Okay, so who was the RNC genius who came up with this one:
She’s the 69-year-old speaker of the House of Representatives , second in the line of succession and the most powerful woman in U.S. history. But when you see Nancy Pelosi, the Republican National Committee wants you to think “Pussy Galore.”
At least that’s the takeaway from a video released by the committee this week – a video that puts Pelosi side-by-side with the aforementioned villainess from the 1964 James Bond film “Goldfinger.” The RNC video, which begins with the speaker’s head in the iconic spy-series gun sight, implies that Pelosi has used her feminine wiles to dodge the truth about whether or not she was briefed by the CIA on the use of waterboarding in 2002. While the P-word is never mentioned directly, in one section the speaker appears in a split screen alongside the Bond nemesis – and the video’s tagline is “Democrats Galore.”
The wisdom of equating the first woman speaker of the House with a character whose first name also happens to be among the most vulgar terms for a part of the female anatomy might be debated – if the RNC were willing to do so, which it was not. An RNC spokesperson refused repeated requests by POLITICO to explain the point of the video, or the intended connection between Pelosi and Galore.
Supah ... genius... here's the video:
So far, the hit count is pretty low, but I'm sure the POlitico story will help Mike Steele and his merry band of fools out.
Not only is Newt Gingrich a rank hypocrite -- imagine, the disgraced former speaker of the House, who was fined $300,000 and sanctioned by his own party for ethics violations back in the days before he himself had to resign as speaker (for having a sexual affair with an aide at the same time he was pushing for the impeachment of President Clinton ... for having a sexual affair with an intern ...) he is also a man of shallow principle. Newt, who claims that Nancy Pelosi has "disqualified herself" as speaker, and thus, should make like a Newt and resign, got caught with his proverbial pants down by Diane Sawyer this week, abba-abba-abba'ing over the various Republicans, including some of Pelosi's accusers, who've also called the CIA a bunch of liars.
The fact is that Newt, in the end, is not all that significant (except to the credulous press corps, which insists on giving him air time.) What is significant is the fact that he, and his attacks on Nancy Pelosi, and those of his party, are not actually serous. They don't represent some genuine outrage over something Pelosi has done (after all, they're accusing her of not opposing torture -- a sentiment they share.) What this is about, is the GOP persuing a strategy dating back to January, of using any opportunity to brand and attack members of the Democratic leadership, as a proxy for attacking the way too popular President Obama.
Let's travel back in time, to January, in the weeks after the inauguration, when Republicans were trying to figure out how to respond to the popular president's economic stimulus plan. ABC News noted on January 29:
Two weeks ago, House Minority Whip Eric Cantor, R-Va., hired GOP pollster John McLaughlin to conduct a poll on the stimulus plan to define the most effective ways to frame Republican concerns.
ABC obtained a copy of a PowerPoint presentation prepared based on that poll, available HERE.
The GOP poll showed that Obama is popular (71 percent approval) and that an overwhelming majority (64 percent) approve of “Barack Obama's economic recovery plan.”
But it showed that Pelosi, D-Calif., (34 percent favorable) and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., (20 percent) are far less popular. And when asked about the specifics of the stimulus plan without Obama's name attached, the plan loses its appeal.
The result: Congressional Republicans held together and voted unaminously "no." And the GOP has carried that strategy forward ever since. It's "Operation: Get Nancy," mostly because Harry Reid is so dull (and besides, El Rushbo usually takes care of him.) What is incredible, is not that the GOP is deploying a months-old strategy to satiate their base and in their minds, take down the Democratic Party by attacking the leadership -- while, they hope, unnerving Democrats out of really investigating torture or the other abuses of the Bush administration in the process. What is stunning is how willing the Washington press corps has been to go along with the program.
I.F. Stone used to joke that what passed for investigative journalism in Washington was actually just the restating of what was already in the public record at the appropriate time.
