Congressional Dems Stand Up against GOP’s Katrina Whitewash Investigation

Spine is good:

Congressional Republicans signaled today that they have abandoned their plan to conduct a joint House-Senate probe of the government’s response to Hurricane Katrina…

The Democratic leadership has refused to appoint members to a joint committee, citing the lack of equal representation of Democrats on the panel, and the lack of power to issue subpoenas that the majority opposed. Democrats also have insisted on an independent inquiry.

Democratic opposition has left Republicans little maneuvering room for mounting a credible probe. With the joint investigation apparently off the table, Republicans can only hope that Democrats will participate in each chamber’s separate investigation. It was far from clear today that Democrats would do that.

Former Bush White House Official Arrested in Lobbying Scandal

Flip: The noose around House Majority Leader Tom DeLay’s buddy Jack Abramoff seems to be tightening:

A former Bush administration official was arrested Monday on charges he made false statements and obstructed a federal investigation into his dealings with lobbyist Jack Abramoff, according to court documents and government officials.

David Safavian, then-chief of staff of the General Services Administration and a former Abramoff lobbying associate, concealed from federal investigators that Abramoff was seeking to do business with GSA when Safavian joined him on a golf trip to Scotland in 2002, according to an FBI affidavit and the officials..

Bush Dirty Tricks: ANWAR Vote Buried in Budget Resolution — Act Now!

This is it kids. They’re going to vote on a budget resolution that will have a hidden clause that will sneak in drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. They’re going to do it tomorrow, Tuesday, Sept. 20. If you were waiting for the signal in order to act, here it is.

The Sierra Club is exposing the typical Bush shenanigans:

After decades of being told “no,” Big Oil and its allies in Congress — in the face of overwhelming public support for protecting this national treasure — have buried the controversial Arctic drilling measure deep in the budget. And in recent weeks they have exploited the Hurricane Katrina tragedy as an excuse to drill in the Arctic and off our coasts. Don’t let them get away with these tricks!

Go here to the Defenders of Wildlife, and all you have to do is click on “senators” or “representatives” and supply your info. An email will be sent to your particular people in Washington, both senators and representatives. How easy can this be? They’ve already written a message for you, but I redid it a little. Feel free to customize mine to your tastes:

Please don’t give in to anyone who tells you it would be politically unpopular to protect the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

Vote against the budget reconciliation package if it allows oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Demand a clean budget bill that doesn’t include a hidden raid on our nation’s wilderness.

We can’t drill our way out of our oil dependence. We consume 25% of the earth’s oil reserves, and if we drilled every last one of ours – in the Gulf of Mexico, in Alaska – we’d only have 3%.

It’s time to start living within our means in this country – that includes oil, other resources, and budget. It saddens me that under George Bush, America is no longer the great country it once was, but all of us alive today have an obligation to keep it from sliding further into selfish oblivion. Please do your job as a public servant, and do what’s right. Vote against the budget reconciliation package.

The site is being heavily trafficked tonight (thank you, Lord!), so it might time out a couple of times before you get in. Keep trying.

Do this. Do it now. It’s just too easy and what will happen if you don’t do it is too frickin’ hard. Come on, click.

Condi Can’t Suss Out Dubya’s Poll Numbers

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was interviewed by Bill O’Reilly on the “O’Reilly Factor” on Fox News last week, and she professed to be unable to interpret the prez’s crappy poll numbers:

“Oh, come on. Why would I worry about something like that? Bill, the fact of the matter is I’ve been black all my life. Nobody needs to tell me how to be black.”

O’REILLY: How do you assess President Bush’s falling poll numbers? He’s at the lowest level of his presidency now. Why do you think that’s happening?

RICE: Well, Bill, I’m not one who can assess poll numbers in American politics. I know that this is a President who has had to do a lot of very difficult things. He’s had to deal with the largest terrorist attack on American soil, now the largest natural disaster in the United States and he’s had to make some very difficult decisions. I do know that he is not someone who reads his polls and he will tell you that he’s going to do what he thinks is right, but I’m really not competent to —

O’REILLY: Do you guys worry about it? Because you’re a close advisor in addition to being Secretary of State and you see poll numbers fall that quickly, is it a concern?

RICE: I think what will be a concern is, where is this Administration viewed in a few years in terms of what it’s achieved.

O’REILLY: All right. So you’re going to tough it out and hope that history proves you correct.

RICE: I think that’s all an American President can do because the American President can’t read the daily poll numbers. The American President can’t read the daily headlines when he’s in the midst of historic changing events.

Reads his polls? He doesn’t even read the newspaper, or, apparently, watch television. And doesn’t Condi have a doctorate? What does she mean that she can’t assess poll numbers?

Now Bill plays the “race card”:

O’REILLY: Does it hurt your feelings that most black Americans don’t like the President?


