WILLIAM BARR: WORKING FOR YOU. My good friend Brian Beutler just published an explosive piece at Raw Story potentially implicating Verizon in the NSA wiretapping scandal and illuminating a fascinating nexus between the company's legal department and the Republican Party. It turns out that William Barr, Bush 41's Attorney General and a top Reagan advisor, is the head legal counsel and a VP for Verizon. Not surprisingly, given his experience in government, he's routinely called up by the Senate to testify on legal and intelligence matters. Here are a few choice samples:
FORWARD TOGETHER. Today saw some truly horrific carnage in Baghdad, with over 100 people killed or found dead throughout the city, and another of the double-wave bombing attacks designed to maximize deaths:
At least 62 unidentified bullet-riddled corpses--all bearing signs of torture--have been found throughout the city since Tuesday night, said Brig. Gen. Abdullah Mahmood of the Interior Ministry.
Some of the bodies had been beheaded. Attacks on police patrols killed an additional 27 people Wednesday morning, officials said.
CONSERVATIVE CASE FOR REPUBLICAN DEFEAT. The new issue of the Washington Monthly has a truly inspired collection of conservative arguments for a Republican defeat this November. The highlight is surely Christopher Buckley's piece, which expresses the libertarian scorn for George W. Bush's "compassionate" conservatism. Buckley coins a new term for it, "incontinent conservatism," which seems particularly apt given his list of grievances ("bigger government, unrestricted government spending, government intrusion in personal matters, government ineptitude, and cronyism in disaster relief.")
TO FIRE, OR NOT TO FIRE? It looks, rather surprisingly, like John McCain, Lindsey Graham, and John Warner are readying to take substantive stands against the Bush administration�s attempt to torture by another name. The nut of the disagreement is over Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions, which prohibits "outrages upon personal dignity, in particular humiliating and degrading treatment." The Bushies, through some complicated legal footwork, are trying to invalidate that prohibition.
The deficit hit another record in July. It's now running at an $820 billion annual rate, more than 6 percent of GDP. Of course, I'm talking about the trade deficit, not the budget deficit. All the bad outcomes of large budget deficits are also true of large trade deficits, yet the media barely notice a trade deficit that is now more than 3 times as large as the budget deficit. (Even if we add in the money borrowed from Social Security the trade deficit would still be almost twice as large as the budget deficit.)
WHY EMANUEL HATES DEAN. In a funny bit of intra-Democratic news from this week, the burgeoning rapprochement between Rahm Emanuel and Howard Dean included an agreement on how much the DNC would spend in 2006, and almost contained a "good behavior" clause in which the DNC would donate more money if Emanuel stopped bashing them to the press.
WYNN WINNING. A while back our boss Bob Kuttner (assisted by wunderkind intern Asheesh Siddique) put some real thought and effort into actually discerning who were the most indefensibly sell-outish Democrats in the House. Among the "faithless fifteen" they came up with was Maryland's Al Wynn, who's of course garnered blogospheric attention more recently for his anti-net neutrality shenanigans and faced an extremely serious primary challenge yesterday from Donna Edwards.
IT'S NOT A CRUSADE; IT'S AN AWAKENING.The Washington Post's Peter Baker today reports some mind-blowing remarks made by President George W. Bush on the subject of America the Good versus the collective Great Satan known as the Islamo-fascists:
President Bush said yesterday that he senses a "Third Awakening" of religious devotion in the United States that has coincided with the nation's struggle with international terrorists, a war that he depicted as "a confrontation between good and evil."