Chris Muir is rarely funny, but he’s also rarely this bizarre.
In 2007, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) pushed forward on her pledge to run the most ethical Congress in history and established the House Ethics Enforcement Task Force. She charged the group with setting up an Office of Congressional Ethics, an “independent ethics panel” composed of six “nonpartisan professional staff” members who were jointly appointed by the Speaker and Minority Leader. Lawmakers and lobbyists would be barred from serving.
The House is expected to vote on the task force’s proposal on Thursday. Even though this committee will be independent and nonpartisan, the GOP is already resisting. In an attempt to dissuade Democrats from voting for the ethics office, senior House Republican aides are drawing up a hit list of 10 Democratic lawmakers who would be pursued with ethics investigations if the measure passes. National Journal reports (sub. req’d):
Senior House Republican aides are drawing up a list of Democrats to target if the House votes Thursday to create an independent panel to weigh ethics complaints against lawmakers.
In a move that one top Democratic lawmaker called “political extortion,” House GOP aides said Tuesday the names of more than 10 Democrats are likely to end up on the list and that investigations would be pursued against all of them.
It is not clear how much support House Republican leaders are giving to the staff effort, but several GOP leadership aides who were asked about the list said they were aware of it.
Democratic lawmakers on the GOP list include John Murtha (PA), Jim Moran (VA), and John Conyers (MI), among others.
Pursuing investigations against lawmakers is one thing. But holding off on the investigations to blackmail lawmakers is another. “If they have legitimate ethics concerns about any member, why wouldn’t they bring it forward now?” wondered Rep. Michael Capuano (D-MA), who chairs the ethics task force.
If Boehner is truly serious about his pledge “to enforce a tougher ethical standard in the 110th Congress,” he should disavow this hit list.
A new Zogby poll finds that 67 percent of Americans “believe traditional journalism is out of touch with what Americans want from their news.” Forty-eight percent say that their primary source of news and information comes from the Internet, an increase of eight points from a year ago. The public also views citizen journalism (77 percent) and blogging (59 percent) as important for the future of journalism.
National Review‘s founder has passed away. I think anyone in the ideological journalism business has to give the man his props. What’s more, Robert Farley is certainly right that he seems preferable to his co-ideologues in some respects:
“Aren’t you embarrassed by the absence of these weapons?” Buckley snaps at Podhoretz. He has just explained that he supported the war reluctantly, because Dick Cheney convinced him that Saddam Hussein had WMD primed to be fired. “No,” Podhoretz replies. “As I say, they were shipped to Syria. During Gulf War One, the entire Iraqi air force was hidden in the deserts in Iran.” He says he is “heartbroken” by this “rise of defeatism on the right.” He adds, apropos of nothing, “There was nobody better than Don Rumsfeld. This defeatist talk only contributes to the impression we are losing, when I think we are winning.”
The audience cheers Podhoretz. The nuanced doubts of Bill Buckley leave them confused. Doesn’t he sound like the liberal media? Later, over dinner, a tablemate from Denver calls Buckley “a coward.” His wife nods and says, “Buckley’s an old man,” tapping her head with her finger to suggest dementia.
Of course the Buckley-era National Review was also an apologist for violent, anti-democratic, populist nationalist movements of the right in Spain, the Old Confederacy, and elsewhere though one wouldn’t want to call those people fascists since, after all, they weren’t liberals.
In an op-ed published yesterday in the Washington Post, John Podesta, Ray Takeyh, and Lawrence Korb noted that President Bush’s Iraq escalation strategy has failed and argued that domestic and “strategic necessities of ending the war have never been more compelling.”
Naturally, the right wing is in hysterics. Leading the charge, of course, are the primary advocates of staying in Iraq forever — the editors of the National Review — who in May 2005 asserted that “we’re winning” in Iraq and then argued two years later that the U.S. needs to “stay.”
The National Review claimed that Podesta, Takeyh, and Korb “demonstrate the bankruptcy of the antiwar cause” because “[t]hey don’t mention al Qaeda in their piece, as if it is of no consequence that al Qaeda once controlled big chunks of Iraq.” But what the National Review leaves out is that according to a recent CRS report, al-Qaeda represents only a small percentage of the violence in Iraq:
Increasingly in 2007, U.S. commanders have seemed to equate AQ-I with the insurgency, even though most of the daily attacks are carried out by Iraqi Sunni insurgents.
