Saturday, June 30, 2007

RFK's Speech Writer

Film critic Joel Siegel has died at age 63.

The Emmy-winning critic was the long time entertainment editor for ABC's Good Morning America.

But he also had a history in politics. In the 1960s, he joined civil rights protests in the south. And he wrote jokes for RFK's speeches in his 1968 campaign. (LAT)

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Federal Bureau of Prisons

Don't know where he'll be hanging his soap on a rope, but Scooter Libby has his very own personal inmate number with the Federal Bureau of Prisons.


We'll keep you posted on his processing -- or follow it yourself at the BOP -- not to be confused with the GOP -- inmate locator. (Bureau Of Prisons)

Romney Goes to the Dogs -- in a Wagon Queen Family Truckster

Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney's crude Chevy Chase impersonation has landed him in the doghouse with animal lovers.

TIME reports Mr Romney once strapped the family pet -- "Seamus," an Irish Setter -- to the roof of the family car for a 12 hour trip to Canada. Seamus was at least in a dog carrier. But Massachusetts' animal cruelty laws forbid this sort of treatment. Mr Romney was governor of Massachusetts.

In "National Lampoon's Vacation," Chevy Chase's character ties a dog to the bumper of the family wagon and forgets about it until after a motorcycle cop pulls him over for speeding several miles later. (TIME)

Bush Won't Supply Subpoenaed Docs

President Bush is headed toward a Constitutional showdown with Congress. He's refusing to give up the documents the Senate Judiciary Committee subpoenaed in the US Attorney firing scandal. The deadline for turning them over is today.

Yesterday, the Committee also subpoenaed documents related to the warrantless wiretap program. (AP via Yahoo!)

Edwards Cashes In on Coulter Again

When Anne Coulter opens her mouth -- John Edwards' supporters open their wallets.

The conservative columnist has become one of the most effective fundraising tools the Edwards Presidential campaign has found.

A comment she made on Good Morning America (above) this week -- suggesting it'd be more acceptable for her to suggest the Democratic Presidential hopeful be "killed in a terrorist assassination plot" has cranked up contributions to the Edwards camp.

Back in March, she called the former North Carolina Senator a "faggot." That's in this video:

Mr Edwards used a video clip of Ms Coulter saying that to raise $300,000. (KLIF)

More Questions in Doolittle Probe

Feds plan to queston another former aide to Rep John Doolittle (R-CA) (left) -- and Pete Evich says he'll talk to them.

Mr Evich was Rep Doolittle's legislative director until 2002 and is now a lobbyist.

FBI agents raided Rep Doolittle's home in April in what's believed to be an investigation linked to jailed lobbyist Jack Abramoff. (

Obama Shooting for 250,000 Donors This Week

Sen Barack Obama (D-IL) has more than doubled the number of contributors to his campaign since the first quarter finance report. Nearly 250,000 people have contributed to his Presidential bid.

The AP reports 104,000 donors were listed on his first quarter report. Another 138,000 will be listed on his second quarter report.

His campaign reported Wednesday night it was 7,214 donors short of the quarter million goal it's set for Saturday at midnight. (Ventura County Star)

Record Government Waste

A report to Congress suggests government waste has hit an all time high. From ABC's Blotter:

The U.S. government has committed to spend a record-high $1.1 trillion with companies holding government contracts "plagued by waste, fraud, abuse or mismanagement," according to a new report by the House Oversight and Government
Reform Committee.
The report says more than $200 billion of your money was spent on projects with little or no competitive bidding -- triple the amount from back in 2000. (ABC)

Congressional Pay Raise Coming

Democrats and Republicans in the House have found something they can agree on: $4,400 pay raises!

That'd bring a Congressman's salary to around $170,000 a year.

Representatives endorsed the "cost of living" raise Wednesday on a 244-181 vote. The vote killed a bid by Reps Jim Matheson, (D-UT) and Lee Terry, (R-NE) to kill the automatic raise.

Congress members get a pay raise annually unless they vote to block it. (MyWay)

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Mice and Men and Hurricane Katrina

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Government (CREW) reports the federal government failed to follow it's own disaster plan in response to Hurricane Katrina.

It took nearly two years and a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit for CREW to get the 7,500 records from the Department of Homeland Security and compile them in their new report.

What's outlined in The Best Laid Plans: The Story of How the Government Ignored Its Own Gulf Coast Hurricane Plans:

Critically, CREW found that FEMA had created a “Southeast Louisiana
Catastrophic Hurricane Plan” (SLCHP), which forecast a range of specific
consequences, including:

  • New Orleans would be flooded with 14-17 feet of water, the levee system
    inundated with at least 10 feet of water and the hurricane would move into

  • One million people would evacuate, but flooding would trap at least

  • Each hurricane victim would require a minimum of two Meals Ready to Eat, one gallon of water and eight pounds of ice per day.
CREW also posted the raw documents on their website.

CIA Says "Thank You"

Remember that little Cambodian invasion from the Nixon years? The CIA just wants to say, "Thank You!"

Seems the spy shop shelled out $33,000 for "Thank You" cards -- mailed out to Mr Nixon's supporters and fans of that little military action.

Just one more of the "family jewels" released in the nostalgic document dump of dirty tricks. (Bloomberg/Huffington Post)

About that $19 Billion....

Washington has spent roughly $55,000 training and equiping every Iraqi soldier and security police officer. Around $19 billion in all . But no one seems to know what your tax dollars have actually bought.

The Washington Post got hold of a report to the House Armed Services Committee says those in charge can't explain just how well trained the Iraqis are, how they do their job, or even if they're doing it.

