It is with regret that I imagine you, whoever you are, reading the account I must put down here

There’s two things about this report, one is that its encouraging that Snowe and Hagel have not completely surrendered their conscience to Whitehouse pressure. That the Whitehouse is using such arm twisting tactics is even predictable. What’s bothering me is that I’m not shocked. Shouldn’t I be shocked that Bush, the POTUS is acting like the Godfather using its formidable powers to not just block some legislation it doesn’t like, but to stop one branch of government from excercising its constitutional mandates, White House Working to Avoid Wiretap Probe

The second White House flurry occurred last Thursday, as the Senate intelligence committee readied for a showdown over a motion by top Democrat John D. Rockefeller IV (W.Va.) to start a broad inquiry into the surveillance program. White House Chief of Staff Andrew H. Card Jr. — who had visited the Capitol two days earlier with Vice President Cheney to lobby Republicans on the program — spoke by phone with Sen. Olympia J. Snowe (R-Maine), according to Senate sources briefed on the call.

Snowe earlier had expressed concerns about the program’s legality and civil liberties safeguards, but Card was adamant about restricting congressional oversight and control, said the sources, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, citing office policies. Snowe seemed taken aback by Card’s intransigence, and the call amounted to “a net step backward” for the White House, said a source outside Snowe’s office.

Snowe contacted fellow committee Republican Chuck Hagel (Neb.), who also had voiced concerns about the program. They arranged a three-way phone conversation with Chairman Pat Roberts (R-Kan.).

Until then, Roberts apparently thought he had the votes to defeat Rockefeller’s motion in the committee, which Republicans control nine to seven, the sources said. But Snowe and Hagel told the chairman that if he called up the motion, they would support it, assuring its passage, the sources said.

When the closed meeting began, Roberts averted a vote on Rockefeller’s motion by arranging for a party-line vote to adjourn until March 7. The move infuriated Rockefeller, who told reporters, “The White House has applied heavy pressure in recent weeks to prevent the committee from doing its job.”

Hagel and Snowe declined interview requests after the meeting, but sources close to them say they bridle at suggestions that they buckled under administration heat. The White House must engage “in good-faith negotiations” with Congress, Snowe said in a statement.

Certainly this would suggest that the Senate enquiry into Bush’s domestic surveillance without FISA warrants is not over. Those conservatives that have some ideological sympathies with the Whitehouse in pursuit of expanding executive power may want to ask themselves, if in setting this precedent they are willing to give up legislative authority and oversight that might take generations to regain. Its easy to kick over a sandcastle, but much more difficult to rebuild.

Quotes of Note, Advise and assent

Bush won’t accept any curbs on his power whatsoever, but he’d be happy to see a bill legalizing his wiretaps.

Bush is going to continue to break the law, but it would just be way tubular if you guys would like , you know, make it retroactively cool.

There was one piece of good news last week. In a lawsuit filed by the Electronic Privacy Information Center, a federal judge on Thursday ordered the Justice Department to respond to a request for documents on the NSA program within 20 days. Meanwhile, a Kentucky man is preparing a civil-rights suit over the wiretapping. If Congress continues to dither, the courts will be Americans’ last hope for an honest appraisal of the spy program — and for at least a slight brake on the White House’s relentless pursuit of excessive executive branch power.

Sen. Bill Frist and why he’ll soon be assigned to the dust bin of political hackery.

I figured out a way to make this a good article, just do a quick visual edit, like where he equates ” ambitious social engineering” to Bush’s neconservatism. Conservatives just can’t seem to master the art of contrition without the, but they were wrong about this- fill in the blank. As it is the far right has one of its ideological architects admitting that things got a little out of hand and since Fukuyama will undoubtedly take some heat from the right I guess he deserves some slack, After Neoconservatism

This overoptimism about postwar transitions to democracy helps explain the Bush administration’s incomprehensible failure to plan adequately for the insurgency that subsequently emerged in Iraq. The war’s supporters seemed to think that democracy was a kind of default condition to which societies reverted once the heavy lifting of coercive regime change occurred, rather than a long-term process of institution-building and reform. While they now assert that they knew all along that the democratic transformation of Iraq would be long and hard, they were clearly taken by surprise. According to George Packer’s recent book on Iraq, “The Assassins’ Gate,” the Pentagon planned a drawdown of American forces to some 25,000 troops by the end of the summer following the invasion.

Gotta love the part where neoconservatives get divided into two camps, pure Marxists versus Leninists. legal fiction has more.

Time for the last post

The problem is that few blogs do even that much traffic. According to the monitoring done by thetruthlaidbear.com, only two blogs get more than 1 million visitors a day and the numbers drop quickly after that: the 10th ranked blog for traffic gets around 120,000 visits; the 50th around 28,000; the 100th around 9,700; the 500th only 1,400 and the 1000th under 600. By contrast, the online edition of The New York Times had an average of 1.7 million visitors per weekday last November, according to the Nielsen ratings, and the physical paper a reach of 5 million people per weekday, according to Scarborough research.

Not even sure why I post something that sites truthlaidbear as authority since they can’t even get their own site coded correctly – php errors are common and their link stats are terrible. Well anyway, the author of the article is making the case that if you’re starting a blog in some area that’s already well covered by an A-list group of blogs, the odds of becoming a blog star are slim. Though a large readership is far from the only reason to blog.

I can’t say even now what made me pull them down. But the image I saw at the center of the book, the smell of age that rose from it, and my discovery that the papers were personal letters all caught my attention forcibly. I knew I shouldn’t examine my father’s private papers, or anyone’s, and I was also afraid that Mrs Clay might suddenly come in to dust the dustless desk — that must have been what made me look over my shoulder at the door. But I couldn’t help reading the first paragraph of the topmost letter, holding it for a couple of minutes as I stood near the shelves.

December 12, 1930
Trinity College, Oxford

My dear and unfortunate successor:
It is with regret that I imagine you, whoever you are, reading the account I must put down here. The regret is partly for myself — because I will surely be at least in trouble, maybe dead, or perhaps worse, if this is in your hands. But my regret is also for you, my yet-unknown friend, because only by someone who needs such vile information will this letter someday be read. If you are not my successor in some other sense, you will soon be my heir — and I feel sorrow at bequeathing to another human being my own, perhaps unbelievable, experience of evil. Why I myself inherited it I don’t know, but I hope to discover that fact, eventually—perhaps in the course of writing to you or perhaps in the course of further events.

At this point, my sense of guilt — and something else, too — made me put the letter hastily back in its envelope, but I thought about it all that day and all the next. When my father returned from his latest trip, I looked for an opportunity to ask him about the letters and the strange book. I waited for him to be free, for us to be alone, but he was very busy in those days, and something about what I had found made me hesitate to approach him. Finally I asked him to take me on his next trip. It was the first time I had kept a secret from him and the first time I had ever insisted on anything.

from the novel The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova