White House press secretaries, who speak for the president and appear before the nation on his behalf, have traditionally kept their secrets while their bosses are in office.
That unwritten rule has faded in the face of big advances for political tell-all books.
Scott McClellan, who served as White House press secretary for nearly three years of the Bush administration, surprised his former colleagues last week when his publisher released three teaser paragraphs from his upcoming book. The excerpt seemed to blame President Bush for McClellan's false statements during the early days of the CIA leak scandal.
"The old rules and old standards of what was considered proper and what was not are less and less abided by," said Jody Powell, who served as President Carter's press secretary. "That's true in all walks of life."
Plenty of press secretaries have written behind-the-scenes views of the West Wing. But such glimpses have traditionally been available only after the president has left office. George Christian, for instance, published "The President Steps Down," about the end of President Johnson's administration, a year after LBJ left the White House.
Others waited even longer. President Kennedy's press secretary, Pierre Salinger, wrote several books about the administration but only after the president's death. The diaries of James Hagerty, President Eisenhower's press secretary, were published after Hagerty died in 1981, a dozen years after Ike's death.
Once the president is out of office, the stories belong to history, said Marlin Fitzwater, who served as White House press secretary under Presidents Reagan and Bush and published his memoir in 1995 .
"In this day and age, there are so many books, the public hardly blinks an eye on the question of loyalty," Fitzwater said.
Veteran political consultant Tobe Berkovitz, the dean of Boston University's communications school, said loyalty has faded as the image of the White House press secretary has changed. Once merely a mouthpiece for the president, press secretaries have become political stars in their own right.
Fitzwater dates the trend to 1988, when his predecessor in the Reagan administration, Larry Speakes, published "Speaking Out." The memoir described the president as aloof, cast Vice President George H. W. Bush as a "yes man," and generally created ill will in Washington.
"I have no affection for these kiss-and-tell books," Reagan said at the time.
Speakes ultimately apologized, saying he regretted providing fodder for Reagan's enemies.
During the Clinton administration, political consultant Dick Morris wrote a memoir about the president's re-election campaign. Morris wasn't a press secretary, but White House communications director George Stephanopoulos still wasn't pleased.
"You have a responsibility not to embarrass the president," said Stephanopoulos, who often conducted the daily press briefings and acted as an official spokesman.
Yet Stephanopoulos fetched a $2.7 million advance for his 1999 memoir "All Too Human." In it, Stephanopoulos said he "felt like a dupe" for defending Clinton's character and painted an often unflattering portrait of the president.
"I think he's probably more comfortable being part of the professional critics of the Washington establishment," Clinton later said of his former aide.
More recently, George W. Bush's first press secretary, Ari Fleischer, published "Taking Heat." Unlike Stephanopoulos or Speakes, however, Fleischer described Bush in favorable terms and saved his harshest words for the media.
"I could have made a lot more money if I'd decided to write about clashes, or criticize the president, or even criticize the press more," Fleischer said after the book's release. "But I chose not to."
Whether McClellan's book, "What Happened," will follow his predecessor's lead or take a more incisive tone remains unclear. The book isn't even finished. The teaser quotes were released five months in advance.
Powell, Carter's press secretary, said he probably would read the book.
"I always had a great deal of sympathy for Scott," Powell said. "I felt like they gave the guy a broomstick and sent him out to hit major league pitching."
After the excerpt caused buzz on Capitol Hill, McClellan's editor offered a clarification suggesting the former press secretary wasn't modeling himself after Speakes or Stephanopoulos. PublicAffairs Books editor Peter Osnos said McClellan didn't think Bush deceived anyone. Rather, Osnos said, Bush himself was misled by White House aides.
"He's not suggesting the president himself had lied," Osnos said, adding, "Scott's not a guy who's pursuing any sort of agenda or being vindictive."
Saturday, November 24, 2007
Friday, November 23, 2007
To the contrary: "Swiftboating" is smearing a candidate with lies.
This inability or refusal, as the case may be, explains in great part the decrease in the size of the audience for news. While it of course plays to Our Leaders' interests, it is not healthy for a democracy such as we once had.
The raw data, as it were, via RawStory:
New York City Deputy Fire Chief Jim Riches does not want to see his former mayor become president.
As head of the group 9/11 Firefighters and Families, Riches works tirelessly to spread the message that Rudy Guiliani failed his first responders on 9/11. Riches appeared on CNN's Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer to discuss what he's trying to do. While former New York City Police Commissioner Howard Safir also appeared to defend Giuliani's record.
"Let's get right to the issue," Blitzer said. "Are you trying to 'swiftboat' Rudy Giuliani?"
"No, we're going to set the record straight on 9/11 and we don't think he's the hero he says he was or the leader," Riches said.
Riches, who lost his son when the Towers collapsed, faults Giuliani for the Fire Department's faulty radios, a lack of training at the World Trade Center, an inept Office of Emergency Management, and "incompetent and cowardly" police and fire commissioners.
"I take it that you're thinking of starting what's called a 527, a committee that would raise money to go after a specific candidate without being involved in any another candidate, is that right?" Blizter asked.
"We're all from different-, we're conservatives, we're Democrats and I voted for Bush and I voted for Giuliani three times," Riches said, "This is not political, this is strictly about his leadership."
Riches also rejected claims by the Giuliani campaign that his group was politicizing 9/11.
"Well, that's a lie because they've politicized it from day one and if he wants to run on his record of failure and everything else then let him run on it, but we're going to set the truth out," Riches said.
Riches's group has been visible in the past days in the media and in the early primary state of New Hampshire. The group was in the State meeting with local media and holding events, countering a Giuliani ad released the same day touting the candidate's 9/11 credentials, according to a DNC press release.
Giuliani's opponents for the nomination are also beginning to poke at the former mayor's constant invocation of 9/11 on the campaign trail. In a CNBC interview recently, Giuliani said in defense of waterboarding, "I'm very reluctant to take away presidential prerogatives and decision making, maybe because I've faced crisis more than the other ones have."
Retorted rival John McCain, "I do not know which 'crisis' the mayor may have been talking about. My experience goes back to the Cuban missile crisis and every conflict we've been in since."
