Mojo - June 2007

OSC's Investigation of Rove May be Legit. Very Legit

| Sat Jun. 16, 2007 7:10 PM PDT

Now that the Office of Special Counsel is done with Lurita Doan, it's intensifying its investigation of Karl Rove that we're worried is a sham. The scope of the investigation is staggering -- check out the details here.

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The Military Is Going Nuts

| Fri Jun. 15, 2007 1:41 PM PDT

A report released by a congressionally ordered mental health task force suggests that the military's handling of mental health problems in its ranks is even worse than Mother Jones previously reported (with little to no cooperation from the DoD, by the way). According to NPR, 40 percent of troops returning from Iraq or Afghanistan have some sort of psychological problem. Nearly a quarter show signs of serious mental health disorders.

It gets worse: Soldiers reporting psychological problems are not only not helped, but actually get punished for their illnesses. Some are sent to clean the latrines; others, in an image disturbingly resonant of Abu Ghraib, must sit in a corner wearing a dunce camp for long periods of time. At one army base, many soldiers were kicked out of the services following psychological complaints.

The Pentagon doesn't spend enough on mental health services, nor does it train troops, officers or even mental health care providers adequately. Believe it or not, even military doctors aren't well trained about the links between war and PTSD. For reasons NPR's correspondent doesn't address, since the War on Terror began, the few mental health specialists the DoD has "have been leaving the Army, the Marines, and the Air Force in droves." Problem is, neither the soldiers nor their demons miraculously disappear after they are released with inadequate or no treatment. The Pentagon is outsourcing their care—to you and me and the rest of us who oppose the war in Iraq.

Mike Gravel Will Hypnotize You

| Fri Jun. 15, 2007 8:47 AM PDT

I've blogged before about how much I love fringe presidential candidates. They definitely make the best videos, from ones where they claim they are the only ones in their party qualified to run for president to ones where they make post-modernist statements about the future of political campaigning.

Now stone-faced Mike Gravel has an entry in the world of crazy videos -- one where he makes it clear he will stare deep into your soul and convince you to vote for him by throwing a rock in a lake. Got that?

Okay, so I don't get it either. But this feels a lot like my college English classes where inevitably the poem I didn't understand was the one most revered by scholars. So Mike Gravel is either crazy or the smartest man to run for president, ever.

Or maybe he just has too much time on his hands.

More Info on Financial Disclosures: Clinton, McCain, Romney All Rolling in Cash

| Fri Jun. 15, 2007 6:14 AM PDT

We blogged a while back about the financial disclosures of many of the candidates, noting that some folks -- including Romney, McCain, and Clinton -- were granted extensions in filing their paperwork. We now have more information.

Hillary Clinton and Bill Clinton have assets valued from $10 million to $50 million (the massive window is a product of FEC rules) with the former president raking in speaking fees of more than $10 million in just the last year. The bulging bank account comes after the pair left the White House with millions in debt from legal fees. Two days ago I hit Senator Clinton pretty hard for being the "Big Money" candidate in the Democratic primary, so it's worth noting that she's made a bid for some financial transparency -- along with Bill, she has liquidated a family trust worth between $5 million and $25 million that had investments in oil and pharmaceutical companies, military contractors, Wal-Mart, and FOX News parent company News Corp. The cost of avoiding future conflicts of interest (and being hit for investing in decidedly non-progressive entities) is substantial, because of capital gains taxes the Clintons will have to pay.

Elsewhere, filings showed that the McCain family has $24.3 million in assets, almost all held by Cindy McCain and the McCain children. Cindy McCain controls an Anheuser-Busch distributorship in Arizona that is said to be among the largest in the nation.

And former Bain executive Mitt Romney is worth the most out of the bunch, with assets totaling $190 million to $250 million. Yahtzee!

Do Not Pass Go, Scooter Libby. Do Not Collect $200

| Fri Jun. 15, 2007 6:04 AM PDT

Perhaps you've heard about this?

Scooter Libby will not be allowed to remain free while his lawyers appeal the 30-month sentence he received after being convicted of lying to investigators during the CIA leak investigation, according to media reports.
The former White House adviser could be sent to federal prison within weeks, according to the Associated Press.

Now the pressure is really on President Bush regarding a pardon -- delaying it until the end of his term, entirely possible if Libby was allowed to stay free during appeal after appeal, is out of the question. Reports say that Team Cheney is pushing for a pardon hard, but the president is ambivalent. Though I think it would make a mockery of the justice system, I'm not sure why he doesn't pardon Libby today -- it's not like his approval ratings can get any lower.

Gonzales Under Investigation for Trying to Influence Aide's Testimony

| Fri Jun. 15, 2007 5:48 AM PDT

The problem with investigations is they create new, smaller investigations. That's what Alberto Gonzales is learning, anyway. He's under investigation for possibly trying to influence the testimony of former aide Monica Goodling in the U.S. Attorneys scandal.

