jazzoLOG: Blogs: Journalism At Its Finest    
 Blogs: Journalism At Its Finest13 comments
picture18 Mar 2007 @ 10:46, by Richard Carlson

I believe in the forest, and in the meadow, and in the night in which the corn grows.

---Henry David Thoreau

Every morning I awaken torn between the desire to save the world and the inclination to savor it.

---E.B. White

A zendo is not a place for bliss and relaxation. It is a furnace room for the combustion of our delusion. What tools do we need to use? Only one. We've all heard it, yet we use it very seldom. It is called "attention."

---Charlotte Joko Beck

I wouldn't be surprised if more Internet browsers than I found ourselves clicking around the same sites for the first time yesterday. One is www.talkingpointsmemo.com and the other, associated with it, is www.tpmmuckraker.com . My wife gave me the heads-up by sending me their "Canned US Attorney Timeline," which I promptly linked in a comment at another entry [link] . Impressed and curious, I started looking around the site, and before long found myself at the adjoining muckraker blog.

Also yesterday the Los Angeles Times ran a column about these guys, and I think the writing is worthy to share. The article's author is Terry McDermott, who lives in Iowa I think, but is a regular correspondent for the LA Times. A couple years ago he wrote a book, and when Terry Gross interviewed him for NPR's Fresh Air, here's how she led off~~~

"Fresh Air from WHYY, May 4, 2005 · McDermott, a reporter for The Los Angeles Times was skeptical of the way the Sept. 11 hijackers were portrayed. So he traveled to 22 countries to research their identities, motives and life circumstances.
"He found that they weren't deeply disturbed. They came from intact families, most were middle-class, few were deeply religious, and none were (sic) abused or estranged. His new book is Perfect Soldiers: The Hijackers: Who They Were, Why They Did It." [link]

The book still is at Amazon [link] but the essay I'm talking about is a tribute to serious bloggers everywhere. I'll preserve it right now~~~


latimes.com
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

COLUMN ONE
Blogs can top the presses
Talking Points Memo drove the U.S. attorneys story, proof that Web writers with input from devoted readers can reshape journalism.
By Terry McDermott
Times Staff Writer
March 17, 2007

New York — In a third-floor Flower District walkup with bare wooden floors, plain white walls and an excitable toy poodle named Simon, six guys dressed mainly in T-shirts and jeans sit all day in front of computer screens at desks arranged around the oblong room's perimeter, pecking away at their keyboards and, bit by bit, at the media establishment.

The world headquarters of TPM Media is pretty much like any small newsroom, anywhere, except for the shirts. And the dog. And the quiet. Most newsrooms are notably noisy places, full of shrill phones and quacking reporters. Here there is mainly quiet, except for the clacking keyboards.

It's 20 or so blocks up town to the heart of the media establishment, the Midtown towers that house the big newspaper, magazine and book publishers. And yet it was here in a neighborhood of bodegas and floral wholesalers that, over the last two months, one of the biggest news stories in the country — the Bush administration's firing of a group of U.S. attorneys — was pieced together by the reporters of the blog Talking Points Memo.

The bloggers used the usual tools of good journalists everywhere — determination, insight, ingenuity — plus a powerful new force that was not available to reporters until blogging came along: the ability to communicate almost instantaneously with readers via the Internet and to deputize those readers as editorial researchers, in effect multiplying the reporting power by an order of magnitude.

In December, Josh Marshall, who owns and runs TPM , posted a short item linking to a news report in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette about the firing of the U.S. attorney for that state. Marshall later followed up, adding that several U.S. attorneys were apparently being replaced and asked his 100,000 or so daily readers to write in if they knew anything about U.S. attorneys being fired in their areas.

For the two months that followed, Talking Points Memo and one of its sister sites, TPM Muckraker, accumulated evidence from around the country on who the axed prosecutors were, and why politics might be behind the firings. The cause was taken up among Democrats in Congress. One senior Justice Department official has resigned, and Atty. Gen. Alberto R. Gonzales is now in the media crosshairs.

This isn't the first time Marshall and Talking Points have led coverage on national issues. In 2002, the site was the first to devote more than just passing mention to then-Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott's claim that the country would have been better off had the segregationist 1948 presidential campaign of Sen. Strom Thurmond succeeded. The subsequent furor cost Lott his leadership position.

