Brewtown Politico

Carrying a little stick and speaking loudly in Milwaukee


New planet is found on edge of solar system

"Brown and his colleagues Chad Trujillo and David Rabinowitz first photographed the planet with the 48in Samuel Oschin Telescope at the Palomar observatory, San Diego, in October 2003.

However, the object was so far away that its motion was not detected until they analysed the data again this year. It is the motion of such bodies against the background of stars that tells astronomers their position, size and movement."

Too cool.


Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN) is announcing he will support legislation expanding embryonic stem cell research.

Bush has vowed to veto the measure citing ethical and moral concerns over the destruction of embryos in obtaining the stem cells. However, Frist said in the speech text that he could reconcile his support for the research with his Christian faith and views that life begins at conception, the Times said.

Congressional aides said First's support should give a huge boost to an already popular bill and give them leverage in negotiations with the White House to avoid a veto.

"Cure today may be just a theory, a hope, a dream," Frist will say in the speech. "But the promise is powerful enough that I believe this research deserves our increased energy and focus. Embryonic stem cell research must be supported."

As I mentioned earlier this week, this legislation has bipartisan support in Congress. If the president wants to veto it, give him the chance to do so and explain himself to the majority of Americans who support this research.


From the WTF files:

Waukesha County Executive Dan Finley will step down to run the Milwaukee Public Museum in a month. The appointment strikes me as odd since Finley has been considered somewhat of a rising star in Wisconsin Republican politics and will have to resign his seat to take the job. Then again, if the museum turns its financial picture around during his tenure, he can add that to his resume.

In the interest of regional cooperation and reciprocity, maybe Milwaukee should send its county exec Scott Walker to Waukesha to run the parks department or something.

The House of Representatives passed the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) Wednesday night.

The final vote was 217-215 with 202 Republicans voting for it and 187 Democrats and one independent voting against it. While House rules stipulate that roll call votes are only to be open for 15 minutes, House Speaker Dennis Hastert and Majority Leader Tom DeLay held the vote open for over an hour in order to twist enough arms and offer up enough pork barrel spending to members for the trade agreement to pass.

The bill relaxes tariffs between the US, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic. Critics have cited the negative impact it will have on American jobs, family farms, and environmental protections as reasons to oppose it.

The Wisconsin delegation split along party lines with Republicans Jim Sensenbrenner, Mark Green, Paul Ryan, and Tom Petri favoring CAFTA, and Democrats Dave Obey, Gwen Moore, Ron Kind, and Tammy Baldwin opposing it.


Energy bill or Tom DeLay's piggy bank?

Think Progress is reporting that after the energy bill came out of conference committee, House Majority Leader Tom DeLay had $1.5 billion (with a B) of pork barrel spending inserted. The big winners are the oil industry with 75% of the $1.5 billion going to a "private consortium" located in DeLay's district.

The man has no shame.

Following yesterday's defeat on the PabstCity project, Mayor Tom Barrett lashed out at the plan's critics and called upon them to bring forth their own plan along with prospective developers.

After watching some highlights of the press conference, I was struck by how fired up Barrett was over the vote. That amount of passion hasn't been seen from the mayor since he was campaiging for the job early last year.

Milwaukee has a history of strong mayors like Frank Zeidler, Henry Maier, and John Norquist. They all knew how to use the mayor's office to get things done. Norquist was particularly effective at getting the council to support his initiatives. If Barrett is to win these kinds of battles, he needs to get the residents of the city to rally around his ideas. If he can do that, the council will follow.

As for PabstCity itself, last week's Shepherd has an editorial that runs through the various problems with the project.

Using the House of Blues as an example, is there really a need for the city to subsidize another concert venue? Not too long ago, the Milwaukee Auditorium was upgraded and became the new Milwaukee Theater thanks in large part to assistance from the city. That facility now competes with the Marcus Center, Riverside Theater, and other establishments operating without tax assistance. Competition is great, and ought to be encouraged. What should be avoided is the unlevel playing field that results from giving handouts to the likes of the Milwaukee Theater and the House of Blues.


