As featured on p. 218 of "Bloggers on the Bus," under the name "a MyDD blogger."

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Update on Net Neutrality

Net neutrality, as a resolution for this convention, is in effect dead. The resolution has been referred to the Labor Caucus, and that ruling will stand.

Now there is some good news. Brad Parker, a member of PDA and a staunch supporter of Net Neutrality, is on the Labor Caucus. He has spoken to people on that caucus and people on the Resolutions Committee, and he believes that he can get a strong resolution to the floor by the next convention. So it's a waiting game.

What has not been resolved is the idea that you can refer a resolution to a caucus, which as I said is unprecedented. Parker intends to take it up in the Resolutions Committee happening right now, and if not there then in the Rules Committee. The shenanigans pulled here were unconscionable.

About the impeachment resolution: there is no doubt in my mind that the new substitute language will become one of the top 10 resolutions brought to the floor tomorrow. The Resolutions Committee members would not be able to leave that room if they didn't place it in the top 10.

No word on getting the Audit Committee to a floor vote, I'll check on that.

And the Calitics staff did an exclusive interview with Sen. Christopher Dodd, we should have something on that (with pics) soon.

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Notes from the Convention Floor: Obama, Dodd

The bottom line is this: if Iraq is the only issue in 2008, and it's extremely likely that it will be, then Barack Obama will win the nomination. He is unassailable on the issue, and his rhetoric on it is pitch-perfect. Even though I've seen the "greatest hits" version of his stump speech a couple times before, the Iraq stuff was new, and it was powerful. I agree with hekebelos that "This (election) isn't about the 'same old politics.' We can change the way Washington works, but for hell's sake, this isn't just about how Washington works. It's about reversing evil ideologies."

I was curious to see how the whole Obama idea of "a new kind of politics" would play in a political convention. But people loved it. There is a certain cynicism with the system, and anyone willing to call it out is going to be appreciated. I agree that most of the examples he gives about the smallness of politics are essentially the platform of the Republican Party. He should not be afraid to be a proud Democrat that talks about the change that the party can bring.

But then there are these quotes, which I absolutely loved:

"People who love their country can change it."

"Change always happens from the bottom up."

Obama passed the test for this convention, and his stance on Iraq will serve him well. If there was a straw poll, I think he'd win.

(Confidentially, the presence of John Edwards is embarrassingly low at this event. He's dropping the ball)

Chris Dodd is a nice man, and he thundered in his speech. The media shut off their cameras and moved on. Kinda lame. He gives a good speech, and he is authoritative on talking about foreign policy and domestic issues. I liked the part about him explaining why he joined the Peace Corps, "Because my President told me to."

More in a bit

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Net Neutrality: WTF?

The CDP created a new rule with regard to resolutions in this convention. In order to be able to bring a resolution to a floor vote, it either has to make it through the Resolutions committee or be outright rejected. If it is referred or tabled, it cannot be brought to the floor. This is a brand new rule that nobody anticipated, that was not voted on by the delegates, and that seems, dare I say, undemocratic.

And this is exactly what was done with the Net Neutrality resolution at the convention. Worse, they referred it to the Labor Caucus. Now, there is absolutely no precedent for referring a resolution to a caucus. It's never been done before. There's no mechanism for the Labor Caucus to do anything with it. This was simply a way to push aside the Net Neutrality resolution in order to hope it is forgotten. We in the netroots cannot let this happen. It's antithetical to the notion of democracy and a free & open Internet.

(BTW, this was also done with respect to other resolutions, including impeachment, Iraq, and Iran resolutions put forward by Progressive Democrats of America. I spoke with Marcy Winograd about this earlier, and there will be some fireworks at the next resolutions committee meeting at 5pm PT.)

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Notes from the CDP Convention Floor, morning session

Hi, the morning session was spirited. A few notes:

• Art Torres did an incredibly quick and brief motion to push the agenda of the convention forward, essentially affirming all of the work of the Resolutions Committee. It passed without incident. Now the hard work begind of collecting signatures from the delegates on all the motions that people want to force to the floor. I'm collecting for the Audit Committee, and I think that having the signatures presented is an end in itself. It mandates that the shareholders of this party want some financial accountability and transparency, that they don't want it shunted off to some task force where they can kick the idea down the road. I think it's crucial for structural party reform and ensuring that we reach all districts.

• Hillary's speech was going fine, IMO, until she got to Iraq. Then she lost the crowd (and she had them earlier). It was interesting to see Art Torres and Fabian Nunez shooting daggers with their eyes from the podium at those delegates hissing and shouting about Hillary's Iraq policy, particularly when Nunez motioned to have people ejected from the hall (nobody was AFAIK). Still, I do believe that Hillary was fairly wide support. I can't tell you how many delegates I saw yelling "Impeach Bush! Impeach Cheney!" and then holding up their Hillary signs. I don't think her support is as soft as the netroots think.

• Nonetheless, there were some who affixes "anybody but" stickers to their Hillary signs.

• I didn't go to the press conference, but you can read about it elsewhere. Apparently she showed some knowledge on particular California issues. I would have asked her about the craven deal made on prison "reform."

• Barack Obama speaks at 1:45pm PT.

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Day 1 Update

Conventions are a whirlwind. You promise to do 50 things and you end up doing 5. You meet 200 hundred people and can't remember their name afterwards. You walk more in a day than you would in a week. But ultimately, that little corner of the convention, that little snapshot, is as illuminating as an omniscient bird's-eye view.

The turnout for the Progressive Caucus was amazing. I would guess about 400 delegates and supporters packed one of the biggest rooms in the convention center. I would say that the Progressive Caucus has arrived. It only started two years ago, and now it's the largest caucus in the Party. Assemblyowman Loni Hancock gave a report on her Clean Money bill, AB 583, which passed the Assembly Elections Committee. Mimi Kennedy talked about election protection. Brad Parker gave a stirring speech about the rise of the progressive movement. It was great stuff.

As I said, the Resolutions Committee folded a lot of the more contentious resolutions into some more mealy-mouthed ones. Of particular concern to me is the resolution to form an Audit Committee, so I'll be heading out to gather signatures to bring that one to the floor.

The blograiser was amazing. Unfortunately I spent so much time getting the liveblog up at Daily Kos that I didn't have a ton of time for interaction. But I did get to talk with Charlie Brown for quite a while about Iraq. His son is over there right now flying planes in the Air Force. He talked about how 40% of the officer corps is walking away from the service, how 30% of the Air Force planes have been grounded for wing cracks, essentially how the military has been broken by this conflict and how it'll take years to get the ship righted. Charlie is a great guy. I can also boast that both Brown and Jerry McNerney commented on the live blog from my laptop!

One great thing that stood out is when Todd Stenhouse, Brown's campaign guy, was talking with a couple of us, and said, "I get calls from reporters all the time asking, 'Who's dday, who's juls, who's Land of Enchantment, and why do they keep scooping me?'" LOL. We're just faster is all because we don't have a paper to meet a deadline for.

After the blograiser we headed out to some hospitality suites at the Convention Center. The Young Democrats event was pretty fun.

Highlight image of the convention so far: Dude at breakfast with no shirt, a leather jacket, and two Yoplaits(?).

OK, gotta go...



Friday, April 27, 2007

Friday Random Ten - CDP Convention Edition

While driving down to San Diego (via carpool - I'm green), here are the tunes coming out of the iPod:

All That Glitters - Death In Vegas
The Bunting Song - The Good, The Bad, & The Queen
Sleepless - Soul Coughing
Poisonous - Dilated Peoples
16 Military Wives - The Decemberists
Aqua Boogie (A Pschyoalphadiscobetabioaquadoloop) - Parliament
I Wanna Be Like You - Pizzicato Five
Tas De Tole - Stereo Total
He Can Only Hold Her - Amy Winehouse
In Limbo - Radiohead

Now THAT'S a Random Ten!

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CDP: Bringing Financial Accountability to the Floor

I'm sitting in the Progressive Caucus meeting, and the secretary has just announced that they are not going to be satisfied by allowing the Financial Transparency and Accountability Resolution to be remanded to an ad hoc committee. This is the resolution I mentioned earlier in the week. It would set up a standing Audit Committee that would audit the financial outlays of the Party for effectiveness and efficiency.

Essentially all of the "58-county strategy" bills have been pushed into this ad hoc committee. Well, that's apparently not good enough for the Progressive Caucus.

The caucus is going to gather signatures for this resolution to force it to the floor. This is a big deal, because putting oversight into the process of how the Party spends its money is the only way that we're going to get some real accountability.

The signature gatherers are going to meet at 8:00am at the outdoor ampitheater to start the process. If you want to help, meet there. The goal is to get 1,000 signatures by 5:00pm Saturday, much more than is needed to get the resolution to the floor.

I will be working this effort. It is insanity that we, the "shareholders" of the California Democratic Party, don't get so much as a financial statement. More as it develops.

Also, it's sunny in San Diego. Good times. More later.