Thursday, November 22, 2007
On Saturday’s weekly presidential radio address, George Bush admonished “Congress” for not yet passing legislation temporarily fixing the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT).Link.
The decades-old law was initially designed to prevent the ultra-rich from shirking their tax responsibilities through creative deductions. But because the law wasn’t linked to inflation, it will force more than 20 million tax filers next year to unfairly pay a greater than normal share.
Bush crowned himself defender of the "middle-class," using the phrase five times in his short speech. But he quietly left off that term in this passage:
Unfortunately, Congress seems determined to compound this original mistake by making another one. Last week, the House passed a bill that provides relief from the AMT -- but raises other taxes. Congress should not use legislation that millions of Americans are counting on to protect them from higher taxes in one area as an excuse to raise taxes in other areas.
"Middle-class" isn't mentioned because those “other areas” have nothing to do with the middle-class, but primarily with fat and happy hedge fund managers.
And the House bill doesn’t so much “raise taxes” on hedge fund managers, as it closes a ridiculous tax loophole.
As tax consultant clammyc explains at ePluribus Media, investment income is taxed at a lower rate (15%) than income from performing services at one’s job (25%-35%) .
But when hedge fund managers carry our their services, their income is called “carried interest” and treated as investment income.
This law is unfair to working Americans on its own merits -- a perfect candidate to offset the loss of revenue that would result from restoring fairness to the AMT.
Of course, that also makes it a perfect candidate for conservative obstruction, as Bush pledged the veto the bill and conservative Senators would surely filibuster it.
But conservatives aren’t the only obstacle in this case. Several Senate Democrats are putting the interests of hedge fund managers ahead of tax fairness. Sen. Chuck Schumer (N.Y.) is opposed to the House bill, and Sen. John Kerry (Mass.) has been lukewarm at best.
Senate Finance Committee Chair Max Baucus (Mont.) deals with the issue by temporarily fixing AMT without bothering to offset the revenue loss. (Senate conservatives have already filibustered that bill too, because Baucus included different offsets to the revenue loss from extending prior Bush tax cuts.)
The conservative minority is eager to continue the “block and blame” strategy – block legislation to protect 20 million filers from an unfair tax penalty, then blame the congressional majority for inaction.
But it will be harder to rebut that strategy if the Democratic Party remains split between its core principles and a minority of its donors, and can't speak in a clear voice.
Karachi yesterday: Details and clarificationsLink.
posted by Bolshevik at 7:41 PM on November 21, 2007
First off, the funny part: All the journalists arrested (and later released) in Karachi yesterday have been charged with "rioting, creating [a] law and order situation, encounter, kidnapping and attempt to murder." ATTEMPT TO MURDER!!! AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!! Attempt to murder what? Musharraf's hegemony? HELL yeah, baby! :-P
Okay, here's what happened yesterday:
The Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) and the Karachi Union of Journalists (KUJ) had called for a peaceful demonstration at 03:00 Tuesday (yesterday) outside the Karachi Press Club. The purpose was to demand the freedom of the Press, etc. Please note, all of us were totally unarmed, while the police surrounding the area were in complete riot gear with shields and motey dandey and bulletproof vests, helmets, knee pads, and whatnot. The entire area around the press club had been cordoned off.
The moment the rally got out of the Press Club, we were attacked (yes, "attacked") by the policemen. There was a LOAD of brutal baton-charging, and one policeman hit ARY's Aajiz Jamali so hard on his back with the shield, that the shield broke in two. :-S Women and men were hit indiscriminately and very VERY brutally -- yes I can emphasize that enough. I'm skinny -- I crawled around and got out unhurt, but a lot of other people were seriously injured. Everyone ran back towards the press club. Some of our office bearers and senior people had been picked up.
The demands and the negotiations
We all got out again and demanded that everyone be released. The policemen said they'd let everyone go if we went back inside the press club. We refused, and said we'd go in ONLY after our people were released. Negotiations followed, and it turned out that our people could not be released. We said fine, if you can arrest 10, you can arrest all the rest of us too. :-P We gave in "ba-jamaa'at" giriftaariaN. The policemen tried to stop the women but we said we were standing by our male colleagues. They said there were no female police officials and we could therefore not be arrested. We reminded them that the people who had baton charged us were not female police officials, and if the male police waalahs could hit us, they could pretty darn well arrest us too. Khair, female police waaliaN were brought in, but we insisted that we will go in the same vans as our male colleagues.
In the van
Now this is the fun part! :-D There were 27 of us in this van -- seven women and 20 men. And boy did we raise hell!!! The van took us on a tour of the entire city, and we kept naarafying all the way. Passersby stopped to gape at us and then joined in the naareybaazi. In short, we conducted a State-sponsored anti-Musharraf rally. AHAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHAH!!! Yes, I can't get over this -- this IS funny!!! :-D They took us to the Boat Basin police station, only to realise that it was full. Ditto for Gizri and Darakhshan. They were then told to take us to the Docks police station, but the driver did not know the way (YUP!!! :-D). He took us to the Jackson police station instead, where his bum was kicked, and the correct raasta explained to him by officials concerned. LOL! All this while, we weren't making life easier for him by continuously naarafying, jeering and heckling. Yes we're mean. :-P
At the Docks Police Station
We were "offloaded" and the women were told to go separately. We refused and decided to stick with our male colleagues. "We're here as journalists, not men or women," we told the police waalahs there. Since the Docks Police Station does not have a female lockup, they had to put all 26 of us in the interrogation room where we continued to party. :-P
At around 05:30 p.m. they came to the women -- Husna Ali (Dawn News), Sabin Agha (Geo English), Xari Jalil (The News), Afshan Pasha (Geo English), Bilquis Jahan (freelance) and myself -- and said that we were free to go. We asked if EVERYONE was free to go and we were told, "No, only the 'laddiss'." We told them to sod off -- either EVERYONE leaves, or no one does. [Note: Two other female journalists were held at the Clifton police station. I don't have their names.]
