Saturday, July 28

Olberman on Gonzales Testimony

Olbermann on Gonzales Testimony

Friday, July 27

Let's Talk about Real Hate Sites - like Faux News

People it's not just O'Reilly that has been on a jihad against progressive blogging as has been recently documented by producer Robert Greenwald (Outfoxed).

Routinely "Newscasters" and pundits on Fox accuse the left wing blogosphere of the most virilent forms of "Hate Speech", often making alleged incidents up completely out of whole cloth. They've been compared to Nazi's and the Klan. But there is one place where these many claims of "Hate" are documented and can be verified - The Southern Poverty Law Center.

Not long ago I wrote about how the right wing was having a "Nutty" over the influence of the left wing on the web, particularly Media Matters after they torpedoed the career of Don Imus.

On the April 16 edition of his television show, Bill O'Reilly invited Fox News contributor Tammy Bruce to comment on the firing of Don Imus, which, according to O'Reilly, "has metastasized into an ideological witch-hunt by evil forces." Bruce asserted that "small groups of people" are engaged in an "effort" to "silence[]" and "destroy[]" "people who are not intimidated" and that these groups "have a list of individuals that are to be targeted.

Since then Fox News has effectively declared bloggers as The Pox Americana

Last night on Special Edition, the "Fox News All-Stars," used this week’s Take Back America conference as an oppurtunity to bash progressive bloggers.

Describing bloggers as "a pox," Roll Call editor Mort Kondracke compared them to right-wing talk radio, charging that they are preventing "American problems" from being solved:

This has been followed by O'Reilly direct attacks on Dailykos and Jetblue.

They're a Hate Site. Deeply on the left. As bad as David Duke

O'Reilly comments led to a bit of dumpster diving by those on the left, and they managed to find more than a frothy nuggets of hate and venom direct at Presidental Candidate Hillary Clinton. Enough to gain the attention of the Secret Service.

"If Hillary wins, I will be respectful of our leader. If you could read my thoughts, I would be on the SS [Secret Service] watch list."

...

If Hillary wins... my guns are loaded.

Last night O'Reilly continued his attacks and completely blew off the signifigance of the Secret Service investigating violent comments made on his own site with Dennis Miller.

On the July 25 edition of the program, O'Reilly noted that someone had notified the Secret Service about content on his website, saying to Miller: "I mean, they lie all the time. They -- I don't know whether you know this or not, but they contacted the Secret Service saying that there was somebody on BillOReilly.com threatening Senator Clinton. I mean, this is how insane these people are."

In the midst of all this, I think it might be instructive to take a look at what a REAL Hate Site looks and sounds like.

What is Southern Poverty Law?

The Southern Poverty Law Center was founded in 1971 as a small civil rights law firm. Today, SPLC is internationally known for its tolerance education programs, its legal victories against white supremacists and its tracking of hate groups.

Located in Montgomery, Alabama – the birthplace of the Civil Rights Movement – the Southern Poverty Law Center was founded by Morris Dees and Joe Levin, two local lawyers who shared a commitment to racial equality. Its first president was civil rights activist Julian Bond.

Throughout its history, SPLC has worked to make the nation's Constitutional ideals a reality. The SPLC legal department fights all forms of discrimination and works to protect society's most vulnerable members, handling innovative cases that few lawyers are willing to take. Over three decades, it has achieved significant legal victories, including landmark Supreme Court decisions and crushing jury verdicts against hate groups.

In 1981, the Southern Poverty Law Center began investigating hate activity in response to a resurgence of groups like the Ku Klux Klan. Today the SPLC Intelligence Project monitors hate groups and tracks extremist activity throughout the U.S. It provides comprehensive updates to law enforcement, the media and the public through its quarterly magazine, Intelligence Report. Staff members regularly conduct training sessions for police, schools, and civil rights and community groups, and they often serve as experts at hearings and conferences.

By tracking, documenting and using legal means to fight hate groups the Southern Poverty Law Center has scored many victories against the perveyors of hate and intolerance. Working since the Civil Rights movement SPLC has had many victories. They've fought the Klan and Won, over and over again.

In 1979, over 100 members of the Invisible Empire Klan, armed with bats, ax handles and guns, clashed with a group of peaceful civil rights marchers in Decatur, Alabama.

Though the FBI investigated and could not find enough evidence of a conspiracy to charge the Klansmen, SPLC filed a civil suit against the Invisible Empire and numerous Klansmen, Brown v. Invisible Empire of the KKK. SPLC investigators uncovered evidence that convinced the FBI to reopen the case, and nine Klansmen were eventually convicted of criminal charges.

...

SPLC lawsuits in 1982 and 1984 ended Klan paramilitary activity in Texas and Alabama. Klan groups in these states were training paramilitary forces in the use of grenades, explosives, weapons, techniques of ambush and hand-to-hand combat, all in preparation for what they believed was an impending "race war."

...

In 1988, Tom and John Metzger sent their best White Aryan Resistance (WAR) recruiter to organize a Portland Skinhead gang. After being trained in WAR's methods, the gang killed an Ethiopian student. Tom Metzger praised the Skinheads for doing their "civic duty."

SPLC attorneys filed a civil suit, Berhanu v. Metzger, asserting the Metzgers and WAR were as responsible for the killing as the Portland Skinheads. In October 1990, a jury agreed and awarded $12.5 million in damages to the family of the victim, Mulugeta Seraw.

In 1994, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to review Metzger's appeal, allowing SPLC attorneys to begin distributing funds from the sale of WAR's assets. The principal beneficiary is Seraw's son, Henok, who receives monthly payments from WAR's bank account.