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Touchy, Touchy

Wow, the White House is apparently very sensitive about George Tenet's new book. Of course, there's a pattern here. One of the defining characteristics of the Baby Party is how they are hyper-sensitive to any criticism. Whether it's Richard Clarke, Paul O'Neill, John DiIulio, Joseph Wilson, Tenet, or dozens more, they have to respond to these disagreements with dishonest smear tactics and angry tirades. It's a sure sign of an Administration that has something to hide, that they must resort to such divisive measures.

On Tenet, who's simply pushing back against being blamed for 9-11 and no WMDs in Iraq and "slam dunk" in the first place, Dan Bartlett came out of the gate firing this morning:

WASHINGTON - A senior White House counselor on Friday dismissed former CIA Director's George Tenet portrait of a Bush administration that rushed to war in Iraq without serious debate. "The president did wrestle with those very serious questions," Dan Bartlett said.

Asked about Tenet's upcoming book, excerpts of which were reported Friday in The New York Times, Bartlett called the former CIA chief a "true patriot" but suggested he might have been unaware of the breadth of the prewar debate that led Bush to dismiss other options, such as diplomatic means, for reining in Saddam Hussein.

"I've seen meetings, I've listened to the president, both in conversations with other world leaders like (British Prime Minister) Tony Blair as well as internally, where the president did wrestle with those very questions," Bartlett said on NBC's "Today" show. "This president weighed all the various proposals, weighed all the various consequences before he did make a decision."

Yes, it was a studious, deliberative, measured process that Mr. Bush had:

As he marched the nation to war, Bush presented himself as a Christian man of peace who saw war only as a last resort. But in a remarkable though little noted disclosure, Time magazine reported that in March 2002 – a full year before the invasion – Bush outlined his real thinking to three U.S. senators, “Fuck Saddam,” Bush said. “We’re taking him out.”

That's called "weighing the various proposals."

It's not the disingenuousness of the claims, but the hypersensitivity to any criticism whatsoever, that gives away the "tell" of the White House. They now they're wrong, so they come out fighting at the slightest provocation. It's almost sad.

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Subpoena Powerful

Henry Waxman is on a roll. He obtained documents from the White House related to their contract with MZM, the company which bribed Duke Cunningham.

At issue is a $140,000 contract awarded to MZM Inc. in July 2002 by the Executive Office of the President. MZM was run by Mitchell Wade, who is cooperating with federal prosecutors. He pleaded guilty in February 2006 to bribing Rep. Randy “Duke” Cunningham, R-Calif., in exchange for more than $150 million in government contracts for MZM.

Cunningham is serving a prison sentence for taking more than $2.4 million in bribes from defense contractors.

When he requested information about the contract in March, Waxman noted “serious irregularities” with other MZM work and said his inquiry was part of an ongoing investigation into waste, fraud and abuse in government contracting.

Waxman's also getting subpoenas for the RNC and Condi Rice for various investigations. Rice has suggested that she won't honor the subpoena:

The subpoena issued to Rice seeks to force her testimony about the claim that Iraq sought to import uranium from Niger for its nuclear weapons program. President Bush offered that as a key rationale for the war in his 2003 State of the Union address. The subpoena was approved by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee along party lines, 21 to 10. [...]

"A subpoena is not a request; it's a demand for information," said Rep. Henry A. Waxman (D-Calif.), chairman of the House oversight committee that issued the bulk of yesterday's subpoenas. "They ought to understand it's no longer a request, it's no longer an option." [...]

The demand for Rice's testimony would put a spotlight on her role as national security adviser in promoting discredited administration claims that Saddam Hussein was pursuing a nuclear weapons program.

"There was one person in the White House who had primary responsibility to get the intelligence about Iraq right -- and that was Secretary Rice, who was then President Bush's national security adviser," Waxman said. "The American public was misled about the threat posed by Iraq, and this committee is going to do its part to find out why."

Rice, in Oslo for a meeting with NATO foreign ministers, said on Thursday she was not inclined to appear before the committee, saying her advice to the president as National Security Adviser was privileged, the Associated Press reported. She said that she had answered many of the same questions in her confirmation hearings for secretary of state, and said she would respond to this round of inquiry in writing -- but not in person.

Like Waxman said, it's a demand. He's been asking Rice for this information for months, if not years, and she has replied by shoe-shopping. Of course, compelling testimony will result in going to the US Attorney for DC to enforce the subpoena. Whatta Catch-22.

The RNC subpoena concerns the Rovian plot to politicize federal agencies and mobilize them to work for Republican candidates. The Lurita Doan hearing was just the tip of the iceberg.

White House officials conducted 20 private briefings on Republican electoral prospects in the last midterm election for senior officials in at least 15 government agencies covered by federal restrictions on partisan political activity, a White House spokesman and other administration officials said yesterday.

The previously undisclosed briefings were part of what now appears to be a regular effort in which the White House sent senior political officials to brief top appointees in government agencies on which seats Republican candidates might win or lose, and how the election outcomes could affect the success of administration policies, the officials said.

The existence of one such briefing, at the headquarters of the General Services Administration in January, came to light last month, and the Office of Special Counsel began an investigation into whether the officials at the briefing felt coerced into steering federal activities to favor those Republican candidates cited as vulnerable.

All of the information is on the table now. It's just a matter of connecting the dots. Rove's shop was clearly steering federal agencies to aid political candidates. The Justice Department, through its punitive use of investigations, was doing the same thing. Even the topic of Rice's subpoena, the Niger forgeries, were used in a political way, and remember that Rove was part of the White House Iraq Group (WHIG), the group tasked with marketing the war. There only seems like there are a lot of scandals. In fact they're all related. And they tie back to one philosophy: a permanent Republican majority at all costs. It's crashing on the rocks now, and the illegalities used to try and secure it are plain to see.

Stay tuned.

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Take That, Dean of the Washington Press Corps

David Broder, who is the hardest working pundit in America according to Joe Klein, is embarrasingly shown up by the Democratic caucus. Apparently not too "many" of them are ready to dump Reid like Broder ignorantly claimed:

We, the members of the Senate Democratic Caucus, contest the attack on Sen. Harry Reid's leadership by David S. Broder in his April 26 column, "The Democrats' Gonzales."

In contrast to Mr. Broder's insinuations, we believe Mr. Reid is an extraordinary leader who has effectively guided the new Democratic majority through these first few months with skill and aplomb.

The Democratic caucus is diverse, and Mr. Reid has worked tirelessly to make sure that the views of each member are heard and represented. No one ideology dominates the caucus, so that a consensus can be reached and unity achieved. It is hard to imagine a better model for leadership.

Because Mr. Reid has the support of members of the caucus, is a good listener and has an amazing ability to synthesize views and bring people together, the Senate has accomplished a great deal during his time as majority leader. Armed with his years of service in the Senate and with a mastery of procedure, Mr. Reid has led the chamber with a slim majority and a minority that is, at times, determined to stop legislation with which it disagrees.

In the first 100 days alone, we made great strides under his leadership on long-neglected legislation concerning stem cell research, the Sept. 11 commission's recommendations and the minimum wage, to name three. In addition, under Mr. Reid's leadership, we have fulfilled our obligation, left uncompleted by last year's Republican-led Senate, to fund the federal government. He has accomplished all of this in the face of stiff opposition and with a commitment to giving ideas full opportunity for debate.

Finally, in this age of scripted politicians speaking only to their base or claiming that they "don't recall" anything, the fact that Mr. Reid speaks his mind should be applauded, not derided. His brand of straight talk is honest, comes from the heart and speaks directly to the people.

It was signed by every single member of the Democratic caucus in the Senate. Even Broder's BFF Joe Lieberman.

Way to work the show leather on that one, O Dean of the Washington Press Corps. If he's the Dean, the college should be shut down. For leaving too many readers behind.

UPDATE: David Broder is, in fact, a gasbag.

UPDATE II: Beware Darkreid!

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Wave of the Future

I'm going to try and blog a little bit here for leaving for San Diego.

In a generation, this won't be a story anymore, but with New Hampshire's vote for civil unions yesterday, now all of New England has some version of civil unions, domestic partnerships, or gay marriage. And Eliot Spitzer is planning to introduce a gay marriage bill in New York, suggesting that there's movement downward into the states below New England on the issue. Eventually, the law will change as a more tolerant generation grows up. A party that tries to scare its constituents by stoking the fear of the gay is on the wrong side of history. And I'm not surprised to see Eliot Spitzer on the right side, and with the courage to be an early mover. I believe he's a future star of the party.

I'm looking forward to the time when I see a couple headlines like this and think, "So what?"

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Thursday, April 26, 2007

San Diego, Here We Come

I'm going to be heading to San Diego for the annual California Democratic Party convention tomorrow. I ran and won an election to be a delegate, which essentially gets me in to go to the convention, provided I pay dues and registration fees. Ahh, the spoils of victory.

While I'm under no illusions that I can wield anything approaching power immediately within such a large and entrenched system, I am interested in being part of the process and trying to help make the party more relevant and effective. I think a successful Democratic Party in the 21st century stands up for its beliefs, competes everywhere and offers a real contrast to Republican policies that have taken us a great deal backwards over the past 25 years. We can't capitulate on our values, we can't worry about the names that right-wingers will call us, we can't govern by polls or narrow compromises. We have to be bold, we have to call for real transformational change. Because that's what the country and what the people of this state want.

