Thursday, March 22, 2007

Gore Testimony; Tobacco Trial; Blanco Quits; Novak on Defensive; GOP Phone Jam Reversal; Hurricane Forecast

A lot of little things on the Curmudgeon's mind this morning:

Gore Testimony Revives Dinosaurs On Hill

One of the things Al Gore's global warming testimony did yesterday is remind us why it's so important to win additional Senate reaces in 2008. Gore's appearance brought out some of the GOP's most strident dinosaurs, especially Oklahoma Senator James Inhofe, who held up a picture of icicles in Buffalo and asked "where is global warming when you need it?" We guess that the Senator from Exxon figures since it's still cold and icy in the Arctic, global warming is a fiction.

At least some Republicans are embarasssed: Rep. Roscoe Bartlett, Republican of Maryland, stated "it's possible to be a conservative without appearing to be an idiot" after some silly comments by his colleague Joe Barton from Texas.

DOJ Tobacco Lawyer Charges "Politics"

Today's Washington Post has a front page story featuring a charge by former DOJ lawyer Sharon Eubanks, who headed the federal government's civil racketeering case against the tobacco industry, that political appointees at Justice interfered with the case's prosecution by career lawyers.

The Curmudgeon worked on the tobacco case (representing defendant Brown & Williamson). We doubt "politics" was what was going on. Instead, it appears that Eubanks, who is clearly disgruntled and taking advantage of the flap over U.S. Attorneys, was engaged in a legal dispute with her superiors at Justice.

There was a clear legal issue about the scope of remedies being pursued, with a mid-trial decision by the court of appeals putting major constraints on the DOJ's strategy. It appeared the DOJ trial team wanted, essentially, to ignore those constraints, while the higher-ups (who were political appointees, but also decent lawyers in private practice before joining DOJ) were trying to come up with a strategy that would fit within those constraints.

Disputes over application of the law and the trial strategy to accommodate legal constraints are frequent in a major trial. Resolution of those disputes does not necessarily mean politics were involved, and we doubt that was the case here.

Blanco Quits in Lousiana

We're happy to see that Louisiana Governor Kathleen Babineaux Blanco has decided not to seek re-election, paving the way for former Senator John Breaux to run for the Democrats. We were never impressed with Blanco's Katrina performance and would like to see the Lousiana state house stay in the blue column.

Bob Novak: Plame Defensive On CIA Leak

Today, conservative columnist Robert Novak, who outed CIA agent Valerie Plame in his column after being urged to do so by various Bush administration stooges, tries to justify his actions by arguing, among other things, that since Plame drove her own car to CIA HQ in Langley, she must not have been covert.

Give it up, Bob. You know full well that if something like this had happened in the Clinton administration, you and your GOP hackster friends would've been all over it every day, 24/7. You just couldn't resist. And now you have the nerve to attack CIA Director Hayden for suggesting that Plame's status was, in fact, covert.

Here's some advice: loose lips sink ships. When in doubt, leave it out. (I.e., unless you are dead positive a CIA employee is not in any way covert, why write about her publicly.)

If you were the patriot you claim to be, you would've said to Armitrage, your original source, "shame on you, I'm not going to print that and you shouldn't be calling reporters with info on CIA operatives."

Sorry Reversal of GOP Phone-Jam Conviction

We're sorry to report that an appellate court has overturned the conviction of New Hampshire GOP operative James Tobin, who was sentenced to a trifling 10 months in prison for his role in a scheme to jam Democratic Party get-out-the-vote phone lines on election day in 2002. The appellate court questioned whether prosecutors had shown that Tobin intended the scheme to "harass" anyone.

Duh! Is it possible the 800 hang-up calls that jammed the Democratic line on election day were all just accidental wrong numbers coming from a group of confused callers who just happened to be working for Tobin?

We hope prosecutors will re-try Tobin.

Busy Hurricane Season Forecast

Forecasters at Tropical Storm Risk, a London-based group used by insurers to estimate their risks, predict a much busier than average Atlantic hurricane season this year, with 17 tropical storms, of which four will turn into major hurricanes.

Where have we heard that before? Last year, similar forecasts by U.S. prognosticators turned out to be quite wrong. The hurricane season was instead a mild one. The year before, the experts were wrong in the other direction, predicting a slightly worse than normal year when it turned out to be the worst year on record.

We'll be watching to see if these "experts" get it right this year. We'll let you know around Thanksgiving, after the storm season ends.


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