Saturday, August 25, 2007

A Question

Suppose you have a large population of young, disaffected and unemployed young people in a war torn country. What is the best way to concentrate these potential insurgents and help them to network?

How about like this:

The number of Iraqis held by U.S. troops has swollen from 16,000 in February to 24,500 today, the NYT reports, thanks to increased U.S. troop numbers and greater cooperation from Iraqi citizens; overwhelmingly, the detainees are angry, uneducated, unemployed young men who fell victim to ideological, religiously motivated extremists.
Someday an internationally recognized Iraq leader will write a book of his radicalization and education inside the American prisons in Iraq.


Congrats Glenn

Congratulations on terrific work done by Glenn Greenwald in his blog. From Salon:

Glenn Greenwald's excellent cover story on the Ayad Allawi offensive talked about the role of Phillip Zelikow, a close associate of Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, in the right-wing effort to help Allawi topple Nouri al-Maliki. Zelikow staffed the 9/11 Commission and then became "counselor" to Rice on Iraq, but according to CNN and other news reports, he now works for GOP heavyweight lobbying firm Barbour Griffith & Rogers, which just signed a $300,000 contract to represent Allawi in the U.S. Yet Zelikow is still holding himself out as an official expert on Iraq, Greenwald noted, without disclosing his ties to the lobbying firm.

On Tuesday night, ABC News correspondent Martha Raddatz quoted him saying the administration had a "Plan B" alternative to Maliki. "I can confidently guess that our government is quietly speculating about a lot of different options knowing how much concern Iraqis have about their leadership." But Zelikow was identified only as a "Former Counselor to the State Department," not part of the firm paid to push Allawi.

Today Glenn received this e-mail from ABC News Public Relations:

"When ABC News interviewed Philip Zelikow on August 21, he did not disclose that he was working for Barbour Griffith & Rogers; this information did not become public until several days later. We are deeply disappointed that Mr. Zelikow did not disclose his lobbying relationship to us. As a former advisor to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and now a professor at the University of Virginia, we believe that his statement to us accurately reflects ongoing, internal discussions at the State Department. Nevertheless, his statement is sullied by the fact that he did not disclose his relationship with Barbour Griffith & Rogers."

I can't remember the last time I saw such a stinging repudiation of an official source by an American news organization. (Unfortunately, so far ABC has only posted the news on this blog, rather than inform its viewers in the news broadcast.) The bigger story seems to be collusion at the highest levels of the GOP establishment to topple Maliki, while President Bush claims that leadership change can only come from the Iraqi people. There's a lot more behind this story, but I'm proud Glenn uncovered this piece of it. We hope he'll have more this weekend.
And remember, Zelikow was supposed to be one of the good guys, a member of the Iraq Study Group.


Friday, August 24, 2007


I obviously can't speak for anyone but myself. But given the news of the last few days including Hillary's continuing ghostly ethereal-like positions on the war, and given Congressional approval ratings, I've got to wonder if John Edwards new message might resonate with voters?:

John Edwards yesterday introduced a new stump speech -- and with it a renewed focus on Democratic rivals Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama -- as he kicked off a four-day bus tour through New Hampshire.

Edwards's more pointed argument that he is the Democrat who can really bring change to Washington is being made at a time when the central debate of the nomination race has been Obama's discussion of change against Clinton's talk of experience.

The Edwards camp suggests that Obama, in his first term in the US Senate, is inexperienced, and Clinton, a New York senator and a wife of a former president, is too tied to special interests to deliver change.

"Real change starts with being honest, and I want to say something again: The system in Washington is rigged, and I'll say it again, it's rigged and it's rigged by greedy powers," Edwards said at Dartmouth College in what was billed as a major speech by his campaign. "It's rigged by the system to favor the establishment."

Sounding pretty good just now.



Froomkin gets it exactly right:

These [Warner coming out for withdrawal] and other developments take us back in some ways to December 2006. It was then, in the wake of the November election and the report of the Iraq Study Group, that the debate in Washington finally appeared to be shifting away from how to achieve victory and toward how to cut our losses.

Instead, Bush ignored public sentiment, overruled his military commanders and opted for escalation.

And now it appears that the only thing the surge has bought him is time -- nine months or maybe a year, during which he was able to postpone the inevitable.

What has that year cost America -- and Iraq? For starters, a year in Iraq translates to over 1,000 more dead American soldiers; over $100 billion more in direct appropriations; over 15,000 more dead Iraqi civilians; and countless grievous wounds and shattered families both here and there.