What I'm trying to say is that I probably won't be blogging very much. I'm going to try and bring as much color and flavor for y'all as I possibly can. Nearly all of the Presidential candidates are speaking, as well as many top Democrats statewide. I have certain other duties, like helping get resolutions to the floor, sitting in on caucuses, manning the blogging booth in the exhibit hall, floor votes, etc. And there are events like the Blue House at the Brewhouse" event with Rep. McNerney and Charlie Brown. So my time will be severely limited. But I'll do my best to check in with some updates. And Calitics will have a breadth of coverage.

If you need to know what's going on in the world outside of San Diego, check Carpetbagger. For everything else, stay here.

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Late Night You Tube

With Rick Renzi rumored to be resigning as soon as tomorrow, I finally figured out what he'll be spending his retirement doing:

Renzi must be crossing his fingers that they allow conjugal visits from batshit crazy former Congresswomen in the federal lockup.

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What Debate?

I sort of half-watched the second part of tonight's Democratic debate, and I have to say that the big winner was the webcast, which played flawlessly. The big loser was America, which once again had to suffer through an incomperehensible debate format that gave people one minute - one minute! - to solve pressing questions facing the nation. And no wonder; we have this instant gratification, sitcom culture that demands everything be solved before the commercial break. You could have had 30 less questions, confined the debate to a couple issues, and let the participants actually debate instead of having to rush through an answer because the clock is ticking.

The American people also had to suffer through Brian "I love Rush Limbaugh" Williams, whose questions consistently reinforced right-wing frames and tried to trap the candidates with gotcha statements. "Quick, the US is hit by a terrorist attack, you have 30 seconds, what would you do! What would you do?" Also, any question that begins with "Tom Friedman wrote about you that..." should be immediately met with "Tom Friedman is the biggest hack in punditry, why should I care what he has to say?"

These candidates are big boys and girls, and they can take it. But the country suffers when the questions and the format are seemingly the opposite of what would generate anything informative. I have no idea who won. I don't even know or remember anything I saw. It was like watching some inoffensive teen sex comedy and laughing the whole time and walking out of the theater and immediately wondering what anybody's name was or what the movie was about.

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Sellout on CA Prison Reform

The State Legislature decided to run away from hard choices and add brick and mortar to simply delay our prison crisis without addressing root causes.

Legislative leaders brokered a deal Wednesday to add 53,000 beds to the state's prison and jail systems while increasing rehabilitation opportunities for inmates with added drug treatment, vocational and education programs.

The $7.4 billion agreement to help ease California's severe prison overcrowding contained no provisions for any early releases of inmates.

At the same time, it did not include any changes to the state's parole or sentencing systems. And it drew heavy criticism from the prison system's two largest public employee unions over a provision that would allow the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation to transfer 8,000 inmates out of state in a program now on hold in the appellate courts.

The transferring 8,000 inmates part won't get through the courts. And holding firm on sentencing and parole is lunacy, absolute lunacy. It just means that we'll all be back here in 5 years. Meanwhile construction money will be doled out and more nonviolent offenders will be locked up. And the "increasing rehabilitation opportunities"? Lip service.

What does the proposal by Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez, Senate leader Don Perata, Assembly GOP leader Mike Villines and Senate GOP leader Dick Ackerman say about rehabilitation?

According to some prison advocates, not much. In addition to $7.4 billion in spending to build new jails and prisons, it would allocate just $50 million in the first year on substance abuse, education and mental health services. The system currently has about 170,000 prisoners, and a recidivism rate close to 70%.

That's a crime. This state government won't even fully fund Prop. 36, passed by voters to move drug offenders into treatment centers and not prisons. We have 94 year-old men in walkers who have been rejected for parole six times. And now there's a prison "solution" that is notable only for its cowardice, its refusal to address sentencing guidelines and its big talk on rehabilitation without action. More beds is not the answer; it's embarrassingly obvious.
A couple good Democrats had some sense, but were not backed up by their leaders:

While Republican lawmakers hailed the agreement, enthusiasm was more muted among Democratic lawmakers, many of whom declined to comment. Two sources familiar with a meeting Wednesday evening among Senate Democrats said that state Sen. Gloria Romero, D-Los Angeles, a leading advocate in the Legislature of prison reform, had criticized the plan at the meeting.

State Sen. Carole Migden, D-San Francisco, noted the deal "will mark more growth for the prison industry."

Senate President Pro Tem Don Perata, D-Oakland, said policymakers had no choice but to increase the size of the prison system.

"This is a compromise among bad alternatives," Perata said. "Now we vote and light candles. That's a reference to St. Jude, the patron saint of lost causes."

Are you kidding me? Apparently the Democrats aren't in the majority in Sacramento. I don't know if you were aware of that. But that's what Perata is telling me by this statement.

It's scandalous. The political will to actually fix the prison crisis is nonexistent. This capitulation to try to build our way out of it is fated not to work. I'm disgusted by this absolute spinelessness.

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Miller on Torres' Radar Screen? Torres Coming to the Blue House?

I'm slightly skeptical, but pleased, at Art Torres' answer to this question.

CMR: What is the 58-County Strategy and how is it going to help us be successful in 2008?

AT: Howard Dean and I worked together on the 50-State Strategy when he was running for Chair of the Democratic National Committee. I was part of an effort to make sure he was elected chair because I felt he would be the most progressive and effective chair, which has proven to be right. It’s taken a little time for us here in California to establish a 58-County Strategy, which I announced in December of 2006, and we’re going to be more incremental given the resources that we have available. But the most important priority for me is a Jerry McNerney seat, the Charlie Brown seat – which will be his seat once he defeats Doolittle – and Gary Miller in Southern California. We’re going to reach out to those communities where we can coordinate with counties with the resources we have available for voter registration and finally to make a mark on those counties that were up to this point considered red, that are now purple or turning blue.

I'm willing to give Torres a chance to live up to this. Miller didn't have an opponent in 2006, but if the CDP says they want to devote resources there, let's see it. Same with Brown in CA-04, and to be fair Torres has previously admitted mistakenly not making this a priority last year. What bothers me is that this 58-county strategy is being discussed on the federal electoral level instead of about local and state legislative races; that's where party-building really begins. As a delegate, I want to work with those leaders in the party who talk about reaching out to all counties. I also want to ensure that they actually go about doing it. That's why I'm supporting the creation of an Audit Committee and a resolution expressing support for a 58-county strategy.

CMR: How do you think the emergence of the netroots and the blogger community as a powerful voice has been helpful to the Democratic Party?

AT: I think it’s the healthiest result we could have imagined. That’s why I will be there honoring the bloggers on Friday night in their support of Charlie Brown and Jerry McNerney’s campaigns (at the "Blue House at the Brew House" fundraiser Friday night in San Diego co-hosted by CMR, California Progress Report, Calitics and fellow California bloggers) because the bloggers are important to our effort to get people moving. The bottom line is: whatever positive efforts other groups out there can do independent from us, I applaud.

I'll be happy to see Art and other party leaders at the event, and I hope he'll continue to show support to our efforts to grow the party.

(I also liked how Torres framed Perata's "Out of Iraq" referendum as a way to back the Governor into a corner, and how he consistently weasels out on his actions regardless of his words. We need more of that. I don't really support Perata's bill because it concedes that we'll still be in Iraq in February 2008. But as a way to get Republicans and the governor on the record, I love it. We don't do enough of that in California; holding Republicans responsible for their votes.)

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Senate Passes Iraq Spending Bill

Amen, Atrios:

Well, with almost all Republicans now on record voting in support of permanent war, the only thing which could prevent another big victory for Democrats in '08 is campaign consultants telling their candidates not to run on the war.

And I don't think they're going to do that. So 2008 will see another total collapse of the Republican Party and David Broder's tea party guest list.

The Senate has joined the House in hearing the American people's desire to end our occupation of Iraq. The White House is trying to spin that the 2006 election was a vote for the surge. This is supposed to be the group that is "genius" at marketing.

Oh yeah, and once again, the only constant in 2007 Congressional politics is that John McCain will miss the vote. He did that again today. Courage.

Barack Obama on today's vote:

“We are one signature away from ending the Iraq War. President Bush must listen to the will of the American people and sign this bill so that our troops can come home.”...

“All of us have been touched by the heroic sacrifices troops have made in service to our country. With the stroke of a pen, President Bush can bring them home to the families who love them and to a country ready to give honor them for their service.”


"Today, the Senate passed a bill that would fund the war in Iraq while bringing the conflict to a close. Both Houses of Congress have now given voice to the will of the American people that we must end the war in Iraq. The President has said he will veto this legislation, which will defy the American people and deny our troops the funding they need. The President will be the one blocking support for our troops, not Congress. If the President does proceed on this stubborn path, Congress must not back down in a false game of chicken. They should send the same bill back to the President -- and should do this again and again, as many times as it takes for him to understand that the American people are right and the war must be brought to an end."

But the President will continue to hold the troops hostage.

It should be great fun seeing the Republicans try to squirm out of this one. And also greatly sad, because they're enabling the continued slaughter of a great many people.

