Opinions, Context & Ideas from the TPM Editors TPM Editor's Blog

I guess Katherine Harris

I guess Katherine Harris is looking for other self-mockery-memes she can launch against herself in anticipation of her run for the senate next year. On the Hannity show yesterday, she apparently claimed that all the jibes about her titanic use of make-up were unfair because all the newspapers back during the recount had graphically enhanced her make-up, thus making her look like even more of a clown than her behavior already had.

But neither she nor her campaign are coming forward with any evidence or even any specific newspapers to level the charge against. And experts quoted in the article linked above suggest that such an media-wide rouge-ifying conspiracy is highly unlikely.

Like a lot of

Like a lot of you, I saw Raw Story's piece last night on the new Vanity Fair article on Sibel Edmonds. The author mentioned that it was out so far only in New York. So I figured, hey, this living in New York thing has finally come in handy. And I went out to buy a copy.

The real stunners in the piece are Edmonds' claims -- reportedly aired before Congress -- that in the course of her work at the FBI she listened to and translated wiretap recordings which appeared to discuss Speaker Hastert receiving large sums of money from a Turkish criminal syndicate. Edmonds made no claim that Hastert's own voice was on the tapes. And thus there's no direct evidence or even corraborating evidence for what was allegedly said on the tapes outside of some highly circumstantial evidence Vanity Fair notes regarding the pattern of giving to Hastert's congressional campaigns.

For the moment I'm not quite sure what to make of it. And the mystery is heightened by the fact that the magazine itself, on the cover, in advance publicity and in the structure of the article itself seems to have made little effort to push this aspect of the story.

(ed.note: This is a revised version of the original post.)

Theres a good piece

There's a good piece in the Post today by Jeffrey Birnbaum (who's been on this beat for literally decades) about all the forms of DC corruption that are perfectly legal. And this is really the heart of the story about what's going on in DC today.

We have a piece coming later today about a few GOP congressmen who got probably thousands of dollars worth of free meals courtesy of Jack Abramoff at his swanky (and now almost deserted) restaurant Signatures.

But if you just follow the guidelines set forth it's totally fine to accept lush vacations, golf tournaments, ski vacations and more.

So hundred dollar meal from a lobbyist, terrible. Ten thousand dollar trip to Bermuda set up by a lobbyist, not a problem.

For weeks now Ive

For weeks now I've been hearing that the Justice Department investigation of the cluster of scandals going under the 'Abramoff' label is much larger than press reports have led us to believe. And in any case, there are so many different parts of it and so many different players that it's more than a little hard to keep up.

There's Jack Abramoff and Michael Scanlon, who are at the center of it. Then you have Ralph Reed and Grover Norquist in the mix funneling money in one direction or another. And then there's the elected members of Congress including Tom DeLay, Bob Ney and others.

I've wanted to dig into this for a while. But until recently I didn't have time, what with launching the new site and other miscellaneous stuff I've been working on. But now we're ready. And we're launching a new site that will focus on just this story. We call it Auction House, the name presumably speaking for itself, about a House of Representatives where everything is now for sale.

We'll cover other political shenanigans there too, of course. But this is the core story because it is about the system of corruption upon which the DeLay machine is built.

I'll be doing my own snooping and writing here. But we have a team of determined young researcher-reporter-writers who will be following this story at Auction House, digging into the stuff the dailies don't have the time or interest for, telling you who the main players are, assembling the whole thing into a comprehensible storyline, and last but not least breaking news and advancing the story.

Along the way, as was the case with all the stories we've covered, we'll need your help. Send us your tips, flag newspaper stories we may have missed, and let us know parts of the story we're missing.

More shortly on what we're going to be doing.

When a congressman puts

When a congressman puts out a statement like this, you pretty much know it's not a good press day ...

Today, federal law enforcement officers executed search warrants on my Washington, D.C., and New Orleans homes as well as my vehicle in Washington. Subpoenas were issued to me, in my official capacity, to the clerk of the U.S. House of Representatives and to members of my Washington and New Orleans office staff. I do not know the extent or precise nature of this investigation but I am cooperating fully with the authorities.


That's from Rep. William Jefferson (D) of Louisiana.

Late Update: Here's an article with at least some information about this whole thing may be about.

A TPM Reader chimes

A TPM Reader <$NoAd$> chimes in ...

The creation vs science question has a major bearing on a rather visible government program:

Isn't the primary rationale for most of the space program to learn more about the origins of life? Some would say that exploration of Mars and the moons of Saturn will help us shed light on these eternal mysteries. Others would point out that all we need to know can be found in the book that's available in every hotel room.

How can it be that the Bush Administration, which advocates pushing toward manned travel to Mars, hasn't acknowledged that its space program objectives are inconsistent with the creationist views?


Secularists have been causing trouble since Galileo.

A bunch of others

A bunch of others have commented on this already. But I'd feel remiss if I didn't make some comment on President Bush's embrace yesterday of teaching creationism as a scientific theory in science classes.

That's hardly a surprise. The cardinal point of the Bush presidency, after all, is not getting out of step with the religious right ever on anything. But what about reporters at the Times, the Post and other papers.

Do they really need to pretend that there's a scientific debate over 'Intelligent Design' rather than a political tussle between science and the religious right?

Today in the Times Elizabeth Bumiller describes 'Intelligent Design' as a theory which is, "advanced by a group of academics and intellectuals and some biblical creationists."

Creationists just along for the ride?

Is that really an accurate description of who's behind this?

As Atrios aptly notes, there's a bit of a bait and switch afoot here. Most mainstream religious groups have long since made their peace with evolutionary theory. As in, most Protestant denominations, the Catholic Church, Judaism in its Conservative, Reform, and most Orthodox groups. The stipulation, in most cases, is simply that evolution is part of God's plan for the creation of life.

Few have any real beef with that stipulation because it is one that is just not relevant to the sorts of question evolutionary biologists study. It allows religion and science to happily coexist.

What you have here with the president and the intelligent design hucksters is an attempt to teach creationism as a rival theory to evolution in science classes. And more broadly, it is a brief for Biblical literalism being taught in the public schools, despite the fact that people as far back as Origen could figure out that at least certain parts of the Bible could not possibly be intended to be understood as literal truth.

Another thought. How can we deal with global warming if we're not sure the Earth is more than 6,000 years old?

And while we're at it? Where'd all the oil come from?

I linked below to

I linked below to Ivo Daalder's post about the Bush administration's transition from GWOT (Global War on Terror) to GSAVE (Global Struggle Against Violent Extremism. Ivo thinks this is both a very big change and a very good change.

I'm inclined to agree. But first a few thoughts.

First of all, let's hope that the administration is as proficient in combating terrorism as it is in coming up with new buzzwords and acronyms.

Secondly, on the political front, isn't it necessary for the president to -- how else to put it? -- 'fess up? This is a complete repudiation of roughly four years of counter-terrorism policy out of the White House.

The core of the Bush Doctrine was that the threat of terrorism is still one tied to states rather than non-state-actors. As Doug Feith said some three years ago, the reliance of terrorists on state sponsors has been the "principal strategic thought underlying our strategy in the war on terrorism."

If we take their words at face value, they've now abandoned that cornerstone of their strategy. Shouldn't that prompt some questions?

What are we to

What are we to make of the change from GWOT (Global War on Terror) to GSAVE (Global Struggle Against Violent Extremism)? Ivo Daalder says it's a big deal. And that it's being driven by the Pentagon, which is the institution experiencing the failure of the Bush-GWOT firsthand.

LiveWire