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Thursday, July 28, 2005

Democrats, Republicans, and John Roberts

As the hearings for Supreme Court nominee John Roberts get closer we are seeing a battle brew in Washington. It is not as volatile as it could be, but that is not to say that the stage is not being set for an all out war later in the confirmation process. The last few days have been dominated by a partisan stance on releasing Judge Roberts' documents pertaining to his work in the Bush I administration. The White House has released some 15,000 documents of approximately 65,000 they say will be released. Democrats are already complaining that they are not enough. 65,000 sounds like a lot to me, but maybe they do not have anything to do with what the Democrats want. Who really knows. Here is the issue: my understanding is that the documents that the Democrats are demanding are those that relate to the first Bush administration, when Roberts was their counsel and represented the White House when taking cases to the supreme court. From what I have gathered, legally speaking (this coming from several legal minds, nonpartisan, that have spoken publicly in the media), the White House has the right to deny the release of these documents because they fall under the attorney-client priviledge. Democratic strategist Paul Begala, CNN correspondent and a fellow longhorn like me, among others, stated so on CNN Inside Politics yesterday. In 1998, Kenneth Starr demanded that the Clinton administration release documents that also could be considered under attorney-client priviledge. They were denied. If the White House has a strong argument, and I believe they do, they should not have to release the documents requested by Democrats. Democrats should accept this, just as they were eager to not release those documents in 1998. There is no double standard here. Review what you already have and what is coming. Work with the Republicans to get as much as you can, but do not risk becoming obstructionists, after all you did lose the elections, congressional and presidential. Swallow your pride and accept your loss. I do not like it either, but at least I can stand in the middle and make some sense about what is going on, not take sides.
Distinction between Roberts' released, withheld writings questioned
Bar Assn. Examines Roberts' Credentials
Memos reveal Roberts' strong advocacy for judicial restraint
Democrats, W.House spar on access to Roberts info
Roberts Assures Dem He Won't Be Activist

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Blair: World Asleep After 9/11

I disagree with Mr. Blair's assessment that the world fell asleep after 9/11. In fact, I don't think there has been a time where terrorism has been more on the front page of everything. Here in the U.S. we will not let terrorism into the back pages of a newspaper, certainly President Bush won't, since it is his strongest and possibly his only source of large support from the public. No, the world didn't fall asleep. What I think happenned was that the focus of terrorism was placed almost entirely on the United States and its interests. Now with the war in Iraq, U.S. allies are also targets, i.e. Great Britain. The world cannot fall asleep to terrorism when it is constantly happening. What is extremely clear is the fact you can fight it, but you will not stop it. Justifying the success of some of these attacks by suggesting we were not paying attention is an insult to the people who spend countless hours, days, weeks, trying to decipher all the intelligence that comes in. The odds that we would successfully stop an attack are against us and we can only do our best.
Blair: World slept after 9/11

Thursday, July 21, 2005

London Hit Again In Less Than Two Weeks

Sadly, this morning London was the victim of another terrorist attack. Although it was a minor attack, so far no casualties, the fact remains that its only two weeks after the attacks the killed more than 50 and injured hundreds more . The bombings were very similar but not as powerful. They detonated at approximately the same time in three sections of the subway system and one bus, just like the previous attack. The significance of this attack is not so much in its destructive nature as it is in the fact that Great Britain, previously a small dot on the Islamic extremist movement radar is now a major target, the second most important target after the United States. British PM Tony Blair, though he truly believes that the Iraq War was necessary to protect England, has successfully enlarged England's importance in the jihadists world. They are now part of the same western decadent influence, as they see us, that the U.S. allegedly leads. THis is not England's first brush with terrorism, they have long had to deal with the IRA. But it is the first time that it has had a price on its head and the ones cashing in are Muslim extremists. It is the first time that British born muslims, raised in London, have turned against their own country. Now the threats are not only from the outside, they are also from the inside. What is more dangerous than a threat that attacks from the inside were it is more difficult to dectect because it is already a part of you? Tony Blair's involvement in the war has painted a target on Britain almost as large as the one we have here in the U.S., and it is already too late to remove it.
UK bombs meant as carbon-copy, may be same group