Their efforts in the Metzger case effectively brought WAR to bankruptcy and shut them down.

In the online world the SPLC has tracked and documented the use of the internet to recruit and indoctrinate the youth into the culture of hate, a technique which David Duke and sites such as Stormfront have refined into a near-art.

On most days, the man once labeled a "near genius" in a Time magazine article spends the bulk of his time in an office of the Mandeville, La., home of infamous white supremacist David Duke.

There, Jamie Kelso whips across Duke's hardwood floors on a wheeled office chair as he attends to his work: monitoring the burgeoning community of the racist Stormfront Web site on one of six different computers.

To the thousands of white supremacists who regularly visit Stormfront and its forum, Kelso is best known by his e-moniker, "Charles A Lindbergh." He signs off all his posts with a quote from Lindbergh, a well-known racist and anti-Semite: "We can have peace and security only as long as we band together to preserve that most priceless possession, our inheritance of European blood."

Interestingly, the techniques employed by Stormfront are remarkably similar to those employed by Fox News. It all began with one Duke Acolyte by the name of Don Black, an ex-con who spent three years in prison for attempting to implement a coup on the Carribean Island of Dominica which - they hoped - would have ousted it's black-run goverment and turned it into a "White State."

Black saw clearly that with this new technology, white supremacists might finally bypass the mainstream media and political apparatus, getting their message out to people who otherwise would never hear it — people who now could listen in the privacy of their own homes without fear of embarrassment or reproach. "The potential of the Net for organizations and movements such as ours is enormous," Black told the Philadelphia Inquirer in 1996. "We're reaching tens of thousands of people who never before had access to our point of view."

Being the first of its kind helped Stormfront win enormous publicity. Black and his site were written up in newspapers around the country and the world, and he frequently appeared on major network news shows like abc's "Nightline," where, clad in suit and tie, he talked politely about allowing people access to information not filtered by the "media monopoly." Though he undoubtedly turned off many viewers, each major TV appearance led to a spike in visitors to Stormfront.

And just what do Stormfront Visitors have to say on their message board about say - blacks?

AryanWill: The blacks that I see around my area and school are a total disgrace. Seeing them go out with amazing white girls... . It's true, I've heard them bragging.

FuriousD: I don't have any black friends, but I think that some are good but a lot are bad. I hate niggers (Snoops Dogg, 50 Cent), but black people (Gary Coleman and such) don't bother me.

eRiC1488: I hate all Blacks.

GuyverSS: I hate them all. I seriously would like to hang a couple of them. I'm not a violent person at all and the sight of gore makes me sick, but I could really like seeing them suffer. ... They will make jokes about me as I pass just because I am a kind and well-dressed person.

Heritage_Not_Hate: I don't hate them, I just don't want them around!

Annihilate: I would definitely have to say that blacks do not work hard and want everything given to them. ... As for Hispanics, I hate them more than anything. ... They try to take white women and our jobs, too.

My some of that rhetoric sounds a bit familiar, kinda like Bill O'reilly.

On their site SPLC includes a Hate Map, which lists and tracks various Hate-based groups nation wide. Far from simply focusing on White-Supremacist, Neo-Nazi, Christian Identity, Racist Skinhead and Neo-Confederate groups the SPLC also includes listings for the Black National of Islam, Jewish Defense League, Arab Anti-defamation, the Catholic Family News, the American Border Patrol and dozens upon dozens of others.

They are clearly an equal-oppurtunity anti-Hate organization, one that is far from stingy when it comes to pointing a finger at intolerance. It doesn't matter to them if the Hate comes from the left or the right - either way, they will fight it. As of today, they currently count 844 active hate groups in the United States.

If you look on their Hate Map, and focus in on California (where they count 63 Hate Groups), and then focus in further on the San Francisco Area the one thing you won't see listed - IS DAILYKOS

However on their front page you might find someone highly familiar - Billy O'Reilly and his report on Pink Pistol Packing Lesbian Gangs!

A "national underground network" of pink pistol-packing lesbians is terrorizing America. "All across the country," they are raping young girls, attacking heterosexual males at random, and forcibly indoctrinating children as young as 10 into the homosexual lifestyle, according to a shocking June 21 segment on the popular Fox News Channel program, "The O'Reilly Factor."

Titled "Violent Lesbian Gangs a Growing Problem," the segment began with host Bill O'Reilly briefly referencing for his roughly 3 million viewers the case of Wayne Buckle, a DVD bootlegger who was attacked by seven lesbians in New York City last August. Deploying swift, broad strokes, O'Reilly painted a graphic picture of lesbian gangs running amok. "In Tennessee, authorities say a lesbian gang called GTO, Gays Taking Over, are involved in raping young girls," he reported. "And in Philadelphia, a lesbian gang called DTO, Dykes Taking Over, are allegedly terrorizing people as well."

The SPLC then proceeded to take O'Reilly report apart peice by peice pointing out that it's facts and sourcing were either weak or entirely fabricated, in almost the exact same way that the "vile hate site" Media Matters or Daily Kos might do.

The only specific instance of actual violent lesbian gang activity that Wheeler cited on "The O'Reilly Factor" was a May 19 attack on a 15-year-old boy who was stabbed near a transit station in Prince George's County, Md. "And the police found out that it was a group of six women who identified themselves as being members of a lesbian gang that actually attacked this young man," Wheeler told O'Reilly.

