Why NOT Lie To Congress?

| Thu Feb. 14, 2008 3:11 PM EST

After yesterday's day-long congressional hearing on the use of performance-enhancing drugs in baseball, the consensus on the matter here at our F Street headquarters boils down to two things: Roger Clemens was lying (duh), and devoting federal resources to baseball players is a colossal waste of time and taxpayer money. What makes it particularly "f*ing stupid," to quote my colleague Nick, is that nothing is likely to come of it. Sure, we got to learn some interesting things about Clemens' ass and the complications of injecting yourself with foreign substances. But here's the rub:

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Mitt Romney to Endorse McCain

| Thu Feb. 14, 2008 1:41 PM EST
CNN's Dana Bash reports that former Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney will endorse senator John McCain. The endorsement is expected to happen at a Boston event at 3:30 p.m. ET today.
Two sources familiar with the decision confirmed the news, and said Romney now wants the delegates he won during his campaign to back his former rival.

Movement in the Making: Stop the Superdelegates!

| Thu Feb. 14, 2008 1:37 PM EST

Folks across the internet are upset that the nearly 800 members of Congress, state governors, and Democratic Party honchos known as superdelegates could decide the winner of the Democratic nomination. If the pledged delegate count (i.e. the delegates won through primaries and caucuses) is close going into the convention, the superdelegates' votes will be decisive, and who knows what they will do: they may vote for the candidate who got the most pledged delegates, or the candidate who got the larger share of the popular votes, or the candidate who won their state, or whomever they think is best for the country, or whomever guarantees them the most/best patronage in the next administration.

Point is, everyday folks are angry that the nomination won't be decided in a purely democratic fashion. and Open Left are taking action: if you're worried about superdelegates, check them out.

To Protect White House, GOP Disrupts Congressman's Memorial Service

| Thu Feb. 14, 2008 11:50 AM EST

lantos.jpg Congressional Republicans, specifically Lincoln Diaz-Balart of Florida, just interrupted the memorial service of recently deceased Congressman Tom Lantos.

At 11:05 am this morning, Diaz-Balart offered a motion to adjourn, which, if passed, would have ended the House's legislative day. It appears the intent was to keep the House from debating contempt citations for former White House Counsel Harriet Miers and White House Chief of Staff Josh Bolten, which were on the agenda. According to the Congressional Research Service, "A motion to adjourn is of the highest privilege, takes precedence over all other motions, is not debatable, and must be put to an immediate vote." That means that the members of the House had to leave the Lantos memorial where they were paying their respects to vote on the House floor, for nothing more important than to keep the day's business open.

The memorial service began at 10:00 am in Statuary Hall, which is an old House chamber in the Capitol. Speakers included Lantos' relatives, Bono, and Elie Wiesel. Diaz-Balart's vote was called during Joe Biden's tribute to Lantos.

It was purely obstructionist move by Diaz-Balart, made all the more crass and classless because it was used to disrupt the services of a widely admired public servant who was Congress's only Holocaust survivor. Accusations are flying back and forth about the matter. Incidentally, the motion to adjourn failed and debate of the contempt citations is currently underway.

Video after the jump.

How He Went Down: Mugniyah Assassination Plot Follow Up

| Thu Feb. 14, 2008 11:31 AM EST

As a tense south Beirut buried assassinated Hezbollah militant Imad Mugniyah Thursday and Israel and the region braced for feared retribution and an escalation of tensions, analysts continued to speculate on who killed the elusive terror suspect. (See this piece for a primer).

Former CIA officer Robert Baer, who served in Beirut and extensively researched Mugniyah, offered a model about how things might have gone down. "An old friend of mine," Baer emailed. "Friend may not be the word. Anyhow the Israelis persuaded him to set off a car bomb in a Damascus bus station. He used the Guardians of the Cedars, paid them something like $200,000. Bomb went off as requested."

"Point two is Syria these days is completely corrupt," Baer added. "You buy what you want."

Google Earth Lands in Hot Water in (Surprise) the Middle East

| Wed Feb. 13, 2008 6:56 PM EST


Reports Monday described how the Israeli town of Kiryat Yam is suing Google for slander after a Google Earth user added a note asserting that the town was built on the ruins of a Palestinian locality following the war of 1948. Google has said that it will not remove the note, which appears on the application's "community layer," because it is not "in any way illegal."

