June 25, 2007

John Roberts Unleashed
12:00 AM

The Supreme Court went on a rampage today: weakening McCain-Feingold, barring ordinary taxpayers from challenging the White House's faith-based initiatives in court, siding with businesses over environmentalists in a dispute about endangered species, and ruling against a student who unfurled a "Bong Hits 4 Jesus" banner in school (no, really). Worth noting: All of those decisions were 5-4, Alito and Roberts wrote two majority opinions apiece, and in all cases, the court liberals--Ginsburg, Stevens, Souter, Breyer--were on the dissenting end of things. --Bradford Plumer

June 24, 2007

Gonzales Watch
12:00 AM

For those who have long thought that the attorney general is not the smartest person on the planet, today's big Washington Post story on Dick Cheney has not one but two fun tidbits. First: Powell asked for a meeting with Bush. The same day, Jan. 25, 2002, Cheney's office struck a preemptive blow. It appeared to come from Gonzales, a longtime Bush confidant whom the president nicknamed "Fredo." And here's John Yoo showing skill in deploying euphemisms (something he is distrubingly good at): Gonzales, a former Texas judge, had the seniority and the relationship with Bush.

June 22, 2007

Before He Worked For Fox News. . .
12:00 AM

Britt Hume was a commie symp. Well, not exactly, but he was the target of CIA surveillance in the early '70s, according to the agency's "family jewels" documents that are being declassified. Today's WaPo reports: Personal surveillance was conducted on [Jack] Anderson and three of his staff members, including Britt Hume, now with Fox News, for two months in 1972 after Anderson wrote of the administration's "tilt toward Pakistan." --Jason Zengerle

No Word On Gitmo
12:00 AM

That was quick. Yesterday, the AP reported that administration officials were going to meet today to discuss the future of Guantanamo, with a "consensus... developing" to shutter the facility. But, according to today's Washington Post, after the AP broke the story, the issue "was removed from the agenda." And, judging from the Post story, it doesn't seem like there's anything nearing a consensus just yet. The administration could still end up closing Guantanamo, but it's not at all clear what would happen after that.

Don't Get Fooled Again
12:00 AM

The handwriting was on the wall; everybody knew that there would be a showdown between Hamas and Fatah in the Gaza Strip; everybody knew that Hamas was the overriding force in that territory. In the Middle East where the "Mu'ahmara," the conspiracy, has been the leitmotif behind every catastrophe, the man in the street knew that the Americans and Israelis had been conspiring with Fatah, that Hamas had been conspiring with the Syrians and Iranians, and that the Saudis were toiling to get things on track and to move the entire region in the direction of moderation.

June 21, 2007

Robert Rubin, Traitor To His Class
12:00 AM

A few months ago, my old boss Robert Kuttner wrote a harsh article in the American Prospect about former Clinton era Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin. Part of the article was a familiar criticism of the notion that Clinton's economic program contributed to the 1990s prosperity. But other parts of the article were more personally unflattering.

Gop Debate And Democratic Conformity
12:00 AM

Jonah Goldberg approvingly cites a Jeff Jacoby column that makes the following argument: On one important issue after another, the right churns with serious disputes over policy and principle, while the left marches mostly in lockstep. Liberals sometimes disagree over tactics and details, but anyone taking a heterodox position on a major issue can find himself out in the cold. Just ask Senator Joseph Lieberman .In the liberal imagination, conservatives are blind dogmatists, spouters of a party line fed to them by (take your pick) big business, their church, or President Bush.

The Rushdie Affair
12:00 AM

Geoffrey Wheatcroft has an excellent column in Slate on the Rushdie controversy. One of the piece's strengths is that it reminds the reader that much of the antagonism (pardon the euphemism) toward the prolific author came from the old British right, who didn't like his stance on Britain and empire. Pleasingly, Wheatcroft is not nearly as sympathetic to this point of view as readers of his work might have thought. There is also this anecdote: When Lord Ahmed was made a member of the House of Lords by Blair, he was paraded as a moderate Muslim voice.

Radical Sheik

Abdul Rashid Ghazi comes across a little like Jerry Garcia. He wears oval-shaped, wire-rimmed glasses, has a grey, fist-length beard, and sports curly hair that flips wildly around his ears and neckline. He even has the former Grateful Dead frontman's easy smile and chill demeanor. University educated, he talks in idiomatic English, and, during one recent conversation, we even swapped stories about hanging out on the beaches in Thailand. This is a bit surprising, considering that Ghazi and his brother, Maulana Abdul Aziz, are leading an Islamic revolution in Pakistan.

June 20, 2007

Rudy's Bad Day
12:00 AM

Talk about your bad days. Not only did Rudy's South Carolina campaign chairman ride off on the white horse; he lost his Iowa campaign chairman as well: Jim Nussle has been tapped to serve as White House budget director. Which raises an interesting question: what's worse--getting indicted on crack* cocaine charges? or going to work for the Bush administration in a job once held by Mitch Daniels? *Late reports indicate that, contra my Bob Roberts joke yesterday, Ravenel was charged with distributing good old fashioned cocaine, not crack. --Jason Zengerle