Roberts a Wise Choice by Bush

In nominating John Roberts for associate justice of the Supreme Court, President Bush has made a very smart choice. Robert's is the type of nominee that will not stir up the partisan battle many expected and he is solidly conservative. One of the most brilliant legal minds in the country, Roberts has only been in the appeal courts for two years, leaving him with a short list of decisions that could have opened him to attacks by Democrats. Clearly, Roberts will not meet the "extraordinary circumstances" clause that the "gang of fourteen" agreed upon to allow filibustering a nominee. Although some claim that Robert's philosophy is unknown because of his short history in the appelate courts, many know him as a Washington insider, something Justices Souter and O'Connor were not. Although their are questions surrounding his ideology, there is no question he is more solidly conservative and a safer choice for Republicans than the previous nominees they have named. But you never now, he may turn out to be a sour pick for the right, but I doubt it.
Roberts Likely Won't Face Filibuster

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Karl Rove, the CIA Leak, the White House, and the Supreme Court

The last few days has seen many revelations regarding the White House's involvement in the CIA leak case. The latest round of news has revealed that VP Cheney's top aide, Lewis "Scooter" Libby, was also among Time Magazine Reporter Matt Cooper's sources. President Bush's top political advisor, Karl Rove, has already been implicated. Moving on to the more important question on everyone's mind: will Rove or libby be fired. Not likely. Yesterday, the President backpedaled from a statement he made in the fall of 2003 when he said he would fire anyone INVOLVED in the leak. Clearly Rove and Libby are involved. Now, the President says that anyone who COMMITTED A CRIME will be fired. That's where the trick lies. Proving that what Rove or Libby said was a crime will be almost impossible. The bar regarding the 1982 law making it illegal to out a covert CIA agent is set so high that the burden of proof is almost unattainable. By changing the standard from involvement to criminal act, the President has protected Rove and Libby. The public though, sees right through this. The latest poles show that only about 25% of Americans think the President is cooperating with the investigation, as opposed to 47% in October 2003. The problem the White House is facing is that in 2003, WH press secretary Scott McCllelan categorically denied any involvement by Rove or Libby. Now we know that was not true, so the White House is reeling from the blows and trying to do some damage control without having to fire Bush's Brain. Rove or Libby will not be charged with a crime, at least not relating to the leaking of information. It is not clear what direction the special prosecutor, Patrick Fitzgerald, will take. Some speculate that he might head in the direction of perjury, obstruction of justice, or conspiracy, all of which are easier to prove. Some think this will end in nothing. Let's throw into the mix the fact that Fitzgerald is known for running long and thorough investigations, and has an excellent track record. I would venture to say that he is planning something. But what, who knows? As far as Rove and Libby go, proving that they committed a crime under the 1982 law will be a difficult task, but everyone can see through the BS being fed to the public. Everyone can see that their actions were highly questionable and wrong, regardless of a crime. It was, no matter what they say, retaliation for someone who attacked the Administration. This issue is not about Joseph Wilson's credibility, it is about White House credibilty. Wilson might have a bone to pick with the White House, I don't know and I don't care. What is clear is that White House officials systematically involved themselves in revealing Wilson's wife as a CIA agent. Once again, criminal actions will be hard to prove, but that doesn't mean that a sensible person cannot see that what the White House did was enact revenge on someone who attacked it.

