Blue text is my own commentary.
Violet text is the blog quote of the day.
ONCE AGAIN, AFRICA WAITS UNTIL TUESDAY...
(THIS PATTERN OF OMMISSION IS GLARING)
EDWARDS SPEAKS TRUTH TO POWER
Richardson appeals to rich voters' greed...
Democrats opened a new divide over taxes Sunday, as former Sen. John Edwards said he would consider an added levy on businesses and individuals reaping the kind of huge financial reward enjoyed by some of the nation's wealthiest investors. Speaking as state party activists wound down their three-day convention in San Diego, the North Carolina Democrat told reporters that "paying additional taxes, an excess-profits, excess-income tax" was a notion "worthy of consideration." He did not offer specifics. But New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, who followed Edwards to the lectern after addressing delegates, swiftly disagreed. "Democrats, whenever we have a solution, we want to tax," Richardson said. "I'm different. I'm a tax cutter." (...it now looks like Richardson is going after Bush's base, and the DLCers, who are the people with the resources to lift the U.S. out of this bush-mess; if they won't pay fair taxes to support their own abundance and advantages, they have failed their nation, and their progeny...)
SUPREME COURT CATHOLIC MAJORITY QUESTIONED
Is it significant that the five Supreme Court justices who voted to uphold the federal ban on a controversial abortion procedure also happen to be the court's Roman Catholics? It is, to Tony Auth, the Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist for the Philadelphia Inquirer. He drew Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and Justices Antonin Scalia, Anthony M. Kennedy, Clarence Thomas and Samuel A. Alito Jr. wearing bishop's miters, and labeled his cartoon "Church and State."(...WONDER WHAT THE EVANGELICALS THINK ABOUT ALL THIS...)
Five U.S. troops were killed in separate attacks in the capital this weekend, including three in a single roadside bombing, the military said Monday, pushing the death toll past 100 in the deadliest month so far this year. Both attacks occurred in eastern Baghdad, a predominantly Shiite area where American and Iraqi forces have stepped up their activities as part of a security crackdown that began on Feb. 14 to quell the sectarian violence.
A department of the Iraqi prime minister's office is playing a leading role in the arrest and removal of senior Iraqi army and national police officers, some of whom had apparently worked too aggressively to combat violent Shiite militias, according to U.S. military officials in Baghdad. Since March 1, at least 16 army and national police commanders have been fired, detained or pressured to resign; at least nine of them are Sunnis, (actually, those numbers sound like "equal opportunity" purges..) according to U.S. military documents shown to The Washington Post. Although some of the officers appear to have been fired for legitimate reasons, such as poor performance or corruption, several were considered to be among the better Iraqi officers in the field. The dismissals have angered U.S. and Iraqi leaders who say the Shiite-led government is sabotaging the military to achieve sectarian goals.
The government of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran announced Sunday that it would attend a regional conference on Iraq later this week, setting the stage for the first cabinet-level meeting between Iran and the United States since the end of 2004. The American envoy to the meeting, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, said that she would not rule out the possibility of conferring directly with Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki, but that she did not foresee any discussions on one of the most divisive issues between the nations, Iran’s nuclear program. In a series of television interviews on Sunday, she emphasized that the conference in Egypt was intended to focus on what Iraq’s neighbors and “interested parties” could do to help quell the relentless violence in Iraq. (...but will Cheney trail her around again, like he did the last time she made "peace," reassuring his war mongering buddies that she's just posturing for the cameras...?)
WHICH BRINGS US TO THE BLOG QUOTE OF THE DAY
From SusanUnPC at "No Quarter," on an article in the NYTimes by Nicholas Kristof; (that's how "the blogs" work)
"In May 2003, Iran sent a secret proposal to the U.S. for settling our mutual disputes in a “grand bargain.” It is an astonishing document, for it tries to address a range of U.S. concerns about nuclear weapons, terrorism and Iraq. I’ve placed it and related documents (including multiple drafts of it) on my blog, www.nytimes.com/ontheground. Hard-liners in the Bush administration killed discussions of a deal, and interviews with key players suggest that was an appalling mistake. There was a real hope for peace; now there is a real danger of war. Scattered reports of the Iranian proposal have emerged previously, but if you read the full documentary record you’ll see that what the hard-liners killed wasn’t just one faxed Iranian proposal but an entire peace process. The record indicates that officials from the repressive, duplicitous government of Iran pursued peace more energetically and diplomatically than senior Bush administration officials — which makes me ache for my country."