Similarly, the TPM sites were leaders in chronicling the various scandals associated with Republican lobbyist Jack Abramoff.

All of this from an enterprise whose annual budget probably wouldn't cover the janitorial costs incurred by a metropolitan daily newspaper.

"Hundreds of people out there send clips and other tips," Marshall said. "There is some real information out there, some real expertise. If you're not in politics and you know something, you're not going to call David Broder. With the blog, you develop an intimacy with people. Some of it is perceived, but some of it is real."

Marshall's use of his readers to gather information takes advantage of the interactivity that is at the heart of the Internet revolution. The amount of discourse between writers and readers on the Web makes traditional journalists look like hermetic monks.

Duncan Black, an economist who writes as Atrios on his website, Eschaton, receives hundreds of comments for almost anything he posts. Thursday morning, he posted a short note saying he would not be writing much that day as he was going to be traveling. Within the hour, 492 people posted comments on that. A political reporter at a metropolitan daily might not get that much reader response in a year.

"With Abramoff, I was getting a lot more tips than I could handle," Marshall said. "I thought if I hire two people, pay them, marry them with these tips, what could we do then?"

That led to the creation of TPM Muckraker, which has two full-time, salaried reporter-bloggers and is where many of the stories on the U.S. attorneys were originally published.

In much of its work, TPM exhibits a clearly identified political agenda. In this, it is no different from dozens of other blogs across the political spectrum. It distinguishes itself by mixing liberal opinion with original reporting by its own staff and actively seeking information from its readers.

This was most apparent in 2004-05 when Marshall turned the site's focus to President Bush's proposed privatization of Social Security. Marshall asked readers to survey their own members of Congress on the issue. This distributed reporting helped TPM compile rosters of where every member of Congress stood on the proposal, something no newspaper attempted. By making apparent the lack of enthusiasm for the plan, TPM helped kill it.

The Social Security campaign was straightforward political activism, with strict advocacy for a well-defined position.

"For me, that was sort of a little beyond my comfort zone," Marshall said. "But the underlying issue seemed important enough to do it. There are still a lot of lines I don't cross because of, for lack of a better word, the kind of institution we are. We do opinion journalism, we're not campaign adjuncts."

Blogging has famously unleashed the opinions of multitudes. There are, by very rough count, 60 million bloggers around the world today. Some projections have that number nearly doubling again this year. Depending on which side of a vitriolic divide you fall — that is, whether you think this is good or bad — this represents either the end of civilization or the rise of true democracy.

There are blogs for baseball teams, for fast food, for God and for Satan; there are lots of blogs on politics and Hollywood and at least one that deals exclusively with pharmaceutical industry research. There are hundreds of blogs on Iraq and more than you would imagine in Mongolia.

Though the numbers and breadth of blogging are indeed astonishing, it's not at all clear what the numbers mean, if they mean anything at all. Much of what constitutes the phenomenon of blogging is apt to be inconsequential for the simple but powerful fact that nobody reads most of them. That is, aside from their authors, literally nobody.

Most of these blogs are the creations of individuals who have a passion to write, usually about a single subject, that subject often being themselves. Some of them are truly horrible and, thankfully, short-lived. The passion burns out.

Others, though, are remarkably good. There are sports blogs devoted to single teams that are far more acute in their analysis than mainstream media (MSM) covering the same sport. This is particularly true in baseball, where statistically driven analysis has been adopted wholesale in the blogosphere while the MSM has been slow to recognize its value.

The blogs that have captured the most attention are those that devote themselves mainly to politics and public affairs. These are almost always run by partisans of one side or the other. In that, they are nearly the opposite of the sort of coverage presented in traditional media, whose coverage at least attempts to be neutral on questions of policy.

This neutrality is a favorite target of bloggers who say that mainstream journalism objectivity disguises hidden biases of the form, if not the writer. The bloggers contend that these biases can render neutrality into bland, even neutered reporting that rewards those intent on manipulating it.

Many critiques from both sides of the blogging-MSM divide are accurate, if sometimes misplaced. The chief criticisms of blogging from defenders of the MSM are, one, the pajama charge — that is, bloggers are not professional journalists and don't do much reporting (thus the image of them sitting at home in their pajamas) — and, two, the incivility charge, that many bloggers use impolite language.

