May 25, 2006
THE L.A. TIMES and Holocaust denial.
THE L.A. TIMES and Holocaust denial.
BAD IDEA: Stealing a picture from Michael Yon.
Especially when you’re a deep pocket. . . .
MORE REVISIONIST HISTORY? At least this time it’s not about the war. . . .
BREAKS OUT SPREADS: “Bush orders FBI-Congress documents sealed.”
President Bush stepped into the Justice Department’s constitutional confrontation with Congress on Thursday and ordered that documents seized in an FBI raid on a congressman’s office be sealed for 45 days.
Could Al Qaeda have slipped mind-altering drugs into the DC water supply? What’s gotten into these people? Or has some sort of deal been cut? Whatever it is, I don’t think I like it.
UPDATE: A reader emails:
The article quotes Bush as saying:
“‘This period will provide both parties more time to resolve the issues in a way that ensures that materials relevant to the ongoing criminal investigation are made available to prosecutors in a manner
that respects the interests of a coequal branch of government,’ Bush said.”
Why does this sound so much like “This period will provide both parties more time to cover their asses?”
I’ve been struggling the past year to support the president and have faith in congress; it’s been difficult and I’ve taken a lot of flak for it among my academic colleagues. The behavior of our “leaders” in congress, and now Bush, has finally sealed the deal. Next election, all my votes are going to non-incumbents; regardless of party affiliation. The past few days have made it abundantly clear that they’ve forgotten (1) why they were elected and (2) what the limitations of their power (and trust) are.
I keep wondering what I’m missing here. It’s too late for a big third-party push in ’06, I think, but I’m pretty sure we’ll see one in ’08. At this rate, it may be the only party left . . . .
UPDATE: Ed Morrissey thinks that this is just a case of Bush allowing for a face-saving climbdown on Hastert’s part. Hastert may climb down, but I think it’s too late for him to save face.
And there’s this observation: “Instapundit wonders, ‘Could Al Qaeda have slipped mind-altering drugs into the DC water supply? What’s gotten into these people? Or has some sort of deal been cut?’ Since I haven’t seen any UFOs split the sky like a sheet today I would have to go with his latter hunch.” Yeah, though to be honest I think I’d feel better if it were the drugs.
DENNIS HASTERT: Unfit for Command?
PORKBUSTERS UPDATE: Mark Tapscott says that Senate Appropriators went hog-wild on earmarks:
Sen. Arlen Specter, R-PA, is the most frequent requester of earmarks on the powerful Senate Appropriations Committee, with 77 requests for such special interest spending measures between 2001 and 2006.
Specter lead the earmark fest that saw GOP members of the panel request an average of 27 earmarks during the five years. By contrast, the dozen Democrat members of the committee requested an average of 17 earmarks.
Sen. Diane Feinstein, D-CA, was the leading earmark requester among Democrat members of the appropriations committee, with 75. Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-NV, was shown with only one earmark request.
The data for this analysis was compiled for a report by the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Subcommittee on Federal Financial Management, chaired by Sen. Tom Coburn, R-OK. The report was based on information provided by the Congressional Research Service.
Trailing Specter – who is chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee – among the top five GOP requesters was Sen. Mike DeWine, R-OH, with 53, Sen. Ted Stevens, R-AK, with 33, Sen. Richard Shelby, R-AL, with 21, and Sen. Thad Cochran, R-MS, with 19. Cochran is chairman of the committee.
Read the whole thing. And weep. Especially if you’re a Republican.
UPDATE: Follow the link for Mark Tapscott’s correction.
LAY AND SKILLING CONVICTED: Professor Bainbridge is blogging it.
I’ll just note that I think Paul Krugman’s claim that Enron would be bigger than 9/11 seems not to have come true.
The Treasury Department announced this morning that after losing in five circuit courts of appeals, the Government is throwing in the towel and will no longer seek to enforce the 3% excise tax on long-distance telephone calls enacted during the Spanish-American War of 1898 as a “luxury” tax on wealthy Americans who owned telephones. The IRS will will issue $15 billion in refunds to consumers for long-distance telephone service taxes paid over the past three years.
It’s a nice reminder of how long “temporary” taxes can last, and of how taxes targeted at “the rich” often turn out to reach others.
THEY’RE IDIOTS IN CONGRESS, but the economy continues to boom.
TAKING A CLUEBAT TO CONGRESS over at Hot Air.
NATIONAL REVIEW: “By nothing more than dumb luck, the Republican-controlled Congress—lambasted for the junkets, earmarks, and ‘culture of corruption’ that have aligned to produce the lowest approval ratings in memory—was handed a shot at some desperately needed redemption. All its leaders had to do was make the right choice between condemning the rankest corruption and displaying an outsized arrogance. Guess which one they chose?”
