Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Cheney agrees with letter Edelman wrote about Clinton

You know, the one that accused Clinton of being unpatriotic and that his boss, the Defence Secretary, has backed away from:
After Clinton wrote to Gates in May requesting a briefing on plans for troop withdrawal, Pentagon policy chief Eric Edelman responded with a letter last week accusing the senator of reinforcing "enemy propaganda that the United States will abandon its allies" by discussing a timetable for withdrawal. Edelman, a career diplomat, moved in 2005 to the Pentagon from the office of Vice President Dick Cheney.
Here's Cheney today saying it was a "good letter":



Go Cheney, you out of touch albatross...:)

Monday, July 30, 2007

Conservative strategery

Can't wait to see what the brain trust comes up with as they converge in Charlottetown this week: "Tories appear stuck in driver's seat: adviser."

Personally, I would advise them to increase their use of the kind of gimmickry that's brought them such success to date. More race cars, more "Democratic Reform Weeks," more psychic staff members...

I mean, that's the stuff that really grabs our attention...:)

Wtf

There's no accounting for taste: "Magazine names Trudeau as 'Worst Canadian'." The likely explanation for this absurd result:
The Beaver admits the online poll used to determine the winner of the Worst Canadian contest is far from scientific. As a result, the magazine came up with an alternative list formed by polling "10 of Canada's most renowned historians and writers of popular history."

That list, which can only be found in the printed edition of the magazine, is described by The Beaver as "arguably more measured, and takes into consideration the full breadth and scope of Canadian history."

Trudeau didn't make the cut on that list.
But, you know, what else could you really expect from such an asinine "contest" in the first place...

Cheney

Josh Marshall also notes the news that was made in the Gonzales' editorial Sunday where Cheney was fingered as the one who ordered Gonzales and Card to "meet" with the hospitalized John Ashcroft. The consensus seems to be that this is indeed a revelation and I assume they've got their sources to substantiate it. Why it has not been the subject of a news story is an interesting question indeed.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

The world is safe from cheese bombs once more

Oh, I guess everybody can relax now. Appears that those in the TSA have it all under control:

The Transportation Security Agency's national security bulletin issued was based on bogus examples that were combined to give the impression of ominous terrorist plotting, CNN reports.

"That bulletin for law enforcement eyes only told of suspicious items recently found in passenger's bags at airport checkpoints, warned that they may signify dry runs for terrorist attacks," CNN's Brian Todd reported Friday afternoon. "Well it turns out none of that is true."

...
"The FBI now says there were valid explanations for all four incidents in that bulletin, and a US government official says no charges will be brought in any of these cases," Todd reported.
...
The FBI maintained "they were right" putting the bogus reports on the TSA bulletin, which is distributed to law enforcement agencies nationwide, Todd reported. Airport security officers must be trained in identifying suspicious packages, even when those packages turn out to be innocuous.
Yes, it's quite amazing how there was such a lag time between the initial reporting of these "incidents" and the now belated disclosure of the crucial information that the incidents were indeed bogus and explained away by the passengers in question. I mean, I am just shocked...

It might be an idea for CNN and other news organizations to go back to basic principles and consider working a little harder to source such stories before breathlessly inciting fear....

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Have a laugh



A fun video made by two women in Colorado for "The Salmon Dance," one of the catchiest songs on the Chemical Brother's new CD, We Are the Night. My favourite CD of the summer, enjoy...:)

Hmmmm

Compare these two headlines on the suicide bomb incident in Afghanistan today. Here's the Globe headline: "Canada's top Afghanistan commander narrowly misses huge suicide-bomb blast." And here's CTV.ca: "Top commander escapes death in Afghan attack."

One of these appears inappropriate to me. Can you tell which one?

This seems about right

(Larry Downing/Reuters)

Finally, Rove gets his subpoena from Senator Leahy. A fitting photo to mark the occasion.

Conservative constitutional scholar calls for impeachment on Olbermann's show



Here's Bruce Fein, former Deputy Attorney General in the Reagan administration calling for the impeachment of Bush for his "political crimes against the constitution." These would include, among other things, Bush's spying on Americans, Gitmo's perpetual detention policies without habeas corpus and the Executive Order Bush signed recently permitting him to take away a person's financial resources if, on Bush's say so, a person is deemed to be a "significant risk" of undermining the Bush administration's efforts or policies in Iraq.

Pretty remarkable, in and of itself. To say nothing of this opinion piece in the Washington Post today by two more former Reaganites expressing their objection and shame over Bush's recent clarification - again by Executive Order - of CIA interrogation policies. In a nutshell, they disavow Bush's move because in their view, as long as abusive interrogation techniques are undertaken under the guise of acquiring intelligence or preventing future attacks - as most techniques would be in Bush's perpetual war on terror - "...the president has given the CIA carte blanche to engage in "willful and outrageous acts of personal abuse." Their final appeal in their op-ed is to morality:
In a letter to President James Madison in March 1809, Jefferson observed: "It has a great effect on the opinion of our people and the world to have the moral right on our side." Our leaders must never lose sight of that wisdom.
Witness also this former Reagan Assistant Secretary of the Treasury who gave this warning last week:
Unless Congress immediately impeaches Bush and Cheney, a year from now the US could be a dictatorial police state at war with Iran.
Now whether such public ruptures in the Republican party will come to any consequence is another story. Rove and Bush's GOP is clearly not the same as Reagan's or Bush 41's. But the fact that these people are seeking out higher public profile media outlets to make their cases suddenly is striking.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Kinsella catching heat today

For his posting of a photo gag the other day...for what it's worth, his apology seems genuine to me, in particular the last two paragraphs. It might have been better, however, to leave the attack stuff aside, methinks.

Interestingly though, as a bi-product, Kinsella seems to have gotten his pet issue, the issue of the candidacy of one Tory pol, Mr. Randy Hillier, to the level of national media attention.

Meanwhile, more evidence of a slow news day in July...

The poor, beleaguered Harper politicos

I'm sure many a heart will ache today for these people upon turning to the Globe's pages this morning.

Apparently some Conservative political staffers have elicited the media's assistance to enable them to whine about being asked to contribute $1,000 bucks a pop to the Conservative party. Boo freakin' hoo. This is Mini Bush's party, which you all more than willingly support and so if you're expecting some kind of sympathy or public cover to be provided by your leaking of this information...sorry, not going to get it here.

Now on the other hand, Impolitical can completely respect the need to shed some daylight on the heavy hand of the Conservative party and a window being helpfully opened to illuminate for the Canadian public how they treat their own. It's pony up or beeg trouble for the political staffers. Nice.

And to you leakers? You, my friends, seem to have earned yourself a studious eyeing from Sandra Buckler, popping up here once again to put out the internal fires that seem to have been lit. I sense a sternly worded memorandum could be in the works...:)

You have also earned plaudits from a content-challenged blogging public doing its best to make do with the meager Canadian offerings in July. Thank you from all of us...:)

Monday, July 23, 2007

Spitzer metes out consequences for politicization of law enforcement

You see, this is what should happen when such improprieties take place. In glaring contrast to the whitewashing of such conduct in Washington, D.C. by Bush, Gonzales, Cheney, et al.