Most bloggers, in fact, are not journalists and do little if any reporting. But most bloggers don't claim to be journalists. They're bloggers. The incivility charge is true too. Many bloggers use bad language, but so occasionally does the New Yorker, and no one accuses it of lacking manners.

"I'm familiar with the critique," Marshall said. "I don't feel it has a great deal to do with us, what we are doing. There's a ton of stuff out there, and a lot of it is screechy and angry and undisciplined. I don't have a problem with it, but it's not stuff I'm particularly interested in reading.

"It's totally in the tradition of political pamphleteering. … Individually, I think some of it isn't necessarily that pretty, but I think the whole thing altogether is a great thing."

Neither side in the blog-MSM debate seems to have great appreciation for what the other brings to the party. Simply put, while mainstream media does the heavy lifting of careful, day-to-day and occasional in-depth reporting, bloggers have revivified political commentary, mainly through their exuberance.

If the traditional media see their roles as delivering lectures on the news of the day, blogs are more of a backyard conversation, friendlier, more convivial. Bloggers publish in variable lengths at uncertain and unscheduled times. Blogs tend to be informal, cheap to produce, free to consume, fast, heavily referential, self-referential and vain because of it; profane, accident-prone yet self-correcting.

To say that traditional media were slow to appreciate the power of this form is to belabor the obvious. Even bloggers were slow to appreciate the import of what they were doing. The phenomenon appeared in its embryonic form in the mid-1990s. The term "blog," a mash-up of "Web log," was coined in 1997. By 1999, blogging software was widely available, and free, and the first political blogs appeared.

By that time, Marshall, a 38-year-old who has a PhD from Brown University in American colonial history, had become a freelance journalist, selling pieces mainly to small opinion journals. He wrote his first blog post in November 2000, commenting on the role of GOP lawyer Theodore Olson in Florida's Bush-Gore recount.

"It just seemed natural. I liked the informality of the writing. The freedom of it appealed to me," Marshall said. "It just looked like fun. I saw it as a loss leader for my journalism."

Once he started, however, he never stopped. He continued to freelance, but gradually moved more and more of his attention to the blog, living in near poverty as a result. When he needed money to do something for the blog, he asked his readers for it. Remarkably, they gave it to him.

His economic turning point came in 2003 when he received a phone call from a man named Henry Copeland, who had an idea for selling advertising on blogs. Copeland saw a way to aggregate blogs and broker advertising to them. Essentially, he created a remote back office and a revenue stream for the mainly sole proprietors who blogged.

"He had the concept of Blogads, which turned out to be the funding mechanism for what I was doing. Within six months it was supporting me," Marshall said.

It wasn't until Copeland came along that anyone seriously contemplated making a career as a blogger. Since then, advertising has grown to such an extent that dozens of blogs are now profitable enterprises. They are also major sources of information for thousands of readers.

Copeland said the relatively small world of left-of-center political blogs now receives an estimated 160 million page views a month, in the same ballpark as some major newspapers and far more than any opinion magazine.

This professionalization of the blogosphere has been abetted by mainstream media's increasing practice of hiring independent bloggers or deploying staffers to blog duty. No one in the blogosphere seems particularly worried about the competition.

Copeland, for one, doubts that the MSM will be able to stem the blogging tide, or even swim very far in it.

"We're big believers that the Internet's rule is 'the outside is the new inside.' That means that bloggers, with low overheads and nimble structures, can outmaneuver everyone else….

"A newspaper is a boat, a highly evolved mechanism designed and built to float in water. Blogs are bikes, built to cruise in another environment. Now, you can pull a bunch of planking off a boat and add wheels and pedals, but that won't make it as light and maneuverable as a bike."

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
terry.mcdermott@latimes.com
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Copyright 2007 Los Angeles Times
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19 Mar 2007 @ 11:14 by jazzolog : Hot Weekend: Rove With Gonzales Sauce
Despite inside-the-beltway predictions US Attorney General Gonzales would be gone by today, here he still is pasted like mustard to Hot Dog Rove. Is somebody hitting below the belt?

http://www.theworldlink.com/content/articles/2007/03/16/news/news06031607.jpg

The press is all over this showdown at Dubya's corral, but one of the best examples is the Newsweek article that will be in the next issue. Put together by Michael Isikoff, Richard Wolffe and Evan Thomas, there are 4 pages to it online...and here's the first~~~