The Washington Post offers a scolding, too.
VIOLENT PROTESTS IN IRAN: Gateway Pundit has a roundup.
CONGRESS’S NEW SLOGAN:
WARRANTS: Not good enough for us, too good for you.
I’d say “heh,” but it’s too accurate to be really funny.
IN THE MAIL: Steven Lubet’s Lawyers’ Poker : 52 Lessons that Lawyers Can Learn from Card Players. They sent me a cool deck of cards, too, but I don’t think it actually comes with the book.
ANDREW MCCARTHY: “You may have thought the Republican congressional leadership had run out of feet to shoot themselves in in their mind-boggling quest to place themselves, in the public mind, squarely on the side of coddling corruption rather than ridding themselves of a disgraced member. Nope. . . . Short of allowing congress to be in charge of investigations of congressmen, it’s hard to see how the Justice Department could have been more solicitous of the privileges and immunities of the legislature. It is just stunning that the Speaker is taking this tack, in favor of a guy on videotape taking a $100K, most of which he stashed in his freezer.”
QUESTIONS FOR ABC on the Hastert story.
The army and navy forces in the Delta Region are facing better armed and equipped local gangs, and are not able to shut the gangs down. Tapping into oil pipelines and stealing oil continues, and this provides the gangs with a steady cash flow. The better armed gangs are branching out into more ambitious attacks on oil company operations in the Delta. Payrolls are a favorite target. The region is becoming more dangerous, and unruly.
Keep an eye on this.
IT’S A CLINTON-FEST AT KAUSFILES: Bill rages, Hillary scolds, and Kaus has a terrific time.
DAN RIEHL: “I submit that, not only does Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank unfairly play the race card against Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions; in his myopic view, he totally fails to see where and how it actually should be played on the issue of illegal immigration.”
UPDATE: He’s got more on ABC’s Hastert “scoop,” too.
BYRON YORK: “If House Speaker Dennis Hastert has his way, why should any member of Congress ever comply with a subpoena? And are the members who have complied with subpoenas in the past kicking themselves for being such saps?”
ORIN KERR IS TAKING SUGGESTIONS FOR CONGRESSIONAL HEARING TOPICS: He’s got some pretty funny ones to start with.
I ASKED IF THEY HAD SOMETHING TO HIDE. THE ANSWER JUST MAY BE YES:
The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Dennis Hastert, is under investigation by the FBI, which is seeking to determine his role in an ongoing public corruption probe into members of Congress, ABC News has learned from high level government sources.
Federal officials say the information implicating Hastert was developed from convicted lobbyists who are now cooperating with the government.
Perhaps the bizarre bipartisan reaction to the Jefferson search — and the lack of cooperation preceding it — stems from the fact that a lot of people in both parties have exposure here. And certainly if the Speaker is under investigation it’s easy to see why the FBI might be reluctant to rely further on the Sergeant at Arms and the Capitol Police.
UPDATE: I’ve got an email from Krista Cole in the House saying that the DOJ denies that Hastert is under investigation. The release, in its entirety: “Speaker Hastert is not under investigation by the Justice Department.”
Nothing on the DOJ webpage yet, though. But here’s a Reuters story.
MORE: Reader Chris Quincy emails: “One wonders if ABC would’ve sourced this more carefully if it were Nancy Pelosi.” It’s a rather surprising error. I wonder who ABC’s sources were?
But hey, they weren’t so much wrong as just too far ahead of the news cycle.
STILL MORE: Krista Cole emails the following statement from Dennis Hastert’s office: “The ABC News report is absolutely untrue. As confirmed by the Justice Department, ‘Speaker Hastert is not under investigation by the Justice Department.’ We are demanding a full retraction of the ABC News story. The Speaker’s earlier statement issued today accurately reflects the facts regarding this matter.”
Of course, if Hastert isn’t under investigation, we’re back to the question of why he’s waging an asinine crusade against the enforcement of laws against Congressional corruption.
MORE STILL: On that topic, Eugene Volokh writes: “I confess I’m pretty puzzled by Speaker Hastert’s theory here.”
EVEN MORE: More anti-Congress backlash. These guys really don’t understand how they come across.
AND FINALLY: ABC News is standing by the story.
MARY KATHARINE HAM contrasts the prosecution of North Carolina’s Jeep Jihadi versus that of the Duke lacrosse players: “Taheri-azar and the Duke lacrosse players were all technically innocent until proven guilty. In one case, public officials, the press, and the local community did their best to deny the accused that particular courtesy of American justice. Tellingly, it was not the case of the murderous thug who confessed to attempting to kill his classmates, in a fashion reminiscent of Mohammad Atta, just for being non-Muslims—and then detailed his plans and motivations in letters to a local paper.”
