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Elizabeth Edwards Confronts Coulter During Live Television Appearance

Tue, 2007-06-26 15:05

Elizabeth Edwards confronted right-wing pundit Ann Coulter during a live interview on MSNBC this afternoon, charging that Coulter’s “personal attacks” on former senator John Edwards and others were based on “the language of hate.”

Yesterday on ABC’s Good Morning America, Coulter said, “[I]f I’m gonna say anything about John Edwards in the future, I’ll just wish he had been killed in a terrorist assassination plot.” She has previously called Edwards a “faggot.” In 2003, she wrote a column claiming that John Edwards drove around with a bumper sticker saying “Ask me about my son’s death in a horrific car accident.”

During an hour-long interview with Coulter today on MSNBC, host Chris Matthews announced that Elizabeth Edwards was on the line. Edwards referenced the attacks above, saying, “I’m the mother of that boy who died. These young people behind you…you’re asking them to participate in a dialogue that is based on hatefulness and ugliness instead of on the issues, and I don’t think that’s serving them or this country very well.” The live audience cheered. Watch it:

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Responding to Edwards, Coulter first inexplicably claimed that she “didn’t say anything about [Edwards]” on the previous day. Then Coulter tried to claim that Edwards just wanted her to “stop speaking” and stop writing books, but Matthews rebutted her, saying, “No, she said you should stop being so negative to people individually.”

When her first two attempts to spin the situation faulted, Coulter then launched into another baseless, personal attack, accusing John Edwards of “bankrupting doctors by giving a shyster Las Vegas routine in front of juries…doing these psychic routines in front of illiterate juries to bankrupt doctors who now can’t deliver babies.”

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Protestors block Gonzales press conference.

Tue, 2007-06-26 15:04

Attorney General Alberto Gonzales was in Boise today for a press conference to discuss combatting gang activity. But he was forced to move the press conference “this afternoon to the federal courthouse in Boise because more than 100 protesters staked out his chosen site for the event. So instead of holding his conference at the Fort Boise Community Center, Gonzales opted to stage the event more than an hour later at the US District Court building nearby.”

UPDATE: KTVB reports, “Just before his scheduled 2:50 p.m. appearance for media questions and answers, a representative appeared and told the gathered crowd that Gonzales would speak at an alternate site - with only credentialed members of the media present.The crowd erupted in disappointment, with many yelling and screaming. Some chanted ‘coward, coward.’

Giuliani To Regent University: ‘The Amount Of Influence You Have Is Really, Really Terrific’

Tue, 2007-06-26 14:02

Today, former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani spoke at Pat Robertson’s Regent University. In the opening of his speech, he congratulated Robertson for the “influence” Regent has:

Thank you very, very much, Pat. Thank you for the very kind words and the introduction. And thank you for having me here.

I am very, very impressed with Regent University, when I consider that it was founded just a short while ago. The number of graduates that you have and the amount of influence that you have is really, really terrific.

And of all the many things that you’ve done — and there have been many, and many contributions…

Regent is ranked a “tier four” school by US News & World Report, “the lowest score and essentially a tie for 136th place.” Yet approximately one in six Regent graduates are employed in government work, and 150 serve in the Bush administration.

Monica Goodling, the former top aide to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales who graduated from Regent’s law school, perhaps best exemplifies the “terrific” influence Regent is exerting on the nation. Last month, Goodling admitted to the Senate Judiciary Committee that she had “taken inappropriate political considerations into account” while hiring career employees at the Justice Department. At one point she even pressured Michael Battle, head of the Executive Office for U.S. Attorneys, to replace two long-standing Justice officials with “a fellow Regent law school graduate.”

The “amount of influence” that Regent has had is a testimony to the willingness of some of its graduates to place partisan loyalties over principle.

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney (R-MA) also recently spoke at Regent and commended Robertson for his “dedication to strengthening and then nurturing the pillars of this community and our country.”

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Breaking: Abramoff-linked Bush official sent to prison.

Tue, 2007-06-26 13:52

CNN reports that J. Steven Griles, the former No. 2 official in the Interior Department, was sentenced to 10 months in prison today for “lying to the Senate about his relationship with convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff,” who got Griles to intervene at the agency for his Indian tribal clients. Griles had proposed “community service” (with a lobbyist group) in lieu of a prison sentence.

UPDATE: More from the AP.

Senate conservatives

Tue, 2007-06-26 13:45

blocking legislation that would enact the 9/11 Commission recommendations and ethics and lobbying reform.