Indeed, and it turns out that Nichols was among the reporters who "exposed" the fact that Pelosi was briefed on torture. Only he did it in 2007. In other words: the fact that senior Democrats were compliant with the Bush administration when it came, not just to torture, but also to Iraq and overall national security policy is no new revelation. And the media has, almost to a man (or woman) failed to ask a single, quite relevant question: let's just say that Nancy Pelosi IS lying, and she WAS fully briefed about the fact that we were torturing people. What does that mean? The answer is, it would mean that Pelosi was aware of the commission of war crimes (though she claims that because her knowledge was classified, she couldn't have done anything about it) and it would mean that, ipso facto, war crimes were committed at the behest of the previous administration, with the quizzling assent of Democrats. Again, nothing new. Besides, if Pelosi's involvement is a 5 on the war crimes scale, then Cheney, Rumsfeld, Bush and the CIA are at about a 12, right?
So ... does that mean Republicans, and the media, at long last, are ready to see those crimes investigated? Here's the funniest part of all: Democrats outside the Beltway are ready. And so is Nancy Pelosi.
Cheney, torture, and the very bored mainstream media
Just realized today that Commondreams ran my piece: "The media's collective yawn over torture for war" on Saturday. It starts off as follows:
Faced with what could be the biggest foreign policy bombshell since the Gulf of Tonkin lies cleared the way for Vietnam, the Washington-New York media establishment has chosen to do nothing. Much as D.C. reporters decided several years ago that they were no longer interested covering the Bush administration's duplicity in the run-up to the Iraq war (nor are the David Gregory's of the world interested in revisiting their profession's complicity with the former administration in that regard,) "the press," it seems, has decided to take a pass. And what they're passing on is truly stunning.
In short, evidence is quickly piling up suggesting that the torture of terrorism suspects, and even the alleged request from no less than the office of the vice president of the United States, to waterboard an Iraqi official, had less to do with protecting Americans from further attack after 9/11, than it had to do with bolstering a phony case for invading Iraq. Polls show a plurality of Americans will accept even torture - as sickening as that fact is to anyone who cares about civil liberties - if it's done to save innocent (read American) lives. But how would the American people square the idea of torturing people, not to save lives, but to produce false confessions in order to give a small group of ideologues - the neoconservatives - the war they desired. Most Americans have long since accepted that the Bush administration's case for invading Iraq was flawed, if not totally false. What we didn't know until recently, was that to sell that case, members of the Bush administration, possibly including Vice President Dick Cheney and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld - maybe even the president of the United States, were willing to do things we're accustomed to ascribing to the North Koreans or Maoist Chinese: using torture not to get good information, but to produce false confessions, to justify an unnecessary war.
I'll be on FAIR's radio show "CounterSpin" tomorrow to discuss it. ... of course, we don't get CounterSpin here in South Florida, where pretty much the only things on the radio are right wing talk, sports talk, party music, and black comedians on FM talking to angry baby mamas. So you'll have to listen online. The interview is at 1:15 p.m. Not sure what time it will air.
The goal of the GOP attacks on Nancy Pelosi, which have succeeded in leading the credulous media down a pointless path, is clear: to kill any real investigation into Bush-Cheney-era torture, because such an investigation would inevitably lead to the conclusion that torture was not employed to save Americans from a "ticking time bomb," but rather, to produce false confessions tying Iraq to al-Qaida, to back fill a justification for the war. Watch Fox News work the plan:
As Bush stays silent, the evidence against Dick Cheney mounts
I've often wondered, is George W. Bush really as dumb as he seems, or could he, behind the scenes, have figured out -- eventually -- that his vice president had hijacked his presidency. Assuming for the moment that he did figure out, maybe around mid-to-late 2003, by which time the case for the Iraq war had completely fallen apart, and during the summer of which, Robert Novak had completed the leak of a CIA officer's name, something that originated inside the vice president's office, too. There is some evidence to suggest that not only did Dubya figure out what was up, but he also took steps to correct it:
Bush fought fiercely for a second term, deploying Karl Rove (who by the way has now admitted that the Bush administration conducted torture...) to do anything to win.
