Powell Calls for Guantanamo to be Closed

| Mon Jun. 11, 2007 4:15 PM EDT

powell_mtp.jpgAh, Meet the Press: What is it about little Timmy Russert that makes politicians drop their juiciest little morsels on his show? This Sunday it was former Secretary of State Colin Powell's turn to make waves on the show. The big news is that Powell called for Guantanamo to be shut down. The continued detention—sans lawyers and, in most cases, charges—of 365 men, Powell said, has "shaken the belief that the world had in America's justice system." Powell expressed faith in that system, arguing that the country "has 2 million people in jail, all of whom had lawyers and access to writs of habeas corpus…. We can handle bad people in our system."

Powell, who as chairman of the Joint Chiefs during the Clinton administration helped draft the disastrous "Don't ask, don't tell" policy, also titillated news whores and homosexuals everywhere when he implied that the policy may need to be revisited. It was "an appropriate response to the situation back in 1993. And the country certainly has changed," he said. However, unlike his successor as chair of the Joint Chiefs, John Shalikashvili, Powell stopped short of denouncing "Don't ask, don't tell." (More recently, chairman Peter Pace called homosexuality immoral. And, yes, it is hard to keep a chairman of the Joint Chiefs for long in these troubled times.)

Powell's final move to separate himself from the Bush administration he once served came as he announced that he hasn't decided whether to support a Republican or a Democrat in 2008. That's great, but I can't help but wonder why Powell, who's evidently a competent and decent guy, didn't know better than to serve under Bush and Cheney in the first place.

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The Hits Keep Coming: New Screw Up at Dep't of Justice

| Mon Jun. 11, 2007 2:07 PM EDT

Cameron can add another scandal to the already long list he provided in his last post about the Department of Justice. According to a study done by the Washington Post, the "Bush administration increasingly emphasized partisan political ties over expertise in recent years in selecting the judges who decide the fate of hundreds of thousands of immigrants, despite laws that preclude such considerations."

Yup, just when you thought Alberto Gonzales' fiefdom couldn't get any more screwed up, they pull this out of a hat. Turns out half of the judges the Department of Justice appointed to the immigration bench lack any sort of qualifications, and one-third are clear GOP apparatchiks. One is the former treasurer of the Louisiana Republican Party, one was a participant in the "Brooks Brothers riot" that stalled the recount in Florida, and one is a former White House domestic policy adviser and anti-porn crusader. Hardly the qualities one hopes for in judges that have to interpret the nation's voluminous and often incredibly detailed immigration laws.

The judges are appointed indefinitely, and combine to deport nearly a quarter million immigrants a year. Think of the damage these folks could do. Just another example of how the Bush Administration has turned the federal government into a bastion of conservatism, ignoring qualifications, expertise, and long-accepted hiring rules in the process.

From Moshing to Musicals, Rockers Take to the Stage

| Fri Jun. 8, 2007 8:23 PM EDT


Guitarist Pete Townshend (The Who) is coming out with his latest musical next month, "The Boy Who Heard Music." Based on an online novella, this won't be Townshend's first go at the theater, with The Who's rock operas Tommy and Quadrophenia paving the way. Last year, Duncan Sheik (a 90s one hit wonder with the infamous "Barely Breathing") co-wrote the music to then off-Broadway, now Broadway musical Spring Awakening, a story about adolescent sex in Germany in the 1890s. Are quasi-washed out rockers finding a new career in musicals? Just ask Sheik, who in a recent article admits to hating musicals, but spent five years working on one anyway.

—Anna Weggel

Senate Will Have 'No Confidence' Vote on Gonzales

| Fri Jun. 8, 2007 6:21 PM EDT

The Senate will hold a preliminary vote on Monday on whether to hold a thumbs-up/thumbs-down vote on AG AG. Republicans promise to vote against the proposal, but surely at least a few will break ranks. Republican Arlen Specter has hypothesized that Gonzales will resign before facing a "no confidence" vote. The funny thing is, the Senate could (and should) actually impeach Gonzales.

(If you haven't been following why Gonzo is such a Gonzo, you haven't been reading our blog, now have you? What it boils down to is this: U.S. Attorneys may be political appointees, but firing them for refusing to prosecute bogus "voter fraud" cases to keep minorities home on Election Day is unacceptable. So is hiring second-rate attorneys because they've been dutiful contributors to the Republican Party. So is prosecuting the first-ever voting rights case alleging white people were discriminated against. So is neglecting genuine civil rights cases. And so is having major diversity problems in the DOJ, when one of the department's primary functions is to prevent institutionalized discrimination. Oh yeah, and so is perjury.)

