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Vice President Bush?

| Mon Apr. 16, 2007 9:29 AM EDT

Jeb Bush, that is. Mitt Romney discussed potential running mates on the campaign trail recently (counting your chickens, Mitt?), and three southerners came up: South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford, former U.S. House Speaker and current crazy person Newt Gingrich (of Georgia), and former Florida Governor Jeb Bush.

Frankly, I would rather have years 13-17 with a Bush in the White House than years 1-4 with Gingrich in it. Romney said that the three gentlemen he mentioned would be prospective veeps for anyone who secured the Republican nomination, a fact that isn't really true. First of all, Romney was in South Carolina when he made the statement, so the southern flavor of his VP list is clearly a product of his circumstances. Second, the Massachusetts-based Romney needs some southern appeal. While that would also be the case for New Yorker Giuliani and maybe the Arizona-based McCain, a southern VP wouldn't be necessary for former Tennessee Senator Fred Thompson, nor current Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee.

Also, it is way, way, way too early to be talking about this.

PS - Did you know Jeb Bush's full first name is not Jebediah? It's John. Very, very disappointing. A President Jebediah would have been kind of neat.

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Sadr Pulls Ministers Out of Iraqi Government

| Mon Apr. 16, 2007 8:50 AM EDT

Shiite cleric and political leader Moqtada al-Sadr ordered his ministers to quit the Iraqi government on Monday because Prime Minister Maliki won't set a timetable for the withdrawal of U.S. troops.

The Shi'ite Alliance is a coalition of Shiite political parties that includes Maliki and al-Sadr. Al-Sadr's followers hold a quarter of the Alliance's parliamentary seats (al-Sadr's members of parliament will not abandon the government), in addition to six ministries. The withdrawal of al-Sadr's ministers, though it has happened before, puts an already embattled Maliki in an even more tenuous position, and drives the Iraq government closer to the brink.

The problem here at home is that is makes clear that al-Sadr's priorities and the Democrats' priorities are one: a timetable for withdrawal. Not a good thing when you are perceived as being in lockstep with a war zone's most powerful thug.

Aqua Teen Movie Not Very Good

| Sun Apr. 15, 2007 7:27 PM EDT

aquateen.jpg
Yes, yes, you're saying, "in other news: Pope Catholic." I'm sure the Mother Jones editors are like "what kind of dimwitted yokel is this so-called Party Ben, sullying our esteemed web site with blather about the latest stoner cartoon." Indeed. But in my defense, "Aqua Teen Hunger Force," the show, was at one point the funniest, oddest thing on television, belying its rep as "TV for slackers" with rapid-fire dialog that rewarded repeat viewings. Like "Monty Python," the best episodes built a bizarro world of utter nonsense, but then respected this world's inner logic, and pushed the rules to their logical, insane conclusions. The strange format of 12- or 13-minute episodes made the action dense and rollicking, like a great comic short story.

Giant Storm Slams The East

| Sun Apr. 15, 2007 3:08 PM EDT

A friend from the Berkshires in western Massachusetts emails me Sunday morning to say the snow is piling up outside and it's sleeting sideways. I'm supposed to be en route to New York City but the biggest nor'easter in 20 years has cancelled 300 flights to the right coast. Guess I'm staying in California. I love big weather and it would be fun to be in this, but more than likely I'd be stuck in some airport for days. In New York, Mayor Bloomberg called a press conference Saturday to warn of the coming storm. Jesse Ferrell of AccuWeather points out this is a likely first for an "unnamed" storm except possibly major blizzards. Ferrell also points out that AccuWeather meteorologist Dale Mohler was quoted by Bloomberg.com as saying "The storm will really set in Sunday afternoon. By April 16, the system may be as strong as a Category 1 hurricane, with winds above 74 miles per hour and stretch from Maine to Florida and as far west as the Mississippi River." Wow. A new species of storm. Who says all we're doing is cause the sixth great extinction? We're breeding new meteorological monsters. --Julia Whitty

New Email Released Shows Sampson's a Fibber

| Sat Apr. 14, 2007 12:44 PM EDT

On March 29, Kyle Sampson, former chief of staff to AG Alberto Gonzales testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee regarding the firing of eight U.S. Attorneys. Sampson's testimony incriminated Gonzales, who had claimed he was not involved in the firing process. Sampson finally spoke -- it had been the most awaited testimony during the case that has preoccupied Washington for months. Well, now it looks like Sampson lied under oath. The former aide, as Michael Scherer reported in Salon, had trouble answering many questions that day; he tallied 127 "I don't remembers" uttered by Sampson throughout the hearing. Perhaps Sampson should have said "I don't remember" to this inquiry put forth by committee member Charles Schumer:

Schumer: Did you or did you not have in mind specific replacements for the dismissed U.S. Attorneys before they were asked to resign on December 7th, 2006.

Sampson: I personally did not. On December 7th, I did not have in mind any replacements for any of the seven who were asked to resign.