According to a June 15 article in The Washington Post, however, two of the three individuals arrested in that assault were teenage males, though the article did note that, "Metro officials said the fight was between two gay and lesbian gangs that operate in Maryland."

To be fair the SPLC doesn't yet have listing on the Hate Map for Fox News Channel in New York City, as they tend to focus on actual physical violence that has occured in direct relation to hate-filled rhetoric - but I suspect it's only a matter of time before that changes because the one form of Hate they have yet to quantify, but has clearly become an increasing danger in this nation is the open and viciously naked Hatred of Liberals.

Vyan

Thursday, July 26

It's Official : DOJ will not enforce House Contempt Charges

Just two days after the House Judiciary Committee passed a resolution to seek Contempt of Congress charges against Harriet Miers and Josh Bolten for refusing to testify on their involvement in the firing and replacing of 9 U.S. Attorney's by partisan shill's... the DOJ has announced that it will not enforce the law.

"As it considers the contempt resolutions, we think it is important that the Committee appreciate fully the longstanding Department of Justice position, articulated during Administrations of both parties, that "the criminal contempt of Congress statute does not apply to the President or presidential subordinates who assert executive privilege."


As occured during the 1980's in the case of EPA Administratior Ann Gorsuch, where the DOJ refused to persue a Contempt Citation against an Administration Official where the President had exerted executive priviledge.

the Office of Legal Counsel issued an Opinion concluding that the statute is unconstitutional to the extent it requires a U.S. Attorney to prosecute a contempt action where the noncompliance is based on the President's assertion of executive privilege: In OLC's view, a U.S. Attorney thus "is not required to refer a contempt citation in these circumstances to a grand jury or otherwise to prosecute an Executive Branch official who is carrying out the President's [executive privilege] instruction." 8 Op. O.L.C. 101, 102.


From current reports the vote by the full house on Contempt will not occur until after the August recess - which means this issue has some time to simmer fully before it boils over.

Once that vote occurs there are two primary courses of action which can be taken by the House, once is to go to the courts and seek to force the President to prove the legitimacy of his Executive Priviledge claims.

The other option, rather than allowing the Administration to continue to run out the clock is for the House to invoke Inherent Contempt, and have Miers and Bolten brought by in their Sargeant at Arm to either testify or rot in the Houses own detention until deciding to do so.

Some would argue that jurisdiction would limit the ability of the House Sargeant at Arms from bringing Meirs and Bolten into custody - "They could stand across the street from the Capitol and still be safe" - but history has shown that not to be the case.

The Supreme Court has affirmed Congressional power to frog-march witnesses before the bar of Congress. In McGrain v. Daugherty, a recusant witness (the AG's brother) refused to comply with issued subpoenas. The Senate issued a warrant authorizing its sergeant at arms to take custody of the witness and bring him before the bar of the Senate to answer questions. The deputy sergeant at arms went to Cincinnati, Ohio to pick up the uncooperative witness to place him in custody. The witness objected by filing habeas corpus, but the Supreme Court upheld Congressional legal authority to use its own process to compel persons to appear and testify on issues needed to enable Congress to exercise its Constitutional legislative function.


If the House can have the Attorney General's brother arrested in Cincinnati, they can go get Harriet Miers and Josh Bolten in Virginia. Oh, and irony of having Meirs or Bolten file Habeaus Motions against their detention would be most delicious.

One other matter which shouldn't be ignored concerning the Gorsuch case - she eventually did provide the information Congress was looking for.

After legal cases and a Court dismissal of the Executive Branch's suit, the parties reached an agreement to provide documents.


Not only that EPA Official Rita Lavelle served jail time.

Indicted for lying to Congress; convicted; sentenced to 6 months in prison, 5 years probation thereafter, and a fine of $10,000


If the Bush Administration is looking to repeat the path followed by Reagan, when he attempted to hide abuse of the Superfund program and they ended up the losing side of established case law, he's headed down a road that they aren't likely to survive.

Vyan

Grillin' Gonzo over an open flame of Congressional Contempt!


Yesterday's hearing was quite a show as our erstwhile Attorney General Alberto Gonzales was slowly and thoroughly roasted on an open spit in the Senate - I should've brought pop-corn.

In fact, if anything, Gonzales's ridiculous testimony made sure of one thing - that the House Judiciary Committee would have no choice but to issue Contempt of Congress citations against Harriet Miers and Josh Bolten for refusing to testify and reveal their own rolls in the ongoing Fuster-cluck that is Gonzo-Gate.

Although Congress has yet to issues similar citations against Gonzo himself, it remains abundantly clear that they hold him in the deepest of contempt.

That says that his little midnight ride to Ashcroft's bedside was completely innocent - "We just wanted to inform him of the Consensus of Gang Of Eight" that the Domestic Spying program that the Justice Department had declared illegal - which was similar too, but "not the same one the President revealed" needed to be continued despite the objection of then Acting Attorney General James Comey.

Unfortunately at least half the members of the Gang of Eight seem to disagree with that.

Jane Harmon.

That doesn’t make any sense to me," Rep. Jane Harman (D-Calif.) said of Gonzales’ testimony. She said the TSP was "the only program we were ever briefed about." "We were briefed on the operational details — period — not the legal underpinnings," Harman said.

Jay Rockefeller.

The record needs to be set clear that the Administration never afforded members briefed on the program an opportunity to either approve or disapprove the NSA program.

Nancy Pelosi.

>"She made clear her disagreement with the program continuing despite [former Deputy Attorney General Jame] Comey’s objection."

