** REPLACING GONZALES. With very controversial US Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, a longtime political intimate of the president’s from Texas days, at last falling on his sword, attention moves to his replacement. The name immediately floated by administration sources was that of Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff.
Chertoff is a former federal judge, a Harvard Law grad who clerked for a US Supreme Court justice and later served as assistant attorney general. But it’s hard to believe that President Bush would appoint him. Chertoff presided over the debacle of Hurricane Katrina. After New Orleans was nearly destroyed, it took days to get needed supplies into the Superdome, site of previous Super Bowls, where many congregated. The majority Senate Democrats would have a field day doing a Hurricane Katrina expose, and would also likely grill Chertoff on civil liberties abuses they will say he went along with as homeland security chief.
Pointedly, Democratic presidential frontrunner Hillary Clinton referenced the upcoming second anniversary of Katrina in discussing who should be the next attorney general. I’ve made a few calls, and don’t know who Bush will appoint. Meanwhile, Solicitor General Paul Clement will serve as acting attorney general. It may a long temporary tenure.
** TOM MCCLINTOCK AIRBRUSHES HIS FACTUAL ERROR ABOUT CALIFORNIA’S BUDGET DEAL. Last Tuesday, the right-wing California budget holdouts’ intellectual leader, state Senator and former candidate for governor, lieutenant governor, and state controller Tom McClintock wrote an online column expressing his dismay about the swift end of the the budget stall once the Legislature returned to session.
In the course of it, he made several factual errors, including one even he had to admit was wrong. I pointed them out in my column the following day. Late that afternoon, he changed his column to correct one of the most glaring errors. In so doing, the senator pretended he’d never made the mistake — a mistake which raises the question of what he knows about what he says — in the first place.
McClintock wrote: “Yesterday (Monday) rumors of a “deal” circulated but were denied by the Republican leadership. This afternoon, with very little notice, a bare majority of the Senate Republican caucus decided that further negotiations were unlikely to produce any additional progress. Abel Maldonado and Richard Ackerman ultimately combined with the Democrats and voted out this budget.”
But he expressed a spurious satisfaction. “The transportation and housing bond funds,” he wrote, “are to be exempt for two years from the impact of the Governor’s AB 32, which makes the use of concrete all but impossible due to its release of massive quantities of carbon dioxide.”
I pointed out that he is wrong on three counts. First, former Governor-turned-Attorney General Jerry Brown never sued or threatened to sue on the infrastructure bonds package passed last November, for which he campaigned and which McClintock himself opposed. Brown was then and continues now to prod local governments to account for greenhouse gas emissions in planning processes. That’s what McClintock and company tried and failed to stop. Second, “the Governor’s AB 32” (Callifornia’s landmark climate change law) simply does not make the use of concrete impossible. And third, the face-saving deal for Republicans on environmental lawsuits did not include the housing bonds, contrary to McClintock’s representation.
Late on Tuesday, after my column appeared, McClintock changed his column, removing his claim that last year’s housing bonds are exempt from lawsuits and instead saying that last year’s water bonds are exempt. He pretended he never made the mistake, and has not responded to my question about it on his website or to phone calls to his various numbers.
It’s pretty hard to confuse the housing bonds with the water bonds. Although he was so hasty in changing his column that he may have made another mistake.
Because the water bonds which passed last year, part of a move by environmental groups, were not part of the face-saving budget deal, either. What is part of the budget deal is the flood control bonds. Which Brown also had no intention of suing over.
** SARKOZY CALLS FOR IRAQ WITHDRAWAL. French President Nicolas Sarkozy, whose election was much hailed by the American right, and who recently vacationed in America, has called for the establishment of a timetable for the withdrawal of US troops from Iraq. The Bush Administration continues to publicly oppose any such plan.
He’s also declared the denial of nuclear weapons to Iran to be a top priority, a departure from his predecessor who viewed the Islamic nation’s development of such weapons as inevitable.
** EUROPEAN DISMAY WITH AFGHAN EFFORT. Italy and Germany are considering scaling back their participation in the Afghan War. Other smaller countries may do the same. This comes with fighting in Afghanistan at its most intense since the successful ouster of the Taliban regime in the immediate aftermath of 9/11.
Italy’s foreign minister recently criticized US tactics in Afghanistan, saying that they have caused hundreds of Afghan civilian deaths, something that is “morally unacceptable.”
The issue seems to be around the widespread use of American air power in close-in air strikes. Three British soldiers were killed last week in a “friendly fire” incident involving a US unit in trouble calling in air support.
** AL QAEDA’S AMERICAN PRISONERS STILL NOT LOCATED. American troops are now in the midst of a 105th day of searching for the remaining two US soldiers captured by Al Qaeda in an ambush south of Baghdad. They have had no luck so far. A video put out by Al Qaeda forces in Iraq claims that all three men were executed after being captured. But, with the exception of the Californian found floating in the Euphrates River, that claim can’t be confirmed. The US high command in Baghdad has revealed that ID cards for the other two American prisoners were found in an Al Qaeda safehouse on June 9th.
** Track global and national energy prices in near real time via Bloomberg. Crude oil prices are in the $68 to $71 per barrel range.
** GONZALES OUT AS U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL. Embattled US Attorney General Alberto Gonzales has resigned. More to follow.
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