CONGRESS MEMBERS AGREE: Congress is above the law!
House leaders of both parties stood in rare election-year unanimity Wednesday demanding the FBI surrender documents it took and remove agents involved in the weekend raid of a congressman’s office.
“The Justice Department must immediately return the papers it unconstitutionally seized,” House Speaker Dennis Hastert and Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi said in a statement.
I say, search ‘em all. Now. They must have something to hide, right? They certainly don’t mind much more intrusive paramilitary raids on the rest of us, even though the Fourth Amendment provides a lot more reason to doubt the validity of those than the Speech and Debate Clause provides where Congressional searches are concerned.
Read this post from Orin Kerr, too, on the weakness of the constitutional argument they’re making. There may be a prudential argument that searches like this are a bad idea — though, frankly, I don’t think a very convincing one — but to claim that the Constitution forbids the execution of a search warrant by law enforcement simply because the target is a Congressional office is weak and self-serving.
The leadership — of both parties — should be ashamed of this stunt. They should remember that the Constitution forbids titles of nobility, too, despite their effort to transform their positions into something very much like that.
MORE: Reader Peter Neva thinks my “search ‘em all” reference was a serious call to ransack all Congressional offices. Uh, no. It’s a reference to this post. You’ve got to follow the discussion here, you know.
STILL MORE: Unlike me, Jonathan Andrew is all for searching them all, and thinks there’s no legitimate expectation of privacy in a taxpayer-funded Congressional office: “I hereby call for just that: What could they possibly have, in their official capacity as our representatives, to hide from us?”
We don’t disagree all that much: It’s in that spirit that I’ve supported applying the Freedom of Information Act to Congress.
AT BEST OF THE WEB, more criticism of Dennis Hastert’s claim of special privileges for Congress:
Hastert and Boehner’s objections are bound to rub many Republican constitutents the wrong way. After all, the first plank of the Contract With America was a promise to “require all laws that apply to the rest of the country also apply equally to the Congress.” Something like this makes it harder to argue that the GOP deserves to maintain its majority.
GOOGLE FUNDING MOVEON? Eli Pariser denies it.
EXPLOSION AND FIRE at the Istanbul airport.
InstaPundit’s Istanbul correspondent Claire Berlinski emails:
I’m back in Istanbul (I flew in yesterday and as usual missed the excitement). I’m looking out the window, but not seeing this big black cloud of smoke everyone’s talking about — then again, I’m a ways from the airport and don’t have an unobstructed view in that direction anyway. Thing is, everyone is saying that it doesn’t seem to be terrorism, but first, how on earth would they know — after all, the place is on fire so they can’t exactly be sifting through the evidence — and second, isn’t that exactly the place you’d target if you’re trying to injure the Turkish tourism industry right before high season? That is, after all, the PKK’s explicit and stated strategy. The building on fire, by the way, is reportedly near a hangar housing military aircraft. I don’t have any kind of inside information, I just think it’s a little odd that everyone is so quick to say this doesn’t seem to be a work of terrorism, since if I were a terrorist, that would look like one mighty tempting target to me. Then again, what I do see out my window is four Turkish workmen horsing around on rickety scaffolding that is, to put it mildly, not up to EU safety standards, so it also seems quite culturally plausible that someone at the airport just stubbed out a cigarette around a pile of inflammable chemicals or something.
UPDATE: Berlinski sends a photo (by her fiance David Gross) of the scaffold. Click “read more” to see it.
InstaPundit’s Istanbul correspondent Claire Berlinski e…’ »
THE CLUB FOR GROWTH BLOG is praising Barney Frank. They’re right to.
DETENTION FOR A BLOG ENTRY? I don’t think that high schools have any business punishing students for things they do when they’re out of school, whether or not they blog about them.
Plus, the weasel-phrase “illegal or inappropriate behavior” sets my teeth on edge. Do I trust a high-school principal to judge what off-campus behavior is “inappropriate?” I don’t really even trust them with regard to what’s happening on campus.
SOME THOUGHTS ON CONGRESS, MUBARAK, AND CHUTZPAH, over at GlennReynolds.com.
IN THE MAIL: Peter Beinart’s new book, The Good Fight : Why Liberals—and Only Liberals—Can Win the War on Terror and Make America Great Again. I don’t think that there are enough liberal hawks left in the Democratic Party — which is currently trying to purge Joe Lieberman — to matter, but I’d love to be wrong.
There’s an interesting debate going on in the book’s discussion forum, anyway.
