Edwards’ Hair Stylist Tells All

I don’t think this will help John Edwards. Joseph Torrenueva, Edwards’ hair stylist, has spoken to The Washington Post. Among things we learn:

“He has nice hair,” the stylist said of Edwards in an interview. “I try to make the man handsome, strong, more mature and these are the things, as an expert, that’s what we do.”

The $400 hair cut wasn’t even a record:

Torrenueva provided his first five haircuts for Edwards in late 2003 and early 2004 free of charge. “I was just doing it because I’m a Democrat,” he said.

After Edwards became Sen. John F. Kerry’s vice presidential running mate in summer 2004, Torrenueva started charging. There was one cut for $300 in mid-July in Los Angeles, shortly before the Democratic National Convention, the one for $1,250 in August in Atlanta, another in Washington in early October before a debate with Vice President Cheney, and the last was in Ohio shortly before the election.

At least it might distract people from the more serious news that Edwards lagged far behind Obama and Clinton in second quarter fund raising, and barely beat Bill Richardson.

Expanding Medicare

One consequence of spending the week traveling is that I’m missing a lot of news. I’m got the chance to catch up today as my wife and daughter were resting after we moved up the coast from Monterey and Carmel to San Francisco. I’ve been going through my RSS reader this afternoon, and found this item:

Bob Shrum gave a non-canned talk at a local party for his book two weekends ago: One of the mildly contrarian things he said–that it was crazy to write Obama off–is now CW, thanks to the intervening release of this quarter’s fundraising totals. Another resonant point isn’t yet CW, though–he argued that all the Democratic health care plans are too complicated, that whoever is the Dem candidate should just say he or she plans to let everyone join Medicare and leave it at that. People know Medicare. It’s hard to attack Medicare as “socialized medicine.” P.S.: I’ve never quite understood why this politically appealing position is fatally flawed on policy grounds. (If there are problems with Medicare, fix them! Surely they need to be fixed even if the program doesn’t get extended to younger Americans.) …

Shrum makes a good point. Also keep in mind that the proposals of the Democratic candidates and the idea of expanding Medicare coverage are not mutually exclusive. If we have a mandate for insurance coverage such as is advocated by John Edwards, or even attempt to make changes such as those advocated by Obama and Richardson, the problem remains that coverage for those in their 40’s or 50’s becomes increasingly expensive, especially among those with a history of medical problems. Allowing them the option to buy into Medicare (as well as eliminating the one year waiting period for the disabled) may be the best way to provide affordable coverage for those who cannot currently afford it, regardless of whether used as the sole plan or if paired with the plans advocated by the Democratic candidates.

Nixon and Bush Are Least Popular Presidents

Rasmussen polled views on American Presidents. The highest unfavorable rating for any President goes to Richard Nixon at 60%. George Bush follows close behind with 59% having an unfavorable view. Eight Presidents have net negative ratings: Nixon,  Bush, John Tyler, Franklin Pierce, Millard Fillmore, Benjamin Harrison, Warren Harding, and James Buchanan.

The Republican Reign of Witches

Being the 4th of July it is almost mandatory to discuss some parallels between the early days of the nation and conditions today. While most are looking back to the revolution, and comparing George Bush to King George, Kevin Horton has another significant comparison in Harpers. Horton looks back at the term of John Adams:

And in fact the early years of the Republic were plagued by intense partisan strife, as quasi-wars arose involving France and Britain. Americans were at various points bitterly divided in their sympathies between the colonial motherland and the Continental power whose support made America’s independence possible. Washington had wisely cautioned against entanglements with the European great powers and urged distance. His view maintained peace and unity. But after his departure came a period of rule by the heavier hand of the unfortunate John Adams. For Adams, the nation faced grave perils from abroad and retrenchment of civil liberties was therefore needed. He secured—though by a single vote in the House—passage of the Alien and Sedition Acts in 1798, under which measures of political repression were taken against those who opposed the Federalists (which was roughly half the country). In many ways, Adams’s heavy-handed rule resembles that of George W. Bush more than two hundred years later.

Thomas Jefferson referred to this period as the reign of witches:

Jefferson believed that the Federalists had overplayed their hand—that they had manipulated threats from abroad to seize for themselves vastly greater powers than the Constitution permitted them. He also believed that their demonization and mistreatment of the political opposition was an abuse of the powers of office and an assault upon the body politick. Adams had used the power of criminal prosecution to destroy the reputations of dozens of opposition political leaders, and to throw many of them behind bars. Even Jefferson expressed concern that he might be prosecuted (in fact he cautions Taylor to be careful about this letter; he is even concerned that it will be intercepted and read by Adams’s agents).

Jefferson is troubled by a growing divide in the nation—by the fact that Massachusetts and Connecticut were increasingly embracing intolerant theocratic values and the political interests of a rising merchant class. But in Virginia and the more agricultural states of the Mid-Atlantic and South, the views were “liberal”—that is, “liberal” the way Jefferson and Washington used the word, namely opposed to a church-state, embracing freedom of religion, tolerance, and suspicious of government intrusion into private life and commerce. (It seems strange to us today that Massachusetts and Connecticut are the “red” states and Virginia and the South are the “blue” states, but in a sense that is just how it was.)

There are many parallels to today. One parallel not stressed by Horton is the fate of the parties. The Federalists soon died out after Jefferson’s election. Today the Republican Party is dominated by political extremists of the far right and is in danger of being only able to win in the deep south. They risk suffering the same fate as the Federalists who overplayed their hand.

