Archive for April, 2006

Speaking Truthiness To Power

Sunday, April 30th, 2006

Stephen Colbert takes on Bush at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner. Go read. And then watch The Colbert Report while you can. It may be broadcast from Gitmo in the near future, and who knows if your cable channel will carry it.

Cross-posted at The Green Knight.

Truthout: Fitzgerald To Seek Rove Indictment

Saturday, April 29th, 2006

If Truthout has its story straight, Patrick Fitzgerald will ask the grand jury to indict Karl Rove on charges of perjury and lying to investigators in the Valerie Plame case.

Despite vehement denials by his attorney, who said this week that Karl Rove is neither a “target” nor in danger of being indicted in the CIA leak case, the special counsel leading the investigation has already written up charges against Rove, and a grand jury is expected to vote on whether to indict the Deputy White House Chief of Staff sometime next week, sources knowledgeable about the probe said Friday afternoon….

…Rove’s attorney, Robert Luskin, was informed via a target letter that Fitzgerald is prepared to charge Rove for perjury and lying to investigators during Rove’s appearances before the grand jury in 2004 and in interviews with investigators in 2003 when he was asked how and when he discovered that Valerie Plame Wilson worked for the CIA, and whether he shared that information with the media.

Tony Snow will be doing some major spinning if this happens. He may even end up with the Scottie McClellan inner-ear ailment.

Cross-posted at The Green Knight.

Happy Birthday, Don!

Saturday, April 29th, 2006

Blues reader and Dr. IQ Don is 73 today. Don, we’re glad you were born, and we hope you’ll be celebrating many more birthdays with us!

Former FDA Head Under Investigation

Saturday, April 29th, 2006

Geez, is there anyone in Washington who isn’t corrupt? Lester Crawford is being investigated for financial improprieties and lying to Congress. His lawyer says she has advised him to invoke the Fifth Amendment if he is asked about his actions as head of the FDA.

Crawford resigned in September, two months after the Senate confirmed him, saying it was time for someone else to lead the agency. He had been acting commissioner for more than a year.

A month before he resigned, Crawford sold more than $50,000 in shares in a company regulated by the agency, according to financial disclosure forms obtained by The Associated Press under the Freedom of Information Act. He has since joined a Washington lobbying firm, Policy Directions Inc.

The criminal investigation was disclosed at a court hearing in a lawsuit over the FDA’s actions on emergency contraceptive pills, a subject of dispute during Crawford’s tenure….

…Crawford was scheduled to be questioned under oath on Thursday, but on Wednesday Van Gelder, his personal lawyer, sought a delay, saying she would instruct him to invoke his Fifth Amendment rights, the Times reported. Crawford previously declined to answer questions from the Government Accountability Office about Plan B….

…Before Crawford’s confirmation, Health and Human Services Secretary Mike Leavitt promised the FDA would act on the Plan B application by September 2005, which led Sens. Patty Murray, D-Wash., and Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y., to lift their hold on Crawford’s nomination. But after he was confirmed, Crawford postponed indefinitely any decision on Plan B.

How interesting. Why would this guy be afraid to answer questions about his stalling on Plan B? Could the “financial improprieties” be bribes? There’s not a lot of information out there right now, but it does make one wonder. Supposedly, the FDA was all concerned about the health implications of over-the-counter sales and, mostly, the fear that women might be able to prevent pregnancy after the fact without getting the third degree. Was there something other than right-wing pressure at work here?

Another White Person Gets Away With Drug Use

Saturday, April 29th, 2006

Rush Limbaugh signed a plea agreement yesterday that will clear his record of drug charges if he remains in treatment for another 18 months, stays clean, and doesn’t break any (other) laws.

Let’s see what Rush had to say:

“Drug use, some might say, is destroying this country. And we have laws against selling drugs, pushing drugs, using drugs, importing drugs. … And so if people are violating the law by doing drugs, they ought to be accused and they ought to be convicted and they ought to be sent up,” Limbaugh said on his short-lived television show on Oct. 5, 1995.

During the same show, he commented that statistics that show blacks go to prison more often than whites for the same drug offenses only illustrate that “too many whites are getting away with drug use.”

It certainly makes more sense to treat non-violent drug offenders rather than throwing them in prison. It’s just too bad that you have to be a rich celebrity — and, yes, being white helps — to get effective treatment.

Blogging At Dial-Up Speed

Friday, April 28th, 2006

I’m off to Georgia this afternoon to visit with my parents — after I meet Blue Gal for lunch with the Over the Mountain Democrats. There’s too much going on in the world not to blog this weekend, with Iran’s president getting more and more belligerent and the possibility of a Rove indictment.