Tom Daschle:

Between 2002 and 2004, the White House notified me in classified briefings about NSA programs related to the war on terrorism. The briefer made clear they were not seeking my advice or consent, but were simply informing me about new actions. If subsequent public accounts are accurate, it now also appears the briefers omitted key details, including important information about the scope of the program.

Even with some of the more troublesome - and potentially illegal - details omitted, I still raised significant concern about these actions. As such, I am surprised and disappointed that the White House would now suggest that none of us informed of the program objected.

So the scenario that Gonzales lays out - that he was simply going to inform Ashcroft of what the Gang of Eight thought and had "asked them to do" - is complete and total pile of crap. And what's truly amazing is that he tried to lay this story off on Members of Congress who happen to have the Gang of Eight on Speed-Dial!

Also as reported on Countdown Tonight - the AP has revealed a document that completely undercuts the "Gonzales version of the facts."

The AP reports that a four-page memo sent by then-National Intelligence Director John Negroponte in May 2006 confirms that a March 2004 White House intelligence briefing for top congressional leaders was on “the Terrorist Surveillance Program.”

negroponte06.gif

During his questioning Senator Dodd addressed Gonzales on the issue of Torture, pointing to the recently signed executive order by Bush which has banned the CIA from using sexual abuse and nudity in their interrogations. Dodd also pointed out that the Senate had just received communications from the head JAG from each of the four primary branches of the armed forces (Army, Air Force, Navy & Marines) indicating their unanimous consensus that the use of Stress Positions, Dogs, and Waterboarding are Grave Breaches of Geneva and constitute "Torture" - yet Gonzales would not admit to agreeing with that assessment under oath, instead claiming...

I can not discuss specific techniques used, but we (America) do not torture.

Dodd astutely pointed out that if the President feels that sexual abuse rises to the level of such a heinous act that it should be specifically prohibited, the fact that he doesn't include Waterboarding on his list tends to indicate exactly the opposite - the it doesn't rise to the level of being "torture" in his eyes.

When asked specifically about the ramifications of Hamdan V Rumsfled Gonzales claimed that the Supreme Court had required humane treatment of "Enemy Combatants affiliated with Al Qaeda".

Dodd blanched.

"Does this mean that you don't believe the Geneva Conventions apply to other types of Enemy Combatants who are not members of Al-Qaeda?" (Y'know - like the Shia Militias currently engaging in Genocide in Iraq?) Gonzales refused to answer.

And as it turns out, yet again, he was wrong.

The Supremes made no specific mention of "Al Qaeda" in their ruling, they only established that person with that status of "Enemy Combatants" were indeed protected under Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions.

One of the most amazing claims made by Gonzales was that he didn't commit perjury before Congress when he claimed that he "hadn't talked to any of his subordinates" regarding the firing and replacing of 8 (or was it 9) U.S. Attorneys because they were "witnesses."

Except that he did talk to Monica Goodling, and yesterday tried to explain that he was simply "comforting a distraught young woman by explaining that nothing wrong or illegal had occurred in his opinion."

So did he try to explain why he had previously lied to Congress when he said he didn't have a conversation like this and that's why his recollection was "so faulty" on so many key details involving why these attorney's were dismissed?

Not really.

How exactly did he know "nothing wrong or illegal happened" if he didn't really know or remember what did happen? And the moment when Senator Feinstein asked him "How many U.S. Attorney's were fired for cause"

He couldn't name any. He did name examples of misconduct, such as using your official capacity to "help out a buddy".

Feinstien : "Did any of the fired U.S. Attorney's do this?"

Gonzales: "No"

Feinstein jumped on this by pointing out - "You mean to say that there attorney's were fired without reasonable justification?"

Gonzales: Uh....

Senator Arlen Specter ("D" if you happen to watch Faux News, "R" to the rest of us) may have made one of the most ominous pronouncements during the hearing.

My suggestion to you is you review your testimony to find out if your credibility has been breached to the point of being actionable," Specter said. Time reports, "The maximum penalty for being caught lying to Congress is five years in prison and a fine of $250,000 per count. Specter wryly noted to reporters during a break that there is a jail in the Capitol complex."

Amen to that.

This point was brought home by the recent Judiciary Committee report which indicates that Bush's Justice Department may have broken as many as 52 laws.

The memorandum says the probe has turned up evidence that some of the U.S. attorneys were improperly selected for firing because of their handling of vote fraud allegations, public corruption cases or other cases that could affect close elections. It also says that Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales and senior Justice aides "appear to have made false or misleading statements to Congress, many of which sought to minimize the role of White House personnel."

In addition, the memorandum asserts repeatedly that the president's top political adviser, Karl Rove, was the first administration official to broach the idea of firing U.S. attorneys shortly after the 2004 election -- an assertion the White House has said is not true.

This dimbulb is a blight on our nation and our system of justice. Bush won't fire him, so he needs to be Impeached and Removed. If that isn't crystal clear by now, it never will be.

Vyan

Monday, July 23

Bob Schieffer owes Harry Reid a Big Fat Apology

Progressives have long ago learned not to expect a fair shake in the media. Despite, and possibly because of, decades of claims from the wingers of "Left Wing Media Bias" the media has gradually become anything but friendly towards anyone or any position exposed by those seen as "leftists."

Witness the Knock-Down Drag-Out Battle that took place between CNN and Micheal Moore this month, which ultimately led to CNN finally admitting the Moore's Data was absolutely correct and that they had made not just one, but Two Factual Mistakes in their attempt to "Fact Check" Moore.

Now it's Bob Schieffer's Turn.

