Coincidence? Maybe. White House political director Sara Taylor is out the door at the White House, according to Washington Wire. Taylor came up a number of times yesterday during the Kyle Sampson hearing as having worked closely with Sampson (along with another Karl Rove aide Scott Jennings) to install Rove's former aide Tim Griffin as the U.S. Attorney in eastern Arkansas. "He can swagger all he wants
but we have 3,241 dead Americans."
-- Harry Reid Overpaid? Here's the latest news from the non-unionized service sector:

Circuit City Stores Inc. has a message for some of its best-paid employees: Work for less or work somewhere else. The electronics retailer on Wednesday laid off 3,400 people who earned "well above" the local market rate for the sort of jobs they held at its stores. In 11 weeks they'll be able to apply for their old positions -- which will come with lower hourly wages.

How charming. I wonder if any of Circuit City's executives are being laid off? Surely some of them are being overpaid too?

On the case: Pentagon hires PR agency to help with Walter Reed scandal. Because it's the perception, not the reality, of things that matter.....

"...in all fairness, Gore is the person who, in the Congress,
most systematically worked to make sure that we got to an Internet."
-- Newt Gingrich, mixing the truth with his lies, Link

72% of Americans Are A Bunch Of Blithering Idiots Rush Limbaugh, man of the people.

Attorneygate update Here's a quick summary of Kyle Sampson's testimony today:

Least surprising revelation: that Alberto Gonzales was indeed involved in discussions about firing those U.S. Attorneys. "I don't think the attorney general's statement that he was not involved in any discussions about U.S. attorney removals is accurate," Sampson said. In other words, Gonzales lied. Knock me over with a feather.

Most bizarre revelation: that Sampson recommended firing Patrick Fitzgerald in the middle of his investigation into Plamegate. "That was a piece of bad judgment on my behalf to even raise it," Sampson said. No kidding.

Most heartfelt revelation: that Sampson is all too aware he screwed up. "Looking back on all of this . . . in hindsight I wish the department hadn't gone down this road at all," he said. Roger that, Kyle.

But really, here's the single most remarkable thing about Sampson's testimony. Purgegate broke open ten weeks ago. As Sampson himself admitted, the Justice Department's explanations of the affair since then have been comically inept. Sampson himself has known for a couple of weeks that he was going to testify before Congress today.

And what's the single biggest question we all have? It's this: so why did you choose those particular eight prosecutors to fire, anyway?

And after all this time to prepare and finally get it right, what did Sampson say? Nothing. Almost literally, nothing. He still didn't have any plausible, documented reasons for firing the USA-8. He stumbled around a bit, eventually claiming that the process wasn't "scientific" but also wasn't "extensively documented." Here's his final explanation: "I don't remember keeping a very good file," he said. "It was a chart and notes that I would dump into my lower right desk drawer."

And that, supposedly, was that. There were two years of plans to fire these guys, but we're supposed to believe that no one really kept any notes and nobody really knows why these guys were selected. It was just a gestalt sort of thing.

Unbelievable. But which is worse: that he's lying or that he's telling the truth?

We're just there on vacation? The Bush administration responded with shock to King Abdullah’s declaration that the U.S. is “illegitimately” occupying Iraq. “We were a little surprised to see those remarks,” said Under Secretary of State Nicholas Burns. White House spokesman Dana Perino claimed, “It is not accurate to say that the United States is occupying Iraq.”

Somebody in the BushCo remembers the heart of Democracy! Earlier this week, Sen. John McCain appeared on NBC’s Today Show and said that the Senate debate over an Iraq phased withdrawal plan is aiding the enemy:

Look, the only guarantee of failure is to tell the enemy, “Hey, hang on; we’re leaving.” That’s what this message, this vote yesterday, tells them. I mean, a second-year cadet at West Point will tell you you don’t win wars by telling the enemy when you’re leaving.

McCain’s view is not shared by Bush’s Defense Secretary. Testifying before the House Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, Robert Gates said that the Iraq debate in Congress has been “helpful in bringing pressure to bear on the Maliki government.” Gates added that the congressional debate informs Iraqis that “there is a very real limit to American patience in this entire enterprise.” That’s a not a message McCain is interested in sending; he prefers signaling an open-ended commitment in Iraq.