"March 26, 2007 issue - At highly charged moments, attorney General Alberto Gonzales can seem placid, passive—at times, just plain out of it. In the summer of 2002, high-level Bush administration officials met to debate secretly a delicate issue: how aggressively could the CIA interrogate terror suspects? While the lawyers from Justice, Defense and the vice president's office hotly debated definitions of torture (at times discussing specific interrogation techniques), Gonzales, who was then the White House counsel, sat by and said virtually nothing. The attorney general's behavior was typical, say administration officials who have worked with him. His defenders say he likes to keep his counsel. Others wonder if he's ill prepared, insecure or simply has nothing to say.
"Last week Gonzales's bland, what-me-worry? smile seemed to fade. He appeared slightly forlorn as he answered hostile questions from reporters at a hastily called press conference. He was asked about the role of the White House in firing a group of U.S. attorneys. 'As we can all imagine,' he began, 'in an organization of 110,000 people, I am not aware of every bit of information that passes through the halls of the Department of Justice ...' He was aware, he said, that there was 'a request from the White House as to the possibility of replacing all the U.S. attorneys. That was immediately rejected by me.' The impression was that Gonzales was merely responding to the ill-considered scheme of his successor as White House counsel (Harriet Miers); that he, personally, had not been in the loop for a series of controversial decisions that have set off a congressional brouhaha over the dismissal of one U.S. attorney in the summer of 2006 and seven more in December.
"Two days after that presser, however, the White House turned over newly discovered e-mails showing that Gonzales, while he was still on the job at the White House in January 2005, had 'briefly' discussed the idea of firing U.S. attorneys. (A Justice Department spokeswoman said Gonzales had 'no recollection' of that.) The e-mails showed that Kyle Sampson, then a top aide to Attorney General John Ashcroft and later Gonzales's chief of staff, talked about the possible purge of '15-20 percent' of the U.S. attorney corps deemed not to be 'loyal Bushies.' The e-mails also showed that Bush's chief political adviser, Karl Rove, had 'stopped by' to ask a White House lawyer 'how we planned to proceed regarding US Attorneys, whether we are going to allow all to stay, request resignations from all and accept only some of them, or selectively replace them, etc.' Sampson warned that firing all the U.S. attorneys could cause political problems. 'That said,' Sampson wrote, 'if Karl thinks there would be political will to do it, then so do I.'"
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/17664172/site/newsweek/

This morning's New York Times puts the fight in perfect perspective as the sun rises on a momentous week~~~

"WASHINGTON, March 18 — The Democratic senator leading the inquiry into the dismissal of federal prosecutors insisted Sunday that Karl Rove and other top aides to President Bush must testify publicly and under oath, setting up a confrontation between Congress and the White House, which has said it is unlikely to agree to such a demand.
"Some Republicans have suggested that Mr. Rove testify privately, if only to tamp down the political uproar over the inquiry, which centers on whether the White House allowed politics to interfere with law enforcement.
"But Senator Patrick J. Leahy, Democrat of Vermont and chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, seemed to rule out such a move on Sunday. He said his committee would vote Thursday on whether to issue subpoenas for Mr. Rove as well as Harriet E. Miers, the former White House counsel, and William K. Kelley, the deputy White House counsel.
“'I do not believe in this "We’ll have a private briefing for you where we’ll tell you everything," and they don’t,' Mr. Leahy said on 'This Week' on ABC, adding: 'I want testimony under oath. I am sick and tired of getting half-truths on this.'”
http://www.nytimes.com/2007/03/19/washington/19attorneys.html?_r=1&th=&oref=slogin&emc=th&pagewanted=all

With more Republicans joining Democrats every day to demand the White House under oath, we could be in for a summer of hearings that will rival Watergate of 30 years ago. Remember what that all was about? Was anything learned except not to make the mistakes Nixon made that got him caught? Rent All The President's Men and watch it again!  