Unreal



Tpmtv's spin around the Sunday talk shows, showing snippets from the key players who made the rounds. I like the way they edit this and cut to the chase on what's being said. The Bush administration's latest high profile flunky, Fran Townsend, the Homeland Security maven, seems to be a new regular on the scene. Her message: the U.S. is safer since 9/11 and the U.S. is not torturing. Despite the National Intelligence Estimate's message this week that Al Qaeda has actually strengthened itself in the years since 9/11. Such reports mean the Bushies must spin for their lives.

The surreal juxtaposition of her appearances against those of leading Democrats is jarring. It's never been more clear that the Bushies continue to speak as if they live in a dream world, oblivious and uncaring about the facts. There's a point at which spin, however, becomes outright absurdity. These people have crossed that line a long time ago.

A Rovian banana republic

Scott Horton's latest salvo against Karl Rove and the stunning - well, somewhat - decision by the corporate dominated print media in Alabama to come to his defense on the allegations he had something to do with the former Democratic governor's prosecution and now conviction:
There are many historical touchstones for Republican leadership: Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, Eisenhower, Reagan. But Karl Rove has no genuine ideological connection to any of these leaders, nor indeed, to any legitimate philosophy of government; indeed, one of the landmarks on Rove’s résumé is that he was fired by the first President Bush for engaging in dishonest and possibly illegal campaign tricks. And yet there is little question about where most of our friends in the Mobile press stand. They’re in favor of a Rovian banana republic, run by banana Republicans.

Rove reflects the rule-from-the-shadows and any-tactic-is-fine-if-it-works mentality that now hangs like a cloud over our nation. And more often than not his worst victims have been fellow Republicans. Ask John McCain about how he lost the tightly-fought but decisive 2000 Republican primary in South Carolina—in which Rove circulated photographs of McCain with his adopted South Asian daughter, and then had callers ask Republicans whether they were concerned about allegations that McCain had fathered a black child out of wedlock. Yet this is the Press-Register’s favorite flavor of Republican, and Rove’s is the mindset which shapes their vision of the news.
Interesting information cited by Horton as well on Alabama Republicans tiring of the blatant partisanship of the Bush administration:
As one Alabama G.O.P. source told me, he did not want his children growing up in a banana republic–and that’s what he thought Alabama was turning into. Even staunchly conservative Republican Rep. Spencer Bachus of Birmingham has questioned the treatment Siegelman received immediately after his sentencing; similarly, a large number of Republican attorneys general from around the country have flagged the striking irregularities in the Siegelman case as evidence of justice gone off the tracks.
For good measure, there's also news of hostility being displayed toward Alberto Gone-zales within the Justice Department from his own political appointees who believe he should have resigned by now and are giving him the cold shoulder...whether that will do any good, who knows. But at least there's some evidence of Republicans turning against the lawlessness, at long last, that's bubbling up...

A timely reminder of the power of Congress over the war

Adam Cohen in the NY Times today, "Just What the Founders Feared: An Imperial President Goes to War":
The nation is heading toward a constitutional showdown over the Iraq war. Congress is moving closer to passing a bill to limit or end the war, but President Bush insists Congress doesn’t have the power to do it. “I don’t think Congress ought to be running the war,” he said at a recent press conference. “I think they ought to be funding the troops.” He added magnanimously: “I’m certainly interested in their opinion.”

The war is hardly the only area where the Bush administration is trying to expand its powers beyond all legal justification. But the danger of an imperial presidency is particularly great when a president takes the nation to war, something the founders understood well. In the looming showdown, the founders and the Constitution are firmly on Congress’s side.
...
The founders would have been astonished by President Bush’s assertion that Congress should simply write him blank checks for war. They gave Congress the power of the purse so it would have leverage to force the president to execute their laws properly. Madison described Congress’s control over spending as “the most complete and effectual weapon with which any constitution can arm the immediate representatives of the people, for obtaining a redress of every grievance, and for carrying into effect every just and salutary measure.”

The framers expected Congress to keep the president on an especially short leash on military matters. The Constitution authorizes Congress to appropriate money for an army, but prohibits appropriations for longer than two years. Hamilton explained that the limitation prevented Congress from vesting “in the executive department permanent funds for the support of an army, if they were even incautious enough to be willing to repose in it so improper a confidence.”

As opinion turns more decisively against the war, the administration is becoming ever more dismissive of Congress’s role. Last week, Under Secretary of Defense Eric Edelman brusquely turned away Senator Hillary Clinton’s questions about how the Pentagon intended to plan for withdrawal from Iraq. "Premature and public discussion of the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq reinforces enemy propaganda that the United States will abandon its allies in Iraq,” he wrote. Mr. Edelman’s response showed contempt not merely for Congress, but for the system of government the founders carefully created.

The Constitution cannot enforce itself. It is, as the constitutional scholar Edwin Corwin famously observed, an “invitation to struggle” among the branches, but the founders wisely bequeathed to Congress some powerful tools for engaging in the struggle. It is no surprise that the current debate over a deeply unpopular war is arising in the context of a Congressional spending bill. That is precisely what the founders intended.

Members of Congress should not be intimidated into thinking that they are overstepping their constitutional bounds. If the founders were looking on now, it is not Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi who would strike them as out of line, but George W. Bush, who would seem less like a president than a king.
Another well argued case for action against this dangerous president and his single-minded devotion to war...yet I wonder if the clock will simply run out on this presidency, unchecked. The record of the last seven years suggests that is the likeliest scenario.

Bock, bock, bock, bock

What's the matter, Mini Bush? Is someone afraid of running in Ontario?

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Judgment


Mitt Romney's gut is to say OK to this sign, laugh it up and join in on the fun. Anything goes when you're sucking up to the nasty Republican base, I guess.

It's going to be quite an election in the U.S., isn't it? Starting with Eric Edelman this week - only the latest in a long line, of course - the Republican m.o. will continue to be to conflate the Democrats with terrorists.

Because it worked so well for them in 2006.

Think Mitt owes Obama and Clinton an apology for this crap.

And the military obsession continues

Mini Bush and his gang are still on a military spending spree. And still dumping millions into the Conservatives' precious political target of Quebec in the process. Why not? They're in 3rd place there in a recent poll with 16%. The spending strategy is working wonders!
An air force unit capable of rapid deployment will be established at Canadian Forces Base Bagotville in northwestern Quebec, the government said yesterday, a move seen by some experts as a major shift away from Canada's traditional military role as a peacekeeper.

Defence Minister Gordon O'Connor said the government would spend about $300-million on equipment and other costs to set up the unit, and would add 550 new troops to the base over seven years.