Gonzo said in testimony that he never discussed the scandal with other "fact witnesses," and that in fact this lack of discussion was exactly why he had to respond with so many "do not recalls" in response to lawmakers' questions. But in testimony that came after Gonzo's, Goodling said that her boss had a conversation with her around this time about whether or not she should stay at the DOJ. According to Goodling, this conversation made her "a little uncomfortable." Many speculate it was intended to influence her testimony.

What's remarkable about this is that the investigation isn't being taken up by Congress -- it's being instigated by the Department of Justice itself. That means that it's no Democrat-led fishing expedition, but also that Gonzales is being investigated by his subordinates, putting everyone in an awkward position and raising the question of whether the investigation will be effective.

Effective or not, add this to the ever-growing list of scandals at DOJ.

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Bush DOJ Protects the Strong from the Weak

| Thu Jun. 14, 2007 3:55 PM PDT

Jonathan blogged earlier today about how the Department of Justice's shifted its focus away from traditional issues like race and sex discrimination and vote suppression to discrimination against religious conservatives—one of the most kowtowed-to and overrepresented groups in the country. I think he gave short shift to how utterly disturbing the move is. Here are specific examples cited in the Times article, which I will let speak for themselves:

• Intervening in federal court cases on behalf of religion-based groups like the Salvation Army that assert they have the right to discriminate in hiring in favor of people who share their beliefs even though they are running charitable programs with federal money.

• Supporting groups that want to send home religious literature with schoolchildren; in one case, the government helped win the right of a group in Massachusetts to distribute candy canes as part of a religious message that the red stripes represented the blood of Christ.

• Vigorously enforcing a law enacted by Congress in 2000 that allows churches and other places of worship to be free of some local zoning restrictions. The division has brought more than two dozen lawsuits on behalf of churches, synagogues and mosques.

• Taking on far fewer hate crimes and cases in which local law enforcement officers may have violated someone's civil rights. The resources for these traditional cases have instead been used to investigate trafficking cases, typically involving foreign women used in the sex trade, a favored issue of the religious right.

• Sharply reducing the complex lawsuits that challenge voting plans that might dilute the strength of black voters. The department initiated only one such case through the early part of this year, compared with eight in a comparable period in the Clinton administration.

Palestinian President Dissolves Government

| Thu Jun. 14, 2007 3:27 PM PDT

As Hamas and the more moderate Fatah movement battled on the streets of Gaza, President Mahmoud Abbas of the Fatah movement dissolved the government, which had been structured around a Fatah/Hamas power-sharing agreement. He has promised to create an emergency government.

Question is, is it good for the Jews, or bad for the Jews? Part of me believes that this is Israel's (and the neocons') dream come true—Palestinians destroying each other so Israel doesn't have to bother. It couldn't have been hard to see as Israel issued call after call for Arafat and then Abbas to rein Hamas in that eventually something like this would happen. On the other hand, it was also predictable that Hamas—you know, the more radical and better-armed group—would quickly gain the upper hand. The group has conquered nearly the entire Gaza strip. Having Hamas in power is a serious gamble for Israel (or at least Israelis), if this was the country's plan. One thing is for sure: This isn't good for the Palestinians, and it may well lead to a further increase in terrorism worldwide, already up since Bush invaded Iraq.

Guys, this is why you don't wage elective wars in the world's most conflict-ridden region—certainly not while depriving an angry group of its basic necessities because you don't like the results of a democratic election and then turning a blind eye to the consequences.

Giuliani Contradicts Himself in Rush to Blame Dems for Terrorism

| Thu Jun. 14, 2007 7:05 AM PDT

Rudy Giuliani's efforts to fit in with the Republican mainstream by, in part, Democrat-bashing is resulting in some ugly contortions. Speaking recently on FOX News, Giuliani slammed Bill Clinton's presidency for making America less safe, saying the administration's attitude towards terrorism was "don't react, let things go."

Not only is that wrong (see Richard Clarke's work) and misdirected, it directly contradicts what Giuliani said just nine months ago, when commenting on ABC's 9/11 docudrama:

"The idea of trying to cast blame on President Clinton is just wrong for many, many reasons, not the least of which is I don't think he deserves it."

One can only hope that if Rudy wins the Republican nomination, the mainstream media will focus on contradictions such as this and what even conservatives say is Rudy's facile understanding of foreign affairs.

There Must Be No More Racism, Then

| Thu Jun. 14, 2007 6:47 AM PDT

Maybe the reason why the DOJ's civil rights division is comically lacking in minority lawyers is because, as the New York Times reveals today, the division's focus is on protecting religious conservatives instead of prosecuting racial injustice.