Bill Scher

Weekend Watchdog Wrap-up

None of the Sunday shows hosts posed our Weekend Watchdog questions drilling down to the heart of the Prosecutor Purge matter — how names actually got on the purge list. But guests Sens. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., and Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., worked in answers that kept the focus where it belongs. Asked on CBS’ Face The Nation (PDF file) if Attorney General Alberto Gonzales should remain in his post, Leahy noted that wouldn’t necessarily stop the White House from undermining our justice system: I don’t think he can be effective.

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Bill Scher

Weekend Watchdog

Every Friday in our Weekend Watchdog feature, we post suggested questions for scheduled Sunday guests. You can add your own questions in the comment thread. We’ll also include contact information for the shows, so we can let them know what their viewers want asked. Then on Monday, we’ll circle back and see if our questions were asked, and if they were answered. Let’s take back our media! Three members of the Senate Judiciary Committee will be on the main Sunday shows: Sen. Pat Leahy, D-Vt. (CBS’ Face The Nation), Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Penn. and Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y. (Fox News Sunday). Here’s a few suggested queries: 1. Neither Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, nor his right-hand man Kyle Sampson, could tell your committee how prosecutors ended up on the purge list. What does that say about the reasons for the forced resignations? 2.

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Bill Scher

Blogger Roundup of Gonzales Hearing

Video highlights of today’s Senate hearing with Attorney General Gonzales is up at PoliticsTV and TPMmuckaker. Thorough liveblogging is up at Firedoglake and The Gun Toting Liberal. McJoan at DailyKos says Gonzales “decided that claiming incompetence is the way to go”. Bark Bark Woof Woof: “If I told my boss ‘I don’t recall’ as many times as Attorney General Alberto Gonzales did this morning in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee, I’d be fired, and rightly so.” Under the LobsterScope: “Is everyone noticing what a weak defender of his own position Gonzales is?” The Carpetbagger Report gives some color: Leahy, looking incredulous, asked if Gonzales remembered deciding to fire the prosecutors. The AG, annoyed, said, “I remember making the decision.” When, Leahy asked. “I don’t recall,” Gonzales said.

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Bill Scher

Is Gonzales “Going Down In Flames”?

As noted below, several Republican Senators have been not willing to provide political cover for Gonzales. And this afternoon, Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., called for Gonzales’ resignation at the end of his questioning.

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Bill Scher

Feingold Cuts To The Chase

Sen. Russ Feingold, D-Wis., nailed Gonzales with a basic disconnect in his story, telling him, “You can’t really say with certainty” that no one was purged for “improper reasons” if “you didn’t know then, and you don’t know today, how each of these people actually made it onto that list”. Of course, Feingold’s comments presume Gonzales is telling the truth when he says he had “limited involvement” in the purge process.

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Bill Scher

So, Bad Management Can Get You Fired, Eh?

Asked what he would have done differently, Attorney General Gonzales said when delegating to Kyle Sampson the compilation of the prosecutor purge list, he would have told Sampson who exactly to consult with and what criteria he should use.

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Bill Scher

“I Don’t Recall” Lots of Stuff

I can’t keep up with all of Alberto Gonzales’ “I don’t recall”s, in defiance of Sen. Chuck Schumer’s attempt at prevention. But he just made a couple of big ones. Under questioning by Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., Gonzales said he doesn’t recall the origins of the provision, slipped into the Patriot Act without the knowledge of the Senate Judiciary Committee, to allow U.S. Attorneys to be installed by the Bush administration without Senate confirmation. And, in talking about The List, he said he doesn’t recall directly putting any names on it himself.

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Bill Scher

The List

After Kyle Sampson’s testimony, Talking Points Memo noted that Sampson was very murky about how prosecutor’s names got onto the purge list. Today, Gonzales is generally characterizing the list as something he asked Sampson to compile and put before him. That still leaves murky, in the Bush administration’s telling, how exactly names made the list — such as, if White House officials or Senators put them on the list for partisan reasons.

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Bill Scher

Dancing As Fast As He Can

In advance of today’s Gonzales hearing, ABC News had flagged a contradiction in his prepared testimony and the recently released emails: Gonzales said that during the months that his senior staff was evaluating U.S. attorneys, including [Carol] Lam, “I did not make the decisions about who should or should not be asked to resign.” But the recently released e-mail from [now-former Justice Dept. chief of staff Kyle] Sampson, dated June 1, 2006, indicated that Gonzales was actively involved in discussions about Lam and had decided to fire her if she did not improve. How did Gonzales try to dance around this? Under questioning from Sen.

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Bill Scher

‘Breakthrough’ on Carbon Caps

Senate Environment and Public Works Chair Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., delivered a speech on global warming Wednesday, and announced a key development that she deemed a “breakthrough”: I have been informed … by Senators [Tom] Carper [D-Del.], [Lamar] Alexander [R-Tenn.] and [Bernie] Sanders [I-Vt.] … that they will soon introduce [separate] bills, meaning in a matter of days, to cap pollution from power plants, including global warming pollution … Now, I have a consensus developing on my committee, across the party lines, that we will in fact look at bills that do cap carbon [emissions]. As noted here earlier, the global warming debate is shifting.