Off duty in Baghdad, Army Sgt. Ronn Cantu operates an antiwar website.When not repairing Black Hawk helicopters for the California National Guard, Jabbar Magruder conducts counterrecruiting sessions with would-be enlistees. Fresh from two tours each in Iraq, decorated former Marines Sean O'Neill and Mike Ergo give antiwar speeches at Northern California high schools.Although their numbers are still small compared with the draft-fueled Vietnam veterans' movement four decades ago, California's Iraq veterans are gaining a voice in opposition to America's continued military presence in Iraq. Recent antiwar demonstrations in Los Angeles, San Francisco and other cities have seen the first sizable contingents of veterans from the conflict. The protesters even include some soldiers — like Cantu, of Los Angeles — who are still on active duty. "I've taken a public antiwar stance," Cantu, 29, recently e-mailed from Baghdad, where he serves in intelligence with the 1st Cavalry Division, "but I didn't shirk my responsibilities." (these are double-duty heroes, their courage and commitment to "The Truth" should make us all very proud...)
Four years ago tomorrow, President Bush landed on the USS Abraham Lincoln and dramatically strode onto the deck in a flight suit, a crash helmet tucked under one arm. Even without the giant banner that hung from the ship's tower, the president's message about the progress of the war in Iraq was unmistakable: mission accomplished. Bush is not the first president to have convinced himself that something he wanted to believe was, in fact, true. As Columbia University political scientist Robert Jervis once noted, Ronald Reagan convinced himself that he was not trading arms for hostages in Iran, Bill Clinton convinced himself that the donors he had invited to stay overnight at the White House were really his friends, and Richard M. Nixon sincerely believed that his version of Watergate events was accurate. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/04/29/AR2007042901152.html?referrer=email
The U.S. project to rebuild Iraq remains far short of its targets, leaving the country plagued by power outages, inadequate oil production and shortages of clean water and health care, according to a report to be issued today by a U.S. government oversight agency. The 232-page quarterly review by the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction presents a sobering picture of the challenges of reconstruction in a war zone. It also says the Army has asked Parsons Corp., one of the largest contractors in Iraq, to explain why it should not be barred from pursuing government contracts for up to three years. In the Army's March letter, it questions "the effectiveness of [Parsons'] standards of conduct and internal control systems." Parsons has been the subject of previous inspector general audits and is best known for building only a small fraction of the health clinics planned to be built in Iraq and for building a police academy so flawed that human waste rained from the ceilings.
DOJ SCANDAL HEATS UP from The National Journal, via a link at The Democratic Underground (again, that's how "the blogs" work)
Attorney General Alberto Gonzales signed a highly confidential order in March 2006 delegating to two of his top aides -- who have since resigned because of their central roles in the firings of eight U.S. attorneys -- extraordinary authority over the hiring and firing of most non-civil-service employees of the Justice Department. A copy of the order and other Justice Department records related to the conception and implementation of the order were provided to National Journal. In the order, Gonzales delegated to his then-chief of staff, D. Kyle Sampson, and his White House liaison "the authority, (is this all that "hard work" we thought these Bush loyalists were doing whenever W mentioned the words) with the approval of the Attorney General, to take final action in matters pertaining to the appointment, employment, pay, separation, and general administration" of virtually all non-civil-service employees of the Justice Department, including all of the department's political appointees who do not require Senate confirmation. Monica Goodling became White House liaison in April 2006, the month after Gonzales signed the order. The existence of the order suggests that a broad effort was under way by the White House to place politically and ideologically loyal appointees throughout the Justice Department, not just at the U.S.-attorney level. Department records show that the personnel authority was delegated to the two aides at about the same time they were working with the White House in planning the firings of a dozen U.S. attorneys, eight of whom were, in fact, later dismissed. (...surely these bright young folks considered the possibility there would be a Democratic Congressional take-over? Or did they believe Swami Karl, and now that their unchecked hubris has been so unceremoniously interrupted, they resigned before the fire got too hot...) http://news.nationaljournal.com/articles/070430nj1.htm
Goodling Immunity Agreement Gets Bi-Partisan Support
The House Judiciary Committee approved an immunity-for-testimony deal today for a key former aide to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, as I reported on washingtonpost.com earlier today. It's the boldest move to date by either the House or Senate Judiciary committees, both of which are conducting parallel probes of the firings of eight U.S. attorneys last year. Monica M. Goodling, Gonzales's former counsel, could prove to be a key witness. One of the more interesting things about the vote, however, was its bipartisan nature: 32-6.More than half of the 17 Republicans on House Judiciary went along with the immunity deal. Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas), the ranking Republican on Judiciary, summed up the feelings of most Republicans on the panel in a statement that warned of the "consequences" of immunity and the potential to "compromise DOJ's ability to do their job." ...All six "nay" votes came from Republicans, led by Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-Wisc.), the onetime chairman of the committee. Sensenbrenner objected on legal grounds, citing the legal perils experienced by federal prosecutors 20 years ago when they tried a criminal case against Oliver North for his role in the Iran-Contra affair but were stymied by a congressional immunity deal. (...actually, I think they just want her to clam-up, and they're making sure she knows it...)