They tried to confiscate our cellphones, and we refused en masse. So while cellphones at the rest of the police stations were taken away, us "Docks waalahs" still had ours on us. :-D
We also took over the SHO's rest room, because the "prisoners' restrooms" were filthy and the doors wouldn't lock. We made them bring water for us, etc etc, didn't tell them our home addresses for the FIR, bugged them every way we could. :-P Faiz saheb's kalaam was sung, nareybaazi huee. Some PPP waalahs brought us food, tea, diet coke and jaali ciggies, for which we're thankful to them. :-P
A lot of people visited us, and we are sincerely grateful for their support. Special thanks to Ayesha Siddiqi from the People's Resistance for staying with us for a whole bunch of hours together. A majority of the CMKP Karachi DC camped out outside the gates of the police station, as did Nasir Mansoor and Sherbaz Khan from the LPP, and Dr Riaz and all. The HRCP visited us too, as did members of Peoples Resistance, including Dr Awab Alvi and Sophia (I'm sorry I'm missing out names here). From what I heard from the other police stations (people were spread out -- some were held at the Clifton police station, some at the Artillery Maidan police station, Frere police station, Darakhshan too, I think), journos there were having as much fun as we were having at the Docks Police Station.
Ten people who had been taken to the Shershah police station were brought over to Docks, bringing the total at our camp to 36 -- the more, the merrier! :-P
At around 09:30 p.m. they said all of us were free to go. We came to know, however, that four of our senior office bearers could not be traced. It was mutually decided that no one would leave any police station, until those four people were released with us. The police waalahs threatened to physically throw everyone out, and they were told to "try." :-P The missing people were then "miraculously" traced out within 15 minutes, and everyone rejoiced. We left the Docks police station the way we'd entered it -- naarafying and partying. :-D
All of us "criminals" from all the police stations then congregated outside the Clifton police station, where we raised hell again. We then proceeded to the Karachi Press Club, where we partied again -- yes, that's what us Karachi'ites do best -- and we do things with a bang! : )
Lesson learnt yesterday: Unity = Victory.
Also, from what we were told by the new information minister, Nesar Memon, the decision to arrest journos was taken independently by the Sindh government -- no such orders had come forth from the provincial level. Now I'm wondering how or why a caretaker government would take such a major step.
Moreover, there are people who're going around saying that the police resorted to violence only after journos hurled stones at them. This is WRONG. Stones were hurled, yes, but only AFTER the police started beating us up like cattle. A friend of mine rolled up her placard and started hitting a police waalah on the head with it -- after his lathi hit her really hard. Serves them right, I'd say. But let the records show that the stone-throwing was a REACTION. Anyone would do it if you saw your friends being beaten up this way for no reason -- and we're all friends here. No matter how cut-throat the competition between publications and channels, no matter how hard we try to outdo each other professionally, but when push comes to shove, we journos are all friends and we stand united!!!
Oh and naaras that journos came up with yesterday:
Mukk gya tera show Musharraf -- Go Musharraf, Go Musharraf!
Kalla baetha ro Musharraf -- Go Musharraf, Go Musharraf!!!
Wednesday, November 21, 2007
When Jordan Fox was serving in Iraq, his mother helped organize Operation Pittsburgh Pride, which sends thousands of care packages to U.S. troops from his hometown, which prompted a personal “thank you” from the White House. When Fox was seriously injured in Iraq, the president sent what appeared to be personal note, expressing his concerns to the Fox family.
But more recently, Fox received a different piece of correspondence from the Bush administration.
The U.S. Military is demanding that thousands of wounded service personnel give back signing bonuses because they are unable to serve out their commitments.
To get people to sign up, the military gives enlistment bonuses up to $30,000 in some cases.
Now men and women who have lost arms, legs, eyesight, hearing and can no longer serve are being ordered to pay some of that money back.
I watched the report from the CBS affiliate in Pittsburgh, and I kept thinking, “This can’t be right.” Apparently, it is.
In Jordan Fox’s case, he was seriously injured when a roadside bomb blew up his vehicle, causing back injuries and blindness in his right eye. He was sent home, unable to complete the final three months of his military commitment.
Last week, the Pentagon sent him a bill: Fox owed the government nearly $3,000 of his signing bonus.
“I tried to do my best and serve my country. I was unfortunately hurt in the process. Now they’re telling me they want their money back,” Fox said.
Look, if a soldier signed a contract, collected a signing bonus, and then quit, I can understand the military asking for the signing bonus back.
But we’re talking about troops who volunteered, served, and were seriously injured. It’s not their fault they got hurt. How on earth is the Pentagon justified in asking for a refund?
In Jordan Fox’s case, he doesn’t have $3,000 lying around to give the government, and his injuries are such that he had to give up on his goal of becoming a police officer.
For what it’s worth, Fox’s congressman, Democrat Jason Altmire, has introduced a bill to prohibit the Bush administration from asking the troops for refunds.
Mr. Altmire, D-McCandless, held a news conference yesterday at the Ross municipal building with Spc. Kaminski and other veterans to tout legislation he has authored to aid wounded soldiers.
At the forefront was a bill introduced last week and sent to committee that targets a Defense Department policy preventing eligible soldiers from receiving their full bonuses if discharged early because of combat-related injuries.
“Hard as it may be to believe, the Department of Defense has been denying injured servicemen and women the bonuses that they qualified for,” Mr. Altmire said.
He said he drafted the legislation after hearing “outrageous” examples of bonuses being denied…. Mr. Altmire’s legislation, the Veterans Guaranteed Bonus Act, would require the Defense Department to pay bonuses in full within 30 days to veterans discharged because of combat-related wounds.
Seems like a no-brainer.
Tuesday, November 20, 2007
Of course you fire him.
Rudy Giuliani knew right away that he wanted to hire William Bratton as police chief when the two first met in 1993. "When Giuliani was elected mayor, we had something like 2,200 murders that year," says Adam Walinsky, a law-enforcement expert who helped arrange that first meeting. "He went out to get a guy who was going to completely shake it up. He knew within the first half-hour of conversation that [Bratton was the man for the job]."
Starting in 1994, Bratton wasted no time. A former Boston police chief, Bratton decentralized the stovepiped NYPD, put more cops on the street and did block-by-block crime analysis, deploying patrols to hot spots. By the end of his first year, crime had declined by 12%; in 1995, it fell 17% more.