It's hard to know when to "stand" down if you don't know if the Iraqis are even "standing up." (WaPo)

You've Been Served

The Senate Judiciary Committee has issued subpoenas to the White House and Vice President Dick Cheney's Office for all documents related to the warrantless wiretapping program.

The Justice Department and National Security Council are also being served. (AP)

Warner Joins GOP Anti-War Talk -- More Republicans Leaning Against Bush

Sen John Warner (R-VA) has praised Sen George Voinovich's (R-OH) letter to President Bush as "an important and sincere contribution" to the Iraq debate.

The former Chairman of the Armed Services Committee -- is the latest to join a rising conservative chorus pressuring the White House for drawing down US troops in Iraq. The calls started Monday with Sen Richard Lugar (R-IN).

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has changed his tune since blocking a symbolic vote opposing the troop "surge." From the Washington Post:

"I anticipate that we'll probably be going in a different direction in some way in Iraq" in September, McConnell told reporters earlier this month. "And it'll be interesting to see what the administration chooses to do."

Sen Lugar defined his position in a speech on the Senate floor -- after consulting with Leader McConnell. Sen Voinovich made his views in a letter to President Bush.

A handful of Republicans -- mostly moderates -- are already on record for redeploying from Iraq. But the sudden and sizable shift among conservatives this week poses a problem for President Bush -- hoping to hold out until an assessment of his "surge" in the fall. (WaPo)

Return to Liberty

Even though the Department of Homeland Security once said there were no national landmarks worthy of a terrorist attack in New York City, Uncle Sam has refused to reopen the Statue of Liberty to tourists since 9/11.

Nearly six years after the attack, Congress is pushing for the reopening. From The Bellingham Herald:

Rep. Anthony Weiner, D-N.Y., for the second year in a row added an amendment to a spending bill giving the National Park Service $1 million to study how to safely reopen the staircase to the statue's crown - something prohibited since the 2001 terror attacks.
Right now, you can only go as far as the pedestal. (The Bellingham Herald)

Senators Miss Votes to Run for President

There are almost enough US Senators running for President they could call a quorum. But the campaign is keeping them from some votes back in DC.

The Senate's had 228 votes so far -- and none would have turned out differently if a campaigning Senator was there or not.

The AP counted missed votes of the six Senators running for President:

    • John McCain: 117
    • Sam Brownback (R-KN): 81
    • Joe Biden (D-DE): 62
    • Chris Dodd (D-CT): 59
    • Barack Obama (D-IL): 20
    • Hillary Clinton (D-NY): 5
Only Sen Tim Johnson (D-SD) has more absentees than Senators McCain and Brownback. But then, he's been in a coma for a good part of the session and is still recovering from a stroke.

You can check up on Senators' voting records here. (The Free Press)

Voinovich Defects from Bush on Iraq

A day after Sen Richard Lugar (R-IN) said it's time to get out of Iraq, another top Republican Senator joined the call. Sen George Voinovich (R-OH) fired off a letter to President Bush saying it's time to let the Iraqis stand up.

"We must not abandon our mission, but we must begin a transition where the Iraqi government and its neighbors play a larger role in stabilizing Iraq," Sen George Voinovich (R-OH) in a letter to President Bush
Moderate Republicans have already joined Democrats in calling for a troop draw down. But with prominent conservative Senators now joining the call -- there's a better chance war opponents will get the 60 votes they need to pass bills demanding the President redeploy troops from Iraq.

With anti-war amendments coming up for votes in July -- the latest GOP defections suggest President Bush may be tested before he presents the results of his troop "surge" in September. (Chicago Tribune)

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Lugar: Iraq Not Worth It

Sen Richard Lugar (R-IN) says the President's Iraq strategy is not working.

He's been a faithful follower of President Bush on Iraq. Now, he says it's just not worth it. He's a former Foreign Relations Committee Chairman -- and his conservative credentials could make it easier for other Republicans in the Senate to bolt from the President's policies.

The Senate takes up several anti-war amendments just next month. (WaPo)

Monday, June 25, 2007

Ghost Fleet Haunts California Ecology

An aged maritime fleet located in Suisun Bay off the coast of California is an environmental threat -- dumping tons of lead, zinc, barium, copper and other toxic metals into the bay.

The fleet consists of dozens of World War II era warships and cargo carriers.

The Contra Costa Times reports the rusting hulks have shed more than 21 tons of toxic metals into the water (see picture). And that's created a big environmental problem -- much worse than the federal Maritime Administration office has admitted. (Contra Costa Times)

Rejecting ID

Six state legislatures have told Uncle Sam where to stick his new ID card law.

All six have passed laws in just the past couple of months targeting national ID card standards as too expensive and an invasion of privacy.
"The people of New Hampshire are adamantly opposed to any kind of 'papers-please' society reminiscent of Nazi Germany and Stalinist Russia." New Hampshire State Rep Neal Kurk (R), quoted in USA Today
The National Conference of State Legislatures figures the plan would cost $11 billion for all the states to comply.

States fighting the ID idea: Maine, Montana, New Hampshire, Oklahoma, South Carolina and Washington. (USAToday)

Flunking Math in California

The folks who hammered out California's school budget flunked their math.

The budget has a $364 million accounting error.

“We are calling Geek Squad.” -- H.D. Palmer, Department of Finance spokesman, quoted in the San Diego Union-Tribune
Bean counters aren't saying who's to blame for the number crunching catastrophe. (Union Tribune)

Tired of Waiting

State lawmakers -- tired of waiting on Washington -- passed more than 1,100 immigration bills of their own in this year's sessions.

The National Conference of State Legislatures reports that's twice the number of last year's record total. (WaPo)

Issue Ads Back on the Air

The Supreme Court has ruled 5-4 in favor of groups challenging parts of the McCain-Feingold Campaign Finance Reform Act.