The PabstCity project appears to be dead, or at least taxpayer financing for it.

The city council voted 9-6 against the project which would've contributed a $41 million subsidy to the $317 million development. Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett will be licking his wounds after this since he was pretty aggressive in trying to win approval for the proposal.

I stated my opposition to this plan in a post a few weeks back. Don't get me wrong. It would be great to have a movie theater, House of Blues, and a GameWorks downtown. I just question the need for the taxpayers to kick in that kind of dough to make the project happen. Judging by the vote, that critcism was heard loud and clear in the offices of Milwaukee's aldermen.

The White House is starting to hint that they may give a recess appointment to John Bolton. If the president does so, Bolton would become acting UN Ambassador until a new Congress convenes in January 2007.

MSNBC has reported that Bolton testified before the grand jury investigating the CIA leak case, something he didn't tell the Senate Judiciary Committee during his nomination hearings this past spring.

Since the president and his staff are staying mum on the "ongoing investigation," it seems inappropriate to appoint Bolton since he may be involved, or at least didn't feel the need to disclose any of this to the Senate. As the president says, let's learn all the facts before we make a decision.


There's a follow up to last week's revelation that SCOTUS nominee John Roberts reportedly is not/has never been a Federalist Society member.

The WaPo has obtained a copy of the 1997-98 Federalist Society directory, and it lists Roberts as being on the steering committee. Curious for a guy who said he has no memory of being a member. If Roberts' memory is this bad, we may need to be concerned about his recollection of two hundred years of established case law.

I felt obliged to add the new information today. After all, I wouldn't want to be sued for libel.

It's been two months since the House passed its bill expanding funding for embryonic stem cell research. Yet there's been little action in the Senate to get a vote on the bill, which is expected to pass with bipartisan support.

Sen. Arlen Specter (R-PA) is now threatening to attach the bill to the appropriations bill for the Department of Health and Human Services if Majority Leader Bill Frist doesn't bring it up for a vote.

Frist may be delaying the bill, because Bush is threatening to veto it. I say let the Senate pass the bill and send it to the president's desk, and let him veto it. It will be one more example of this president representing the interests of the far right-wing rather than the views of the vast majority of Americans.

Double super-secret background

The latest flash animation from political cartoonist Mark Fiore.


The House has voted to renew the USA Patriot Act in more or less its current form. The vote was 257-171 with Wisconsin's delegation splitting along party lines. Sensenbrenner, Petri, Ryan, and Green voted for the act while Moore, Obey, Kind, and Baldwin all voted against it.

The story is a bit different in the Senate where yesterday the Judiciary Committee reported out a bill that scales back the more controversial provisions of the act. Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI), the lone vote against the Patriot Act in 2001, addressed Chairman Arlen Specter (R-PA) yesterday in committee on the Senate version:

"The compromise that you laid out last night does not address everything that I would have liked to have seen revised in this bill. Nor am I happy with some of the changes made in response to requests from some of my colleagues on the other side of the room. But the compromise does address the core concerns that I and others have had about the standard for Section 215 orders, about sneak and peek search warrants, and about meaningful judicial review of Section 215 orders and National Security Letters, including judicial review of the gag rule. It does not go as far on any of these issues as the SAFE Act does, but it does make meaningful changes to current law."

Assuming the Senate passes this version, there's bound to be a battle royal in conference committee to hammer out the changes, and there's little doubt the White House will be putting the pressure on to keep those big brother provisions intact.


Supreme Court nominee John G. Roberts Jr. moved a step closer to getting my approval today through no action of his own.

Contrary to previous reports, Roberts is NOT and has never been a member of the reactionary Federalist Society.

Certainly that doesn't mean he's another David Souter, but it's going to give Republicans already worried about Roberts' conservative credentials one more reason to be concerned.

The CIA leak story was back on the front page of the Washington Post today. The WaPo reports that a classified State Department memo had Valerie Plame's identity marked with an "(S)" for secret.

