Wednesday, May 16, 2007


Political Peril of the Day

... while veteran incumbents enjoy a re-election rate of 98 percent, the rate drops to less than 92 percent for first-term incumbents. —Raymond Hernandez writing in "Barely in Office, but G.O.P. Rivals Are Circling"

Ain't "democracy" grand? Considering that Congress is even less popular than George Bush (29% vs. 33%, according to Gallup), who'd have guessed that the American people had done such a wonderful job of electing their representatives!



Religion of the Day

The 2001 American Religious Identification Survey by the City University of New York found that Wicca was the country’s fastest-growing religion, with 134,000 adherents, compared with 8,000 in 1990. The actual number may be greater.... —Neela Banerjee writing in "Wiccans Keep the Faith With a Religion Under Wraps"


Tuesday, May 15, 2007


Head Count of the Day

Saudi authorities announced the 74th execution of the year today, doubling the total number of beheadings carried out in 2006 less than five months into 2007. Agence France-Presse


Monday, May 14, 2007


Some DoJ attorneys go where the crime is

The bank robber Willie Sutton, when asked why he robbed banks, was said (apocryphally) to have replied "because that's where the money is." But attorneys hoping to make a name for themselves only need to represent the White House, where crime is as plentiful as money in a bank.

C-Span recently televised a forum featuring three of the eight fired U.S. Attorneys. In the Q&A session there was discussion of the effect of the firings on the morale in the regional offices of the Justice Department (DoJ). No one had any concrete data on whether the scandal had increased the number of resignations or was having an impact on hiring. But there can be no question that top-notch attorneys are leaving the Justice Department—to move to the White House!

You see, the White House Counsel's office needs lawyers, and fast. And where can you find better lawyers than among the prosecutors at the DoJ?

Jason McLure reports

Alumni of the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York are wont to tell anyone who'll listen that the office is home to the Justice Department's best and brightest.

White House counsel Fred Fielding apparently agrees, having just hired two additional former Southern District lawyers to help try to beat back a gathering storm of congressional subpoenas.

Joining Fielding's office is former organized crime prosecutor Michael Purpura, who will become associate counsel, and former corporate fraud prosecutor William Burck, whose title will be special counsel to the president. Both left Manhattan earlier this decade to take posts in Washington.1

Most recently, Purpura was a senior counsel to Deputy Attorney General Paul McNulty, and Burck was a legal adviser to Assistant Attorney General Alice Fisher in the Criminal Division and previously was deputy staff secretary at the White House.

At the White House Counsel's Office, they'll join another SDNY alum, Michael Scudder Jr., who was hired as associate counsel earlier this year.

Yes, sir. Experience in fraud and organized crime is definitely what you need if you're going to do a good job representing the White House.



1It looks as if these attorneys were among those who were violating federal law by working outside their districts.

Dan Eggen reported recently that—

On Nov. 10, 2005, Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales sent a letter to a federal judge in Montana, assuring him that the U.S. attorney there, William W. Mercer, was not violating federal law by spending most of his time in Washington as a senior Justice Department official.

That same day, Mercer had a GOP Senate staffer insert into a bill a provision that would change the rules so that federal prosecutors could live outside their districts to serve in other jobs....

Congress passed the provision several months later as part of the USA Patriot Act reauthorization bill, retroactively benefiting Mercer and a handful of other senior Justice officials who pull double duty as U.S. attorneys and headquarters officials. Justice officials say the measure was a necessary clarification to ensure that prosecutors could fill temporary postings in Washington, Iraq and elsewhere, and that it also applies to assistant U.S. attorneys.

Violating the law while serving as a U.S. attorney is another great qualification for working at the White House. [back]


News roundup

Splenda no longer "tastes like sugar." Merisant, the maker of the artificial sweetener Equal, sued Splenda for $200,000,000 over their slogan "made from sugar so it tastes like sugar." Just as the jury was ready to announce a verdict favorable to Merisant, the parties reached a settlement. The amount of the payoff is secret. For my penny they all taste like something you wouldn't want in your mouth.

Cindy Sheehan, who lost her son to the war, has worked tirelessly to ensure that Bush suffers as much grief as she has. Before the Mother's Day rally in front of the White House, Sheehan let it be known that she's considering a run for a Congressional seat. If she runs, she hasn't yet decided whether she'll consider her home district to be in Crawford, Texas, or California.

So far the only major instance of voter fraud really to get public attention is the case of Ann Coulter, right-wing self-promoter and lunatic. But in April the Palm Beach Sheriff's office ruled that "'there was insufficient probable cause to determine that Ann Coulter willfully or deliberately' violated any laws." A more egregious, deliberate and criminal commission of fraud—and by an attorney, at that—can hardly be imagined. If Ann Coulter isn't prosecuted I don't know why anybody else should even have to worry about it.


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