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Buying the War

I just took an hour and a half out of my bloggy day to watch Bill Moyers' devastating critique of the media and their failure to do their job in the run-up of the Iraq war. The program, "Buying the War," is available for viewing on the Web.

Much of it is familiar to those who have been paying attention; the marketing of the war, the prominence of war supporters on cable news, the silencing of dissenting voices, the self-censorship, the uncritical stenography of whatever people like Ahmad Chalabi and his defectors had to say, the need to "balance" stories without regard for the truth, the success that pundits who got it totally wrong on the war have had, how the White House would leak stories to the media and then quote those same stories to back up their claims, and on and on. One thing that was new to me was the dogged and determined work by Knight-Ridder (now McClatchy) reporters Jonathan Landay and Warren Strobel, who weren't part of the Beltway cocktail party circuit, and thus reported the facts, which were at variance with the Administration's claims.

This program is a document, one that should be watched upon entry into journalism school, one that should be part of the orientation program at every newspaper and cable news outlet across the country. And yet it probably won't be. As Glenn Greenwald writes, with piercing intelligence:

Just consider that, as Moyers notes, there has been no examination by any television news network of the role played by the American media in enabling the Bush administration and its warmonger propagandists to disseminate pure falsehoods to the American public. People like Eric Boehlert have written books about it, and Moyers has now produced a comprehensive PBS program documenting it. But the national media outlets themselves have virtually ignored this entire story -- arguably the most significant political story of the last decade -- because they do not think there is any story here at all.

The fraud that was manufactured by our government officials and endorsed by our media establishment is one of the great political crimes of the last many decades. Yet those who are responsible for it have not been held accountable in the slightest. Quite the contrary, their media prominence -- as Moyers demonstrates -- has only increased, as culpable propagandists and warmongers such as Charles Krauthammer (now of Time and The Washington Post), Bill Kristol (now of Time), Jonah Goldberg (now of The Los Angeles Times, Peter Beinert (now of Time and The Washington Post), and Tom Friedman (revered by media stars everywhere) have all seen their profiles enhanced greatly in our national media.
And while Judy Miller became the scapegoat for the media's failures, most of the media stars responsible for the worst journalistic abuses -- from Michael Gordon to Tim Russert to Fred Hiatt to most of The Washington Post, to say nothing of the Fox stars and cogs of the right-wing noise machine -- continue merrily along as before, with virtually no recognition of fault and no reduction in their platforms.

This remains a tremendous problem for the American media the next time somebody in the White House ramps up the war machine. In a sense, this documentary is a blueprint for how to play the media to your own ends. They've fallen for it before and are unrepentant. They'll most likely fall for it again.

Thank you, Bill Moyers.

UPDATE: Digby's right, this was completely ridiculous:

BILL MOYERS: Was it just a coincidence in your mind that Cheney came on your show and others went on the other Sunday shows, the very morning that that story appeared?

TIM RUSSERT: I don't know. The NEW YORK TIMES is a better judge of that than I am.

BILL MOYERS: No one tipped you that it was going to happen?

TIM RUSSERT: No, no. I mean-

BILL MOYERS: The-- the Cheney-- office didn't make any-- didn't leak to you that there's gonna be a big story?

TIM RUSSERT: No. No. I mean, I don't-- I don't have the-- this is, you know, on MEET THE PRESS, people come on and there are no ground rules. We can ask any question we want. I did not know about the aluminum-tube story until I read it in the NEW YORK TIMES.

BILL MOYERS: Critics point to September eight, 2002 and to your show in particular, as the classic case of how the press and the government became inseparable.

Someone in the administration plants a dramatic story in the NEW YORK TIMES And then the Vice President comes on your show and points to the NEW YORK TIMES. It's a circular, self-confirming leak.

TIM RUSSERT: I don't know how Judith Miller and Michael Gordon reported that story, who their sources were. It was a front-page story of the NEW YORK TIMES. When Secretary Rice and Vice President Cheney and others came up that Sunday morning on all the Sunday shows, they did exactly that.

TIM RUSSERT: What my concern was, is that there were concerns expressed by other government officials. And to this day, I wish my phone had rung, or I had access to them.

But lest you think that Russert is some sort of prima donna who waits for the phone to ring, he later said:

TIM RUSSERT: I-- look, I'm a blue-collar guy from Buffalo. I know who my sources are. I work 'em very hard. It's the mid-level people that tell you the truth. Now-

BILL MOYERS: They're the ones who know the story?

TIM RUSSERT: Well, they're working on the problem. And they understand the detail much better than a lotta the so-called policy makers and-- and-- and political officials.

BILL MOYERS: But they don't get on the Sunday talk shows--

TIM RUSSERT: No. You-- I mean-- they don't want to be, trust me. I mean, they can lose their jobs, and they know it. But they're-- they can provide information which can help in me challenging or trying to draw out-- sometimes their bosses and other public officials.

Tim Russert works his sources by waiting by the phone until it rings.

He's a regular newshound, he is.

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Rice a Renzi II

Our latest contestant in the Culture of Corruption sweepstakes took a $200,000 gift from a business partner without disclosing it.

The word on the street is he's gone by Friday.

I can't wait for ABC to come out with "Battle of the Culture of Corruption Stars," where Duke Cunningham, Bob Ney, Tom DeLay, Renzi, John Doolittle, Gary Miller, Tom Feeney, Jerry Lewis, Curt Weldon and more run obstacle courses and play tug-o-war for charity. It'll be broadcast live to federal prisons on closed-circuit TV.

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The Favor

I agree with JMM that George Bush is a gift for Osama bin Laden, and that if we want real change in the White House in 2008 it'd be good to talk in those terms.

Democrats should just hit right back on how President Bush has been helping Osama bin Laden for almost six years. Sounds harsh. But it’s true. Consider the facts. President Bush had bin Laden trapped in the mountains of Tora Bora. But he let bin Laden get away because Bush wanted to focus on Saddam Hussein instead. The president and the White House tried to lie about this during the 2004 election. But since then the evidence has become overwhelming. President Bush decided to let bin Laden get away so he could get ready to attack Saddam Hussein. So pretty much anything bin Laden does from here on out is on President Bush. And how about Iraq? President Bush has screwed things up so badly that he’s created a whole new generation of recruits for bin Laden. He’s created a whole new army for bin Laden. Not by being tough but by being stupid. And by being too much of a coward to admit his mistakes once it was obvious that the occupation of Iraq was helping bin Laden specifically and the jihadist agenda in general.

After half a decade, the verdict is pretty clear: President Bush has been the biggest ally Osama bin Laden has. He’s helped bin Laden at pretty much every turn — even if only by his own stupidity, incompetence and cowardice. And when the next big terrorist attack comes, we can thank President Bush for helping make it happen.

Indeed, bin Laden is alive and well; he may have planned the attack in Afghanistan at the base where Dick Cheney was staying a couple months ago. His movement can now operate independently of him as well, and the Iraq war has become a jihadist training ground. It's incredibly clear that George Bush is a great favor to Osama.

And now the top Republican candidates like Rudy Giuliani want to use this gift-giving as a model. If the Democrats are interested in winning they will tie all of these Republican candidates to the anvil that is George Bush's foreign policy, which has been completely discredited.

UPDATE: Even Karl Rove admits this, by the way, when he says that Iraq was bin Laden's idea. He doesn't know how right he is.

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There are a few hints out there that the Bush Administration is looking to get out of the way of its own belligerent rhetoric with respect to Iran. Perhaps Bob Gates or the uniformed military have just shut down all other options, and now they have to go to Tehran hat in hand. But the signs are there.

Apparently back-channel negotiations have been heating up.

Using Switzerland as an intermediary, American and Iranian officials have exchanged diplomatic messages on a variety of nuts-and-bolts subjects, including the fate of a U.S. citizen missing in Iran, the future of five Iranian operatives whom American forces seized in Iraq, and old financial and property disputes.

The contacts amount to a shift for the White House, which rebuffed an Iranian offer of wide-ranging talks on Iran's nuclear program, Middle East peace and direct relations after the March 2003 U.S.-led invasion of Iraq. Instead of engaging Iran, the White House largely shut down the Swiss channel, which both countries use in the absence of formal diplomatic relations.

"There's no doubt there's more willingness to talk now than there was a few years ago," one State Department official said.

And the President is typically incoherent here, but he does suggest that direct talks with Iran may happen at this week's meeting in Egypt of Iraq's neighbors.

This is a hopeful sign, more likely an acknowledgement that President 28% cannot start War #3 right now. But I want to know what happens when word gets out in Wingnut Wonderland that we've been talking to the Iranians!!! Iranians!!!1!! Betrayal!!!1!

The whole "with us or against us" thing has bred little authoritarians in this country, and that genie won't go back in the bottle.

UPDATE: Another sign was that we were begging Iran to come to the Iraq talks this week. All of our tough rhetoric on Iran has made it harder to do this diplomacy now, and put us in a terrible bargaining position, which is a shame.

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Save Me From The Stupid

I stopped seeking out the Washington Post editorial page long ago, and today's back-to-back efforts by Dean Broder and Joe Lieberman ensure that I'll never go back. They are both a compendium of half-truths, faulty asumptions, false equivalences and shoddy reasoning that represent the apotheosis of "inside the Beltway" groupthink that is divorced from reality.

