Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Bush Claims Executive Privilege on CIA Leak

You think he has something to hide? The Bush gang knows that all they have to do is run out the clock. And if the controversy arising from the stonewalls harms the Republicans in November, so be it. This President doesn't give a damn. But there is a principal involved here. No one is above the law. Congress should pursue investigations of this White House so that the American people know what crooks these people are. And the idea that investigating the President is harmful to the party doing the investigations is obviously not consistent with the facts. The Republicans maintained control of Congress and won the Presidency in 2000.

President Bush invoked executive privilege to keep Congress from seeing the FBI report of an interview with Vice President Dick Cheney and other records related to the administration's leak of CIA operative Valerie Plame's identity in 2003.

The president's decision drew a sharp protest Wednesday from Rep. Henry Waxman, chairman of House Oversight Committee, which had subpoenaed Attorney General Michael Mukasey to turn over the documents.

"This unfounded assertion of executive privilege does not protect a principle; it protects a person," the California Democrat said. "If the vice president did nothing wrong, what is there to hide?"

Waxman left little doubt he would soon move for a committee vote to hold Mukasey in contempt of Congress.

[...]Bush's assertion of privilege prevented Mukasey from complying with the House subpoena for records bearing on the unmasking of Plame at a time that the administration was trying to rebut criticism from her husband, former U.S. Ambassador Joseph Wilson, of Bush's rationale for going to war in Iraq.

Cheney's chief of staff in 2003, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, was later convicted of perjury, obstruction and lying to the FBI about his role in leaking Plame's name and CIA affiliation to a reporter. Last July, Bush commuted Libby's 2{-year sentence, sparing him from serving prison time.

In grand jury testimony played at his trial, Libby acknowledged he told the FBI early in the Plame probe that "it's possible" he spoke to Cheney about whether to share information with reporters about Wilson's wife.

In addition, Congress should resist every effort by this White House to acquire powers never given to a previous President. No administration in American history has so disregarded the Constitution. It is up to Congress to defend our country from this renegade administration.
The House on Wednesday passed legislation governing next year's intelligence budget that demands lawmakers be given greater access to the nation's most closely held secrets.

The bill is the latest attempt by Democrats, struggling to challenge President Bush on major national security issues, to step up their role in overseeing an intelligence program they say has gone astray. Lawmakers complain that the Bush administration left most of them out of the loop on highly classified — and controversial — matters, including creation and destruction of CIA interrogation tapes and Bush's warrantless wiretapping program.

The bill, which passed on a voice vote, would block two-thirds of the federal covert operations budget until each member of the congressional intelligence committees is briefed on all secret operations underway. Panel members also would be granted access to any other details necessary to assess the value of intelligence operations.

Failure by Congress to stand up to George Bush explains, in part, why their job approval has plunged to new record lows.
Congressional job approval ratings have sunk to their lowest point in three decades, according to the latest Gallup Poll.

A survey of 1,016 adults taken July 10-13 found that 14% approve of the job Congress is doing. That's half President Bush's record low 28% job approval number, and the lowest congressional rating since Gallup first began asking the question in 1974.

Hillary Clinton already Running for 2012

I guess this means she knows she won't be picked as Obama's running mate. And she probably thinks that Barack will either lose in November or fail as President and be an easy target for potential adversary in the primaries. It's hard to believe this is done in preparation for a Senate re-election effort, in where she will face little opposition.

Just six weeks after reluctantly surrendering to Barack Obama in the brutal 2008 Democratic primary race, Sen. Hillary Clinton has begun raising money for what she says is her 2012 New York Senate re-election campaign.

Clinton still faces some $20 million in debts from her unsuccessful presidential effort this year. As part of a so-called "unity drive," Obama has appealed to his supporters in recent weeks to give to Clinton to cover the costs she incurred while raking him over the coals in a bareknuckled bid to return to the White House. Some Obama backers have balked.

Clinton has also asked her donors to contribute to the massive general election fundraising effort of Obama, who changed his mind and has rejected federal funding. Some Clinton backers have balked.

Now, the New York Observer is reporting early this morning that the former first lady has sent out a special message to supporters who donated up to $2,300 to her anticipated 2008 general election campaign. Since there won't be one, she must return that money to the donors by Aug. 28, unless she gets their permission not to.