The Justices ruled that groups can name specific candidates in ads leading up to elections.

"In drawing that line, the First Amendment requires us to err on the side of protecting political speech rather than suppressing it," -- Chief Justice John Roberts
The act restricted the kinds of ads unions, corporations, and special interest groups could run. (WaPo)

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Lamb Leads Savage to the Slaughter

Does a tree falling in the woods make a sound -- even if C-SPAN is there to cover it?

Right wing radio screaming head Michael Savage couldn't show up to accept a Freedom of Speech award. This guy doesn't even "phone it in." He mails his speech in as a DVD. C-SPAN was covering the event, but chose not to take the DVD.

Mr Savage is outraged that literally ones of people didn't see him on C-SPAN! So he urges his listeners to beat up on C-SPAN. Even gives names, phone numbers, e-mail addresses.

Hey, this sort of thing makes good TV -- even on C-SPAN, where reading e-mails, slowly and clearly is considered an action show.

C-SPANNER Brian Lamb (pictured) -- in his classic, emotionless style -- flattens Savage and company by simply reading the insane rants from the hate mail he recieved. (Politico)

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Giuliani Campaign Manager for South Carolina Faces Cocaine Charges

Republican Presidential Candidate Rudy Giuliani just lost his South Carolina campaign chairman to a cocaine charge.


"South Carolina Treasurer Thomas Ravenel has been suspended from office, following his indictment by a federal grand jury for distribution of cocaine.... [H]e serves as the state chairman for former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani's presidential campaign. Late Tuesday, Giuliani's campaign announced he stepped down from that role."
The scandal in an early primary state comes as nagging problems seem to snowball for the Giuliani camp. He's withdrawn from the crucial Ames, Iowa straw poll -- seen as a weakness of his campaign organization there -- and his poll numbers have been diving -- as former supporters flock to the possible candidacy of former Sen Fred Thompson (R-TN).

Now, his campaign faces scandal in the earliest test of a candidate's mettle in the south.

Mr Giuliani's former campaign chairman is scheduled for arraignment in federal court July 9th. He faces 20 years in prison and a $1 million fine. (WLTX)

Mr Bush, Tear Down This Wall!

Ask some of the people along the US border with Mexico about plans for a wall there -- and they'll come up with plans of their own.

Folks in McAllen, Texas think it'd be a better idea to build a wall around Washington. The McAllen Chamber of Commerce has even launched a campaign to do just that.

"Why don't we just build around Washington, D.C.? It can protect us from some bad characters, some bad legislation and bad ideas." -- Steve Ahlenius, President and CEO, McAllen, Texas Chamber of Commerce quoted in the San Antonio Express News

Local leaders are ticked off at the feds for keeping them out of the loop on the border fence plans. They worry the wall will cut off farmers from water supplies and ruin business relations with customers from across the border. (Express News)

Clintons do the Sopranos

Hillary Clinton spoofs the Sopranos series finale to unveil her new campaign song -- with a cameo featurning "Johnny Sack."

Hey, if you didn't like the Sopranos ending -- the Clinton version has more to hate -- her campaign song is by Celine Dion. (Hillary Clinton Campaign)

Monday, June 18, 2007

Showtime -- Lobbyists Called on the Red Carpet

Health care lobbyists got a public invitation to the DC screening of Michael Moore's new movie "Sicko."

Mr Moore took out an ad in the Washington Post listing scores of health care lobbyists by name and inviting them to show up for the showing.

Think Progress has some of their reviews already -- even though none have seen the film critical of America's health care system.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Tracking Scooter

Afraid of losing touch with Scooter Libby when he reports to prison? Fear not! Uncle Sam has something better that "the Google" to follow felons on "the Internets."

The Federal Bureau of Prisons has a handy-dandy "Inmate Locator" (they pretty much just downloaded the RNC phone directory) so you can find where any federal felon is warehoused!

I used it to track down Randy "Duke" Cunningham, Prisoner Number 94405-198 at the lovely lock up in Tuscon, Arizona pictured here. Though I had to enter "Randall" and leave out his "Duke" alias to zero in on him.

You can look up anyone locked up in the Federal Bureau of Prisons since 1982.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

The YouTube Presidential Debate

CNN and YouTube will host Presidential debates where all questions will come in the form of user generated video clips.

The Democratic debate will be July 23, the Republican one on September 17.

Break out your camcorders and upload your questions before July 22. Their website has instructions on how to improve your chances your question will be chosen. (CNN)

Putting Money Where his Mouth Is

Former President Bill Clinton made $10 million from speeches last year.

Not bad considering his first to a national audience -- at the 1988 Democratic National Convention. After droning on for way too long, he got a standing ovation for simply saying, "In conclusion...." (CNN)

Judge in Libby Trial Threatened

The judge who sentenced Scooter Libby in the CIA leak case says he and his family have been threatened since he handed down the two and a half year term.

"I received a number of angry, harassing mean-spirited phone calls and letters. Some of those were wishing bad things on me and my family." -- District Judge Reggie B. Walton, quoted in the International Herald Tribune
Mr Libby's lawyers are asking Judge Walton today to allow Mr Libby to remain free while he appeals his case. The Judge has said he's inclined not inclined to grant that request and leans toward ordering Mr Libby to start serving his sentence right away. (IHT)

Update: Judge Walton has ordered Scooter Libby to begin serving his time while his case is on appeal. A 1984 law allows a judge to make such an order if he believes the case has little chance to be overturned on appeal.

Update: Expect no pardon while Mr Libby's case is on appeal. The White House issued a statement saying President Bush will not intervene so long as Mr Libby pursues an appeal.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Our Cessna in Red Square

TB Man -- Andrew Speaker -- showed us how vunerable our border security is nearly six years after 9/11. The story of a man -- red flagged as a bio threat -- skirting security to fly around the US and Europe pulls back the curtains on what the Homeland Security Department says they've done to protect us from a terrorist threat -- to let us see how little they've really accomplished.

