97 House Republicans Join Latest Mob Attack on African-American Obama Appointee

Van Jones

Eric Holder

Valerie Jarrett

Shirley Sherrod

And now, Susan Rice.

Republicans are orchestrating yet another mob attack on one of President Obama’s African-American appointees. In this case, 97 House Republicans have signed a letter imploring Obama not to nominate Rice to replace Hillary Clinton. Yet they don’t raise any of the possibly legitimate reasons to oppose Rice’s appointment–her troubling record on Africa, her closeness to Obama.


These 97 Republicans don’t even try to make this look like legitimate opposition. Instead, they rehash a Benghazi attack that hearings last week debunked.

Ambassador Rice is widely viewed as having either willfully or incompetently misled the American people in the Benghazi matter. Her actions plausibly give the U.S. (and rivals) abroad reason to question U.S. commitment and credibility when needed.

They don’t know what the problem with Rice is, this mob of frothing Republicans. But if she’s black, they seem to be saying, she must be either incompetent or deceitful.

This frothing mob includes such leading lights of the racist right as Steve King, Ted Poe, Louie Gohmert, Michelle Bachmann, and Tim Griffin, and such discredited hacks as Scott DesJarlais and Joe Wilson.

While Alan West signed the letter, along with several Latinos, the letter largely pits a bunch of white radicals against a single black woman whom they claim is not credible because she read talking points developed by the CIA.

This is not the act of reasoned legislators. It’s a mob attack. A mob attack, like so many others, targeted blindly at an African-American professional appointed by our nation’s first African-American President.

Rahm’s Ballot Eligibility Case Appeal and White House Interference

right[Updated Below]

The decision Monday by the Illinois Court of Appeals to disallow the candidacy for Mayor by Rahm Emanuel as well as his name on the official election ballot stunned many people, and left Emanuel, his political supporters and Wall Street and Hollywood financial bag men scrambling with the ballots set for printing today and the election on the near horizon on February 22. By late Monday night, the Emanuel campaign had already filed an Emergency Motion For Stay Pending Appeal and Expedite Consideration of Petition For Leave To Appeal with the Illinois Supreme Court. A copy of the filing is here.

Within less than eight hours of Emanuel’s late night filing, at the crack of dawn on ABC’s Good Morning America, Valerie Jarrett, Barack Obama’s most senior and trusted advisor, was delivering a direct message on behalf of the White House commenting on the case and declaring they viewed Emanuel legally eligible:

I think that he believes that [Rahm is] eligible and I believe that he believes that Rahm will pursue his appeal in the courts.

I do not know about you, but I cannot think of any instance in which a White House and President, especially one so intimately related to one side of the issue, has so directly stepped into a state and local court proceeding at such a critical moment with its opinion on the ultimate legal determination.

Perhaps, under different circumstances, this would not be a notable event. However, when the President’s closest advisor weighs in with such a statement as to what the law should be, right as the sensitive matter is being presented on an emergency basis to a state supreme court, it is of highly questionable discretion and ethics. The impingement on the local situation is only exacerbated by the close ties Obama has to Emanuel, Chicago, the Daley political machine behind Emanuel (A Daley now serving as Obama’s Chief of Staff) and Illinois. It was an unnecessary and completely inappropriate meddling in a state and local judicial matter that the Obama White House had no business engaging in.

Jarrett’s imposition of the White House thumb of comment here is even more telling when juxtaposed with the consistent position she and Obama insisted on taking, and still maintain, with relation to the court process in the legal challenges to the discriminatory Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy. Obama, Valerie Jarrett and the White House have consistently refused to take a position on how the DADT constitutional litigation should be decided in public statements and appearances and, in fact, are STILL officially supporting the disgraceful policy in courts under the guise that law must be supported and courts left undisturbed to decide the matter unfettered. Apparently such ethical and moral restraint does not apply when it comes to their friend and political crony’s local election litigation.

Which brings us to the law Mr. Obama and Ms. Jarrett are so positive stands for the eligibility of Read more

Anthrax and Blago for Breakfast

I forgot to mention this yesterday. But I’m going fishing this weekend, and you’re going to be blessed with the fine hospitality of bmaz and the likker cabinet until sometime Monday.