UPDATE: An interesting Q&A with Jeffrey Goldberg, who’s got a new piece in the New Yorker on the Democrats’ prospects. It’s hard to argue with this: “The Democrats can probably win on the negatives for the 2006 elections, but those who think they can go negative and win the White House in 2008 are kidding themselves.”
Meanwhile, I’m not sure what this means: “‘Hillary for president’ rally draws 20 instead of hoped-for 200.” But it’s got to be making Al Gore and Mark Warner happy.
MORE ON THE MEDIA’S KATRINA DEBACLE:
Where to begin? As I’ve written before, virtually all of the gripping stories from Katrina were untrue. All of those stories about, in Paula Zahn’s words, “bands of rapists, going block to block”? Not true. The tales of snipers firing on medevac helicopters? Bogus. The yarns, peddled on Oprah by New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin and the New Orleans police chief, that “little babies” were getting raped in the Superdome and that the bodies of the murdered were piling up? Completely false. The stories about poor blacks dying in comparatively huge numbers because American society “left them behind”? Nah-ah. While most outlets limited themselves to taking Nagin’s estimate of 10,000 dead at face value, Editor and Publisher—the watchdog of the media—ran the headline, “Mortuary Director Tells Local Paper 40,000 Could Be Lost in Hurricane.”
In all of Louisiana, not just New Orleans, the total dead from Katrina was roughly 1,500. Blacks did not die disproportionately, nor did the poor. The only group truly singled out in terms of mortality was the elderly. According to a Knight-Ridder study, while only 15 percent of the population of New Orleans was over the age of 60, some 74 percent of the dead were 60 or older, and almost half were older than 75. Blacks were, if anything, slightly underrepresented among the dead given their share of the population.
This barely captures how badly the press bungled Katrina coverage. . . . And yet, an ubiquitous media chorus claims simultaneously that Katrina was Bush’s worst hour and the press’s best.
Read the whole thing. But what they learned was that if they all shouted lies in unison they could drive Bush down in the polls.
ED MORRISSEY ON THE JEFFERSON INVESTIGATION and the lame response from the Congressional leadership:
This can’t be the same Congress that issues subpoenas for all sorts of probes into the executive branch and the agencies it runs. Does Congress really want to establish a precedent that neither branch has to answer subpoenas if issued by the other, even if approved by a judge — which this particular subpoena was? . . .
Congress already has enough problems with corruption and scandal without adding even more arrogance to top it. If the leadership wants to argue that their status as elected officials somehow gives them the ability to disregard subpoenas and court orders, then the American people may want to trade that leadership to ensure that Congress understands that it operates under the same laws as the rest of us. Hastert and Boehner do not argue against an imperial presidency, but rather they are arguing for an untouchable political elite, where our elected officials risk nothing by taking bribes and selling their votes to the highest bidder. After all, the evidence of those transactions will almost always reside in their offices — and if they can ignore duly executed subpoenas and search warrants, then they can sell themselves at will.
This whole “cut their pay and send them home” thing is sounding better and better . . . .
Of course, if Hastert thinks the Democrats may take the House in November, this may be exactly the kind of precedent he wants to establish!
UPDATE: Jim Hoft doesn’t think that Hastert is that smart. Neither do I.
ANOTHER UPDATE: John Podhoretz:
There is every reason to believe that a member of the House of Representatives was using his physical office on Capitol Hill to hide evidence of massive bribe-taking — bribe-taking that has been caught on tape, by the way. That Congressman is a figure in the Democratic party. The Republican party has been reeling from bribery and corruption scandals of its own. So the Speaker of the House, the leader of Republicans in the House, actually complains to the president that the raid on the Democratic congressman’s office is an unconstitutional violation of the separation of powers. In so doing, he reinforces the image that Congress, which almost never polices itself, cares less abou corruption than it does about its prerogatives. It also steps on the very important political story that might help diffuse the image of specifically Republican corruption. I don’t know how to put this any other way, and I’m sorry if it sounds insulting, but: Whether you consider him the leader of an institution whose standing among the public is at historically low levels and in need of drastic moral renovation or a leading partisan official whose team is in pretty bad shape and could use a bit of a boost, Denny Hastert is a blithering idiot.
It sure looks that way.
MORE: More unhappiness here. Really, are the Congressional Republicans trying to throw the 2006 race?
