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Bazinet and Kennedy nail

Bazinet and Kennedy nail the Kerik story in the Daily News ...

"Rudy cashed in a chip on this one," said a White House source, who earlier this week predicted there was "no way" Kerik could land a cabinet-level job in the Bush administration.


Rudy's chit.

If there was ever

If there was ever a subject for the Sunday shows, certainly this is it.

By Kevin Drum's count there are seven cabinet secretaries now left standing. Four of them are at second-tier posts (Interior, Labor, HUD and VA) and another, Treasury Secretary Snow, is just (briefly) being kept around for humiliation value -- like the goofy kid in the club whose role and utility is to provide a ready target for the application of wedgies.

And that leaves Don Rumsfeld who, according to this report tonight on CNN, is not only still standing, but will keep standing probably for the rest of the Bush presidency ...

The official said the president asked Rumsfeld, 72, to stay during a weekly meeting on Monday because the nation is at war and he is the best person for the job. Rumsfeld has said he wants to finish his reforms at the Pentagon and continue overseeing the Iraq war and that country's hoped-for transformation.


And of all these <$Ad$>people -- Powell, Ashcroft, Paige, Abraham, Thompson, Veneman, Evans -- does any of them hold a candle to Don Rumsfeld when it comes to the number of screw-ups, debacles and disasters that have happened on his watch?

I mean, it's not even close, is it?

One criticism of the president that loomed large in the last election -- and not just among Democrats but with many Republicans too -- was that this president either does not recognize or will not admit mistakes. And whichever it was, there was no accountability for them. In most cases those 'mistakes' people were talking about were ones under Rumsfeld's purview. And he would seem to be the only one -- certainly the only one of the principals -- that the president insists on keeping in place.

In this administration, the buck may not stop at the Oval Office, but the hard line against accountability sure does start there.

Mailbag ...Like Andrew at

Mailbag ...

"Like Andrew (at least I suspect this is so, though he can speak for himself), I'm a good deal less doctrinaire on civil liberties issues than, I suspect, many of the readers of this site. As Justice Jackson put it, the constitution is not a suicide pact. And a lot of the things that were done in the immediate aftermath of 9/11 were, I think, justifiable in theory, if not always in execution."

Shame on you.

You - and idiots like you - are evil and you don't even know it.

You don't believe in human rights. You believe in winning. Simple. Might makes right. Back to the jungle.

Dumb. You lost me.

John S.


Certainly, there'll be <$NoAd$>more of this.

Lincoln and habeas corpus.

I think Andrew Sullivan

I think Andrew Sullivan is just right in his run-down of what is now emerging about the system of secrecy, torture and extra-constitutional power the Bush administration has set up at Gitmo and other far-flung undisclosed locations around the world.

Like Andrew (at least I suspect this is so, though he can speak for himself), I'm a good deal less doctrinaire on civil liberties issues than, I suspect, many of the readers of this site. As Justice Jackson put it, the constitution is not a suicide pact. And a lot of the things that were done in the immediate aftermath of 9/11 were, I think, justifiable in theory, if not always in execution.

But what stands out about this administration is not the willingness to sacrifice certain civil liberties safeguards in the face of demonstrable necessity, but the eagerness and almost delight in doing so. Having walled themselves off from the more harmless varieties, this is apparently the one form of transgression the Ashcroftites cannot resist.

Most telling is the addiction to secrecy. The clearest, or rather the most basic, test of whether strong measures are compatible with a free society is whether the government is willing to be open with the public about what it is doing in their name. By every measure, this administration is not.

If you havent seen

If you haven't seen it, a House Appropriations Committee staffer, Richard E. Efford, has stepped forward to take responsibility for the Istook Amendment. His boss is Rep. Istook. But he says he never ran it past the congressman -- at least not until it was too late to do anything about it. Sleepless nights and the agonies of the appropriations process are to blame, we're told, not bad intentions. The Post has an interview with Efford and the details of his story.

Dont lose sight of

Don't lose sight of the Tom DeLay crony Indian gaming (aka Indian shakedown) scandal. Bull Moose provides today's update.

We got word this

We got word this morning that everyone at HHS had been called together at noon for a big announcement/meeting. And there it is, Thompson resigns.

If youre curious to

If you're curious to see CBS's rationale for rejecting the UCC inclusion ad, as clipped from the letter they sent the church, click here.

In the coming Social

In the coming Social Security debate, Democrats should dust-off Clinton's 'mend it, don't end it' rhetoric. I can't take credit for this idea; I heard someone suggest it in an email exchange. If it's a bad idea I take the grief for pushing it forward. But I think it is very shrewd since it frames the debate in advance as equating privatization with abolishing Social Security, which of course it does.

I'm not saying the phrase should be adopted intact without any adjustments or that it's a perfect fit. But this debate is a classic case where framing the issue is key -- the strategic choice that determines who wins the battle before it even begins.

The strength of the Republican privatization argument -- and all their rhetoric and strategy point to this -- is the contention that privatization is just a reform, a way to improve or save Social Security, or to put it simply, a way to make sure people get their checks when they retire. But what this is really about is abolishing Social Security; and that fact needs to be taken as granted -- not even a subject of debate -- in the way Democrats frame the debate and how they talk about the subject.

To look at this debate in any other way is to be willfully ignorant of history. Republicans -- particularly the party's conservative wing which now entirely dominates the party -- have wanted to abolish Social Security for half a century.

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