"What this unit does is allow the air force to establish an operating air field anywhere in the world, even in remote areas of the North," Mr. O'Connor said in an interview.

It was the second major military announcement in as many days in a province where the military enjoys less support than in other parts of the country, and where the Conservatives must pick up seats to win a majority government.

On Thursday, Mr. O'Connor announced $200-million in funding to resurrect the Saint-Jean campus of the Royal Military College in Quebec, a move designed to draw more potential francophone officers into the Canadian Forces. CFB Bagotville is the only predominantly French-speaking air base in the country.
Is there a week that goes by when Mini Bush and his crew fail to make some kind of military announcement or appearance?

We call him Mini Bush for good reason here at the Impolitical blog, don't ya know...:)

Romney's culture ad pretty effectively mocked

Watch Mitt's ad:



Now watch this spoof of it:



Pretty clever, hey?

Olbermann tells Bush to go fight his own war



Geez...and to think I missed this because I had a plumber at my house...doh!

This is Keith's special comment from Thursday night on the absolutely putrid letter by Eric Edelman, under secretary of defense, launched at Senator Clinton the other day, accusing her of propagating enemy propaganda by simply asking responsible questions of the Pentagon about withdrawal from Iraq. And for having the nerve to ask for a public discussion of this momentous issue. Imagine.

If I were an American, I would be as outraged as Olbermann clearly is here. And he clearly feels the need to beat this nascent line of attack back before it takes hold. And to once again utter the impeachment word...

Friday, July 20, 2007

Rant away

The great enabling of the great lawbreaker continues:
OK, let me see if I can sum this up.

There's a scandal in the government: the White House is being investigated as to whether it violated the law by expressly politicizing the operations of the United States Department of Justice, essentially rendering the very laws of the land into weapons of a political party. During the investigation as to whether the Justice Department has been illegally politicized, Congress seeks the testimony of individuals who worked at the White House and who were known to have engaged in the conversations in question. The president blocks their testimony, under claims of executive privilege. The president and his Justice Department -- the one being investigated -- then assert that they will refuse to enforce any legal actions against the White House or administration members as a result of those acts.

To repeat: in an investigation into the politicalization of the Justice Department by the president, an investigation that has turned up numerous accusations that members of the Department of Justice were directed to enforce the law unequally, the president is blocking the investigation... by ordering the Justice Department to not enforce the law.

Yes, I think that might count as "politicizing the Justice Department".


It is itself obstruction, there is no possible question of that. The difference between this and Nixon's infamous "Saturday Night Massacre" is that Bush, unlike Nixon, doesn't have to fire anyone to obstruct the investigation into possible illegal acts by his administration. (And to the extent he did, he already fired those people -- the entire point of the current investigation to begin with.)
And the key point:
Back in the days of Watergate, Nixon was opposed by Republicans of conscience: people within Congress and the Justice Department who, despite sharing a party affiliation with Nixon, knew that illegal acts were illegal acts, and would not condone them. The difference between then and now is that there are no such men and women surrounding the president or within his party. The president never cared to surround himself with people of integrity: his party has been purged of all but the most obsequious.

And that is why the scandal is still not recognized as a scandal in his own party or in the compliant arms of administration-friendly advocates: because in order for a violation of law or Constitution to be condemned, it requires people of integrity to condemn it. Any such voices, if they existed, would have already abandoned this president long ago; all that remain are sycophants nearly by definition.

So as of yet, mere violations of constitutional law remain seen as mere partisan squabbles. There is insufficient moral fiber within a hundred miles of the president for either press or party to declare it as anything worse.
Leading Senate Republicans oppose the president's Iraq policy yet when it comes time to vote, they adhere to the party line. Voinovich, Lugar, Warner. Cowards, all.

When will these people break from this disastrous presidency?

Discussing withdrawal from Iraq = aiding the enemy

Good for her: "Clinton strikes back at Pentagon aide." There's not going to be any swift-boating this time round.

The lawless presidency gets worse for Americans

Bush is expanding his claim of executive privilege in the case of the U.S. attorney firings to the point where he is insisting the Justice Department cannot pursue contempt charges against White House officials. He's saying that if he invokes executive privilege, that's the end of the story. No legal review applies and Bush won't let the Justice Department pursue the contempt. That's revolutionary. The President is above the law, people.
Bush administration officials unveiled a bold new assertion of executive authority yesterday in the dispute over the firing of nine U.S. attorneys, saying that the Justice Department will never be allowed to pursue contempt charges initiated by Congress against White House officials once the president has invoked executive privilege.

The position presents serious legal and political obstacles for congressional Democrats, who have begun laying the groundwork for contempt proceedings against current and former White House officials in order to pry loose information about the dismissals.

Under federal law, a statutory contempt citation by the House or Senate must be submitted to the U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia, "whose duty it shall be to bring the matter before the grand jury for its action."

But administration officials argued yesterday that Congress has no power to force a U.S. attorney to pursue contempt charges in cases, such as the prosecutor firings, in which the president has declared that testimony or documents are protected from release by executive privilege. Officials pointed to a Justice Department legal opinion during the Reagan administration, which made the same argument in a case that was never resolved by the courts.

"A U.S. attorney would not be permitted to bring contempt charges or convene a grand jury in an executive privilege case," said a senior official, who said his remarks reflect a consensus within the administration. "And a U.S. attorney wouldn't be permitted to argue against the reasoned legal opinion that the Justice Department provided. No one should expect that to happen."
Expect a flood of opinion opposing this move:
Mark J. Rozell, a professor of public policy at George Mason University who has written a book on executive-privilege issues, called the administration's stance "astonishing."

"That's a breathtakingly broad view of the president's role in this system of separation of powers," Rozell said. "What this statement is saying is the president's claim of executive privilege trumps all."
This is going to get a lot worse. That is, it better get a lot worse. Or the rule of law in the U.S. is clearly no match for this U.S. president.

Of course they're getting away with it

Well, it's almost complete. The Bush White House outed an undercover CIA operative and they're going to get clean away with it. Patrick Fitzgerald nailed Libby...Bush commutes his sentence. The Wilsons sue the gallery of rogues, Cheney, Rove et al. for their leaking of her name...lawsuit gets thrown out yesterday. For these ludicrous grounds:
U.S. District Judge John D. Bates said that Cheney and the others could not be held liable for the disclosures in the summer of 2003 in the midst of a White House effort to rebut criticism of the Iraq war by her husband, former ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV. The judge said that such efforts are a natural part of the officials' job duties, and, thus, they are immune from liability.

"The alleged means by which defendants chose to rebut Mr. Wilson's comments and attack his credibility may have been highly unsavory," Bates wrote. "But there can be no serious dispute that the act of rebutting public criticism, such as that levied by Mr. Wilson against the Bush administration's handling of prewar foreign intelligence, by speaking with members of the press is within the scope of defendants' duties as high-level Executive Branch officials."
Implicit in the judge's reasoning is the notion that outing a CIA agent is something that is done in the ordinary course of these officials' duties. That is simply incredible. Yes, political officials should be able to rebut political charges in the media. That's part of their job. But to ruin someone's career upon which their anonymity depends? Someone who was working on weapons of mass destruction issues in relation to Iran, undercover? This seems strangely misguided to be protecting officials for such activity.