Get this, Broder thinks Harry Reid is just like Alberto Gonzales because he says things the American people believe:

Here's a Washington political riddle where you fill in the blanks: As Alberto Gonzales is to the Republicans, Blank Blank is to the Democrats -- a continuing embarrassment thanks to his amateurish performance.

If you answered " Harry Reid," give yourself an A. And join the long list of senators of both parties who are ready for these two springtime exhibitions of ineptitude to end.

Reid is in the same sphere as Gonzales, see, because he called Alan Greenspan a political hack and Broder's friends with Greenspan's wife Andrea Mitchell. And Reid called the President a loser. And he said the war is lost.

Such shocking words! They pierce the very soul!

Never mind the fact that the American people, those rabble, think the war is lost too.

Never mind that a solid majority want clear deadlines like the Democrats under Reid have proposed. Never mind that only 22% see the country on the right track, the lowest number since October 1992.

Reid committed a Washington gaffe: he told the truth. Something that this Administration is incapable of doing, and something that fossils like David Broder are incapable of perceiving. I mean, look at the blithe stupidity in this line:

Given the way the Constitution divides warmaking power between the president, as commander in chief, and Congress, as sole source of funds to support the armed services, it is essential that at some point Reid and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi be able to negotiate with the White House to determine the course America will follow until a new president takes office.

Oh, you mean the White House negotiates? Their version of negotiation is "give me everything I want and shut up." And everybody knows this except David Broder. And him perpetuating this myth of negotiation will pressure the kind of Democrats that think the Beltway chatter is wisdom into capitulation. So Broder is actually extending our stay in Iraq with this ridiculous comments.

As is Joe Lieberman, both with his votes and his deliberate ignorance.

What is needed in Iraq policy is not overheated rhetoric but a sober assessment of the progress we have made and the challenges we still face.

In the two months since Petraeus took command, the United States and its Iraqi allies have made encouraging progress on two problems that once seemed intractable: tamping down the Shiite-led sectarian violence that paralyzed Baghdad until recently and consolidating support from Iraqi Sunnis -- particularly in Anbar, a province dismissed just a few months ago as hopelessly mired in insurgency.

This progress is real, but it is still preliminary.

This is head-in-the-sand logic. Apparently the so-called "drop" in violence in Iraq is entirely due to a clerical recalibration:

WASHINGTON - U.S. officials who say there has been a dramatic drop in sectarian violence in Iraq since President Bush began sending more American troops into Baghdad aren't counting one of the main killers of Iraqi civilians.

Car bombs and other explosive devices have killed thousands of Iraqis in the past three years, but the administration doesn't include them in the casualty counts it has been citing as evidence that the surge of additional U.S. forces is beginning to defuse tensions between Shiite and Sunni Muslims.

President Bush explained why in a television interview on Tuesday. "If the standard of success is no car bombings or suicide bombings, we have just handed those who commit suicide bombings a huge victory," he told TV interviewer Charlie Rose.

Now, that takes Newspeak to a new level. "If we just act like suicide bombings don't exist, they won't!" It's just like this Administration to change how bodies are counted to prove that they're winning. And it's just like a warmongering dullard like Joe Lieberman to accept these claims at face value. And he extends this into deciding that the war in Iraq is a war against al-Qaeda, which is a complete misread:

The suicide bombings we see now in Iraq are an attempt to reverse these gains: a deliberate, calculated counteroffensive led foremost by al-Qaeda, the same network of Islamist extremists that perpetrated catastrophic attacks in Kenya, Indonesia, Turkey and, yes, New York and Washington.

Indeed, to the extent that last week's bloodshed clarified anything, it is that the battle of Baghdad is increasingly a battle against al-Qaeda. Whether we like it or not, al-Qaeda views the Iraqi capital as a central front of its war against us.

Al-Qaeda's strategy for victory in Iraq is clear. It is trying to kill as many innocent people as possible in the hope of reigniting Shiite sectarian violence and terrorizing the Sunnis into submission [...]

When politicians here declare that Iraq is "lost" in reaction to al-Qaeda's terrorist attacks and demand timetables for withdrawal, they are doing exactly what al-Qaeda hopes they will do, although I know that is not their intent.

That's simply not true. The number of foreign fighters in Iraq are miniscule, and the violence is part of a civil war. If you can't see the reality of WHAT we're fighting in Iraq, you're bound to be dishonest about WHY we're fighting.

The House OK'd the conference bill on Iraq funding last night, and the Senate plans to do so today. It's not perfect, and the President would be smart to not veto it because it gives him most of what he wants. But veto he will because he sees it as usurping his supreme authority. That's a totalitarian mindset, and both Lieberman and Broder display this tyrannical groupthink in their columns today. They are the worst kind of idiots, useful to the party in power (in fact, in thrall to it) but useless as thinking entities.

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Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Edwards Leading, Calls on Rove To Resign

Just got this from the Edwards campaign:

Karl Rove’s shameless attempts to twist the federal government for partisan gain have simply gone too far. Rove is now clearly at the heart of the political firing and replacement of U.S. Attorneys warping the impartial execution of justice that all Americans depend on—and that’s just the beginning. We need to take a stand right now to defend the integrity of our government and our democracy—Karl Rove must be fired.

John Edwards will sound this call Thursday evening during the first presidential debate, and we want to show that when that happens, he’s speaking for thousands.

It's one thing to do a petition (which is here), it's another to use the biggest campaign platform to date, the first primary debate, to make the call. You have to be impessed with Edwards' leadership and his ability to take strong stands.

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Rice a Renzi

Last night I mentioned that Rick Renzi's office was calling US Attorney Paul Charlton about a pending investigation into his conduct, and shortly thereafter Charlton was fired. Now we learn that Main Justice was obstructing the Renzi investigation:

As midterm elections approached last November, federal investigators in Arizona faced unexpected obstacles in getting needed Justice Department approvals to advance a corruption investigation of Republican Rep. Rick Renzi, people close to the case said.

The delays, which postponed key approvals in the case until after the election, raise new questions about whether Attorney General Alberto Gonzales or other officials may have weighed political issues in some investigations [...]

Investigators pursuing the Renzi case had been seeking clearance from senior Justice Department officials on search warrants, subpoenas and other legal tools for a year before the election, people close to the case said [...]

Sen. Charles Schumer (D., N.Y.), a Judiciary Committee member who has called for Mr. Gonzales's resignation, said his panel is planning to pursue whether the Renzi case was a factor in Mr. Charlton's firing. "I'm not saying there's evidence and I'm not making allegations," Mr. Schumer told reporters Monday. "But it's something we should look into."

OK, I'll say it for you, Chuck. The Justice Department did everything they could to slow down the Renzi investigation until after he was re-elected. Given everything else we know about politicization at the DoJ, this is increasingly likely.

The Renzi case is complicated, a shady land deal routed through his family business. What is not complicated is that Main Justice had the power to authorize wiretaps, subpoenaes and other elements of the investigation, and they dragged their feet. Here's Paul Kiel:

There's another revelation in the piece: that investigators had lobbied Washington for clearance to tap Renzi's phone for months. That clearance was only given in October of last year. And unfortunately for the investigators, word broke of the investigation in late October -- disrupting their wiretap [...]

All this raises a question. The bosses at main Justice seem to have been similarly reluctant to proceed with regard to the Duke Cunningham probe. As TPM reported a couple of weeks ago, U.S. Attorney for San Diego Carol Lam had to wait sometimes for months for clearance on certain moves in her investigation. So is there a pattern here?

I'd say so.

UPDATE: Interesting speculation by Josh Marshall suggesting that the recent developments in various corruption cases may be because Alberto Gonzales is trying to prove that he's going after corruption on multiple fronts in an effort to save his job. Could be. This Renzi episode certainly shows that Main Justice has the power to turn the spigot on and off. In addition, the resignations of filters like Kyle Sampson and Monica Goodling, as well as other top officials just sweating it out, may be making it easier for the career lawyers there to operate.

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State Assembly: Californians Should Be Allowed To Use Their Own Healthcare

The Nunez health reform measure made it out of an Assembly Committee today, but I'm more interested in this other bill that Randy Bayne discusses:


In a victory for consumers Tuesday, the Health Committee also passed AB1324 (De La Torre), which re-states and re-emphasizes California’s law prohibiting health insurers for canceling coverage consumers if they turn out to be sick.

The bill comes about after several high profile cases in which several insurers such as Blue Cross of California rescinded coverage – retroactively – from policyholders after expensive claims were made. Consumers were left with hundreds of thousands of dollars in bills after the insurer refused to pay the bills incurred during the time patients believed they were insured. Blue Cross alleges that the patients knowingly lied about their health status on their applications for coverage, triggering the cancellation.

The question I have is was would be the enforcement mechanism. Blue Cross has already been doing this in violation of the law, and yet the fine they received was a paltry $1 million dollars (I believe it was handed down by Assemblymember Dr. Evil, who thought it was a lot of money). the text of the bill does not address enforcement satisfactorily or really at all.

