It's sad that President Bush is attempting to roadblock a congressional investigation by trying to prevent open testimony. If he has nothing to hide, why not let his staff testify under oath? Seems like he's afraid of the truth. I think Bush is realizing that with two years to go, his "popular and effective" presidency, according to CBT, may be over. It's starting to sound more and more Nixonian in its desperation.

How sad.

via Salon

Tony Snow - Op-Ed - St. Louis Post-Dispatch, March 29, 1998 :

(HEADLINE: "Executive Privilege is a Dodge")

Evidently, Mr. Clinton wants to shield virtually any communications that take place within the White House compound on the theory that all such talk contributes in some way, shape or form to the continuing success and harmony of an administration. Taken to its logical extreme, that position would make it impossible for citizens to hold a chief executive accountable for anything. He would have a constitutional right to cover up.

Chances are that the courts will hurl such a claim out, but it will take time.

One gets the impression that Team Clinton values its survival more than most people want justice and thus will delay without qualm. But as the clock ticks, the public's faith in Mr. Clinton will ebb away for a simple reason: Most of us want no part of a president who is cynical enough to use the majesty of his office to evade the one thing he is sworn to uphold -- the rule of law.

73
like
Wed
Mar 21 2007
10:45 am

This is a Lockheed C-130E Hercules intratheater airlifter. It's 97' 9" from nose to tail. Just so ya know.

(Here's how this lovely bit of legislation came about.)

49
like
Wed
Mar 21 2007
08:31 am

Apropos of the latest scandal, here's an interesting report from the Congressional Research Service on Congressional Investigations: Subpoenas and Contempt Power. It has analysis of the law and lots of historical case studies.

Here's their conclusion:

Committee subpoenas and contempt citations have been effective instruments for gaining access to executive branch documents that are initially withheld. The pressure that builds from these two techniques generally results in the Administration offering new accommodations to satisfy legislative needs. Although both branches at times seek assistance from the courts, the general message from federal judges is that an agreement hammered out between the two branches is better than a directive handed down by a court.

The executive-legislative conflicts described in this report offer several lessons about access to information. Congress has as much right to agency documents for oversight purposes as it does for legislation. Executive claims of “deliberative process,” “enforcement sensitive,” “ongoing investigation,” or “foreign policy considerations” have not been, in themselves, adequate grounds for keeping documents from Congress. On the issue of withholding information from Congress, there are often sharp differences within an Administration, especially between the Justice Department and the agencies.

Further, these case studies show that statutory language that authorizes withholding information from the public is not a legitimate reason for withholding information from Congress. Sharing sensitive information with congressional committees is not the same as sharing information with the public. Courts assume that congressional committees will exercise their powers responsibly. Legislative committees have demonstrated that they have reliable procedures for protecting confidentiality. Finally, congressional capacity to subpoena agency documents from private organizations is not an adequate substitute for receiving them directly from the agency.

49
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Gore's numbers continue to rise, while many other candidates are sliding off the map. Meanwhile the "Draft Gore in 2008" campaign is turning red hot.

Gore does seem like a proven winner, a man with ethics, and a politician who is not afraid to expose corruption and ignorance in Washington. Hillary and Obama would be political firsts, and that has excited many voters, but both have obstacles to overcome. Hillary is an insider with plenty of past history. Obama has too little history.

Gore's proven abilities and his newly found comfortability with himself might be the spoiler here.

What do you think? Should he run?

Polling Data

Support for potential 2008 Democratic presidential nominees, among Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents who are registered to vote. From a Gallup poll conducted from Mar. 2 to Mar. 4, 2007.

Mar. 2007 Feb. 2007 Jan. 2007
Hillary Rodham Clinton 36% 40% 29%
Barack Obama 22% 21% 18%
Al Gore 18% 14% 11%
John Edwards 9% 13% 13%
Joe Biden 3% 1% 5%
Wesley Clark 2% 1% 2%
Bill Richardson 1% 4% 3%
Mike Gravel 1% -- --
Chris Dodd -- 1% 1%
Al Sharpton -- -- 1%
John Kerry n.a. n.a. 8%
Other 1% -- 2%
None 3% 1% 2%
No opinion 4% 3% 4%


Topics:
45
like
Tue
Mar 20 2007
05:07 pm

He isn't firing Gonzales. Says neither he nor AG Gonzales are happy with they way it was handled or the confusion it has created. (Pushing blame down the chain of command, of course. Paging Lynndie England!)