"Displaced families are returning home, marketplaces are seeing more activity,
stores that were long shuttered are now reopening. We feel safer about moving
in the city now. Our people want to see this effort succeed."
-- Dubya, quoting an Iraqi blogger, Link

"Let me clear it up for any moron with lingering doubts: It’s worse. It’s over. You lost.
You lost the day your tanks rolled into Baghdad to the cheers of your imported,
American-trained monkeys. You lost every single family whose home your soldiers violated.
You lost every sane, red-blooded Iraqi when the Abu Ghraib pictures came out and verified
your atrocities behind prison walls as well as the ones we see in our streets. You lost when you
brought murderers, looters, gangsters and militia heads to power and hailed them as Iraq’s first
democratic government. You lost when a gruesome execution was dubbed your biggest
accomplishment. You lost the respect and reputation you once had. You lost more than 3000 troops.
That is what you lost America. I hope the oil, at least, made it worthwhile."
-- an Iraqi blogger Bush chose not to quote, Link

Could it be Gates for president on the GOP side? Defense Secretary Robert Gates — who pushed for Guantanamo’s closure — is continuing to press “others in the Bush administration to move war crimes trials of suspected terrorists from the Gitmo detention center to courts inside the U.S. because the military tribunals may appear tainted in the eye of the international community.”

Muzzling free speech to protect evangelical preachers. “President Bush nominated Texas state trial Judge Jennifer Walker Elrod to the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit.” Elrod once blocked a Texas television station “from broadcasting information about a renowned televangelist, calling it [a move critics called] an ‘intolerable’ violation of the First Amendment.” ACSBlog has more.

The Tuskegee airmen were the U.S. military’s first group of African American fighter pilots, an elite unit that served with distinction during World War II only to return home to face to discrimination and harassment. Today, they received the Congressional Gold Medal, “the most prestigious Congress has to offer.” But the event was marred slightly by the presentation of House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH):

During his short speech to those in attendance, Boehner six times mispronounced the group’s name as the “Tusk-E-gee,” eliciting audible groans from the front to the back of the Capitol Rotunda. One woman standing in front of me leaned to her companion and whispered, “This is so embarrassing, and he’s from my state.” Perhaps making matters worse, almost all of Boehner’s speech focused on the general accomplishments of American forces in World War II, paying little direct respect to those in the room. As if to remove any doubt about the verbal kerfuffle, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell took the stage and began his speech by pronouncing the group’s name correctly, while making a clear, if passing, glance in Boehner’s direction. Immediately afterward, the entire crowd broke into applause at the correction.

It’s been a rough week for Boehner. Yesterday, he was booed by construction workers when he talked about Iraq, and today he accidentally voted in favor of a budget bill that he’s been deriding for the last week.

Why is this sexist moron on TV? Yesterday, CNN pundit Glenn Beck did an entire segment devoted to how much he hates Sen. Hillary Clinton’s (D-NY) voice. He called her “stereotypical” voice “nagging,” adding that it “just sticks in your ear like an ice pick,” makes you “envy the deaf,” and “makes angels cry.” Furthering the sexist stereotyping, Beck said, “She could be saying, ‘All right, Glenn, I want to give Glenn Beck $1 million,’ and all I’d hear is, ‘Take out the garbage.’” Later in the segment, Beck and right-wing radio host Danny Bonaduce agreed that they’d rather have “purple monkeys crawling all over your body, and they’re covered in spiders” than listen to Clinton’s voice. On his March 15 show, Beck said that Clinton sounds like the “the stereotypical bitch.” Do you suppose the go for the personal attack because they've already lost on all the issues?

What's the pattern here? Sen. Kennedy (D-MA) makes a very good point. The prosecutor firings and replacements just happen to be in all the key 2008 swing states, and not in any states that are safe for either party -- with the exception of California, where the Lam -Cunningham investigation is. Why do you think that would be?

What liberal media? This week's Time mag has no US Attorney Purge coverage.

Well, sure.... New poll: More Americans think the Democratic Party is the one with "stronger" and "better" leaders.