"Almost all of the memo is devoted to describing why State Department intelligence experts did not believe claims that Saddam Hussein had in the recent past sought to purchase uranium from Niger. Only two sentences in the seven-sentence paragraph mention Wilson's wife.

The memo was delivered to Secretary of State Colin L. Powell on July 7, 2003, as he headed to Africa for a trip with President Bush aboard Air Force One. Plame was unmasked in a syndicated column by Robert D. Novak seven days later."

The plot thickens.

It's official. Canada has legalized same-sex marriage.

The great white north joins the Netherlands, Belgium and Spain in allowing same-sex couples to tie the knot.

Any day now, I'm sure we'll be reading stories about the collapse of the institution of marriage up north.

No, really..

Gov. Jim Doyle has vetoed $35 million of a study for rebuilding the zoo interchange in Milwaukee.

Doyle deleted the 8 in the $38 million the legislature allocated for the study leaving $3 million in funding for the project, which is scheduled to begin in 2016. Wisconsin's line item veto law allows the governor to change numbers and drop words from sentences. Former governor Tommy Thompson became famous for using the law to change the whole meaning of budget items.

As for the study, there's no doubt the crowded interchange needs to be rebuilt at some point, but it's not for another ten years. Also, I'm curious as to why the legislature believes the study deserves $38 million without doing a bit of construction on the project.


Interesting new wrinkle in the investigation of Rove from the American Prospect.

"White House deputy chief of staff Karl Rove did not disclose that he had ever discussed CIA officer Valerie Plame with Time magazine reporter Matthew Cooper during Rove’s first interview with the FBI, according to legal sources with firsthand knowledge of the matter.

The omission by Rove created doubt for federal investigators, almost from the inception of their criminal probe into who leaked Plame's name to columnist Robert Novak, as to whether Rove was withholding crucial information from them, and perhaps even misleading or lying to them, the sources said."


Bush 43 names Judge John G. Roberts Jr. to be his nominee to replace Sandra Day O'Connor on the Supreme Court

Roberts is a longtime Washingtonian having worked for the Reagan and Bush 41 administrations in various capacities. He also clerked for Chief Justice Rehnquist for a time. Roberts currently serves on the US Court of Appeals for the DC circuit.

Considering the current idealogical breakdown on the high court, there is going to be a lot of focus on how Roberts views Roe v. Wade. Ed Kilgore points out the following over at TPM Cafe:
"In the 1991 brief, Roberts was reflecting the Bush 41 position, forced on Bush 41 by the Cultural Right during his struggle for the presidential nomination in 1988, that Roe should be overturned. Maybe he personally agreed with it, maybe not; lawyers are trained to advocate for their clients no matter what they think."

Roberts could be the stealth candidate some conservatives were hoping for. Since much of his career has been spent representing the views of others, we'll have to wait until the hearings to learn more about his views.

The White House is likely hoping the nomination knocks the CIA leak story off the radar. In his prime time address, the president asked for a speedy confirmation process so Roberts could be confirmed by the time the Supreme Court reconvenes in October. However, the Senate won't take up the nomination until after the August recess. Therefore, I give the story a day or two on the front pages, and then we probably won't hear much about it until September except for the occasional spat between talking heads on the talk shows.

The FBI has reportedly been monitoring advocacy groups involved in protecting civil liberties and the environment. They have assembled thousands of pages of records including 1173 about the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and 2383 about Greenpeace according to the Bureau.

The FBI has not said specifically what those pages contain. The ACLU's executive director, Anthony Romero, said the disclosure indicates that the FBI is monitoring organizations that are engaging in lawful conduct.

"I know for an absolute fact that we have not been involved in anything related to promoting terrorism, and yet the government has collected almost 1,200 pages on our activities," Romero said. "Why is the ACLU now the subject of scrutiny from the FBI?"

Welcome to George W. Bush's America.

The AP is reporting that the president will announce his nominee for the Supreme Court tonight at 8pm CDT.