He says Gonzales and key staff will be "allowed" to testify before Congress, and that he is giving "unprecedented" access to White House staff to explain how this US Attorney situation was handled. (Access that will not involve testifying under oath so they can continue lying as usual.)

Actually, I was surprised to not see Gonzales walk out with Bush to announce his resignation. I suppose they just don't care any more. They already got reelected, but they've since lost the House, Karl Rove has lost his radical Christian-right base, and now they're just running out the clock in hopes that someone will come along to clean up their messes and create some sort of Bush "legacy" out of thin air that is somehow less embarrassing than world-wide disaster on a Biblical scale.

Gonzales should never have been confirmed in the first place by either side in the Somnambulate Senate because of a) the so-called "torture memo", and b) his apparent lack of familiarity with the Constitution, enhanced Patriot Act notwithstanding (or maybe that's Exhibit A, take your pick).

On the other hand, this latest scandal is among the least of the Bush administration's transgressions.

Hopefully Congress will soon grow a spine and call them to account for all of it. Or at least try. But filibuster and veto are tough rows to hoe. At this point, Democrats may have to settle for "we tried."

But maybe it's time for them to step up the "trying" part, and issues boxes and boxes full of subpoenas. The upside might be that the White House and their key staff and lawyers will get so tied up they'll be prevented from doing any more damage. Hmm, why does that sound familiar?

OK, then.

42
like
Tue
Mar 20 2007
10:28 am
By: rocketsquirrel  shortURL

Commenter CBT claims that with Dems in Congress comes "investigations and politically motivated attacks like the AG firings."

Unfortunately, it's about the documents, not the Democrats.

These were politically motivated firings.

On Nov. 5, a month before she was formally notified along with others that she was being fired, Chiara e-mailed McNulty about her fears of being out of work with no job prospects.

"While I live in hope that this dire prediction is untrue, I am contacting you because I need assistance to remain in federal service with a comparable compensation or, quite frankly, I will lose everything I have been working toward for the past five years," she told McNulty. "I trust that I can count on you to intervene or provide an alternative."

Two days letter, on the morning of the midterm election, she again turned to McNulty.

"Paul," she said in an e-mail. "As soon as the 'election dust settles' I ask that you tell me why my resignation may be requested. Since you have not taken exception to the [eventuality], I now assume that it is likely. I need to know the truth to live in peace with the aftermath."

BONUS COVERAGE: La Times hears that Fred Thompson, Fred Thompson, Fred Thompson is being considered for AG, along with John Danforth. Won't ace business reporter and political blogger Michael Silence be thrilled?

46
like
Tue
Mar 20 2007
09:54 am

If last Sunday's opinion column by News Sentinel Editor Jack McElroy, on the need for a County government Ombudsman, was not enough hypocrisy, then how about today's unsigned Editorial in the Knoxville News Sentinel advocating the loss of Constitution Rights for Knox County employees?

The all knowing oracle of what is right and just, the News Sentinel, has now decided what rights Knox County employees should be allowed to have. In a stunning act of again carrying the County Mayor's water the daily paper has endorsed the breathtakingly unconstitutional Maury County bill in the General Assembly that forbids Knox County employees from being allowed to hold elected office.

What are the implications? Adios to Knox County schoolteacher and County Commissioner Tony Norman. Likewise Commissioners Craig Leuthold, Sharon Cawood, Chuck Bolus, and of course Lee Tramel. If they could only hire Lumpy Lambert for a part time County job they could get rid of him too. In the U.S.S.R. purges were a common occurrence. They are rare in America.

In a demeaning unsigned Editorial, the Sentinel’s Editorial staff writes, “Commissioners have family members who work for county government, calling into question their objectivity on various measures, including finances.

Knox County Mayor Mike Ragsdale said the topic should be taken up by the nine-member Ethics Committee just appointed by the Knox County Commission. We agree.

We all deserve representatives who have the best interests of their constituents foremost in their minds, rather than thinking first about how they can help a family member or themselves. It should be about service, not one's own interest.”

One must wonder at this time what the keen interest the News Sentinel has in redoing the Knox County Commission. Curious how the News Sentinel calls into question the objectivity of County Commissioners, isn’t it? One might question the objectivity of the daily Knoxville paper. Today’s Editorial wins this weeks Pot and Kettle Award.

49
like
Tue
Mar 20 2007
08:01 am
By: michael kaplan  shortURL

Having hundreds of donuts left over from the anti-war protest on Saturday (which 200+ people attended, contrary to what was reported in the KNS), I decided to drive them down on Sunday morning to the SmartFix site to distribute among the homeless, if I could find any outdoors at 8 am in 20 degree weather.

