Thursday, July 26, 2007


Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT) has subpoenaed White House aide Karl Rove in the on going investigation of the US Attorney firings.
“It is obvious that the reasons given for the firings of these prosecutors were contrived as part of a cover-up and that the stonewalling by the White House is part and parcel of that same effort.” -- Sen Patrick Leahy (D-VT) in the letter accompanying Mr Rove's subpoena
The Committee also subpoenaed White House aide Scott Jennings in the investigation. In the cover letter, Sen Leahy gave Mr Rove one week to appear before the Committee and testify under oath. (The Hill)

The Rove Cover Letter

The Rove Subpoena

Democrats want Special Prosecutor For Gonzales

Four Democratic Senators have asked Solicitor General Paul Clement to name a special prosecutor to investigate whether Attorney General Alberto Gonzales perjured himself before Congress.

Senators Charles Schumer (D-NY), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Russ Feingold (D-WI) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) are members of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

They're questioning whether Mr Gonzales misled the Committee on the warrantless wiretapping program -- since what he testified about has conflicted with testimony from other people who've since appeared before the committee. (National Journal/AP)

Contempt of Congress Explained

The Contempt of Congress indictments working their way through the process will likely end in a negotiated settlement -- a plea bargain -- between Congress and the White House. That's usually the way these things turn out.

NPR has a rundown based on history and process.

Paul Kane at the Washington Post has another explainer.

The House Judiciary Committee voted Wednesday to indict White House Chief of Staff Josh Bolten and former White House Counsel Hariet Miers on contempt for failing to testify in the Attorney firing scandal investigation.

The Congressional Research Service on Tuesday published a 68-page report on the history of Contempt of Congress Cases. It's a not so subtle reminder of what awaits Mr Bolten and Ms Miers if President Bush doesn't cut a deal with Congress.

Courts see most of these issues as political rather than legal and stay out of the fight.

The White House can order the Justice Department to simply not enforce the indictments.

The most bizarre twist could come if the White House refuses to accept a deal with Congress. Congress can hold a trial itself. But the executive branch runs the Federal Bureau of Prisons and Bush could order the two -- if convicted -- not be taken into custody.

In the past, Congress has jailed Contempt of Congress convicts in the Capitol basement -- an American dungeon of sorts. But since Congress controls the purse-strings for the District of Columbia -- some legal experts say Mr Bolten and Ms Miers could be locked up in the city jail if convicted.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Panel Holds Two Bush Aides in Contempt

The House Judiciary Committee voted 22-17 today to seek contempt of Congress citations against two White House figures for their refusal to cooperate with the investigation into the US Attorney scandal.

The contempt charges target White House Chief of Staff Joshua Bolten and former White House Counsel Harriet Miers.

The full House has to approve the plan -- but Democrats hold a 231-201 edge there. (NYT)

White House: Getting Priorities Straight

With all the troops home from Iraq, Osama bin Laden executed, and New Orleans rebuilt -- the White House has turned its attention to something really important: enforcing a dress code!

You may remember the huge flap when the Northwestern University Women's Lacrosse team showed up wearing flip flops to pose for a picture with the President (pictured at right). That was back in 2005. A tragedy the White House still simply refers to as "7/12."

Signs have gone up warning people about their clothing choices. It's been accompanied by an e-mail. Al Kamen in the Washington Post reports:

"The e-mail reminder was all in capital letters. It advised that there would be no jeans, sneakers, shorts, miniskirts, T-shirts, tank tops and -- with boldface added -- 'NO FLIP FLOPS.' (Which, of course, is good advice, if rarely followed in this town.)"
And in typical Bush administration tradition -- the blame for imposing the dress code falls squarely on -- wait for it -- Bill Clinton:

"When the Clintons came in, all hell broke loose" in terms of dress code -- and perhaps other things? -- one current aide said. "We're just trying to get things back on track."
Old hands from the Reagan administration were taken aback -- since the "Gipper" was a fan of jeans from his western movies days.

Mr. Kamen quotes one Reagan aide as saying "Do they have nothing else to do?" (WaPo)

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Dead Farmers Collect Cold Cash

So nothing's certain but death and taxes? Looks like you can keep collecting money from the taxpayers -- after you're dead.

An audit of the Agriculture Department's books finds Uncle Sam paid $1.1 billion in farm subsidies to farmers after they'd been planted in the ground.

