Alabama GOP operative Dana Jill Simpson recently charged that Karl Rove and his allies pushed the Justice Department into prosecuting former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman (D) prior to a major election. In a hearing today, former federal prosecutor Doug Jones added further weight to Simpson’s claims, saying the investigation was “renewed” after prosecutors met with “Washington officials” in late 2004. The Gavel has more from the hearing. Read more about the Siegelman case HERE.
I’d been a little unsure what to think of the Charlotte Bobcats’ prospects. It seemed to me that they could, in principle, be a playoff team in the weak east. In practice, though, this is a team that appeared determined to give major minutes to its worst player in order to avoid admitting that they shouldn’t have drafted him. But now with Adam Morrison out for the year with a knee injury, there may be some hope for him yet. Then again, any organization that could have given Morrison thirty minutes per game last season can surely find whole new things to screw up.
Hollinger’s preseason writeup for Charlotte had said of Morrison “he’s either going to get better or he’s not going to play, but there’s no way he’s going to soak up 2,000 minutes and be as abysmally bad as he was last season,” but I’m really not sure why he was so optimistic that they would come to their senses had injury not forced their hand.
Reading the Clinton/Tomasky interview, Greg Sargent rather enthusiastically notes that in it “she vows as President to conduct a systematic review of the ways in which the Bush administration has hoarded executive power — a review, she claims, that could actually cause her to relinquis some of those powers.” David Kurtz follows through on the TPM homepage: “Hillary Clinton promises a systematic review of the Bush administration’s executive power grab if elected–with an eye toward relinquishing some of those powers.”
I think this isn’t the best reading of what happened. Mike shrewdly asked her “what specific powers might you relinquish as president, or renegotiate with Congress – for example the power to declare a US citizen an enemy combatant?” and Clinton . . . didn’t come up with anything. Instead, she vaguely replied:
Well, I think it is clear that the power grab undertaken by the Bush-Cheney administration has gone much further than any other president and has been sustained for longer. Other presidents, like Lincoln, have had to take on extraordinary powers but would later go to the Congress for either ratification or rejection. But when you take the view that they’re not extraordinary powers, but they’re inherent powers that reside in the office and therefore you have neither obligation to request permission nor to ask for ratification, we’re in a new territory here. And I think that I’m gonna have to review everything they’ve done because I’ve been on the receiving end of that. There were a lot of actions which they took that were clearly beyond any power the Congress would have granted or that in my view that was inherent in the constitution. There were other actions they’ve taken which could have obtained congressional authorization but they deliberately chose not to pursue it as a matter of principle.
Basically, she’s telling liberals she’ll roll back executive power but she’s not committing herself to doing anything in particular. Basically, as Charlie Savage wrote for our October issue, I wouldn’t count on any future administration voluntarily relinquishing the powers Bush has seized. Maybe some future congress will take power back, but people don’t do that kind of thing voluntarily. That’s what Clinton’s telling us.
I think this new Mitt Romney plan for a “Reagan Zone of Economic Freedom” may be dumber than the CIA’s terror-busters logo:
I don’t, however, think it beats Islamofascist Awareness Week.
Ross’s explanation of why the GOP is addicted to war:
As in the Cold War, foreign-policy hawkishness has become the glue holding the fragile GOP coalition together, even as Iraq has made foreign policy a general-election liability for the Right, instead of the asset it was in the Reagan years. Which is one way to explain the weird aftermath of the ’06 debacle, in which social conservatives and fiscal conservatives each blamed one another for the defeat, when it was perfectly clear that the Iraq War had more to do the party’s degringolade than the corruption of the small-government movement or the excesses of the religious right.
Maybe. But I’ll say this. I get the sense that Republicans think that while Iraq may now be a bad issue for their party, that things like unconstitutional surveillance, arbitrary and indefinite detention, and routine torture are big-time winning issues for the GOP. So they like the hawkish posture, even if Iraq’s been a problem. That’s how it seems to me.
Beyond that, I can also say for a fact that that’s how it seems to an awful lot of Democrats. Talk to people on the Hill or people involved in messaging, and there’s just no confidence that they could win a big high-profile standoff with Bush on pretty much any issue related to terrorism. There’s a critical margin of members who just won’t back any position that can’t also attract substantial Republican backing to provide “cover.”
