Archive for October, 2006

Only in an election season as wacky as this one [a quasi-sex scandal, a nuclear test, multiple FBI investigations, and an administration reversal on Iraq policy and rhetoric] would this not be getting more play in the media.

So many investigations, so little time… At the rate they’re going, the FBI, Justice Department, and every other law enforcement agency in the country might as well open a Capitol Hill field office.

WASHINGTON – A land deal involving Rep. Rick Renzi, R-Ariz., is being scrutinized by the U.S. attorney’s office in Arizona, a law enforcement official in Washington said Tuesday.

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity while the inquiry is ongoing, said the investigation has been under way for a few months and is still in its very early stages.

The official did not specify what land deal was under investigation.

A spokesman for the Arizona U.S. attorney, Paul Charlton, said he could not confirm or deny an investigation was under way.

Renzi also declined to comment, referring questions to his lawyer, former Arizona Attorney General Grant Woods. The lawyer late Tuesday said Renzi was not aware of any investigation and had not been contacted by the U.S. attorney’s office.

At least one transaction involving Renzi has raised questions in Arizona recently.

Records and officials involved in the October 2005 deal say Renzi helped promote the sale of land that netted a former business partner $4.5 million.

Singing Like a Canary

Posted: October 23, 2006 in Uncategorized

This can’t be good news for people on the periphery or in the thick of the Abramoff investigation.

From US News & World Report:

Jack Abramoff, the lobbying scandal figure, has become such a chatty rat that probe insiders say he’s been given a desk to work at in the FBI. We’re told he spends up to four hours a day detailing his shady business to agents eager to nail more congressmen in the scandal. And when cooperative witnesses spend that much time inside, they get a desk. As a result of his help in the ever expanding investigation, we hear that the Feds hope to keep him in a nearby prison after he’s sentenced on his conspiracy admission.

According to Time magazine, Jane Harman is the most recent lawmaker to have an FBI problem.

Did a Democratic member of Congress improperly enlist the support of a major pro-Israel lobbying group to try to win a top committee assignment? That’s the question at the heart of an ongoing investigation by the FBI and Justice Department prosecutors, who are examining whether Rep. Jane Harman of California and the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) may have violated the law in a scheme to get Harman reappointed as the top Democrat on the House intelligence committee, according to knowledgeable sources in and out of the U.S. government.

The sources tell TIME that the investigation by Justice and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, which has simmered out of sight since about the middle of last year, is examining whether Harman and AIPAC arranged for wealthy supporters to lobby House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi on Harman’s behalf.

Regardless of the validity of the allegations, this should provide the GOP ammunition to offset attacks by Democrats on ethics and investigation issues during the final stretch of the election season.

Quotable

Posted: October 19, 2006 in 2006 Elections, Humor

Matt Stoller at MyDD has one of the funniest and most memorable quotes about a political campaign that I’ve seen this side of Hunter Thompson’s “Fear and Loathing: On the Campaign Trail ’72.” His post-debate analysis is skewed in favor of Lamont, but this line is too good to not quote.

It’s not that Lamont has overperformed, or that Joe has melted down, it’s that Connecticut Election 2006 has gone off the deep end. It’s not your normal white picket fence suburban election, with attack ad facing attack ad. No, this is more like a white picket fence election that suddenly gets bored with life and decides to live in the forest, take a bunch of LSD, trout-fish naked, and taunt a bear cub before ending its life suddenly and with total and inexplicable resolution on November 7.

The Iraq war and occupation has been repeatedly compared to the debacle in Vietnam a generation ago, mainly by critics of the Bush Administration and opponents of the current conflict.

The comparisons received play from two unlikely sources.

President Bush and the Tet Offensive:

Bush Accepts Iraq-Vietnam Comparison
George Stephanopoulos Interviews President Bush on Iraq, the Midterms and His Legacy
By ED O’KEEFE

WASHINGTON, Oct. 18, 2006 — – President Bush said in a one-on-one interview with ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos that a newspaper column comparing the current fighting in Iraq to the 1968 Tet offensive in Vietnam, which was widely seen as the turning point in that war, might be accurate.

Stephanopoulos asked whether the president agreed with the opinion of columnist Tom Friedman, who wrote in The New York Times today that the situation in Iraq may be equivalent to the Tet offensive in Vietnam almost 40 years ago.

“He could be right,” the president said, before adding, “There’s certainly a stepped-up level of violence, and we’re heading into an election.”

