President George W. Bush circumvented Senate opposition today and recess appointed a controversial nominee as Ambassador to Belgium. Sam Fox, who donated thousands of dollars to the anti-John Kerry Swift Boat Veterans For Truth before the 2004 Presidential election, received the nod from the White House in a quiet personnel announcement this afternoon that caught Senate Democrats off guard.Then, he turns right around and wants this:
President Bush had formally withdrawn Fox's nomination last week when it appeared likely that the Senate Foreign Relations Committee would reject it and prevent him from receiving a full vote on the Senate floor. Senator Chris Dodd (D-CT) issued a strong response shortly before boarding an airplane late in the day, questioning the legal basis for the action.
"I seriously question the legality of the President's use of the recess appointment authority in this instance," said the senior Senator from Connecticut, and presidential candidate. "This is underhanded and an abuse of Executive authority - sadly this behavior has become the hallmark of this administration."
Senator John Kerry (D-MA), who squared off with Fox in a February confirmation hearing, offered similar words, comparing Fox's appointment with Michael Brown, the former FEMA head who mishandled the response to Hurricane Katrina.
"When it comes to getting body armor for our soldiers or relief for New Orleans, they're AWOL, but they'll move heaven and earth to reward a smear," he said. "Today's move shows it is wedded to the politics of personal character assassination that they are willing to take unprecedented steps to reward donor Sam Fox with an Ambassdorship."
Kerry also assailed the legality of the move.
"Never before has a president used a recess appointment to support a withdrawn nominee. Every time this White House shows that if they can't win the game, they just change the rules, our democracy and the Constitution loses," he said.
Bush's appointment of Fox while Congress is in recess will allow the Ambassador to serve until the end of the President's term in office in 2009.
Dodd said he intended to solicit an opinion of the Government Accountability Office on the legality of the move.
In 2004, Fox gave $50,000 to the Swift Boat Veterans For Truth, a '527' political group that targeted Senator Kerry's military service record in the presidential election. The group paid a large fine to the Federal Election Commission late in 2006. In his February confirmation hearing, Fox admitted that Kerry was a "hero" but continued to justify his donations to the group.
President Bush intends to bypass the Senate in order to name a "conservative academic" to head the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA), Wednesday's Wall Street Journal reports.I won't repeat all that, but it's a pretty good article. The number of recess appointments Bush has made in order to bypass Congressional denial is truly breathtaking. And, we get pumped dry:
"Bypassing a reluctant Senate, President Bush will use a recess appointment to name a conservative academic to the White House's top regulatory post," Henry Pulizzi writes for WSJ. "The move, expected to be announced today, will fill a position that has been vacant for more than a year, and could help the White House use the regulatory process to shape policy."
For the past two weeks, Iran has not just been holding 15 British soldiers captive; it's been holding the world's oil markets hostage, too.Nothing ever changes with the GOP: steal all the money, destroy the world. It's a heck of a plan.
"There's been a five or six dollar premium that's been built into the price of oil over this," said Phil Flynn, vice president and energy analyst at Alaron Trading. "Even though this crisis has ended, the oil market is still on guard that the tensions in the Middle East are going to continue."
"Things are looking pretty bad for the upcoming summer driving season," said Flynn, citing a new government report showing that the U.S. stockpiles of gasoline fell by 5 million barrels in the past week, much more than analysts were expecting.
Flynn says he believes gasoline prices will head into record territory — currently a nationwide average of $3.07 — by the height of the summer season.
"Everyone asks me, will we see $4 a gallon? And the answer is, there is a strong possibility that we may see $4 a gallon," said Flynn.
One of my heroes died. Rest in peace, Bob Clark.