This Sunday Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid appeared on Face the Nation following up on the all-nighter over the Levin-Reed Amendment to Redeploy our Troops in Iraq, which was blocked by a Republican Filibuster. Even as the show opened, Schieffer set the stage as one where Democrats were the ones being "Obstructionist."

Transcript Here.

Today on FACE THE NATION, an exclusive interview with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid on the battle between President Bush and Congress over Iraq. Have Democrats given up on trying to change the president's strategy? And why won't they consider plans put forth by Republicans who have their own ideas about pressuring the president to draw down our forces there? What happens in September if military leaders say they need to keep the same number of troops in Iraq? We'll ask the Democratic leader of the Senate, Harry Reid of Nevada.

Then we'll talk with Maine Senator Olympia Snowe. She's one of the Republicans who wants the president to change strategy, but can't get the Democratic leaders to work with her.

So you see, the ones who really want to change things in Iraq - are Republicans who just can't get those Damn Dirty Democrats to go along with them.

That almost sounds like the kind of regurgitated right-wing talking point that they might say on Fox News doesn't it?

Well, maybe that's because they did say it on Fox News.

Chris Wallace on Fox News Sunday.

WALLACE: So the Senate pulled an all-nighter on Iraq, and after Democrats failed to win a vote to pull troops out, Senator Reid pulled the defense authorization bill, blocking votes on any other ideas for how to deal with Iraq. Brit, what do you think of this as both politics and policy on the part of the Democrats?

It's rather surprising that Schieffer would become a right-wing water carrier, particularly after the verbal scolding he gave the Bush Administrations Iraq policy just last week.

I am still not sure that I believe it: The Iraqi parliament is going on vacation during the month of August.

The White House offers the lame excuse that, after all, Baghdad is hot in August – sometimes 130 degrees.

May I ask a follow-up?

How much hotter do you suppose it is if you are a wearing a helmet, full body armor, carrying ammunition and walking foot patrols through Baghdad?

The last I heard, that is how American troops are spending their August in Iraq.

For me, this does it.

God help the Iraqi people because there is not much America can do to help a government that leaves Americans dying in the streets while the parliament escapes to cooler climes.

Does this mean we should pull out immediately?

No. A sudden withdrawal could set the entire region aflame. The truth is there are no good options left. But from here on, we need to put aside the dream of building a democracy in Iraq and focus solely on what is in our national interest.

It won't be pretty, but for all our good intentions, about all we can do now is try to contain this mess, pull our troops back from the middle of this civil war, and concentrate instead on the terrorist threat that this country faces around the world.

As for what kind of government Iraq needs, let their parliament figure it out. They can get right on it when the Baghdad weather turns cooler.

So clearly this guy isn't on the "Stay-the-Course" bandwagon, yet when he has Harry Reid on to talk to him, he's scoffs - SCOFFS - when Reid dares to actually tell him the truth!

Schieffer: So, senator, let's get right to it. Last week you made a very big show of trying to force a vote to begin bringing the troops home from Iraq. You brought in cots, ordered pizza, forced senators to stay all night for a marathon debate on the war. The Republicans finally blocked a vote on that. But now you have blocked consideration of Republican proposals to bring new pressures on the president to change his strategy. Why?

Senator HARRY REID (Democrat, Nevada; Majority Leader): Bob, because that isn't what happened. We offered on many occasions the opportunity for the Republicans to let us vote on the Levin-Reed Amendment, which was also sponsored by Senator Snowe and others. It was a very important amendment, bipartisan amendment that would set a deadline for getting the troops out of Iraq. We also had a number of other bipartisan amendments that had been offered by a number of other senators. I said let's have a simple majority vote on every one of those, and, of course, they objected and blocked it. So it wasn't a question of our not being able to--not wanting to vote on this. We wanted to vote on those. The Republicans in the Senate would not allow us to vote on those.

Ok, that should do it - talking point debunked - we're all done here, right?

Not so much.

Schieffer persisted and Reid had to explain it a second time.

SCHIEFFER: Well, but that still goes to the point, senator. I mean, it is the impression of many people that you do not want to vote now on any Republican proposals because you don't feel they go far enough. And we know the get-out-now crowd doesn't want votes on those--on those issues. The stay-the-course crowd doesn't want it either. Why do you not want to let people vote on that?

Sen. REID: Bob, we tried. I offered on many occasions--not one, two, three, four occasions--many occasions said, `Let's vote on all the Iraq amendments, all of them, and have a simple majority for them.' The Republicans wouldn't let us. I'm in favor of all this. I've spent lots of time with Ken Salazar, who's pushing that one amendment, Ben Nelson, who's pushing another one. We have a number of bipartisan amendments. The one that they blocked that we didn't get a vote on was a bipartisan amendment. We want to vote on those.

It's one of the myths that's been established by this Republican spin machine and--coming from the White House that we wouldn't allow votes on this. We wanted votes on that, every one of them.

So does Schieffer relent, does he accept what Reid has to say -- does he do the diligent thing and state, "We'll just have to have our fact checkers get right on that" and let the public know what they find?

Not a chance.

He continued mockingly...

SCHIEFFER: So you're saying that if the Republicans agreed to a vote on that, you'd be willing to vote on some of these Republican proposals?

Sen. REID: We offered unanimous consent requests saying, `Let us vote on Levin-Reid, Collins-Nelson, Salazar-Alexander.' We have a number of amendments, and I offered specifically, let's vote on those. They would not let us vote on any Iraq amendment because they are more interested--minus Olympia Snowe and a few others--they're more interested in protecting the president than they are in protecting the troops.