O’REILLY: Do you take it personally?

RICE: I don’t take anything personally, no. No. But I do like to have an opportunity to talk to people about what this President has meant for the empowerment of black Americans.

O’REILLY: Does it hurt your feelings when some anti-Bush people say that you’re a shill for him and sold out your race?

RICE: Oh, come on. Why would I worry about something like that? Bill, the fact of the matter is I’ve been black all my life. Nobody needs to tell me how to be black.

How come when I visit O’Reilly’s “no-spin zone,” I get all dizzy?

Jay Severin – Rightwing Radio’s Scandal Figure du Jour

Today’s Talkers’ Scandals Are Reminiscent of the 1980’s Televangelist Sleazefest

Oh, the mendacity: Another day, another new controversy about a rightwing talk show host. This time it’s Jay Severin III, a former GOP operative who worked on the presidential campaigns of George I and Pat Buchanan, among others, and who hosts a radio show in Boston that is (was?) set to go national.

While it’s too early to gloat over the demise of rightwing talk radio, its utility as an echo chamber for the Right appears to be diminishing. Recent ratings show declines for Rush and O’Reilly in key markets.

Severin has been exposed for lying about his achievements, including claiming several times on the record that he had won a Pulitzer Prize. He has also been the target recently of allegations of behavior unbecoming of a married man and father that cast a new light on statements he made in the 1990’s about the moral fitness of others.

The revelations of extreme resume padding came on the same day that Infinity Broadcasting announced they had signed a deal with Severin to host a nationally syndicated talk show. Oops!

Severin’s Troubles

According to Media Matters, Severin – whose real name is Jimmy Severino – operated a political consulting firm, Severin Aviles Associates, whose clients included George H.W. Bush’s 1980 presidential campaign and his political action committee (Fund for America’s Future); Pat Buchanan’s 1996 presidential campaign; the Republican National Committee; and the Reagan White House.

He caused a stir in April 2004, when, on the air, he said about Moslems: “You think we should befriend them; I think we should kill them.” (He later said he meant that only extremists should be killed.) He also had a brief, ill-fated run sitting in as the conservative pundit who provided balance on conservative Tucker Carlson’s MSNBC show, “The Situation.”

(And it may come as a surprise to his fans in Boston that Severin doesn’t broadcast from Boston, but rather from a studio close to his home in Sag Harbor, N.Y.)

Severin brought his current woes onto himself last Friday, Sept. 16, 2005, when he claimed to have won the Pulitzer Prize. That claim brought scrutiny from a reporter, Scot Lehigh at the Boston Globe.

First, here’s what Severin said on the air:

”But since journalism began, and up until the time at least that I took my master’s degree at Boston University — and may I add without being obnoxious, up till and including the time that I received a Pulitzer Prize for my columns for excellence in online journalism from the Columbia School of Journalism, the highest possible award for writing on the Web — right up to and including that in 1998, you still had to practice journalism to be a journalist.”

So Scot Lehigh called the Pulitzer’s world headquarters, and guess what?

”We looked at the records and there is no record of him winning a Pulitzer Prize,” says Sig Gissler, administrator of the Pulitzers. Nor is there a Pulitzer for excellence in online journalism.

Wait! There’s more:

Interesting, a Google search turns up two mentions of Severin winning a Pulitzer for online journalism. They come in student newspaper articles covering a November 2003 appearance at Boston College. ”Currently, Severin is a featured columnist on, for which he has won the Pulitzer Prize for online journalism,” The Heights reported. Severin ”was the first recipient of Columbia University’s Pulitzer Prize for online journalism,” the Observer wrote. Both accounts also call him a graduate of Harvard Law School. He is not, Harvard says.

There’s also a hint of seamier goings-on in Severin’s past. Although he was reportedly fired from the Tucker Carlson show on MSNBC earlier this year, he told a New York newspaper that he quit because he didn’t like the commute from Sag Harbor to the channel’s studios in Secaucus, N.J. However, an insider at MSNBC said that the suggestion that Severin left voluntarily is a “complete absolute lie”:

In fact, he’s been banned from the network: “You won’t see him on MSNBC again,” the source says. (And based on Severin’s actions in Secaucus, “we were shocked to read in Page Six that he has a wife and daughter,” the insider adds…)

This from the man who famously said:

On whether a woman in a sexual harassment test case video had said “no”: “That’s not the big ‘no.’ And our job as guys is to convert a succession of ‘nos’ into one ‘yes.’ And to try and be as persuasive as possible in making that happen. The fact is my job, my right, my duty as a guy is to persuade girls to say yes.” [NBC’s Dateline, 10/24/97]

Which brings us to our first introduction to Jay Severin. During the Monica Lewinsky scandal, he was one of a horde of rightwing pundits who appeared daily on MSNBC to excoriate President Clinton’s morality.

Oh, the hypocrisy!