The Government Accountability Office looked at payments from 1999 to 2005. The GAO found 40% of the payments went to farmers who'd been dead for more than three years -- 19% to farmers who'd been dead for seven or more years. (AP)

Poll: Congress Trumps Bush on Iraq

A new Washington Post/ABC News poll shows American trust Congress more than the President to deal with Iraq. From Reuters:
"More than six in 10 Americans -- 62 percent -- said Congress should have the final say on when to pull out U.S. forces, compared with 31 percent who said the decision should rest with Bush, the poll showed."

The poll shows 55% of Americans trust Congressional Democrats -- compared to 32% trusting the President -- on Iraq. (Reuters)

Monday, July 23, 2007

Dick Cheney: Ted Kennedy's Go To Guy in '69

Vice President Dick Cheney once landed a job as Sen Ted Kennedy's (D-MA) Deputy Press Secretary.

It was in 1969, and Mr Cheney eventually decided to keep his job with then Rep Bill Steiger (R-WI). (DC Examiner)

YouTube Debate

The YouTube Debate begins tonight with vid-clip questions from Americans presented to Democratic Presidential candidates in South Carolina.

CNN covers it on old fashioned TV -- YouTube promises clips right away online. Here's the YouTube preview:

Political Decisions Likely to Be Revered at Fish & Wildlife

The US Fish & Wildlife Service may reverse eight endangered species decisions the agency now says were politically motivated. From Reuters:

The decisions under review affected species as varied as the Hawaiian picture-wing fly and the white-tailed prairie dog. All involved input from Julie MacDonald, a former deputy assistant secretary who resigned in May after government scientists complained of political interference.
Dale Hall, head of Fish & Wildlife says reversals of all eight decisions are likely.

The Interior Department's Inspector General released a report earlier this year critical of politics trumping science at the Service. (Reuters)

Democrats Lead by $100 Million in the Money Race

Democrats have raised $100-million more than their Republican counterparts in the race for the White House. On top of that, wealthy Republican donors are switching sides. From the Wall Street Journal:

Democrats have taken the lead by exploiting widespread disapproval of President Bush and the Iraq war to develop a more robust online network of new, small donors, as well as to gain traction with deep-pocketed business contributors.
The Wall Street Journal reports about 58% of all campaign donations have gone to Democrats -- with more than a year before the election. On top of that, many of the contributors to Democrats can give more -- because they haven't given the $2,300 limit. (WSJ)

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Monsters of Politics Poverty Tour

Spoofing former Sen John Edwards (D-NC) "Poverty Tour" -- get your tickets now at Ticketmaster!

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Obama, Oprah, Oprah, Obama

Oprah is the latest "Obama Girl" -- promising to help raise money for the man already breaking fund raising records for Presidential campaigns.

Sen Barack Obama (D-IL) has already raised $58 million -- mostly from small donors who he can ask for more money later on.

Oprah Winfrey now plans a September 8 fundraiser for big donors at her Santa Barbara estate. (AP)

Cigar Tax

Washington is considering a 20,000% tax hike on cigars. That's ten-bucks a stogie -- over and above what you already pay for a premimum smoke.

U.S. cigar makers worry the hike could put them out of business -- and no one's sue if the guy who likes the occassional smoke is going to slap down $20 or more for a cigar -- when he could get a couple of fifths of bourbon for the same price and drown his misery over high cigar prices.

Democrats in Congress want an extra $35-50-billion for state children's health insurance. Cigarette taxes would jump to $1 even -- up 35-cents over current federal taxes. Cigars currently have a 5-cents per cigar tax. But they'd see a 53% hike -- and one plan in the Senate caps the tax hike at $10 per stogie.

Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar. But to Washington everything is something waiting to be taxed. (

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Senate Pulls an All-Nighter

The Senate is pulling an all-nighter, as Democrats lined up a series of votes on a bill aimed at redeploying troops from Iraq. The effort is to get all the debate out of the way and shut down fillibustering. From the Associated Press:

"They called for sleeping cots to be rolled into a room off the Senate floor and told members to prepare for repeated votes throughout the evening. Senators even left open the possibility of dispatching the sergeant at arms to summon
colleagues from their homes to the floor if lawmakers ignored the debate."
At the center of tonight's push -- legislation from Sen Carl Levin (D-MI) and Sen Jack Reed (D-RI) ordering a troop drawdown in 120 days and a complete redeployment by April 30, 2008.

The bill would allow some troops to remain behind to train Iraqis and attack terrorists. (AP)

Nicholson Out -- New Photos Take Top Priority at VA

Secretary of Veterans Affairs Jim Nicholson has resigned.