Done yet? Has he got the message?

Uh uh.

SCHIEFFER: So in--and we're going to leave this because I have to ask you about other questions--your position is it's the Republicans who are still
blocking the vote. They're going to come on and say, `It's your fault.'

Sen. REID: Bob...

SCHIEFFER: So the divide is still there. But...

Sen. REID: Bob, but the facts are what they are

"The Facts are what they are?" That's pretty straight forward, that's pretty clear. Does Schieffer have any different facts? No, but still he persist and this next line is one that should live on in infamy.

SCHIEFFER: OK. And that's your version of the facts.

His Version of the Facts? His Version!? I know there have been a lot of cut backs in the News Biz since CBS decided to cut Katie Couric a big fat check to stink up the CBS Evening News, but can't these people even do The Google? Either Reid is correct and they offered unanimous consent votes on all the Amendments, even the Republican ones, or They Didn't. There aren't shades to that story, it doesn't have multiple alternate endings like latest Hi-Def DVD from Blockbuster Video.

The Facts are the Facts and either Reid is lying or Schieffer is accusing him of lying without proof.

Fortunately there are some journalist still worthy of the title working at the New york Times.

Senate Democrats fell short this morning, after a rare all-night session, in their attempt to force President Bush to begin withdrawing American troops from Iraq.

The measure, which called for troops to begin departing within 120 days, was defeated in a procedural vote on what is known as a cloture motion. It received 52 "yes" votes, to 47 "no" votes, but Senate rules require 60 yes votes to pass the motion, which would have overcome a Republican filibuster of the measure.

After the failure, Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, the Democratic majority leader, proposed that the Senate take up a series of Iraq proposals and make them all subject to a simple majority vote, including the withdrawal plan that had just failed. When Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Republican leader, objected, Mr. Reid then pulled the entire Pentagon-spending measure from the floor, putting off any consideration of the alternative proposals such as one to rescind the initial war authorization.

There it is, in black and white, Reid offered them a chance to vote of everything - and it was Mitch McConnell who said "NO".

Schieffer then went on to ask Olympia Snowe if the Democrats were the ones being obstructionist, since he clearly didn't believe Harry Reid's "version of the facts" and Snowe proceeded to duck the thrust of question.

She lamented a lack of "bipartisanship", but she never said it was either the Democrats or the Republicans fault.

Snowe: Well, you know--you know, it's unfortunate that we're at the critical juncture we are with respect to Iraq, and also in the United States Senate in not reflecting the will of the American people on this question. And yes, it looks like the United States Senate has been bogged down in procedural hurdles and road blocks that have lead to political stagnation and, unfortunately for the American people, at a time in which they want to change direction in Iraq.

So I understand the leader's frustration. But I think he also needs to understand that we have to reach out and be more bipartisan, that the United States Senate was founded on the principle of accommodation and consensus, and neither of which is evident. Both leaders have to come together to resolve these questions so that it doesn't look like the United States Senate simply is a matter of process and procedures and partisanship and politics to no end.

Seems to me that the one thing she didn't say about Reid was - "It's your fault."

It's Schieffers'' "Version of the Facts" that are clearly flawed here, not Reid's.

Bob Schieffer owes Harry Reid a huge Apology for his shoddy research and the disrespectful manner in which he treated one of the leaders of the U.S. Senate.

But I'm not expecting he'll be as stand-up about it as CNN was (eventually) with Moore, are you?

Not unless we remind him of what an embarrassment he was to his profession this weekend at mailto:ftn@cbsnews.com

We, the American Public, deserve far better.

Vyan

Sunday, July 22

Ending The War vs Impeachment : Which do you Choose?

There is a dramatic and growing split between rank and file Democrats (particularly those of an activist bent such as those on DKos or DU) and Democratic politicians in Washington who have basically placed Impeachment "Off the Table." Many Democrats have been frustrated and even outraged by this - but have they truly listened to the reasons why?

From the Blogger Conference Call

Nancy Pelosi: I made a decision a few years ago, or at least one year ago, that impeachment was something that we could not be successful with and that would take up the time we needed to do some positive things to establish a record of our priorities and their short-comings,

Pelosi statement here alludes to a point of mine, which bears repeating.

Impeachment and Removal, though frankly necessary, is not yet a possibility except as a pointless exercise in vainglory. Just as failed subpoenas have further emboldened the rampant lawlessness of this Presidency, a failed Impeachment Vote or even a failure to Remove in the Senate would make Bush nigh unto a God. All powerful. Unstoppable.

Senator Feingold, who at one point stood virtually alone on the issue of Censure, has also tamped down Impeachment Expectations in his own DKos Diary

I believe that the President and Vice President may well have committed impeachable offenses. But with so many important issues facing this country and so much work to be done, I am concerned about the great deal of time multiple impeachment trials would take away from the Congress working on the problems of the country. The time it would take for the House to consider articles of impeachment, and for the Senate to conduct multiple trials, would make it very difficult, if not impossible, for Congress to do what it was elected to do – end the war and address some of the other terrible mistakes this Administration has made over the past six and a half years.

As could be expected Feingold's position was not well received.

Wisconsin Senator Russ Feingold wrote a diary on this site recently...a smoke screen for why he was being a wimp and not taking the will of the people with him when he had to vote on the get-out-of-Iraq bill. He wanted HIS cake and to eat it, too.

Some have pointed out that Feingold stood shoulder to shoulder with Republicans intent on Impeaching Bill Clinton.

