Blue text is my own commentary.
Violet text is the blog quote of the day.
PELOSI'S MASTERFUL HAND
Nancy Pelosi knew Earl Blumenauer would be a hard case, but she left two messages on his cellphone anyway. A liberal, bow-tied, bicycle-riding peacenik from Oregon, Blumenauer had voted against the Iraq war and every dollar since to pay for it. He was not about to embrace a bill that threw $100 billion more into the fighting, even if it would force the president to bring the troops home. "I've been trying to get ahold of you," the House speaker said when she caught up with the Portland Democrat in the Capitol's basement. They sat down. She said she empathized with his dilemma — she too had opposed the war from the start and wanted it ended fast. But in her mind the choice was simple: Hand President Bush a victory or hand him a rebuke. "She convinced me," said Blumenauer, whose vote helped give Pelosi her most important legislative victory. "For me, there was no attempt at pressure. I was able to convey my concerns. She was there. She was listening." Pelosi's performance on the war spending bill highlighted what has become her signature: an aggressive leadership style that seeks to put Congress on par with the White House (isn't that what the founders of our nation meant in the first place by creating co-equal branches of government?) and prove that her notoriously fractious party (hey, a big tent is a big tent) can indeed govern. Her style has surprised some in the caucus. (not me) Liberals who expected camaraderie say she's a poor listener, (read; pragmatist) and conservatives who expected a cold shoulder say listening is one of her better skills. (read; statesman extraordinaire)
BLOG QUOTE OF THE DAY (thanx to Glenn Greenwald and Salon.com)
Norah O'Donnell does not understand why anyone would think that there is reason to believe that the White House and Rove may not be entirely forthcoming when answering the Senators' questions. She literally does not comprehend the general concept of oversight and specifically the rationale as to why someone would be reluctant to place blind trust in the Bush administration's assertions.
Heavily armed security forces took to Nigeria's streets Friday on the eve of elections that many people here fear will spark violence across an already tense nation. In a nationally televised address, President Olusegun Obasanjo declared Nigeria ready to begin its two-part election, with races for state governors and legislators on Saturday and a vote for president a week later. But he warned, "The federal government will leave no stone unturned in vigorously checking . . . acts of violence and thuggery."
LABOR UNIONS AND EMPLOYEE OWNERSHIP
After five years of multi-billion-dollar losses, airlines began making money in 2006 and executives are cashing in, setting the stage for contentious negotiations with employees whose labor contracts start expiring later this year."It's going to get nasty," said Michael Boyd, an industry consultant. The airlines "have really messed this up. The employees worked hard, gave back and it looks like management is basically saying, 'Thanks for the giveback, suckers.' " At United Airlines Inc., which emerged from Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in February, workers were infuriated when they learned about Chief Executive Glenn Tilton's 2006 shares and options package, potentially worth $38 million. Unions representing United's pilots and flight attendants on Friday urged members who hold stock in the company to vote against management's nominees for the board, including Tilton.
(we need more unions encouraging and enabling employee ownership on a bigger scale, i.e. democracy in the workplace)
DOJ DOCUDUMP UNCOVERS MORE DECEPTION BY BUSH ADMINISTRATION
Long before they fired a group of U.S. attorneys, senior White House and Justice Department officials were already discussing some politically connected insiders for their replacements, documents released Friday show. The documents, turned over to congressional investigators in a widening probe of the firings, undercut earlier claims that the prosecutors were terminated for purely performance reasons. They also show that the administration prized attorneys who shared its Republican ideology. For instance, the personnel charts of some prosecutors note their membership in the conservative Federalist Society. (the red badge of shame?)
As (Paul) pointed out earlier, one of the documents released today apparently catches Kyle Sampson in another bind. And during a conference call with reporters today, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said that Sampson had not been fully honest with the committee last month. At issue is whether Sampson gave a false impression when he said that he didn't have "in mind any replacements" for any of the U.S. attorneys who were asked to resign. "He left a clear impression that they did not have people in mind for a replacement," Schumer said, calling it "extremely troubling." "The contradictions continue to pile up.... The issue of replacements now becomes central." (thanx again to Paul Kiel at TPM) http://www.tpmmuckraker.com/
THE BUSH WARS
A platoon of elite Marine Special Operations troops reacted with "excessive force" after an ambush in Afghanistan last month, opening fire on pedestrians and civilian vehicles along a 10-mile stretch of road and killing 12 people -- including a 4-year-old girl, a 1-year-old boy and three elderly villagers -- an investigation by an Afghan human rights commission alleges.
A suicide bomber blew himself up outside an Afghan police headquarters in the east of the country on Saturday, killing at least eight people, officials said. The attack came as the U.S.-led coalition said it had killed 35 Taliban insurgents in fierce fighting two days ago. Seven of those killed in the suicide attack in Khost were border police and the eighth was a civilian, the Interior Ministry said in a statement. Six policemen were also wounded. Taliban commander Mullah Hayatullah Khan told Reuters by telephone his insurgents had carried out the attack. (thanx to Needlenose for the Reuters link) http://today.reuters.com/news/newsarticle.aspx?type=worldNews&storyid=2007-04-14T123131Z_01_ISL213969_RTRUKOC_0_US-AFGHAN-VIOLENCE.xml
SPY ON US WHILE YOU CAN, MONKEYBOY
The proposed revisions to FISA would also allow the government to keep information obtained "unintentionally," unrelated to the purpose of the surveillance, if it "contains significant foreign intelligence." Currently such information is destroyed unless it indicates threat of death or serious bodily harm. And they provide for compelling telecommunications companies and e-mail providers to cooperate with investigations while protecting them from being sued by their subscribers. The legal protection would be applied retroactively to those companies that cooperated with the government after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.
