There’s a little black spot on the sun today

There is the saying that the cover-up is what does the perp and his cohorts in, but the Foley scandal has added a third and fourth layer. The cover-up of the cover-up and the attempt by right-wingers across the digital plains to spin all of it back on Democrats and on the Congressional pages themselves. In five brief days America’s conservatives have managed to find the gutter beneath the gutter.

If this was all a sting operation as Sludge suggests that really doesn’t make any difference. Stings are a legitimate tool to find and punish those that have committed crimes, in this case crimes that Foley helped legislate. Sludge will also have to find a way to explain Foley’s bizarre behavior that dates back at ten years. That would be an odd sting operation for Democrats. They held off on the 2004 cycle and saved it for the 2006. In Sludge World anything is possible so tune in tomorrow for the story about the spy pig from planet Xeno.
As important as it is that Congressional pages have a safe work environment this scandal does serve as a handy mis-drection. It doesn’t help that for the most part, the press and in particular the broadcast news finds sex easier to cover or their producers can’t handle two stories at once. One wonders how the average voter is taking all this in. Have they noticed the spectacular lack of accountability. Republicans are all running for cover, they can’t keep their stories straight, they’re playing musical blame game. This is the ruling party of America at work. When some conservatives aren’t preying on teens or trying to cover their political asses they keep busy assaulting the Constitution. Bush signings called effort to expand power

President Bush’s frequent use of signing statements to assert that he has the power to disobey newly enacted laws is “an integral part” of his “comprehensive strategy to strengthen and expand executive power” at the expense of the legislative branch, according to a report by the non partisan Congressional Research Service.

In a 27-page report written for lawmakers, the research service said the Bush administration is using signing statements as a means to slowly condition Congress into accepting the White House’s broad conception of presidential power, which includes a presidential right to ignore laws he believes are unconstitutional.

The “broad and persistent nature of the claims of executive authority forwarded by President Bush appear designed to inure Congress, as well as others, to the belief that the president in fact possesses expansive and exclusive powers upon which the other branches may not intrude,” the report said.

Under most interpretations of the Constitution, the report said, some of the legal assertions in Bush’s signing statements are dubious. For example, it said, the administration has suggested repeatedly that the president has exclusive authority over foreign affairs and has an absolute right to withhold information from Congress. Such assertions are ``generally unsupported by established legal principles,” the report said.

Despite such criticism, the administration has continued to issue signing statements for new laws. Last week, for example, Bush signed the 2007 military budget bill, but then issued a statement challenging 16 of its provisions.

The bill bars the Pentagon from using any intelligence that was collected illegally, including information about Americans that was gathered in violation of the Fourth Amendment’s protections against unreasonable government surveillance.

In Bush’s signing statement, he suggested that he alone could decide whether the Pentagon could use such information. His signing statement instructed the military to view the law in light of “the president’s constitutional authority as commander in chief, including for the conduct of intelligence operations, and to supervise the unitary executive branch.”

Bush also challenged three sections that require the Pentagon to notify Congress before diverting funds to new purposes, including top-secret activities or programs. Congress had already decided against funding. Bush said he was not bound to obey such statutes if he decided, as commander in chief, that withholding such information from Congress was necessary to protect security secrets.

Like all Congressional Research Service reports, the report, dated Sept. 20 and titled “Presidential Signing Statements: Constitutional and Institutional Implications,” was written for members of Congress and was not made available to the public. The Federation of American Scientists has posted a copy on its website.

I didn’t say Bush’s assault on the Constitution because he could not get away with an end run around Congress and the courts without the tacit approval of Congress. Where there should be tensions over where the president and Congress’s authority begins and ends there is none. This is a far more important reason to vote Democrat in November then the activities of an internet predator. Though the Foley scandal and the Rovian way conservatives are handling it adds another reason.
NYT has a graphics table timeline of who knew what and when. Goes without saying that there appears to be new details everyday, Who Knew What and When

And note to Sludge, Fall 2005 page’s parents request that Foley stop contacting their son.

update: If you get a chance catch Glenn Greenwalds look at how Howie Kurtz is covering or miscovering the story at CNN,  Howard Kurtz’s role in the Foley story. Glenn is right about Denny H too. Dennis Hastert should not resign. He is the  poster boy for this conservative Congress and how it takes care of business. The way Denny has handled the whole scandal is an advertisement for conservative arrogance and duplicity. 

I meant to put up this link the other day, 8 Million American Workers Just Lost the Right to Organize

Jason Epstein writes in The New York Review of Books about Google and their plans to digitize books,

The invention during World War II of electronic memory and of the World Wide Web a mere seventeen years ago originally as a way for scientists to communicate with distant colleagues is a further—perhaps the ultimate— evolution of the momentous transition from collective memory dependent largely on mnemonic verse to prosaic inscription on clay, stone, and paper. With these primitive tools human beings were at last able to record, in language of great beauty and profound understanding, the lore and wisdom accumulated during our long prehistory. What further triumphs of the human spirit may be shaped from the World Wide Web, should our species survive its current folly, are beyond imagining.

As high handed as all that sounds the article turns out to make a good case for Google and digitizing. I do see a down side to the kind of instant order publishing that Jason envisions. That people will water down the classics, not just for language, but for ideas. Nothing like leaving out a line or two or a paragraph to get a book to tell you what you want to hear.

There’s a little black spot on the sun today
It’s the same old thing as yesterday
there’s a black hat caught in a high tree top
there’s a flag pole rag and the wind won’t stop
from the lyrics to King of Pain by The Police