Just incredible. Par for the course, says the judge.

What an absolute travesty this entire mess has been. Karl Rove's still smirking away in the White House and a CIA operative's career is ruined, not to mention the operations she was involved in over the years. Too bad, so sad. You're but roadkill for the political necessities of Bush's disastrous White House years.

Is Harper using the military for political purposes...again?

Whenever he gets the opportunity to play commander in chief, he's right on it: "Harper greets sailors in photo-op." And my oh my, isn't it interesting how a Canadian frigate is coincidentally in Barbados at the same time as Mini Bush? Is he using taxpayer funds simply for the purpose of letting him play GI Joe once again? As the backdrop for future campaign ads? Sandra Buckler's explanation for the out of the way journey for the ship sounds a little stretched when read in conjunction with the military spokesman's. I don't believe it for a minute.

You know, you'd think we were a big military country or something with his repeated military appearances. It's frankly quite out of sorts to the Canadian psyche. Never seen anything like this before. But keep it up, Mini Bush. We know it's really all about this:



Imagine me coming across such a banner on a recent jaunt out of the country...thought it was very Steve-appropriate for his many photo-op stagings...:)

Thursday, July 19, 2007

I love me a good anti-Harper headline in the morning

Is there anything better, people? Here it is: "Harper failing to win country over." That is such a shame, now. Why, whatever could be the problem?
Discomfort with Stephen Harper's Conservatives is deepening among women, francophones and wealthier Canadians, according to a new poll that puts the government in a dead heat with the Liberals in popular support.
Please, do go on.
Compared with one year ago, when they were at 37-per-cent support, the Tories find themselves less popular among women, French-speaking Canadians and voters who earn more than $100,000 a year.

“The gender gap, in particular, is a potential problem for them,” said Peter Donolo of the Strategic Counsel, which conducted the survey. “And it's really pronounced in support for sending troops to Afghanistan.”
Afghanistan? You don't say. You mean the mission which Steve has wholeheartedly and enthusiastically rah-rahed for over a year now? Yeah, turning out to be a bit of a problem.
Mr. Donolo said the drop in support among the more affluent may be due to the decision to tax income trusts and a spate of foreign takeovers of Canadian companies, while the decline among women and francophones is almost certainly due to the numbers of Canadian soldiers who have been killed in Afghanistan.

The poll shows that 26 per cent of women would vote for the Conservatives if an election were held today, compared with 32 per cent in June of 2006, while 17 per cent of French speakers would vote Conservative compared with 25 per cent from one year ago.

When it comes to Canadians earning $100,000 or more, the drop is precipitous, with 31 per cent saying they would vote Conservative, compared with 49 per cent one year ago.
Got to love those income trust billboards. Other highlights:
Women may be uncomfortable with Mr. Harper's combative style, said Mr. Donolo.
Why yes, we are. Thanks for noticing. And oh, what's this? The summer world tour's not turning out as planned:
With the sitting over, some party members had expected the Conservatives' support would rebound, but cross-Canada touring by the Prime Minister has not done the trick.
Think that G8 turn where Mini Bush enabled Bush's do-nothing approach on the environment had something to do with all this? It just may be. To me, that's one of the most high profile Harper actions of the last six months. That and, of course, the trips to Afghanistan and the botched handling of the detainee issue.

It's so refreshing to read such good news first thing in the morning...:)

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Steve's making friends everywhere he goes

Can't recall the last time this happened: "Protesters say 'Harper go home' on PM's last day in Chile."

Steve certainly evokes a response on the international scene, doesn't he? Not necessarily of the good kind, however...:)

Hilarious



Check out the "David Vitter song." "A married father of four, runnin' around with whores...that ain't what Louisiana needs..."...:)

Straightforward talk on Iraq



Cindy Sheehan's appearance on Hardball yesterday. Nice job.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Talk about "ridiculous"

Steve, boldly going where only he and W dare to go:
The United States Congress blocked President George W. Bush's free trade deal with Colombia earlier this month, citing human rights concerns and the failure to investigate and prosecute paramilitaries.
No such concerns for the oblivious Harper though...we are so proud.

No more taxes please, this Torontonian has had enough

Good: "Miller suffers tax plan defeat." Gotta say, I am sick to death of my property taxes climbing and climbing and climbing since Mayor Miller came to town. This guy gets the power to tax and he's off to the races. Enough is enough. Glad to see the Toronto council stand up and say no by deferring this decision until the provincial election campaign occurs and political pressure can be applied by the city. That's a no brainer.

Another idea would be to set the GST back to 7% and give 1 cent of it back to municipalities. The 1 cent cut has made little to no difference in my purchasing power. It might as well be spent by municipalities to invest in their infrastructure and services. Any federal takers?

Monday, July 16, 2007

Mini Bush up to his old tricks

Following in his buddy's footsteps by pursuing a free trade deal with Uribe of Colombia, one of W's prominent allies in Latin America who was recently at the White House. If he's OK with W, he's OK with Mini Bush. Washington again proves to be the guiding hand for the Harper administration.

And Steve sounds a little testy today, doesn't he?
"When we see a country like Columbia that has decided it has to address its social, political and economic problems, it wants to embrace economic freedom, it wants to embrace political democracy and human rights and social development, then we say we we're in," said Harper.

"We're there to encourage you and help you. We're not going to say 'fix all your social, political and human rights problems, and only then will we engage in trade relations with you.' That's a ridiculous position."
He just can't help himself from going a bit too far, can he? How dare anyone question Canada's trade policy and simultaneous considerations of human rights...that's ridiculous...

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Judge Walton still stickin' it to Bush

Addressing Bush's characterization of the Libby sentence as "excessive" in his opinion today:
Also today, Bush's statement that he had commuted Libby's 30-month prison sentence because it was "excessive" drew a quizzical response from the trial judge in Libby's case, U.S. District Judge Reggie B. Walton. In an opinion ordering Libby to begin serving supervised probation, Walton noted that the prison term was "consistent with the bottom end" of federal sentencing guidelines.

"The court is somewhat perplexed as to how its sentence could accurately be characterized as excessive," Walton wrote.
We're all in the perplexed camp when it comes to Bush's pronouncements on such matters, Judge. The Judge has helpfully noted the absurdity of Bush's "excessive" comment in his opinion, for the historical record and for the guidance of enterprising lawyers who will not doubt be seeking to capitalize on Bush's commutation intervention for their own clients' sentencing.

