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He gets around.Newsweek Over

He gets around.

Newsweek: "Over the years, [John Boehner] has made the most of controversial rules allowing members to accept free trips to luxury retreats around the world. Since 2000, Boehner has taken more than $150,000 worth of junkets paid for by private interests—ranking him in the top 10 of all members of Congress."

A bit more on

A bit more on the Obama-McCain back and forth. You have to dig into the actual correspondence between the two men to get a feel for how off the mark McCain is in his criticism of Obama (see links in today's Daily Muck).

But the key here to note is what's behind this dust-up. Obama is a rising star among the Democrats. Republicans want to lay a backstory for feature criticisms and character attacks against him. So, for instance, if Obama is the vice presidential candidate in 2008, they want to have a history of attacks on him banked, ones that allege he's a liar, or too partisan, or untrustworthy, whatever. It doesn't even really matter. What matters is that there already be an established history of them. Point being, that in early 2008, they want to be able to simply refer back to Obama's 'character issue', the questions about his honesty, etc. rather than have to make the case on its merits.

That's not surprising. One only needs to think back to the Gore story, etc.

What shouldn't be missed here, though, is that Sen. McCain is quite consciously and deliberately making himself a part of this. Why? Simple. Because he needs to get right with the GOP establishment in DC. (Indeed, he probably also wants to be the future beneficiary of the sliming.) Being loved by moderates and progressives doesn't cut it for getting the Republican presidential nomination in 2008.

Don't miss why he's doing this. It's the roll-out of the slime Obama campaign. And he's leading the charge.

We'll learn a lot from how Obama responds.

Quote of the day

Quote of the day: "This administration reacts to anyone who questions this illegal program by saying that those of us who demand the truth and stand up for our rights and freedoms somehow has a pre-9/11 world view. In fact, the President has a pre-1776 world view. Our government has three branches, not one. And no one, not even the President, is above the law."

That's from Sen. Feingold's post on the Gonzales' testimony that just went up on TPMCafe.

Stay tuned. A little

Stay tuned. A little later this morning, Sen. Feingold is going to stop by TPMCafe and tell us what he thought of AG Alberto Gonzales's testimony yesterday before the Senate Judiciary Committee on the president's warrantless surveillance program.

Heres the link to

Here's the link to a story on John McCain bashing Barack Obama in a particularly vicious way. "I'm embarrassed to admit that after all these years in politics, I failed to interpret your previous assurances as typical rhetorical gloss routinely used in politics to make self-interested partisan posturing appear more noble," said McCain. "I understand how important the opportunity to lead your party's efforts to exploit this issue must seem to a freshman senator, and I hold no hard feelings over your earlier disingenuousness."

What about McCain making sure his Jack Abramoff hearings didn't touch any Republican politicians (he did give blanket assurances to them, remember) or key GOP powerbrokers?

Glass houses.

Wantin' to be president can go to a guy's head.

(ed.note: There's more on the Obama-McCain fracas in today's Daily Muck.)

A reader adds a

A reader adds a point about FISA ...

The constant invocation of the practices of pre-FISA presidents is an incredibly important legal and constitutional point. If the president has the inherent authority to conduct surveillance, FISA might be unconstitutional. The main issue is whether Congress was able to limit this supposedly inherent authority with its enactment of FISA. Thus, the pre-FISA presidential precedent becomes an important issue.

Alberto Gonzales says that

Alberto Gonzales says that the president's warrantless wiretapping program is constitutional, necessary and legal.

I can see where it may be constitutional, though that seems debateable. It might conceiveably also be 'necessary', though that's a malleable term and it's a difficult one to judge as long as the president won't allow any oversight of what he's doing. But it does seem to be clearly illegal. There simply does not appear to be any real question about that. The FISA law appears to speak directly to the facts at hand.

The law might be a bad one. Perhaps it should be revised or repealed. But it's not voluntary.

And in this post Kevin Drum hits on a key point ...