But earlier this month another problem developed that is potentially thornier for Google because it involves the company's official cartographic judgment. The problem comes in the form of a letter to Google's CEO from the National Iranian American Council loudly protesting the inclusion in Google Earth of the term "Arabian Gulf"—along with the more common "Persian Gulf."

Only a few years ago, in 2004, Google's co-founders told shareholders that "focused objectivity" was a trait "most important in Google's past success" and "most fundamental for its future." But that was before Google Earth. And if the two complaints this month show anything, it's that a map is a highly subjective thing. Including "Arabian Gulf" was a classic hedge on Google's part, probably an attempt to strive for that ideal of objectivity. NIAC's letter, however, explains the term's somewhat untoward history:

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The Three Trillion Dollar War

| Wed Feb. 13, 2008 5:40 PM EST


The Bush administration has spent a lot of money in Iraq since White House economic adviser Lawrence Lindsey was fired in 2002 for daring to predict the war might cost as much as $200 billion. An estimate issued last August by the Congressional Budget Office suggested the war will have cost at least $1 trillion before it's over. A September report (PDF) by the Democratic staff of Congress's Joint Economic Committee pegged the cost at $1.3 trillion. Now a new book by a Harvard professor and a Nobel Prize winner in economics claims the true cost could be more than twice that—as high as $3 trillion dollars. If you wanted to pay that off with a single wad of $1,000 bills, your billfold would have to be almost 240 miles wide.

Huckabee is Officially Done

| Wed Feb. 13, 2008 4:19 PM EST

Plucked this from a McCain campaign email I just received.


It's official: the former Governor of Arkansas is toast. Now it's just a matter of time until he realizes it and drops out. But hey, he doesn't have anything else to do (other than firing up that popcorn popper). I say let him have his fun.

Dems Poised to Force Contempt Vote - Really

| Wed Feb. 13, 2008 4:14 PM EST

House Democrats are poised to push a vote to hold White House chief of staff Josh Bolten and former White House counsel Harriet Miers in contempt of Congress. Sound familiar? If so, that's because congressional Dems have been vowing to hold Bolten and Miers to account since last July, when the pair blew off subpoenas compelling them to testify before Congress in connection with the U.S. Attorneys scandal. More than six months later, we're still waiting for the Dems' promised constitutional showdown with the White House.

In late July, the day after the House Judiciary Committee voted to authorize contempt citations against Bolten and Miers, Roll Call reported that the Democrats, citing "the busy House schedule," would hold off on advancing the measure until after the August recess. After House Judiciary Committee chairman John Conyers offered a "final warning" to the White House in early November, a vote was briefly scheduled for the middle of that month, then quickly postponed until December. Sure enough, December came and went with no House contempt vote (though, the Senate Judiciary Committee finally got around to voting on and approving contempt citations for Bolten and Karl Rove). In January, with contempt supposedly at the top of their agenda, the Democratic leadership again put off dealing with the politically thorny issue, citing their need to hammer out an economic stimulus package with the administration.

That brings us to today, when a number of news outlets are reporting that the House could vote on the contempt citations as early as tomorrow. This afternoon, Conyers introduced two resolutions related to the contempt proceedings, one of which would allow the Judiciary Committee to file suit in federal court if Attorney General Michael Mukasey refuses to enforce contempt charges, as he has already threatened to do. So perhaps the Democrats are moving forward on contempt charges after all. That said, don't be terribly surprised if there's a last minute delay—or if the looming brouhaha with the White House ends without the Dems delivering the hoped for blow to the administration's expansion of executive power.

New R.E.M. Sounds Kind Of Like Old R.E.M.

| Wed Feb. 13, 2008 3:52 PM EST

R.E.M.And I mean that in the best possible way. The legendary combo's new album, Accelerate, comes out April Fools' Day, but via Pitchfork comes a just-released single and video, and it's got a little of that old R.E.M. magic. While the intro kind of inverts the start of the Clash's "Should I Stay or Should I Go," the rest has that wistful sound R.E.M. patented: "And you cry and you cry," sings Michael Stipe, and Mike Mills does that awesome background thing, "ay-ee-iy-yiy!" Kind of makes you want to get out your dusty copy of Murmur and put it on the hi-fi. Anyway, the video's after the jump.