Now, this has unfortunately become politics as always. The Democrats have begun calling for Rove's resignation, more than anything because they really really hate him. Republicans are claiming that this is all partisanship and that Rove exonerated himself this week when his testimony was revealed. Well, of course it is partisanship, it is Washington for crying out loud, and this is how the game is played. Democrats are drawing political blood. You can't honestly expect me to believe that Republicans would not be doing the same if this were the Clinton White House. The Democrats, on the other hand, are playing into the Republican strategy of focusing on the partisan aspect of the issue. Instead of standing on the sidelines (while the press does it job and puts the White House on the spot, finally the media has flashed its brass ones) waiting for the investigation to conclude and then go in for the kill, Democrats are jumping in calling for resignations and doing name calling, which plays right into Republican claims of partisanship. They don't seem to get it. The White House has decided to shut up now that they put their backs against the wall by yapping to much, "we have a serious ongoing investigation," said President Bush yesterday, amid many laughs from White House reporters. Well, they didn't have problems commenting during a "serious ongoing investigation" before they landed in hot water. On the claim that Rove exonerated himself this week when his testimony revealed that he was allegedly a recipient of the information, not the leaker (a claim that looks as fishy to me as a priest in a kindergarden class), offered repeatedly this weak by RNC Chairman and top spinmaster (read "liar") Ken Mehlman, it is clear that Rove talked about a CIA agent's identity and confirmed a reporter's inquiries regarding the matter. So did Libby. Oh wait, he didn't mention her name so he is exonerated. Guess what, if someone told me that somebody's wife works at the CIA, I can find out her name if I want to, so the BS doesn't fly. Sometimes it amazes me how Mehlman can keep a straight face when he says some of these things. I have to give him credit for that, he is great at holding the party line.

This is what I believe will happen in the next fews days. As the White House scrambles to save face in an onslaught of allegations and accusations emanating from an angry press, President Bush will be forced to reveal his Supreme Court nominee earlier than he would want. The White House will hope that revealing the name will take the Rove leak scandal of the front page and move the battlefield to the Supreme Court vacancy. It will be a smart move, but will it work? At that point it will be the Democrats who will have to focus attention on both, maintaining the leak issue on people's minds, and fighting for a Supreme Court vacancy. One thing I can assure you, neither Rove nor Libby will be charged with a crime relating to the leak, maybe something else, but not the leak. Another thing, the press will not ease its relentless attack on the White House, they feel they have been misled and for the first time in a while they are doing their job! Thank goodness for that and stay tuned for the upcoming fireworks!

Bush Would Fire Leaker if Crime Committed

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Can Increased Security Stop Terrorism?

This should come as no surprise to anyone listening. Even the Secretary of Homeland Security has stated that we cannot be fully safe from terrorist attacks like the one that occurred in London last week. We can reasonably increase our safety by improving our security through new technologies and programs available, but realistically we will never be 100% safe. Even President Bush in the past has let it slip that 100% safety is not feasable, but he quickly retracted. Even a city like London, that is so much better equipped to prevent a terrorist attack, could not stop it. Terrorists have time and patience at their side, and they choose where to strike. We do not have the financial resources or the manpower to protect every potential target in the nation. As I have said previously, we will have to learn to live with an acceptable level of risk and continue with our daily lives. Hey, the rest of the world does it! It is about time we start doing it too.
Democrats say security revamp won't stop attack

The Rove CIA Connection?

The Karl Rove CIA leak connection is getting hotter and hotter in Washington. Although Scott McClellan, the White House press secretary, has said that Rove has Bush's confidence, the President failed to publicly support Rove. Why? McCllelan says it is because Bush wasn't asked. Not so. President Bush gets his words across whether they ask him or not, IF he wants them to get out. This time, he refused to endorse Rove publicly, and it was probably a wise move. Will Rove be fired? Who knows? One thing you can rest assured of is that the White House will do everything it can to protect him. I will venture into speculation here as to what I think will happen, so be advised:
The White House will remain under scrutiny over the matter by an emboldened press, but they will seek to turn this into an issue of partisan politics, not the questionable behavior of a top White House official. The WH will charge, and they have already begun, that Democrats are on a witchhunt, that they just want to get back at the White House and Rove provides the perfect target. The question is, will the Democrats take the bait? Some of them are. John Kerry, Hillary Clinton, Howard Dean and several other big name people have started calling publicly for Rove's resignation. The bigger the name, the better. That will play into the WH's hand. It will seem more and more like a partisan battle than a legitimate questioning of a WH official who could possibly have committed a crime. Democrats need to back off and let the investigation proceed, they do not need to publicly pressure the WH and make it seem a partisan issue. There are ways to apply pressure behind the scenes. Keep the focus away from partisanship and aim at the actions by Karl Rove. The press has gotten behind this story so at least we can be assured that they will not drop it. Democrats need to play ball, but not WH ball, and right now that is what they are doing.
Dems Call for Bill on Security Clearance
Newsview: CIA Leak Probe Focuses on Rove