And TB Man's flight was just the hook that nabbed public attention. From the Washington Post:

"In August, a congressional study said investigators who used fake identification documents and posed as American travelers reported breaching U.S. land border inspections 93 percent of the time in 2002 and 2003, succeeding in 42 of 45 tries. In 2006, testers got through on all 18 attempts."
TB Man is similar to "the Cessna in Red Square." Back in 1984, 19-year-old German Mathias Rust flew through Soviet bloc radar screens and anti-aircraft defenses to land a single engine Cessna on Red Square in front of the Kremlin.

He spent 432 days in a Soviet labor camp -- but showed that the Soviets had a highly flawed national defense. His flight dramatically changed the Soviet's bargining position on treaties with the west -- because he showed the world how vunerable the USSR actually was to an attack.

Andrew Speaker has become the Cessna in America's square. (WaPo)

Discipline for Doan?

The US Special Counsel has called on President Bush to discipline GSA boss Lurita Alexis Doan (right) for breaking the Hatch Act. From the Washington Post:

"In a June 8 letter to Bush, Special Counsel Scott J. Bloch accused Doan of "engaging in the most pernicious of political activity" during a Jan. 26 lunch briefing involving 36 GSA political sppointees and featuring a PowerPoint presentation about the November elections by the White House's deputy director of political affairs.

At the presentation's conclusion, Doan asked what could be done to 'help our candidates,' according to a special counsel report."

The Special Counsel's office also claims Ms Doan "obstructed" their investigation into the original complaint. (WaPo)

Richardson Still Interviewing in Ads

Former Gov Bill Richardson (D-NM) has launched his third humorous ad in the "job interview" series. In two earlier ads, he sat for a job interview to be President -- being told he was overqualified. In the third one he's asked what he did as governor to fight global climate change.

The meat of the ad:

Richardson :"We passed tax credits for wind, solar and bio fuels,' Richardson says. 'Utility companies have to use renewable sources. And I set tough standards to reduce greenhouse emissions. President Bush doesn't follow the Kyoto Treaty, but my state does. I can do all that as president.'

Interviewer: "But what I asked you was if you were a tree, what kind of tree would you be?"

The humorous ads seem to be helping. AP reports his poll numbers have ticked up some since they started airing -- but not enough to get him into the top tier. (Utica Observer Dispatch)

But Tom Cruise has One!

The FBI has a $40 million Gulfstream V jet packed that's supposed to be used for counter terrorism missions. The FBI asked Congress for $3.6 million to keep it flying in the last war spending bill -- and other budget requests are dotted with similar requests to support what the Bureau calls "crucial missions."

Turns out, FBI Director Robert Mueller considers his speeches, public appearances, and visits to field offices as "crucial missions." The Washington Post reports roughly 23% of the time it's in the air -- it's serving as Director Mueller's private mode of personal transportation.

Sen Charles Grassley (R-IA) says that's a good way for the FBI to lose funding for the pricey plane -- a favorite of jet setting celebrities. In the opening scenes of "Oceans Thirteen" which opened last weekend, George Clooney and Brad Pitt's characters are seen jetting into Vegas aboard a Gulfstream V.

Past Directors flew commercial -- or in a pinch, on a smaller corporate jet.

On top of that -- Director Mueller refuses to go to the plane -- and insists it come to him. So the Gulfstream has to leave a suburban DC airfield, land at DC's Washington Reagan National Airport and take off again -- adding about $1,000 cost to each flight.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Cheney's Batteries Run Low

Vice President Dick Cheney will undergo surgery this summer to replace the battery in his pacemaker. The entire, implanted device has to be replaced to replace the battery.

Mr Cheney recieved a check up Friday -- revealing no new blockages in his heart. He's had four heart attcks and quadruple bypass surgery in the past. Mr Cheney has also had three other heart related surgeries -- including the one to originally implant the pacemaker. (OC Register)

Campaign 2008 Roundup -- June 11, 2007

Sen Sam Brownback (R-KS) came out against allowing rape victims to have abortions.

"Rape is terrible. Rape is awful. Is it made any better by killing an innocent child? Does it solve the problem for the woman that's been raped?" -- Sen Sam Brownback to the National Catholic Men's Conference
DNC Chairman Howard Dean says the best way to end the Iraq War -- is to elect a Democratic President in '08.

"We have to face the reality that Republicans in Congress are standing with President Bush as he stubbornly wields his veto pen." -- Howard Dean, Democratic Party Weekly Radio Address
Sen Barack Obama (D-IL) joined 250 supporters in going door to door to round up votes in Iowa over the weekend.
"What we are kicking off this weekend is what we are claiming is the biggest grass-roots canvass, this early, in presidential campaign history. We have people canvassing from New York to San Diego, all across the country." Sen Barack Obama, quoted by the AP
Sen Hillary Clinton (D-NY) isn't so sure testing is making America's kids any smarter.
"I think that we are in danger of narrowing the curriculum and leaving children behind." Sen Hillary Clinton, campaigning in Indiania over the weekend

Hey, Since Iraq is Going so Well...