"White House press secretary Scott McClellan said the Bush administration was asking television outlets to broadcast the speech live across the country. Bush's spokesman would not identify the president's choice. But there was intense speculation Tuesday that it would be Judge Edith Clement of the U.S. Court of Appeals in New Orleans."


Regarding the president's nomination for the Supreme Court, some right-wing interests are tossing around phrases like the "Ginsburg precedent" which refers to President Clinton's nomination of Ruth Bader Ginsburg to the Supreme Court in 1993.

The argument being put forth is that Clinton got a liberal nominated to the court without the objection of conservatives. In fact, Clinton intended to nominate Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt, but consulted Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) who was ranking member on the Judiciary Commitee since Republicans were in the minority at the time.

From Hatch's auto-biography:

"Our conversation moved to other potential candidates. I asked whether he had considered Judge Stephen Breyer of the First Circuit Court of Appeals or Judge Ruth Bader Ginsburg of the District of Columbia Court of Appeals. President Clinton indicated he had heard Breyer's name but had not thought about Judge Ginsberg.

I indicated I thought they would be confirmed easily. I knew them both and believed that, while liberal, they were highly honest and capable jurists and their confirmation would not embarrass the President. From my perspective, they were far better than the other likely candidates from a liberal Democrat administration.

In the end, the President did not select Secretary Babbitt. Instead, he nominated Judge Ginsburg and Judge Breyer a year later, when Harry Blackmun retired from the Court. Both were confirmed with relative ease."


Howard Fineman explains why the White House press corps has suddenly shown signs of life.

"Take my word, there has been a lot of soul searching in the so-called Main Stream Media (MSM) over its performance, or lack of performance, in the months leading up to the American-led ouster of Saddam Hussein's regime in Iraq. Specifically, did we replace what should have been professional skepticism with a certain mindless credulousness in assessing the reality of the Bush administration's claims of imminent danger to the country and the world from Saddam's supposedly vast stash of weapons of mass destruction, including--only months away, it was said--the nuclear kind?

If we failed, was it out of a misplaced sense of patriotic duty, or political cowardice or sheer incompetence--or all three? The press corps was spring-loaded with self-doubt over the WMD issue, and ready to snap over any story that would allow it to revisit what now looks to have been a massive--and embarrassingly successful, from the press's point of view--propaganda campaign.

So Rove was a spinner on the WMD front? After him!"

The outing of CIA operative Valerie Plame is part of much larger story about the lead-up to the Iraq war and fixed intelligence. Former US Ambassador to Iraq, Gabon and envoy to Niger Joseph Wilson wrote a column disputing the White House's false claims about Iraq's WMD program which led to Robert Novak's column exposing Plame's identity.

The story continues to unravel, and for a change the press appears determined to get to the bottom of the cover-up if this portion of Wednesday's gaggle is of any indication:

McCLELLAN: I think we've exhausted discussion on this the last couple of days.

Q You haven't even scratched the surface.

Q It hasn't started.

Vote for Folkbum!

He's up for MKE's blog of the week.


The chairmen of the Democratic and Republican parties were in town today to speak at the NAACP convention taking place this week at the Midwest Airlines Center. RNC chair Ken Mehlman and DNC chair Howard Dean spoke back to back about reaching out to the African-American community.

Dean spoke of not taking the black vote for granted and returning the party to its roots:

"We have a Democratic Party that is going to go back to what it used to be by standing up for right and not being afraid and never deserting the people who brought us to the dance."

"Never again will we take another African-American vote for granted," he said.

Mehlman's comments featured an apology for the Republican Party's history of using the so-called "southern strategy" of writing off black voters and using racially charged politics to win elections:
"Some Republicans gave up on winning the African-American vote, looking the other way or trying to benefit politically from racial polarization," he added. "I am here as Republican chairman to tell you we were wrong."

Upon hearing of Mehlman's plans to give the speech today, conservative talk show host Rush Limbaugh lashed out at him:
"He's going to go down there and apologize for it. In the midst of all of this, in the midst of all that's going on, once again, Republicans are going to go bend over and grab the ankles."