But as crime dropped, the mayor and the chief began to rumble. Bratton believed that an aggressive p.r. strategy would act as a booster rocket for the revolution under way in the police department. But Giuliani saw him as a credit-hogging media hound. The situation quickly turned ugly. Giuliani's deputies took over Bratton's press operation and eventually fired half the staff. City Hall began whispering to reporters about Bratton's heavy travel schedule. And Giuliani tried to put the brakes on a $350,000 Bratton book deal. By the time Bratton appeared on the cover of TIME in January 1996, the love was gone. Bratton announced his resignation two months later.
Was Giuliani wrong to push Bratton out? It seemed so at the time, but by then Bratton had already done the heavy lifting of reform. More intriguing now is the fact that Giuliani chafed alongside Bratton, a certified policing genius, but bonded easily with Kerik. (Where Giuliani clearly erred was in naming Howard Safir to replace Bratton. Safir was an unqualified disaster.)
Meanwhile, Bratton decamped to the private sector and eventually became chief of police for Los Angeles. "The reason they split wasn't that Bill had failed to do the job," says Walinsky. "Strange as it may sound, even a city as big as New York wasn't big enough for the two of them."
The explanation is here.
Well, back in 2003, while the Post was fast asleep, late one night, Rudy said this:
GIULIANI: My very first feeling, when I first thought about it, maybe within an hour of the event -- was what a shame that I have to deal with this towards the end of my administration. And then immediately I said to myself -- No, that isn't the right feeling. Actually, thank God that I'm as experienced as I am. And this is what I know how to do. There are things I don't know how to do. But this is what I know -- I know how to organize an emergency.Image link.
ROSE: You know how to respond to a crisis.
GIULIANI: I know how to respond to a crisis. I've done that all my life and for some reason, I know how to do that. For some reason, that's something I've developed or it's a talent that I have.
ROSE: Did you believe at the time -- whatever my faults are -- at this moment, in this city, this is a thing that I can do better than anybody else?
GIULIANI: Yes. Yeah - I did. I did.
Sunday, November 18, 2007
It's one of those below the radar things, but there's a fight brewing between mortgage brokers and the rest of us over legislation. There's legislation to outlaw something called "yield spread premiums" in which brokers are given a cut if they give borrowers crappier loans than the ones they qualify for. The thing is that most people don't understand that their mortgage broker isn't their pal who simply runs their credit score and gives them the best mortgage they qualify for, but is in fact someone who benefits from screwing them as much as possible. People just don't think of their mortgage broker in the way they think about used car salesmen even though they obviously should.
Anyway, if you have a moment write or call your representative in support of HR 3915.
Link.Matthews’ favorite story concerned Willey’s claim that she was intimidated by an unknown jogger near her home. After Willey told the treasured tale, Matthews asked who this jogger might be:"The man" was Pat Buchanan's brother, Hank.
MATTHEWS: Who do you think this was? Do you recognize him from any pictures you’ve seen? Have you ever seen a picture of a person who looks like this person who accosted you this morning?
Willey had identified a picture, she said, but she didn’t want to say who it was. She repeatedly declined to name any names, saying the event was still under investigation. But Matthews knew who Willey had named. He went ahead and named names for his lady:
MATTHEWS: Who showed you the picture of the person that you think might have been him?
WILLEY: Jackie Judd.
MATTHEWS: From ABC. And did you identify it positively?
MATTHEWS: So it’s Cody Shearer.
WILLEY: I can’t tell you.
MATTHEWS: OK, but you identified it positively.
The exchange provides a classic example of Hardball’s oddball logic. Willey identified it positively--so it’s Cody Shearer! The analysts roared, here at DAILY HOWLER World Headquarters, at the latest exhibition of the talker’s strange arts.
We now know that, if there was such a jogger, it surely wasn’t Cody Shearer, brother-in-law of a White House official. Matthews opened his show this past Monday night with an apology for having named Shearer (Matthews spent several nights, after May 11, bravely pretending that Willey had named Shearer). Matthews said that Shearer (and his lawyer) had convinced him that Shearer was nowhere near the alleged crime. Joe Conason, in Salon, filled in the facts about the day in question:
CONASON: I did what Matthews should have done and called Shearer. He told me that on the date cited by Willey, Jan. 8, 1998, he was far from her house in the leafy suburbs of Richmond, Va. He can prove that he stayed at the Hyatt Regency hotel in San Francisco on the night of Jan. 7 and that at 2:53 p.m. on Jan. 8, he withdrew money from a cash machine at the Embarcadero Center in that same city.
And why don’t real journalists make reckless accusations? We’ve learned part of the reason in the past several days. Conason reported that Shearer has received death threats in the wake of the Matthews accusation; and this morning, a warrant has been issued for a Washington man’s arrest. Over the weekend, the man appeared at Shearer’s home, slashed his tires, and threatened guests with a shotgun.
But Joe Klein, frequent Chris Matthews Show guest, tells me "Rumors only become news when they are confirmed, cross-checked and responded to by the target of the attack."
And then there's this; CNN gaming a presidential debate:
Maria Luisa, the UNLV student who asked Hillary Clinton whether she preferred "diamonds or pearls" at last night's debate wrote on her MySpace page this morning that CNN forced her to ask the frilly question instead of a pre-approved query about the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository.Link.
"Every single question asked during the debate by the audience had to be approved by CNN," Luisa writes. "I was asked to submit questions including "lighthearted/fun" questions. I submitted more than five questions on issues important to me. I did a policy memo on Yucca Mountain a year ago and was the finalist for the Truman Scholarship. For sure, I thought I would get to ask the Yucca question that was APPROVED by CNN days in advance."
Now, Luisa is getting "swamped" with critical e-mails.
So what happened?
"CNN ran out of time and used me to "close" the debate with the pearls/diamonds question. Seconds later this girl comes up to me and says, "you gave our school a bad reputation.' Well, I had to explain to her that every question from the audience was pre-planned and censored. That's what the media does. See, the media chose what they wanted, not what the people or audience really wanted. That's politics; that's reality. So, if you want to read about real issues important to America--and the whole world, I suggest you pick up a copy of the Economist or the New York Times or some other independent source. If you want me to explain to you how the media works, I am more than happy to do so. But do not judge me or my integrity based on that question."
Rivals to Clinton believe that the debate audience had a pro-Clinton tilt. UNLV was responsible for distributing most of the tickets.