20 Mar 2007 @ 00:02 by a-d : Apropå
Blogs: http://www.commondreams.org/views04/0810-01.htm THIS is a good one!

...THIS is Journalism as its finest: "If the people were to ever find out what we have done, we would be chased down the streets and lynched."--President George H. W. Bush--This quote was taken from White House Reporter Sarah McClendon's 1992 interview with President George H.W.Bush

and more Good Journalism, supporting the above statement: http://makethemaccountable.com/index.php/2007/02/13/the-only-way-we-can-get/
...and how about this: http://www.commondreams.org/views04/0810-01.htm  



20 Mar 2007 @ 08:44 by jazzolog : Congressional Oversight Kicks Into Gear
Instead of delivering its promised decision yesterday as to whether or not Karl Rove will come before Congressional scrutiny voluntarily, the White House ordered the Justice Department to cough up more emails about the federal attorney firings. At close of business thousands of messages were delivered to the House Judiciary Committee, which reportedly is posting them one by one onto the Internet! Among them is email from Attorney General Alberto Gonzales expressing dismay that his deputy testified last month that one of the lawyers was fired for no other reason than that Rove wanted to give a job to a crony. (Bush said last week "mistakes were made," and I presume that testimony is what he meant.) The New York Times has the story this morning. http://www.nytimes.com/2007/03/20/washington/20documents.html?_r=1&ref=us&oref=slogin

In a related item, Reuters is reporting Patrick Fitzgerald himself was on the White House hit list for replacement. That was while he was prosecuting the CIA leak scandal. http://www.reuters.com/article/politicsNews/idUSN2032738920070320 Can there be any further doubt about how these people operate? It was revealed on Face The Nation Sunday that in testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee on January 18, 2006, Gonzales said the following: "I would never, ever make a change in a United States attorney position for political reasons or if it would, in any way, jeopardize an ongoing serious investigation. I just would not do it." http://www.crooksandliars.com/2007/03/18/sen-schumer-we-do-have-evidence-gonzales-lied-under-oath/

Now Bush says he'll decide on Thursday whether Rove will come quietly or not. That's interesting because Thursday's the day Gonzales himself is scheduled to testify in the House on his budget for the Justice Department. Could it be Bush is waiting to see if Gonzales will make it that far? Is he hoping the hounds will be satisfied with Alberto and leave Karl alone? Don't count on it, bubba.

The LA Times carried a fine story yesterday on the various Congressional investigations that are going on. You might want to catch up and cheer up with the prospects. {link:/www.latimes.com/news/local/politics/la-na-probes19mar19,0,4276207.story?coll=la-home-headlines}

Al Gore will testify before both houses of Congress (separately I believe) tomorrow. There will be tons of television coverage. He's bringing with him a half million signatures of citizens concerned about global warming. If you want to add your name, go here http://www.algore.com/cards.html .  



20 Mar 2007 @ 13:50 by vaxen : What baloney!
Dog and poney show all over again with Mr and Mrs El Dupo Americano going along for the gd damned ride as per usual! Endless coverage of what?

Absolutely nothing! And human beings are being murdered, in Iraq and other places, pawns of the false Governments that are raping and destroying at will with no opposition whatsoever in site... business as usual.

A facade worse than Victorian Gingerbread which it sadly resembles.  



20 Mar 2007 @ 14:53 by jazzolog : Pass The Mustard
I'll just eat a sandwich while I await your signal for the attack. Where shall we meet? No plan? Well, not being a military man, I'll opt for political controntation a while longer.  


21 Mar 2007 @ 10:07 by jazzolog : What's Wrong With This Picture?

http://graphics8.nytimes.com/images/2007/03/21/us/21attorneys-600b.jpg

Could it be the guy at the lectern---who's somehow snuck into that glorious room?

The caption (in this morning's New York Times) reads, "'We will not go along with a partisan fishing expedition aimed at honorable public servants,' President Bush said in a news conference." Presidential Medals coming up!  



21 Mar 2007 @ 10:40 by jazzolog : Why I Was Fired
By DAVID C. IGLESIAS
Op-Ed Contributor
Albuquerque
March 21, 2007

With this week’s release of more than 3,000 Justice Department e-mail messages about the dismissal of eight federal prosecutors, it seems clear that politics played a role in the ousters.

Of course, as one of the eight, I’ve felt this way for some time. But now that the record is out there in black and white for the rest of the country to see, the argument that we were fired for “performance related” reasons (in the words of Deputy Attorney General Paul McNulty) is starting to look more than a little wobbly.