In light of the costs, having bought a year of time may not seem like much of an accomplishment. But if Bush can drag things out another year or so, he can wash his hands of the whole mess and leave it for his successor to deal with.



Do we have to go through this again? John Warner has "come out" in support of "troop withdrawal". Really? What a bunch of bull.

Many Republicans have come out and said they favor some vague level of non-Bush strategy. But always remember this. It all means nothing until a vote takes place and that Senator actually votes against Bush. When push comes to shove, they've always found some mundane reason to avoid actually taking a stand. The belief by Senators that their public statements carry weight is simply ludicrious. Bush, and if you believe the polls relative to Congressional approval, the public aren't buying any posturing as meaningful.

So Mr. Warner, show me your vote, then you will have actually made some news. Anything else is simply primping and preening. And no one does it better than John Taylor Warner.

Added: Great minds and all that. It's funny to sit back and watch the conventional wisdom gel around the September report, it's all going so well! and al Maliki is the problem! and we're getting rid of him! so the new guy needs more time! Except it's really not all that funny. It's all just as predicted and pathetic. And the entire situation just sinks further into the mucky quagmire.


My Next President


Thursday, August 23, 2007

Rumors Of Coup

Why not? They have a great old-line GOP lobbying firm backing them up? They'd probably be backed by the CIA special ops ....

Juan Cole:

A rumor is circulating among well-connected and formerly high-level Iraqi bureaucrats in exile in places like Damascus that a military coup is being prepared for Iraq. I received the following from a reliable, knowledgeable contact. There is no certitude that this plan can or will be implemented. That it is being discussed at high levels seems highly likely.

"There is serious talk of a military commission (majlis `askari) to take over the government. The parties would be banned from holding positions, and all the ministers would be technocrats, so to speak. . . [The writer indicates that attempts have been made to recruit cabinet members from the ranks of expatriate technocrats.]

The six-member board or commission would be composed on non-political former military personnel who are presently not part of the government OR the military establishment, such as it is in Iraq at the moment. It is said that the Americans are supporting this behind the scenes.

The plan includes a two-year period during which political parties would not be permitted to be part of the government, but instead would prepare and strengthen the parties for an election which would not have lists, but real people running for real seats. The two year period would be designed to take control of security and restore infrastructure.

. . .[I]t is another [desperate plan], but one which many many Iraqis will support, since they are sick of their country being pulled apart by the "imports" - Maliki, Allawi, Jaafari et al. The military group is composed of internals, people who have the goal of securing the country even at the risk of no democracy, so they say. "
Saddam wasn't so bad back when he was our guy. Let's put Allawi in and make him our guy too!

No word on how this military tribunal (or Allawi) would feel about the 300,000 or so Americans in Iraq. Just because the coup is backed and financed by the U.S., doesn't mean they'll stay your friends (reference: Chalabi, Ahmed)


Child Abuse ....

.... for fun and profit!

That's what a new reality show does:

“Kid Nation,” which is scheduled to have its premiere on CBS on Sept. 19, took 40 children, ages 8 to 15, and placed them in a New Mexico desert “ghost town” near Santa Fe for 40 days, during which they had little to no contact with their parents. The program has been criticized by New Mexico state authorities who have said that they were not notified in advance of the conditions, which they said appeared to violate state laws.

The parent of at least one participant has complained to New Mexico authorities that the conditions were abusive and that several children were harmed during the production.

The 22-page agreement leaves little room for parents to argue that they did not know what their children might encounter. As is standard in such agreements, the parents and the children agreed not to hold the producers and CBS responsible if their children died or were injured, if they received inadequate medical care, or if their housing was unsafe and caused injury.

But while such agreements might be standard for adult participants in a reality show, it also takes on a different tone when the minor and the parent are being held solely responsible for any “emotional distress, illness, sexually transmitted diseases, H.I.V. and pregnancy” that might occur if the child “chooses to enter into an intimate relationship of any nature with another participant or any other person.”
Let's abuse kids on teevee! High ratings! Lots advertising dollars! Enroll your kids today!


Turning Over Iraq

We've said all along that we'd be turning over the country to the Iraqi's as they stand up. Right?

