Wednesday, August 1, 2007

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** Chris Koster (Republican MO State Senator from Harrisonville, near KC) is switching parties and will run for state AG in 2008. He is also stepping down as head of the Senate Republican Caucus, so he is not an anonymous backbencher.

This continues part of a larger trend that appears to have begun in Kansas. I keep thinking Sebelius could make an attractive running mate for the Democratic nominee for President in 08, because she can point to being an overwhelmingly popular governor of a state the CW says ought to be a Republican stronghold, and because of the number of high-profile party switches in KS in the last few years.

** Speaking of Republicans in Kansas, the fact that this guy has seen his star fall as far as it has is not only great news, but is also great for illustrating the abov point: we've known the Republican party was in trouble in the Mountain West for some time now, but maybe that trouble is beginning to spill over to the Midwest.

** Back in 2004, then-White House Counsel (now Atty Genl) Alberto Gonzales visited then-Atty Genl John Ashcroft when Ashcroft was laid up in the hospital. Ashcroft (when did he become the reasonable one? oh lordy) was getting a gallstone removed, was under sedation, and had temporarily yielded the powers of his office to Acting AG James Comey. (In fact, it was thru Comey's testimony inre: the nine fired U.S. Attys that any of this is even public knowledge.)

The reason for the visit remains cloudy. Comey and others (including FBI director Mueller) have testified that Gonzales and WH Chief of Staff Andy Card wanted Ashcroft to sign off on a still-murky "terrorist surveillance program" of some sort that Comey was objecting to. This program was set to expire and DOJ needed to sign off on it in order for it continue. Comey was unwilling without changes to the program. (The changes were supposedly implemented eventually.) Ashcroft apparently (even under sedation) reiterated that Comey was Acting AG and that they needed to speak to him, whereupon they left.

Gonzales, in testimony before the Senate Judiciary Cmte last week, claimed a number of things, including that the Terrorist Surveillance Program (suddenly now with capital letters, as if it were a formal name and not a whopping lie) was not the subject under discussion, and that "other intelligence activities" were the reason for the visit. In addition, Gonzales stated that when the gang of eight (which at the time was Daschle, Frist, Hastert, Gephardt, Roberts, Rockefeller, Goss, and Harman) was briefed on whatever the fuck this program is, there was no dissent registered.

The Democratic members of that list have all begged to differ.

I'm just scratching the surface. In an ordinary political environment (ie without a shithead like Bush in charge) Gonzales would have been summarily fired months ago. As it is, Gonzo is one of the very last bulwarks the Bush/Cheney junta has against a series of Watergate-scale scandals and investigations. As it is, Gonzales may very well be impeached. He has clearly perjured himself with contradictory testimony, he has clearly obstructed justice, and he has clearly been an unwilling witness. (Seriously--watch this video, it's incredible.)

Personally, I think if Abu Gonzales (so nicknamed because of his cavalier, enabling attitude toward the Abu Ghraib atrocities) says "I don't recall" one more time, he ought to be relieved of duty strictly on medical grounds....

** Speaking of the Ashcroft hospital visit, questions remain over just who sent Gonzo and Card. Here's Dick Cheney not-answering that exact question from Larry King (!) of all people. Not exactly a Walter Cronkite moment, but you go to war with the blow-dried pundits you have, not the blow-dried pundits you might wish to have....