He presided over a $1-billion budget shortfall, miscalculations in the number of wounded vets coming home from Iraq and Afghanistan and the bungled handling of a lost laptop computer containing personal information of millions of veterans and active duty Service members.

Here at Watching Washington, he'll be best remembered as the guy who put that whole "we don't have enough money to care for vets" issue behind him to make sure his picture given top priority at every VA office and hospital. (NYT)

Poll: "None of the Above" Leads GOP Pack

"None of the Above" leads the polls among Republican voters. In a campaign of carry-over apathy from the 2006 Congressional election losses, no Republican Presidential hopeful has excited GOP voters.

The latest AP-Ipsos poll points out that nearly a quarter of Republican voters remain undecided after six months of campaigning. And Rudy Giuliani, Fred Thompson, John McCain and Mitt Romney all have less support lined up than "None of the Above."

"None of the Above" pulls 23% in the latest poll -- up from just 14% in June.

Rudy Falls Behind Thompson

Rudy Giuliani saw support drop from his front running 35% in March to 27% in June to just 21% in the latest poll. He's been hit with troubles in his early Iowa campaign and scandals in his national campaign organization: His South Carolina campaign chairman was indicted on cocaine charges and Sen David Vitter (R-LA), who was running his southern campaign, was outed as a client of the DC madam.

More trouble for the former NYC Mayor in the latest Zogby telephone poll. It shows former Sen Fred Thompson (R-TN) overtaking Mr Giuliani by one-point -- 22-21% -- in the GOP White House sweepstakes. It's a statistical tie -- but it's the first time Mr Giuliani's name has not topped the list in any poll. (AP via Yahoo!/Political

AP-Ipsos Poll -- "None of the Above" Leads Field

Zogby Telephone Poll -- Thompson Leads Giuliani

NIE: Iraq Inspiring, Helping al Qaeda

The new National Intelligence Estimate suggests al Qaeda wants to use what it's learned and developed in Iraq to attack Americans on our own soil.

In other words, Iraq has been a big boot camp and research lab for the guys who attacked us on 9/11.

Heckuva job, everybody!

The report says core al Qaeda (the leaders in Afganistan and Pakistan) are benefiting from the Iraq War. The war is energizing the Sunni Muslim community, raising money, and recruiting members to attack America at home.

The NIE says the US faces a "persistent and evolving" threat from al Qaeda as well as other radical groups -- including non-Muslim terrorist groups. (AP)

UPDATE: Read the Declassified Portion of the Report Here

Monday, July 16, 2007

More McCain Defections

Joining the exodus and fueling the campaign death watch, presidential (less and less-) hopeful Sen John McCain's (R-AZ) press department has quit.

I'd tell you more, but....his press department has quit! (The Fix)

"Ocean" -- And Oceans Apart from Pressing Issues

With the Iraq War won, every American now covered by health insurance, and terrorism a memory from the distant depths of history -- what to Presidential candidates have to campaign on?

Mitt Romney's new ad attacks violence and porn on TV. And he gets to quote Peggy Noonan, too!

Graham vs. Webb

Sen James Webb (D-VA) and Sen Lindsey Graham (R-SC) squared off over Iraq on Meet the Press Sunday. Looks like they don't serve decaf at the NBC Washington bureau. (Townhall/YouTube/NBC)

Obama-Giuliani Song Smackdown

The Giuliani-Obama debate is playing out on YouTube with the latest entry in the sexy-girls-singing-about-Presidential-candidates genre of viral videos. (WaPo)

Religious Conservatives Call for Vitter's Resignation

A Christian conservative group in Louisiana is calling on Sen David Vitter (R-LA) to resign from office after revelations his phone number appeared in phone records of DC madam Deborah Jeane Palfrey. (AP Video)

Meanwhile, his office says he's supposed to return to the Senate for votes this week -- after a week in seclusion. has a list of non-stop flights from New Orleans to Washington-Reagan National Airport.

And a YouTube poster calling himself "theconstituent" has posted a mashup of Ludacris' "What's Your Fantasy" ("We can do it in the White House") mixed with news clips and text of Sen Vitter's previous political statements on sex and politics.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Progress Report

President Bush has been claiming we've been making progress in Iraq for as long as US troops have been there.

Americans Against Escalation in Iraq are running an ad asking the Senate Minority Leader to consider whether there's been any progress at all.