Mehlman deserves credit for raising this. If the Republicans hope to convince African-Americans that their party has better ideas, it first has to acknowledge the wrongs of the past and build trust with voters. It's guys like Limbaugh who will continue to prevent the Republican Party from achieving that goal.

Pabst brewery redevelopment in Milwaukee

The Common Council is set to vote on July 26 on whether to contribute $41 million of the estimated $317 million it will cost to renovate and develop the PabstCity project at the site of the old brewery. When completed, the complex will reportedly feature a House of Blues, GameWorks, and a 10 screen movie theater.

The project, while still likely to pass, has run into some opposition due to its taxpayer subsidy. Proponents like Mayor Tom Barrett counter that the brewery currently only contributes $250,000 in property taxes, but supposedly will contribute $2.7 million once the project is up and running.

At this point, I'm not convinced that taxpayers need to be contributing tens of millions of dollars to this project. Obviously the city has an obligation to maintain the infrastructure (roads, sidewalks, utilities), but this subsidy would go well beyond that. If the developers can't come up with enough funds from investors, then maybe the market isn't there for this project to work.

Meanwhile, our beautiful city hall is falling apart. The Council recently approved a $70 million plan to renovate the building which currently has scaffolding around it to protect pedestrians from falling debris. Maybe we ought to get our priorities straight and get this done before contributing tax dollars to a project that in the end may only take business away from existing businesses.


In response to the increased effort by some to destroy former Ambassador Joseph Wilson's integrity, Dedalus at Blah3 brings up one of the more notable moments from Wilson's career. Wilson was serving as acting Ambassador to Iraq in 1990 leading up to the Gulf War, and was the last US official to meet with Saddam Hussein.

In 1990, while sheltering more than 100 Americans at the U.S. Embassy and diplomatic residences [in Baghdad, where Wilson was acting U.S. ambassador], he briefed reporters while wearing a hangman's noose instead of a necktie -- a symbol of defiance after Saddam threatened to execute anyone who didn't turn over foreigners.

The message, Wilson said: "If you want to execute me, I'll bring my own (expletive) rope."

This toughness impressed President George H.W. Bush, who called Wilson a truly inspiring diplomat who exhibited courageous leadership by facing down Saddam and helping to gain freedom for the Americans before the 1991 war began.

According to a Vanity Fair article from last year, Wilson has spoken with former President George H.W. Bush on the outing of his wife as a CIA operative, but has refused to divulge the details of the conversation.

Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner has answered the question asked here yesterday as to whether he still opposes renewing the parts of the Patriot Act set to expire at the end of the year. F. Jim has introduced a bill to renew the Patriot Act including those provisions he previously opposed.

The article in the Post says F. Jim's bill would eliminate expiration dates from the Patriot Act if the legislation is approved. The provisions set to expire this year allow the FBI to obtain records without a warrant from financial institutions and libraries among other private entities.

Similar legislation has been introduced in the Senate by Sen. Arlen Specter (R-PA) and Sen. Diane Feinstein (D-CA). Wisconsin Sen. Russ Feingold, the lone vote in the Senate against the original Patriot Act, released this statement today:

"I am disappointed that Senators Specter and Feinstein have introduced their Patriot Act reauthorization bill today without the additional meaningful fixes that members on both sides of the aisle believe are necessary to protect our freedoms. In its current form, I cannot support this bill, but I hope we can work together to improve the legislation in the coming weeks."

Former CIA agent Larry Johnson has a guest blog at TPMCafe which talks about his former classmate Valerie Plame and the current controversy.

The Left Coaster has written up a complete debunking of the RNC talking points on the Rove/Wilson matter mentioned here yesterday.

Also, for those still trying to piece the story together, and if you watch the West Wing, Folkbum has an excellent synopsis for you.

SurveyUSA has released its latest approval ratings poll for the country's 50 governors.

Wisconsin Governor Jim Doyle comes in at #35 with 43% approving, 48% disapproving. He's got some work to do leading up to the November '06 elections, but Doyle must be glad he's not further down the list with the likes of Gov. Schwarzenegger (36% approval, 61% disapproval).

