The Administration

We Can Trust Scientists, Can’t We?

I’m shocked!

Yes, I’ve been around a long time, but I’m still shocked — by what we just learned about the Smithsonian.

There’s no institution more revered in Washington than the Smithsonian: its great museums, lining the Mall, all free to the public; its long reputation for scientific achievement. Unlike the Capitol or the White House, the Smithsonian is the one place in Washington where you can go to get the truth. Right?

Well, apparently not. At least, not any longer. A former Smithsonian official has revealed that last year’s exhibit on global warming was deliberately soft-pedaled, toned down, in order not to offend the Bush White House.

The Senate Immigration Deal

I support the Senate immigration deal. I think Mel Martinez and Jon Kyl did a great job. I believe this issue needs to be taken off the table this year for Republicans to be able to focus on other issues in the time for the next election.

That being said, I have to wonder if the House is even going to take it up.

I sincerely doubt that the House Republican minority is in any mood to help out the White House or the Senate and vote for this deal And I doubt that Nancy Pelosi or Rahm Emanuel will bring it to a vote without a certain number of Republicans voting for it.

Why I Resigned From the President's Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board — And Where We Go from Here

I have been asked by many interested parties, congressional staff and others, to explain my reasons for resigning from the five-member President's Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board (PCLOB). The best and most complete explanation is contained in two letters that I wrote on the date of my resignation last week — one to my colleagues on the Board — Carol Dinkins, the chair; Alan Raul, the vice-chair; and Theodore Olson and Francis Taylor, members; and the second to President Bush.

But regardless of my resignation, the most important issue remains and must now be addressed by Congress, which is considering changes in the present structure of the Board: Is there a role for a part-time civilian oversight board on executive-branch anti-terrorist programs that potentially might infringe on basic civil liberties and privacy rights in the Constitution and under U.S. laws — or not?

Irreconcilable Differences: And Other Mixed Movie Metaphors on Immigration

I have only one question for President Bush and this absurd immigration "reform" proposal he cooked up with Uncle Teddy:

"Mr. President, why do you hate the Republican Party?"

Clearly, the president bears great animosity toward the GOP, which elected him twice. What else could possibly explain not only a lax immigration bill that legalizes nearly 12 million illegal immigrants but a bill so liberal that Senatuh Kennedy would do high kicks and cartwheels for it?

Ah, a clue (and a new conspiracy theory). We elected Dubya twice. Is this immigration bill payback for Republicans who gave the presidency to Bill Clinton by voting for Ross Perot over Papa Bush? 


Fellow blogger Brent Budowsky has decided Attorney General Alberto Gonzales should be impeached for refusing to follow the law. Mr. Budowsky noted Gonzales's "goon-like" trip to John Ashcroft's sickbed, now made famous by James Comey's congressional testimony this week. I can't say I agree this merits impeachment, but I too was struck by the notion of Andrew Card and Gonzales playing Tony Soprano and Mob deputy taking the opportunity to intimidate someone suffering in a hospital bed.

What is more important than their tacky, cruel tactic at Ashcroft's bedside was the underlying untruth that the warrantless surveillance program caused no controversy within the Bush administration. Yep, that was brought to us by AG AG himself in his 2006 testimony before Congress. "None of the reservations dealt with the program we are talking about today," he said at the time. Then, of course, he was equally reassuring about who took the lead in firing the U.S. attorneys — he wasn't involved; no, he was involved; well, he isn't so sure. It is beginning to seem like a joke we haven't been let in on.  

Who Needs a War Czar?

At last, an honest answer out of Tony Snow.

When asked why, after four years in Iraq, President Bush decided he needed a war czar, the White House press secretary responded: “I honestly don’t know.” No, Tony, and neither does anybody else.

After several generals turned down the job, because they don’t support the president’s policy in Iraq, Army Lt. Gen. Douglas Lute accepted the assignment. But that still leaves a lot of questions unanswered.

1.    If the president is commander in chief, why do we need a war czar?

2.    If the war czar is now in charge of the war, what happened to the secretary of defense?

Alberto Gonzales Should Be Impeached

It is a high crime and misdemeanor to refuse to faithfully execute the laws of the land and on a number of occasions Alberto Gonzales has acted in a manner that should compel the House of Representatives to initiate an investigation including potential articles of impeachment.

We now learn that Alberto Gonzales tried to railroad through extension of executive action and assertion of authority that the then-attorney general, John Ashcroft, and acting attorney general, James Comey, believed was illegal.

In what can only be described as a goon-like attempt to buffalo a very ill John Ashcroft into approving illegal action, Alberto Gonzales acted more like an official in a government of Pinochet-in-pinstripes than an official of the United States.

Bush: The Boy in the Bubble

President Bush is like the boy in the bubble. He is looking out through a haze, isolated, unable to comprehend much of the outside world.

He jokes with the queen, tries to empathize with tornado victims, goes about his daily routine of bike riding, all while Republicans on the Hill become more and more disenchanted. November 2008 is looming larger and larger, and they can't get through to this guy.

Some started trying to penetrate the hermetically sealed bubble with a letter opener. Now they know they need a howitzer. Soon they will recognize that this president is not coming back from over 70 percent disapproval ratings. And that the only way to save their political skins is to convince Bush to change course in Iraq.

Looking for a Realistic Optimist

This country needs a realistic optimist as its president.

A realistic optimist would look at all the assets of this great country and all of its debits, and understand that we don’t need a great social revolution or monumental reforms, but some changes here and there to improve what is really a pretty good place to live.

Yes, we are in a war with people who want to take the world, or more particularly their world, back into the 12th century. But let’s face it, we ought to be able to beat these crazy people in the long run. The world is not going back into the Dark Ages. A little more realistic talk would be helpful here.

Hearing and Listening

I always wondered how the White House would respond when that dismal day came and the poor Republicans in Congress would have to tell Bush they had had enough. Indeed, we now know that 11 moderate Republicans went to Bush to tell him Tuesday that he has lost credibility on the war and has spent nearly all of their patience. But the characterization of this event by Tony Snow, who I am a huge fan of, almost made me fall out of my chair this morning. It is not another "marching up to Nixon," and "not one of those cresting moments when party discontents are coming in to read the president the riot act," Snow said.

OK, so what is it?