"The system failed our troops."
-- Bush, lying at Walter Reed this morning

The fraud of voter fraud continued.... As we've sought to explain over recent weeks, the US Attorney Purge story connects to another extremely important story -- the way the Bush administration has moved, on political and legal fronts, to use bogus 'vote fraud' claims to depress (particularly minority) voter turnout. At least two of these US Attorneys were canned because they wouldn't make themselves partisan tools in that effort. Now ex-DOJ officials are coming forward to explain how Bush administration appointees at DOJ have been using their enforcement powers to shift election outcomes. Definitely give this a look. There's a lot more here.

What liberal media? Memo to Time's Rick Stengel: Here's still more clear evidence that the idea that the public doesn't want aggressive Dem probes of GOP is totally bogus.

So who's been better on Iraq over the years, Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton? Check out our massive and handy chart comparing all their votes on the war and decide for yourself.

I'm a baaaaad daddy In the LA Times today, L.J. Williamson writes about one of my all-time pet peeves: the insane fear that modern suburban parents have of sexual predators:

At a PTA meeting, during a discussion of traffic problems around the school campus, I asked what we could do to encourage families to walk or bike to school. Other parents looked at me as if I'd suggested we stuff the children into barrels and roll them into the nearest active volcano. One teacher looked at me in shock. "I wouldn't let my children walk to school alone ... would you?"

"Haven't you heard about all of the predators in this area?" asked a father.

"No, I haven't," I said. "I think this is a pretty safe neighborhood."

"You'd be surprised," he replied, lowering his eyebrows. "You should read the Megan's Law website." He continued: "You know how to solve the traffic problem around this school? Get rid of all the predators. Then you won't have any more traffic."

Huh?

"Huh?" indeed. As Williamson says, child abduction by strangers is very, very rare. About as likely as being hit by lightning. "But it's not fear of lightning strikes that parents cite as the reason for keeping children indoors watching television instead of out on the sidewalk skipping rope." I also agree with Atrios' comment. Obviously this is all intertwined, but it's the fact that this fear has become practically a cultural norm that's the real problem. Don't give in to it and people think you're a bad parent. That's nuts.

We already know that James Inhofe is a scientific moron, and now we have further evidence that he's also the biggest prick in the Senate: Inhofe is single-handedly holding up permission for "Live Earth," a group associated with Al Gore, to use the National Mall for a concert on July 7. It's a point of personal privilege. Apparently he thinks the answer to global warming is more temper tantrums.

"The consequences of a specific and random date of withdrawal would be disastrous."
- The Giggling Murderer Link

"The people who have been wrong every step of the way about everything
in this war now have a crystal ball to tell me what's going to happen next."
-- Bill Maher,

Suckup of the Senate Award goes to.... It's interesting. There's certainly no question that on balance the Democratic senators on the Judiciary Committee have been more critical and aggressive than the Republicans. But most of the latter have at least gone through the motions of taking Sampson's bad acts seriously. Some I think more than that. Certainly Specter. I'd even say Sessions and Kyl have asked some solid questions. But no one has been as shameless and undignified as Sampson's former employer, Sen. Hatch (R-UT), even including clear false statements. I mean, his sheer lickspittlehood is bracing in its magnitude and scope.

The first of many? Rudy endures his first real bad press as Presidential candidate.

Flip-flopping on flip-flopping Apparently Republicans have given up on defending their favored candidates from charges of relentless pandering and flip-flopping. The evidence is just too stark. Instead they're reduced to arguing pathetically that at least their guy hasn't flip-flopped as much as the other guys. Jon Chait runs down the scorecard.

Score one for Hillary Hillary Clinton hasn't yet released details of her universal healthcare plan, but Karen Tumulty reports this line from the healthcare debate in Las Vegas last week:

Clinton warned that her plan will spark a "big political battle" because it will mean "taking money away from people who make out really well right now." And who might those people be? "Well," she answered, "let's start with the insurance companies."

Yes, let's! I like her plan already.

Today's Must Read: who will emerge as the most shameless hack of the Bush administration? A little known Bush appointee at the Fish and Wildlife Service vies for the title. Julie MacDonald, deputy assistant secretary for fish and wildlife and parks. The Interior Department's inspector general has been looking into her actions for a few months and issued his report yesterday:

The IG noted that MacDonald "admitted that her degree is in civil engineering and that she has no formal educational background in natural sciences" but repeatedly instructed Fish and Wildlife scientists to change their recommendations on identifying "critical habitats," despite her lack of expertise.

