Saturday, January 20, 2007

From the NYT, what Sen. Jay Rockefeller, (D-W.Va.) the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, has to say about the Bush administration's Iran policy:

“To be quite honest, I’m a little concerned that it’s Iraq again. This whole concept of moving against Iran is bizarre.”
Report from the ICU. An update on how Jane is doing.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Ney sentenced to thirty months.
This extraordinary story in the LAT: the gist of which is that not only hasn't Barak Obama tied up support in the African-American community, he very likely never will. The story itsself is another example as to why Peter Wallsten is one of our great political reporters.

Here is his lede and a some key passages:

"As pastor of the Mt. Zion Missionary Baptist Church in Sumter, S.C., the Rev. James Blassingame feels pride at the thought of electing the country's first black president. But Blassingame, one of his state's most prominent black ministers, will not support Sen. Barack Obama's bid to achieve that historic goal.Instead, the minister will campaign for one of Obama's white rivals for the Democratic nomination, former Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina.

"Obama, he said, is a `stranger" with a faraway home and little-known biography, whereas Edwards — `he's a homeboy.' Other black leaders are wary that the relatively untested senator from Illinois might prove weak in the general election.

"`Obama's ambition could bring all of black America down," said state Sen. Robert Ford of South Carolina. "If the Democrats lose control of Congress, we're going to go back and struggle and struggle and struggle'...

'Obama is the only top-tier African American seeking the nomination, but he will have to fight for black votes along with other candidates, some of whom have far stronger ties to black leaders than he does.

"Edwards, for example, is expected to have an advantage in his native state of South Carolina, and his pledges to fight poverty and bring troops home from Iraq are popular with black leaders.
"Clinton, the presumed Democratic front-runner, has decades-old ties with scores of black preachers and civil rights leaders who remain close to her husband, former President Clinton.

"A Los Angeles Times/Bloomberg survey in December found that all three were popular among black voters, but that Clinton received the highest marks. Blassingame speaks fondly of Edwards, who, like the pastor, was born in Seneca, S.C. "I know where he came from, because I came from there," Blassingame said. "I can identify with him, and he can identify with us."

To read the whole thing, click here.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

"When Louis Farrahkan walked into the hearing, as this member told me, he asked Mr. Farraakhan to speak."-- journalist Ellen Rattner, asking federal Judge Ellen Segal Huvelle for leniency for disgraced former Congressman Bob Ney.

Paul Kiel has the text of the letter.
Still thinking of Jane and how she is doing. From John.
They still can't pick a jury.

Update: Here is the NYT account of today's attempt at jury selection. Marty Kaplan's take on this all.
Time, Inc. is turning Time, Sports Illustrated, and all of its other media properties into... blogs, and in the process laying off lots and lots of people off.

Who even knew that People had a Washington bureau in the first place?

It does seem tremendously unfair that somehow Joe Klein is the guy to keep his job, too.

Since this is a personal blog, after all, I should assess how this affects me personally.

I don't work for Time, Inc. Yay!

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

This person is probably not going to serve on the jury...

"I'm not sure I'd want to go duck hunting with him."-- a potential juror-- a former school teacher from North Carolina, when asked if they had any pre-conceived opinions about Vice President Dick Cheney.

Admirably, Libby who is known for having a fine sense of humor, and considering the circumstances of his day, was said to laugh as hard as anyone else present in the courtroom.

And the dude also once shared a cab with George Stephanoupolous. Did he tell you that too? No?!

Parental Discretion advised for this post.... Sorry for the bad language, but if I don't use the bad language, everyone will know what I meant to say anyway.

As things are turning out, it has been difficult to seat a jury in the Scooter Libby trial, not only because of the political bias of potential jurors, but rather because, as one observer of today's proceedings told me, "there are just one too many star fuckers in Washington D.C."

Check this out from a Washington Post story about jury selection posted earlier today:

"Another [potential juror], the former Post journalist, seemed to have a link to nearly every key player in the case. He had worked in the newspaper's Metro section, he said, where his editor was Woodward, a key defense witness. Until recently, he lived across an alley from Russert, a star witness for the prosecution. And he had gone to parties with The Post's Walter Pincus, another defense witness."

"He said he would understand if the lawyers believed he couldn't be impartial, but he promised he would use his reporter training to sort through the facts fairly.