At issue was a motion by Senator Robert Byrd (D - W.V.) to dismiss all charges against the President. The vote was 44 to 56. 44 Democrats voted yes. 55 Republicans and one Democrat voted no.

55 Republicans. And one Democrat. Just one. Russ Feingold.

Regardless of whether you feel that Feingold is either gutless or some form of hypocrite, it should be noted that he does have a point when he essentially says there are bigger fish to fry than Bush.

There is for example, The War Occupation.

This week the Senate staged a dramatic All-Nighter in an attempt to break a Republican Filibuster over an Iraq Redeployment Timetable. Despite several hints that Republicans such as Pete Dominici, George Voinovich, John Warner, Olympia Snowe, Chuck Hagel and Richard Lugar just might be willing to finally budge and break with the President on Iraq - only Senators Snowe, Hagel, Susan Collins and Gordon Smith actually did by voting to end the Filibuster against Levin-Reed.

(It should also be noted that the only Democrat voting against ending the Filibuster - was Harry Reid for procedural reasons so that he could bring the measure up again in the future. And of course, Lieberman.)

Even if these 8 Republican Senators, including Collins and Smith, have all made it to the fence and just might bolt this upcoming September - it's still not quite enough to have the Veto Proof Super-Majority they need to override the President on Iraq - but it's close.

Four Republicans jumped the Shark, after the August recess and Reid's tabling of the measure until September - even more are likely, but what remains to be seen is whether it will be enough?

Getting our soldiers out of the shooting gallery that Iraq has become, while stepping up efforts to renew diplomacy between the various tribal factions, not through the ineffectual Iraqi Parliament but rather through the means of a Diplomatic Summit with all concerned parties, including Syria, Iran and Saudi Arabia who seem to be provider the bulk of foreign fighters needs to be our primary focus.

The delicate issues of Shia revenge for the brutal rule of Saddam, the impending Sunni Genocide and how these issues affect Iran (which is largely Shia) and the Saudis (who are largely Sunni) need to be address in a regional context, yet President Bush (or rather Darth Cheney) won't even allow the State Dept to engage with all the major players in the region.

Meanwhile the Iraqi parliament inches ever closer to voting for Withdrawal Authority on it's own.

One way or another, in the next two months there will be a showdown and his War will very likely begin to come to a close.

But what if, instead, the Senate was in the midsts of a heated Impeachment Trial?

How likely would it be that Senate Democrats would be able to peel off the three or four more votes they need for a successful veto override and begin to ramp down our involvement in Iraq, if they were embroiled in a pitched battle over removing President Bush?

And more importantly, how close would the effort to remove Bush be to succeeding?

At this point in time, not very likely.

Although many of us, including Senator Feingold, might agree that there have been many activities for which either Bush or Cheney could possibly be Impeached - we have yet to find and reveal a truly smoking gun that leads directly to the President and Vice President as deliberately subverting their constitutional obligations in the way that the Nixon Tapes did 30 years ago and led to approval of Three Articles of Impeachment by the House Judiciary Committee in 1974.

Just look at a sample from Article 1, the Obstruction of Justice charges against Nixon.

  • making false or misleading statements to lawfully authorized investigative officers and employees of the United States;
  • withholding relevant and material evidence or information from lawfully authorized investigative officers and employees of the United States;
  • approving, condoning, acquiescing in, and counseling witnesses with respect to the giving of false or misleading statements to lawfully authorized investigative officers and employees of the United States and false or misleading testimony in duly instituted judicial and congressional proceedings;
  • interfering or endeavouring to interfere with the conduct of investigations by the Department of Justice of the United States, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the office of Watergate Special Prosecution Force, and Congressional Committees;
  • approving, condoning, and acquiescing in, the surreptitious payment of substantial sums of money for the purpose of obtaining the silence or influencing the testimony of witnesses, potential witnesses or individuals who participated in such unlawful entry and other illegal activities;
  • endeavouring to misuse the Central Intelligence Agency, an agency of the United States;
  • disseminating information received from officers of the Department of Justice of the United States to subjects of investigations conducted by lawfully authorized investigative officers and employees of the United States, for the purpose of aiding and assisting such subjects in their attempts to avoid criminal liability;
  • making or causing to be made false or misleading public statements for the purpose of deceiving the people of the United States into believing that a thorough and complete investigation had been conducted with respect to allegations of misconduct on the part of personnel of the executive branch of the United States and personnel of the Committee for the Re-election of the President, and that there was no involvement of such personnel in such misconduct: or
  • endeavouring to cause prospective defendants, and individuals duly tried and convicted, to expect favoured treatment and consideration in return for their silence or false testimony, or rewarding individuals for their silence or false testimony.

And more from Article 2, all of which are based on actions personally taken by Nixon himself, or specifically directed his subordinates to take.