After he won (or stole Ohio, whichever historic read you prefer) he ejected the entire neocon fraternity from his administration -- including, eventually, Don Rumsfeld.
The one person he couldn't get rid of, or didn't try to, was Dick Cheney, who had gone to war with the CIA over Iraq (an agency Bush's father once held,) and authorized the Plame leak, something that went against Bush Sr.'s strongest admonitions when it came to undercover personnel. So could Bush, in his second term, have been seeking to repair the presidency he had allowed his vice president to destroy? Maybe. And then there's this: Bush and Cheney are no longer on speaking terms, according to news reports, and Bush does indeed blame Cheney for what went wrong with his reign (he should blame himself more -- Katrina wasn't Cheney's fault, and the economi catastrophe was a shared responsibility...) Bush also refused to pardon Scooter "the CIA agent outer" Libby, despite Cheney's strenuous insistance. And now, Cheney is out there on his own, defending the Bush administration's torture program as if it was ... well, the Cheney administration torture program. Which brings me to a post in today's Daily Beast:
Robert Windrem, who covered terrorism for NBC, reports exclusively in The Daily Beast that:
*Two U.S. intelligence officers confirm that Vice President Cheney’s office suggested waterboarding an Iraqi prisoner, a former intelligence official for Saddam Hussein, who was suspected to have knowledge of a Saddam-al Qaeda connection.
*The former chief of the Iraq Survey Group, Charles Duelfer, in charge of interrogations, tells The Daily Beast that he considered the request reprehensible.
*Much of the information in the report of the 9/11 Commission was provided through more than 30 sessions of torture of detainees.
At the end of April 2003, not long after the fall of Baghdad, U.S. forces captured an Iraqi who Bush White House officials suspected might provide information of a relationship between al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein’s regime. Muhammed Khudayr al-Dulaymi was the head of the M-14 section of Mukhabarat, one of Saddam’s secret police organizations. His responsibilities included chemical weapons and contacts with terrorist groups.
Two senior U.S. intelligence officials at the time tell The Daily Beast that the suggestion to waterboard an Iraqi prisoner came from the Office of Vice President Cheney.
“To those who wanted or suspected a relationship, he would have been a guy who would know, so [White House officials] had particular interest,” Charles Duelfer, head of the Iraqi Survey Group and the man in charge of interrogations of Iraqi officials, told me. So much so that the officials, according to Duelfer, inquired how the interrogation was proceeding.
Could GWB be keeping so very quiet, because he knows that if prosecutions for torture do occur, Cheney will be on the hook more than he? Perhaps that's why this past weekend, Cheney tried to tie Bush to the torture program, claiming Bush "signed off on it..."
Meanwhile, the CIA today turned down Cheney's request to selectively declassify documents he insists will clear him ... or, he never asked. Either way he's not getting any memos. (BTW, which guy do you think would get more CIA cover if bad things went down in the A.G.'s office, former son of a CIA director Bush, or Dick "Deferrments" Cheney?" Just asking. BTW, the American Conservative's Philip Geraldi makes a very good point about those still classified memos, about which he was briefed by someone who has seen them; he writes this:
... The memos were drafted for the White House to demonstrate the success of the enhanced interrogation program and were not intended to look at the downside of the procedure, which means they provide only a very selective and uncritical overview. They were written by the CIA staff tasked with carrying out the interrogations which inevitably had a vested interest in making the program appear to be both effective and legal. Other Agency components, including its Inspector General’s office, opposed the program for various reasons, including its failure to produce any genuine intelligence, so there was hardly any consensus even inside the CIA on the procedure and effectiveness.