Sen Joseph Lieberman (I-NJ) backs a strike on Iran because of it's involvement in Iraq.
"I think we've got to be prepared to take aggressive military action against the Iranians to stop them from killing Americans in Iraq." -- Sen Joseph Lieberman (I-NJ) , on "Face the Nation"
Sen Lieberman suggests hitting bases in Iran where he says Iran's training Iraqi insurgents. (Journal Register)

Edwards Looks Under Cushions for Change

Democratic Presidential hopeful John Edwards is going after small donors. A back yard BBQ drew 500 supporters at $15 a plate. (Daily Record)

Friday, June 08, 2007

Obama Giving Tainted Money to Charity

Sen Barack Obama (D-IL) will give up campaign donations he recieved through a shady donor. From the Associated Press:
"The donations came from two Chicago businessmen who worked with indicted entrepreneur Antoin 'Tony' Rezko, the one-time Obama friend. Rezko has pleaded not guilty to charges that he shook down investment firms that wanted to do business with the state of Illinois. Obama last year gave charities $11,500 to clear his campaign fund of donations that had come directly from Rezko."

The Democratic Presidential hopeful will give the $16,500 to charity. (AP)

Four More Years, Four More Years

Imagine Democrats chanting "Four More Years" every time the GOP Presidential nominee pops up next year. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich has -- and it worries him. Mr Gingrich says the Republican nominee has to make a clean break with President Bush and his policies -- or the Party will lose the White House and even more seats in Congress.

He warns that supporting President Bush's policies while running in the '08 election will put the Republican Party on defense -- and warns Republicans will lose if that happens.

So the big question is -- how does a Republican break from the Bush policies and still win the nomination? Mr Gingrich didn't offer any answers for that. (

Vacationers Overwhelm Feds

Red tape and a massive summer vacation rush has pushed the feds to suspend their new passport rules -- for now. Effectively calling a truce in a turf war between the Departments of State and Homeland Security.

Long waiting lines and jammed phone lines overwhelmed Passport Offices where a backlog in issuing passports has meant waits of several months to get them. New rules required Americans traveling by air to anywhere in the Western Hemisphere to have a US passport to get back in the US.

You can now travel with proof of having applied for a passport -- available online -- but you'll have to go through some extra screening. (WaPo)

Thompson Poaching McCain's Fields

Former Sen Fred Thompson's (R-TN) entry into the GOP Presidential sweepstakes is costing Sen John McCain (R-AZ) a ton of money. And it comes at a crucial time for candidates to show potential donors they can raise the big bucks. The Washington Post highlights some of the defections:
John Dowd represented Sen. John McCain in his darkest hour, the "Keating Five" scandal. He supported McCain the first time he ran for President in 2000 and signed up to be a major fundraiser for him in this year's presidential race. But when former senator Fred D. Thompson began thinking about running, the Washington lawyer changed his mind.
McCain ran third in GOP fundraising in the first quarter FEC reports -- behind fmr Gov Mitt Romney (R-MA) and fmr Mayor Rudy Giuliani (R-NYC). The second quarter is coming up fast -- and Mr Thompson is raking in support from conservatives turned off by the moderate to outright liberal leanings of Mr Romney and Mr Giuliani. (WaPo)

Iraq war, gas prices, surpluses mark 2007

The Iraq War, gas prices, and state budget surpluses marked the 2007 state legislative season. has a wrap up of how legislatures are wrapping up their 2007 sessions. (

Ethics Committee Targets Jefferson

Before he could enter his not guilty plea to corruption charges, the House Ethics Committee has voted to expand its investigation of Rep William Jefferson (D-LA).

The Congressman was arraigned today on a 16-count corruption indictment handed down earlier in the week.

The committee hasn't mentioned expelling Rep Jefferson from the House -- though the House has passed a GOP-sponsored resolution calling on the Committee to report on the possibility of expulsion. (The Buffalo News)

Edwards Questions Clinton's Safety Assessment

Fmr Sen John Edwards (D-NC) took on Sen Hillary Clinton (D-NY) on her home turf -- very near Ground Zero.

The Democratic Presidential hopeful attacked her statement during this week's debate that America was safer from terrorist attack today than on 9/11.

"Today, as a result of what George Bush has done, we have more terrorists and fewer allies.... There was no group called al-Qaida in Iraq before this president's war in Iraq." -- Fmr Sen John Edwards (D-NC), quoted by the AP

Sen Edwards never mentioned Sen Clinton by name, but his news conference zeroed in on her statement. (The Lima News)

Throwing Punches in Alabama Politics

Proving that politics really is a contact sport, an Alabama state senator punched one of his colleagues in the head -- on the State Senate floor, while Alabama Public Television was taping.

Sen Charles Bishop (R) laid into Sen Lowell Barron (D) claiming the Democrat had called him an "SOB" in the Senate chamber. Sen Barron denies ever saying it.

Sen Bishop says he regrets the punch, saying that's no way for grown men to behave -- but he refuses to apologize. (La Crosse Tribune)

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Alaska Meltdown Hits DC

A widening corruption investigation in Alaska is beginning to snowball into Washington, DC.

Sen Ted Stevens (R-AK) says the FBI has asked him to hold onto records they may want for their corruption investigation that's already shaking up Alaska's GOP. From the Washington Post:

"Stevens, who is famous for bringing home federal earmarks for Alaska when he was Appropriations Committee chairman, was not previously known to be linked to the Justice Department's probe, which has uncovered evidence that more than $400,000 worth of bribes were given to state lawmakers in exchange for favorable energy legislation."

Sen Stevens is the longest serving Republican in the US Senate.

Two energy company executives have turned state's evidence after pleading guilty to bribery and extortion charges. They're spilling their guts, naming names, and making things hot for lawmakers in America's icebox. (WaPo)

GOP State Chairman Under Fire for Terrorism Statement

John Soltz, chairman and founder of the anti-Iraq War, wants Arkansas' GOP Chairman to step down.

Party Chairman Dennis Milligan said the US needs another terrorist attack like 9/11 to make people appreciate President Bush's policies.