The last two weeks have seen an ambitious Taliban offensive shot to pieces. As many as a thousand Taliban gunmen, in half a dozen different groups, have passed over the Pakistani border, or been gathered within Afghanistan, and sent off to try and take control of remote villages and districts. The offensive was a major failure, with nearly half the Taliban getting killed, wounded or captured. Afghan and Coalition casualties were much less, although you wouldn’t know that from the mass media reports (which made it all look like a Taliban victory). The Taliban faced more mobile opponents, who had better intelligence. UAVs, aircraft and helicopters were used to track down the Taliban, and catch them. Thousands of Afghan troops and police were in action, exposing some of them to ambush, as they drove to new positions through remote areas.
Yes, as Bill Roggio noted, and Michael Yon confirmed, the news reports, rather exaggerated to begin with, are of the form “Dozens killed in renewed fighting,” without mentioning that most of those killed are people who should be killed.
DAN RIEHL thinks that Google is heading for a fall.
THIS SEEMS RATHER IRONIC:
The American Civil Liberties Union is weighing new standards that would discourage its board members from publicly criticizing the organization’s policies and internal administration.
“Where an individual director disagrees with a board position on matters of civil liberties policy, the director should refrain from publicly highlighting the fact of such disagreement,” the committee that compiled the standards wrote in its proposals.
“Directors should remember that there is always a material prospect that public airing of the disagreement will affect the A.C.L.U. adversely in terms of public support and fund-raising,” the proposals state.
Given the organization’s longtime commitment to defending free speech, some former board members were shocked by the proposals.
I don’t agree with those who demonize the ACLU, but I’m disappointed in how it has declined over the past decade or two. The ACLU has been corrupted by its dependence on a comparatively small fundraising base, something that’s common with nonprofits. The organization also seems to have been captured by the paid staff, which feels entitled to run things without the Board’s actual input That’s another common problem in the nonprofit world. But this is making clear just how far things have gone at the ACLU, at the expense of its ostensible mission.
CRAIG NEWMARK DEBATES NET NEUTRALITY with Mike McCurry in the Wall Street Journal. (Free link).
And here’s an interesting interview with Craig. I can attest that he does customer-service at all hours; I was up and posting at 3:30 AM one morning (we had moved to the basement during a tornado watch) and immediately got an email from him wondering what was wrong. Nothing, I replied, just a tornado.
PROTESTS reported in Tabriz.
MICKEY KAUS on the latest Senate immigration move to make “guest workers” subject to Davis-Bacon and exempt from employment-at-will laws:
Overpaid, unfireable … guest workers, the new civil servants! Finally, farm laborers Washington can love.
UPDATE: Read this roundup on Republican dissatisfaction from Danny Glover, too.
ANOTHER UPDATE: A reader suggests, quite cogently, that Kaus is missing the poison-pill aspect of this provision: “It would seem that the easiest way to stop illegal immigration quickly would be to mandate that all illegals are subject to Davis-Bacon and exempt from employment-at-will laws, thereby, removing immediately their sole employment advantage, namely, their low labor cost.”
ANOTHER CIVIL RIGHTS SUCCESS: “A lawsuit in the District against gunmakers was dismissed yesterday by a D.C. Superior Court judge who ruled that the suit was precisely the sort of claim that a new federal law was intended to block.”
THE AP, GUANTANAMO, AND OSAMA: Ed Morrissey notes an odd omission.
WITH MEMBERS OF CONGRESS CLAIMING that they’re exempt from searches in bribery cases, it’s probably worth noting this new Zogby poll, which shows that the American public holds all its leaders — but especially Congress — in low esteem.
No doubt Congress will want to respond by putting criticism off limits, too.
UPDATE: Hastert is creating more anger from the base: “I no longer wish to be counted as a Republican. The Speaker has been a weak voice for cutting spending and for immigration reform but a loud voice when his own privilege is at stake.”
MARK GLASER HAS MORE on imprisoned Egyptian blogger Alaa:
For some time, Alaa and his wife, Manal Hassan — the pair are pictured above — have had a popular web hub called Manal and Alaa’s Bit Bucket . While it does include a blog in Arabic and English, the site has much more to it. Alaa told me last summer that the site was built to showcase their skills as open-source software and web developers. He ticked off all the features of the site beyond the blog: an aggregator of Egyptian blogs; free hosting for non-profit sites; events calendar; photo galleries; encrypted private spaces for secret online discussions; videos of violence against protesters; reviews of WiFi hotspots around Cairo.
So after Alaa’s detention on May 7, the reaction from the blogosphere and other activists around the globe was swift. They created a multi-faceted campaign to free him and bring attention to his plight in a way that fit with his tech-savvy personality. The Global Voices blog set up a special wiki , which lists all the ways people are promoting his release online and offline. Anyone can edit the wiki to add their own activity or ideas.