At one point, according to Fish and Wildlife Service Director H. Dale Hall, MacDonald tangled with field personnel over designating habitat for the endangered Southwestern willow flycatcher, a bird whose range is from Arizona to New Mexico and Southern California. When scientists wrote that the bird had a "nesting range" of 2.1 miles, MacDonald told field personnel to change the number to 1.8 miles. Hall, a wildlife biologist who told the IG he had had a "running battle" with MacDonald, said she did not want the range to extend to California because her husband had a family ranch there.

Hey, nothing wrong with that. Give that woman a Presidential Medal of Freedom!

Probably a healthy move Remember San Diego FBI chief Dan Dzwilewski? He's the one who said he "guaranteed[d]" politics was at the bottom of Carol Lam's firing and that her dismissal would adversely affect her public corruption investigations. He just announced he's resigning from the Bureau.

Corruption watch More muck on Nevada Governor Jim Gibbons (R), courtesy of The Wall Street Journal.

Jesse finally gets one right? What has the CBC wrought?

Rev. Jesse Jackson Denounces Congressional Black Caucus Institute’s FOX Debate

ColorOfChange.org says CBC’s decision is “shamefully out of touch” with Black voters; launches national campaign calling on CBC to reverse course and for presidential candidates to reject Fox debate

Rev. Jesse Jackson today denounced the Congressional Black Caucus Institute’s planned presidential debate partnership with FOX. He called for yesterday’s decision to be reversed and for presidential candidates not to attend a FOX debate.

Jackson said, “I am disappointed by the Congressional Black Caucus Institute's partnership with FOX, and strongly encourage them to reverse that decision. Why would presidential candidates, or an organization that is supposed to advocate for Black Americans, ever give a stamp of legitimacy to a network that continually marginalizes Black leaders and the Black community? FOX moderating a presidential debate on issues of importance to Black Americans is literally letting the Fox guard the henhouse – FOX should be rejected.”

Fox’s smears against the Black community are compiled in Outfoxed director Robert Greenwald’s new YouTube video called Fox Attacks: Black America – which is located at www.ColorOfChange.org and has been viewed by over 230,000 people in two weeks.

Yesterday’s decision came after Black Members of Congress and the CBC Institute were contacted by thousands of members of ColorOfChange.org – a 75,000 member online citizen lobby for Black Americans. Privately, some CBC members expressed that the Fox deal was a bad idea, but not a single member would take a public stand like Jackson did today.

"The CBC cannot claim to represent Black Americans and at the same time legitimize a network that calls Black churches a cult, implies that Senator Barack Obama is a terrorist, and uses the solemn occasion of Coretta Scott King’s funeral to call Black leaders ‘racist,’” said James Rucker, head of ColorOfChange.org. “The CBC Institute’s decision is shamefully out of step with most Black voters -- and now Black voters will hold our leaders accountable and demand they end their partnership with Fox."

With friends like these.... On Monday, President Bush hosted in the Oval Office the co-chairs of a U.S.-Russian commission on missing soldiers. Human rights groups were outraged that Bush agreed to host the Russian chair, Gen. Vladimir Shamanov, who has been “accused of overseeing some of the most notorious atrocities against civilians during the brutal second war in Chechnya”:

Russian troops under Shamanov rampaged through the village of Alkhan-Yurt in December 1999, killing 17 civilians, according to human rights investigations. The soldiers looted homes and shot those who got in the way, including a woman over 100 years old. Shamanov threatened to shoot villagers who pleaded with him to halt the “cleansing operation,” investigators found. Rather than prosecute, the Kremlin gave Shamanov a medal — a medal he appeared to wear to the Oval Office.

According to spokeswoman Dana Perino, the White House had no idea that Shamanov was responsible for the brutal killings of civilians:

The president was not aware of the allegations made against (Shamanov) and he was seeking to sharpen the focus on the commissions good work.

She added that it was “unlikely” the meeting would have taken place had he been aware. But in a quick Google search of “Vladimir Shamanov,” references to the general’s role in the killings come up on the first page. Also, even though Bush “posed for pictures” with both Shamanov and the American chair of the commission, the “White House did not play up the officers’ appearance in the Oval Office” and it is not mentioned on the White House’s website on March 26.

So either the White House is not vetting the guests who visit the President in the Oval Office, or it knowingly invited a mass murderer and tried to bury the story.

Submitted by RKing on