Republican Gov. Bob Taft of Ohio came in dead last with 17% approving and 76% disapproving. Taft has suffered major political fallout after the Ohio coin scandal where millions of dollars are missing from the state's rare coin fund. State and federal investigations are underway to see whether the money was funneled into the election campaigns of fellow Republicans.


Coming soon to a blog or right-wing pundit's mouth near you: The GOP talking points on Karl Rove and Joseph Wilson.

Republican Party chairman Ken Mehlman went on the offense for old Karl today and are adopting the original strategy of attacking former Ambassador Wilson, ironically what Rove was doing when he got into this mess.

The talking points put forth the idea that Rove was being an angel by trying to save Matt Cooper from writing a false story. Upon returning from Niger, Wilson concluded that Saddam Hussein did not seek to purchase uranium yellowcake, and that documents saying as much were forged.

A few years later, we now know that Iraq did not possess weapons of mass destruction. If the White House had listened to Wilson instead of attacking him, maybe the country could have been spared this debacle.

Sensenbrenner Watch today points out how Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI) has been speaking out of both sides of his mouth. In this case, the suburban Milwaukee congressman has been speaking out against activist judges while at the same time leveraging the judiciary to act in ways inconsistent with the Constitution and established case law.

On another Sensenbrenner note, F. Jim's recent tantrum during hearings on the USA Patriot Act puzzled me somewhat since just over two years ago, he was staunchly opposed to renewing the portions of the act that expire at the end of 2005. From the April 17, 2003 Craig Gilbert article:

House Judiciary Chairman F. James Sensenbrenner Jr. said Thursday that he would fight any effort now to make permanent many of the expanded police powers enacted after the Sept. 11 attacks as part of the USA Patriot Act.

"That will be done over my dead body," said Sensenbrenner in an interview.

With the sunset provision kicking in at the end of the year, it's time for Sensenbrenner to say whether he still believes that should be the case.

Contrary to what some in media circles would have us believe, DNC chair Howard Dean is doing pretty well at fundraising, a primary function of the job.

Online donations have brought in five times as much money as the party raised online in 2003 — the last time the party was raising money in a non-election year.

Under new chairman Howard Dean, the Democrats have raised more than $1 million a week from about 600,000 donations. The Democrats' online effort included a monthly giving program called "Democracy Bonds" with about 15,000 donors signed up.

You can't argue with results.


At the White House briefing today, press secretary Scott McClellan was pounded with questions about the Karl Rove story. Previously, the White House had claimed Rove had nothing to do with the outing of CIA operative Valerie Plame. With the revelation that he played a primary role, McClellan was asked if he wanted to clarify:

Q: Do you stand by your statement from the fall of 2003, when you were asked specifically about Karl and Elliot Abrams and Scooter Libby, and you said, "I've gone to each of those gentlemen, and they have told me they are not involved in this"?

MCCLELLAN: And if you will recall, I said that, as part of helping the investigators move forward on the investigation, we're not going to get into commenting on it. That was something I stated back near that time as well.

Q: Scott, this is ridiculous. The notion that you're going to stand before us, after having commented with that level of detail, and tell people watching this that somehow you've decided not to talk. You've got a public record out there. Do you stand by your remarks from that podium or not?

MCCLELLAN: I'm well aware, like you, of what was previously said. And I will be glad to talk about it at the appropriate time. The appropriate time is when the investigation...

Q: (inaudible) when it's appropriate and when it's inappropriate?

MCCLELLAN: If you'll let me finish.

Q: No, you're not finishing. You're not saying anything. You stood at that podium and said that Karl Rove was not involved. And now we find out that he spoke about Joseph Wilson's wife. So don't you owe the American public a fuller explanation. Was he involved or was he not? Because contrary to what you told the American people, he did indeed talk about his wife, didn't he?

MCCLELLAN: There will be a time to talk about this, but now is not the time to talk about it.