Bush, when questioned today on his Libby commutation, perhaps mesmerized by Faux News' jingle, called it "fair and balanced." More grist for the defence attorneys' mill, hey? And of course, he didn't seem to know who actually leaked Valerie Plame's name and failed to provide any comment that would indicate that he actually cares that this outing occurred on his watch. He had this to say, to brush it all under the rug:
"It's been a tough issue for a lot of people in the White House, and it's run its course and now we're going to move on," he said.
Because, of course, to date Bush has failed to acknowledge that this outing of Plame, significant enough for the CIA to have referred it to the Justice Department for investigation, is of any consequence whatsoever to the agent, her family or his country. Yet he takes the opportunity to mention that it's been tough on those in the White House. Affirming once more how unreal this man's world is and how the ends justify the means, law be damned.

The emperor told Harriet Miers not to show up today



"As contemptuous as you can be of the United States of America..."

"If we don't enforce this subpoena, no one will ever have to come before the Judiciary Committee again."

Further evidence on display today that the law is but a quaint detail to these people, as Harriet Miers fails to show before the House Judiciary Committee today.

Earth to Steve

The nation called, it wants a dignified Prime Minister back. Harper yesterday, again playing the Johnny-come-lately role with the national unity file. Thinks he's due some kind of credit:
Prime Minister Stephen Harper says it's been 40 years since Canada has been as united as it stands today and he credits his government's popularity in Quebec.
Um, no. A year in office does not entitle you to take credit for a decline in support for separatism. You can't have it both ways, Steve. If you have nothing to do with the state of our environment since you claim the Liberals mucked it all up during their 13 years in office, then surely, by your own logic, they're due the credit for the improvement on the national unity front. It's certainly not due to one piddling year in office. It's almost ridiculous on its face to make this argument.

You might have made up some ground in Quebec due to your constant pandering and massive spending, but a political movement doesn't turn on a dime for such pittances. It declines over time due to momentous forces at play like the aftermath of a close referendum, a Supreme Court reference, federal legislation setting the rules for future questions, economic circumstances, a federal government that said no to the Iraq war. It's a result of the political leadership in that province and currents on the ground, like a new generation, that questions the flailing separatist agenda. You and your one plus year? Get real.

And again, the elbows up partisan shines through as he addresses the faithful:
The prime minister also told the crowd that his government has introduced a bill that would give Alberta five extra seats in the Commons to reflect its growing population.

A handful of the Tories jumped to their feet as Harper said he wants to make it impossible for "the Liberals and the NDP to ever wage another campaign against the West."
When I read the first part, I wonder about the gerrymandering charges in the wake of the new seat allocation proposals more earnestly. At the very least, it's irresponsible for him to be sowing division on the issue, knowing Ontario has objected to the electoral reform as it's not getting it's share due to population growth. Hyping Alberta's gains, only to later potentially see them lost if the reform doesn't occur can only sow resentment against those opposing the plan.

And his last comment, well, it really speaks for itself, doesn't it? Telling Westerners that the Liberals and NDP have waged a campaign against the West? Talk about spreading the hatorade...

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Our wonderful PM in action

Always the low road:
The prime minister also took some shots at the current unelected Senate, referring to it as a "dysfunctional Liberal organization" and complaining it was holding up a number of Conservative law and order bills, including raising the legal age of sexual consent from 14 to 16.
The man is truly an inspiration. Just sit back and watch him go...

Thanks for talking guy, but you're too late

Please. If I have to read about one more Bush appointee who is suddenly wakened from their Alice-in-Wonderland-stupor over the politicization of their department and only now is emboldened to speak freely as the Bush administration has come crashing down to earth...

No one has the courage of their convictions anymore. This Surgeon General should have resigned at the time and thought about going public when the instances he cites of political interference - which are truly obscene by the way - occurred. What good is it now, other than to further embellish the terrible record of the Bush administration? They get away with everything and this guy is one more participant in the massive enabling of the century (early though it may be).

Congress is being put in the cross-hairs of the viewing public, not only on such issues, but on Alberto Gonzales' continued misrepresentations to Congress with impunity. At the most, we could see a special prosecutor appointed for Gonzales' transgressions, as Jerrold Nadler of New York seems to be moving in that direction. At the very least, it's all being exposed. Either way, the dream of a Republican permanent majority should now be relegated to the trash bin of history...:)

Leahy laying the smack down



Big shout out to Senator Leahy today, lecturing a snide Sara Taylor, Rove's former assistant, on her oath being to the Constitution, NOT the President, as Ms. Taylor misspoke...

Good ole boy hypocrisy



Olbermann's coverage of Louisiana Republican Senator David Vitter's fall from grace...so sad. Worth watching for the footage of Vitter extolling the virtues of traditional marriage on the floor of the United States Senate. I don't know what "Louisianan" is for chutzpah, but Vitter's got a gigantic case of it, hey Tony Snow?

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

We'll be watching William Elliott's RCMP tenure

The issue with this appointment, it seems to me, is not solely the lack of experience in running a policing entity presented by Elliott. It's the appointment of an individual with longstanding Conservative ties, an individual who began his federal career as a political staffer for a Conservative MP. That's what gives this the taint. It's not enough for Harper to say that Elliott's six month service as national security adviser for Martin should quiet everybody. Or that his rise through the federal civil service somehow imputes approval of this current appointment to the Liberals and prevents them, or others, from objecting. The fact that Elliott will run the RCMP, an investigative body with powers over the continued investigations into the federal sponsorship scandal, for example, means that the individual appointed to this position should have been beyond reproach. The criticism of both Elliott's practical experience and his partisan roots means that Harper has once again come up short, here with this appointment.

And so, we'll be watching to see how Mr. Elliott conducts himself...

It's between me, my wife, God (and the DC Madam)

Yeah, yeah, this happened yesterday, but gotta highlight the Republican hypocrisy that knows no bounds, ya know. Turns out Louisiana Republican Senator David Vitter's phone number is on the DC Madam's phone number list.
Louisiana Sen. David Vitter, whose telephone number was disclosed by the so-called ''D.C. Madam accused of running a prostitution ring, says he is sorry for a ''serious sin'' and that he has already made peace with his wife.

''This was a very serious sin in my past for which I am, of course, completely responsible,'' Vitter said Monday in a printed statement. ''Several years ago, I asked for and received forgiveness from God and my wife in confession and marriage counseling. Out of respect for my family, I will keep my discussion of the matter there -- with God and them. But I certainly offer my deep and sincere apologies to all I have disappointed and let down in any way.''
Well, my oh my, quite the fall from grace for the good ole Christian boy, Vitter. Seein' how you're doin' a bang up job down there for Louisiana and all, post-Katrina, had to draw attention to this. A dose of retributive justice, if you will.

And by the way, nice little dig by the Associated Press at ABC news on this point:
Palfrey revealed details of her escort service on ABC's news magazine ''20/20'' on May 4. At the time, ABC said it could not link any information provided by Palfrey to members of Congress or White House officials but did find links to prominent business executives, NASA officials and at least five military officers.
Could be that Brian Ross, the star investigative reporter over there at ABC's just not all he's cracked up to be, hey?

