NDN Blog

Amateur Hour at the White House

At NDN our tech team works hard to try and keep our email free of spam, and they do a damn decent job - thanks, Gillian and Ben.  The one drawback to our spam filter is that it blocks outgoing emails that contain offensive words.  So when I accidentally slip the kind of word that gets you detention in high school into an email, that email will be deleted.  That's ok, that's why I use my personal email account outside of work, and quote "Midnight Run" to my hearts content. 

Our friends at CREW have found a much more nefarious use of personal email accounts though.  It turns out that Karl Rove's Deputy Scott Jennings has been using a personal email -linked to a domain owned by the RNC no less - to send emails about the purged US Attorneys.  It isn't the first time Rove's office has pulled this kind of thing either.  Susan Ralston, another Rove Deputy, used to use a personal email account to get in touch with her old boss, Jack Abramoff.  The problem with all this personal email is that it may well amount to a purposful and illegal evasion of the Presidential Records Act, if Congress, a Special Prosecutor (fingers crossed), etc don't know about your personal email account, they can't read the damaging contents, right? 

The deceptive and maybe illegal practices of the Bush/Rove team are a a disgrace to the institution of the Presidency, and yet another sign of the moral degradation of the conservative movement. 

Pew: 59% of US Latinos use Text Messaging, More Than Go Online Via PC

Here is the latest Pew Study - that just went public today - on Latino’s online…. A key quote:

“Mexicans, the largest national origin group in the U.S. Latino population, are among the least likely to go online: 52% of Latinos of Mexican descent uses the internet. Even when age, income, language, generation, or nativity is held constant, being Mexican is associated with a decreased likelihood of going online.

Some Latinos who do not use the internet are connecting to the communications revolution in a different way – via cell phone. Fully 59% of Latino adults have a cell phone and 49% of Latino cell phone users send and receive text messages on their phone.

Way to go, Joe

Sounds like Joe Biden has had enough...

The "Straight Talk Express" is Back

WAPO has the details.  But does this mean McCain is retiring the Pandering to Extremists Mobile?

Bigger than the US Attorneys Purge Scandal?

Think you've heard every possible sordid development regarding the actions of Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez and the Bush White House.  Think again, because this one may top everything that has been revealed to date.  Murray Wass of the National Journal is reporting that last year, Attorney General Gonzalez advised President Bush to shutdown an internal Justice Department investigation into the warrentless wiretapping program.  Most ethically and legally troubling was the fact that Gonzalez had been told that his actions as White House Counsel and Attorney General would be at the center of the investigation.  The President's response:

Bush personally intervened to sideline the Justice Department probe in April 2006 by taking the unusual step of denying investigators the security clearances necessary for their work.

It is unclear whether the president knew at the time of his decision that the Justice inquiry -- to be conducted by the department's internal ethics watchdog, the Office of Professional Responsibility -- would almost certainly examine the conduct of his attorney general.

Sources familiar with the halted inquiry said that if the probe had been allowed to continue, it would have examined Gonzales's role in authorizing the eavesdropping program while he was White House counsel, as well as his subsequent oversight of the program as attorney general.

Both the White House and Gonzales declined comment on two issues -- whether Gonzales informed Bush that his own conduct was about to be scrutinized, and whether he urged the president to close down the investigation, which had been requested by Democratic members of Congress.  

This investigation by the Justice Department's Office of Professional Responsibility was not looking at the legality of the warrentless wiretapping program, just "allegations of misconduct involving department attorneys that relate to the exercise of their authority to investigate, litigate, or provide legal advice."  In other words, the investigation was honing in on potential misbehavior and ethical and legal violations by Gonzalez.  He knew this and still went to the President to ask him to end the investigation, which he did using what amounted to extraordinary means. 

Now there is one very important question Gonzalez and the President have to answer.  Did Gonzalez tell the President that he was a target of the investigation?  If he did not, he would be guilty of a serious, if not illegal deception.  And if he did, then the President knowingly interfered in a Justice Department investigation to shield his Attorney General.  Either way, somewhere Tricky Dick Nixon must be blushing.

We've heard it. Now let's see it.

During his trip to Latin America, President Bush referred to the hard work of Mariano Can, an indigenous farmer in the Guatemalan highlands who built a thriving business made possible by a loan backed by the U.S., saying: "You have proven that if given a chance, you and hundreds of others can succeed, and that's what we want."

Those comments were probably aimed at a different aspect of policy, but they also apply to the over-arching goal of his trip: immigration reform.

His comments aren't surprising. They really never are, because the President has continuously been a strong (at least in terms of what his position allows) advocate for comprehensive immigration reform. Yet these comments were directed towards a people whose continent needs, for so many reasons, to believe the words of the President of the United States. And they couldn't have come at a more important time for a President who needs to be believed.

After all, speaking to Congress versus speaking to leaders and citizens of Latin American countries about immigration reform seems somewhat different. The level of understanding is somewhat different, especially when the President of Mexico told President Bush that he has relatives who have probably handled the food he eats.

So the President returns from Latin America. He has, as always, said some very compassionate things about the idea of immigration, what it means and what its realities are. He returns from a place where he found inspiration to do the right thing everywhere he looked. But now he has to deliver. He has as many of the pieces in place that he could ask for. The rest he'll have to fight for.