Q: Do you think people will accept that, what you're saying today?

MCCLELLAN: Again, I've responded to the question.

The full transcript of the exchange is over Editor and Publisher.


Newsweek has posted a new article on its site today that implicates Karl Rove in the outing of CIA operative Valerie Plame, and discusses the contents of e-mails between Rove and Time Magazine's Matt Cooper.

"It was 11:07 on a Friday morning, July 11, 2003, and Time magazine correspondent Matt Cooper was tapping out an e-mail to his bureau chief, Michael Duffy. "Subject: Rove/P&C," (for personal and confidential), Cooper began. "Spoke to Rove on double super secret background for about two mins before he went on vacation ..." Cooper proceeded to spell out some guidance on a story that was beginning to roil Washington. He finished, "please don't source this to rove or even WH [White House]" and suggested another reporter check with the CIA."


Iraq War Fatalities

A flash-driven map illustrating casualties by city on a day by day basis since the war began.

From the site's author:

"Though my intent was to be objective, how objective can it really be when something as profound as a human death - which, in itself can have infinite interpretations - is represented with little more than a tiny black dot on a computer monitor?"


Axis-of-evil members Iran and Iraq have agreed to a military deal.

"It's a new chapter in our relations with Iraq. We will start wide defence cooperation," Iranian Defence Minister Admiral Ali Shamkhani told a joint news conference with visiting Iraqi counterpart Sadoun al-Dulaimi.

As part of the agreement, Iran will help in the training and development of the Iraqi army. I guess we don't have to worry about a renewed Iran-Iraq war anytime soon, but I have to wonder what the White House reaction to this news is.


Fox News Channel reacts to the bombings

Washington managing editor Brit Hume:

I mean, my first thought when I heard -- just on a personal basis, when I heard there had been this attack and I saw the futures this morning, which were really in the tank, I thought, "Hmmm, time to buy."

Funny, I guess I differed from Hume in my reaction. When I woke up today, and checked the headlines, the first words out of my mouth were "Oh fuck."

Another take from Fox's Brian Kilmeade:
And that was the first time since 9-11 when they should know, and they do know now, that terrorism should be Number 1. But it's important for them all to be together. I think that works to our advantage, in the Western world's advantage, for people to experience something like this together, just 500 miles from where the attacks have happened.

Again, I differ. In judging the success of the war on terrorism, I think seeing the number of terrorist incidents going down would be a better assessment of the current policy. Using Kilmeade's logic, it's a win-win scenario. If bombings decline, we're winning, but if there are more, all the better for our side.

There's a great letter at the London Times Review site from a determined Brit reacting to the attacks.

Via Andrew Sullivan.

At least 40 people were killed in London today when four bombs exploded in the subway system, and a double-decker bus in central London. A group calling itself the Secret Organization of al-Qaida in Europe claimed responsibility.

Here are a few links to blogs and news sites across the pond:

The bombing coincides with the G8 conference getting underway, and comes a day after London was awarded the 2012 Olympics.


Former ambassador Joseph Wilson has issued a statement on the sentencing of NY Times reporter Judith Miller. She was sent to jail today for not revealing her sources surrounding the outing of Wilson's wife, CIA operative Valerie Plame:

"The sentencing of Judith Miller to jail for refusing to disclose her sources is the direct result of the culture of unaccountability that infects the Bush White House from top to bottom. President Bush's refusal to enforce his own call for full cooperation with the Special Counsel has brought us to this point. Clearly, the conspiracy to cover up the web of lies that underpinned the invasion of Iraq is more important to the White House than coming clean on a serious breach of national security. Thus has Ms Miller joined my wife, Valerie, and her twenty years of service to this nation as collateral damage in the smear campaign launched when I had the temerity to challenge the President on his assertion that Iraq had attempted to purchase uranium yellowcake from Africa.

The real victims of this cover-up, which may have turned criminal, are the Congress, the Constitution and, most tragically, the Americans and Iraqis who have paid the ultimate price for Bush's folly."