John Kerry, Republican

A Nixon staffer once suggested the administration try to recruit a young John Kerry for the GOP. Mind you, it was at the same time as the Nixon folks were trying to derail the future Democratic Presidential nominee's early anti-war efforts.

"He is a Yale graduate and is inclined toward the 'establishment.' His background could be Republican." Nixon aide Murray Chotiner in a memo to Attorney General John Mitchell & Chief of Staff H.R. Haldeman

The memo came to light as one of 80,000 pages of Nixon documents became available this week -- after the Nixon Library was turned over to the National Archives. Not sure if Murray got fired over that one. But in the picture here, it looks like Mr Nixon and Mr Ford had a pretty good laugh over the memo years later. (WaPo)

Do-Over Demanded on Iraq Authorization

Two senior Republican Senators will introduce a bill requiring re-authorization for the Iraq War.
Sen John Warner (R-VA) and Sen Richard Lugar (R-IN) plan to introduce the bill along with the avalanche of Iraq War plans the Senate is considering this month.

The plan would almost certainly mean an end to funding for the war -- if current political and voter opinion trends continue. On the other hand, it would buy President Bush time -- until October 16 -- to get a miracle in Iraq. (NYT)

NASA Flunks Spelling

Washington spends billions on NASA, but apparently not enough to afford "spell check" on their computers.

A banner at Launch Complex 39A has the name of the Shuttle Endeavour misspelled.

Hey, it's not like they're rocket scientists down there. Oh, wait.... (Local6)

Rudy Gets Hosed -- Again

Former Sen Fred Thompson (R-TN) is courting an endorsement from New York City firefighters.
His meeting with the head honcho of the International Association of Firefighters came just one day after the IAFF released a DVD blasting former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani for his handling of the World Trade Center recover operations.

Sen Thompson sat down with IAFF chief Steve Cassidy for a breakfast meeting to discuss an endorsement. From WCBS:

Along with the kind words, Cassidy offered a firm handshake while Thompson offered an endorsement pitch over breakfast at a chic Manhattan restaurant. In photos exclusively obtained by CBS 2, the former Tennessee senator is seen teaming up with Cassidy, photos likely to give Giuliani a bad case of heartburn.

Sen Thompson discussed terrorism and federal funds for New York's counter terrorism needs during the breakfast meeting. And he says there's nothing unusual about the timing.

"It doesn't have anything to do with Rudy. It has to do with my concerns about our country, and New York is at the top of the list with regard to many of our concerns and interests." -Fred Thompson to WCBS
But with Sen Thompson's shadow campaign eating away at support and money for Mr Giuliani's, and Sen Thompson's Hollywood career making him aware of the power of a well positioned release date for a DVD -- you have to wonder if Mr Giuliani just got hosed. (WCBS)

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Bush Admits Plame Leak Came from His People

President Bush admitted for the first time today "somebody" in his administration was indeed responsible for leaking the identity of undercover CIA agent Valerie Plame.

But he said that was all behind us and America should "move on."

Outing Ms Plame also exposed the front company she worked for undercover. It's real job was to monitor Iran's nuclear program. And there's the question as to whether the leak led to the death of a still unidentified CIA agent in the field (see video). (WaPo)

Romney Retreats from Republicans

Another "Macaca Moment" for Republican White House hopeful Mitt Romney. A new YouTube video features a montage of the former Massachusetts Governor trying to distance himself from the Republican Party back in 2002.

House Votes: Out of Iraq by April

The House has voted 223-201 to withdraw troops from Iraq by April. It falls short of the 60% needed to over ride a veto. But Democratic leaders positioned the vote as part of a strategy to erode GOP support for the President's Iraq policy. (Politico)

McCain Supporter Blows it for him In Florida

More trouble for Sen John McCain's campaign. Police say the co-chair of his Florida Campaign has been arrested for offering a male police officer $20 for oral sex.

Florida State Rep Robert "Bob" Allen (R-Merritt Island) (mugshot at right) was arrested and charged with soliciting sex from an undercover male police officer. Police say Rep Allen requested the sex act at a men's restroom at Veteran's Memorial Park in Titusville. (WFTV)

McCain Suffers Iowa Setback

The McCain Campaign death watch is underway. In the same week as mass departures of his top national campaign aides -- two top staffers with his Iowa camp have left.

Ed Failor and Karen Slifka had hung around as volunteers when the campaign could no longer afford to pay them. But they threw their lot in with Campaign Manager Terry Nelson -- and left when Mr Nelson left.