Earlier today, ThinkProgress noted how David Horowitz is dishonestly inflating the number of schools participating in his “clownish” Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week. According to a Drexel University student who wrote to TPM, “there are no speakers, movies, or other events planned, and there has been no announcement of TAW either” at the school, despite being listed on Horowitz’s website as a participating school.
Jon Chait has a brilliant piece on “entitlement hysteria”, noting that despite the pundits’ obsession with Social Security, the entitlement problem is really a Medicare problem which, in turn, is really a health care problem:
Since you can’t solve the entitlement problem without solving the health care problem, one might think that the entitlement hysterics would have gradually moved on to becoming health care hysterics. (There’s also the fact that Social Security is solvent until 2041, but over 40 million Americans lack health insurance right now.) Yet this is another puzzling thing about entitlement hysteria: the sheer persistence of the obsession. It’s true we have some large federal programs that are going to have to be shored up. But why do they consider this to be a matter of such unique urgency? Put aside the war in Iraq, for which plenty of people (including me) lack any confident solution. In addition to the health care crisis, there’s global warming. There are numerous loosely secured nuclear sites throughout the world, any one of which could some day provide the raw material for a terrorist attack of unprecedented scale. There are numerous diseases threatening the lives of millions of Africans whose deaths could be prevented at relatively modest expense.
These other calamities have one thing in common: The consequences of inaction are permanent. Carbon released into the atmosphere can never be recovered. Africans who die from aids can’t be brought back to life. And fissile material captured by terrorists can’t very easily be taken back.
Meanwhile, of course, health care is precisely the issue that the candidates are offering plans on. But acknowledging that the current debate is, in fact, presenting important choices on issues of vital importance would put political journalists in an awkward position. Rather than posturing, you’d need to respond to that reality by trying to inform yourself about the issues at hand and the meanings of the rival camps’ proposals to deal with them. Instead, it’s more comforting to complain that nobody has the courage necessary to talk about cutting Social Security benefits.
The good news out of Iraq is that “Iraqi officials said today that they would move to halt the activity of Kurdish rebels who have been striking across the border from northern Iraq, a promise delivered amid a flurry of international diplomatic efforts to prevent a widening conflict between the two countries.” The bad news, of course, is that Iraqi officials don’t have any practical authority over events in Kurdistan so this is all meaningless.
All throughout the article we’re hearing about commitments made by Maliki, calls to Maliki, meetings with Maliki, etc., etc., etc. But Maliki’s irrelevant!
AEI scholar Joshua Muravchik has consistently pushed for war with Iran. In Nov. 2006, for example, Muravchik wrote an LA Times op-ed called simply, “Bomb Iran.” But as his appearance on MSNBC’s Hardball yesterday demonstrated, Muravchik’s calls for war with Iran aren’t based on any real evidence.
When host Chris Matthews asked how long it will take the Iranians to develop a nuclear weapon “that could be transported by a terrorist group,” Muravchik admitted he didn’t “know how long it will take them.” Muravchik’s comments came on the same day that IAEA head Mohamed ElBaradei confirmed that it would take Iran three to eight years to build a nuclear weapon.
Nevertheless, Muravchik added, “I don’t mind if we bomb next month or the month after. I think we have to do it sometime in a short time frame.” Matthews then suggested that the real reason Muravchik is pushing for war so soon is not because of national security imperatives, but because Bush is the most likely president to follow through:
I respect you coming on and you’re a logical thinker. Let’s go to the logic of this. The one reason to bomb them now is you don’t trust the incoming presidency, the next president of the United States to do it. So you say let’s get Bush to do it. He’s the most likely guy to do it.
In the past, Muravchick has made clear that he wants war with Iran to happen before the 2008 elections. “Make no mistake, President Bush will need to bomb Iran’s nuclear facilities before leaving office,” he wrote in late 2006.
Muravchik has pushed for a targeted air strike because it “would not end Iran’s weapons program, but it would certainly delay it.” Yet as a recent study by the British-based Oxford Research Group reports, military strikes on Iran “could accelerate rather than halt Tehran’s production of atomic weapons.”
(HT: Matt Yglesias)
Transcript: Read more
Dick Thornburgh, former Republican Attorney General under President Reagan, told the House Judiciary Committee today that “he thinks the Justice Department had political aims in prosecuting a high-profile Democratic coroner from Pennsylvania.” Thornburgh, who is representing the coroner, said his client was “an ideal target for a Republican U.S. attorney trying to curry favor with a (Justice) Department which demonstrated that if you play by its rules, you will advance.”