Archive for September, 2006

Fallout

Posted: September 30, 2006 in Music, Pop Culture

I’m working on an in-depth comment and analysis of the political fallout of the Mark Foley resignation, which I’m hoping to have up sometime tomorrow.

In the meantime, check out this joint performance by U2 and Green Day last weekend for the opening ceremony of the first New Orleans Saints home game at the Superdome since Hurricane Katrina last year.

Radioactive

Posted: September 30, 2006 in 2006 Elections, Beltway Drama

In less than 24 hours, the Foley resignation has become a full-fledged political scandal on Capitol Hill.

With Foley now out of the picture, news organizations are trying to figure out how long his behavior went on, who it involved, and most significantly, which of his House Republican colleagues knew, or should have known or investigated, the allegations of impropriety.

It is in the last of those three issues where heads much bigger than Foley’s could roll as a result of this scandal.

Because of their knowledge at different points of the allegations against Foley, the big targets of scrutiny in all of this will be:
1) Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert
2) Rep. John Shinkus, chairman of the House Page Board
3) Rep. Tom Reynolds, head of the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC)
4) Rep. Rodney Alexander, the congressman who hired the boy that Foley was communicating with.

House Majority Leader John Boehner pointed the finger directly at Dennis Hastert. From the Washington Post:

The resignation rocked the Capitol, and especially Foley’s GOP colleagues, as lawmakers were rushing to adjourn for at least six weeks. House Majority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) told The Washington Post last night that he had learned this spring of some “contact” between Foley and a 16-year-old page. Boehner said he told House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.), and that Hastert assured him “we’re taking care of it.”

It was not immediately clear what actions Hastert took. His spokesman had said earlier that the speaker did not know of the sexually charged e-mails between Foley and the boy.

Drip, Drip, Drip…

Posted: September 29, 2006 in 2006 Elections

One of Salon.com’s two anonymous sources in its original story on George Allen using racist slurs has decided to go on the record. Even more problematic for Senator Allen, the source remembers hearing about the deer head in a mailbox incident during the hunting trip.

A former football teammate of Sen. George Allen decided Friday to go on the record with recollections of the Virginia Republican’s alleged racist behavior during college.

Edward J. Sabornie, a special education professor at North Carolina State University, had previously spoken to Salon about Allen’s behavior on the condition of anonymity, because he feared retribution from the Allen campaign. In a Salon story on Sunday, Sabornie was quoted as a “teammate” who remembered Allen using the word “nigger” to describe blacks. “It was so common with George when he was among his white friends. This is the terminology he used,” Sabornie said in that article.

Sabornie said he has now decided to let his name be known because he was upset by how Allen responded this week to the Salon story. “What George said on Monday really kind of inflamed me — that it was ‘ludicrously false’ that he ever used the N-word,” Sabornie told Salon. “I don’t know how George can look himself in the mirror after saying that.”

Since Sunday, four other named acquaintances of Allen have told news organizations that they witnessed Allen using a racial epithet or demonstrating racist behavior. Allen, and his campaign staff, have denied each of the claims.

Sabornie, a registered independent who considers himself a liberal Democrat, was first contacted by Salon on Sept. 17. In the past, Sabornie said he has shown support for Allen, even writing him a congratulatory letter in 2000 after Allen was elected to the Senate.

But Sabornie said his opinion of Allen dimmed after the senator called an Indian-American student “macaca” at a recent campaign rally. “That was the catalyst,” Sabornie said. “I saw the old George.”

Sabornie was in Allen’s class and played football with the senator at the University of Virginia between 1971 and 1973. “We were friends,” said Sabornie, who played outside linebacker and tight end on the team. He said he remembers Allen also referring to blacks as “roaches,” and using the word “wetback” to refer to Latinos.

Sabornie said he also recalled hearing in college about a hunting trip with Allen that was rumored to have ended with a deer head being placed in a mailbox, a claim that was first made public by teammate Ken Shelton, and confirmed in part by teammate George Beam. Until Tuesday, after the Salon article came out, Sabornie said he had not spoken to Shelton for about 30 years.

“Because I was a hunter, and my teammates knew I hunted, I heard the story,” said Sabornie, who could not recall who told him. “I just remember that they cut off the doe head and stuffed it in a mailbox. I don’t remember anyone saying that George went looking specifically for black families.”

From ABC’s The Blotter:

Congressman Mark Foley (R-FL) planned to resign today, hours after ABC questioned him about sexually explicit internet messages with current and former Congressional pages under the age of 18.

A spokesman for Foley, the chairman of the House Caucus on Missing and Exploited Children, said the congressman submitted his resignation in a letter late this afternoon to Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert.

Hours earlier, ABC News had read excerpts of instant messages provided by former male pages who said the congressman, under the AOL Instant Messenger screen name Maf54, made repeated references to sexual organs and acts.

Looks like former Louisiana governor Edwin Edwards’ famous quote about “The only way I can lose is if I’m caught in bed with either a dead girl or a live boy,” was correct in Foley’s case, even if he wasn’t actually caught with the live boy.

Update: Foley has submitted his letter of resignation to the Speaker of the House.

The New Republic thinks they’ve found Mark Foley’s page on MySpace.

The Blotter has also posted some sexually explicit AOL Instant Messagenger chat transcripts from Foley and from their account, it was these transcripts that were the smoking gun that triggered Foley’s resignation. According to ABC, Foley could potentially be prosecuted and imprisoned for some laws that he helped pass as a member of Congress, and as chairman of the House caucus on missing and exploited children.

Bob Woodward can probably forget about waiting for the invitation to the White House Christmas party to arrive in the mail this year.