Sen McCain has already pulled out of the crucial Ames Straw Poll next month. In the past, it's made and broken Presidential campaigns ahead of the Iowa Caucuses. (The Fix/WaPo)

Iraqi Bank Robbery

Guards at an Iraqi bank left work early Wednesday -- taking $282 million in cash with them.

Iraq's Interior Ministry confirms the money -- all in American dollars -- walked out the door with the help of three bank guards. The ministry speculated the guards may have ties to militias.

No word on why the Baghdad bank had more than a quarter-billion bucks in US currency laying around. (NYT)

Firefighters Open Fire on Rudy

The International Association of Firefighters has released a 13-minute DVD attacking former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani. The video features testimonials from firefighters and family members of firefighters lost in the 9/11 attacks.

“We have the remains of dead heroes at the garbage dump because of Giuliani and his administration and they’re still there today and they won’t remove them,” claims FDNY Deputy Chief Jim Riches from "Rudy Giuliani: Urban Legend"
You can see the full video here. (WCBS)

Iraq Report Card Getting Washington Grounded

The President's report on Iraq's progress shows a failing report card.

Of the 18 benchmarks the country has to meet, Iraq showed "satisfactory" progress in only eight, mixed results in two others, and failed the other eight.

The report has to be presented to Congress by the end of the week -- it's expected on Capitol Hill today. The President is still trying to buy time -- saying he won't make any final decisions on Iraq policy until he gets a report from his commanders on the ground in September.

But a steady flow of GOP defections from the President's Iraq policy on Capitol Hill may be forcing his hand sooner than he'd like. And the most recent polls show American opposition to the Iraq War at an all time high.

The big question is -- if Iraq has a failing report card, why are our troops being held back? (Reuters)

It's September 10 All Over Again

A new federal report says al Qaeda is back to pre-9/11 levels.

Al-Qaida Better Positioned to Strike the West was prepared by the National Counterterorism Center. The five-page threat assessment says al Qaeda is gaining strength and training new terrorists in a safe haven of western Pakistan.

The report echoes testimony from National Intelligence Director Admiral Mike McConnell to Congress in March.

Six years, a half trillion dollars, and a new cabinet department. And we're right where we were on September 10, 2001. (WaPo)

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

GOP Kills Longer Leaves for Troops

Senate Republicans have killed a plan to give service members more time at home between tours to combat.

The plan would have required that troops returning from combat in Iraq be allowed to remain in the states for as long as their combat tour lasted -- before being sent back to war.

Sen James Webb (D-VA) sponsored the bill -- and claimed that every combat veteran in the Senate had signed on as a co-sponsor.

The vote was 56-41 in favor of the bill -- with 7 Republicans voting with Democrats for it. But the vote was four short of the 60 needed to stop the Republican filibuster of the bill. (WaPo)

28 Days

Government Accountability Office investigators were able to get a license to buy nuclear materials and buy up enough radioactive material to build a dirty bomb. They report virtually no scrutiny from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission -- which should have stopped them dead in their tracks.

It took only 28 days to get the license from the NRC -- with a minimal background check and no face-to-face interviews with the undercover investigators. No one from the NRC ever showed up at the fake business to see if it was real.

In fact, the business never existed. The investigators were able to use a mail box and fax machine to get the papers they needed, counterfeit them, and then went on a shopping spree buying up all kinds of glow-in-the-dark goodies that could be used to make a terror weapon. (WaPo)

Remembering Lady Bird Johnson

Former First Lady, Lady Bird Johnson has died. LBJ's better half, who championed a more beautiful America where there would be more wildflowers than strip malls along our highways, passed away at the age of 94. The public grounds here in DC are still shaded by trees she helped plant.

From Ann Gerhart in the Washington Post:

This was another Lady Bird spring we had, wasn't it?

Confident and lush and defiantly gorgeous, this spring burst out of an ugly Washington winter in such glory because of Lady Bird Johnson.
After the LBJ administration ended, she founded the National Wildflower Research Center.

Search the D.C. Madam's Phone List

Wanna run a check to see if your Senator or husband was a customer of the DC madam, Deborah Jeane Palfrey?

The phone list is now searchable at

Meanwhile, points to a site that's found another Senate phone number listed in the madam's records. But no idea who made the call back in 1998 from a US Senate phone. (

Hot for Hillary

Imagine Jill Sobule's "I Kissed a Girl" crossed with "Happy Days are Here Again" and throw in steamy girl-on-girl action featuring a former First Lady of the United States and you've got one of the most disturbing campaign songs in history.

Taryn Southern is "Hot for Hill."