But while I’m sneaking my last Toobz fix in before Mr. EW wakes up and makes me put away the computer for the weekend, I wanted to point to two things.

First, Glenn links to two articles on the testimony of Henry Heine’s testimony before the scientific review of the Amerithrax case. I’m hoping Jim White will have a post up talking about the scientific side of these articles (the short version: Heine raised the same points that Jim has been raising for some time). But I wanted to point to this, from the second article.

After the committee left, Heine expressed frustration that he had already told the FBI everything he just presented, but that no one had listened to him. FBI agents he dealt with were professional, he said, but some officials at the Department of Justice were extremely arrogant.

He said the whole investigation was filled with lies. Officials told different USAMRIID researchers their co-workers accused them of committing the attacks, just to see their reaction. They searched his vacation house and car without warrants.

They misled him about the questions they would ask him in front of a grand jury. And they tried to get him to seek a restraining order against Ivins, only days before he committed suicide, by saying Ivins had threatened to kill Heine during a group therapy session.

Heine is not the only one who does not believe Ivins was the real killer.

“At least among my closest colleagues, nobody believes Bruce did this,” he said. He thinks the FBI went after Ivins because “personality-wise, he was the weakest link.”

Remember how one piece of evidence the FBI used to argue that Bruce Ivins was a killer was the purported death threat he made? Eventually, they got his therapist to report on it. But it turns out the purported death threat was against Heine–and the Government asked him, but he refused, to get a restraining order against Ivins. That, plus Heine’s comment about the FBI believing Ivins was “the weakest link,” suggests that Heine really believes they pushed Ivins at a time when he was losing it psychologically.

In any case, the guy they wanted to use to buttress their case that Ivins was dangerous is now out there arguing that he could not be the killer.

Read more

Nixon The Obama Campaign Goes to China

One of the most telling anecdotes in this must-read Edward Luce skewer of the way a small circle of Obama advisors (Rahm, David Axelrod, Valerie Jarrett, and Robert Gibbs) dominates his Administration is this story about his trip to China.

On Mr Obama’s November trip to China, members of the cabinet such as the Nobel prizewinning Stephen Chu, energy secretary, were left cooling their heels while Mr Gibbs, Mr Axelrod and Ms Jarrett were constantly at the president’s side.

The White House complained bitterly about what it saw as unfairly negative media coverage of a trip dubbed Mr Obama’s “G2” visit to China. But, as journalists were keenly aware, none of Mr Obama’s inner circle had any background in China. “We were about 40 vans down in the motorcade and got barely any time with the president,” says a senior official with extensive knowledge of the region. “It was like the Obama campaign was visiting China.”

Coming as it does in an article that compares Obama’s Administration to Nixon’s…

And barring Richard Nixon’s White House, few can think of an administration that has been so dominated by such a small inner circle.

The story really highlights the dangers of such a close-knit group dominating Administration policy: on a visit to China, our relationship with which is one of the most challenging policy issues we face, we’ve got tourists dominating the policy, not experts.

As much as I’m thrilled the story repeats calls to replace Rahm, I think the real story is the suggestion that Obama’s cabinet members are growing tired of being treated as “minions” by Rahm. The story names four by name: Kathleen Sebelius, Ken Salazar, Janet Napolitano, and (above) Steven Chu.

Perhaps the biggest losers are the cabinet members. Kathleen Sebelius, Mr Obama’s health secretary and formerly governor of Kansas, almost never appears on television and has been largely excluded both from devising and selling the healthcare bill. Others such as Ken Salazar, the interior secretary who is a former senator for Colorado, and Janet Napolitano, head of the Department for Homeland Security and former governor of Arizona, have virtually disappeared from view.

Administration insiders say the famously irascible Mr Emanuel treats cabinet principals like minions. “I am not sure the president realises how much he is humiliating some of the big figures he spent so much trouble recruiting into his cabinet,” says the head of a presidential advisory board who visits the Oval Office frequently.