Lawrence O'Donnell is keeping the heat on the Rove story. In his latest entry over at the Huffington Post, he asks three questions of Karl Rove's attorney, Bob Luskin:

"Q: You’ve said Rove is not a target of the investigation. Is he a subject of the investigation?

Q: Since Time delivered its e-mails to the prosecutor on Friday, have you asked the prosecutor whether Rove’s status has changed? From witness to subject? Or subject to target?

Q: You told Newsweek that your client “never knowingly disclosed classified information.” Did Rove ever unknowingly disclose classified information?"

This story is getting more interesting as it develops. Since it ties into the lead-up to the Iraq war, and why the intelligence was being "fixed around the policy," it could snowball rather quickly.


It's been two years since CIA operative Valerie Plame's identity was leaked by someone in the White House. On Friday, the investigation took a sudden turn in the direction of Karl Rove. Late last week, Lawrence O'Donnell broke the story that Rove was Time magazine reporter Matt Cooper's source on Plame's identity, based on e-mails turned over to investigators.

Here's my original post on this story back in September 2003 (the Al Martin column is now archived).

Now Newsweek is running a feature article this week on the Rove-Plame-Novak-Cooper-Wilson affair:

At issue is the story of a CIA-sponsored trip taken by former ambassador (and White House critic) Joseph Wilson to investigate reports that Iraq was seeking to buy uranium from the African country of Niger. "Some government officials have noted to Time in interviews... that Wilson's wife, Valerie Plame, is a CIA official who monitors the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction," said Cooper's July 2003 Time online article.

Now the story may be about to take another turn. The e-mails surrendered by Time Inc., which are largely between Cooper and his editors, show that one of Cooper's sources was White House deputy chief of staff Karl Rove, according to two lawyers who asked not to be identified because they are representing witnesses sympathetic to the White House.

While many are thinking this could sink Rove, columnist Steve Young thinks they may be just what Rove needs to land the Presidential Medal of Freedom.


Former Wisconsin senator, governor and Earth Day founder Gaylord Nelson has died.

"Earth Day worked because of the spontaneous response at the grass-roots level," he said. "We had neither the time nor resources to organize 20 million demonstrators and the thousands of schools and local communities that participated. That was the remarkable thing about Earth Day. It organized itself."

In the Senate Nelson had key roles in the 1964 Wilderness Act and in legislation banning the pesticide DDT, preserving the Appalachian trail corridor and creating a national hiking trail network. He also worked for automotive fuel efficiency standards and against strip mining.

Nelson served as governor of Wisconsin for two terms before being elected to the US Senate in 1962 to the seat currently held by Russ Feingold. Feingold had this to say about Nelson this weekend:

“I am deeply saddened today as we mourn the passing of former Wisconsin Senator Gaylord Nelson. He was quite simply one of my heroes. He was an environmental champion, a role model and a friend. His many contributions to the preservation of our environment will be remembered every April as we celebrate Senator Nelson’s legacy, Earth Day. I am honored to occupy the same seat Gaylord Nelson did as he carried on the proud Wisconsin Progressive tradition.”

I was up in northern Wisconsin when this was announced, and was sad to hear the news. Throughout his life, Nelson exemplified what public service is all about. We could use a few more like him now.


Sandra Day O'Connor announced Friday she will retire from the Supreme Court, setting off high fives amongst conservatives and eliciting groans from liberals.

Despite Chief Justice William Rehnquist's ailing health, it's O'Connor who has wanted to retire for some time. In 2000, upon hearing Al Gore was to win the presidential election, O'Connor reportedly freaked:

"This is terrible," Sandra Day O'Connor said when she heard that Al Gore had won Florida on Election Night 2000. According to Newsweek, O'Connor, then 69, wanted to retire from the Supreme Court. But she wanted to leave under a Republican president so that her seat would go to a fellow Republican. According to court watchers, O'Connor was so eager to retire to her beloved Arizona that she overlooked the constitutional separation of powers by agreeing to hear Bush v. Gore, effectively appointing George W. Bush to the presidency.