Archive for the 'politics' Category

Cosmic Variance on Libby

Posted by mikedaum on July 4th, 2007

Worth reading is this magnificent post about Bush and Libby on Cosmic Variance. Lovely contrast between Bush’s behaviour here with his earlier refusal to help death row inmates.

Libby fallout

Posted by mikedaum on July 4th, 2007

 

So Bush went ahead and commuted Libby’s sentence, and made a clever speech pointing out that it isn’t a pardon.  Not so impressive given that

  1. Libby is still pursuing his appeal, so could get off scott free
  2. Bush says will still consider pardoning Libby

Frankly the whole thing makes me want to drive to the US and burn some cars.  One gets the feeling that the rule of law down there is on some pretty shaky ground at the moment.

The whole thing was made a bit worse by the fact that Bush did not consult the DOJ on the matter, and in fact acted in a manner contrary to longstanding DOJ policy.  It seems though, that this strategy is a bit on the dangerous side.  In his touching speech, Bush mentioned the two years of probation which would still need to be served by Libby.  Turns out that Libby was not sentenced to probation…but rather “supervised release”…something which can only occur after you’ve served some time.  This inconsistency was noticed by Reggie Walton, the sentencing judge in the case, who filed yesterday asking both sides to appear in court to present arguments on how exactly they feel the law should be interpreted in light of the seemingly contradictory commutation.

In light of the president’s unorthodox behaviour and the concerns of Judge Walton, the House Judiciary Committee has decided to hold hearings to look into the matter.  This was announced by Rep. Conyers, the committee’s chair along with the excellent words:

“In light of yesterday’s announcement by the President that he was commuting the prison sentence for Scooter Libby, it is imperative that Congress look into presidential authority to grant clemency, and how such power may be abused. Taken to its extreme, the use of such authority could completely circumvent the law enforcement process and prevent credible efforts to investigate wrongdoing in the executive branch.”

I love Conyers, but though he is eloquent I fear that words will be the start and the end of this thing.  Why are the Democrats unable to act?  It’s been half a year since they took over the congress, and the abuse goes on and on unchecked.  At what point will they realize that what’s at stake here transcends their pre-2008 posturing and actually take a stand?

Shit in the meat

Posted by mikedaum on July 3rd, 2007

So upset about the Libby I can’t talk about it. So I looked around to find something cheery and found this post on Cosmic Variance. Seems the FDA is considering a proposal to allow irradiated meat to be sold with no label.

The meat industry really wants this because they spend almost all of their efforts trying to keep shit from getting mixed in to the meat they ship. It would be much cheaper for them to just leave the shit in, except that would make lots of people sick (lots more than already do, that is). So they have this plan to “cold pasteurize” their product by shining it with an intense beam of high energy gamma radiation. This kills bad bugs by knocking apart their DNA so they can’t reproduce.

Unfortunately, it also knocks everything else apart too, filling the tasty beef with all sorts of radiolytic byproducts, smashed up molecule fragments, many of which do not occur in nature at all. Of course that’s only speculation, because the actual composition of these byproducts have not been closely studied. What has been studied is the radiation’s effect on the taste of the meat, which was described as “wet dog” or “singed hair”.

More good news from Louisiana

Posted by mikedaum on June 28th, 2007

RoosterFurther showing their commitment to addressing the most pressing issues facing Louisiana in the wake of Katrina, the state legislature has now banned cockfighting — starting in August 2008. So those of you who are currently grooming a particularly vicious specimen…make sure to fight him in the next 15 months, or you’ll lose your chance!

Timely, rapid action by the Louisiana Government

Posted by mikedaum on June 27th, 2007

If only they reacted this fast during Katrina, maybe New Orleans wouldn’t have been destroyed.  Gotta keep your priorities straight though.

Bush is now exempt too!

Posted by mikedaum on June 23rd, 2007

Here’s the new language from the White House:

“The executive order that Bush issued in March 2003 covers all government agencies that are part of the executive branch and, although it doesn’t specifically say so, was not meant to apply to the vice president’s office or the president’s office”, a White House spokesman said.

I really like the part about “although it doesn’t specifically say so…”

read more | digg story

More branch blurriness from Bush/Cheney

Posted by mikedaum on June 22nd, 2007

So the story of Cheney’s curious interpretation that the OVP straddles both the Executive and the Legislative branch recieved wide coverage in the MSM today. Most notable, perhaps was a front page article in today’s NYT. Yay. Recent coverage such as this WaPo article features quotes on the topic taken from a White House press briefing today. Here’s a quote I found particularly interesting (Perino is the WH spokeswoman).

As the “author” of the executive order and “the person responsible for interpreting” it, Bush “did not intend for the vice president to be treated as an agency,” Perino said.