With the suggestion that Sebelius, for example, has been “excluded both from devising and selling the healthcare bill,” are we to understand that all of these cabinet officials are not intimately involved in setting policy? We’ve got Steven Chu, one of the best cabinet picks in the Administration, cooling his heels rather than the climate? And what are Sebelius, Salazar, and Napolitano advising that is not being heard? Is Sebelius growing tired of Rahm fucking up what should be her portfolio (after which, as happened last week, she has to go to Congress and get grilled on it)?

And then, of course, there’s an even more notable cabinet member that goes unmentioned: Hillary Clinton. She showed up prominently in the pictures from China, but she is not mentioned in this story as either one of those (like Joe Biden) who regularly gives Obama counsel but is not part of this inner circle, or one of those prominent cabinet members that Rahm treats like a minion. But the story does note how Arab-Israeli peace took a back seat to Rahm’s failed attempt to pass health care reform. Whether or not Hillary (or, more likely, her inner circle; John Podesta is one of the few named sources for it) is a source for this article, I can imagine how seeing a failed attempt to pass healthcare stall attempts to bring peace to Palestine would rankle Secretary Clinton.

So, yes, this is another story pointing to growing dissatisfaction with Rahm from allies both inside and outside the Administration. But note clearly, it appears to be very high level dissastisfaction.

Shorter Blagojevich:

"If I have to face impeachment, then the self-imagined future Speaker of the House ought to be forced to testify, too."

In a dramatic development in the ongoing impeachment proceedings, lawyers for Gov. Rod Blagojevich want two key aides to President-elect Barack Obama and U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. to testify before the House impeachment committee.

Sources tell CBS 2 that a letter sent by Blagojevich’s lawyers  to committee chairman, State Rep. Barbara Currie, asks that the committee subpoena Obama’s chief of staff Rahm Emanuel, senior adviser Valerie Jarrett and Jackson.

This is a smart move by Blago. Obama has already signaled he wants to protect Jarrett and Rahm (more on this in upcoming posts). So why not make Obama as uncomfortable as possible? (I intend to start counting the number of unintended consequences from Obama’s crappy treatment of yesterday’s report; count this as number one.)

Furthermore, this will expose a good deal of Fitz’s case. Not that Obama or Jarrett or JJJ himself (as opposed to his associates) are key players in Fitz’s case. But this gives Blago an opportunity to play to the press’ shiny object to distract attention from the wholesale sale of government that is the core of Fitz’s case.

Blagojevich Report Timeline

Here are the Obama related dates pertaining to Rod Blagojevich–taken from the report on contacts with Blago and the complaint.

October 31: Blago approached by "emissary" from Jesse Jackson Jr about Senate seat

November 3: Blago spoke with Deputy Governor A and Advisor A about Senate seat; mentions Jarrett

November 4: Obama elected President; Deputy Governor A suggests Blago put a list of things he might ask for in exchange for the Senate seat; Blago also speaks with John Harris about the seat

November 5: Blago and Deputy Governor A talk about possibility of HHS appointment for Senate seat; Blago and Harris talk about a foundation appointment; (approximately) Blago talks to Tom Balanoff (SEIU) and "understood that [Balanoff] was an emissary to discuss [Jarrett]’s interest in the Senate seat"

November 6: Rahm Emanuel accepts Chief of Staff position; Blago gives a leak to Michael Sneed designed "to send a message to the [Obama] people" that Madigan might get the Senate seat over Jarrett

November 6-8: Louanner Peters called Eric Whitaker to ask who spoke for Obama regarding his preferences for his replacement; Obama told Whitaker no one had that authority, which Whitaker "relayed" this to Peters

November 6-8: Rahm has "one or two" conversations with Blago, about his own seat, as well as Senate seat; Rahm has four conversations with John Harris about the Senate seat

November 7: Blago tells Advisor A he’s willing to "trade" the Senate seat for Secretary of HHS; Blago discusses HHS with Harris and Advisor B and talks about 3-way deal with SEIU; Tom Balanoff (local SEIU head) tells Valerie Jarrett that Blago asked whether he might be named HHS; in the same conversation, Balanoff told Jarrett he had talked to Blago about Jarrett for the Senate seat; Balanoff mentioned that Blago had also mentioned Madigan

November 9: Valerie Jarrett withdraws from consideration; Obama talks about Senate candidates with Rahm, with the understanding he would pass on those candidates

November 10: Long conference call about the seat, including discussions about a non-profit in exchange for the seat; Blago admits he’s not going to get HHS; Blago plants leak with Sneed about Jesse Jackson Jr.