United States attorneys have a long history of being insulated from politics. Although we receive our appointments through the political process (I am a Republican who was recommended by Senator Pete Domenici), we are expected to be apolitical once we are in office. I will never forget John Ashcroft, then the attorney general, telling me during the summer of 2001 that politics should play no role during my tenure. I took that message to heart. Little did I know that I could be fired for not being political.

Politics entered my life with two phone calls that I received last fall, just before the November election. One came from Representative Heather Wilson and the other from Senator Domenici, both Republicans from my state, New Mexico.

Ms. Wilson asked me about sealed indictments pertaining to a politically charged corruption case widely reported in the news media involving local Democrats. Her question instantly put me on guard. Prosecutors may not legally talk about indictments, so I was evasive. Shortly after speaking to Ms. Wilson, I received a call from Senator Domenici at my home. The senator wanted to know whether I was going to file corruption charges — the cases Ms. Wilson had been asking about — before November. When I told him that I didn’t think so, he said, “I am very sorry to hear that,” and the line went dead.

A few weeks after those phone calls, my name was added to a list of United States attorneys who would be asked to resign — even though I had excellent office evaluations, the biggest political corruption prosecutions in New Mexico history, a record number of overall prosecutions and a 95 percent conviction rate. (In one of the documents released this week, I was deemed a “diverse up and comer” in 2004. Two years later I was asked to resign with no reasons given.)

When some of my fired colleagues — Daniel Bogden of Las Vegas; Paul Charlton of Phoenix; H. E. Cummins III of Little Rock, Ark.; Carol Lam of San Diego; and John McKay of Seattle — and I testified before Congress on March 6, a disturbing pattern began to emerge. Not only had we not been insulated from politics, we had apparently been singled out for political reasons. (Among the Justice Department’s released documents is one describing the office of Senator Domenici as being “happy as a clam” that I was fired.)

As this story has unfolded these last few weeks, much has been made of my decision to not prosecute alleged voter fraud in New Mexico. Without the benefit of reviewing evidence gleaned from F.B.I. investigative reports, party officials in my state have said that I should have begun a prosecution. What the critics, who don’t have any experience as prosecutors, have asserted is reprehensible — namely that I should have proceeded without having proof beyond a reasonable doubt. The public has a right to believe that prosecution decisions are made on legal, not political, grounds.

What’s more, their narrative has largely ignored that I was one of just two United States attorneys in the country to create a voter-fraud task force in 2004. Mine was bipartisan, and it included state and local law enforcement and election officials.

After reviewing more than 100 complaints of voter fraud, I felt there was one possible case that should be prosecuted federally. I worked with the F.B.I. and the Justice Department’s public integrity section. As much as I wanted to prosecute the case, I could not overcome evidentiary problems. The Justice Department and the F.B.I. did not disagree with my decision in the end not to prosecute.

Good has already come from this scandal. Yesterday, the Senate voted to overturn a 2006 provision in the Patriot Act that allows the attorney general to appoint indefinite interim United States attorneys. The attorney general’s chief of staff has resigned and been replaced by a respected career federal prosecutor, Chuck Rosenberg. The president and attorney general have admitted that “mistakes were made,” and Mr. Domenici and Ms. Wilson have publicly acknowledged calling me.

President Bush addressed this scandal yesterday. I appreciate his gratitude for my service — this marks the first time I have been thanked. But only a written retraction by the Justice Department setting the record straight regarding my performance would settle the issue for me.

David C. Iglesias was United States attorney for the District of New Mexico from October 2001 through last month.

Copyright 2007 The New York Times Company
http://www.nytimes.com/2007/03/21/opinion/21iglesias.html?th&emc=th  



21 Mar 2007 @ 16:41 by quinty : Well,
watching Bush on television last night with a row of books behind him certainly looked odd. They are very old books, from the thirties or forties perhaps, and appear to be serious and weighty. Can you imagine Bush reading Faulkner, let's say? Why he himself could easily qualify as a Snopes, maybe Twig Snopes. Too bad Faulkner isn't around to do him.

Whose books were those? That room, even in the photograph, appears heavy with history and, dare I say, greatness?  



