Intelligence, has testified that such an extension would be valuable. But the President threatens to veto an extension, and our Republican colleagues continue, inexplicably, to oppose it.
Predictably, Sen. Pete Domenici (R-NM) objected to Reid’s unanimous consent motion, effectively rejecting the extension. Watch it:
Despite their claims that “America is at risk” without the Protect America Act, the White House and congressional conservatives have been unwilling to take actions that would lead to its extension. As Reid noted today, the House and Senate have been working since the passage of the Senate bill to reconcile difference between the two chambers, but “Republicans have instructed their staff not to participate in these negotiations.”
If Bush and his congressional cronies truly believed that America is “open to attack” without the PAA, they’d support a temporary extension and engage in good faith negotiations. Since they haven’t, it’s clear they’re more interested in playing political games than working to protect Americans.
Slate‘s John Dickerson asks an obvious question on a conference call with Hillary Clinton’s campaign: “What foreign policy moment would you point to in Hillary’s career where she’s been tested by crisis?” After an uncomfortably long moment during which neither Mark Penn, Howard Wolfson and Lee Feinstein have anything to say, and then Lee Feinstein tries to step in with a save and starts talking about Clinton’s endorsement by high-level military officials. Give it a listen:
That’s a hat tip to Jennifer Skalka. Feinstein, the campaign’s foreign policy guy, is making the best of a bad situation here. But the more strictly political people walked into a debacle. How could they go forward with that ad without having a good answer to the question on hand? It’s inept in the extreme.
An effort to push back on some of the anti-Obama smears circulating in Jewish circles.
AFP reports that “oil prices charted fresh record territory” today, “rising to 103.05 dollars as the dollar fell to all time lows.” These high oil prices are linked to the weak U.S. dollar:
A weak US currency boosts demand for dollar-denominated raw materials such as crude oil because it makes them cheaper for buyers using stronger currencies. The increased demand, if it outstrips the fall in the currency, leads to higher prices.
Yesterday, Canadian television reported that Obama advisors were telling Canada’s ambassador in Washington not to take the candidate’s NAFTA rhetoric too seriously. Now what really seems to have happened is that Austan Goolsbee tried to get someone from the Canadian consulate in Chicago to be a bit less worried about Obama. Whatever the details, this kind of ambiguous messaging is likely to recur time and again.
I recall being at a meeting in Cambridge, MA around the time of the 2004 Democratic Convention where John Kerry’s top economic and foreign policy advisors were essentially promising a group of assembled ambassadors that all of his anti-trade rhetoric was just empty rhetoric. This seemed like a typically Kerryish thing to have happen, but it would serve Obama may to try to avoid the same kind of thing repeating.
First, however, the lastest grim news from Fortune: “The ethanol boom is running out of gas as corn prices spike.” Yes, “plans for as many as 50 new ethanol plants have been shelved in recent months.” Why?
Spurred by an ethanol plant construction binge, corn prices have gone stratospheric, soaring from below $2 a bushel in 2006 to over $5.25 a bushel today. As a result, it’s become difficult for ethanol plants to make a healthy profit, even with oil at $100 a barrel.
If you can’t make money with oil at $100 a barrel, you are not much of an alternative fuel.
But I know what you’re thinking — if corn ethanol is so bad, what’s wrong with plants being scrapped? Well, the corn ethanol business is here to stay. The corn ethanol mandate from the most recent energy bill requires doubling supply from current levels. Fortune explains what that means:
What probably has changed permanently are ethanol economics. The days of cheap corn are over, and the industry’s new, lower profit margins clearly favor ethanol leader Archer Daniels Midland over all the smaller producers like Verasun, privately-held Poet Energy and the many, many farmer-owned ethanol cooperatives. ADM’s massive 200 million-gallon-a-year ethanol plants simply have better economies of scale than their 50-million-gallon-a-year rivals. And the fact some of ADM’s big plants run on coal instead of natural gas makes ADM’s cost advantage that much greater.
Just what we need, a shakeout that makes ADM richer and corn ethanol even dirtier.
So just how bad is corn ethanol? As bad as a movie reviewed by Opus:
George Phblat’s new film, ‘Benji Saves the Universe,’ has brought the word ‘BAD’ to new levels of badness. Bad acting. Bad effects. Bad everything. This film just oozed rottenness from every bad scene… Simply bad beyond all infinite dimensions of possible badness….
Well maybe not that bad, but Lord, it wasn’t good.
One last thing, as the blogging sustainable farmer Tom Philpott makes clear, the blame for this mess rests first and foremost on a certain big company. Rather than naming names, let’s just say its initials are an anagram for M.A.D.