Sunday, July 08, 2007

With Harper, there's no there, there

Hats off to Jeffrey Simpson for his slammin' column on Mini Bush. Impolitical is always up for this kind of nation-wide zeroing in on some Harper criticism:
Despite having had the initiative since it was first elected - and could plausibly claim for a while to be "new" - the Harper government is no more popular than 18 months ago.

It has made announcement after announcement. It has presented two budgets, the last one such that any Liberal finance minister would have been delighted to offer. It has "delivered" on many of its core campaign commitments, substantively silly as they were such as the supposedly vote-winning GST cut.

It has dominated the news agenda, as governments usually do. It has faced a divided, then leaderless, now leadership-challenged Liberal opposition. It "solved" the non-problem of the "fiscal imbalance." It developed, then refined, a climate-change policy. It continues to roll in cash as the economy hums. It is centralized in decision-making and message control as no previous government, just as the Prime Minister wants.

So where's the political beef?

Where's the jump in the polls?

Where's the majority government?

It turns out, as all students of politics long ago understood, that government is about having a narrative that speaks to the nation's heart and values, that it is more than scripted announcements and dry numbers, and that it is ultimately about an electorate's feeling comfortable with the persona, judgment and values of the prime minister.
And you can't buy, manufacture or fake the latter. Steve's got a beeg problemo.

h/t to Scott Da Tribe guy, and Far n Wide for highlighting it as well (although I can rarely read the Far n Wide blog, it makes Firefox crash on me every time, sadly...).

Karl Rove may yet get his comeuppance

For people who have been following the latest charge on Karl Rove's shenanigans, that he allegedly used the Justice Department to pursue a political enemy, namely via the indictment and now conviction of Don Siegelman, former Democratic Governor of Alabama, there is some movement occurring that means this little sleeper story may yet heat up. Scott Horton, my new fave, the legal columnist at Harper's, says the dam is going to break:
Dana Jill Simpson, a Sand Mountain lawyer who worked on the Riley campaign, offered an affidavit that provided a series of clean explanations for what had happened in the Justice Department’s decision to prosecute Alabama’s most popular Democrat, Don Siegelman. She recounted a conversation involving one of the state’s most powerful Republicans, William Canary. He had spoken to “Karl,” the affidavit said, and “Karl” had spoken to Justice. No question as to who “Karl” was. The reference was to President Bush’s senior political advisor, and a close personal friend of William Canary, Karl Rove. The same Karl Rove now in the cross-hairs of Congressional investigations looking into his abusive manipulation of prosecutions of political figures. They were going to get Don Siegelman.

The immediate reaction of Canary and his friends was to deny that any such conversation ever took place. That position was immediately piped around Alabama in order to dismiss the Simpson affidavit. Moreover, the Birmingham News even ran a ludicrous article in which it labeled Simpson a “Siegelman advocate” and grossly misreported and distorted the underlying facts. I examined the News’s extremely curious reporting on Siegelman matters in a prior post. But there was a serious problem with the position Canary staked out. Namely, the conversation did take place, and it could be demonstrated with contemporaneous records. So, with the conspirators lying themselves into a corner, what is the next step?

That’s obvious, and we believe it is about to break. Three separate sources (one of which is inside the Birmingham News) are telling us this evening that one or more participants in the conversation have now decided to back off the unsustainable fibs they told about it. They will now stake out a new position. It will be that, yes, the conversation occurred, but Ms. Simpson obviously misunderstood what was being said. The words were completely innocent and in no way can be construed to suggest that here was some sort of effort to “get Don Siegelman.”

We’re expecting this to run in the Birmingham News, which has proudly assumed the role of official apologist to the conspirators. The News has assigned its top gun to the case, and he will be out there spinning feverishly to tell us that the affidavit says and means something other than its very plain and direct words. Most likely, the fall back position (which we understand has already been discussed with Justice Department figures in Washington) will be that Canary was merely referring to a Justice Department investigation against Siegelman that was already going on.

That, of course, would be an absurdity. As Voltaire said, if you can be persuaded to believe absurdities, it will be easy to bring you to accept injustice. And that’s exactly what’s going on here. The dam put up against the truth has sprung multiple cracks (there are several more which we will be reporting shortly), and its collapse is certain.
That's a shame...:) Stay tuned on this one.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Welcome to Greater Georgelandia



Have a laugh, it's Friday...:)

"I came, I saw, I did whatever the heck I wanted, heh heh."

Always the low road

Is this a Prime Minister talking?
Last evening, Mr. Harper told 400 Conservatives in Kenaston, Sask., their province was the biggest winner in the federal budget this year.

But "not all the money went to this ungrateful NDP government in this province," he said. "In fact, for every dollar that went to them, about $2 or $3 went to the people of Saskatchewan.
Such hostility, again, toward a provincial government that has been the recipient of nothing but vitriol from federal politicians of late. Is he suggesting the NDP government is stealing money or something? Hording it for themselves? I really don't get his petty point. And it really seems strange for a PM to be dropping in like this and taking such gratuitous shots. His comments are disrespectful to the people of Saskatchewan who chose their "ungrateful" NDP government and as usual, unbecoming of the office.

Can't we do better than this?

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Tony Snow to Judge Walton: figure it out

Anyone else detect a snide, condescending tone in Tony Snow's disdainful comments today on the ongoing Libby disaster?
Snow also tried to clear up confusion about Libby's probation. While commuting Libby's sentence in terms of prison time, Bush left in place his two years of supervised release. But supervised release — a form of probation — is only available to people who have served prison time. Without prison, it's unclear what happens next.

Snow said the White House view was this: "You treat it as if he has already served the 30 months, and probation kicks in. Obviously, the sentencing judge will figure out precisely how that works."

U.S. District Judge Reggie B. Walton, earlier this week, said the law "does not appear to contemplate a situation in which a defendant may be placed under supervised release without first completing a term of incarceration."

He gave Libby's attorneys and Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald until Monday to respond.
Obviously, the Judge respectfully disagrees that it's so f*%#ing straightforward, Tony...what does appear to be evident is the Judge's respect for the actual text of the law that's staring him in the face which makes Bush's action in retaining the supervised release component, without prison time, patently contrary to the law's requirement. And what is also evident is the ongoing contempt expressed by the likes of you at having to deal with such minor irritations as the law. How inconvenient that the White House must lower itself to address such formalities...

Ridiculous

John Edwards' haircuts apparently warrant significant real estate in the pages of the Washington Post...

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Not unless you're Republican

"Al Gore's son busted for drugs in hybrid car":
Gore was still in custody as of mid-morning and was sharing a holding cell with an unknown number of people, said Orange County Sheriff's spokesman Jim Amormino.

"There are no special privileges," he told Reuters.
Oh really?

