Giuliani’s firm lobbies for Citgo

Too bad for Rush Limbaugh. He’d love to call talking money from Hugo Chavez “treason,” but he can’t, because it’s a Republican taking the money.

The right wing, for example the editorial page of the Wall Street Journal has made a huge fuss about the fact that Joe Kennedy’s Citizens Energy has taken some cheap oil from Venezuelan-owned Citgo to pass along to its low-income customers. Can you imagine the howls from the right if it turned out that one of the Democratic candidates had been on Hugo Chavez’s lobbying payroll?

A Republican Presidential candidate, of course, is a different matter altogether.

Yes, Giuliani says he doesn’t lobby for Citgo. So what?

His name is on the firm, and presumably he’s still cashing his paychecks. So some of that money has found its way into his pocket.

Either he knew that his firm was, in effect, working for the government of Venezuela, or he didn’t. Either way, it seems to raise a pretty serious question about his fitness for the White House.

However, I assume America’s Mayor is going to get a pass, again, while the AP sends someone to investigate Obama’s overdue library books.

Who stands up against torture?

I’ll give you three guesses as to the authorship of the document below. I’ve snipped it at various places to avoid giving away the answer, but not in a way that changes meaning or emphasis. Full text, authorship, and some comments below the fold.

Human rights, which function to protect human dignity and the sanctity of life, cannot be cancelled and should not be overridden. Recognition of human rights creates obligations to act on behalf of others whose rights are being violated. Human rights place a shield around people who otherwise would find themselves at the mercy of those who are angry, aggrieved, or frightened. While human rights language can be misused, this demands its clarification rather than abandonment. Among the most significant human rights is the right to security of person, which includes the right not to be tortured.

Our own government must honor its constitutional and moral responsibilities to respect and protect human rights. The United States historically has been a leader in supporting international human rights efforts, but our moral vision has blurred since 9/11. We need to regain our moral clarity.

International law contains numerous clear and unequivocal bans on torture and cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment. These bans are wise and right and must be embraced without reservation once again by our own government. Likewise, United States law and military doctrine has banned the resort to torture and cruel and degrading treatment. Tragically, documented acts of torture and of inhumane and cruel behavior have occurred at various sites in the U.S. war on terror, and current law opens procedural loopholes for more to continue. We commend the Pentagon’s revised Army Field Manual for clearly banning such acts, and urge that this ban extend to every sector of the United States government without exception, including our intelligence agencies.

We renounce the resort to torture and cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment of detainees, call for the extension of procedural protections and human rights to all detainees, seek clear government-wide embrace of the Geneva Conventions, including those articles banning torture and cruel treatment of prisoners, and urge the reversal of any U.S. government law, policy, or practice that violates the moral standards outlined in this declaration.

Continue reading “Who stands up against torture?”

Rudy and the Overblown Personnel Matter

Guess who we haven’t heard a peep from on the U.S. Attorney purge? Why, that would be the only former U.S. Attorney now running for President. Why have reporters been giving him a pass on this story, which forces him to choose between his professional loyalties and buttering up the Bushoids? Is it because their lips are too firmly planed on Rudy’s posterior to allow them to ask any questions?

A wise woman, that Ella Wheeler Wilcox:

To sin by silence, when we should protest,

Makes cowards out of men.

Read the whole thing.

Update “Cowards of men,” indeed. Rudy doesn’t even have the stones to “no comment” in public; he’s “no commenting” through a spokesgeek.

Firefighters un-heart Rudy

The firefighters’ union says Giuliani gave expedited redevelopment priority over the search for the remains of the fallen. Bad Mayor! No endorsement!

This should make for a nice 30-second spot.

The firefighters wanted to carefully search the rubble at Ground Zero for the bodies of the firefighters who had died on 9/11. But the developer was in a hurry to start the redevelopment process. So, once the Bank of Nova Scotia’s gold bars had been recovered, Giuliani ordered that the remaining rubble &#8212 including whatever bodies were still there &#8212 scooped up and taken to a landfill. When firefighters held a protest, he ordered them arrested.

Am I confident the firefighters’ union is telling the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth about the incident? No. But I look forward to several news cycles’ worth of assertion and denial.

Update Well, the Giuliani camp is helping. They managed to invent a group called “Firefighters for Rudy,” whose “Executive Director” is a Giuliani campaign staffer. I wonder whether the press minds getting snookered this way? I would, in their shoes.

Rudy: ask me later

Rudy is ducking questions from ordinary folks. Don’t complain about the process: attack his character. Why is he AFRAID?

Rudy Giuliani, entranced with the free ride he’s been getting from the press, has decided to insulate himself against questions from ordinary citizens, too. Does this remind you of GWB’s screened-and-scripted “town meetings.”

But I’m glad to see that James Boyce at the HuffingtonPost blog understands how the game is played. Don’t make a process complaint: just makes you sound like another prissy liberal. Call the guy a coward.

I propose that as an official Blue Blogistan talking point for the next year or so: why is Rudy Giuliani, who dodged the draft back in Vietnam days, afraid to take questions from ordinary folks? If anyone has the heart to dial in to right-wing talk radio or post on right-wing message boards, this is exactly the sort of line that will hurt him among the voters he’s looking to get on the basis of his dime-store machismo.

Where’s the guy with the chicken suit?

Footnote Just to be clear: I don’t think this line of attack is at all accurate. No doubt Rudy’s reluctance to take questions has to do with his belief that he can get away with it and his knowledge of his huge vulernabilities, rather than any pusillanimity on his part.

My reasons for wanting to knock Giuliani out of the race are entirely different. First, with McCain falling apart, I think he’s the only Republican who could win. Second, and more important: having worked in the Criminal Division at DoJ when Giuliani was Associate AG and followed his career since, I believe him to have the worst character of all those now running, or likely to run. A truly Nixonian figure, and no one’s fool. His idea for reconciling the conservative GOP base to his non-wingnut positions on some domestic issues and his anti-family-values personal life is to run as the candidate of those who want to fight World War IV against “the terrorists.”

Meet the 2008 Republican nominee

It was only a matter of time before John McCain’s support started cratering: his whole appeal was his independence, so when he sacrificed that, it figured to erode his standing. Combine that with his uber-hawkish position on Iraq, and it’s no surprise that he is rapidly losing popularity.

Who fills the gap? Not Mitt Romney: his flip-flopping on social issues will, I believe, seriously injure him both in Republican primaries and with the GOP elite. He’s damaged goods. Not Rudy Giuliani, who at least is more honest than Romney about his positions, but as Stuart Rothenberg persuasively argues, kills him with the Republican base.

Who does that leave?

Meet Mike Huckabee, the former Arkansas governor. He’s a Baptist minister, conservative enough for the base, outsider enough for the electorate, and he carries the argument that he can work across the aisle. He’s an outstanding politician, and will be able to make the outsider argument better than anyone else in the field. Put another way, he’s the George W. Bush of 2008. In fact, I think his whole argument will be about changing the tone in Washington.

Yes, I know: it was garbage when Bush said it, and it’s garbage when Huckabee says it. But that doesn’t matter.

The Republicans aren’t stupid, and they are still a tightly organized ship. They will look for someone who is right-wing but doesn’t really seem like it. That’s Huckabee, and given everyone else’s flaws, they will, I believe, turn to him. The key is whether he can get funding.

If it happens, you heard it here first. The 2008 Republican nominee will be Mike Huckabee, and he will be a formidable challenger. We’d better start the opposition research now.