In a separate post, Luisa provides the question she wanted to ask:
Yucca Mountain, NV is the proposed site for the country's nuclear waste repository. Despite scientific evidence that it is a vulnerable site, the federal government continues to push for the plan to move forward. The evidence relied on is unsound and the risks involved in transporting high-level radioactive waste across the country are high. What will you [Sen. Clinton] do to ensure that the best site/s is/are chosen for the storage of spent nuclear reactor fuel?
Sam Feist, the executive producer of the debate, said that the student was asked to choose another question because the candidates had already spent about ten minutes discussing Yucca Mountain.
"When her Yucca mountain question was asked, she was given the opportunity to ask another question, and my understanding is that the [diamond v. pearls] questions was her other question," Feist said. "She probably was disappointed, but we spent a lot of time with a bunch of different candidates on Yucca Mountain, and we were at the end of the debate."
Greg Sargent of TPM Election Central has a CNN spoxperson giving a slightly different story...
And that variant version?
Okay, we've got some more detail for you on the controversy surrounding CNN and the girl who asked Hillary whether she prefers "diamonds or pearls" at the close of last night's debate.Nothing like professionals taking advantage of youth....
Specifically, a CNN spokesperson confirmed to me that the network chose that question and asked her to ask it.
But in the network's defense the spokesperson also says that the girl wasn't "forced" to ask it. She submitted the question in advance -- it was her question -- and voluntarily agreed to ask it. CNN selected the question and asked her towards the close of the debate if she wanted to ask it. She said yes.
As you may have heard by now, the girl said on her MySpace page that she was forced to ask this question and that she would have preferred to ask one about Yucca Mountain. She said this in response to the storm of criticism and ridicule the question has since received.
And it looks like the girl is right: Though she did submit the question, CNN did select it and ask her to pose it.
Hillary's rivals are accusing CNN of going soft on the frontrunner, and they're pointing to this question, among other things, as proof of this.
Here's how the whole thing unfolded, according to the spokesperson. Questioners were told in advance that they didn't want duplicate questions to be asked on topics that were already covered. The spokesperson argues that Yucca Mountain had already been discussed for some time as the debate wound down last night.
According to the spokesperson, as the debate drew to a close, CNN wanted to ask one last question. A CNN employee (it's unclear who) asked the girl if she wanted to ask the "diamonds and pearls" question. She said yes.
A CNN official is already on record telling Marc Ambinder that she chose the question. But as the above makes clear, CNN's spokesperson is confirming that the network in fact chose it.
So this is both better and worse for the network. On the one hand, it's better because the question was originally submitted by the girl, and it's obvious that the girl was hardly "forced" to ask this; rather, she was offered the opportunity and took it. The network wanted to close on a light question, and they chose this one.
On the other hand, the network is confirming that it did in fact choose a question that quizzed the first credible female Presidential candidate on her taste in jewelry. That's confessing to some pretty questionable taste.
Way to go, CNN and Big Media: no standards, everyone's there to be your victims....
Covering the 1978 New York City newspaper strike for Newsday, I proved useful to him because I was the only game in town. He proved useful to me because he was Rupert Murdoch.Link.
So we became chummy. We chatted. We telephoned. He permitted me to buy him a drink at The Bull and Bear in the Waldorf Astoria. We became so chummy that when the strike ended, he offered — and I accepted — the lofty-sounding position of Political and Investigative Editor of the New York Post.
The day I began, the Post’s editor, a brilliant but diabolical Brit, gave me a warning. “Rupert,” he said, “falls in and out love very quickly.” Sure enough, when I left the Post after only nine months [we were not on the same journalistic page, as they say] Mr. Murdoch had all but forgotten me.
Rudy Giuliani also falls in and out of love with his employees, although not quite as quickly as Rupert Murdoch.
First, there was his 29-year-old press secretary Cristyne Lategano. Although lacking journalistic experience, she was bright, attractive, energetic, hardworking and loyal.
At the height of her powers, many viewed her as Rudy’s most influential adviser. Rudy spent so much time with her that his wife, Donna Hanover, refused to appear in public with him whenever Cristyne was present.
Rudy’s political adviser David Garth advised Rudy to drop her. Instead, Rudy dropped Garth. His campaign manager and deputy mayor Peter Powers also warned Rudy about Cristyne. Rudy warned Powers never bring up the subject again. Powers, Rudy’s oldest friend, left the administration.
By my estimate, Rudy and Cristyne were an item from 1995 — the year he forced her former companion John Miller, then the spokesman for Police Commissioner Bill Bratton, to resign — to 1998 when the Daily News described her as storming out of a restaurant in tears after the mayor screamed at her over breakfast.
Rudy then packed her off to a $150,000 job with the New York Convention and Visitors Bureau where she remained out of sight through the end of his administration.
Rudy also fell hard for the recently indicted Bernie Kerik. We all know Bernie was Rudy’s driver and bodyguard during his 1993 campaign. Few know that one of Bernie’s NYPD detective buddies Tibor Kerekes — whom Bernie later appointed Deputy Commissioner of Administration — served on Giuliani’s detail — i.e., as one of his bodyguards — at City Hall.
Part of Tibor’s job involved keeping Donna at bay — i.e, away from Cristyne. If things got hot, Bernie stepped in. Rudy loved Bernie for that. Donna despised him.
Rudy was so smitten with Bernie that in 1997 after First Deputy Tosano Simonetti retired, Rudy sought to appoint Bernie to replace him. Howard Safir, who had succeeded Bratton as police commissioner, nixed Bernie and appointed Pat Kelleher. People at Police Plaza believe this was the only time Safir ever stood up to Rudy.
Three years later, in August, 2000, Safir retired. Although Rudy had called him “the greatest police commissioner in the history of New York City,” he ignored Safir’s recommendation to appoint the 30-year veteran, Chief of Department Joe Dunne, to succeed him. He also ignored Safir’s continued warnings about Bernie.
So now we have two people warning Rudy about Bernie. Besides Safir, there was the late Commissioner of Investigations, Edward Kuriansky, who is believed to have specifically told Rudy about Bernie’s relationship with an outfit with alleged mob ties. That was the outfit that paid for the $165,000 renovation to Bernie’s Bronx apartment and to which Bernie tried to steer a city contract.