I wonder why nobody has restarted the "three strikes law for corporations" debate, and it seems like the Blue Cross case would be a perfect linchpin to do so. When you have a company that is so flagrantly breaking the law, the state should reserve the right to revoke its charter to do business. Of course the Chamber of Commerce and the bought-and-paid-for Republicans would fearmonger that businesses would fly out of the state, but essentially they're arguing that companies should have a right to break the law repeatedly. Somebody has to draw a line.

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Fear Strikes Out

Rudy Giuliani cranks up the rickety old Republican fear machine:

Rudy Giuliani said if a Democrat is elected president in 2008, America will be at risk for another terrorist attack on the scale of Sept. 11, 2001. But if a Republican is elected, he said, especially if it is him, terrorist attacks can be anticipated and stopped.

“If any Republican is elected president — and I think obviously I would be the best at this — we will remain on offense and will anticipate what [the terrorists] will do and try to stop them before they do it,” Giuliani said. […]

“I listen a little to the Democrats and if one of them gets elected, we are going on defense,” Giuliani continued. “We will wave the white flag on Iraq. We will cut back on the Patriot Act, electronic surveillance, interrogation and we will be back to our pre-Sept. 11 attitude of defense.”

This is pretty much the exact same quote Dick Cheney made in 2004 about John Kerry.

By the way, who was in the White House when "we were attacked" on 9-11? And who was the mayor of New York City?

Fear's really the only thing that the Republicans have right now. They can't run on a record. They can't run on any vision for America. They can't run on anything but "booga-booga." And I for one am not afraid of any of these attacks anymore. I refuse to be scared and cowered, and I think the American people feel the same way.

I'm now hoping that McCain, Giuliani and Romney get cybernetically combined into one big uber-candidate, because it would be so rich to defeat any one of them, and it'd be so fun watching them blow up a Presidential campaign. It's telling how sad the state of the Republican Party is that their most fearsome potential candidate is currently starring on Law and Order.

UPDATE: Great response by John Edwards:

"Rudy Giuliani's suggestion that there is some superior 'Republican' way to fight terrorism is both divisive and plain wrong. He knows better. That's not the kind of leadership he offered in the days immediately after 9/11, and it's not the kind of leadership any American should be offering now.

"As far as the facts are concerned, the current Republican administration led us into a war in Iraq that has made us less safe and undermined the fight against al Qaeda. If that's the 'Republican' way to fight terror, Giuliani should know that the American people are looking for a better plan. That's just one more reason why this election is so important; we need to elect a Democratic president who will end the disastrous diversion of the war in Iraq."

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What Real Accountability Looks Like

There's been a lot of chatter at the other site where I post, Calitics, about what resolutions to support at the CDP Convention this wekeend(incidentally, the Resolutions Committee will only allow about 10 to get to the floor, and unless you get a buttload of signatures, that's all that will be voted upon, so choose wisely). I'm going to make a plea for one that would actually change the way that the Party conducts its business. I don't think there can be any more important a proposal, one that would demand accountability from the CDP and move us on a course to a 58-county strategy, than the resolution to form a standing Audit Committee through a change in CDP Bylaws.

What we've been talking about these past couple days is how the CDP can best allocate its resources to give Democrats in the state the best opportunity to succeed. Any business dealing with such massive asset allocation would consider it a duty to check the books every once in a while and see how things are going.

Right now the CDP does not really do this. A seat on the Finance Committee is pretty much closed unless you are a major donor, can pull in major donors, or you promise your first-born son to the Chair. And the accountability for the decision-making on what candidates to support or to not support is practically non-existent. We know that $4 million dollars left over from the last campaign was magically transferred to Fabian Nunez' account for Assembly caucus work (some would say services rendered from AT&T). That money should not have been available at the end of an election season. Yet there is no transparency in the process. This is why there needs to be a change in the bylaws to allow an Audit Committee.

In a very smart and studied explanation of how this would work, the authors of the proposal state:

An audit committee is an operating committee whose members are normally independent of the management of the organization and/or drawn from outside directors. Audit committees are formed to assist the management of an organization by providing an independent review of the effectiveness of the organization’s financial reporting process and internal control system(s). Responsibilities of an audit committee typically include:

Overseeing the financial reporting process.
Monitoring choice of accounting policies and principles.
Monitoring internal control process.
Overseeing hiring and performance of the external auditors.

This essentially would act as a financial oversight committee that could make recommendations on how to best allocate resources. They would also ensure that the "financial statements" of the CDP meet with the approval of all of the "shareholders," in other words, us.

The California Democratic Party (CDP), a dues membership organization, directs the expenditure of tens of millions of dollars each election cycle, most of which is subject to compliance guidelines governed by the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002 (BCRA). The CDP commissions a bi-annual internal audit and an annual audit. Information regarding distribution of the auditor’s reports has not been disclosed to the general Party membership. Under the Nonprofit Integrity Act (SB1262), the annual audit of non-profit organizations required to register with the California Attorney General’s registry of charitable trusts must be made available within 24 hours to any member of the public who requests it. Although the CDP is not subject to that requirement, accountability to its donors would be served by adhering to the same standards for other organizations which raise their funds primarily from donors. The CDP’s auditor has reportedly been retained in his current capacity for nearly ten years. Most organizations change auditors every five years. Best practices, along with SB 1262 requires an audit committee for organizations with annual revenue of over $2 million, and the CDP certainly meets that criterion.

As for whether a resolution is in order, it would actually entail changing the CDP Bylaws. If enacted, an Audit Committee would be formed, just as we have a Rules Committee, Platform Committee, et al.

Here's what else I like about it: the Audit Committee would ensure regional diversity.

To ensure the Audit Committee’s continuity from term to term, the Audit Committee should have as many members as there are regions (21), with terms both staggered and elected. The first election would be for all regions; half of those elected serving for four years and the other half for two years). Three subcommittees would be formed: Finance, Performance and Compliance, with seven members each, respectively:

The Financial Audits Sub-Committee – would deal strictly with financial matters (allocations and expenditures)

The Performance Audits Sub-Committee – would deal strictly with the Party’s performance to assess whether it is achieving economy, efficiency and effectiveness in the employment of its available resources.

The Compliance Audits Sub-Committee – would deal strictly with legal reporting matters and responding to published laws and regulatory agency requests.

We should not have to hear about $4 million dollar expenditures in the newspapers. We should not have an unaccountable system where money flows to various people for inscrutable reasons. We, as Democrats, deserve to have an independent board auditing the CDP, to ensure accountability and efficiency. And once that happens, more money can be freed up for the kind of year-round blanket organizing that you need in order to make this Party grow throughout the state.

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Goodling's In

It's annoying that they had to give her immunity, but it looks like Monica Goodling will testify to the House Judiciary Committee, although when is another matter:

Update: It is likely to be weeks before the committee actually gets to interview Goodling. That's because the law requires that the Justice Department be allowed an opportunity to provide its views on immunity -- i.e. whether it might interfere with an existing or possible investigation. If the DoJ objects to giving Goodling immunity, then the committee would be forced to consider whether to defer or delay conferring immunity. And regardless of what the DoJ says, the local federal court has to approve giving Goodling immunity. All this is likely to take several weeks.

Got that? The Justice Department gets to decide on whether Goodling should be granted immunity, which is the only way she'll testify. So her testimony is in the DoJ's hands.

Is there any way we can get the entire Main Justice to recuse themselves for the rest of Bush's term? Because there's a clear conflict of interest.

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Comedy Central: The Most Trusted Name In News

I agree that Jon Stewart gave a pretty amazing performance with John McCain last night, rebuffing his lies about Iraq with truth and honesty. But I want to highlight one thing that happened as they went to commercial. Stewart said something or other perceptive that drew cheers from the audience, and as usual he mock-sheepishly apologized to McCain for it. McCain said dismissively, "I think I know who's side they're on"

And Stewart snapped back, "They're on America's side, because they're patriots."

This was a spectacular moment. McCain, like any Baby Party Republican, dismisses legitimate criticism as being necessarily partisan, as if no disagreement can come from principle, as if they could never possibly be wrong. The idea that your rhetorical opponent is on the "other side" and wants the country to fail is the worst thing we've received from this Bush Administration. I expect them to argue with be about what's best for the country; it's offensive that they think they're the only ones who know what's best. It's "you're with us or you're with the terrorists" writ large. It's simplistic bullshit, and Stewart was right to call him out for it.

Here's the video if you want to see and savor.

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Bloggy Golightly

Won't be near a computer much of the day, perhaps I'll try to check in later.

For now, enjoy the courage of John McCain, who gave a major speech highlighting global warming as a national security issue and then hired the foremost global warming denier to creaft his policy.


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Tuesday, April 24, 2007

So when's NASA building the moving van?

Looks like we may have found another place to crash for a while.

For the first time astronomers have discovered a planet outside our solar system that is potentially habitable, with Earth-like temperatures, a find researchers described Tuesday as a big step in the search for "life in the universe."

The planet is just the right size, might have water in liquid form, and in galactic terms is relatively nearby at 120 trillion miles away. But the star it closely orbits, known as a "red dwarf," is much smaller, dimmer and cooler than our sun.

Dimmer than the sun? Global cooling! Sweet!