“I think all we need is some attacks on American soil like we had on [Sept. 11, 2001 ], and the naysayers will come around very quickly to appreciate not only the commitment for President Bush, but the sacrifice that has been made by men and women to protect this country.” -- Dennis Milligan, quoted in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette
Mr Soltz says an apology would usually be enough -- but says the idea of wishing for a terrorist attack to extract some kind of political gain goes over the line. (NW Arkansas Times)

Attorney-gate Touches Alabama

Fallout from the US Attorney scandal -- casting a shadow on another scandal.

A former campaign aide to Gov Bob Riley (R-AL) suggests the White House used the Justice Department to cause problems in a close gubernatorial race.

Back in 2002, Gov Don Siegelman (D-AL) was seeking a recount after losing a close race to Mr Riley. Jill Simpson was a Riley aide at the time.

She's sworn out an affidavit saying she was in a telephone conference call meeting about the recount when Republican consultant Bill Canary suggested Karl Rove had said the US Justice Department was pursuing a case against Gov Siegelman.

Mr Canary refered to "his girls" taking care of the Democrat -- later defining "his girls" to mean his wife, US Attorney Leura Canary and US Attorney Alice Martin -- both serving in Alabama.

Ms Simpson suggests the investigation and eventual conviction may have been a miscarriage of justice.

Former Gov Don Siegelman was convicted last year of federal bribery, conspiracy, obstructing justice and mail fraud charges after an investigation that began in 2002.

Mr Canary and other people Ms Simpson says were on the call deny any such promise was ever made. The White House won't comment one way or another.

The unfolding US Attorney scandal has suggested the fired prosecutors may have lost their jobs for failing to persue cases against Democrats. (

Ron Paul, Computer Geek

Rep Ron Paul (R-TX) may be near last in the polls -- but he's leading other Republican Presidential hopefuls in rallying his supporters online.

CNN reports his supporters are creaming the competition in online, unscientific polls following the debates:

"One thing is for sure: Ron Paul supporters are effective at coordinating and mobilizing online quickly. For the three GOP debates so far, Paul has won or placed high in most of the unscientific online surveys including ABC’s, MSNBC’s, FOX’s, and unscientific polls conducted on a number of blogs."

They also report Rep Paul "virtually swept" CNN's own unscientific poll asking who won Tuesday's debate. (CNN)

Bush Matches Record Lows

pollPresident Bush has tied his all time low approval rating in the latest AP-Ipsos Poll: 32%.

That ties with January and is a 3-point drop since May.

Lowlights of the poll:

    • Only 28% approve of his handling of the Iraq War
    • Only 37% approve of his handling of the economy
    • Only 21% believe America's on the "right track"
Only a third of those polled approved of how the President was handling domestic issues overall. (

Coconut Road, Alaska

Why would a Congressman from Alaska add money to a bill to build a road in Florida?

Could it be because the Florida developer who'll benefit from the road raised $40,000 for the Alaska Congressman?

The New York Times looked into the road and the campaign cash and found the connection.

Rep Don Young (R-AK) (pictured) -- who's best remembered for getting $200 million for a "bridge to nowhere" in his home state -- tacked the money for the road onto a spending bill.

Coconut Road (see map, courtesy New York Times) -- as it's called -- would connect five golf courses as it runs from I-75 to the Gulf Coast. Developer Daniel Aronoff has a stake in 4,000 acres along the proposed Coconut Road route.

And -- maybe it's just a conicidence -- but Mr Aronoff raised 40-grand for Rep Young at the nearby Hyatt Coconut Point just days before the idea was slipped into the spending bill. But then, there are very few coincidences in politics.

The county never wanted the road.

Well, not until Rep Young wrote them a nasty letter saying they'd better take the money for the road and get cracking on construction -- or they could lose a lot of federal money for projects they did want. (NYT)

Red Tape, Long Lines -- Have a Nice Vacation!

Just what you need right before vacation -- long lines, red tape, and a sudden panic that your vacation is going down the drains because of government bureaucracy.

Last year, the federal government issued 7-million passports. They expect to double that this year -- and that's creating problems for American travelers.

New rules require anyone leaving the US to have a valid US passport to come back. That's got State Department phone lines jammed and long lines waiting outside passport offices as vacationers scramble to get their papers before their planned trips.

Special teams have been dispatched to several major US cities to handle the backlog of requests. Requests for passports are up 50% in some parts of the country. (NYT)

Wednesday, June 06, 2007


Remembering June 6, 1944. This tribute originally appeared as our 2006 D-Day salute to the ordinary men whose extraordinary actions on a summer morning saved the world.

Scooter Sets Record

Former White House aide Scooter Libby has set a record for White House felons -- longest sentence and biggest fine since Watergate.

At 30 months and $250,000 in fines, Mr Libby comes in at nearly twice the time as David Safavian (also with the current Bush administration) and fined nearly three times as much as Webb Hubbell (from the Clinton administration).

The Washington Post has a chart of the stiffest White House sentences of the Bush II, Clinton, Reagan, and Nixon years.

You have to go back to the team of Erlichman and Halderman's maximum 8 year sentences to find one stiffer. Though both only served 18 month sentences. (WaPo)

What, Me Sorry?

Arkansas Gov Mike Beebe (D-AR) isn't ready to apologize for slavery. Lots of states are grinding out official apologies -- but he says Arkansas isn't on the bandwagon.

With the 50th anniversary of the Little Rock Crisis coming up -- some people figured it'd be a good time to issue one. (Daily Citizen)

2008 Primary Calendar

You can't keep up with the primaries without a program! is doing the job with a schedule of primaries and caucuses. The links in this post will take you to PDF pages of their schedule. (

Corzine Target of Threats

Someone's been threatening Gov Jon Corzine (D-NJ) ever since he came to office.