I finally fixed the problem I was having with the site. Sorry for the inconvenience.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

London Blasts Bring Terror Home

Today, sadly, London paid the price for their involvement in Iraq. Many innocent people were killed and hundreds of others injured when at least 4, and maybe as many as 7 explosions rocked the subway system and a transit bus. The attacks have been claimed by a European faction of Al-Qaeda as retaliation for Britain's participation in the Iraq War. Warnings have been issued to Italy , Denmark and other countries that have supplied troops to the U.S. led war. British PM Tony Blair immediately left the G8 summit he was attending and returned home to help reestablish order in the chaos that has ensued.

Britain has now officially become a major target of terrorism. This has mostly been brought about by Blair's support of Bush, a support that is much in disagreement with the rest of the country. How will this affect him politically? Britain was already upset at Blair for his decision to go to war, and that anger was displayed during his weak reelection in May. Many have suggested that Blair might not even last 18 months before he is asked to step down by his own party. The Labour party is weaker than they were in 2001 and they would need a new leader to regain some of that lost momentum. They cannot afford to have another 4 years of weak support and expect to win. This terrorist attack on home soil will effectively put Blair to the fire. It has brought home the conflict, and most importantly, it proves that you cannot stop terrorism. It will strike when it wants, where it wants, and how it wants. The British are paying a heavy price for a war that they did not sanction. Blair has brought this pain and misery to their homes through his idealist actions. Will the people hold him responsible?

How does this affect us here un the U.S.? Well, it clearly shows that terrorists are still very strong and hate us and anyone involved with us more than they ever have. This War on Terror is not being won. Now that the National Counterterrorism Center has decided to include in its definition of terrorism thousands of attacks that were so obviously terrorist in nature, last year's numbers rose from 692 to 3192 , a 461.5% increase from the previous number. That is up from 192 in 2003. And we are winning this war? A war on terrorism is like the war on poverty or the war on drugs. It will never be won. We are now forced to live with something the rest of the world has lived with for decades. The world didn't change on 9/11, WE DID! For the first time our country realized that oceans are no longer protective enough. The impact of being attacked in our own soil woke us up. Now, with our Administration's idealistic mentality we have fueled the fire, mostly by invading Iraq. We have now made ourselves the prime target of terrorists around the world. Sure, we have not been attacked since 9/11, but think of how long it takes between attacks. It takes years. These are well thought out plans that wait for the perfect time. Patience is a virtue these monsters have. Just when we think that everything is OK, BOOM, we get hit. Iraq has definitely done one thing very well: put the target solely on us (with a few collateral targets such as London and Spain). We personify everything these extremists hate and consider evil. Iraq has become a perfect training ground for future jihadists. What better way to train for a battle than actually being in one? Iraq has helped recruit more terrorists to the cause. They recruit more than we capture. Even if Iraq is successful, can we really expect terrorism to subside? There are many other democratic countries around the world and terrorism is still there. Will one more democracy change anything? Remember that terrorist hatred of the United States comes from our foreign policy in the Middle East, with special emphasis on our support for Israel. It does not come from hatred of our freedom or our democracy. "They hate us because of our freedom" says President Bush. Wrong. They hate us because of the foreign policy our government has followed for decades. As long as these policies remain in place, there will be hatred of the United States, and therefore terrorism will exist.

