Offering frequent news and analysis from the majestic Evergreen State and beyond, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

In Brief - March 12th, 2008

It's been a tough few days for soon to be ex-New York Governor Eliot Spitzer, who (as most Americans have now heard) is under investigation for his involvement with a prostitution ring known as the Emperors Club VIP.

While this revelation is incredibly disappointing, we find it ironic that Republicans in the Empire State (and across the United States, for that matter) have been so quick to call for Spitzer's resignation, considering that several high profile politicians from their party have been implicated in sex scandals but have not left office.

If the Governor's actions merit his departure from public life (and Spitzer has evidently decided that they have), then Republicans Larry Craig and David Vitter need to pack their bags and leave the United States Senate, pronto.

There's more to this story that hasn't received much attention from the traditional media, though. Here's pontificator from The Albany Project:
Because the focus was a high-ranking government official, prosecutors were required to seek the approval of the United States attorney general to proceed. Once they secured that permission, the investigation moved forward.
I'd like to know which Attorney General greenlighted this prosecution after it was learned that this was nothing more than a sex sting. Was it Gonzalez? Or was it Mukasey? Whoever made the call, it seems to me like it was a huge lapse in judgment, that perhaps was influenced by political calculations.

And another thing. Spitzer has not been charged, nor has he been named in Court documents. Clearly, his name has been leaked (and leaked repeatedly) by law enforcement officials. This stinks. For one thing, it's unethical. For another thing, it's highly problematic in light of the DOJ's recent history of unwarranted political influence.
The Department of Justice needs to be forthright with Congress and the American people about how this investigation has been handled. Eliot Spitzer has much to answer for, but so do the feds.

In the Pacific Northwest
  • Representative Helen Sommers, the longtime Democratic Chair of the House Appropriations Committee, is expected to formally announce her retirement sometime after the 2008 legislative session adjourns tomorrow. Sommers has already confirmed to the Seattle Times that she plans to retire. Her departure means that Speaker Frank Chopp will have to pick a new Appropriations Chair - and Democrats in the 36th District will have to elect a new representative. Two candidates are already in the race: John Burbank, who heads the Economic Opportunity Institute, and Reuven Carlyle, an activist who has worked on the mobile communications industry for many years.
  • The U.S. Department of Energy says it is accelerating cleanup of some toxic waste at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation near the Tri-Cities. The Associated Press reports that "the project will triple the amount of groundwater treated for hexavalent chromium, a cancer-causing agent that was used as a corrosion inhibitor in nuclear reactors".
  • It looks like Oregon's May 20th primary will feature many active contests between Democrats in statewide and federal races. Besides the U.S. Senate race, multiple Democrats are vying to become the party's standard bearers for Attorney General and U.S. Representative (Fifth District). About a fifth of the legislative positions are also up for election this year.
Across the Nation
  • Remember AOL? TimeWarner's struggling Internet division, which has repeatedly attempted to reinvent itself, is still sliding downhill as of 2008. Revenue fell dramatically between 2006 and 2007 and remains flat, while turnover has increased. The company has tried to change its business model and adapt to changing times without much success. AOL was wise to ditch its "walled garden" approach, but an increasing number of users have little reason to visit AOL's website or use its software these days now that they can access their AOL email and instant message services through other software (for example, Miranda IM and Mozilla Thunderbird).
  • Admiral William J. Fallon, head of the United States' Central Command, has been forced out of his post because he disagrees with the Bush administration's disastrous foreign policy. Fallon had been recently quoted in Esquire as saying the occupation of Iraq was hurting the nation's ability to focus on other trouble spots around the world.
  • Former presidential hopeful Mitt Romney is apparently ready to accept the consolation prize of running mate if John McCain offers it to him.
Around the World
  • Britain's Ministry of Defence says that an airstrike conducted by its forces accidentally killed four Afghan civilians (two women, two children). The incident is now under investigation. A spokesman for the United Kingdom's military apologized for the innocent loss of life.
  • China, exuberant at getting the chance to host the 2008 Olympics, isn't appreciating the accompanying spotlight on its dismal human rights record.
  • Kevin Rudd's government is asking Australian corporate chiefs to exercise restraint in determining their own salaries. The Prime Minister says he does not want to see "two Australias" - a nation of haves and have nots.
Finally...they're being called the luckiest group alive:
Garden State Equality's Legends Dinner is Saturday night and we had almost booked Eliot Spitzer, but a schedule conflict proved to be a snag. Among the other names we considered was Geraldine Ferraro, who today made such a reprehensible comment about Barack Obama. Oh my. Nearly 500 people attending Saturday night and all I can say is, whew.
Larry Craig and David Vitter are available, we hear.


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