Fired U.S. Attorneys Will Meet in Seattle
Normally, anything labeled "public policy forum" in the e-mail in-box gets automatically deleted here at Capitol Briefing, especially when it's being hosted in the "other" Washington, way out in Seattle. But when it's a public policy forum on U.S. attorneys hosted by none other than John McKay, Capitol Briefing takes note! McKay, the ousted U.S. attorney for the Western District of Washington, is now a visiting professor at the Seattle University School of Law. On May 9 he's hosting a pair of his fellow fired federal prosecutors for a forum on the mass sackings last year. Joining McKay will be David C. Iglesias, the former U.S. attorney for New Mexico, and Paul K. Charlton, the former prosecutor for Arizona. McKay, Iglesias and Charlton are three of the most controversial firings of the eight ousted prosecutors, because they were either conducting sensitive investigations of Republicans or under fire for not prosecuting Democrats around the time of their dismissals on Dec. 7. All three were also contacted by members of Congress or their staff at a sensitive time regarding ongoing criminal corruption investigations. The four-hour symposium could spark sharp criticism of Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and the White House for alleged politicization of the Justice Department. One session is titled: "The 2007 Experience -- Myths and Realities: explanation of the current incidents, with comparison of historical similarities and differences."
When Special Counsel Scott J. Bloch put his obscure federal agency at the center of one of the furthest-reaching political investigations in the nation last week, it surprised many, but for different reasons than one might expect. Bloch and the Office of Special Counsel aim to learn whether officials from Karl Rove on down used federal time and resources for Republican politicking, or pressured federal employees into doing the same. The team will also pursue allegations that David C. Iglesias was fired as U.S. attorney of New Mexico for his reluctance to undertake politically motivated cases and for absences related to his service as a Navy reservist. ...Like the office he heads, Bloch is little-known in Washington. He is a lawyer who spent a decade at a Lawrence, Kan., firm before riding into town in 2001 to become deputy director of the Justice Department's office of faith-based initiatives. In 2004, Justice Clarence Thomas swore him in as special counsel.
"DON JUAN" WOLFOWITZ FACES WORLD BANK PANEL
World Bank President Paul Wolfowitz, fighting to keep his job, is arguing that the poverty-fighting institution's ethics officials were aware of his role in helping secure a promotion and pay raise for his girlfriend, who was on the bank's staff. A special bank panel investigating his handling of the 2005 promotion of bank employee Shaha Riza was scheduled to hear from Wolfowitz on Monday. The controversy has prompted calls for Wolfowitz's resignation. The bank's 24-member board is expected to make a decision in the case this week.
UNIONS WORK HARD TO REGAIN LOST GROUND
In an attempt to provide added leverage to the grocery workers union in contract talks, Los Angeles' powerful labor movement and its allies among elected officials are exploring ways to use local government to pressure supermarket chains to boost pay and benefits. The United Food and Commercial Workers International Union is negotiating with Southern California's three largest supermarket chains — Albertsons, Ralphs and Vons — on a new contract to cover about 65,000 workers. The previous contract, signed three years ago after a 141-day strike and lockout, is considered a poor one by the union because it provides lower wages and benefits to newly hired workers. Changing the structure of that contract has become a rallying cry in the local labor movement. Although both sides have emphasized their desire to avoid another work stoppage, elected officials have sought to pressure the stores in recent weeks.
RETURN OF "THE MOST OUTRAGEOUS STORY OF THE DAY"
Researchers have long debated what happened when the indigenous Neanderthals of Europe met "modern humans" arriving from Africa starting some 40,000 years ago. The end result was the disappearance of the Neanderthals, but what happened during the roughly 10,000 years that the two human species shared a land? A new review of the fossil record from that period has come up with a provocative conclusion: The two groups saw each other as kindred spirits and, when conditions were right, they mated. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/04/29/AR2007042901101.html?hpid=topnews