So far, there’s been a Flash animation , an online petition (signed by 1,100+ people so far), badges to post on websites and blogs, and a special Wikipedia entry . People have even tried a Google bomb strategy, where they link the Free Alaa blog with the word “Egypt” so that Google searches for Egypt will pull up the blog. It hasn’t worked well so far, but the idea is innovative.
As DemoBlogger points out on the Free Alaa blog: “The total cost of launching a global human rights campaign using digital tools: $0. The total time needed to launch a global human rights campaign using digital tools: 24 hours.”
Read the whole thing.
HERE’S A ROUNDUP on bogus antiwar veteran Jesse MacBeth.
CUT THEIR PAY AND SEND THEM HOME: GOP Congress members are objecting to the FBI raid on bribery suspect Rep. William Jefferson. I’d approve of this bipartisan spirit if it weren’t just an example of the only kind of bipartisanship you can really count on from Congress — standing shoulder to shoulder in defense of insiders’ perks and against the interests of the voters.
UPDATE: Heh: “Sort of like a man who catches his cheating spouse in the act and all she can say is ‘I can’t believe you didn’t knock!’”
THE DIXIE CHICKS: Learning the difference between capitalism and censorship.
DAVID GERGEN is hard to please.
MORE NEWS ON SYRIA AND THE HARIRI ASSASSINATION, from Michael Young.
LORIE BYRD is now blogging at Wizbang.
A LOOK AT NASA’S NEW SPACE PLANS from Tom Jones.
“CLINTONS DOGGED BY SEX FREQUENCY QUESTIONS:” I shudder to think of the google traffic that phrase will attract. But I do think that the Times might want to focus on more important subjects.
I guess that sort of thing is a downside of being a politician. The upside, of course, is that you can be called “surprisingly tech-savvy” just for owning an iPod!
SKYPE: Passing the buck over Chinese censorship.
A CALL FOR REP. JEFFERSON’S RESIGNATION over at The Daily Kos.
SAUDI SCHOOL BUS UPDATE: “Two Saudi men jailed last week after being accused of boarding a school bus and riding to a New Tampa high school could be released as early as today after federal and local authorities determined the pair are in this country legally and are not a security risk.” Well, that’s a relief.
MEMBERS OF CONGRESS ARE COMPLAINING about the FBI raid on Rep. William Jefferson’s office. The separation of powers argument seems to be pretty weak to me: The actual scope of Congressional immunity under the speech and debate clause is quite narrow (narrower, oddly, than the judically-created immunities enjoyed by judges and prosecutors) and certainly doesn’t include immunity from search in a bribery case.
At any rate, members of Congress who are offended by an unannounced late-night raid on an office might profitably be asked what they think about late-night unannounced raids on private homes, which happen all the time as part of the Congressionally-mandated War on Drugs.
If anything, it ought to work the other way. I think if you searched 435 randomly selected American homes, and 435 Congressional offices, you just might find more evidence of crime in the latter. . . .
UPDATE: Roger Simon wonders what got into Newt Gingrich.
Meanwhile, here’s more on that whole culture of corruption thing.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Via Radley Balko, a whole series of blog posts about no-knock SWAT-type raids that make the search of Rep. Jefferson’s office look rather mild.
Any member of Congress objecting to the Jefferson search without having a problem with raids like these is a hypocrite.
One can almost hear Speaker Hastert trying to defend himself: ”Look, I said something about executive branch overreaching just this morning. Ya know, I’ve signed off on some extraordinary police powers over the years, but there’s gotta be a limit to those powers. The Constitution is clear: The right of members of Congress to be secure in their offices and homes shall not be violated!”
Yeah, screw the rest of us.
YOUR TAX DOLLARS AT WORK:
As many as 26.5 million veterans were placed at risk of identity theft after an intruder stole an electronic data file this month containing their names, birth dates and Social Security numbers from the home of a Department of Veterans Affairs employee, Secretary Jim Nicholson said yesterday. . . .
The theft represents the biggest unauthorized disclosure ever of Social Security data, and it could make affected veterans vulnerable to credit card fraud if the burglars realize the value of the data, one expert said.
“In terms of Social Security numbers, it’s the biggest breach,” said Evan Hendricks, publisher of the Privacy Times newsletter and author of the book “Credit Scores and Credit Reports.” “As long as you’ve got that exact Social, most of the time the credit bureaus will disclose your credit report, and that enables the thief to get credit.”
This kind of thing is why I’m not impressed with calls for a National ID. Of course, it’s also why I’m not impressed with credit bureaus.
POSITIVE NEWS FROM IRAQ, in the New York Times: Well, kind of.
JIM GERAGHTY has a roundup on the ongoing secularist vs. islamist struggle in Turkey.