The way I see it, we've got about 30 years or so before we have to check out of the Hotel Earth (and not pick up our security deposit because we trashed the place). So get movin' on that U-Haul shuttle, NASA! And don't forget to build in a Mom's Attic, that comes in handy!

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How Many More Times?

We have ANOTHER case of a legislator calling up a US Attorney about an ongoing investigation, with said US Attorney magically turning up fired shortly thereafter.

This time it's Rep. Rick Renzi, who as you might remember had his business office searched by the FBI last week. After a day in which Renzi resigned his committee posts and asked to be removed from the House GOP's incumbency protection program, we get this story from the AP that shows Renzi called Paul Charlton about the imminent investigation into his corrupt dealings.

Even as he insisted that he had been "the subject of leaked stories, conjecture and false attacks" about a 2005 land exchange, Renzi became entangled in the U.S. attorneys probe when his chief of staff acknowledged calling Arizona's prosecutor's office to discuss the matter.

The prosecutor, Paul Charlton, was one of the eight prosecutors fired by the Justice Department over the winter.

Brian Murray, Renzi's top aide, issued a statement late Tuesday acknowledging that shortly after the local media reported that the congressmen was being investigated, he called Charlton spokesman Wyn Hornbuckle.

"I called Mr. Hornbuckle seeking information about press accounts which appeared just weeks before Election Day alleging a pending indictment," Murray said in a statement. "I left him a message asking for information about these allegations, but I was called back and told they would not comment."

Apparently Charlton just spilled the beans on this to the House Judiciary Committee, so Renzi's people had to come forward. Unlike David Iglesias' call from Sen. Domenici and Rep. Heather Wilson, Charlton reported this call to the Justice Department as per guidelines. Funny how THAT never came up in any of their testimony or document dumps, isn't it?

Just so we understand what Renzi is alleged to have done here, this is the lowdown from the AP article:

According to state records and officials involved in the land deal, Renzi helped promote the sale of land that netted his former business partner, James Sandlin, $4.5 million.

The property eventually was to be part of a swap in which potential buyers could exchange it for land owned by the federal government. Such deals are common in the West, where the government owns vast tracts. Renzi had said he wanted to prevent encroaching development near the Fort Huachuca Army post and to protect the environmentally threatened San Pedro River.

But Renzi never introduced legislation in Congress to complete the swap for the new owners.

We already had an inkling that Charlton was fired because of what he was doing with the Renzi investigation. Now we know that Renzi's aide called Charlton - and though Charlton reported the call, the DoJ never reported this in the voluminous amount of testimony and documents.

Forget Gonzales, the entire senior staff of the Justice Department should be fired.

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Laughing At Darth Cheney

Not even Joe Klein bothers to take this guy seriously anymore. He does a grade-A snarky translation of what Cheney said in his little press availability today and what he meant.

The preferred response, really the only response to Dick Cheney, to anything he says, should not be offense or anger but laughter. He is a comical figure who's on an unbroken "I'm wrong and I'm lying" streak for six years. Anyone who takes him seriously ought to get real. Nobody in the country listens to a word he says.

CNN might want to heed that before running headlines that say "Cheney attacks defeatist Dem plan." Thanks for the editorial comment there, most trusted name in news.

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Obama on Foreign Policy

I did appreciate Barack Obama's foreign policy speech (full transcript at the link) he gave yesterday, which shouldn't surprise me because the great Samantha Power is one of his top foreign policy advisors. I do agree that America has a responsibility to use its power in a hopeful. It's the manner in which we use it that matters. And who could argue with this:

We now know how badly this Administration squandered that opportunity. In 2002, I stated my opposition to the war in Iraq, not only because it was an unnecessary diversion from the struggle against the terrorists who attacked us on September 11th, but also because it was based on a fundamental misunderstanding of the threats that 9/11 brought to light. I believed then, and believe now, that it was based on old ideologies and outdated strategies – a determination to fight a 21st century struggle with a 20th century mindset.

Washington always seems to fight the last war, whether it's Republicans or Democrats. Invading a country that had nothing to do with 9-11 to impose democracy into a troubled region, as if a reverse domino effect would happen and democratic regimes would just bust out all over. Al Qaeda is not the Soviet Union. Invasions and spheres of influence (like the world is some Risk board) is not going to properly protect the nation. Here's what will:

We must lead by building a 21st century military to ensure the security of our people and advance the security of all people. We must lead by marshalling a global effort to stop the spread of the world’s most dangerous weapons. We must lead by building and strengthening the partnerships and alliances necessary to meet our common challenges and defeat our common threats.

And America must lead by reaching out to all those living disconnected lives of despair in the world’s forgotten corners – because while there will always be those who succumb to hate and strap bombs to their bodies, there are millions more who want to take another path – who want our beacon of hope to shine its light their way.

It wasn't that I ever had a problem with the soaring rhetoric of Bush's democracy promotion scheme, it's that I knew it was just a boondoggle, empty rhetoric that would be greeted with bombing and belligerence instead of hope and opportunity. A foreign policy based on nuclear nonproliferation, on strengthening alliances, and on eradicating global poverty is a great foundation.

It's a good speech, and we know that one thing Barack can do is give good speech. But it also sets a hopeful vision for the future, one where regional cooperation and lifting the disadvantaged up and helping stop the effects of global warming is as important to our national security as planes and missiles and battalions are. I am still undecided, but I have no doubt that Obama would pursue these goals and make a fine President. Certainly there'd be no comparison to the one we have now.

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Wikipedia Brown


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The March of the Loyal Bushies

A couple days ago Josh Marshall put up a cryptic post asking everyone to think about the name Bradley J. Schlozman. Far from just because of the fact that it's a hilarious name, he also happens to be the US Attorney for Western Missouri, appointed in March of 2006, just a few days after the Patriot Act provision was enacted allowing US Attorneys to avoid Senate confirmation.

Today we have news of what Schlozman has been up to in the USA office, and how he has politicized his position on a number of occasions.

Here's Schlozman's bio:

Bradley J. Schlozman was appointed to serve as the United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri under an Attorney General Appointment on March 23, 2006.

Prior to assuming his current post, Mr. Schlozman served as the Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division at the United States Department of Justice. In this capacity, Mr. Schlozman supervised all activities of the Civil Rights Division, which is comprised of over 700 employees, including 356 attorneys. The Civil Rights Division is responsible for enforcing federal civil rights statutes, including those statutes that prohibit discrimination on the basis of race, sex, disability, religion, and national origin in education, employment, credit, housing, public accommodations and facilities, voting, and certain federally funded and conducted programs.

Mr. Schlozman served for five months as the Acting Assistant Attorney General of the Civil Rights Division. Before that, he had served as Deputy Assistant Attorney General since May 2003, directly supervising the Criminal, Voting, Employment, and Special Litigation Sections of the Civil Rights Division. Mr. Schlozman began his service in the Bush Administration as Counsel to then-Deputy Attorney General Larry Thompson.

So Scholzman was the head of the Civil Rights Division at DoJ before getting the appointment. Well, the Civil Rights Division was maybe the most politicized division in the entire Justice Department, as Paul Kiel related in a very detailed article.

Many career analysts and attorneys have either been transferred or driven out; their replacements are long on conservative credentials and short on civil rights experience.

Here's an inside account of what it's like inside from Toby Moore, a redistricting expert with the division's voting section until the spring of 2006. Like many of his colleagues, he left due to the hostile atmosphere in the section, where he says there was a pattern of selective intimidation towards career staff.

According to Moore, his supervisor and the political appointees in the section consistently criticized his work because it didn't jibe with their pre-drawn conclusions. That was bad enough, he said, but the real trouble came after he and three colleagues recommended opposing a Georgia voter I.D. law pushed by Republicans. After the recommendation, which clashed with the views of Moore's superiors, they reprimanded him for not adequately analyzing the evidence and accused him of mistreating his Republican colleague, with whom he'd had frequent disagreements. But it got worse. Moore said that his Republican superiors even monitored his emails, eventually filing a complaint against him with the Justice Department's Office of Professional Responsibility for allegedly disclosing privileged information in one email (he was cleared of wrongdoing). Fed up, and worried that it was too dangerous to his professional future to remain there, he left.

Remember that the DoJ went against the advice of its own career lawyers by allowing the Texas redistricting plan to go forward even though it was concluded that it violated the Voting Rights Act (and the Supreme Court at least partially agreed). In fact, it was SCHLOZMAN who implemented that overruling.

By the way, who was monitoring Toby Moore's emails? The Schloz.

Moore said that there was persistent gossip in the section that the political appointees who supervised the division had been monitoring staff's emails.

This suspicion was confirmed, he said, when Bradley J. Schlozman, the Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division (now an unconfirmed U.S. Attorney installed after the revision to the Patriot Act) and Hans von Spakovsy, Counsel to the Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights (now a commissioner with the Federal Election Commission), filed a complaint against him with the Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR).

The charge, Moore said, was that he had violated department rules by discussing one of the section's cases in an email to a friend who used to work in the Civil Rights Division. He was interviewed by investigators. According to an April, 2006 letter from OPR reviewed by TPMmuckraker, Moore was cleared of any wrongdoing.