No problem, there were dozens already on the street, including women and children. Now that's Moving Knoxville Forward.

They appreciated the donuts ..

42
like
Tue
Mar 20 2007
07:30 am

I grew during the Anti-War 60's and 70's. I never understood why people who advocated peace got beat up and people who advocated war, didn't. Doesn't that contradict the christian nation thing? Isn't that backwards?

Did we learn anything in the meantime?

So what happens nowadays in, say, a Saint Patrick's day parade when a group of law abiding people pay their fees, obtain their permits, and march peacefully in the parade, just like the political candidates and the Knights of Columbus?

They get beat up, tasered, dragged across the pavement, arrested, and sent to the hospital.

Peace

47
like
Tue
Mar 20 2007
06:34 am

According to a Daily Times story today, the Blount County Budget Committee is considering dropping or lowering its charitable contributions. Here is an exerpt:

Faced with nearly $247,000 in requests for giving in the 2007-2008 fiscal year, the Blount County Budget Committee on Monday discussed the possibility of reducing contributions to charitable organizations.

County Mayor Jerry Cunningham told commissioners he has reservations about taxpayer money being given to charitable organizations.

"It troubles me," he said. "I do care. (My wife) Janice and I do give, we always have, but it forces some people to double-give. You give at home and then the government says you have to give through your tax dollars, too."

I know most of the thoughts on this site about Mayor Cunningham, but with that put aside, what do you think about this?

I think I tend to agree with him and the other members in this article, especially when there seems to be a "budget crunch." I think this is just one of a number of things that will hopefully be discovered as the budget is reviewed. At least they will be brought to light. Thoughts?

45
like
Mon
Mar 19 2007
09:30 pm

So I'm bored this evening. The spouse is out of town and sparring with #9 is beginning to pall. So just for fun I hopped over to Brian's Blog.

My that's quite an ego the ex-chair has there. I particularly liked his option C: "They recognize the name Brian Hornback and know that by using the name over and over it will generate more traffic to their website."

Let's generate more traffic for R. Neal. Brian Hornback, Brian Hornback, Brian Hornback,....

And speaking of local celebs, this is just too damn funny.

46
like
Mon
Mar 19 2007
01:03 pm

We're seeing hundreds of Google hits from people looking for info on the recent pet food recall brought to our attention by CL in an earlier post.

Here are links to the manufacturer's website and lists of the brands involved:

Cat food

Dog food

An overview of the manufacturer's links to more info can be found here.

For the Iams/Eukanuba brands affected, the manufacturer refers you to their respective websites.

The Iams website appears to be down at the moment, but here's the Eukanuba notice. The recall affects only canned and foil pouch "wet" pet foods. Dry foods are not affected, according to Eukanuba.

57
like
Mon
Mar 19 2007
12:11 pm

Iraq's oil was supposed to pay for the war, remember? And help reconstruct the country after the war? I remember Cheney being so smug about this. He kept dismissing any concern that our tax money would be used for these two purposes. Well, the new Iraq Oil Law is making it clear the slogan "No Blood for Oil" wasn't just a hound dog baying at the moon.

Today Andy Rowell wrote on the OilChange International site.

"Four years ago this week, American tanks headed into Baghdad. At the time critics of the war said it was about oil. But those voices were dismissed. Then came Iraq’s Oil Law which essentially hands control of much of its oil wealth to foreign multinationals.

Opposition to the controversial law continues to grow. Former Iraqi oil industry officials, experts and lawmakers have just gathered in Jordan to debate the bill, expressing grave concerns over the Law.

“There are many question marks hanging over this draft law,” said Dhia al-Bakaa, former president of the Iraqi State Oil Marketing Organisation (SOMO). Why the timing? Why the hurry when we still lack political, economic and security stability.”

Read more...
(link...)

Then be sure & check out this very funny Bush & Condi music video about oil addiction.

(link...)

Topics:
46
like
Mon
Mar 19 2007
11:38 am

Apparently there's a growing llama liability situation in Tennessee, and State Sen. Tim Burchett (R-Knoxville) aims to fix it.

SB2097 (PDF format) would absolve "llama professionals" and "llama activity sponsors" from any liability arising from the "inherent risks of llama activities" to llama activity participants, including "riding, driving, inspecting, or evaluating a llama belonging to another" or "trimming the nails of a llama."

No, seriously. I'm not making this up.

Speaking of llamas, here's a cool story about the annual Mt. LeConte supplies airlift, which is supplemented throughout the season with perishables delivered by... llama!