LOU DOLINAR HAS BEEN LOOKING INTO THE MEDIA FAILURES DURING KATRINA:
Remember the dozens, maybe hundreds, of rapes, murders, stabbings and deaths resulting from official neglect at the Superdome after Hurricane Katrina? The ones that never happened, as even the national media later admitted?
Sure, we all remember the original reporting, if not the back-pedaling.
Here’s another one: Do you remember the dramatic TV footage of National Guard helicopters landing at the Superdome as soon as Katrina passed, dropping off tens of thousands saved from certain death? The corpsmen running with stretchers, in an echo of M*A*S*H, carrying the survivors to ambulances and the medical center? About how the operation, which also included the Coast Guard, regular military units, and local first responders, continued for more than a week?
Me neither. Except that it did happen, and got at best an occasional, parenthetical mention in the national media. The National Guard had its headquarters for Katrina, not just a few peacekeeping troops, in what the media portrayed as the pit of Hell. Hell was one of the safest places to be in New Orleans, smelly as it was. The situation was always under control, not surprisingly because the people in control were always there. . . .
I initially heard about the Dome headquarters from Maj. John T. Dressler, who serves with the National Guard Bureau in Washington D.C, an organization that coordinates efforts of State Guard units which serve under their respective governors. Dressler was present in the command tent there and pulled together after-action reports for the Guard as a whole from its fifty-plus individual state commands. His account was so far at variance with the picture the media portrayed that I suspected a hoax, as did my RCP editor. As it turns out, various Guard documents, personal memories, and sworn testimony support his story, which in Louisiana is no great secret. It’s just the rest of the country that’s been kept in the dark.
Read the whole thing. The Katrina reporting represented a massive media failure, one that they’ve never really admitted.
UPDATE: Reader Michael Parker emails:
It’s only a failure if their goal was to report the news.
It was a raging success if you believe their goal was to diminish Bush.
Given how proud of their Katrina coverage the press remains to this day, it seems like the latter is the most likely.
It’s certainly true that they have nothing to be proud of. Indeed, their mis-reporting hampered rescue efforts and may well have cost lives.
MARK TAPSCOTT: Cut their pay and send them home?
IT’S ARTHUR CONAN DOYLE’S BIRTHDAY: Everybody talks about Sherlock Holmes, but it’s worth remembering that Doyle thought other works of his superior. You might check out The White Company — worth it for the N.C. Wyeth illustrations alone, and predecessor to much modern military/fantasy fiction. You might also try the Professor Challenger stories.
UPDATE: Reader John Chalupa notes that Doyle is in the public domain, and links to a bunch of stuff available free online.
Public domain? We still have that?
DOES HEZBOLLAH KNOW SOMETHING that we don’t?
THE ANIMATED MARK WARNER that appears on this site is kind of cool, but I imagine it would get pretty annoying after a while — though it’s smart enough to tell when you’ve been there more than once.
HOW TO HIDE YOUR MONEY IN WASHINGTON: A roundtable discussion by various members of Congress.
A GEORGE W. BUSH letter in response to Ahmadinejad. Heh.
PORKBUSTERS UPDATE: Tim Chapman reports that Trent Lott’s “Railroad to Nowhere” seems to be going nowhere for the moment, as it won’t be in the conference report for the emergency Afghanistan / Iraq / Katrina bill.
That’s good news, but it could, of course, reappear in some other piece of legislation down the line. And probably will.
MICAH WRIGHT AGAIN? The Milbloggers say they’ve spotted another fake antiwar veteran.
This week we interview Mary Cheney about her new book, Now It’s My Turn: A Daughter’s Chronicle of Political Life. And, unlike some people, we actually spend most of our time talking about the non-gay parts! And, shockingly, that’s actually most of the book. Who knew?
Among other things, Mary Cheney talks about her dad’s heart attack (he had his first at the same age that Helen had her heart attack), about the role of blogs and alternative media in the 2004, 2006 and 2008 campaigns, whether folks in the White House have lost touch with the base and what they should do about it, how to get started in a political campaign, and more.
You can listen directly (no iPod needed!) by clicking right here, or you can subscribe via iTunes here (we like that, as it pushes us up the iTunes charts). There’s a lo-fi version for dialup here, and you can see a complete archive of podcasts here.
Music is by The Opposable Thumbs. I think you’ll find the audio on this podcast significantly improved, thanks to a new studio setup and a new digital phone box.
As always, my lovely and talented cohost is taking comments and suggestions.
MANAGING TO LOOK BUSY: My TCS Daily column today is about companies that are cracking down on employee websurfing, and why you should short their stock.