So clearly, Schlozman was one of the point men on ensuring that voter intimidation and suppression could go forward with the full support of the Justice Department. Having been burnished in that cauldron, the DoJ sent Schlozman out into the world - specifically into Missouri, where he replaced US Attorney Todd Graves, who resigned in March 2006. Via Fired Up Missouri, here are a couple examples of what Schlozman did in Missouri to push corruption cases against Democrats:

ACORN Prosecutions for Fraudulent Voter Registrations- During his tenure as U.S. Attorney for Missouri's Western District, Schlozman broke with long-standing precedent among Federal law enforcement by bringing indictments against 5 voter-registration workers paid by community group ACORN just days before a high-profile and tightly contested election. Schlozman, as the first U.S. Attorney appointed under a then-little-noted provision added to the Patriot Act that allowed interim U.S. Attorney's to be picked by the President without Senate confirmation, aggressively and unorthodoxly pushed the voter registration fraud prosecutions forward in a manner intended to provide "verification" for the GOP "voter fraud" claims that had flourished in Missouri --even in the face of direct evidence to the contrary-- since November 2000.

NVRA Lawsuit Against Robin Carnahan and the State of Missouri- In late October of 2005, while serving as Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division, Schlozman authorized suit by the United States against Democratic Secretary of State Robin Carnahan, alleging that she had not purged enough voters from county rolls to fulfill her duty under the National Voting Rights Act. With the suit, Schlozman aimed not only to absolve current GOP Governor Matt Blunt of any voting issues for which he may have been responsible in the past (Blunt preceded Carnahan as Secretary of State) by shifting the defensive onus to the new Democratic Secretary of State, but also to put obstacles before Carahan --who many viewed as an up-and-coming elected official who could pose a huge threat to Blunt in the future. The suit additionally gave Missouri GOPers a platform from which they could continue to make unfounded claims about unregistered voters and the "stealing" of elections. Just weeks ago, a federal judge ruled in Carnahan's favor on the suit, going so far as to suggest that the Civil Rights Division had made up its theories of the suit as it went along.

There are more examples in that great post, including moving to raid the Missouri home of an Islamic activist right before the 2006 election. But the voter fraud cases are of the greatest interest, since they are the very same claims that Bush Administration officials are using as the basis for firing US Attorneys who wouldn't prosecute these cases. This led to The St. Louis Post-Dispatch calling Schlozman's efforts a "snipe hunt," as they ended up in the same way most voter fraud cases end; with little or no evidence.

Voter fraud is about as rare as snipe in most parts of the country, including Missouri. As evidence of that we have the testimony of (a) a five-year study by the federal Election Assistance Commission; (b) a report from the Missouri Secretary of State showing nobody in the state tried to vote with a fake I.D. in 2006; (c) Department of Justice statistics showing only 86 people were convicted of voter fraud-related crimes in the last five years, many of them on trivial errors; and (d) a federal judge's ruling last week that the justice department had failed to demonstrate that voter fraud had occurred in Missouri last year.

Undaunted by these facts, Republicans in the Legislature lurk about like Elmer Fudd with their gunny sacks and sticks, promoting bills to require voters to present photo identification before they're allowed to cast a ballot. They passed such a bill last year, but the courts threw it out as unfair to those who couldn't afford the cost and hassle involved in getting a photo I.D. card.

It's important to backtrack for a moment and take a look at who Schlozman replaced. Todd Graves was the original US Attorney for Western Missouri, and he was forced to recuse himself in a political corruption case involving Missouri Governor Matt Blunt because his wife was caught up in it up to her eyeballs. After he recused himself, the case went to... Bud Cummins, former USA for Arkansas who is one of the Gonzales 8.

BradBlog picks this up in a great post:

In May of 2006, media reports surfaced that Missouri Governor Matt Blunt was under investigation by Cummins's office in connection with a franchising scheme for satellite state licensing fee offices as carried out by (Mark) Hearne's law firm, Lathrop & Gage.

In June of 2006, Cummins was fired without explanation. His firing came prior to the other 7 attorneys who would be dismissed in December of 2006.

Hearne had been both Blunt's right-hand legal man for some time; as well as a GOP point man in Florida in 2000 (but who wasn't?); as well as the Bush/Cheney '04 general counsel in Missouri (at the specific, personal request of Dubya's uncle, Bucky Bush, according to Thor himself in Missouri Lawyer's Weekly); before he then became the Bush/Cheney '04 national general counsel; and after the election, he became the founder of the scam "non-partisan" GOP front group calling itself "American Center for Voting Rights" (ACVR); which was, in turn, behind virtually every report, initiative, claim, piece of legislation, Congressional testimony, legal case, "official commission," or public statement concerning the cooked-up case for the mythical epidemic of Democratic "voter fraud" that has been at the heart of the GOP/White House/DoJ attempts at vote-shaving via politicization and suppression at the ballot box since at least 2004.

Further, Hearne has been publicly recognized (though usually in only the RNC-friendliest of locations) for his efforts on behalf of GOP elections by his friend Rove, as well as both Dick Cheney and George W. Bush. See this Lathrop & Gage PDF two-pager including quotes from both Rove and Bush singing Thor's praises. (Don't worry. If that PDF, like so much else of late concerning Thor's activities, including the ACVR website as we reported a few weeks ago, gets scrubbed from the Internets, we've already got a copy saved, along with much of the other Thor-stuff that's been disappearing since the U.S. Attorney scandal broke.)

In sum, when news of a criminal investigation into both MO's Governor Blunt (the son of the powerful GOP House Whip, Roy) and Lathrop & Gage surfaced, alarm bells would have gone off from Missouri to D.C. According to several media reports, and a few tips, it would appear they did just that. Quite loudly, in fact...


We have a US Attorney (Cummins) who appears to have been fired for pursuing a corruption case in Missouri, not to mention to step aside for a Karl Rove-trained operative named Tim Griffin. We have a USA in Western Missouri (Todd Graves) who was originally on purge lists inside the Justice Department before he resigned in March 2006. And we have his replacement (Bradley J. Schlozman) who has a long history of politicizing the administration of justice, from the Civil Rights Division to the USA office in Missouri. He wouldn't even hire people who weren't activist movement conservatives.

When Ty Clevenger, a line attorney in the Civil Rights Division, forwarded a friend's resume to deputy division chief Bradley Schlozman, he was expecting questions about his friend's experience as a lawyer. But what Schlozman wanted to know, according to Clevenger, was whether his friend was a Republican.

Clevenger, a member of the Republican National Lawyers Association, told Schlozman that his friend was conservative. He just wasn't sure how active his friend was politically. The friend was never got an interview.

By the way, Schlozman is no longer the US Attorney for Western Missouri. John Wood was sworn in a couple weeks ago. Schlozman, who was never confirmed by the Senate, spent a year in that US Attorney position, pushing bogus voter fraud cases and using the office as a club to punish the opposition party.

I found this interesting:

Kansas City, MO 04/16/07 - Novation LLC a hospital supplier in Irving, Texas admitted in a Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals filing dated April 9th, 2007 that it was identified as a co-conspirator in a 2002 scheme to use US Bancorp’s trust division to prevent Medical Supply Chain from entering the market for hospital supplies by withholding escrow accounts and misusing the USA PATRIOT act as a pretext [...]

In an April 18, 2005 affidavit, Medical Supply Chain founder Samuel Lipari complained about FBI misuse of USA PATRIOT Act surveillance powers. The affidavit described interception of electronic communications and searches by law enforcement officials being used to interfere with and obstruct Lipari’s civil prosecution of the Novation defendants in Medical Supply Chain, Inc., v. Novation LLC et al, US District Court for the W.D. of Missouri No. 05-0210-CV-W-ODS

Attorney General Alberto Gonzales confirmed the existence of the program for warrantless surveillance, first reported in The New York Times, on December 19, 2005. However on January 25, 2006 Gonzales wrote that “there has not been a single verified abuse of any of the provisions” of the USA PATRIOT Act.

Samuel Lipari again complained on October 12, 2006 in the US Court of Appeals for the Eight Circuit in St. Louis, Missouri that US District Attorney Bradley J. Schlozman failed to investigate evidence of public corruption brought to his office and permitted obstruction of justice to continue despite the injuries to Samuel Lipari, his family and associates.

On January 16, 2007 Attorney General Gonzales responded to criticism of his misuse of the USA PATRIOT Act by announcing John Wood would be taking Bradley Schlozman's place in Kansas City two days before he gave his previous testimony to Congress.

On March 22, 2007, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales met in St. Louis with U.S. Attorneys Catherine L. Hanaway and Bradley J. Schlozman of Missouri districts to conduct an undisclosed discussion related to the conduct of US Attorney Bradley J. Schlozman.

Disappointed with the continuing US Department of Justice cover up, on April 9, 2007 Samuel Lipari publicly disclosed Medical Supply discovery revealing the US Attorneys targeted by Karl Rove and Attorney General Alberto Gonzales that resulted in Todd Graves being replaced by Bradley J. Schlozman a year earlier. John Wood was finally sworn in as the US Attorney for the Western District of Missouri on April 11, 2007.

This came out last week. I'm going to keep digging.

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