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Bill Scher

‘Breakthrough’ On Carbon Caps

Senate Environment and Public Works Chair Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., delivered a speech on global warming Wednesday, and announced a key development that she deemed a “breakthrough”: I have been informed … by Senators [Tom] Carper [D-Del.], [Lamar] Alexander [R-Tenn.] and [Bernie] Sanders [I-Vt.] … that they will soon introduce [separate] bills, meaning in a matter of days, to cap pollution from power plants, including global warming pollution … Now, I have a consensus developing on my committee, across the party lines, that we will in fact look at bills that do cap carbon [emissions]. As noted here earlier, the global warming debate is shifting.

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Bill Scher

New “I Don’t Recall” Record by Gonzales

At the start of today’s Senate testimony of Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., warned Gonzales to limit his use of “I don’t recall” when responding to questions. After questioning began, it took Gonzales 1 minute and 11 seconds to say, “I don’t recall.” Granted, it was merely about the location of his conversation with Karl Rove, but the day is still young.

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Bill Scher

Sen. Boxer Announces “Breakthrough” on Carbon Caps

Senate Environment and Public Works Chair Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., delivered a speech on global warming Wednesday, and announced a key development, which she deemed a “breakthrough”: I have been informed … by Senators [Tom] Carper [D-Del.], [Lamar] Alexander [R-Tenn.] and [Bernie] Sanders [I-Vt.] … that they will soon introduce [separate] bills, meaning in a matter of days, to cap pollution from power plants, including global warming pollution … Now, I have a consensus developing on my committee, across the party lines, that we will in fact look at bills that do cap carbon [emissions]. As noted here earlier, the global warming debate is shifting.

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Bill Scher

This Is Your Senate On Drug$

The pharmaceutical lobby joined forces today with the Senate’s conservative minority and killed legislation empowering Medicare to negotiate for lower drug prices, which would have saved us $30 billion a year. Fixty-six senators tried to carry out the will of 85 percent of the public. But they needed 60. (The official vote was 55-42, but pro-negotiation Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid only voted with the conservatives for a procedural reason.) How could our democracy fail to carry out the people’s demands? The drug industry’s army of lobbyists and hundreds of millions in cash fed the obstructionist, anti-government attitude of the Senate minority. As the first plank of the “First 100 Hours” package to be blocked in the Senate, the punditocracy will likely spin this as a “failure” of the new congressional leadership.

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Bill Scher

This Is Your Senate On Drug$

The pharmaceutical lobby joined forces today with the Senate’s conservative minority and killed legislation empowering Medicare to negotiate for lower drug prices, which would have saved us $30 billion a year. Fixty-six senators tried to carry out the will of 85 percent of the public. But they needed 60. (The official vote was 55-42, but pro-negotiation Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid only voted with the conservatives for a procedural reason.) How could our democracy fail to carry out the people’s demands? The drug industry’s army of lobbyists and hundreds of millions in cash fed the obstructionist, anti-government attitude of the Senate minority. As the first plank of the “First 100 Hours” package to be blocked in the Senate, the punditocracy will likely spin this as a “failure” of the new congressional leadership.

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Bill Scher

Senate Minority, Drug Lobby Obstruct People’s Will

Today, the pharmaceutical lobby joined forces with the Senate’s conservative minority and killed legislation empowering Medicare to negotiate for lower drug prices, which would have saved us $30 billion a year. Fixty-six senators tried to carry out the will of 85 percent of the public. But they needed 60. (The official vote was 55-42, but pro-negotiation Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid only voted with the conservatives for a procedural reason.) How could our democracy fail to carry out the people’s demands? The drug industry’s army of lobbyists and hundreds of millions in cash fed the obstructionist, anti-government attitude of the Senate minority. As the first plank of the “First 100 Hours” package to be blocked in the Senate, the punditocracy will likely spin this as a “failure” of the new congressional leadership.

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Bill Scher

Bush EPA: More Emissions = Good For Climate

Yesterday’s headline from the Associated Press read: “EPA chief: Bush climate policy working.” And why is that? Says the AP: The head of the Environmental Protection Agency said Monday the growth of greenhouse gases by less than 1 percent in 2005 shows the administration’s program to address global warming “is delivering real results.” To repeat in non-spin: we put more greenhouse gases in the atmosphere in 2005 than 2004. So our policy to do nothing about global warming is working. If the AP is unable to write a fully truthful headline, it at least had the sense to quote Frank O’Donnell of Clean Air Watch, who blogged yesterday: It’s a sad state of affairs when global warming emissions go up, yet the Bush administration tries to spin it as a victory.

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Bill Scher

60 Votes Still Needed To Break Filibuster

CQ Today reports that Senate leaders remain “just short” of the 60 votes needed to break the drug lobby-backed filibuster of legislation empowering Medicare to negotiate for lower drug prices. The key vote to cut off the filibuster is still expected tomorrow. Meanwhile, President Bush formally issued a pledge to veto the bill if it reaches his desk, seeking to keep Republican Senators in line. Senators need to hear your voice, so they know there will be a price to pay if they side with the drug companies and not the people. Click here for our action page, where you can easily write your Senators.

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Bill Scher

Wednesday Vote Expected on Prescription Drugs

According to CQ Today, a Senate vote is expected Wednesday to try to break a planned filibuster against a bill empowering Medicare to negotiate for lower drug prices. And Senate leaders are hunting “for a final few votes” to get to the needed 60.

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