Bad timing for Harper

On a day like today when more soldiers die in the Afghanistan mission, the tragedy is front and center. One is left wondering anew about the future and merits of our troops being exposed to the randomness of IEDs while nuisance terrorist plotters around the world go on their merry way. Is it the answer, long-term, for militaries to be sitting in these countries, fighting combat missions and draining our human and economic treasury when it appears to be the metaphorical equivalent of us sticking our thumb in a dyke that just keeps growing and growing in intensity?

And no matter how much Harper backpedals and tries to argue that its future is now a matter of all the parties agreeing on it, Harper has to date inextricably bound himself up with ratcheting up pursuit of that mission and an extension of it. Now he's off to Nova Scotia for Thursday to make some mystery announcement thought to be military related, but no one seems to know what it's about, not even the Premier of Nova Scotia. Thought to be an increase in military funding. This seems terribly off in terms of timing and priorities given the changes being requested to the mission by political leaders in our country:
Prime Minister Stephen Harper had scheduled a good news trip to Halifax - likely to re-announce funding for the military - but the visit Thursday could be overshadowed by the deaths of six soldiers in Afghanistan and lingering resentment in Nova Scotia over the federal budget.

Harper was off to a rough start even before arriving in the port city after he apparently snubbed Nova Scotia Premier Rodney MacDonald, who said he knew nothing about the visit less than 24 hours before it was slated to begin.

"If it's good news for my province, I'd be very disappointed not to know what that news is," a bewildered MacDonald told reporters in Bridgewater, N.S., during a spending announcement at the local Michelin tire plant.

"If it's good news for Nova Scotia, I'm quite surprised that I would not be aware."

The Prime Minister's Office confirmed late Wednesday that Harper will make an announcement at the city's sprawling naval dockyard, where he will be joined by Defence Minister Gordon O'Connor and Foreign Affairs Minister Peter MacKay, Nova Scotia's representative in the federal cabinet.

Earlier in the day, a powerful roadside bomb killed six Canadian soldiers and an Afghan interpreter, ripping through their armoured vehicle on a gravel road in southern Afghanistan as they were returning to a forward operating base.
Condolences to the families of these soldiers.

Judge Walton sticks it to the White House

Left to deal with the fallout from Bush's commutation of perjurer and obstructer of justice Libby's sentence, Judge Walton issued an order yesterday seeking input on how to deal with Bush's having left intact the requirement that Libby serve "supervised release." As Walton notes in his order, the law requires that supervised release be served as an adjunct to prison time. Now that Bush has nuked Libby's prison time, the law makes no sense and Walton's pointing it out. This blogger highlights the absurdity of the situation that's resulted, where Bush is picking and choosing from an existing law, on the fly as he goes to fit his own requirements. And Judge Walton points a finger right back at the White House for its doing so, in footnote 1 of the order. Here:



Good for him.

Fundraising, again

Lessons for those lagging in political fundraising, wherever and whoever they may be:
Some of the Democratic advantage appears to stem from the success the party’s candidates have had in tapping into grass-roots enthusiasm for dislodging the Republicans from the White House. Mr. Obama’s campaign has reported receiving donations from more than 258,000 contributors this year and raising $10 million online in the second quarter. More than 80,000 donors contributed to the Romney campaign in the second quarter, 50,000 of them for the first time; in the first quarter, 32,000 people contributed to his campaign.

For years, Republicans prided themselves on having a large base of individual donors while Democrats relied to a large degree on unregulated soft money donations that have now been banned. So far in this cycle, Democrats appear to be building vast databases of new individual donors who could be called on by the party for years to come.
That latter paragraph sounds eerily similar to the predicament Liberals find themselves in versus the Conservatives' current strength with individual donors. Clearly no one is going to be raising $10 million online in a quarter in Canada, but "vast databases of new individual donors" and "online donations"...sounds like some worthwhile priorities for those parties out there who are yet to adapt to the realities of life under the new laws in Canada.

A leader



Keith's call for Bush and Cheney to resign. It's much more than that, though, it's really a razor sharp analysis of what Bush's commutation of Libby's sentence means in the overall context of Bush's presidency, some of which follows.

How Bush has now become President of a small and rabid part of the Republican party alone...a recitation of the issues Bush has tainted by partisanship: the environment, enforcement of law, the prosecution of the war...how just one minor moment of accountability, an "audit" of a small segment of Bush's tenure was overturned by Bush yesterday - this aspect of it really resonated with me.

Of the commutation of Libby's sentence...it is the "fixed ballgame," the "rigged casino." That this incident may have now crystallized an obscure event like the leaking of a CIA agent's name and its tangled web with many players into something readily understandable for any person. Just as Nixon's firing of Archibald Cox, the Saturday night massacre, crystallized Nixon's acts for the American people and galvanized the move to impeachment.

Just brilliant. This is the kind of thing you would hope to hear, even a dialed down, reasonable version, from a Democratic presidential candidate.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Resign

It's all Libby all the time around here, these days...:) Olbermann was on fire tonight...special comment to come as soon as it's uploaded. I intend to write MSNBC later on to let them know I'm watching and I support Keith. I subscribe to MSNBC at the spanking price of $2.49 per month, just for Olbermann. The email address, if you would like to express your support as well, is as follows: countdown@msnbc.com. And don't kid yourself, the pressure in the U.S. against such commentary is ferocious and positive feedback is read and welcomed.

Keith is certainly beating the drum on this and has become a leader in the U.S. in opposition to the Bush administration. Talk about heroes.

A self-serving and corrupt act

Bingo:
We know, for instance, that Cheney was the first person to tell Libby about Plame's identity. We know that Cheney told Libby to leak Plame's identity to the New York Times in an attempt to discredit her husband, who had accused the administration of manipulating prewar intelligence. We know that Cheney wrote talking points that may have encouraged Libby and others to mention Plame to reporters. We know that Cheney once talked to Bush about Libby's assignment, and got permission from the president for Libby to leak hitherto classified information to the Times.

We don't know why Libby decided to lie to federal investigators about his role in the leak. But it's reasonable to conclude -- or at least strongly suspect -- that he was doing it to protect Cheney, and maybe even Bush.

Why, after all, was special counsel Patrick Fitzgerald so determined to get the truth from Libby and, barring that, to punish him for obstructing justice? Prosecutorial ethics preclude Fitzgerald, a Bush appointee, from answering such questions. But the most likely scenario is that he suspected that it was Cheney who committed the underlying crime -- that Cheney instructed Libby to out a CIA agent in his no-holds-barred crusade against a critic. (See my Feb. 21 column, The Cloud Over Cheney and my May 29 column, Fitzgerald Again Points to Cheney.)

All of this means that Bush's decision yesterday to commute Libby's prison sentence isn't just a matter of unequal justice. It is also a potentially self-serving and corrupt act.
...
The Framers, ever sensitive to the need for checks and balances, recognized the potential for abuse of the pardon power. According to a Judiciary Committee report drafted in the aftermath of the Watergate crisis: "In the [Constitutional] convention George Mason argued that the President might use his pardoning power to 'pardon crimes which were advised by himself' or, before indictment or conviction, 'to stop inquiry and prevent detection.' James Madison responded:

"[I]f the President be connected, in any suspicious manner, with any person, and there be grounds [to] believe he will shelter him, the House of Representatives can impeach him; they can remove him if found guilty. . . .