Bush is on MSNBC right now telling us that the first step to fixing the problems in New Orleans is to make people believe in the levees. I’d think the first step would be to make sure the levees are sound, but that’s just me.

Now if I could only convince my parents to get DSL or find a wireless hot spot in a small Georgia town…

ANWR Drilling Again?

Friday, April 28th, 2006

I missed something important in yesterday’s story about the Senate GOP’s proposal to give each of us a $100 check to ease the pain at the pump. That money is tied to opening the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to drilling. This seems to be some kind of obsession with the Republicans, but how much would it really help? According to one source, demand for oil has reached 85 million barrels per day. The US Geological Survey estimates the total technically recoverable output from ANWR would be around 10 billion barrels of oil. Technically recoverable resources are defined as those that may be recoverable using current recovery technology without regard to cost, so the actual output would likely be lower.

So we’re going to destroy a wildlife refuge for less than 118 days worth of oil? That doesn’t look like a good trade-off to me. I’ve heard a theory that drilling in ANWR is a prelude to opening up California and other parts of the country that have some oil reserves. Personally, I’d prefer to see the development of renewable energy sources — and the preservation of our environment.

Wounded Soldiers Left In Debt

Thursday, April 27th, 2006

A congressional report shows that the military has been pursuing nearly 900 soldiers to collect $1.2 million in debt incurred through no fault of their own.

WASHINGTON (AP) – After suffering paralysis, brain damage, lost limbs and other wounds in war, nearly 900 Army soldiers ran up $1.2 million in debt because of the military’s “complex, cumbersome” pay system, congressional investigators said Thursday.

The report from the Government Accountability Office said another 400 who died in the wars had $300,000 in debt but that the Defense Department doesn’t pursue collection of people killed in combat. [Gee, that's nice of them...]

“We found that hundreds of separated battle-injured soldiers were pursued for collection of military debts incurred through no fault of their own,” said the report. It said that included seeking reimbursement for errors in pay or for equipment left on the battlefield.

This needs to stop right now. Our soldiers put their lives on the line, and they don’t deserve to be harrassed after they come home.

The problem became known months ago as soldiers began to complain and lawmakers asked for the report.

The Pentagon said it has been working to resolve it.

How long does it take to fix the problem? Surely Donald Rumsfeld’s “streamlined” Pentagon can do better than this.

Federal Judge Refuses To Dismiss Charges Against Libby

Thursday, April 27th, 2006

I know this is just your garden-variety legal wrangling, or at least it is when you can afford high-powered attorneys, but it makes me laugh anyway. Scooter Libby’s lawyers argued that special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald had been given too much power and that the President should have appointed an investigator with the Senate’s approval. Uh huh. That would have worked well.

[Judge Reggie B.] Walton said there must be a way to appoint special prosecutors to ensure that “the perception of fairness withstands the scrutiny of the American public” when high-level government officials are investigated for alleged wrongdoing.

Well, duh.

Gee, Thanks…

Thursday, April 27th, 2006

GOP Senators are proposing sending out $100 checks to Americans in order to ease the pain of high gas prices. They’re also demanding the tax records of the big oil companies to see if their unprecedented profits were gained through tax avoidance. And they want to rescind the recently awarded $2 billion in tax breaks that the oil companies say they don’t need anyway.

Could we maybe, possibly hear some proposals to significantly reduce our dependence on oil? Sure, we could open up some more areas of the US for drilling, destroying the surrounding environment in the process. But how much oil would we realistically obtain? And would it even be cost-effective? Oil is not a renewable resource, and there are experts who think we’ve already passed the peak of world production. If that’s true, it will steadily become more expensive to extract a decreasing amount of oil.

I don’t know if the answer is ethanol or hydrogen or biodiesel or hydroelectric power or wind — or some combination of all of them. I’m not crazy about the idea of nuclear plants dotting the landscape because the consequences of human error could be so huge.

Yes, it would be nice to get some short-term relief from high gas prices. Most of us aren’t in a position to drastically reduce our driving. People still have to go to work and haul kids to school and other activities and go to the grocery store and the doctor. Unless you live in an area with really good public transportation, there’s no real alternative to cranking up the car. A $100 check will ease the pain for a week or two, but then what? And where does the money for that $100 check, multiplied by millions of drivers, come from?

We already have a massive deficit that my children and yours will have to pay. I’d prefer not to add to it, but if we do, can’t the additional spending go toward real energy reform rather than meaningless political pandering?

I’m just asking.