Now that’s interesting isn’t it. Bush is the author of the executive order. True. It’s not a law, so he doesn’t have to be in the Legislative branch to write it. He’s also the executor of the order…appropriate because he’s the head of the Executive branch. And apparently Bush is also the interpreter of the order…here playing the role of the Judicial branch. So for the purposes of this order…Bush is effectively all of the branches. With the sole exception of the special new Cheney branch, that is.

Dick Cheney

Raw Story is reporting on Dick Cheney’s claims that the Office of the Vice President (OVP) is not contained within the Executive Branch. My understanding is that he claims that the VP’s role as president of the senate places the OVP in a middle ground between the Executive and the Legislative…making it essentially an unregulated 4th branch of the U.S. government. This is very scary.

This has been going on for some time now. Fortunately we have a democrat, Henry Waxman, at the head of the Committee on Oversight and Reform, and he’s trying to look into these things. His current efforts center on Cheney’s claim of exemption from a 2003 executive order which “establishes government-wide procedures for safeguarding classified national security information”. Specifically, the OVP has refused to hand over sensitive documents to the National Archives, as the order requires.

Also on Waxman’s site is an excellent fact sheet about the issue, detailing 5 instances in which the OVP has used these claims of sweeping powers to conceal information:

  • Exempting the Office of the Vice President from the Executive Order on Classified National Security Information
  • Blocking GAO Oversight
  • Concealing Privately-Funded Travel
  • Withholding Information about Vice Presidential Staff
  • Concealing Information about Visitors to the Vice President’s Residence
  • Allowing Former Vice Presidents to Assert Privilege Over Documents

It’s laudable that Waxman is attempting to bring this to light. It is, however, shamefully late. This has been going on for 6 years. In addition, though I’ve seen blog coverage of these issues before, I’ve never once seen them treated in the Mainstream Media. I’m not really sure why that is…of all of this administration’s activities which have come to light, this one to me comes closest to having the flavor of the ultimate transformation of the U.S. government…and it’s downfall. I mentioned this item to a Romanian friend of mine and he replied “Sounds familiar.” I quizzed him on what he’d seen before and asked him why it was that people don’t seem to care. He simply smiled and said “They’ll care…but by then it’s too late”

Update: Huffington Post now has the story…will the MSM pick it up?

Update #2: Think Progress has it too

Update #3: Yay! Washington Post has picked up the story. Very well written article here.

Update #4: Oops.  Spoke to soon.  The above WaPo story is in a blog…not the print edition

New Orleans Seeks International Aid

Posted by mikedaum on June 15th, 2007

Each and every time I see a headline about my hometown these days I have to steel myself against the seemingly inevitable heartbreak to follow. Today it happened twice.

First I read about FEMA trying to claw back $485 Million in Katrina aid. Now I won’t claim that every dollar in aid was spent in the best interest of the victims’ recovery, but don’t we have better things to do than go after these people when they’re down? How many minutes of the Iraq war will this fund? The recent budget supplemental was on the order of $70 billion as I recall…10 times the total amount of money spent so far on Katrina recovery, and 140 times the amount FEMA is trying to recover here; and the do-nothing Dems let that one skate into law without one single drop or whisper of a check or a balance. So stop nickling and diming and if you can’t help at least have the courtesy to get the hell out of the way.

Which leads us to the question of where the hell should NOLA look for recovery funds? Well, it seems Smarty Nagin has a bright idea: if the feds won’t cough up — maybe other countries will! That’s right…taking his cue from Fidel Castro’s offer of aid in the hurricane’s immediate wake, Nagin has begun talks with no less than 5 foreign countries to see if anybody wants to embarrass the U.S. by throwing a couple of shiny shekels into his hat. And it’s not just Nagin — Mary Landrieu is in the game as well. Get this: she’s talking to the government of Saudia Arabia to see if they’ll fund the reconstruction of City Park. One more time: the Democratic Senator for Louisiana is asking Saudia Arabia for money to fix City Park.

‘Nuff Said

Thoreau on the primary process

Posted by mikedaum on May 18th, 2007

The 2008 presidential primary process is quickly ramping up to full swing. And rising along with it are my old feelings of disenchantment with the miserable state of the process, filled with garbage kabuki-style debates, petty swiping, and tales of obscene amounts of cash raised; all accompanied by the usual hand-wringing. So I thought I’d share a particularly apropos quote from Thoreau’s “Civil Disobedience”:

“I hear of a convention to be held at Baltimore, or elsewhere, for the selection of a candidate for the Presidency, made up chiefly of editors, and men who are politicians by profession; but I think, what is it to any independent, intelligent, and respectable man what decision they come to, shall we not have the advantage of his wisdom and honesty, nevertheless? Can we not count upon some independent votes? Are there not many individuals in the country who do not attend conventions? But no: I find that the respectable man, so called, has immediately drifted from his position, and despairs of his country, when his country has more reason to despair of him. He forthwith adopts one of the candidates thus selected as the only available one, thus proving that he is himself available for any purposes of the demagogue.”