"Madison went on to [say] contrary to his position in the Philadelphia convention, that the President could be suspended when suspected, and his powers would devolve on the Vice President, who could likewise be suspended until impeached and convicted, if he were also suspected."

Impeachment is off the table for congressional Democrats. But the political toll of Bush's choice could still be considerable. Besides Iraq, corruption was probably the one issue that most hurt Republicans in last year's election. And what is more corrupt than using the powers of the presidency for personal benefit?
It's quite the dilemma for Democrats...impeach this President and Vice President, with grounds aplenty, or just ride them out to the end and let them condemn Republicans to minority status for the foreseeable future? It's repugnant to think of these people getting away with their offenses. Perhaps the torture of investigations for the remainder of their terms and their disgraced endings will be enough, it's a very tough call. If they're in for the Andrew Card treatment from here on in...I'm sure there are plenty who can live with that.

"In the name of God, go"



Olbermann to call on Bush and Cheney to resign Tuesday p.m. Watch for it.

Libs lagging in fundraising

I don't find any of this news particularly shocking. In the wake of the Liberal leadership campaigns and the bounty of candidates, Liberal donors have got to be experiencing fatigue. But there's no way the NDP will continue to out-raise the Liberals. Let's get real. The Libs do, however, need to get going on e-donations. Break out those buttons for websites and get them publicized. Listen to Garth Turner on this. The Americans are raising tons over the internet and have revolutionized their campaign funding. What's with us and our slow uptake?

Monday, July 02, 2007

Olbermann with Fitzgerald's reaction



Olbermann has Patrick Fitzgerald's reaction to Bush's commutation of Libby's sentence...he's not happy, in a nutshell. Watch for yourself.

King George is now handing out judicial sentences

Bush is outrageously commuting Libby's sentence, the NY Times is reporting...here's the Washington Post report and the text of Bush's statement. Bush acknowledges the jury's verdict convicting Libby for perjury and obstruction of justice, but in his eminent wisdom, has decided the sentence is too harsh. By commuting the sentence, he's decided to follow his father's former adviser, William Otis and his advice on taking this route, earlier this month. Otis' rationale in advocating that Libby's sentence be commuted was that Libby going to prison was neither required to vindicate the rule of law nor was Libby a danger to the community. By this rationale, you likely could never send any white collar criminal to court. By contrast, Don Siegelman, the former Alabama governor is going to jail for seven years, sentenced Friday, for conduct arguably much less egregious than Libby's and Siegelman's prosecution has been alleged to have been linked to Karl Rove's machinations. Maybe Bush should be commuting all such sentences, in his new found role, inserting himself as the highest court of appeal in the land.

Here's Josh Marshall's preliminary reaction to Bush's action. I agree with his final paragraph, that this is very likely all about keeping Scooter quiet:
There is a conceivable argument --- a very poor one but a conceivable one --- for pardoning Scooter Libby, presumably on the argument that the entire prosecution was political and thus illegitimate. But what conceivable argument does the president have for micromanaging the sentence? To decide that the conviction is appropriate, that probation is appropriate, that a substantial fine is appropriate --- just no prison sentence.

This is being treated in the press as splitting the difference, an elegant compromise. But it is the least justifiable approach. The president has decided that the sentencing guidelines and the opinion of judge don't cut it.

The only basis for this decision is that Libby is the vice president's friend, the vice president rules the president and this was the minimum necessary to keep the man silent.
The ruling earlier today that prompted Bush's move:
A federal appeals panel refused today to grant I. Lewis Libby Jr. a delay in beginning his jail sentence while he appeals his conviction in the C.I.A. leak case.

The three-judge panel’s unanimous decision upheld a ruling of Judge Reggie B. Walton, who presided over the trial of Mr. Libby, the former chief of staff to Vice President Dick Cheney. Judge Walton ruled that the issues being raised on appeal by Mr. Libby’s lawyers were not substantial enough to have a strong chance of succeeding, which meant that under the law the sentence should not be delayed and that Mr. Libby should not be allowed to remain free until his appeals were exhausted.

Today’s ruling was widely expected. It leaves Mr. Libby’s situation unchanged, meaning that he will have to report to a federal prison in a few weeks unless pardoned by President Bush. Mr. Bush has given no indication he will do so, despite an active campaign by many supporters of Mr. Libby.
This is a plain and utter outrage against the rule of law. Nothing more should have been expected of this contemptuous administration. The U.S. is turning into a banana republic where those who go to prison are political enemies and those who are spared are loyal foot soldiers. What an embarrassment.

Perspective on the U.K. bombings



A former Scotland Yard officer schools CNN viewers: "A hopeless incompetent terrorist attack..." "So incompetent as to be almost laughable....". More of this, please.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Fun with Steve on Canada Day

(AP PHOTO/Jonathan Hayward, CP) Insert your preferred caption here: "Now get out there and smile, for pete's sake!"

Oh yeah, Mini Bush looks like he's having a great time on the Hill...why does he always come off as the accountant at the frat party? Loosen up, Steve...:) And by the way...about the considerable amount of blue on the main staging...it certainly received its share of attention, leading the National Capital Commission people to defend the choice for this design. It leads you once again to ask, can't these guys get anything right?

And the reaction to Harper's God-blessed-this-oil-producing-country-"we're back"-shtick?
Harper's speech drew polite applause.
Sounds about right to me...:)

A must read for Canada Day

This column, "Canada 2007: Independent and strong," will make you very happy today. It's an identity gut check for Canada. And it's a good one. Extolling Canada's strengths and underscoring how out of sync Harper is with Canadian values and long-standing Canadian foreign policies, by virtue of his sycophantic relationship with Bush. Here's an excerpt from near the end:
Across the board, it's time to insist on a made-in-Canada foreign policy that relies on a clear-eyed assessment of how Canadians could best advance their collective interests, and those of the rest of humanity.

It's also time to recognize that, when we stand up to the United States, we rarely incur a penalty. Instead, we often gain. Jean Chrétien made the right decision on Iraq, and by doing so he saved Canadian lives, avoided the ensuing quagmire and signalled to other countries that Canada remains an independent country –open, among other things, to its own diplomatic and trading relations.

He might even have gained some respect for us in Washington – a city dominated by bare-knuckle politics rather than quiet, Canadian-style consensus – by demonstrating that Canada is a grown-up country, that our support must be earned and never assumed.

Canada is not a shadow of someone else's destiny; it has a greater purpose. All we need is a vision to light the way, something more inspiring than keeping the U.S. border open to trade.

On Canada Day 2007, let's celebrate our independence and power. Let's resolve to change the world for the better. Let's make that our intent for a nation.
As I said, it will make you very happy.