GOP Base Demoralized

The Vitter Sex Scandal is another blow to GOP efforts to shore up apathy in their base. Social conservatives -- the key to GOP victories since Ronald Reagan's 1980 election -- stayed home in droves in 2006. The result was Democratic majorities in Congress.

The revelation that Sen David Vitter (R-LA) was on a DC madam's phone list -- and claims from a New Orleans madam he frequented her establishment -- aren't helping energize the GOP base. From The Politico:

"Beyond the chortling, however, the Vitter scandal is a small piece of a much more significant development: The demoralized state of the social conservative movement on the brink of the 2008 election."
Add to that the socially moderate records of GOP front runner Rudy Giuliani and you see a party with little for social conservatives to get excited about. Especially since the hooker scandal revolves around a Senator who was high enough up the Giuliani Campaign food chain to be jockeying for a Vice Presidential nomination on the GOP ticket.

And consider those who vote with thier money. Democratic Presidential hopeful Sen Barack Obama (D-IL) raised twice as much money in the second quarter reporting period than the top Republican fundraiser -- more than Rudy Giuliani did in the whole campaign.

Not a lot to get excited about -- unless your name is Clinton or Obama. (Politico)

White House: No Wolf After All!

The White House says there's no terror threat afterall -- just some indigestion from Secretary of Homeland Insecurity Director Michael Chertoff.

Seems Sec Chertoff simply told the Chicago Tribune's editorial board he had a "gut feeling" the US faces an increased terror risk over the summer.

Apparently that was enough to raise the color coded terror threat assessment level on the "Rainbow of Doom" (left) to "Pepto-Bismo Pink."

But don't carry more than three ounces of that onto a plane.

The White House now denies ABC News' report that there a meeting planned for today with counter terrorism agency heads trying to head off a possible al Qaeda attack. (Reuters)

There Was a House in New Orleans....

A New Orleans madam now claims Sen David Vitter (R-LA) was a regular customer of hers in 2002.

Sen Vitter admitted earlier this week that his phone number was included in the phone list DC madam Deborah Jeane Palfrey posted online earlier this week.

Jeanette Maier (pictured in black jacket) pleaded guilty to running the Canal Street brothel in 2002 -- two years before Sen Vitter was elected to the US Senate.

"As far as the girls coming out after seeing David, all they had was nice things to say. It wasn't all about sex. In fact, he just wanted to have somebody listen to him, you know. And I said his wife must not be listening." Canal Street Brothel Madam Jeanette Maier in an interview with the Associated Press
She does say the Senator is a "decent guy." And we're all sure she has a "heart of gold." Can a heartwarming Hollywood re-telling of this classic story be ready in time for Christmas?

Where's Vitter? Check the Hospitals!

The hunt for the sex scandal Senator is on! Sen David Vitter (R-LA) has dropped off the radar since word broke about his name on the phone records of an accused DC madam.

No one seems to know where he is. But Dana Milbank in the Washington Post lists where he wasn't:
  • The Senate voted to confirm a federal judge in Michigan. No Vitter.

  • The public works subcommittee on which Vitter is the ranking Republican held a hearing. No Vitter.

  • Three Louisiana officials testified at another hearing about Gulf Coast rebuilding. No Vitter.

  • Republican senators sat down to lunch with Vice President Cheney. No Vitter.
Back during the Monica Lewinsky scandal, Sen Vitters wife was quoted as saying she wouldn't let her husband get away with infidelity -- and said she was more like Lorena Bobbitt than Hillary Clinton.

Has anyone checked the hospitals in DC and New Orleans to see if there've been any penis reattachments in the past couple of days?

Dole Joins Iraq Withdrawal Chorus

Sen Elizabeth Dole (R-NC) is the latest Republican to join the call to withdraw troops from Iraq.

"Our troops have been doing a great job, but the Iraqi government has not. Our commitment in Iraq is not indefinite, nor should the Iraqi government perceive it to be. It is my firm hope and belief that we can start bringing our troops home in 2008." -- Sen Elizabeth Dole (R-NC) in a written statement
She joins Republican Senators Richard Lugar (R-IN), George Voinovich (R-OH), Chuck Hagel (R-NE), and Olympia Snowe R-ME) have all called for major changes in Iraq policy in the past couple of weeks. (WRAL)

Bush Begs Congress to Wait "a While"

President Bush says the US can withdraw troops "in a while." But he's urging Americans -- and especially defecting GOP Congress members -- to wait until September to judge the success of the "surge."