84
like
Mon
Mar 19 2007
10:35 am

Regardless of whether you are a conservative or a liberal, people don’t care for hypocrites. But there are vary degrees of hypocrisy. Every once in a while someone wins the prize and this Sunday was one of those times.

The Editor of the Knoxville News Sentinel Jack McElroy has outdone himself in an Editorial column he wrote Sunday titled, “Ombudsman would help shine light”. In this championship Pot and Kettle column Mr. McElroy makes the case that since the Knox County Commission is so corrupt and untrustworthy that they need an Ombudsman to keep them on the straight and narrow so they won't violate the Sunshine Law.

Editor McElroy writes, “That's why the News Sentinel is suing the County Commission over its violations of the Tennessee Open Meetings Act. It's also why the plan to create an open-government ombudsman is a good idea.”

God help save us from reformers that have blinders on.

Where there violations of the Sunshine Law by the office of the Knox County Mayor during the wheel tax? How about during the Midway Industrial Park fiasco?

Where was the Reformer Jack McElroy then? Surely this is not a one way street is it?

The Pandora’s box of this is that if Reformer McElroy wins his lawsuit against the Knox County Commission a precedent will be set and more lawsuits will follow. Will Gary Sellers sue to have a redo on the Wheel Tax? Will the people of the Thorngrove Community sue to have a redo on the vote for the Midway Industrial Park? Will the Knox County Mayor have to sit through hours of depositions?

There is a need for an Ombudsman, but that need is at the Knoxville News Sentinel. Someone needs to take the blinders off the Reformer McElroy. Maybe a look at the News Sentinel's Ethics Policy would be a prudent move also.

136
like
Mon
Mar 19 2007
09:39 am

Hey folks, read in this morning's paper that Ticketmaster - the company that brought you $300 Stones seating and a corporate lock on any recording artist that tries to thwart their plans for world domination - is planning to buy the Nashville marketer behind many country acts' fan club websites.

So. Now Ticketmaster will be able to set ticket pricing, control where artists can perform concerts, and dictate how and when bands can stay in touch with their fans. And the worst part is, a quick search on Opensecrets.org yields the information that most of TM's corporate donations are to Democrats, who haven't done scratch about any of this.

Wonder what it's going to take...maybe a massive artist boycott of TM...but given that it would take higher-profile (i.e. insanely wealthy) artists to pull something like that off, it's probably a lost cause, eh?

Oh, and here's a couple articles on TM's practices, if you don't get why I'm teed off about this.

(link...)

(link...)

50
like
Mon
Mar 19 2007
09:27 am

Mark Twain once wrote, "Buy land, they're not making it anymore".

KCDC has turned its tender mercies to I-275 corridor. If you have a less than attractive home you rent or own in that area good luck. You may be in for a long and discouraging fight.

With a new wave of Urban Renewal an old lesson must be learned again. If the government wants your property you are pretty much screwed.

Might makes right, on the shining City on the Hill.

70
like
Mon
Mar 19 2007
09:20 am

Don't waste your money. There's some amazing race footage and a couple of scenes that are almost funny, and Sacha Baron Cohen (a/k/a Borat, Ali G, et. al.) as the gay French Formula One turned existentialist NASCAR driver, but otherwise it's a complete waste of time. Even the fake scripted "outtakes" are embarrassingly bad. Jane Lynch (Best in Show, Mighty Wind) is pretty good, but I feel sorry for her for getting mixed up in this mess.

I don't get the appeal of Will Farrell at all. He plays "Ricky Bobby". The movie explains that he's got two first names, in case you didn't get the hilarious irony of that. Or maybe pointing it out is supposed to be hip self-referential parody? This is is only one of many scenes where the movie explains obvious "jokes", making them even more not-funny.

My general policy had been that I wouldn't waste time on a Will Farrell movie, but I made an exception this time because of the enormous potential for hilarity that might ensue from poking fun at NASCAR and other Southern culture stereotypes. I guess you have to understand something to make proper fun of it. This movie reminds me why I had a No Will Ferrell policy in the first place.

Topics:
41
like
Sun
Mar 18 2007
12:42 pm

I have an old friend who refers to her personal driving method as "Braille Driving." She goes forward until she hits something, then she backs up until she hits something.

This article in The Daily Times regarding the BCSO Dive Team truck leaves me speechless.

(link...)

51
like

Lost Medicaid Funding

To date, the failure to expand Medicaid/TennCare has cost the State of Tennessee ? in lost federal funding.

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