22 Mar 2007 @ 10:28 by jazzolog : The Bush Generous Offer
http://d.yimg.com/us.yimg.com/p/uc/20070321/ltt070322.gif

I believe what was here was a Tom Toles cartoon, which I can't remember now but has been archived. (4/15)  



22 Mar 2007 @ 22:21 by quinty : The right's spin
tactics should be familiar to us all by now. They never vary.

Okay, so the Democrats, they tell us, are only playing political footsie with the Republicans. There's no there there. No laws were broken and the president has the right to hire and fire anyone he likes. Others have done it before. So what's the fuss? What’s the outcry? Nothing. But the Democrats trying to make hay. (As if there weren't enough issues out there for them to make plenty of hay without creating more.)

What this argument leaves out is that the White House may have been playing an ugly political game with its hirings and firings. That would be plenty of reason to become upset.

The argument also ignores that in the current administration we have seen this sort of thing before. In fact several former White House insiders have written about it: Paul O’Neill, Richard Clark, Larry Wilkerson. They all claim Bush’s team is quite vindictive. Blow the whistle on them and they will come after you full force. And we know that Carl Rove is a master of dirty politics. Indeed, the reaction to this latest building scandal may be predicated upon the Bush White House’s past. It’s more of the same, this time touching upon the independence of US Attorneys. Had it occurred in a vacuum, without the existence of any other White House scandals, it may not have created quite the same uproar.

Okay. Here is a “fresh” issue. One still starting out. The spin meisters on both sides have hardly had enough time to set up their tents. Where, so early in the game, has my analysis gone wrong? And let’s not forget, this is not truly a partisan issue. Some Republicans are complaining too. And if the president were a Democrat, playing politics with law enforcement, his behavior would be equally wrong.

The news tonight, by the way (Lou Dobbs on CNN) reported that the Bush White House is threatening to veto important legislation, education, healthcare, etc., if the Democrats proceed with the subpoenas. Nice. Very nice. If this report is true doesn't that show anything? What kind of people they are? Because, need I say, and with some rightwingers I do, the people shouldn't be made to suffer over this? Shouldn’t their well being come first no matter what the politics?  



23 Mar 2007 @ 00:29 by jerryvest : The major problem that the R's
face as I observe this tampering with federal investigations, is opening up of Pandora's box of deceipt, lies, and misadministration of all of our national resources. Of course our whole justice system is clouded with breaching our basic rights of privacy and more. It will be interesting for me to see how far this administration has gone to destroy our dignity, respect and love for our country. I think it was Bill Mahr on CNN who was asked why he made so many jokes about George Bush-- If I was asked if I liked the direction our Country is going--of course not. I think that people have hopefully learned over the past 6 years, to be President of the US, requires an intelligence. I'm paraphrasing, but if invited out for a drink would you be interested in talking with Bush? He responded that Bush belongs behind the bar or (bars?) working as a bartender and... laughed...and, sure, he may have some good old stories to tell.  


23 Mar 2007 @ 04:06 by a-d : The
: I think, Jazzo, that The "Silver lining" of this very Dark Cloud of Scandals is -as far as I can see- two fold: We The People of the United States of America, might FINALLY see that their Congress has been acting like the Court of/in Sleeping Beauty ever since they sold America to the Fed. Reserv / Internat. Central CRIMINAL Banking System. They've been sleep-walking ever since and We, The People, have been really, really sleeping!....
Now, We the People are waking up; the Spell -or should I say CURSE- has been broken - it seems.... People are starting to ask -finally- "What the Hell Is Going on There???"
And -if we are lucky, the newly awakened in the Congress might start to feel offended that they are being rail roaded & highjacked and HINDERED from doing their Job!
IF that Offence is felt by any of them deeply enough, there IS a chance that they start saying /demanding their rightful Right to actually DO their Job -and no president mentally sick -or not- ( and no matter "who" his "SECRET" Employers might be) will -nor can- stop them (any longer) from just doing so!
Let's hope & pray that this will be the case!

Indeed, let's envision all together, this being the Outcome of the -latest- Bruhaaa! (nothing will come to pass, that doesn't have enough Envisioning Power behind it; Universe manifests what we envision = Accept as Truth!)