Four London Blasts Kill 40, Injure 350
Terror Attacks Near 3,200 in 2004 Count

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

The Media Under Attack, but Not Robert Novak

Today, a judge ordered a New York Times reporter jailed for failing to reveal a source. Judith Miller was ordered to jail today in what is viewed by the journalistic community as an attack on the media by the government. Ironically, the source in question could turn out to be Karl Rove, President Bush's top political advisor. As much as I would like to see Rove pay for his actions if indeed he is the leak in the Plame case, are we willing to erode the trust anonymous sources place in their confidants? Is it worth loosing trust in reporters' right to maintain anonymous sources? Anonymous sources that have broken open Watergate, the Pentagon Papers, and others? How can the media be expected to keep the government in check(even though they have done a poor job of that lately) if it is at the mercy of righteous prosecutors that say journalists are not above the law? I agree they are not above the law, but to force them to reveal their informants will only serve to scare the few with big brass ones willing to leak the information that holds governments in check and possibly brings the truth out into the open. Yes, reporters also have a huge responsibility in assertaining the validity of their sources and extra security measures should be taken in such cases. But, it should be left to the journalistic institutions to police themselves, barring that they completely blow it, which I doubt very much.

In this particular case a serious crime was committed, so I am ambivalent about the court ruling. I would not be as ambivalent if the prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald actually did his job properly and went after the person who is responsible for this entire fiasco: Robert Novak. He definitely knows who is the leak and most definitely knew that a crime was being committed when the leak gave the information. He also might have broken the law himself by revealing that information in his 2003 story. Why is Fitzgerald ignoring Novak? Could it be that Novak is a heavy right wing hack on the inside in Washington at a time when the right wing of the Republican party has taken control of the government. Naw, that can't be it.

Judge Orders Jail for N.Y. Times Reporter

Was Rove the Leak?

It should come as no surprise to anyone that President Bush's top political advisor and mastermind of his 2000 and 2004 campaigns has been revealed as the possible leak of CIA undercover agent Valerie Plame. Of course, Rove has admitted nothing, and don't expect him to. This will now become a political game of cat and mouse. Rove's lawyer has said that Rove did not leak anything knowingly. Yeah, I feel the same way you do about that statement. Still, it is important because if Rove is proven to be the leak, it will mean the difference between him just being forced to resign or having to face criminal charges. Rove's lawyer is already laying the protective groundwork for a possible media blitz that will follow Rove in the coming weeks. If Rove is the leak, his lawyer will base his entire defense on the notion that Rove (the most ingenious and unscrupulous campaign manager in recent history, a man that knows all facets of politics and legalities related to it) leaked the information unknowingly, therefore he cannot be charged with a criminal offense, one that in time of war could be considered treason and punishable for death. Now, this of course will never happen, nor would I want it to happen, but that is the way it used to be.

I have believed from the beginning that Karl Rove possibly had a hand in the leak, after all this is the kind of dirty work that he performed during primary and presidential campaigns, and successful ones at that. I may be proven right. That does not interest me. What I would like to see is the person who committed such a malicious act to be held to account. Unfortunately, I also think that if Rove was indeed the leak, he did not act on his authority alone. That could only mean two higher ups in the White House. But, I can guarantee that it will never get any further than Rove, after all this White House has proven very adept at keeping secrets and protecting its own.

Friday, July 01, 2005

O'Connor Retires, Not Renquist

Let the battle begin. This morning's anouncement that it would be Justice O'Connor retiring, not Justice Renquist, has already stirred up a war along party lines. Had it been Renquist retiring, there would still be a battle over the vacancy, but not as fierce as the one we will see over O'Connor's spot. Renquist is a conservative's conservative, O'Connor is a moderate conservative. The court is currently divided 5-4 conservative. If Renquist retired, the composition would still be 5-4. In O'Connor's case, should another conservative be elected, it would tilt 6-3. President Bush will most likely nominate a hard conservative to fill her vacancy, igniting a fierce battle with Democrats who will do everthing they can to avoid filling the Supreme Court with hard line rightwingers. Bush has vowed to consult the Senate, both parties included, on any nomination he puts forth, but that remains to be seen. Democrats, on the other hand, have their backs against the wall because the only tactic they have left to block a nominee is the filibuster. You all saw what happened last time an extended filibuster was used to block floor votes on nominees. This is the test everyone has been waiting for. Will the agreement between the group of 14 senators hold?
Justice O'Connor retires from Supreme Court

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