An interim White House report to Congress on progress to Iraq is due this week. It's expected to show little to no progress in all areas of the war. (IHT)

The Administration Who Cried, "Wolf!"

The Bush administration says there is "no credible evidence of a terrorist threat." But at the same time, they're ramping up for a potential attack -- and saying the time is ripe.

Critics are questioning the timing of the doublespeak.

The White House has called a meeting of key agencies this afternoon to deal with what it says is a new terror threat. From ABC News:

"[O]fficials say the London attackers use of the Internet left important clues that are being used to decode other e-mails that had initially been deemed unimportant but are now taking on new significance."
It comes as Congressional Republicans are defecting from the President's policy on Iraq. And as the Senate debates a possible withdrawal from Iraq. In the past, critics of the administration have suggested the White House ramped up terror fears for political gain. (ABC)

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

High Flying Congress Members

Special interest groups have spent $57 million dollars flying Congress members and staffers on trips since 2000. At least that's what LegiStorm was able to track down.

The most expensive travelers: Rep James Sensenbrenner (R-WI) who racked up 25 trips totaling $220,859 and Rep George Miller (D-CA) who took 53 trips valued at $215,745.

The most frequent fliers: Rep Barney Frank (D-MA) with 84 and Rep Stephanie Tubbs Jones (D-OH) with 79. (LegiStorm via Political Wire)

McCain Staff Shake Up

Sen John McCain's (R-AZ) campaign manager and chief strategist are out. There are conflicting reports as to whether Terry Nelson resigned or was fired as Sen McCain's campaign manager. The chief strategist -- John Weaver -- announced his resignation today. (AP)

Al Franken is a Big, Fat Money-Raising Candidate

Comedian turned politician Al Franken has raised more money for his Democratic Senate bid than the Republican incumbent.

FEC reports show Mr Franken raised $1.9 million in the last reporting period -- compared to Sen Norm Coleman's (R-MN) $1.6 million.

Democrat Mike Ciresi reported about $750,000. (AP)

Accused D.C. Madam Releases Phone Records

Accused DC Madam Deborah Jeane Palfrey has posted her phone records online.

The list covers calls from 1994 - 2006. The online listing has been swamped today and has been knocked occasionly offline from such heavy traffic. (WTOP)

The Senator and the Madam

Sen David Vitter (R-LA) has apologized for his phone number showing up among those released by the Washington DC Madam.
"This was a very serious sin in my past for which I am, of course, completely responsible." Sen Vitter (R-LA), in a statement
He's the Southern Regional Manager for the Presidential campaign of former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani.

The mayor is still stinging from another recent scandal in which his South Carolina campaign chairman, State Treasurer Thomas Ravenel, was indicted on cocaine charges.

Iraq Misses All Benchmarks

The Iraq government has failed to meet any of it's political, economic, and other reform targets. A US government official that will speed up the "pivot point" for dealing with US policyin Iraq -- from September to the middle of this month. That's when a federal assessment of progress in Iraq is due to Congress.

It comes at a time of Congressional GOP defections President Bush's Iraq policies. From the AP:
Also being drafted are several Republican-backed proposals that would force a new course in Iraq, including one by Sens. Susan Collins (R-MA), and Ben Nelson, (D-NE), that would require U.S. troops to abandon combat missions. Collins and Nelson say their binding amendment would order the U.S. mission to focus on training the Iraqi security forces, targeting al-Qaida members and protecting Iraq's borders.
Congress takes up a $649 billion defense bill later this week. It includes votes on a Democratic amendment to begin withdrawals within 120 days.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Gore Slips Concert by GOP

Congressional Republicans thought they had blocked Al Gore's plans for one of his "Live Earth" Concerts on the National Mall. They didn't like a potential Democratic Presidential candidate putting on a show so close to where they work.

But then General Custer probably thought he had the drop on the Sioux.

Seems the Smithsonian was already planning a "Mother Earth" concert at the National Museum of the American Indian -- just across from the Capitol.

Mr Gore announced today, the "Mother Earth" show will join his worldwide series of "Live Earth" concerts tomorrow.

Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood will headline the DC concert. Odd, they'd play cowboy music at an Indian museum. (AP via Yahoo!)

Domenici Breaks with Bush on Iraq

Sen Pete Domenici (R-NM) has become the latest Republican adding his voice to a rising chorus of GOP opposition to staying in Iraq.