THE ISLAMIC REPUBLIC OF RUSSIA:
If present trends continue, the population of Russia will decline from 143 million to 100 million by 2050. Not only that, but by 2050, most of the population may be Moslem. Currently, about 15 percent of Russians are Moslem, and the average Moslem family has three or more children, while the average non-Moslem family has one or two. While Christian (largely Slavic) Russians have seen their numbers tumble, the Moslem population of Russia has grown over 40 percent since 1989 (from births, migration and conversions). There has also been a religious revival, with the number of mosques growing from under a thousand when the Soviet Union collapsed, to over 8,000 today. That means Moslem men drink a lot less, and live healthier, and longer, lives. . . .
The 70 years of communist rule was very damaging and demoralizing to most Russians, as it was to other nations that endured less of it in Eastern Europe. Prosperity and democracy have arrived in a fitful and threadbare state. Things are getting better, but that usually means that women have fewer children. It’s been that way for thousands of years. The aristocrats were notorious for having small families, and the main reason was that the wealthy wives had better, and less arduous, things to do than pregnancy and child rearing. Because of that, Russia will probably have a larger Moslem minority by 2050, but not a majority, because even Moslem women have fewer children as they become educated and more affluent.
A PODCAST INTERVIEW WITH ELIZABETH EDWARDS, from the Personal Democracy Forum.
THE MILBERG, WEISS CASE: Jonathan Adler has a roundup of reactions regarding the prosecution of class-action lawyers for illegal payments.
JOHN THUNE, porkmeister?
SO I’M READING CHARLES STROSS’S NEW BOOK, The Clan Corporate, and it’s pretty good, though I’m finding the pace a bit slower than the two previous books in this sequence. Lots of internal politics on both sides, which slows the story. It’s still good — it’s Stross — but I think the pacing could have used some work. I’ll let you know if I still feel the same way at the finish.
IT’S ERIC UMANSKY VS. JASON LEOPOLD: Leopold, according to an email from Umansky, threatened to sue, which strikes me as very unwise given his circumstances. The real question, in light of Umansky’s post, is how Leopold ever got a job, even at a place like Truthout. Would anyone listen to a blogger with that kind of track record?
UPDATE: More unwise threats.
REBECCA MACKINNON: “Skype ignores users concerned about China censorship.”
Robert Luskin, Karl Rove’s lawyer, says he spent most of the day on May 12 taking his cat to the veterinarian and having a technician fix his computer at home.
He was stunned, therefore, when journalists started calling to ask about an online report that he had spent half the day at his law office, negotiating with Patrick Fitzgerald — and that the special prosecutor had secretly obtained an indictment of Rove.
The cat’s medical tests, Luskin says, found that “the stools were free of harmful parasites, which is more than I can say for this case.”
THE RUSSIAN MOB goes after SovTek: Preston Taylor Holmes objects: “What’s at stake? Warm, yet crunchy, distortion.”
NOTHING TO WORRY ABOUT HERE: “Two Saudi men were held without bond Sunday after they were arrested for boarding a school bus full of children, authorities said.”
UPDATE: Yeah, CAIR’s defending them. That’s reason enough for suspicion. . . .
THE BLOGGER FORMERLY KNOWN AS SKBUBBA defends a higher minimum wage in the Knoxville News-Sentinel.
A “HATEFUL ANTI-WAR SPEECH” by Rep. Lacy Clay (D-MO) at a University of Missouri graduation provokes a near-riot, according to Gateway Pundit, who has a report and audio. Seems to illustrate the point made in this WSJ editorial about the Democrats’ penchant for self-marginalization and self-destruction: “We doubt all of this will help Democrats with the larger electorate, which whatever its doubts about Iraq does not want a precipitous surrender. Americans haven’t trusted a liberal Democrat with the White House during wartime since Vietnam, which is when the seeds of the current antiwar rage were planted. The great mistake that leading Democrats and anti-Communist liberals made during Vietnam was not speaking up against a left that was demanding retreat and sneering at our war heroes. Will any Democrat speak up now?”
IOWA VOICE HAS HAD IT with the culture of corruption in Washington.
YUGOSLAVIA IS OVER, and Publius looks at the shape of things to come.
ARMY OF DAVIDS UPDATE: This is cool:
The Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) reports the discovery of an extra-solar planet called XO-1b, which orbits a dim star in Corona Borealis every 4 days. To find it, the brightness of several thousand stars were regularly scanned using two mini-telescopes in Hawaii. This equipment was built using commercial hardware: two digital cameras, attached to telephoto camera lenses on a robotic equatorial mount. A team of amateur astronomers helped with their own equipment to discard or confirm dozens of suspected transits.
Somebody should write a book about stuff like this.