"`If I were in your seats, I'd be skeptical,' he said.

"Then he noted that one of his best friends plays in an over-40 football league with Libby. And he has heard that Libby "has a great arm."

"Did he mention that he went to grade school with Maureen Dowd, he asked the judge? That would be the New York Times columnist who publicly savaged colleague Judith Miller after some of Miller's reporting on the Iraq war came to light around the time of the Plame investigation. Miller is a witness for the prosecution."

A friend who was present at the proceedings say that the charges of self-absorption and star fucking suggested in the Post story about their former colleague might be unfair because the potential juror was trying to be as responsive as possible to his questioners.

But someone should advise this guy that an evening with Walter Pincus is not exactly the wildest night out on the town. No offense meant to Walter Pincus (I think he is good natured enough to laugh at this post): To make my point, I point out that very few people, even at a Washington party, are going to actually have on their person the latest General Accounting Office report that they wrote about earlier that day.
Tonight my thoughts and prayers are with my friend Jane Hamsher. Her journalism is driven by a fierce determination for the truth. Her commentary takes no prisoners. And whether you want to consider her an editor over at Firedoglake or as someone who has created a blogging community, she is part of a group of people who create not only one of the most compelling blogs that is a must read to everybody on the left and right but also has become a gathering point for a group of people who care greatly for one another and have each others' backs. (How often does something like that exist in the traditional media?)

She is will be in Washington soon enough to cover the Libby trial and I am told that my duties are to walk her three dogs for her while she is working.
Here is a new column/post up at Huffington Post, following up on my latest National Journal story regarding the Libby trial. (That's the third time that I have linked to that story. Read it already!)

The last couple paragraphs of the post serve as a book end of sorts to the lede of the NJ piece:

"When Libby stood atop a pier in Norfolk, watching the commissioning of the U.S.S. Reagan on July 12, he almost certainly couldn't have the slightest clue that events later that exultant day would lead him to repeated trips to the dreary and windowless confines of a room in the federal courthouse where a federal grand jury would demand answers from about who said what to him about a woman named Valerie Plame and what he then said about her to others."

"There, Libby, on the instruction of his high priced legal counsel, told his side of the story as impassively as possible to twenty-three similarly expressionless grand jurors. In the end, they did not believe him, and charged him with five felonies."

Jeralyn boils it down and makes sense of it all.
If any of my friends have missed it, National Journal posted a long story of mine last Friday (so unbloggerlike of me to mention a story of mine that is now six days old!) about the Libby trial, entitled "Inside the Grand Jury Room". Here is the lede:

"Late in the morning of July 12, 2003, Vice President Dick Cheney stood atop a pier at Naval Station Norfolk in Virginia awaiting the commissioning of the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan, a ship 20 stories high that took eight years to construct. More than 15,000 people stood under clear skies to watch the pomp and ceremony. As she christened the carrier by breaking a bottle of champagne over its bow, Nancy Reagan told the crowd: "I only have one line. Man the ship and bring her alive."

'A Washington Post reporter recounted what happened next: "With those time-hallowed words, hundreds of crew members wearing dress whites ran aboard the 20-story Reagan and lined the flight deck while four fighter jets flew overhead and every crane, radar, whistle, and alarm aboard was turned on simultaneously."

"Cheney himself later took the podium, and as he spoke, the spirit of the crowd turned somber: `The Ronald Reagan sets sail in a world with new dangers,' he said, `The outcome is certain. There will be victory for the United States.'

"The moment of triumph would prove to be illusory. Americans had no idea that the war in Iraq, then not even four months old, would take a turn for the worse, that more than 3,000 American servicemen would die in the line of duty; that "liberated" Iraq would spiral down into sectarian violence; and that the war would not only divide the Iraqi nation but the American one as well.
On the flight back to Washington, Cheney huddled with two of his top aides -- I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, his then-chief of staff, and Catherine Martin, then assistant to the vice president for pubic affairs. According to federal court records, the three discussed how to counter and discredit the allegations made by a former U.S. ambassador, Joseph C. Wilson IV, that the Bush administration had manipulated and distorted intelligence information to make the case to go to war with Iraq."

To read the whole thing, if you already haven't (how could you have not already?), click here.