But I'm not sure they had this in mind:

In other Iraq news, the NYT fronts word that militants have taken over control over much of Iraq's electricity. Iraq's electricity minister acknowledged this reality during a news conference that was at least partly meant to tout the reconstruction efforts. When militants take hold of power plants they "can cause the entire system to collapse and bring nationwide blackouts," the NYT explains. The minister said militants sometimes want to cut electricity from Baghdad in order to weaken the government. But they also often refuse to share power simply because they want to keep it for their regions, which is seen as payback for the many years under Saddam Hussein when Baghdad always had power and provinces were left in the dark.
And this is with that successful escalation surge we've been hearing about.


Maybe This Is How It Ends?

Al Maliki fired back today. This is what he had to say:

LAT goes high with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki firing back at his American critics. While on a trip to Syria, Maliki warned that Iraq "can find friends elsewhere" and said U.S. politicians have no business imposing deadlines on the Iraqi government.
Maybe the U.S. ultimately gets thrown out with a consolidated Iraq/Iran/Syria. Who knows, we might have to launch a war against Iraq to remove the leadership?


If You Like That ....

If you like the previous post, check out this one:

The blog of a group calling itself Baptists for Brownback 2008 has launched a campaign called "Cry USE not RAPE." Their manifesto: "We have concluded that the acronym U.S.E. (Unplanned Sexual Event), when used regularly to replace the word 'rape,' will remove the stigma associated with this sometimes unpleasant situation. It is our mission to protect the innocent lives of the babies that are part of His plan and eliminate the excuses given by many women when a precious baby just isn't convienient [sic]."
How convienent. Talk about sping.....


Honey, Can I See You A Minute?

You're absolutely not going to believe this. It's called Christian Domestic Discipline, and I thought it was a joke.

A domestic discipline marriage is one in which one partner in the marriage is given authority over the other and has the means to back the authority, usually by spanking.

A Christian Domestic Discipline marriage is one that is set up according to Biblical standards; that is, the husband is the authority in the household. The wife is submissive to her husband as is fit in the Lord and her husband loves her as himself. He has the ultimate authority in his household, but it is tempered with the knowledge that he must answer to God for his actions and decisions. He has the authority to spank his wife for punishment, but in real CDD marriages this is taken very seriously and usually happens only rarely. CDD is so much more than just spanking. It is the husband loving the wife enough to guide and teach her, and the wife loving the husband enough to follow his leadership. A Christian marriage embodies true romance and a Christian man a true hero.

Though this seems unusual in today's United States, this kind of marriage has been practiced throughout history and is still practiced in many parts of the world today.
At the bottom of the website page, we get to the heart of the matter:
Though we recognize by its very nature this subject can be erotic, we will keep this website as clean and wholesome as possible. However, we will not seek to deny the erotic nature of some CDD marriages as we believe it is a natural consequence of following God's plan. After all, He created eroticism to be enjoyed inside a Christian marriage.
Yep he did. And they sell the garmets that can be worn as well:

Then there's the stories from the blog:
"I went to the library on Tuesday thinking that everything was just fine and dandy. When I got back my husband told me to send our son out for a walk. I knew something was up because he seldom disciplines me during the day but I could tell from the way he was acting that he was going to do just that. What did I do? I asked -- incredulous that I had managed to mess up that bad while in the library. Come to find out, I had left the burner on the stove and burnt a pan black before my husband noticed it. I could have started a fire! I still can't believe I was that absent minded. The only excuse I can muster is that I was hurrying to make the library before it closed. I couldn't argue that this was exactly the kind of thing a discipline was designed to manage. I was taken into the bedroom and told to lean over the foot of the bed with my knees on the bed."
Ooo la la. Wonder what happened next?

I guess it's a whatever floats your boat kinda thing. They do have a disclaimer about it being consensual but who knows if that's followed or not. Looks more to me like a way to enjoy "alternative" sexuality and have it sanctioned by the Bible .... at least that may be the thinking. (h/t Salon's "Broadsheet")


No Voice

Gore Vidal on US media and society

We're not the United States of Amnesia — we're the United States of Alzheimer's

Gore Vidal discusses taboo subjects in the media and society and says: “the people have no voice because they have no information.”


Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Reverse Psychology

Is Rove at it again?

Here's from an internal John Edwards campaign memo:

This is a page straight out of his tired old playbook -- Rove is attacking Hillary Clinton because he doesn't want John Edwards to win the Democratic nomination.

Rove knows that Democrats will rally around whomever he attacks -- so he attacks the candidate he thinks Republicans can most easily defeat.

It may seem backwards, but Rove and his cronies did the same thing last time around. In 2004, they were scared of John Edwards, so they attacked John Kerry.
I don't know if that was Rove's intention, but I do know that the poll numbers show Edwards doing better against any of the Republicans than the other Dems.