Thompson’s controversial lobbyist past.

Tue, 2007-06-26 13:19

Former senator Fred Thompson today defended his work as a Washington lobbyist, telling the AP, “Nobody yet has pointed out any of my clients that didn’t deserve representation.” But the AP reports:

Thompson, who likes to cast himself as a political outsider, earned more than $1 million lobbying the federal government for more than 20 years. He lobbied for a savings-and-loan deregulation bill that helped hasten the industry’s collapse and a failed nuclear energy project that cost taxpayers more than a billion dollars.

He also was a lobbyist for deposed Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, who was widely criticized for endorsing “necklacing,” the gruesome practice of execution where gasoline-soaked tires are thrown over a person’s neck and set ablaze. In September 1991, Aristide said: “The buring tire, what a beautiful tool! … It smells good. And wherever you go, you want to smell it.”

Iraq war debate falls off media’s radar.

Tue, 2007-06-26 12:26

Major news outlets devoted just 1 percent of their coverage last week to the Iraq policy debate, according to the Project for Excellence in Journalism. “Those findings are indicative of a trend in recent weeks in which coverage of the political debate over the war has diminished substantially.”

GOP Senators back Lugar’s Iraq shift.

Tue, 2007-06-26 11:59

“Republican senators expressed support today for Indiana Sen. Richard G. Lugar’s call for an immediate change of course in Iraq,” CQ reports.

“I hail what he did,” said Sen. John W. Warner, R-Va., former chairman of the Armed Services Committee. “It shows the strength that each of us individually must bring to this debate.” Warner said that he too feels the September reporting date is too long to wait to revise U.S. war policy. […]

There is a growing feeling among senators that the U.S. presence in Iraq needs review, [Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL)] said, adding that he agrees that troops levels should be reduced “as soon as it is realistic to do it.” […]

Sen. George Voinovich, R-Ohio, said that it is important to find out if the administration is listening to differing views on Iraq. “If they’re not, I think that many of us are going to look at legislation that will limit the number of troops,” he said. Voinovich intends to submit a letter to the administration detailing an exit plan that would include engagement with the Arab League and the United Nations, he said.

UPDATE: The Washington Post buries Lugar’s speech.

UPDATE II: Lugar “just told reporters that the White House called him to ask for a meeting. Lugar would not say who he is meeting with or when it would happen, but all indications are that it will be National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley and it will take place later in the week.”

UPDATE III: The Crypt has posted Voinovich’s letter to Bush: “Though it may seem contradictory, I believe we can accomplish more in Iraq by gradually and responsibly reducing our forces and focusing on a robust strategy of international cooperation and coordinated foreign aid.”

Obama Smeared As Terrorist Again On Fox News

Tue, 2007-06-26 11:16

This past weekend, Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) delivered a speech commemorating the 50th anniversary of his Protestant denomination, the United Church of Christ. In the speech, Obama argued that faith in the United States has been “hijacked” by “the so-called leaders of the Christian Right, all too eager to exploit what divides us.”

Last night on Fox’s Hannity and Colmes, right-wing pundit Ann Coulter responded to Obama’s comments by implicating him as a terrorist. Coulter remarked, “Anyone named B. Hussein Obama should not use the words ‘hijack’ and ‘religion’ in the same sentence.” Host Sean Hannity added that Obama’s remarks were part of a “black separatist agenda.”

Watch it:

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Fox News is still planning to hold a Democratic presidential debate cosponsored by the Congressional Black Caucus in September. Yet this sort of racist and religious bigotry aired by Fox is nothing new. Earlier this year, the network basely suggested that Obama attended a radical anti-American madrassa “financed by Saudis” as a 6-year-old old in Indonesia.

News Hounds has more.

Ryan Powers

UPDATE: Yesterday on ABC’s Good Morning America, Coulter said, “If I’m going to say anything about John Edwards in the future, I’ll just wish he had been killed in a terrorist assassination plot.” Crooks and Liars has the video.

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‘Caging’ investigation suggests minority vote suppresion.

Tue, 2007-06-26 11:15

Several senators have called for the Justice Department to investigate allegations that Karl Rove protege and former U.S. Attorney Tim Griffin used a voter suppression tactic known as “caging” while Griffin was at the Republican National Committee. TPMMuckraker assessed the evidence and found the “caging” efforts disproportionately targeted African-Americans. Says one former Justice official: “It is difficult to explain other than an effort to target Democrats and by extension, minority voters.”