When last heard from, Rudy was still maintaining that despite his ethical and financial lapses Kerik was a good police commissioner. The indictment paints a different picture — one of a city official with his hand out who exploited 9/ll for his own enrichment.
While Corrections Commissioner, he allegedly accepted those freebie apartment renovations. While police commissioner, he lied about this on his taxes and on his financial disclosure forms with the city.
The indictment also alleges that Kerik failed to report as income $75,000 he received from his book publisher for writing the introduction to a book about 9/ll.The proceeds were supposed to go to charity.
The indictment further alleges that Kerik failed to report as income $236,000 in rent for a Manhattan apartment that was paid by a Manhattan developer. This appears to be another example of Kerik’s exploiting 9/ll. The developer had generously and anonymously come forward to donate money to the families of the 23 officers who died in the World Trade Center attack.
“Moral relativism is not an appropriate yardstick for our pubic officials,” Special Agent in charge of the FBI’s Criminal Division in New York David Cardona said at Kerik’s indictment last week in White Plains. “The only acceptable level of corruption in a trusted government official is zero.”
Teddy Roosevelt, New York’s Police commissioner in the 1890s, Cardona continued, “was the embodiment of rectitude: a man who held himself to a higher standard than he expected from others. A century apart, Teddy Roosevelt and Bernie Kerik held the same job. There the similarity ends.”
Before Rudy opens his mouth again about leadership, he may want to read some history.
What a surprise to find an old face on the Hill yesterday -- former Senate GOP leadership aide Manuel Miranda-- but an even bigger surprise was learning his new job: giving legislative advice to fledgling democrats in Baghdad.
Miranda's official title is director of the Office of Legislative Statecraft at the U.S. Embassy in Iraq. There, he's giving instruction on democratic principles to Iraqi lawyers and lawmakers, a group of whom he escorted around the Capitol complex yesterday.
Where did Miranda hone his own legislative statecraft? At the Senate Judiciary Committee earlier this decade, where he led an 18-month effort to pilfer documents from the Democratic staff.
Miranda, who moved on to work as judicial nominations counsel for then-Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) in 2003, was forced from his job in early 2004 after an internal Senate investigation determined he and a junior aide had swiped 4,670 documents, memos and e-mails.
Miranda subsequently acknowledged doing so. He said that because the committee had no internal password protection at the time, no laws were broken when he looked through and printed out other aides' electronic files.
Two days after his election to the Yakima City Council, Rick Ensey admitted his wife was in fact the anonymous blogger who badmouthed his opponent throughout the campaign.Link.
Now Ensey's vanquished opponent, Councilmember Ron Bonlender, is threatening to sue Ensey and his wife, Diane, for slander and defamation.
"I don't want to sound like I'm threatening, but I am making inquiries," Bonlender said Thursday after Ensey came clean to KIMA-TV about the blogger's identity.
On Thursday, the newly elected council member acknowledged in an interview on KIMA that the suspicion first raised in the Yakima Herald-Republic on Oct. 30 was true -- Diane Ensey was the writer and voice behind InsideYakima.com.
"He's right. It is my wife," Ensey told the CBS affiliate.
Signing as Publius, the blogger delighted in ridiculing Bonlender throughout the campaign as a clueless tax-and-spend liberal Democrat. One controversial post Oct. 4 referred to "rumors" that Bonlender had been arrested several times on charges of drunken driving and that the arrest reports were being covered up by the police, the Herald-Republic and City Manager Dick Zais.
A review of state records found no evidence of the rumors, and the blogger offered no evidence of any suppression of records.
Despite Inside Yakima's obscurity, growing curiosity among city insiders in the waning days of the campaign gave rise to speculation about the blogger's identity. Bonlender wasn't the only target -- the blogger took swipes at Zais, Council members Susan Whitman and Neil McClure, the Herald-Republic editorial board, and Democrats in general.
The blogger's snarky attitude seemed somewhat in character for a campaign race awash in partisanship. Ensey, a property manager, criticized Bonlender for being a Democrat and suggested he was out of step with Yakima. Bonlender, a sandwich shop owner, took Ensey to task for promoting an endorsement from the Yakima County Republican Party when he was competing in a nonpartisan race.
Ensey won with 52.5 percent of the vote.
He told KIMA on Thursday that his wife started the blog without telling him, and that she thought it'd be a fun way to put voice to the issues they cared about.
Diane Ensey, who served as Ensey's campaign treasurer, is a Web developer and professional blogger.
In a Herald-Republic story on Oct. 30 that raised questions about the ethics of an anonymous blog and controversial postings at Inside Yakima, Rick Ensey variously described the blogger as a friend or acquaintance but wouldn't name names.
When asked to deny that the blogger was his wife, he refused to answer the question.
"If I start listing off a bunch of people, then I'm down a road I don't want to go," he said, adding, "I'm sworn to secrecy."
But the newspaper story -- and reaction around town -- apparently raised concern.
"I said 'Hey, we gotta pull this thing off. People are upset with it, we shouldn't have posted it. Pull it off,'" Ensey said in the KIMA interview.
The site was taken down the day after the election and the domain is now up for sale.
On Thursday night, Ensey did not return a call to his cell phone seeking comment about his wife and the blog.
Bonlender, meanwhile, chalked up the entire who-wrote-it episode to partisan rancor.
"If I had done it to him, oh my God, KIT would talk about it for two weeks straight," he said, referring to the local radio station. "There's a different standard in this town for Republicans (than for Democrats). That much is obvious."
It’s an honor to speak to a group of people who share my viewpoint. I didn’t get that opportunity too often in New York. We’re a city that was 5 to 1 Democrat as Ted pointed out, so it was an uphill battle. The ideas were always rejected, put aside, attacked, but then everybody loved the results.
But I’m happy to be able to speak to people where the ideas I think are very, very similar. I’m also happy to see that seven members of my judicial task force who advise me on everything are addressing the Federalist Society over the course of this conference. I think it shows the very close connection in terms of ideas, outlook, and goals....
