Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Morning copy 01.04.2006

Abramoff scandal

The plea agreement, via FindLaw.

The background vox populi, via CNN:
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- About half of U.S. adults believe most members of Congress are corrupt, a poll released Tuesday suggests.

According to a CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll, 49 percent of respondents said most members of Congress are corrupt. Although 46 percent of respondents said most aren't, the margin of sampling error -- plus or minus 4.5 percent -- makes it clear that the perception of congressional politicians is largely negative.
Newt Gingrich's reaction, via the Washington Post:
"I'm going to talk at length about the need for us to rethink not just lobbying but the whole process of elections, incumbency protection and the way in which the system has evolved," he said. "Which is very different from the way the American system is supposed to be like. I think Abramoff is just part of a large pattern that has got to be rethought."
An expert's opinion, via Bloomberg News:
"If I were DeLay, I would be very concerned," said Bill Mateja, a white-collar criminal-defense lawyer with Fish & Richardson PC in Dallas and formerly a senior counsel in the Justice Department's corporate criminal task force. "A staffer is certainly a subject of the investigation. Whether it takes them all the way to DeLay, we'll have to wait and see."
Excellent use of the subjunctive, expert.

Tom DeLay, via the Houston Chronicle:
But over the years, Abramoff cultivated political relationships with DeLay and his aides, took foreign trips with the congressman, boasted of his influence with the lawmaker and lured several DeLay staffers into his lucrative lobbying business.

A key accomplice of Abramoff's was former DeLay deputy chief of staff Tony Rudy, according to papers filed by the Justice Department in the Abramoff plea deal.

Rudy is not named, but Abramoff's plea agreement refers to staffer A, whose activities match those of Rudy. He left DeLay's staff in 2001 to work with Abramoff at the firm of Greenberg Traurig.
Remember Ronnie Earle, via the Houston Chronicle:
AUSTIN - The Travis County district attorney issued four subpoenas Tuesday in an attempt to find any links between discredited Washington lobbyist Jack Abramoff and Congressman Tom DeLay's 2002 Texas fundraising.
K Street Konnection, via the Los Angeles Times:
GOP leaders, seeking to harness the financial and political support of K Street, urged lobbyists to support their conservative agenda, give heavily to Republican politicians and hire Republicans for top trade association jobs. Abramoff obliged on every front, and his tentacles of influence reached deep into the upper echelons of Congress and the Bush administration.
Irony noted for "Representative #1", via the Los Angeles Times:
Ironically, Ney won his first elective office by defeating a Democrat who had been tainted by scandal — Wayne Hays.

The Guardian has an exclusive:
The Iranian government has been successfully scouring Europe for the sophisticated equipment needed to develop a nuclear bomb, according to the latest western intelligence assessment of the country's weapons programmes.

Scientists in Tehran are also shopping for parts for a ballistic missile capable of reaching Europe, with "import requests and acquisitions ... registered almost daily", the report seen by the Guardian concludes.
James Risen's book details the following, from the Los Angeles Times:
WASHINGTON — In a clumsy effort to sabotage Iran's nuclear program, the CIA in 2004 intentionally handed Tehran some top-secret bomb designs laced with a hidden flaw that U.S. officials hoped would doom any weapon made from them, according to a new book about the U.S. intelligence agency.

But the Iranians were tipped to the scheme by the Russian defector hired by the CIA to deliver the plans and may have gleaned scientific information useful for designing a bomb, writes New York Times reporter James Risen in "State of War: The Secret History of the CIA and the Bush Administration."
The Christian Science Monitor's Scott Peterson reports on the Messianic movement in Iran:
QOM, IRAN – Have a quick question about when the Mahdi is coming to save mankind, according to Shiite Muslim adherents? Need to know the signs?