Peak Oil

Has occurred.

At least according to the International Energy Agency. Here's the executive summary of their recent report. The first item is the killer:

1. World total liquids production (Fig 1) remains on a peak plateau since 2006 and is forecast to fall off this peak plateau in 2009. According to the IEA, the current peak production of 86.13 mbd occurred on July 2006 and only one year later, June 2007 total liquids production fell to an unexpectedly low 84.28 mbd. As long as demand continues increasing then prices will also continue increasing.

2. Forecast world crude oil and lease condensate (C&C) production retains its 2005 peak (Fig 2). The forecast to 2100 shows declining C&C production, using a bottom up forecast to 2012 (Fig 3). The forecast to 2012 shows a 1%/yr decline rate to 2009, followed by a 4%/yr decline rate to 2012.

3. World oil discovery rates peaked in 1965 (Fig 4) and production has exceeded discovery for every year since the mid 1980s. Discoverable reserves in giant fields also peaked during the mid 1960s (Fig 5). The time lag between world peak discovery in 1965 and world peak production in 2005 of 40 years is similar to the time lag of 42 years for the USA Lower 48 (Fig 6).

4. World C&C year on year production changes to April 2007 and May 2007 (Figs 7,8) show significant declines for Mexico, North Sea and Saudi Arabia and significant increases for Russia, Azerbaijan and Angola. As Russia is likely to be on a production plateau and Saudi Arabia has probably passed peak production, the world C&C production will continue to decline slowly.

5. Key producer Saudi Arabia retains its 2005 C&C peak (Fig 10), which is the same as the peak year for world C&C (Fig 2). Saudi Arabia C&C production has now dropped to 8.6 mbd which is 1 mbd less than its peak in 2005. It is now almost a certainty that Saudi Arabia passed peak C&C production of 9.6 mbd in 2005 (Figs 9,10).

6. World natural gas plant liquids is forecast to increase due to new OPEC projects (Fig 11). World ethanol and XTL production is forecast to double by 2012 (Fig 12). World processing gains are forecast to decline slowly to 2012 (Fig 13).
You can read the detail including all the graphs and charts at The Oil Drum.


More Pictures-Taxes

Seems this is picture day at the TW. This is where you're income taxes go:

As you can see, conservatives had had a fair amount of influence on government spending now haven't they?

So. Who pays these taxes:

That's fair ...... NOT!


One Picture ... and all that


New! Improved!

With all the recent criticism of Al Maliki (including Bush), get ready for a government change in Iraq that will necessitate (wait for it) ...... another Friedman Unit!

More evidence al Maliki is in trouble:

Al-Quds al-`Arabi [pdf] reports in Arabic that Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani is "disgusted" with the al-Maliki government. He complains that it has 'filled his heart with pus' by donning his robes and then neglecting to establish security or provide services to the people.

If Sistani has soured so badly on al-Maliki, he really could be in trouble. The old man still has enormous moral authority.

And, if both Bush and Sistani have given up on him, it is hard to see how he can survive.
Does get any worse than having one's heart filled with pus by someone?


Scholars and Rogues

Another terrific blog: Scholars and Rogues. They address a wide range of topics but their coverage of the Blackwater group is terrifying.


Flaming Torch

And you thought there was a housing problem here. Check this out .... without comment ....

MOSCOW (Reuters) - A woman set fire to her ex-husband's penis as he sat naked watching television and drinking vodka, Moscow police said Wednesday.

Asked if the man would make a full recovery, a police spokeswoman said it was "difficult to predict."

The attack climaxed [some writer had a great time with that one] three years of acrimonious enforced co-habitation. The couple divorced three years ago but continued to share a small flat, something common in Russia where property costs are very high.

"It was monstrously painful," the wounded ex-husband told Tvoi Den newspaper. "I was burning like a torch. I don't know what I did to deserve this."


It's the Blacks

A must-read from Digby.


Tuesday, August 21, 2007


I don't know how true this is, but this post makes a good case that there's a conspiracy to not implement quality electric cars:

For many years the car companies have said the "the batteries aren't ready" .... and I'm sick of reading it. They are in fact so "ready" that within a few months to a year 3 relativley small automakers (further details below) will be thumbing their noses at the big 4 auto companies as they bring to market electric cars (and a pickup) with 300-700hp electric motors, 100mph+ top speed and 100-200+ mile ranges per charge. Which might lead many to ask, "why are car companies saying the batteries not ready".
This post contains everything you've ever wanted to know about the state of electric cars, the technology of batteries and implies the question, why aren't we using it?