A January 6, 2006 email just released to the House Judiciary Committee shows that Sampson had named replacement recs for each USA on the list of to-be-fireds. Oops. This news comes during the heating up of the email controversy over the administration using RNC emails to avoid communicating through their own email system. The White House now claims to have lost 5 million of these emails, many of which relate to the firing of the eight U.S. Attorneys. It's a pretty tangled mess -- Karl Rove is back on the hot seat (I guess he's never really off) and Plamegate is back in the news.

But the new email released revealing Sampson's fibbing does more than just point to the fact that a former justice official lied under oath and reveal a concerted effort by the administration and the DOJ to conceal their communication, it shows that many of the potential replacements named were Bushies; that the mass purge of USAs in December was indeed a way to make room for "partisan loyalists" (an accusation the DOJ has denied). This Thursday, the Senate Judiciary Committee authorized subpoenas for all DOJ and White House documents relating to the firings that they say they will issue if Gonzales is not forthcoming in his testimony this Tuesday. Senate Dems say that the documents released thus far have been incomplete. I'm banking on there being more juicy bits of information buried in the DOJ and WH's trails of paper and electronic mail. Stay tuned.

Today is National Day of Climate Action

| Sat Apr. 14, 2007 12:32 PM EDT

Many of you likely know that today is the National Day of Climate Action. There are lots and lots of cool events around the country, which you can search by zip code at the Step It Up 2007 website. Got some free time on a spring Saturday? Try saving the planet for a little bit.

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Today is National Day of Climate Action

| Sat Apr. 14, 2007 12:27 PM EDT

Many of you likely know that today is the National Day of Climate Action. There are lots and lots of cool events around the country, which you can search by zip code at the Step It Up 2007 website. Got some free time on a spring Saturday? Try saving the planet for a little bit.

Another Haditha?

| Sat Apr. 14, 2007 11:50 AM EDT

A new report from Afghanistan's Independent Human Rights Commission says that a U.S. Marine unit used excessive force when escaping a suicide attempt last month. Twelve Afghani civilians were killed and 35 were injured by the Marines, who apparently did not distinguish between civilians and insurgents when responding to an attempt on their own lives. From the Times:

Following the March 4 attack in Nangahar province, when an explosives-rigged minivan crashed into a convoy of Marines, the unit shot at vehicles and pedestrians in six different locations while driving along a 10-mile stretch of road, according to a report by Afghanistan's Independent Human Rights Commission.

And this isn't a toothless non-prof spouting off, either. This could result in actual prosecution.

A U.S. military commander also determined that Marines used excessive force, and he referred the case for possible criminal inquiry.

As if the United States needs any more bad press in the Arab world...

Party Ben's Top Ten Stuff 'n' Things 4/13/07

| Fri Apr. 13, 2007 9:34 PM EDT

Ooh, Friday the 13th. Time for scaarrry electro jams, and spooooky Icelandic singer ladies, and situation commmedieeesss!!!

mojo-photo-aqua.jpg10. Getting ready to go see "Aqua Teen Hunger Force Colon Movie Film for Theaters"
Mostly just being amused by the Chronicle's baffled (yet admirably open-minded) review of the thing today.


mojo-photo-glass.jpg9. The Glass – "Come Alive" (mp3)
The NYC electro duo comes back with a more mainstream sound reminiscent of Tiga and fellow New Yorkers The Rapture. Grab an mp3 of it (and a cool DJ set from them) at Spinner here


mojo-cover-brighteyes.jpg8. Cover art for Bright Eyes Cassadaga, new album on Saddle Creek
Yes, fine, it's Omaha's finest singer-songwriter with a more "Americana" style album. Whatever. But duuude, check out this cover art, it's all like black and white static, but you pull out the included magic view screen, and it turns into pictures of crazy stuff! How do they do that?

mojo-cover-djaxel.jpg7. DJ AxelBreakin' the Law (self-released album)
LA's Peter Axelrad has quietly become one of the most consistent mash-up producers out there, with flawless and crowd-pleasing DJ sets; this collection of tracks is augmented by brilliant, Sgt. Peppers-inspired cover art


mojo-cover-bjork.jpg6. Bjork"Earth Intruders" (from the forthcoming album Volta, out May 7 on Atlantic)
This Timbaland-produced single underwhelmed me at first, but after a week of hearing it around town, it's wormed its way into my brain. With its clompy drums and space-alien perspective, it's oddly similar both sonically and lyrically to Bjork's first solo single, "Human Behavior," and almost equally charming

Could Those Lost E-mails Cause Fitzgerald to Re-open Leak Case?

| Fri Apr. 13, 2007 8:33 PM EDT

Whoopsie! We lost 5 million e-mails! Thus spoke the White House, as Dan blogged earlier today. And a particularly huge number seem to belong to a certain Mr. Rove. All of these e-mails were exchanged during the period of time U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald investigated in connection with the leak of Valerie Plame Wilson's identity. Fitzgerald had been led to believe that he had a full accounting of official communications during the period in question. Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington—a watchdog group that is also representing Joe and Valerie Wilson in their civil suit against administration officials—is now calling on Fitzgerald to re-open his investigation, given that the source of the leak may well have covered his electronic tracks. This is getting fun, isn't it?