Jazzo et Al, I posted a Link (to Ashanti ) on Vaxen's latest. Check it out, please. You won't regret the effort! : ) w/Love. A-d
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31 Mar 2007 @ 08:24 by jazzolog : I Guess This Is The Gonzales Thread
Karl Rove pranced around a media dinner Thursday night and Bush visited Walter Reed Hospital yesterday, both desperately trying to steal the headlines from Gonzales' chief of staff. That guy had a rather different picture of the attorney general's firing of federal attorneys who did not demonstrate enough "Bushie loyalty". Nevertheless it is the grotesque distortion of justice in the United States by this White House that remains the most important story. The LA Times knew it yesterday in posting this editorial~~~

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Bush's long history of tilting Justice
The administration began skewing federal law enforcement before the current U.S. attorney scandal, says a former Department of Justice lawyer.
By Joseph D. Rich
JOSEPH D. RICH was chief of the voting section in the Justice Department's civil right division from 1999 to 2005. He now works for the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law.
March 29, 2007

The scandal unfolding around the firing of eight U.S. attorneys compels the conclusion that the Bush administration has rewarded loyalty over all else. A destructive pattern of partisan political actions at the Justice Department started long before this incident, however, as those of us who worked in its civil rights division can attest.

I spent more than 35 years in the department enforcing federal civil rights laws — particularly voting rights. Before leaving in 2005, I worked for attorneys general with dramatically different political philosophies — from John Mitchell to Ed Meese to Janet Reno. Regardless of the administration, the political appointees had respect for the experience and judgment of longtime civil servants.

Under the Bush administration, however, all that changed. Over the last six years, this Justice Department has ignored the advice of its staff and skewed aspects of law enforcement in ways that clearly were intended to influence the outcome of elections.

It has notably shirked its legal responsibility to protect voting rights. From 2001 to 2006, no voting discrimination cases were brought on behalf of African American or Native American voters. U.S. attorneys were told instead to give priority to voter fraud cases, which, when coupled with the strong support for voter ID laws, indicated an intent to depress voter turnout in minority and poor communities.

At least two of the recently fired U.S. attorneys, John McKay in Seattle and David C. Iglesias in New Mexico, were targeted largely because they refused to prosecute voting fraud cases that implicated Democrats or voters likely to vote for Democrats.

This pattern also extended to hiring. In March 2006, Bradley Schlozman was appointed interim U.S. attorney in Kansas City, Mo. Two weeks earlier, the administration was granted the authority to make such indefinite appointments without Senate confirmation. That was too bad: A Senate hearing might have uncovered Schlozman's central role in politicizing the civil rights division during his three-year tenure.

Schlozman, for instance, was part of the team of political appointees that approved then-House Majority Leader Tom DeLay's plan to redraw congressional districts in Texas, which in 2004 increased the number of Republicans elected to the House. Similarly, Schlozman was acting assistant attorney general in charge of the division when the Justice Department OKd a Georgia law requiring voters to show photo IDs at the polls. These decisions went against the recommendations of career staff, who asserted that such rulings discriminated against minority voters. The warnings were prescient: Both proposals were struck down by federal courts.

Schlozman continued to influence elections as an interim U.S. attorney. Missouri had one of the closest Senate races in the country last November, and a week before the election, Schlozman brought four voter fraud indictments against members of an organization representing poor and minority people. This blatantly contradicted the department's long-standing policy to wait until after an election to bring such indictments because a federal criminal investigation might affect the outcome of the vote. The timing of the Missouri indictments could not have made the administration's aims more transparent.

This administration is also politicizing the career staff of the Justice Department. Outright hostility to career employees who disagreed with the political appointees was evident early on. Seven career managers were removed in the civil rights division. I personally was ordered to change performance evaluations of several attorneys under my supervision. I was told to include critical comments about those whose recommendations ran counter to the political will of the administration and to improve evaluations of those who were politically favored.

Morale plummeted, resulting in an alarming exodus of career attorneys. In the last two years, 55% to 60% of attorneys in the voting section have transferred to other departments or left the Justice Department entirely.

At the same time, career staff were nearly cut out of the process of hiring lawyers. Control of hiring went to political appointees, so an applicant's fidelity to GOP interests replaced civil rights experience as the most important factor in hiring decisions.

For decades prior to this administration, the Justice Department had successfully kept politics out of its law enforcement decisions. Hopefully, the spotlight on this misconduct will begin the process of restoring dignity and nonpartisanship to federal law enforcement. As the 2008 elections approach, it is critical to have a Justice Department that approaches its responsibility to all eligible voters without favor.

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Copyright 2007 Los Angeles Times
{link:http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/commentary/la-oe-rich29mar29,0,1507657.story?track=mostviewed-homepage}  



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