The memos cite several leads developed from the interrogations which may or may not have led to the thwarting of terrorist plots, but they make no attempt to critique the interrogation process itself to determine if the information might have been obtained more conventionally. None of the interrogations of “high value suspects” related to a “smoking gun scenario” where a detainee knew details of an imminent terrorist attack, meaning that the waterboarding was carried out even when there was no pressing need to use that technique. The memos also did not address the issue of the numerous false leads and bogus information derived from confessions under torture that made the entire process questionable. [emphasis added]
And the credulous Washington press corps continues to buy into the GOP's Operation Get Nancy distraction technique, to a degree that is shameful, even for this Republican-coddling crowd.
TIME Magazine also wondered why the once-reclusive Dick is so chatty these days, and concluded as follows:
Cheney is "trying to rewrite history," says a Republican consultant who has experience in intelligence matters. "He knows that as time goes by, he will look worse. And so he's trying to put his stroke on it."
And you know what? I'll bet George W. Bush knows that, too.
As Keith Olbermann pointed out last night, the guy who wrote this idiotic piece in D Magazine (a magazine which hosts a slathering, groupie-ish George W. Bush love letters page, works for CBS Sports, which is to say he works for CBS News. Per Politico's Glenn Thrush:
Even if this was off the cuff, it's not going to go over well with the sports bosses at CBS.
The network's golf analyst, David Feherty, writing a column in D Magazine about the George and Laura Bush moving to the Dallas area, says U.S. soldiers would shoot Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid:
"From my own experience visiting the troops in the Middle East, I can tell you this, though: despite how the conflict has been portrayed by our glorious media, if you gave any U.S. soldier a gun with two bullets in it, and he found himself in an elevator with Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, and Osama bin Laden, there’s a good chance that Nancy Pelosi would get shot twice, and Harry Reid and bin Laden would be strangled to death."
By the way, how can it be "off the cuff" when a guy took the time to write it, spell check it, presumably read it over, and send it to an editor, who presumably read it, approved it, and posted it on the magazine's website? Come on, Glenn... In any case, the unbelievable piece of right wing scholarship was caught by Media Matters, which is bad news since Media Matters rarely just reports and then leaves stuff alone. They follow up. Just ask Don Imus. In short, the commentary has very likely put Mr. Feherty's future at CBS in doubt.
Feherty is the same genius who last week thought it would be a hoot to ask Tiger Woods if he "felt like a loser." Not exactly the way to get ahead at CBS, I'm thinking. ABC, maybe...
Is it just me who is disturbed by "intelligence officials" who may or may not be partisan Republicans, or persons otherwise interested in forestalling a full investigation of torture during the Bush administration, leaking memos that are intended to implicate Nancy Pelosi (who has some say in the matter of investigations, but who was disallowed by law from even discussing the classified briefings, let alone objecting to their content...) in foreknowledge of torture?
In a letter accompanying the new documents, CIA Director Leon Panetta explains that it is possible that the CIA’s description of the briefing is inaccurate. Panetta explains that its report is based on the “best recollections” of those in attendance and states that the Senate Intelligence Committee, to whom they sent the report, “will have to determine whether this information is an accurate summary of what actually happened”
WASHINGTON - Moving with lightning speed, key lawmakers announced agreement Wednesday on a $789 billion economic stimulus measure designed to create millions of jobs in a nation reeling from recession. President Barack Obama could sign the bill within days.
"The middle ground we've reached creates more jobs than the original Senate bill and costs less than the original House bill," said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, one of the participants in an exhausting and frenzied round of bargaining.
The bill includes help for victims of the recession in the form of unemployment benefits, food stamps, health coverage and more, as well as billions for states that face the prospect of making deep cuts in their own programs.
It also preserves Obama's signature tax cut — a break for millions of lower and middle income taxpayers, including those who don't earn enough to pay income taxes.
However, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was conspicuously absent from the news conference in which members of the Senate announced the agreement, and it was not clear whether she stayed away out of unhappiness or a scheduling conflict.
Officials had said previously that one of the final issues to be settled was money for school modernization, a priority of Pelosi as well as Obama and one on which they differed with Collins and other moderates whose votes will be essential for final Senate approval.
