Political MoJo

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

| Fri Jun. 15, 2007 9:04 AM EDT

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.

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Gonzales Under Investigation for Trying to Influence Aide's Testimony

| Fri Jun. 15, 2007 8:48 AM EDT

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.

Bush DOJ Protects the Strong from the Weak

| Thu Jun. 14, 2007 6:55 PM EDT

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 6:27 PM EDT

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 10:05 AM EDT

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 9:47 AM EDT

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.

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Breaking: Two White House Officials Subpoenaed

| Wed Jun. 13, 2007 2:09 PM EDT

Sara Taylor, former White House political director, and Harriet Miers, former White House counsel, are being subpoenaed as part of the fired U.S. attorneys investigation. More details from CNN. Emails released late last night by the Justice Department show the pair was deeply involved in the scandal.

You Could Be the Next Senator From Wyoming!

| Wed Jun. 13, 2007 1:19 PM EDT

Live in Wyoming? Ever wondered what it's like to listen to Robert Byrd drone on and on in a barely conscious state? Want to shin kick have a few words with Joe Lieberman?

Then it's your lucky day. Over at Wonkette, they've discovered that the Wyoming GOP is honoring the recent death of Republican senator Craig Thomas by posting an application for his job on its website. Jeez, Craig, why'd you die? Your job couldn't have been that taxing. It's basically reality TV show fodder.

Anyway, there's a PDF application that you have to fill out, and apparently it helps if you're a member of the GOP/have served the state of Wyoming previously/have a platform. But whatevs, MoJoBlog readers could probably do a better job than a lot of the goofs currently in Congress. Go give it a shot.

Americans Favor Amnesty by Wide Margins: Poll

| Wed Jun. 13, 2007 1:01 PM EDT

Looks like a vast majority of Americans favor preserving the American dream.

A new LA Times/Bloomberg poll shows that two-thirds of Americans support giving illegal immigrants a path to citizenship, assuming they have no criminal record, pay a fine, pay taxes, learn English, and meet other requirements. Those numbers cut across party lines -- roughly two-thirds of Democrats, Independents, and Republicans feel this way.

The immigration bill is dead for now, but these findings bolster the president's claim that the conservatives who opposed it because its amnesty clauses were too lenient on illegal immigrants were nothing more than a very vocal minority far detached from America's mainstream. The population at large apparently feels like Barbara Ehrenreich.

One last note: only 34 percent of Americans favor the much-maligned point system for distributing visas that would weigh professional qualifications and command of English more heavily than having family already in the States.

When Tort Reformers Slip And Fall

| Wed Jun. 13, 2007 12:34 PM EDT

So-called "tort reform" is one of the Republican Party's favorite issues, and this administration in particular has done a lot to limit the power of employees and victims of government, industrial and consumer discrimination and negligence to bring lawsuits against employers and corporations.

Like so many things, however, the concept of tort reform is easier to talk about than to incorporate into one's own life. George W. Bush, the nation's tort reform cheerleader, is a good example. When he was the governor of Texas, he also conducted a major tort reform campaign, but he took time out to file a lawsuit against a rental car agency because of an accident involving one of his daughters. According to legal experts, the lawsuit was probably not necessary because the insurance company would have handled the settlement. Bush's attorney said the suit had to be filed because of problems with the insurance company, a statement that is easy for most of us to accept.

Now it is another major tort reformer, Robert Bork, who has filed a lawsuit against New York City's Yale Club because of a fall he sustained there a year ago. Bork claims that the exclusive club failed to provide a handrail or stairs that would lead to the dais from which he was scheduled to speak at a banquet. In trying to ascend, his leg hit the side of the dias, and he whacked his head on a heat register.

Bork suffered a hematoma on his leg. It burst, and he had to have surgery, medical treatment and physical therapy. His lawsuit claims that he suffered "excruciating pain" and continues to walk with a limp.

Eric Turkewitz, who publishes the New York Personal Injury Law Blog, describes Bork's lawsuit as "frivolous," and you can read his reasons here.

Assume, for a moment, that the lawsuit is frivolous. That would make Bork a world-class hypocrite. Now assume that the lawsuit is justified: Does that make Bork a changed man? It will be interesting to hear what he has to say.