November 11: Blago complains that, "they’re not willing to give me anything except appreciation"

November 12: Blago notes that CNN has reported Jarrett is uninterested in Senate seat; Blago talks to Balanoff, probes about whether Jarrett is interested in Senate seat and proposes 401c4; Balanoff says he will "“put that flag up and see where it goes"

November 13: Blago says he wants to be able to call Rahm and say, "this has nothing to do with anything else we’re working on but the Governor wants to put together a 501(c)(4)" and that when Rahm "asks me for the Fifth CD thing I want it to be in his head"; Blago then asks Advisor A to have Individual A (believed to be John Wyma, who is cooperating with Fitzgerald) propose the 501c4 to Rahm; Advisor A says, "while it’s not said this is a play to put in play other things" and Blago agrees

[November 13 is the last reference to negotiations with Obama’s team in the complaint]

December 4: Blago talks about reaching out to JJJ’s people about him rising in consideration, partly because they would raise funds

December 5:  Trib reveals Blago has been wiretapped; Blago tries to pull back discussions related to JJJ

December 6: Fundraiser for JJJ hosted by JJJ’s emissary; some participants believe the fundraiser pertains to the Senate seat

December 7: Fitz gets arrest warrant for Blago

December 8: JJJ and Blago meet about the Senate seat

December 9: Blago arrested; Obama team learns of it from public reports

December 11: Obama team begins to conduct inquiry into contacts with Blago; Read more

Withdrawing Jarrett’s Candidacy as an F-U to Blagojevich

The WSJ notices something I pointed out Tuesday. There was a two-hour meeting on November 10 at which Blago’s team tried to concoct a way to get Obama’s team to give something of value in exchange for Valerie Jarrett’s appointment to replace Obama as Senator. Here’s my version:

Then, on November 10, Blago appeared to have gotten his first rebuff from the Obama team. On that day, Blago and his aides (and his wife), including Advisor B, had a two hour conference call with advisors in DC, brainstorming ways they could "monetize" the Senate seat. At one point, Blago said that he would appoint Jarrett,"but if they feel like they can do this and not fucking give me anything . . . then I’ll fucking go [Senate Candidate 5].” At that point, Blago’s already incensed at Obama, saying, "“motherfucker [Obama] his senator. Fuck him. For nothing? Fuck him.” […] By November 11, […] Blago said, “they’re not willing to give me anything except appreciation. Fuck them," it seems Obama has clearly already rebuffed Blago’s efforts.  And by the 12th, public reports had Jarrett announcing she didn’t want the seat.

The WSJ corrects my version, though, in one respect: it points out that CNN reported the night of the 10th that Jarrett withdrew her candidacy. Here’s CNN:

Two Democratic sources close to President-elect Barack Obama tell CNN that top adviser Valerie Jarrett will not be appointed to replace him in the U.S. Senate.

"While he (Obama) thinks she would be a good senator, he wants her in the White House," one top Obama advisor told CNN Monday.

But I think the WSJ asks the wrong question about the coincidence of these events. It asks,

But the big question today is this: Were any members of his transition team among the "Washington advisers" on the line during this marathon conference call, or did one of the participants fill them in about these wild ideas?


At a bare minimum, the timing of Team Obama’s decision to remove Ms. Jarrett’s name from contention, or at least to remove her name from the public speculation about the post, seems extraordinarily lucky. It came on the very same day the FBI secretly recorded Mr. Blagojevich telling a huge conference call loaded with politicos, in Illinois and Washington, that he wasn’t about to give the Senate spot away for nothing.

Read more