Barry Ritholtz has a great post up about income and employment. You can guess what it says:

Barry quotes the IRS:

"Americans earned a smaller average income in 2005 than in 2000, the fifth consecutive year that they had to make ends meet with less money than at the peak of the last economic expansion, new government data shows.

While incomes have been on the rise since 2002, the average income in 2005 was $55,238, still nearly 1 percent less than the $55,714 in 2000, after adjusting for inflation, analysis of new tax statistics show.

The combined income of all Americans in 2005 was slightly larger than it was in 2000, but because more people were dividing up the national income pie, the average remained smaller. Total adjusted gross income in 2005 was $7.43 trillion, up 3.1 percent from 2000 and 5.8 percent from 2004. . ."
And remember, the adjusted for inflation part is based on the government's measures of inflation, which are suspect to say the least.

Barry doesn't mention it, but averages are funny things. I don't have the data, but I do know that the rich have been getting richer. So for the average to even stay above water someone has to be doing worse. The spread from wealthy to poor has increased. Thus far, average Americans have made up the difference with credit. That can't go on forever.

Added: Bonddad on a weak report of retail sales:
According to the report, high-end companies and discounters did well. Back to school sales (read teenagers) weren't around at all. At least not yet.

70% of the economy is not happy about what is happening in the economy and they are showing it through their wallets. Remember in the last GDP report personal consumption expenditures increased 1.5% -- one of the smallest gains during this expansion. If we see more numbers like this, we can probably expect a repeat of numbers like that.


Deck Chairs

So many in the Senate are starting to call for al Maliki to leave office. That's just plain stupid:

After returning from a trip to Iraq, Levin and the second-ranking Republican on the armed services committee, Sen. John Warner, issued a joint statement questioning whether the Iraqi government would ever be able to "shed sectarian biases and act in a unifying manner." Levin was then more direct and said he hopes "the parliament will vote the Maliki government out of office."
First of all, it won't make any difference. The sectarian divides are too entrenched. Any leader will have his/her loyalty to the their party, most likel Shiites. Al Maliki's failure has been to be responsive to his constituency. Isn't that how Democracy works?

This is also stupid for the Democrats. By calling for al Maliki's ouster they give Bush yet another "out" and whipping boy. Any focus that is removed from Bush being responsible for this mess is not only incorrect, but it's terrible politics.

Then there's this:
The WP folds into its Levin story a look at how a number of lawmakers are using the August recess to go to Iraq and assess the situation on the ground. Some Democrats are coming back from their trip a little less determined to call for troops to be withdrawn by a specific date. The Post notes Republicans are watching out for these types of claims and, although some have "been clearly taken out of context," it's clear "some Democrats have shifted their views." This raises the possibility that Democrats could be more flexible in their withdrawal demands if there's a change of government in Iraq.
Great journalism eh? "Some Democrats"? If it's true, Dems will be looking at an interparty civil war. Anyone for the 60's again?

Added: Digby discusses this much better than I, pointing out how the punditry senses a new CW emerging that Iraq is getting better!


Bush World Tour Continues

The Bush World Tour:
Afghanistan 2001
Iraq 2003
Iran 2008

An Administration official told me it's not even a consideration. "IRGC IED's are a casus belli for this administration. There will be an attack on Iran."

The inmates are truly running the asylum. Look for the draft, coming soon to a town near you.


Monday, August 20, 2007

Keister Time

Up to my keister in alligators just now. Hopefully more later.


Sunday, August 19, 2007

How Many Times?

Just how many times in the past five years have you seen this story:

WASHINGTON (AP) - Sapped by nearly six years of war, the Army has nearly exhausted its fighting force and its options if the Bush administration decides to extend the Iraq buildup beyond next spring.

The Army's 38 available combat units are deployed, just returning home or already tapped to go to Iraq, Afghanistan or elsewhere, leaving no fresh troops to replace five extra brigades that President Bush sent to Baghdad this year, according to interviews and military documents reviewed by The Associated Press.
Just exactly what will happen when the military is "exhausted". Will all the soldiers simply lay down?

Of course not.

You and I both know that the damage will be subtle, systemic and incremental. Each time this story is floated, Bush does whatever he wants and the generals enable it. Thus the story becomes a "crying wolf" sort of story, namely not credible.