CHENEY HISSES AGAIN
Vice President Cheney (propagandist-in-chief) accused congressional Democrats today of reviving the "far-left platform" of George McGovern from the 1970s, an agenda that he said would raise taxes, declare surrender in an overseas war and leave the United States exposed to new dangers. In a sharp-edged speech, Cheney escalated the Bush administration attack on Congress for passing war spending legislation that would mandate withdrawing at least some U.S. troops from Iraq.
(thanx to Marci Wheeler at The Next Hurrah, author of "Anatomy of Deceit)
So we've learned that Karl Rove does 95% of his emailing on the RNC servers. No word if he spends an equivalent percentage of time on RNC-supplied phones (now that question would clarify why Rove was using the RNC laptop, wouldn't it?). But I'm going to assume, for the moment, that that 95% figure also means Karl Rove perceives 95% of the work he does to be political--to be unrelated to our nation's business. There's only a few conclusions I can draw from that. Either, we're paying Rove $165,200 for 104 hours of work (52X40/20). Or almost $1600/hour. (the high price of our political sado-masochism) Which I'm guessing would rank right off the charts on the government pay scale.
Karl Rove's personal attorney yesterday dismissed any suggestion that the White House senior adviser purposely deleted e-mail to evade scrutiny, saying that Rove was always under the impression that his messages were being saved (So, just who actually took the illegal initiative to delete them? Is there another Scooter or Sampson in wings waiting to take the fall?) by either the White House or the Republican National Committee. "He has always understood that his e-mails, that his RNC and campaign e-mails, were being archived from very early in the administration," said Robert D. Luskin.
GROWING WOLFOWITZ WORLD BANK ROMANCE SCANDAL
World Bank President Paul D. Wolfowitz personally dictated the terms under which the bank gave what it called his "domestic partner" substantial pay raises and promotions in exchange for temporarily leaving her job there during his tenure, according to documents released by the bank's executive board yesterday. The board issued a statement saying it will "move expeditiously to reach a conclusion on possible actions to take," amid rising speculation over whether the embattled Wolfowitz will resign or be asked to step down.
The woman at the center of the storm surrounding World Bank President Paul D. Wolfowitz has spent the past few months trying to get one of the signature efforts of President Bush's Middle East democracy campaign off the ground. The Foundation for the Future, as the effort is called, has made no grants and held only two board meetings since its creation 1 1/2 years ago. Though Shaha Riza, who has been romantically linked to Wolfowitz, is not listed as part of the staff on the organization's Web site, she is the only person working in the group's offices, located within the Henry L. Stimson Center, a think tank. The Washington office is listed as a "branch," according to the site, which promises that soon a main office will be established in Beirut. The United States contributed almost two-thirds of the foundation's $56 million budget, (for one lone employee to manage?) according to the State Department, which said last night that the foundation plans to hire a chief operating officer and chief financial officer next month.
...now it is clear that the chorus of calls in recent days for Mr. Wolfowitz’s ouster is only partly about his involvement in setting up a comfortable job, with a big pay raise, for a bank officer who is Mr. Wolfowitz’s companion. At its core, the fight about whether Mr. Wolfowitz should stay on at the bank is a debate about Mr. Bush and his tumultuous relationship with the rest of the world, particularly the bank, the United Nations and the International Atomic Energy Agency, which have viewed themselves — at various moments since the invasion of Iraq in 2003 — as being at war with the Bush White House and its agenda.
The driving season stretching from Memorial Day through Labor Day is known for pinching motorists. But since the devastating hurricanes of 2005, the pain at the pump each year has returned earlier and with a particularly sharp bite, prompting cries from legislators and causing automakers to scramble to produce smaller, fuel-efficient models. (isn't Honda's and Toyota's domination evidence that we have actually been demanding this for decades?) This year, the federal government's Energy Information Administration is predicting that motorists will pay an average of $2.81 a gallon, just six cents less than last summer's steep levels. Others, including James Mulva... of ConocoPhillips, warn that prices could hit an average of $3.
A little over four years ago, when the forces of deregulation were riding high, this page observed that the federal courts could turn out to be the last, best hope for slowing the Bush administration’s assault on the body of bipartisan environmental law established over the last four decades and, by extension, on the environment itself. As things have turned out, this is pretty much what has happened. In the last few weeks alone, federal judges at the district or appellate level have: Rejected efforts to weaken protections for the national forests, including the old-growth forests of the Pacific Northwest; Overturned a government plan that would have hastened the decline of endangered salmon in the Pacific Northwest; Rebuffed challenges to clean air laws governing pollution from older power plants; Invoked the Clean Water Act to prevent mining companies from laying waste to streams and valleys in Appalachia. In some cases the courts have done more than just play defense. In the Supreme Court ruling on global warming two weeks ago, the court not only protected existing law but aggressively enlarged its reach, (guess who the dissenters were...) ruling that the Clean Air Act all but required the Environmental Protection Agency to regulate emissions of greenhouse gases.