Waxman Reveals Numerous New Security Violations, Threatens Subpoenas

Tue, 2007-06-26 09:52

House oversight chairman Henry Waxman (D-CA) has revealed new evidence “that both the White House and the Office of the Vice President have flaunted multiple requirements for protecting classified information,” beyond the violation of the executive order reported earlier this week.

Last Friday, White House spokesperson Dana Perino stated that the “president and the vice president are complying with all the rules and regulations regarding the handling of classified material.” This is false. As Waxman makes clear in today’s letter to White House Counsel Fred Fielding, the Bush administration has repeatedly broken its own guidelines for securing classified information:

White House security officers blocked from inspecting the West Wing. The National Archives is not the only agency ensuring that White House officials comply with the requirements for protecting classified information. The White House Security Office (WHSO) also shares this responsibility. Waxman reports today that WHSO employees “have been blocked from conducting inspections in the West Wing of the White House, where most of the President’s most senior advisors work.”

Karl Rove has had his security clearance renewed. Karl Rove has admitted that he publicly disclosed Valerie Plame’s status as a CIA officer. Under guidelines issued by President Bush in 2005, the “deliberate or negligent disclosure” of classified information can be a “disqualifying” condition to receive security clearance. Yet Waxman reports that Rove has had his security clearance renewed “and not altered in any respect.”

White House ignored security breaches, condoned mismanagement. Management at White House Security Office has been unwilling to “take actions that could embarrass White House officials,” a practice “condoned” by the White House, Waxman writes. For example, the office repeatedly ignored security breaches that were reported by the Secret Service or CIA agents, such as when a “White House official left classified materials unattended in a hotel room.” As a result, there was “plummeting morale among White House security officers,” half of whom quit last year.

Since April, Waxman has tried unsuccessfully to arrange interviews with White House officials overseeing security matters. Unless those interviews are granted, Waxman says, he will bring a motion to subpoena the officials on June 28.

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Breaking: Senate votes to proceed on immigration bill.

Tue, 2007-06-26 09:40

In a defeat for the right wing, the AP reports the Senate is moving forward with the immigration bill:

The Senate voted Tuesday to jump-start a stalled immigration measure to legalize millions of unlawful immigrants. […]

The pivotal test-vote was 64-35 to revive the divisive legislation. It still faces formidable obstacles in the Senate, including bitter opposition by GOP conservatives and attempts by some waverers in both parties to revise its key elements.

UPDATE: Also today, crucial Senate legislation that would make organizing a union easier was blocked from even coming to a vote by conservatives.

Cost Of Cheney’s Executive Office: $4.75 Million

Tue, 2007-06-26 09:00

Reacting to the Office of the Vice President’s assertion that it is not an “entity within the executive branch,” Rep. Rahm Emanuel (D-IL) will introduce an amendment this week to cut off funding to Cheney’s office. Last night on MSNBC, he was asked how much money is spent on Vice President Cheney for an executive office he claims he’s not apart of:

MATTHEWS: Do you know, Congressman, how much money — how much money is spent by the taxpayer to give this guy a huge operations staff, a huge policy staff? He’s got travel all over the world. Do you know how big a budget he has right now?

EMANUEL: He has a residence. He has an entire operation that supports him as vice president. And then he also has, as you said, the travel. I mean, it’s in the millions of dollars.

Now we have a number. Roll Call reports today that President Bush has requested $4.75 million in fiscal 2008 to fund the Vice President’s operations (parts of which are housed, notably, in the Executive Office Building.)

In related news, Emanuel’s proposal is gaining steam in the Senate. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL), who chairs the subcommittee that funds the vice president’s budget, yesterday warned Cheney that “his office would risk losing its budget” unless the vice president agrees to follow the executive order. Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) also said he would “seriously consider” legislation to defund Cheney’s office, calling it “one of the only resorts we have.”

UPDATE: The White House budget request is HERE.

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Restoring law and justice.

Tue, 2007-06-26 08:20

The ACLU and other civil liberties groups have declared today a Day of Action to Restore Law and Justice. The ACLU will be “rallying on Capitol Hill and visiting congressional offices asking Congress to restore the right of habeas corpus.” Christy Hardin Smith has toll-free call-in numbers so you can contact your representatives, or sign MoveOn’s petition HERE. ACLU’s FindHabeas will be live-blogging throughout the day.