“George, my gut tells me that they have all along been trying to inflict enough damage that we’d leave,” Bush said. “And the leaders of al Qaeda have made that very clear. Look, here’s how I view it. First of all, al Qaeda is still very active in Iraq. They are dangerous. They are lethal. They are trying to not only kill American troops, but they’re trying to foment sectarian violence. They believe that if they can create enough chaos, the American people will grow sick and tired of the Iraqi effort and will cause government to withdraw.”

Bush said he could not imagine any circumstances under which all U.S. troops would be withdrawn from Iraq before the end of his presidency.

“You mean every single troop out? No,” he told Stephanopoulos.

Sen. Conrad Burns and the President’s Secret Plan to Win the War:

Burns, however, said the U.S. does need to change its military tactics there. “If we don’t change, we’ll pay a heavy price, but we cannot afford to lose it,” he said.

Tester said that Burns has finally admitted that his “stay the course” position in Iraq is wrong and welcomed the senator to his own side.

For nearly a year, Tester has called on Bush to develop a plan to remove U.S. troops from Iraq. Burns has criticized Tester’s position as “cut and run.”

“We’re in a quagmire over there,” Tester said.

Burns told Tester firmly not to put him in the Democrat’s camp on the issue.

“I said we’ve got to win,” Burns said. “He wants us to pull out. He wants everyone to know our plan. That’s not smart.

“He says our president don’t have a plan. I think he’s got one. He’s not going to tell everyone in the world.”

Many in the crowd, which was dominated by Tester supporters, openly laughed at Burns’ claim that Bush has a plan.

Tester said Bush’s only plan is staying the course in Iraq at considerable sacrifices to U.S. troops and the federal treasury.

“We went in under false pretenses,” Tester said. “We pulled the troops from Afghanistan and put them in Iraq. Osama bin Laden is still running free.”

The war is costing the U.S. billions of dollars a year that could be better spent on helping middle-class families and small businesses, the challenger said.

Tester said he is not for “telling our opponents what we’re going to do. The fact is, we don’t know what we’re going to do.”

Replied Burns: “We’re not going to tell you what our plan is, Jon, because you’re just going to go out and blow it.”

Immediately following the debate, Tester campaign spokesman Matt McKenna likened Burns’ claim of a Bush plan to President Nixon’s secret plan in 1972 to end the war in Vietnam.

The Burns campaign spokesman Jason Klindt, however, said there is no secret plan. President Bush has said from the start that he wants to empower Iraqis to govern their own country.

Republicans should really avoid making any deliberate or inadvertent comparisons of Iraq to Vietnam. Democrats are doing enough of that already and they don’t need any help.

Last night, I mentioned how Alan Schlesinger had emerged as the winner of the first Connecticut Senate debate and how his performance could bolster his support among state conservatives to the detriment of Joe Lieberman’s independent candidacy.

It looks like Schlesinger’s challenge from the right has rattled Lieberman’s cage enough that he endorsed John Bolton’s re-nomination to be confirmed as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.

Lieberman’s position would put him at odds with the other senator from Connecticut, Chris Dodd, who has been one of Bolton’s fiercest critics in the Senate and on the Foreign Relations Committee. This would also put him at odds with the other New England moderate centrist in a tight race this year, Lincoln Chafee, who voted against Bolton earlier this year. It seems to me that both Lieberman and Chafee appear to have taken their divergent positions on Bolton purely out of their own political self-interest in an election year.

Given the unfavorable political narrative shaping up for Republicans before the election, particularly with an increasingly competitive effort to maintain control of the Senate (check out these articles from Time, the New York Times, and the Associated Press from the past few days), Republicans may wind up hedging their bets and pulling out resources from Connecticut to focus on maintaining control of Senate seats held by endangered Republicans like George Allen, Mike DeWine, and Jim Talent. If that happens, Lieberman will truly be on his own, getting attacked from the left and the right during the final weeks of the campaign, with little or no money or ground operation to rally his voters on Election Day.

Update: Following up on the Bolton issue, a visit to the Senate voting record shows that Lieberman voted to uphold a filibuster against the Bolton nomination on two separate occasions. Chafee voted in favor of ending the filibuster on the same two motions.

R.I.P. CBGB’s

Posted: October 17, 2006 in In Memoriam, Music, Pop Culture

Check out this Rolling Stone report from the final performance at CBGB’s.

On that note, watch this epic 3-song, 6-minute performance by the Ramones at CBGB’s.


Gabba Gabba Hey!