Gore’s Son vs. The Bush Twins

The bad news is that Al Gore’s son appears to have a Paris Hilton-like driving problem. We’d have had examples of bad behavior from the First Family even if the Supreme Court hadn’t intervened in the 2000 election.

The good news is that Al Gore III at least learned something from his father. He was picked up for drug posession driving a hybrid Toyota Prius. He may have been endangering himself and other drivers on the road, but at least he was doing his bit for the environment.

If Kerry had pulled it out in 2004, the Presidential children would have been far more boring. Even a clothing malfunction at Cannes doesn’t compete with this or the Bush twins.

Update: From all the links to this post, it appears that conservative blogs have little understanding of snark, as well as low tolerance for knocking the Bush twins. In contrast to what a number of conservative blogs claim, this post criticizes Gore’s son for “endangering himself and other drivers on the road” and the comment on him driving a hybrid is snark, not an excuse for him. Also in contrast to what is claimed on conservative blogs, this post does not address the question of whether Gore or Bush has children with greater problems. Both obviously do, and I wasn’t addressing the question of which kids are worse. While it does appear that Gore’s son’s problems are more severe, I wouldn’t discount the behavior of the Bush twins either as many conservative blogs have.

The Supreme Court and the 2008 Elections

The New York Times looks at the impact of the 2008 elections on the make up of the Supreme Court. After all, this is on promise which George Bush did deliver on for his base:

President Bush’s promise to change the makeup of the Supreme Court was one of his most reliable applause lines, as candidate and as president. It energized conservative activists like few other issues, kept them going in the face of other disappointments, kept them loyal and focused on the long view.

The move to the right should make the Supreme Court an important issue for liberals, but so far Democrats have failed to capitalize on it:

Liberals have been warning of the dangers of a Bush court since his 2000 campaign against Al Gore, but it was never an easy issue to drive home, even among people who support much of the progressive agenda, analysts say.

Celinda Lake, a Democratic pollster who has studied public attitudes toward the court for Planned Parenthood and other groups, said it takes a long time to penetrate the public’s consciousness about the importance of the nine justices.

“They don’t know much about the court, they don’t understand lifetime appointments, they think each president can have an impact,” she added.

Mark Mellman, another Democratic pollster, said that in the past, “people had some confidence that the court was not going to change the way the country did business in dramatic ways.”

In other words, liberals were often warning about potential dangers to their agenda from a changing Supreme Court. The issue was not a hypothetical for conservatives, who felt devastated, over the years, by decisions from previous courts, most notably Roe v. Wade, the 1973 case declaring a constitutional right to abortion.

Now, some Democrats and their allies say they are hearing hypothetical worries turn to outrage, and not just in the Democratic cloakroom of the Senate. “The right has always been energized on this issue,” said Mr. Schumer. “The recent decisions have now energized the left.”

The more the Court moves the country to the right, the more aware voters will be of the need to prevent the far right from choosing more justices. This should not be limited to “people who support much of the progressive agenda.” The move to the far right provides reason for more than just the left to be concerned. Moderates who desire to preserve our civil liberties, abortion rights, and the separation of powers should also see the move by the Court to the far right as cause for concern. The average voter might not necessarily support, or even be aware of, what the Times considers “the progressive agenda” but would not like to see conservative changes in these vital areas. Democrats must make this case, and not simply argue that Democratic appointees are necessary to pursue a specific political agenda.

House Judiciary Committee to Hold Hearings on Misuse of Presidential Clemency for Executive Branch Officials

After hearing the news of George Bush’s decision to commute the sentence of Lewis Libby, I called for a Congressional investigation of the actions by the Bush administration to intentionally lie to get the country into the Iraq war and their actions to retaliate against those, such as Joseph Wilson, who revealed the truth. I recommended that such investigation be aimed at the impeachment of George Bush and Dick Cheney assuming that the actions we already have seen ample evidence of is proven in light of the inability of the criminal justice system to hold them accountable.

The first step is falling into place. The Corner reports that the House Judiciary Committee will be starting hearings next week:

The House Judiciary Committee has officially announced its plans for a hearing into President Bush’s commutation of Scooter Libby’s prison term.

The hearing will take place next Wednesday morning; titled “The Use and Misuse of Presidential Clemency Power for Executive Branch Officials.”

“In light of yesterday’s announcement by the President that he was commuting the prison sentence for Scooter Libby, it is imperative that Congress look into presidential authority to grant clemency, and how such power may be abused,” John Conyers said. “Taken to its extreme, the use of such authority could completely circumvent the law enforcement process and prevent credible efforts to investigate wrongdoing in the executive branch.”

While some Democrats such as Nancy Pelosi have backed away from impeachment in the past, I could see Conyers leading hearing which ultimately result in a recommendation to impeach. At that time, Pelosi will need to reconsider her previous position.

Digby also discusses impeachment, and is reluctant to take this path for many of the reasons I was reluctant to call for impeachment before this week. It is true that the Senate is unlikely to convict, but an impeachment and trial of George Bush and Dick Cheney is the only mean to bring out the full details of the crimes they committed to allow the American people and history to judge what has occurred.

Keith Olbermann on Bush’s Decision to Commute the Sentence of Scotter Libby


Last night Keith Olbermann declared George Bush to be The Worst Person in the World (video above). This was followed by a special comment calling on Geoge Bush and Dick Cheney to resign. Crooks and Liars has the video, and I’ll add it after it is available on You Tube.

Update: The video is below.

The transcript is below the fold. (more…)