FLASHBACK: Cheney Argued Energy Task Force Probe ‘Interfered With Executive Branch’

Tue, 2007-06-26 07:36

The Office of the Vice President has asserted that Dick Cheney “is not an entity within the Executive Branch” in order to thwart an investigation into his handling of classified material. But there was once a time when Cheney prevented investigations by claiming they interfered with the Executive Branch.

Dana Milbank reports today in the Washington Post:

Cheney has refused to comply with an order governing the care of classified documents; his office concluded that the order does not apply because he is not “an entity within the executive branch.”

That’s quite opposite the argument Cheney made in 2001, when he said that a congressional probe into the workings of his energy task force “would unconstitutionally interfere with the functioning of the executive branch.” Cheney has, in effect, declared himself to be neither fish nor fowl but an exotic, extraconstitutional beast who answers to no one.

Milbank is referring to an instance in 2001 when GAO chief David Walker sent a “demand letter” for information and documents related to Cheney’s energy task force meetings. In response, Cheney wrote a letter to Congress informing lawmakers “of certain actions undertaken by an agent of the Congress, Comptroller General David M. Walker, which exceed his lawful authority and which, if given effect, would unconstitutionally interfere with the functioning of the executive branch.”

Appearing on ABC’s Nightline on July 25, 2001, Cheney said, “This request that in fact we’re supposed to provide [Congress] with this information with respect to…those meetings in the Executive Branch between the Vice President and other individuals strikes me as inappropriate.” Last night, The Daily Show aired the footage of Cheney’s remarks. Watch it:

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Glenn Beck to guest host on CNN.

Tue, 2007-06-26 07:26

Via Atrios, TV Newser reports that right-wing Headline News anchor Glenn Beck “is getting his first gig on CNN next week — and it’s in Paula Zahn’s spot. Zahn is off next week, so Beck is subbing at 8pm the week of July 2. It’ll be Beck’s first time hosting on the mothership.”

Alito: Big business’s ‘No. 1 ally.’

Tue, 2007-06-26 07:01

As the Supreme Court’s term comes to a close this week, Justice Samuel Alito “has emerged as the justice friendliest to the interests of corporations. He sided with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the nation’s largest business lobby, in 13 of 14 cases this term, more often than any of his colleagues. He cast votes to limit punitive damages, ease regulation and restrict suits by investors, consumers and alleged victims of job bias.”

ThinkFast: June 25, 2007

Tue, 2007-06-26 06:03

“President Bush was presented with a letter Monday signed by 50 high school seniors in the Presidential Scholars program urging a halt to ‘violations of the human rights’ of terror suspects held by the United States.” The handwritten letter said in part, “We do not want America to represent torture.” Bush “took a moment to read it and talk with a young woman who handed it to him.”

“Iraq’s conflict is exacting an immense and largely unnoticed psychological toll on children and youth that will have long-term consequences.” A World Health Organization survey of Iraqi children under 10 found that 47 percent reported being “exposed to a major traumatic event over the past two years.”

239. Number of bills the House of Representatives has passed and sent to the Senate only to be held up, with conservatives “objecting to just about every major piece of legislation that [Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV)] has tried to bring up.”

Yesterday’s Supreme Court decisions show the new “muscle” of the conservative majority, but USA Today notes a division between the far-right justices who are “eager to overturn previous decisions” and the new Bush appointees who are “reluctant” to “completely gut court precedents.”

“The U.S. Conference of Mayors narrowly endorsed a resolution Monday calling for the Bush administration to begin planning for the swift withdrawal of troops from Iraq.” The war is reducing federal funds “for needed domestic investments in education, health care, public safety, homeland security and more,” the resolution states. (more…)

Murdoch goes to China.

Mon, 2007-06-25 20:10

In the second part of its investigative series into Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation, the New York Times examines Murdoch’s “ardent and unrelenting” effort to break into the Chinese market.

Mr. Murdoch has flattered Communist Party leaders and done business with their children. His Fox News network helped China’s leading state broadcaster develop a news Web site. He joined hands with the Communist Youth League, a power base in the ruling party, in a risky television venture, his China managers and advisers say. […]

Mr. Murdoch cooperates closely with China’s censors and state broadcasters, several people who worked for him in China say. He cultivates political ties that he hopes will insulate his business ventures from regulatory interference, these people say.

In speeches and interviews, Mr. Murdoch often supports the policies of Chinese leaders and attacks their critics. A group of China-based reporters for The Journal accused him in a letter to Dow Jones shareholders of “sacrificing journalistic integrity to satisfy personal and political aims,” a charge the News Corporation denies.