Podesta, Takeyh, and Korb said that it is “possible that in the absence of a cumbersome and clumsy American occupation, Iraqis will make their own bargains and compacts” to avoid increased violence after U.S. troops leave. National Review called that assertion a “smear” on U.S. troops because they are “welcomed by the locals in many areas.”
79 percent oppose the presence of coalition forces, unchanged since winter.
63 percent say it was wrong for the U.S. to have invaded Iraq, up from 52 percent in March and 39 percent in Feb. 2004.
47 percent now favor “immediate withdrawal of U.S. forces,” a 12-point rise since March.
Council on Foreign Relations Senior Fellow Max Boot joined in the attack, criticizing the op-ed’s argument that U.S. support for the Sunni “Concerned Local Citizens” (CLCs) has undermined Iraq’s government. In an article in Commentary, Boot claimed that the CLC’s help in rooting out al Qaeda “has led to a fall in the fortunes of the Jaish al Mahdi, Moqtada al Sadr’s militia which had long postured as the defender of Shi’ites against Sunni predations.”
Yet General Petraeus — whom Boot has called “a man of intellect” — disagrees, stating in December that Sadr has not “been marginalized” and that “[h]e very much maintains contacts with his leaders and continues to give direction.”
Finally, a right-wing attack cannot be complete without a contribution from the American Enterprise Institute. Via the Weekly Standard, AEI fellow Tom Donnelly called the Podesta-Takeyh-Korb op-ed an “air of desperation,” “unsettling” and “little more than a political threat” but did not take issue with any specific claim they made.
Barack Obama offers his endorsement to the San Antonio Spurs, terming them his “second-favorite team” after his hometown Chicago Bulls:
It seems a bit non-credible to me for Obama to cite the Spurs’ no-flash, play-the-right-way image as the decisive factor. The Obama-esque element of San Antonio’s team is the unlikely cosmopolitanism of the roster. In current NBA terms, though, Obama may be most like the Lakers — a juggernaut that came out of nowhere.
Last February, Washington Post columnist David Broder wrote a column arguing that President Bush was “poised for a political comeback.” Over the past year, he repeatedly defended his claim, but in an online chat today, Broder finally repudiated his column, saying “that was certainly one of my less astute observations“:
Long Island, N.Y.: Mr. Broder, thanks for taking time today for this chat. About a year ago you wrote a column where you stated: “It may seem perverse to suggest that, at the very moment the House of Representatives is repudiating his policy in Iraq, President Bush is poised for a political comeback. But don’t be astonished if that is the case.” I think it’s safe to say that this comeback has yet to materialize. In your opinion, what has transpired over the last 12-plus months where Bush has failed to capitalize on any opportunity to garner any significant increase in support outside his high-20 percent core backers?
David S. Broder: That was certainly one of my less astute observations. He has been less flexible in the past year than I expected after the 2006 election, and I think he continues to pay a price for his rigidity. On the S-CHIP program, for one example.
Few places on earth are more vulnerable to climate change than the oceans. Every passing year provides more and more evidence that serious impacts from human-caused global warming are here now. The San Francisco Chronicle reports:
Peering into the murky depths, Jane Lubchenco searched for sea life, but all she saw were signs of death.
Video images scanned from the seafloor revealed a boneyard of crab skeletons, dead fish and other marine life smothered under a white mat of bacteria. At times, the camera’s unblinking eye revealed nothing – a barren undersea desert in waters renowned for their bounty of Dungeness crabs and fat rockfish.
“We couldn’t believe our eyes,” Lubchenco said, recalling her initial impression of the carnage brought about by oxygen-starved waters. “It was so overwhelming and depressing. It appeared that everything that couldn’t swim or scuttle away had died.”
Upon further study, Lubchenco and other marine ecologists at Oregon State University concluded that that the undersea plague appears to be a symptom of global warming. In a study published in the journal Science, the researchers note how these low-oxygen waters have expanded north into Washington and crept south as far as the California state line. And, they appear to be as regular as the tides, a cycle that has repeated itself every summer and fall since 2002.
I will post the link to the Science article below with the abstract. The SF Chronicle explains:
I have a sneaking suspicion that Sara Mead’s new Early Ed Watch blog at the New America Foundation is going to become this site’s go-to source for early education news and analysis.
Shihab al-Tamimi, the “head of Iraq’s biggest journalist organization,” died on Wednesday, just “four days after being seriously wounded by gunmen who opened fire on his car in Baghdad.” Tamimi was known for his outspoken views about the Bush administration’s policies in Iraq. The Committee to Protect Journalists recently called the Iraq war the deadliest conflict for journalists in recent history.