I'm also more tired than you can imagine of his constant invocation of presidents from Washington to Roosevelt who authorized warrantless surveillance in wartime. All of that happened before FISA was passed in 1978 and is completely meaningless. And he knows it.

Kevin doesn't fully unpack what I suspect he's getting at here. The argument to history that Gonzales is attempting isn't just off point. It's typical of the administration's basic way of operating with the public -- conscious misdirection and flimflam. You can't make this argument unless your intent is to confuse the issue and avoid the issue of whether the president has to follow the law.

McClellan reading TPM but

McClellan reading TPM, but not that closely?

From today's press briefing (emphasis added) ...

Go ahead, Victoria.

Q Scott, there have been various reports that photographs of the President with Jack Abramoff have disappeared from the archives of photographic studios, at least one. Could you tell us whether the White House or anyone working at the White House's behest has taken any steps to remove any photographs that the President --

MR. McCLELLAN: I don't know anything about that. I think that I saw some story where the very company that you're mentioning said otherwise. So I think you ought to see what they said.

Q They acknowledged that the photographs had disappeared from their work site.

MR. McCLELLAN: I think they said something other than that.

The reference, of course, is to our story about the Abramoff-Bush photos that were scrubbed from the website of Reflections Photography, the DC photo studio that specializes in campaign and political event photography for the Republican party.

Just for the record, please note that McClellan declined to answer the question of whether the White House instructed Reflections Photography to scrub its website of Abramoff-Bush photos.

If he coulda, he woulda, one would imagine.

Rep. John Doolittle R-CA

Rep. John Doolittle (R-CA) is a bold man.

When politicians all around him were losing their heads, refunding and donating Jack Abramoff’s money as fast as they could, Doolittle stood strong and refused to bow to political expediency. And in a recent interview, he pretty much dared the Justice Department to come after him: “Investigate me.”

So here’s another bold play that shouldn't go unnoticed. I mentioned it this morning in the Daily Muck, but it really deserves more attention.

Brent Wilkes, owner of ACDS, Inc. and part-owner of Duke Cunningham, was not a mere one-Congressman man. He had quite a relationship with Doolittle too.

Being a crooked defense contractor, Wilkes’ business was earmarks. In 2002, he founded a new company called PerfectWave; the product was a sound technology that could supposedly be used to weed out background noises from electronic communications. As with Wilkes’ other businesses, a process detailed in Sunday’s San Diego Union-Tribune piece, Wilkes started with the technology and then worked to convince lawmakers that the Pentagon needed it.

Wilkes convinced Doolittle with $85,000 (from himself, his employees, his lobbyists) in contributions over three years. In return, PerfectWave won Doolittle’s support for $37M in earmarked appropriations. In a Washington Post story on this last week, Doolittle responded with a statement that "he frequently supports 'well deserving projects throughout the state.'" And "his support of PerfectWave Technology ‘was no exception and based completely on the project's merits and the written support of the military.'"

Now, forget for the moment about the "project’s [alleged] merits" (see the Daily Muck for more on that) – let's focus in for a moment on Doolittle's claim about "written support of the military."

The Post apparently just took Doolittle's word for it. In any case, they didn’t follow up on his claim about having written support from the military. But the San Diego Union-Tribune did. Here's what they came up with:

[T]he only evidence Doolittle's office could provide to show military support for the project was a letter of praise from Robert Lusardi, a program manager for light armored vehicles at the Marine Corps dated Feb. 25 – two and a half years after PerfectWave got its first earmark. By the time Lusardi wrote his letter, the company had received at least $37 million in earmarks.

So this "written support of the military" upon which Doolittle based his decision came almost three years too late. And it came from a "program manager for light armored vehicles" – relatively meaningless since the earmark for 2005 specified that the system was for "flight deck operations."

"The written support of the military" is a much better justification than "I was in Brent Wilkes’ pocket." Too bad it didn’t pan out.