"I do not support an immediate withdrawal from Iraq or a reduction in funding for our troops. But I do support a new strategy that will move our troops out of combat operations and on the path to coming home." Sen Pete Domenici (R-NM)
He follows Sen Richard Lugar (R-IN) andSen John Warner (R-VA) in recent criticism of President Bush's approach to Iraq. The Bush administration had been hoping to stave off GOP defections until at least September -- when they were hoping for improvements from the "surge" and when more supplemental war funding came up for a vote. (WaPo)

Thursday, July 05, 2007

The "Libby Defense" May Help Hamas Operative

Legal scholars warn of a wave of "Libby Motions" filed in the wake of President Bush granting Scooter Libby executive clemency.

In announcing his decision to commute Mr Libby's sentence, the president called the 30 month sentence for perjury and obstructing justice "too harsh" and commuted the sentence to probation and a fine.

A man anti-terrorism authorities believe is a Hamas operative is already poised to use the "Libby Defense." Mohammed Salah (pictured) was acquitted of racketeering in connection with Hamas terror campaigns in Israel, Gaza, and the West Bank.

But he faces sentencing on one count of obstructing justice.

Mr Libby was convicted on four counts.

"What the president said about Mr. Libby applies in spades to the case of Mohammed Salah," Michael Deutsch, Salah's defense attorney, to The New York Sun
Mr Salah's lawyer will argue that his client should only recieve probation -- based on the Libby commutation. (NYSun)

Thank God for Nixon

A Rasmussen Reports poll pegs President Bush as the second most disliked President in history -- among people alive today.

Only Richard Nixon has worst unfavorable ratings in the survey.

Mr Nixon earned the highest unfavorable rating with 60%. Mr Bush came in at 59%.

Highest favorable ratings went to George Washington (94%), Abraham Lincoln (92%), Thomas Jefferson (89%), Teddy Roosevelt (84%), Franklin D Roosevelt (81%), and John F. Kennedy (80%). (Rasmussen Reports)

Libby Not out of Jail Yet

Scooter Libby may have to serve some time before his executive clemency kicks in.

The White House has been saying President Bush pretty much decided on his own to grant clemency to Mr Libby just hours after an Appeals Court panel ordered him to prison immediately.

Next time, the President may want a lawyer to read over his work before he fires it off.

The judge who sentenced Mr Libby to 30 months in jail on four felonies says the way the commutation was set up -- it can't take effect until after Mr Libby spends time behind bars.

“Strictly construed, the statute authorizing the imposition of supervised release indicates that such release should occur only after the defendant has already served a term of imprisonment,” US District Judge Reggie Walton, July 3rd Order on a potential legal flaw in Scooter Libby's Commutation
White House spokesman says Counsel Fred Fielding checked over Mr Bush's paperwork first -- and says he's sure the Walton Order won't stand up. (CNN)

"Minor Obstacle"

The White House is still in damage control mode over the Libby commutation -- after taking fire from former President Bill Clinton.

“You’ve got to understand, this is consistent with their philosophy. [The Bush administration] believe that they should be able to do what they want to do, and that the law is a minor obstacle.” -- President Bill Clinton, interview on Des Moines radio station WHO
The White House fired back with attacks on Mr Clinton's pardons -- 396 of them.

“I don’t know what Arkansan is for chutzpah, but this is a gigantic case of it.” White House Spokesman Tony Snow reacting to Bill Clinton's comments on the Libby commutation
Clinton issued three pardons more than Ronald Reagan -- the last two term President before him. And 211 of those came in the final nine weeks of the Clinton term -- after the 2000 elections. President Bush has issued 113 pardons. (CNN)

Maybe Bush'll Grant him Executive Clemency

Former Vice President Al Gore says he's treating the arrest of son Al III as a "private family matter."
The younger Gore was arrested for pot possession after cops clocked his Prius at 100 miles an hour.

Toyota is obviously treating the whole incident as a new land speed record for Priuses. (CNN)

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Counting Commutations

Scooter Libby is the fourth person to have a prison sentence commuted by President Bush. Mr Bush has issued 113 pardons. CNN has a comparison of pardons and commutations by past Presidents through Harry S Truman. (CNN)

Bush "Takes Care Of" Scooter

In granting executive clemency to Scooter Libby, President Bush kept a promise he made back in 2004 on the CIA Leak Investigation:
"If the person has violated law, that person will be taken care of." -- President Bush, February 10, 2004
Well, he sure "took care" of Scooter Libby. The former White House aide sure has been well taken care of -- avoiding 30 months in prison. (CNN)