New Jersey State Police say he's gotten 40 threats since taking office -- one of them serious enough to stall his arrival at an event (and no, the rollover wasn't part of that).

But he may not be alone. The AP quotes Col Rick Fuentes as saying that many threats over 17 months is pretty standard. Hey, what'd you expect -- it's Jersey. (

Troopers told: Park it

Budget cuts and rising gasoline prices are keeping Michigan State Troopers in park.

Troopers have been limited to as little as 40 miles per eight hour shift. That's taking them off patrol and leaving them sitting on the shoulder. Some troopers are putting in their limits before lunchtime -- spending the rest of their shifts sitting at desks instead of patrolling the roads. (

Ten Republicans Break their 11th Commandment

From listening to the GOP presidential candidates talk, you'd think they were running against George W Bush. The AP has a list of some of their statements criticizing the President:
    • "It's a typical Washington mess." former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani on the Bush-backed immigration bill

    • "I think we were underprepared and underplanned for what came after we knocked down Saddam Hussein." former Gov Mitt Romney (R-MA)

    • "The president ran as a conservative and governed as a liberal." Rep Tom Tancredo (R-CO)

    • "The president ran on a program of a humble foreign policy, no nation-building and no policing of the world, and he changed his tune." Rep Ron Paul (R-TX)

    • "We went to Washington to change Washington, and Washington changed us." former Gov Tommy Thompson (R-WI), once a Bush Cabinet member
So much for Ronald Reagan's "11th Commandment" -- "Thou shalt not speak ill of any fellow Republican." (News Journal)

Congress Investigates Homeland Security Over TB Man

Congress wants to know why Homeland Security failed to stop TB Man -- Andrew Speaker. Mr Speaker may not have exposed anyone to TB from his travels, but his travels did expose gaping holes in US defenses against a potential biological attack. From the AP:

The House Homeland Security Committee planned to question federal authorities Wednesday on why they had such a hard time catching up to a man armed only with a passport, a smile and a now-rare, deadly disease.
DHS is already scrambling to patch the holes before Congress takes action. Simple things -- like getting a supervisor's approval before a border guard can override a worldwide alert to stop a security risk.

But on top of internal problems at DHS, the UN's World Health Organization now says the Department failed to follow WHO guidelines for member countries in alerting other nations about the risk. (Commercial Appeal, NPR)

Voting Rights Group Vanishes amid Fraud Charges

A suddenly shadowy group once at the heart of GOP claims of widespread voter fraud is suspiciously absent from the current voter fraud debate at the heart of the US Attorney firings scandal.

The American Center for Voting Rights testified before Congress in 2005, claiming massive voter fraud efforts by Democrats. Their members turned out to be GOP operatives and the source of their million dollar war chest was never revealed.

But as facts emerge about how the fired US Attorneys refused to prosecute possibly trumped up charges of Democratic voter fraud, the group has disappeared -- it's members are refusing to talk. (NPR)

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Libby Ruling Pressures Bush

The Judge in the Scooter Libby trial is forcing President Bush's hand on a pardon.

If Mr Libby were to remain free pending appeals -- there'd be plenty of time for Mr Bush to put off a politically destructive pardon until after the 2008 elections. From the Washington Post:

But a pardon almost certainly would touch off a wave of political trouble for a White House already suffering some of the worst poll numbers in modern times. Bush critics have said a pardon would show a reckless disregard for rule of law in a case that concerned whether the administration misled the public to justify war with Iraq.
US District Judge Reggie Walton -- a 2001 Bush appointee to the federal bench -- doesn't believe Mr Libby has much of a chance on appeal. He plans to order Mr Libby to report to prison ASAP and start serving time.

Mr Libby's lawyers have a chance next week -- during one last hearing -- to change the judge's mind. If they can't change his mind -- Mr Libby would have 45-60 days to report to prison. (WaPo)

Air America

Just like they did for the last GOP debate -- "Americans Against the Escalation in Iraq" has hired planes to fly anti-war banners over the site of tonight's GOP debate.

Tonight's banner reads: "Republican Iraq Plan: 50 Years in Iraq." (CNN)

Jefferson Resigns Committee Post

Rep William Jefferson (D-LA) has stepped down from his post on the House Small Business Committee -- just one day after he was indicted on 16 corruption counts. (CNN)

Prison for Libby

He was once the third highest ranking staffer in the White House. Now, he's just another number in the Big House.

A federal judge sentenced Scooter Libby to 30 months in prison for his four felony convictions on lying and obstructing justice. The convictions came as part of the investigation of the CIA leak at the White House which exposed agent Valerie Plame's identity.

"People who occupy these types of positions, where they have the welfare and security of nation in their hands, have a special obligation to not do anything that might create a problem." U.S. District Judge Reggie B. Walton
The US Bureau of Prisons will determine when and were Mr Libby is to report. He is appealing the convictions.

Don't expect a pardon until after the 2008 elections -- if one comes. (AP)

Sen Thomas Dies

Sen Craig Thomas (R-WY) has died after a battle with leukemia. He was re-elected just last year to his third term.

His death won't affect the balance in the Senate. Under Wyoming law for replacing a Senator, the deceased Senator's party -- the GOP -- will submit three names to the Wyoming's Democratic Governor who will choose one of them as the new Senator. (KTVB)

Monday, June 04, 2007

Pols Paid to Drive to Work

Massachusetts lawmakers may be slow to feel the pain their constituents are feeling over gas prices.

That's because state legislators get their travel expenses reimbursed.

The Boston Herald tallied the list of lawmakers and added up their travel bills billed to taxpayers. At the top of the list, Rep Daniel Bosley (D-North Adams) has collected $6,930 for commuting 77 days to work -- at $90 a day.