Until there are some more dramatic and tangible manifestations of the military "breaking", the voting public is simply not going to pay attention. Something like all the joint chiefs resigning or a wholesale call for a draft would be notable. But that hasn't and isn't going to happen as the military continues to salute and do what Bush tells them. I'm not advocating a coup. But a military person can refuse to be part of the destruction. Until then, these stories are frankly a big yawn politically.


Stroll Down Memory Lane

There's been a resurgence lately of DLC-types who are out defending the very serious Tom Friedman as a real liberal.

That was a mistake.

Atrios and Digby have been on the case showing how the supposed liberal Tom Friedman is nuts. Here's a famous quote that should rattle your teeth a bit:

From an interview with Charlie Rose before the war:

What they needed to see was American boys and girls going house to house, from Basra to Baghdad, um and basically saying, "Which part of this sentence don't you understand?"

You don't think, you know, we care about our open society, you think this bubble fantasy, we're just gonna to let it grow?

Well, Suck. On. This.


That Charlie was what this war was about. We could've hit Saudi Arabia, it was part of that bubble. We couldn't hit Pakistan. We hit Iraq because we could.
Very serious, and very reasoned indeed. And the guy is still a nationally syndicated writer from the most serious newspaper in the country, and represents a "liberal" perspective. Go read either Digby's or Atrios's take for more, it'll disgust you.

It's so frustrating that there has been (outside the blogosphere) no accountability for pundits who went nuts after 911. And I don't care what their political persuasion. Whether it's Bill Kristol or Peter Beinart. They were wrong. There should be a price to be paid for that misjudgement. Credibility should mean something. But in the current media environment, it does not.

And that's why they hate the blogosphere. Because ordinary people with brains that work are calling them on their shit. And it's a whole new experience.


Quotes Of The Day

From an Op-ed written by active duty soldiers in Iraq:

The claim that we are increasingly in control of the battlefields in Iraq is an assessment arrived at through a flawed, American-centered framework. […]

In the end, we need to recognize that our presence may have released Iraqis from the grip of a tyrant, but that it has also robbed them of their self-respect. They will soon realize that the best way to regain dignity is to call us what we are — an army of occupation — and force our withdrawal.

Until that happens, it would be prudent for us to increasingly let Iraqis take center stage in all matters, to come up with a nuanced policy in which we assist them from the margins but let them resolve their differences as they see fit. This suggestion is not meant to be defeatist, but rather to highlight our pursuit of incompatible policies to absurd ends without recognizing the incongruities.
As Atrios says, these people are obviously not very serious people like the oh so serious people in Washington. In fact, they're likely DFH.


May Be His Downfall

As I'm sure you're well aware, Karl Rove used the Federal government for political purposes. But did you know that it's illegal?

In the past few months, revelations about a few dozen political briefings that Rove's team conducted at federal agencies and several election-related slides from those briefings have touched off investigations into whether the White House improperly politicized federal workers or misused government assets to win elections.

Investigators, however, said the scale of Rove's effort is far broader than previously revealed; they say that Rove's team gave more than 100 such briefings during the seven years of the Bush administration. The political sessions touched nearly all of the Cabinet departments and a handful of smaller agencies that often had major roles in providing grants, such as the White House office of drug policy and the State Department's Agency for International Development.

The U.S. Office of Special Counsel and the House Government Reform and Oversight Committee are investigating whether any of the meetings violated the Hatch Act, which prohibits government employees from using federal resources for election activities. They also want to know whether any Bush appointees pressured government for favorable actions such as grants to help GOP electoral chances.
Like a "third rate burglary", it might be these activities that were done completely in the open that might actually cause Karl Rove some legal problems. Karl Rove and his political tricks are at the heart of all the Bush illegalities. An investigation from this front just might be the entrance to much much more.


Unexpected Powers

Looks like Congress "accidentally" gave Bush more dictatorial powers. Turns out the language of the hastily passed survelliance bill allows the Pres. to do search without a search warrant, although he says that ... noooooo .... he'd never do that:

The dispute illustrates how lawmakers, in a frenetic, end-of-session scramble, passed legislation they may not have fully understood and may have given the administration more surveillance powers than it sought.


The new law redefines "electronic surveillance" in a way that indirectly OKs a number of intrusive practices without oversight—something many Democrats didn't realize during the "frenetic, end-of-session scramble" before the August recess. Solace is being sought in the fact that the law expires six months hence.

Yet another reason Dems shouldn't have caved on this bill. And don't you know that it's crap like this that causes contempt for Congress? Deliberative body my rear end.