***...There are at least 200 reasons why the next election for President of the United States is going to be a critical one and the most important one that we have in our history. Now I know we say that all the time, that every presidential election is the most important one that we have in our history, but actually, it’s a truthful statement isn’t it? Because every presidential election, the next one is the most important because it determines the future course of this country. There are a lot of issues, there are a lot of differences, but I’m going to give you 200 reasons why the next election is really important. It’s the 200 federal judges that the next President of the United States will likely appoint over four years in the White House. That’s roughly the average that a president gets to appoint.
Last week, I was watching the Chris Matthews show. I have to watch these shows. And you know how he has that Matthews Meter. He takes a question and he gives it to 12 reporters. I have lost 40 of these in a row. But last week, he asked them the following question: “Do you believe that  will keep his word and appoint judges who interpret the Constitution, conservative judges?” You know what the vote was among these reporters, some of the most cynical people in Washington? 12-nothing, yes.
For the first time I agree with a group of Washington reporters. They’re right because we believe in the rule of law, not in the rule of judges. Our constitutional principles instruct us that we have to recognize the limitations on power as a way of protecting our liberties. That’s really one of the guiding principles of our whole constitutional structure. And for many, many years, law schools, too many of them, had been confusing constitutional law with sociology. And there is a big difference between constitutional law and sociology.***
Our Framers had no doubt about the proper approach to interpretation of the Constitution. You could say they were the original originalists. Thomas Jefferson and Alexander Hamilton made current political argument and animosity seem trivial in comparison to the animosity that they had right? But they didn’t agree on many things, but they did agree on the following, and I quote Jefferson, “Our peculiar security is in the possession of a written Constitution. Let us not make it a blank paper by construction.”
We need judges who embrace originalism, endeavor to determine what others meant when they wrote the words of our Constitution. Justices like Justice Scalia, Justice Thomas, Justice Alito, and Chief Justice Roberts. That would be my model.***
Most countries on earth developed out of a single ethnicity, a single religion, some common characteristic that bound people together before they were even a nation. America is very, very different. We’re not a single ethnicity, we’re all ethnicities. We’re not a single race, we’re all races. We’re not a single religion. We were established so that we wouldn’t be a single religion. So we’re very different in our origins than just about any other country on earth. We’re united because of ideas and ideals. That’s what holds us together. That’s the thing that makes America America, makes Americans Americans—shared ideas.
The ideas first proposed in the Declaration of Independence and then debated in the Constitutional Convention and embodied in the Constitution became the American creed. The set of beliefs that bind us together as a nation. No one was more articulate and better able to explain this than Abraham Lincoln who used to say, “How do you determine who’s the best American?” He was once posed that question. Is the best American the one who’s family has been here the longest and came over on the Mayflower, or the person who became a citizen yesterday? And Abraham Lincoln said, “The best American is the American who understands our Declaration of Independence, our Constitution, our values of political freedom, economic freedom, the rule of law, freedom of choice, freedom of decision-making, freedom for people. People who understand what our country is all about. That’s the one that makes the best American.” And what he said was we’re a people of belief. We’re a people of ideas. So to the extent that we keep reminding ourselves of what these ideas are, to that extent we’re really enforcing what America is all about. American exceptionalism isn’t a debate, it’s not something we should be arrogant about where we say, “Oh, we’re very, very special.” We’re just very, very fortunate and when we don’t recognize that, I don’t think we do justice to our background and to what’s expected of us.
It was this nation that took all of those ideas that developed from way back in the Old Testament and the Greek philosophy and Roman law and the enlightenment. They were all really ideas until they were actually put into practice and no one knew really whether those ideas put into practice would work, and America did. And America established this constitutional democratic government in the form of a republic and it was the nation that from the very beginning saw that tyranny and oppression is something that was illegitimate and had to be dealt with. It was this nation that saved the world from the two great tyrannies of the 20th century, Nazism and Communism. It’s this country that’s going to save a civilization from Islamic terrorism.
Now the United States of America has been and will continue to be a beacon of hope for the world. And the democratic debate that we have in this country and the disagreements that we have in this country should not be mistaken anywhere in the world for weakness. America’s strength is just as great as it’s always been. I remember on the day of September 11th thinking about that and wondering, you know are we up to this, can we deal it, can we handle this, so much worse than anything that at least we thought had happened to us before. And from the first moment when I saw the way the people reacted to it and I saw the way the firefighters and the police officers reacted to it and I saw the construction workers come and volunteer, you know hundreds of them, more than we needed, ultimately thousands of them. I realized that these people are the sons and daughters in spirit and sometimes in blood as the same people that saved our country some many times over and over again. And when you challenge us all this strength comes back, it’s really there we should not be worried about it, we have it, this generation is as strong as prior generations of Americans because we come from them and we owe it to them and to ourselves to make sure that this principle of democracy and freedom is upheld, preserved and expanded everywhere in the world.
Now America is not great however because of our central government.
And that may be one of the basic distinctions between the two political parties right now because I do believe quite honestly that the other political party does believe that the greatness of America lies in the central government because they want to impose and give more and more responsibility to the central government. And I think it’s a misunderstanding of what works here. We didn’t take the European path toward a highly centralized government like most of the European countries did and are doing, some of which are now moving back from that. We chose a unique option, an exceptional American option. We chose a horizontal division of power among the different branches of government, called a separation of powers and a vertical balance of power between the central government, the national government and the states. And it’s a maybe more complex way of doing it but it’s the one that has worked for us and it’s the one that we have to go back to and rely on when we solve our problems. And we have to have faith and confidence in that system because, and again without being arrogant and without being self-congratulatory, isn’t it a fact that no other government, no other society has ever succeeded in accomplishing what America has accomplished. We’ve moved more people out of poverty than any country in the history of the world, we’ve given more opportunity to people, we have more fairness, not perfection, not absolute fairness, we have tremendous problems we to overcome. But who’s done better than the United States of America in overcoming problems, empowering people, creating social mobility, giving people the chance to reach to sky and a realistic chance of getting there and moving people out of situations in which they were treated unfairly. No one’s done a better job than us and maybe there’s a reason for that. And you know that the reason for it is? The reason for it is number one that God has graced us with this wonderful land and number two it’s the genius of our constitutional system. Let’s rely on it, let’s not reject it.