Overall, the Bay State's paid out $200,000 for traveling lawmakers this year. (Boston Herald)

Checkbook Mentality and Higher Gas Prices

Big oil's own paperwork suggest at least one company not only put profits before needed repairs -- but profited from an eventual breakdown.

"BP field managers were being asked to choose between saving money and ccritical maintenance." -- Rep Bart Stupak, (D-MI), Chairman, Energy and Commerce Investigations Subcommittee

Internal documents from BP show the company ignored corrosion problems on the Alaska pipeline. The company slashed $800,000 in spending on anti-corrosion chemicals and reduced the number of inspections.

Over the same time, BP raked in $106 billion in profits.

The cutbacks resulted in leaks -- idling the pipeline for months, cutting off millions of barrels of oil and driving up oil and gasoline prices. And those higher prices resulted in more profits for BP -- effectively rewarding them for allowing the pipeline to breakdown. (Wyoming Tribune-Eagle)

Mixed Message from Big Oil

Congress is questioning where big oil puts its profits.

A House subcommittee is looking into whether oil companies have erased a supply cushion -- leading to record high gasoline prices of late.

"Oil companies today are enjoying record profits, and while they could use those profits to invest in more production capacity, instead they use the money to buy back shares in the markets."-- Rep John Conyers Jr. (D-MI), quoted by the AP
Gasoline prices have risen even as crude oil prices have dropped. Oil company exec's have said that refineries have had to close and cut back -- but in testimony before the subcommittee, John Felmy, chief economist at the American Petroleum Institute, says refineries are producing record amounts of gasoline. (Wyoming Tribune-Eagle)

Jefferson Indicted

A grand jury has indicted Rep William Jefferson (D-LA) as part of a corruption probe of the Louisiana Congressman's dealing with African business ventures.

The 94-page, 16-count indictment could mean life in prison if the Congressman is convicted on all counts.

An FBI sting led to agents finding $90,000 in the Congressman's freezer. During the flooding following Hurricane Katrina, the Congressman comandeered National Guard trucks and a helicopter to recover personal belongings from his home -- including records some believe to have been possible targets of later search warrants. Despite the scandal brewing around him, he coasted to re-election last fall. (WaPo)

"Magic" Johnson & the Hinckley Hilton

"Magic" Johnson is buying the "Hinkley Hilton."

The NBA legend is part of a team of Los Angeles investors buying the Hilton Hotel near DuPont Circle in Washington, DC. It was the scene of John Hinckley's assassination attempt on President Reagan. From the Washington Post:

It was after addressing a union convention at the hotel on March 30, 1981, that President Reagan emerged from a side door on Florida Avenue NW. Hinckley -- a 25-year-old gunman who later said he was trying to impress the actress Jodie Foster -- opened fire, wounding the president and his press secretary, James Brady. The president recovered, but Brady was permanently disabled. The incident left the hotel with the local nickname "the Hinckley Hilton."
"Magic" and the other investors are shelling out $290 million for the historic real estate and launching a $100 remodeling project. (WaPo)

Friday, June 01, 2007

Secret Plans Leaking out of the Tubes

Detailed floor plans of the super-secret US Embassy in Baghdad showed up on line this week -- kinda killing all the super-secret part of the plan.

The massive compound is the largest and most expensive Embassy any country has ever built. From the Associated Press:

The 10 images included a scheme of the overall layout of the compound, plus depictions of individual buildings including the embassy itself, office annexes, the Marine Corps security post, swimming pool, recreation center and the ambassador's and deputy ambassador's residences.
The images popped up on the website for Kansas City-based Berger Devine Yeager Inc website. They designed the place. They're in the Missouri version of Kansas City -- giving new meaning to "The Show Me State."

The State Department -- none too impressed with the plans' appearance -- called the architects and told them to delete the web pages.

Bartlett Bolts

White House counselor Dan Bartlett is clearing out his desk. He's been with President Bush since the early days back in Texas. Bloomberg points out he's the latest in a growing line of folks bolting for the door:

Bartlett becomes the latest top Bush administration official to resign recently. Others, who departed last month, include Sara Taylor, the White House political director; deputy national security adviser J.D. Crouch; Meghan O'Sullivan, also a deputy national security adviser; and Randall Tobias, head of the U.S. Agency for International Development.
Mr Bartlett began his career with the Bush organization during the President's first run for Texas Governor. (Bloomberg)

TB Man Takes on CDC, Skips Past Homeland Security

TB Man, Patient Zero, Andrew Speaker. Yes. The jet-setting tuberculosis carrier has a name and he's been foolish enough to let it out. At least he has an excuse to wear a mask.

Mr Speaker is speaking to ABC News about his six flights around the US and Europe after the Centers for Disease Control declared him a public health risk.

Blames CDC

And it gets wierder.

The flights were for his wedding and honeymoon in Europe. The bride's father -- is an expert on TB at the CDC.

He now claims CDC never told him he couldn't travel. Says he has a tape recording of that session. He says when the story got out in Europe -- CDC abandoned him, telling him to charter a $100,000 charter flight back to the states on his own. He couldn't afford that -- so he hopped a commercial flight instead.

Security Gaps Exposed

And how did Speaker get through security repeatedly when he was on no fly lists for his medical condition? One of the border guards who spotted him let him go -- because he didn't look sick. From WHDH:

"The inspector ran Speaker's passport through a computer, and a warning -- including instructions to hold the traveler, don a protective mask in dealing with him, and telephone health authorities -- popped up, officials said. About a minute later, Speaker was instead cleared to continue on his journey, according to officials familiar with the records. "
Yeah, and Mohammed Atta didn't look like a terrorist with his short hair and starched white shirt. (ABC)