Saturday, February 14, 2015

Last Call For The Other Shoe In Oregon

And now we know why Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber is going gently into that good night:  a major FBI grand jury investigation into his conduct is on the way.

A federal grand jury in Portland has launched a sweeping investigation of Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber and fiancée Cylvia Hayes that ranges from the state's 10-year budget plan to the proposed Port of Morrow coal terminal.

The investigation came into public view Friday when investigators delivered the three-page subpoena to the state Department of Administrative Services. It came hours after the Democratic governor had announced he will resign next Wednesday.

The subpoenas shed light on what looks to be the largest criminal investigation of a public official in Oregon. State officials are ordered to turn over to the grand jury records that are a catalog of Kitzhaber's climate and economy-related initiatives:Genuine Progress Indicator, Pacific Coast Collaborative, Oregon Prosperity Initiative, low carbon fuel standards and sustainable economic development.

Investigators are after any state record mentioning Hayes, her private consulting business and her role in the governor's office. They want her personal tax returns and those of her company dating back to 2009. The state also must turn over records of her use of state credit cards.

The state is ordered to turn over emails, correspondence, memos and other state records about Hayes' clients, including Demos, Resource Media, Energy Foundation, Rural Development Initiatives, Clean Economy Development Center, Waste to Energy.

It was the mounting scandal over those contracts, which paid Hayes at least $213,000 since 2011, that prompted the state's top Democratic leaders to call for Kitzhaber's resignation, setting in motion his announcement Friday.

It looks like Kitzhaber is in at least as much trouble as disgraced Virginia Republican Gov. Bob McDonnell, who got 2 years in prison for his bribery scandal (and his wife faces sentencing next week).  We'll see what happens, but I'm betting he's ending up in jail for a while.

Permission To Screw Things Up

President Obama's policies on Syria and dealing with the Islamic State are a place where I greatly differ from him, and I'm with Greg Sargent on the notion of another AUMF: It asks for far too much power and the damage in Syria and Iraq are already done.

A mere six months after military operations began against the Islamic State, the White House today formally requested that Congress authorize military operations against the Islamic State. The full text of the resolution proposed by the Obama administration is right here
Some Democrats criticized the proposal as too broad and too vague. They are right. Several critics I spoke to note that, in its current form, at least, it would not only do little to limit Obama right now, but could also leave thenext president with enormous war-making latitude — whether he or she is a Democrat or a Republican. 
To be clear, the proposal is merely an invitation to Congress to offer its own restrictions on Obama’s war-making authority. Still, it falls well short of what is needed, and it remains to be seen whether Congress can step in and do better.

The notion of this particular Congress "doing better" on anything at all is laughable, let alone the notion that they would craft a smart, limited authorization.  They're way too eager to send in tens of thousands of US troops and saddle us with another dozen years of boots on the ground.

The proposal would authorize armed force against “ISIL or associated persons or forces,” a category that is loosely defined as any entity that is fighting “alongside ISIL” or is a “closely-related successor.” It would not authorize the use of force in “enduring offensive ground combat operations,” which is also pretty loose wording and doesn’t say what operations force would be limited to. It says authorization would terminate three years after the proposal’s enactment by Congress, which means it might be operative after the mission is accomplished, however that might be defined
“This is a constructive proposal, but it’s not sufficiently limited,” Jameel Jaffer of the American Civil Liberties Union tells me. “It lacks geographic limitations, it uses loose language to describe the category of groups that can be targeted, and it fails to state at all clearly the specific objective for which military force is being authorized.”

In other words, Obama's authorization language after the Republicans get a hold of it is a disaster waiting to happen.  The problem is the GOP Congress will almost certainly make it worse. Depending on what they come up with, I'm hoping that Democrats will vote no.

The entire situation is just another decade plus of ground war waiting to happen, and there's no way in hell we can handle it.

In Which Zandar Answers Your Burning Questions

BooMan, on Rick Perry:

Texas has been criticized for having a large number of uninsured,” he said, “but that’s what Texans wanted. They did not want a large government program forcing everyone to purchase insurance.”
Texas wanted “a large number of [medically] uninsured” people in their state. 
Why would anyone want that?

Well, it's really simple.  Texans believe Obamacare is a handout to blacks and Latinos from a black President.  They'd rather see blacks and Latinos go without insurance rather than help all uninsured Texans for two reasons, one, because they've been convinced they're "paying for healthcare" for people too lazy to go buy insurance, and two, because to Texans like Rick Perry, blacks and Latinos are subhuman scum who deserve to die.

Long and the short of it.

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