Inflation: The Worst in 26 Years

We are being hit from all fronts. The economy is a basket case with no sign it will improve. This is worse than a recession. No sector of the economy seems to be doing well. We are in a crisis.

Consumer prices shot up in June at the fastest pace in 26 years with two-thirds of the surge blamed on soaring energy prices.

The Labor Department reported Wednesday that consumer prices jumped 1.1 percent last month, much worse than had been expected. Energy prices rocketed upward by 6.6 percent, reflecting big gains for gasoline, home heating oil and natural gas.

The big rise in prices cut deeply into consumers' earning power with average weekly wages, after adjusting for inflation, dropping by 0.9 percent in June, the biggest monthly decline since 1984.

You need more proof. Listen to what the Fed chief has to say.
Caught between risky cross currents of plodding growth and rising inflation, Fed policymakers are facing "significant challenges" as they try to find a way to right the economy, Bernanke told the Senate Banking Committee on Tuesday.

The Fed can't afford to lower rates again to shore things up because it will aggravate inflation. On the other hand, boosting rates to fend off higher prices would deal a setback to the fragile economy and the already crippled housing market.

Against that background, most economists predict Bernanke and his colleagues will leave rates alone when it meets next on Aug. 5.

It's difficult to chart a course when uncertainty abounds, Bernanke said.

Over the rest of this year, the economy will grow "appreciably below its trend rate" mostly because of continued weakness in housing markets, high energy prices and tight credit conditions.

At the same time, inflation has remained high and "seems likely to move temporarily higher in the near term," Bernanke warned lawmakers.

Consumer prices are expected to climb higher in June, while industrial production probably will be flat — fresh signs of the twin problems plaguing the country. Those economic reports will be released on Wednesday.

On Tuesday, the Labor Department reported wholesale prices, driven by skyrocketing gas and food costs, rose 9.2 percent in the 12 months ending June — the fastest in a quarter-century.

"The economy continues to face numerous difficulties, including ongoing strains in financial markets, declining housing prices, a softening labor market and rising prices of oil, food and other commodities," Bernanke said Tuesday.

Obama's Lead in Polls Remains Constant

Despite all the negative news, Obama's lead remains constant or is growing despite plenty of negative reporting and his flipflops. Additionally, John McCain had a bad last week. The trend continues to grow in favor of the Illinois Senator with no sign of turning around.

Released last night, a new CBS News/NY Times poll shows Obama leading McCain by six points. That's the same size lead Obama had in the last CBS/NYT poll taken at the end of May, though both candidates have ticked down ever so slightly while undecideds are up.

Democrat Barack Obama has a 7-point lead on Republican John McCain in the U.S. presidential race, and holds a small edge on the crucial question of who would best manage the economy, according to a Reuters/Zogby poll released on Wednesday.

More than a month after kicking off the general election campaign, Obama leads McCain by 47 percent to 40 percent. That is slightly better than his 5-point cushion in mid-June, shortly after he clinched the Democratic nomination fight against New York Sen. Hillary Clinton.

But Obama's 22-point advantage in June among independents, a critical voting bloc that could swing either way in the November election, shrunk to 3 points during a month in which the candidates battled on the economy and Obama was accused of shifting to the center on several issues.

Obama had a 44 percent to 40 percent edge nationally over McCain on who would be best at managing the economy, virtually unchanged from last month. Among independents, the two were tied on the economy.
Washington Post/NBC:
[...]the Democrat has a lead of 50 percent to 42 percent over Republican Sen. John McCain among registered voters nationwide, lifted by a big edge among women, and he has also regained an edge among political independents. But it is Obama's 19-point lead on the economy that has become a particularly steep challenge for McCain.

Economic concerns continue to eclipse other issues, with half the country saying the economy will be "extremely important" to their vote. Gasoline and energy prices, which voters rarely mentioned at the start of the year, come in just behind. The Iraq war, which was again the subject of direct engagement between Obama and McCain yesterday, ranks third. A cluster of domestic issues, including education, health care and Social Security, ranked behind the war, as did the issue of terrorism.