God Doesn't Just Hate Rudy

| Fri Jun. 8, 2007 4:45 PM EDT

Jonathan wrote earlier this week about the whole God-hates-Rudy-Giuliani-thing (lightning shorted his microphone at Sunday's GOP debate while he tried to explain his position on abortion). Well, thanks to Ann over at TAPPED, who spotted this post on Feministe, the God-hating nonsense can continue. It appears God doesn't just hate Guiliani but also teens who listen to Metallica on their iPod, while cutting the lawn in a lightning storm, as well as those who pray?

George W. Bush Walks Into a Bar...

| Fri Jun. 8, 2007 4:24 PM EDT

While we're on the subject of what Bush eats and drinks, I'm curious what people think about this photo:


That's Bush enjoying a frosty mug of low-alcohol beer (a Buckler, to be precise) between sessions at the G8 summit. It's not the first time the teetotaler-in-chief has been caught on film downing a near beer (even though he apparently used to try to hide his habit from the press.) But I wonder why a recovering alcoholic would choose to drink a low-alcohol beer (Buckler is 0.5% alcohol). My sense is that it has less to do with the smooth, refreshing taste than simply wanting to be convivial. You can imagine Bush feeling like a wuss while his world-leader buddies enjoy a stiff drink (though tough guy Vladmir Putin reputedly abstains). But there's still the question of whether he should be drinking fake beer. There's an AA saying that "Nonalcoholic beer is for nonalcoholics." So is this a sign of Bush's recklessness—or his self-discipline? Or should we get a life and just let the guy enjoy the ice cold beverage of his choosing?

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Bush Poisoned by Putin?

| Fri Jun. 8, 2007 4:00 PM EDT

bush-Putin.jpgAfter trading insults with Russian president Vladimir Putin in the lead-up to the G8 summit in Germany, Bush had to miss a session and group photo op yesterday after falling ill with what the White House called "some sort of bug." Was he, like Kremlin critic Alexander Litvinenko and reform-minded Ukrainian president Victor Yushchenko, poisoned? Apparently, White House counselor Dan Bartlett also sensed the coincidence, asserting defensively that Bush's illness was "probably more viral in nature and highly unlikely to be anything related to food or anything he ate." Question is, does Bush have a taster? 'Cause homeboy needs one. Putin is a dangerous enemy, and Bush doesn't have too many friends at home.

(Note to conspiracy theorists—and Mr. Putin: This post is tongue-in-cheek. )

The United States: Not Very Peaceful

| Fri Jun. 8, 2007 3:25 PM EDT

The BBC reported last week that the United States ranks 96th, out of 121 countries, on the Global Peace Index, a list determining the peacefulness of each country (121 being the least peaceful). Compiled by the Economist Intelligence Unit, a research and advisory firm spawned originally to serve the magazine, the index ranks countries on, among other factors, prison population, violent crime, and relations with one's neighbors. Iraq, due to the ongoing war (one of the reasons for the U.S.' poor ranking as well, I'll assume), ranks dead last, at 121. Norway, not surprisingly, ranks at the top. Other notables: Japan ranks fifth (although, that seems sort of skewed, due to its military constraints), Sudan sits at 120 and Israel at 119.

Hold the Election Today! People Support Dems Over GOP by Wide Margin in New Poll

| Fri Jun. 8, 2007 11:14 AM EDT

Last poll-related blog of the day, I swear. Amidst mountains of disgust with George Bush's handling of domestic issues, foreign policy issues, and all issues ever, there is an interesting number in this AP/Ipsos poll [pdf].

Including strong supporters, moderate supporters, and nominal supporters, you've got 54 percent of the country that favors the Democratic Party. The same number for the Republicans is only 36 percent. That's a difference of 18 percent, or exactly half the GOP's support.

Hillary, BHO, and Jedwards have to hope this national mood lasts. It'll be a cakewalk. Spotted on TPM.

Obama 35 Percent More Likeable Than Clinton. Does it Matter?

| Fri Jun. 8, 2007 10:50 AM EDT

A new FOX News poll [pdf] asks poll respondents if they find the two leading Democratic candidates for president "likeable." The results: Hillary Clinton is considered likeable by 56% of respondents, Barack Obama by a whopping 76%. Even 68% of self-identified Republicans like BHO.

So my question is this -- is the huge difference in how people perceive them a product of personality differences or the fact that Clinton has been dragged through the mud of several prominent campaigns? To put it another way, will Obama's numbers drop after some extended time in the national spotlight?

For what it's worth, respondents were much more likely to label Clinton a "strong leader" than Obama, but they were more likely to label Obama "honest and trustworthy" than Clinton.