Our system doesn’t force every state to fit into a straightjacket. So much of the anger and division in politics today stems from the attempt of one faction, whatever the political thinking, to impose their thinking on everyone else through the courts. I believe it’s time to close that chapter in our history. I believe we can close that chapter.***
Our system recognizes the fact that different cities and different states face different challenges. They demand flexibility for local decision making. What works in Manhattan, New York is not necessarily what works in Manhattan, Kansas or in Manhattan Beach, California. They maybe all named Manhattan but they have different problems, different issues. The genius of our system is we have the flexibility to allow local governments and to allow states to respond to the different challenges in a different way. We don’t put a national centralized straightjacket on them. Federalism gives us flexibility to solve our own problems, it encourages experimentation and innovation....***
We’re also going to put behind us what has been a very, very sad chapter in our history, and we really have to put this behind us and start anew. I think I would trace this chapter to the nomination of Bob Bork, a man who Chief Justice Burger described as one of the most qualified to ever be nominated to serve on the court. I believe--
His nomination fight hit a new low, and then of course there was the battle regarding Justice Thomas, the attempted character assassination of Justice Thomas, and we had almost gone to the point where the advice and consent clause was being reinterpreted as a way to bring back the Spanish Inquisition rather than what it’s supposed to be, which is if you have a Republican President with essentially conservative viewpoint, then that Republican President should be given deference. Even if you don’t agree with the philosophy of a particular candidate, you have to give the President his or her choice, and the same thing is true on the other side. With a Democratic President, if the country chooses a Democratic President with a somewhat more liberal or liberal philosophy, what we are going to expect is that that Democratic President is going to make those choices and qualification then should be the issue. Honesty, qualification, integrity, not philosophy. The electorate kind of decides that in the President that they choose, and this has become very, very much distorted. You know about the situation with Miguel Estrada. He was an outstanding candidate, an excellent lawyer, one of the best lawyers in this country, and he wasn’t even allowed to get a vote on the floor of the Senate. It was blocked with numerous attempts to stop it and filibusters, and that really isn’t right. I believe that is a perversion of what our advice and consent clause really means, and then we saw that happen again with Janice Rogers Brown and with others. And really, the next President is gonna have to call on the Senate to change its rules and ask the Senate to really take seriously what advice and consent means. What advice and consent means is that someone if sent there by the President should get an up or down vote within a reasonable period of time.
At least have the courage of your convictions. If I’m President, you can be certain I will have the courage to present nominees that I believe in and am willing to stand behind. Well, the Senate should have the courage to vote yes or no but not to hide on those nominations.
We also believe that the Constitution should be interpreted as it’s written not as someone would like it to be. There’s a recent decision in the D.C. Circuit on the right to bear arms written by Judge Silberman. I think it’s an excellent example of the kind of interpretation that I would expect of judges and justices. He examined the history of the Second Amendment. It’s an ancient amendment. It goes back to the Bill of Rights. It’s the Second Amendment. He looked at the language, he looked at the history, he looked at the debates, and he came to the conclusion that it’s an individual right. Seemed to me almost an obvious conclusion since it’s surrounded by the same language that the First Amendment and the Fourth Amendment and the other individual rights the people are secure. The people suggests an individual right. He used the power of that semantic argument and then the debates that went on to come to the conclusion that it is a individual right not a right that just pertains to people in the militia. That’s the kind of interpretation—***
We need judges and justices who understand that imposing racial quotas is really a denial of what America is all about. As—
As Chief Justice John Roberts recently wrote, “the way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race.”
And I can’t figure out where in the Constitution, in the First Amendment or anywhere else in the Constitution, either the clause against establishment of religion or protecting the free exercise of religion, I cannot figure out where some imperative exists to take the words “under God” out of the Pledge of Allegiance or to ban the mention of the Ten Amendments in a public square—the Ten Commandments in a public square.
So we live in a nation of laws not of men. Some of these social theories people may agree with, some of these social theories people may disagree with, but that isn’t the point. The point is what did the Framers of the Constitution intend when they wrote these Amendments and when they wrote these provisions in the Constitution. That’s what liberty is all about. Our liberty is secured even before it was secured by the Ten Amendments to the Constitution, it was secured by the structure of our government. It’s probably our most reliable assurance. The structure of our government as a limited government. A government in which each one of the branches is limited by the power of the other branch, and then the national government is limited by the rights of the state governments and then all of those rights that haven’t been granted devolved to the people. It’s a very, very intricate structure but enormously important.
So every generation of American is called upon to lead. I get very, very frustrated when I hear Americans talk about or hear certain Americans talk about how difficult the problems we face are, how overwhelming they are, what a dangerous era we live in. I think we’ve lost perspective. We’ve always had difficult problems, we’ve always had great challenges, and we’ve always lived in danger. Do we think our parents and our grandparents and our great grandparents didn’t live in danger and didn’t have difficult problems? Do we think the Second World War was less difficult that our struggle with Islamic terrorism? Do we think that the Great Depression was a less difficult economic struggle for people to face than the struggles we’re facing now? Have we entirely lost perspective of the great challenges America has faced in the past and has been able to overcome and overcome brilliantly? I think sometimes we have lost that perspective. Do you know what leadership is all about? Leadership is all about restoring that perspective that this country is truly an exceptional country that has great things that it is going to accomplish in the future that will be as great and maybe even greater than the ones we’ve accomplished in the past. If we can’t do that, shame on us.
If we heal the divisions based on our Constitutional principles and we learn to live with our differences, and the beauty of our Constitution is it gives us a way of resolving our differences so we can all live together toward a united purpose. If we continue to inspire faith and hope and optimism, and optimism is so important. Every single problem that I solved in New York City that people thought were impossible to solve, I solved it because I’m an optimist, because I refuse to accept defeat, because I refuse to accept that intelligent people with the kind of advantages we’ve been given can’t solve any problem that we’re faced with. The values of democracy and equality before the law give us great strength that other societies don’t have but it also gives us great responsibilities. This is a very precious inheritance that we have. We have a very high standard to live up to given the history of our country, but organizations like the Federalist Society that take us back to our original principles is where our strength comes from. Thank you very, very much for your 25 years, and thank you for what you’re going to do for the future of this country, which will be even greater than its past. Thank you and God bless you.