From the New York Daily News:

The CIA’S top counterterrorism officials felt they could have killed Osama Bin Laden in the months before 9/11, but got the “brushoff” when they went to the Bush White House seeking the money and authorization.

CIA Director George Tenet and his counterterrorism head Cofer Black sought an urgent meeting with then-national security adviser Condoleezza Rice on July 10, 2001, writes Bob Woodward in his new book “State of Denial.”

They went over top-secret intelligence pointing to an impending attack and “sounded the loudest warning” to the White House of a likely attack on the U.S. by Bin Laden.

Woodward writes that Rice was polite, but, “They felt the brushoff.”

Tenet and Black were both frustrated.

Black later calculated that all he needed was $500 million of covert action funds and reasonable authorization from President Bush to go kill Bin Laden and “he might be able to bring Bin Laden’s head back in a box,” Woodward writes.

Black claims the CIA had about “100 sources and subsources” in Afghanistan who could have helped carry out the hit.

The details of the incident are emerging just days after Sen. Hillary Clinton and former President Bill Clinton sparred with Rice over whether the Bush administration had tried to get Bin Laden before the terror attacks.

Update: Woodward also reports that President Bush was urged to dump Donald Rumsfeld twice after he won re-election, first by his then-Chief of Staff Andrew Card, the second time by Card and (interestingly enough) the First Lady. Looks like Andrew “Marketing Point of View” Card is trying to do some retroactive CYA after being replaced earlier this year.

From today’s Washington Post:

Former White House chief of staff Andrew Card on two occasions tried and failed to persuade President Bush to fire Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, according to a new book by Bob Woodward that depicts senior officials of the Bush administration as unable to face the consequences of their policy in Iraq.

Card made his first attempt after Bush was reelected in November, 2004, arguing that the administration needed a fresh start and recommending that Bush replace Rumsfeld with former secretary of state James A. Baker III. Woodward writes that Bush considered the move, but was persuaded by Vice President Cheney and Karl Rove, his chief political adviser, that it would be seen as an expression of doubt about the course of the war and would expose Bush himself to criticism.

Card tried again around Thanksgiving, 2005, this time with the support of First Lady Laura Bush, who according to Woodward, felt that Rumsfeld’s overbearing manner was damaging to her husband. Bush refused for a second time, and Card left the administration last March, convinced that Iraq would be compared to Vietnam and that history would record that no senior administration officials had raised their voices in opposition to the conduct of the war.

This from the Newark Star-Ledger:

U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez’s closest political adviser was secretly recorded seven years ago boasting of political power and urging a Hudson County contractor to hire someone as a favor to Menendez, according to a transcript obtained by The Star-Ledger.

Menendez’s campaign said last night he had severed his ties with the adviser, Donald Scarinci, after learning of the taped conversation. The two men were childhood friends and Scarinci, a prominent attorney with extensive contracts in state and local governments, has been a key fundraiser for the senator throughout his long political career.

Scarinci was recorded in 1999 by Oscar Sandoval, a Union City psychiatrist who had contracts with the county jail and hospital in Hudson County, according to two people familiar with the tapes who requested anonymity because the recordings are evidence in a pending lawsuit.

A transcript of the recorded telephone conversation was obtained by The Star-Ledger and verified by the two sources. In it, Scarinci urged Sandoval to hire another physician, Vincente Ruiz, telling him: “Menendez will consider that a favor.”

Matt Miller, spokesman for Menendez’s campaign, said last night, “If this transcript is accurate, then Scarinci was using Menendez’s name without his authorization or his knowledge. That was a lapse in judgment on his part and because of it, he will no longer have any role in our campaign.”

Menendez, locked in a tight U.S. Senate election race against Republican Tom Kean Jr., is already facing political fallout from a federal investigation into a rental deal he had with a nonprofit organization in Union City years ago.

Menendez is in a tight race, and given the state party’s track record (Bob Torricelli, James McGreevey), this is one more headache Menendez doesn’t need a month before Election Day. Whether Tom Kean can capitalize on it and use it to lure away Democratic voters remains to be seen.

This from the Newark Star-Ledger:

U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez’s closest political adviser was secretly recorded seven years ago boasting of political power and urging a Hudson County contractor to hire someone as a favor to Menendez, according to a transcript obtained by The Star-Ledger.

Menendez’s campaign said last night he had severed his ties with the adviser, Donald Scarinci, after learning of the taped conversation. The two men were childhood friends and Scarinci, a prominent attorney with extensive contracts in state and local governments, has been a key fundraiser for the senator throughout his long political career.

Scarinci was recorded in 1999 by Oscar Sandoval, a Union City psychiatrist who had contracts with the county jail and hospital in Hudson County, according to two people familiar with the tapes who requested anonymity because the recordings are evidence in a pending lawsuit.

A transcript of the recorded telephone conversation was obtained by The Star-Ledger and verified by the two sources. In it, Scarinci urged Sandoval to hire another physician, Vincente Ruiz, telling him: “Menendez will consider that a favor.”

Matt Miller, spokesman for Menendez’s campaign, said last night, “If this transcript is accurate, then Scarinci was using Menendez’s name without his authorization or his knowledge. That was a lapse in judgment on his part and because of it, he will no longer have any role in our campaign.”

Menendez, locked in a tight U.S. Senate election race against Republican Tom Kean Jr., is already facing political fallout from a federal investigation into a rental deal he had with a nonprofit organization in Union City years ago.

Menendez is in a tight race, and given the state party’s track record (Bob Torricelli, James McGreevey), this is one more headache Menendez doesn’t need a month before Election Day. Whether Tom Kean can capitalize on it and use it to lure away Democratic voters remains to be seen.