The time is ripe for meetings with Senate Majority Leader Reid, Senator Kennedy and Speaker Pelosi. The time is also ripe to step up his lobbying efforts if he is going to hit his unofficial deadline of August for an immigration overhaul to get through Congress.

We've seen the word legacy attached to immigration reform so many times. We know the President wants to get this done and we've seen what he'll do to get what he wants. If he goes to work to pass comprehensive immigration reform, he will at least be able to add that to his compassionate conservative resume.

We want to believe in that compassion, Mr. President; and so do our neighbors to the South.

Good to be back

After what was a rather extraordinary set of technical problems, we are back.  Thanks to Michael Haggerty at Trellon for his spirited effort to get us back on line.  

Thanks for your patience.  Now, back to work.

Those fired prosecutors

From the Times this morning:

WASHINGTON, March 4 — Senator Pete V. Domenici, Republican of New Mexico, said Sunday that he had urged the Justice Department to dismiss the state’s top federal prosecutor, who in December was one of eight United States attorneys ousted from their jobs.

In addition, Mr. Domenici said in a statement that last year he called the prosecutor, David C. Iglesias, to ask about the status of a federal inquiry in New Mexico. The case centered on accusations of kickbacks in a courthouse construction project in which a former Democratic state official was said to be involved.

“I asked Mr. Iglesias if he could tell me what was going on in that investigation and give me an idea of what time frame we were looking at,” Mr. Domenici said. “It was a very brief conversation which concluded when I was told that the courthouse investigation would be continuing for a lengthy period.”

Mr. Domenici apologized in the statement and said he regretted making the call, but added that he had not urged any course of action in any investigation. “I have never pressured him nor threatened him in any way,” he said.

A Justice Department spokesman said on Sunday that records at the agency showed that the senator complained about Mr. Iglesias in calls to Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales in September 2005 and again in January and April 2006. The senator made a brief call to Paul J. McNulty, the deputy attorney general, in October 2006 when the deliberations over Mr. Iglesias’s dismissla began.

In each of these calls, said Brian Roehrkasse, a Justice Department spokesman, Mr. Domenici expressed general concerns about Mr. Iglesias and questioned whether he was “up to the job.” Mr. Roehrkasse added, “At no time did they discuss the public corruption case.”

A Justice Department official said Mr. Domenici’s criticism of Mr. Iglesias was a factor in the decision to remove the prosecutor, adding that the decision was also based on an internal evaluation at Justice Department headquarters regarding his handling of the job.

Why does all this matter so much? Because the people taking down the corrupt conservatives these last several years have not been the Democrats, but career prosecutors at the Office of Public Integrity at Justice and US Attorneys like the 8 just let go.   At some point the Administration had to do what it could, short of dismantling the Office of Public Integrity, to stop or slow the march of indictments and jail time being handed down to leaders of their movement and those that ran our government in recent years.  Since the 8 just fired included a San Diego US Attorney responsible for baging Duke Cunningham and the former #3 at the CIA, Dusty Faggo, this all just smelled of politics.  For why should we assume that this Administration, as political as it is, would be willing to stand by while their allies got taken down by a bunch of overzealous lawyers? Somehow I think there is going to be more to this story. 

I believe history will show that those running the country in the Bush era to be the single most corrupt set of leaders the nation has ever seen.  To make sure that justice is served, and all the many cases in front of the Office of Public Integrity are investigated fully, Congress should give this office and the hardworking career prosecutors there much more money, perhaps double their budget.  They need the resources necessary to ensure that any lead is followed, any corrupt official brought to trial.  After all they are dealing with the largest set of official corruption cases in modern times.

UPDATE: Oops, appears Congresswoman Heather Wilson also tired to get Iglesias fired.

CPAC: Conservatives Pillage, Attack City

At least that's what it felt like living next door to the Shoreham Omni Hotel this weekend, where CPAC held its annual conference and Republican Presidential candidate cattle call.  Trust me, when 5,000 conservative activists descend on your quiet corner of Washington, DC, you feel like you're under attack.  My advice to these unwelcome visitors was to be careful about sharing their political views with the wait staff at Open City.  Thankfully, Max Blumenthal from The Nation had more meaningful engagement with the other side in this great short film on the conference.  Beyond providing a look into the house of horrors that is the CPAC conference, it provides a crisp snapshot of the conservative psyche.

It's times like these when I have trouble respecting our political and ideological opponents.  Bad peoples...

Event this week - The Dawn of a New Politics

I hope you'll join us for a joint NDN and New Politics Institute (NPI) presentation and lunch on Thursday, March 8. Simon and Peter Leyden, Director of NPI, will lay out how transformations in technology and media, changing demographics, and new governing challenges are transforming the political landscape.

The Dawn of a New Politics
Thursday, March 8
12:00pm
Human Rights Campaign
1640 Rhode Island Avenue, NW

Since the 2006 elections, the political terrain for progressives has opened up in unexpected – and very positive – ways. And Peter and Simon's “New Politics” multimedia PowerPoint presentation provides high-level strategic analysis of these changes and what they mean for this emerging “New Politics.”

Their provocative thesis has been presented to various audiences – from elected officials in Congress to the Netroots – and now will be presented in an open public event for any interested individual or progressive group.

To RSVP, contact Tracy Leaman at tleaman@ndn.org or 202-842-7213.

Syndicate content