  • He has, acting personally and through his subordinates and agents, endeavoured to obtain from the Internal Revenue Service, in violation of the constitutional rights of citizens, confidential information contained in income tax returns for purposed not authorized by law, and to cause, in violation of the constitutional rights of citizens, income tax audits or other income tax investigations to be intitiated or conducted in a discriminatory manner.
  • He misused the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Secret Service, and other executive personnel, in violation or disregard of the constitutional rights of citizens, by directing or authorizing such agencies or personnel to conduct or continue electronic surveillance or other investigations for purposes unrelated to national security, the enforcement of laws, or any other lawful function of his office; he did direct, authorize, or permit the use of information obtained thereby for purposes unrelated to national security, the enforcement of laws, or any other lawful function of his office; and he did direct the concealment of certain records made by the Federal Bureau of Investigation of electronic surveillance.
  • He has, acting personally and through his subordinates and agents, in violation or disregard of the constitutional rights of citizens, authorized and permitted to be maintained a secret investigative unit within the office of the President, financed in part with money derived from campaign contributions, which unlawfully utilized the resources of the Central Intelligence Agency, engaged in covert and unlawful activities, and attempted to prejudice the constitutional right of an accused to a fair trial.
  • He has failed to take care that the laws were faithfully executed by failing to act when he knew or had reason to know that his close subordinates endeavoured to impede and frustrate lawful inquiries by duly constituted executive, judicial and legislative entities concerning the unlawful entry into the headquarters of the Democratic National Committee, and the cover-up thereof, and concerning other unlawful activities including those relating to the confirmation of Richard Kleindienst as Attorney General of the United States, the electronic surveillance of private citizens, the break-in into the offices of Dr. Lewis Fielding, and the campaign financing practices of the Committee to Re-elect the President.
  • In disregard of the rule of law, he knowingly misused the executive power by interfering with agencies of the executive branch, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Criminal Division, and the Office of Watergate Special Prosecution Force, of the Department of Justice, and the Central Intelligence Agency, in violation of his duty to take care that the laws be faithfully executed.

Although similar allegations could be (and have been) lodged against President Bush (Article 3 addressed Nixon's attempts to avoid Congressional subpoenas, much like Bush has done but in Nixon's case - thanks to the White House taping system - there was conclusive proof that his use of executive priviledge to dodge these subpoenas was false. We do not have similar proof of this in Bush's case, yet...), in many ways these actions were carried out by surrogates such as Dick Cheney, Alberto Gonzales, Andrew Card, Kyle Sampson or Monica Goodling - not by Bush personally.

Until we have conclusive proof that Bush specifically authorized these actions (and that what he has authorized is clearly illegal and has withstood all appeals and arguments to the contrary - unlike the NSA Case and the Plame Suit), what we have (so far) is essentially nothing. Meanwhile Bush is doing his best to ensure that it stays that way be invoking Executive Privilege whenever, and wherever he can up to and including attempts to block implementation of Contempt of Congress charges against Josh Bolten and Harriet Miers.

Based on the current conclusive evidence, or lack thereof, the we currently have against Bush - any attempt to Impeach him would fail miserably.

There's even a likelihood that it wouldn't even get through the House, let alone full removal in the Senate.

Some (on Dkos) have argued strenuously that this is a "false dichotomy", that the War will only end with the end of the Bush Presidency, and they may have a point there. The problem is that right now the chances and slim and nil that we will get the 67 votes needed to Remove Bush in the Senate. Pushing forward on Impeachment without sufficient evidence to bring forward those votes will be seen as nothing more than partisan pay-back for Clinton in 1998, Gore in 2000 and Kerry in 2004, and also that the effort is just as likely to harden Republicans even further against compromise on Iraq. The result in this case would be "Lose - Lose." You may have an Impeachment, but you wouldn't change the course in Iraq or Remove anyone from office. That's not acceptable to me. If we play this game, we should be playing to win.

There are those who would argue, and I would tend to agree, that the Bush Administration has been nothing short of a massive criminal enterprise which has defrauded and abuses the American Public on issues ranging from Election Fraud, to Environmentalism, War Crimes, Torture, Pseudo-Science, Exploiting Terrorism, Disaster Relief Failures to just plain common-sense, and that failing to have a serious and severe accounting for this rampant misconduct will leave a permanent stain on our nation. It will give a blueprint and carte-blanche for continued abuse of power to any future President - including President Hillary Clinton - making them a virtual Dictator, a High Overlord in a nation of serfs.

I would contend that this situation will be made even more dire if Impeachment is attempted and fails, because if it fails it will do so because either a majority in the House or at least 38 Senators will have openly endorsed and legitimized the concepts behind the "Unitary Executive" and permenently reduced the power of Congress. Once that happens there will be no real way to deter any future President from exploiting similar theories of neo-dictatorship. None.

The Bush Administration must be held accountable for his crimes against the American Public - unfortunately, it probably won't happen this year and possibly not the next. But holding him accountable doesn't mean that the Bush-wacker himself personally has to be the one to go under the bus - it just might happen to be Gonzo who might wither under the Impeachment Lamp after both Harriet Miers and Joshua Bolten have spent some quality time in the House Jail for Inherent Contempt.

It would be a powerful symbolic visual to have the House Sargent at Arms marching up and arresting Miers and Bolten, then holding them until they either crack and squeal the way Judith Miller did, or simply rot until the end of Bush's term. That would be good enough for me - if we are also able to End the Occupation of Iraq in the bargain.

Bush himself, isn't that important as Nancy Pelosi has stated.

and the President is... ya know what I say? The President isn’t worth it... he’s not worth impeaching. We’ve got important work to do...

What is important, is the lawless of the Bush Administration. And taking out those who enable that Administration to function, removing Bush's Pawns one by one - Domino by Domino - just might be the better plan for now. It holds his administration accountable for their actions, but doesn't necessarily bog the Congress down in the time it has remaining with an impossible impeachment trial.

There is of course, the possibility that the only way to End The Iraq Occupation - or prevent an unprovoked attack on Iran - might be to Remove Bush from Office Now, rather than letting him slip out the back door on Jan 20, 2009 - but that's a bridge we won't be crossing until September and the current Defense Authorization Money runs out.

Vyan


P.S. Feingold also has a new pair of Censure Motions Against the President (partially inspired by the criticism he received on Kos) Small steps, but going in the right direction.