Just call the new messiah "hotline." Or log on to Bright Future News Agency to get the latest religious readout - all part of the effort by freshly rejuvenated true believers in Iran to spread their message of the imminent return of the Mahdi, the 12th Imam who is expected to return to impose justice and spread peace.
Energy and foreign policy

Hugo Chavez has struck a deal with Evo Morales, prsident-elect of Bolivia, to combat neoliberalism, imperialism and to trade energy, BBC News. Russia and Ukraine have agreed to a deal on gas prices, Reuters. Chavez's adroit use of energy and Russia's renationalization of the petroleum industry are clear examples of how the 21st Century is going to play out geopolitically.

The ban on torture

The Boston Globe reports:
WASHINGTON -- When President Bush last week signed the bill outlawing the torture of detainees, he quietly reserved the right to bypass the law under his powers as commander in chief.

After approving the bill last Friday, Bush issued a ''signing statement" -- an official document in which a president lays out his interpretation of a new law -- declaring that he will view the interrogation limits in the context of his broader powers to protect national security. This means Bush believes he can waive the restrictions, the White House and legal specialists said.

Increased surveillance began before White House authorization, reports the Washington Post.

Tennessee's Senate race

The Tennessean reports almost $10 million in the combined war-chests of the leading Dem. and GOP canididates.

Steel curtain

A.P.: Lynn Swann is running for governor (not news):
Aides declined to confirm the purpose of the tour, but Swann’s political committee — Team 88, named after the number on the former wide receiver’s football jersey — has been raising money for 11 months. Swann also has billed himself as a prospective candidate as he has courted GOP activists across the state.

Dubai's ruler has died

From al Jazeera. He may have suffered from heart problems.


Blogger Bassizzzt said...

Regarding Iran, let's take a look at a scenario:

1. Sharon dies, and with it, comes a desperate move from Israel.
2. Realizing that Iran is moving forward with yellowcake production and the ability to produce the gas needed to enrich, Israel sends in six F-16 fighters to destroy the Iranian reactor. They are successful.
3. Iran responds immediately with an open attack on Israel. Hundreds are killed by a missile that originates from Iran.
4. Since Russia has money and interest tied up in the Iranian reactor, she threatens a military strike but remains at a checkmate with the US.
5. Strained relations result, with the possibility of a conflict bigger than before.
6. US has no choice but to remove the government of Iran via forceful means.

12:01 PM  
Blogger zen said...

One always has a choice. Always.
To say there is no choice is to give in to the wills of others for your actions, which are not actions, they are reactions.

12:55 PM  
Blogger copy editor said...

Bassizzzt, unfortunately I can see a lot of 2 - 6 happening no matter what Sharon's health is.

We can destroy their military in conventional combat. We cannot, however, nation build on the scale necessary to make anything constructive out of the mayhem.

Zen, I like your outlook. It would be nice if the range of possible choices was not as constrained as it presently is. That is what a leader must think about in his decision making process. There is a reason that Caesar said he was casting die when he crossed the Rubicon.

5:31 PM  
Blogger zen said...

The War on Terror is Bush's Rubicon.

10:16 PM  
Anonymous Wally said...

Bass- disagree with you. Iran doesn't have the cabability to wage a large scale war and their first strike will not be supported internationally. Also, nuclear powers will not allow Iran to develop a weapons grade reactor system and should Iran find a way to do it, there will be an immediate response. During changes of power Israel will retreat to its base of isolation and holding its position rather than take an attack posture. The peace process is showing more progress now than it was 10 years ago.

Also, nuclear weapons aren't very easily to produce. This is one case where it is both quantum physics and rocket science and success involves a variety of factors including dumb luck.

Russia actually doesn't care about Iran or the reactor and are more concerned with losing a market to the oil they've annexed from the Black Sea. They will let Iran fall and will condemn Iran should there be a conflict where Iran plays the agressor.

A US invasion of Iran will take many, many months of buildup. For one, there isn't enough water to support more troops in the region, let alone troops on the move. Even if it is just confined to long range bombing it won't be a very active war considering it takes B2s 26 hours to complete a mission given the distance they travel.

One factor we did not consider is Al Queda pretending to be US friendly so they become the new rulers of Iran once the government topples and a new one is put in place. OMG, that would SUCK!

11:27 AM  

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