The WaPo reports on the new D.C. Don Corleone, Susan Collins' ... take:
"I'm particularly pleased that we have produced an agreement that has the top line of $789 billion," she said. "It is a fiscally responsible number that reflects our efforts to truly focus this bill on programs and policies and tax relief that will help turn our economy around, create jobs and provide relief to the families of our country."
Collins, one of three Republican senators whose votes for the bill yesterday gave it a filibuster-proof majority, also said that in the final version, "we were able to increase the amount of infrastructure spending," which she called "the most powerful component in this bill to create jobs." She said the bill contains about $150 billion for infrastructure including transportation, environmental, broadband and other projects.
More than 35 percent of the funding goes for tax relief, Collins said.
And a bit more on what they were fighting over:
Before the House-Senate conference, Democratic negotiators convened a final meeting with Senate centrists who had forced steep cuts in the spending portion of the stimulus plan -- which at one point last week had grown to almost $940 billion in new tax cuts and domestic spending.
Even after the Senate scaled down its version to $838 billion, approved 61-37 yesterday, the centrists continued to demand more reductions. Senate aides said the targets were reducing Obama's "Make Work Pay" tax cut of $500 a year for most individuals and $1,000 a year for most families, paring it down to $400 and $800, respectively.
Other reductions were likely in a $15,000 tax credit for all home purchases in the next year as well as a tax credit for the purchase of new cars, both of which were added to the Senate bill after little debate.
House Democrats have objected to wholesale deletions from their original bill during the Senate debate, but they appeared likely to see some return of aid to states that totaled $79 billion in their plan. The Senate reduced that figure to $39 billion. Senators also zeroed out a fund that would finance school construction, another priority for which House Democrats are pushing to restore funds.
The wrangling may be the reason that not just Pelosi, but also the White House, have withheld the kudos from what just might be a moderate mish-mash bill:
... in a bewildering _ if temporary _ turn of events, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the White House withheld immediate expressions of support, and the formal meeting of congressional bargainers who will need to ratify the deal was delayed.
At a news conference in the Capitol, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, flanked by moderate senators of both parties, said agreement had been reached on a compromise that "creates more jobs than the original Senate bill and costs less than the original House bill."
“Usually you go to conference and split the difference between the two houses — that may not be the case here,” Pelosi said. “At these conferences, my experience has been that the White House has a seat at the table — that they weigh in.”
Both Obama and Pelosi are hoping to restore significant stimulus spending eliminated by the Senate, especially $21 billion in school construction and technology grants, $10.3 billion in COBRA insurance and $8.6 billion in new Medicaid coverage for the unemployed.
Personally, I blame Harry Reid, who has given virtual veto power over the bill to Susan Collins.
Step one: take out everything House Republicans asked for
The negotiations are moving along on the House-Senate economic revitalization conference bill. Andrea Mitchell just reported that the gist of the changes are to add back in state grants that were stripped in the Senate (and we know the White House wants school construction money restored as well) and cutting back some tax cuts requested by Republican House members who wound up not voting for the bill. As Mitchell put it, the House GOP provisions were "the first to go." After all, Democrats got nothing in exchange for them.
Just a thought: why would Congressional Democrats consent to the creation of a "car czar" who serves at the pleasure of, and reports to, President Bush? Are they not setting Bush up perfectly to appoint an uber union-buster who will, from the moment he or she takes office until they leave in 40 odd days, be a lame duck on a pop up timer, with the game being, "break the UAW before you go?" Sayeth the WaPo:
Under the plan, unveiled by Democratic leaders, the Treasury Department would cut checks for the car companies as soon as next week. The proposal also calls for President Bush to name a "car czar" to manage a vast restructuring of the firms and restore them to profitability.
Democrats bent to the will of the president on several key demands, most notably in agreeing that the emergency funding would be drawn from an existing loan program aimed at promoting fuel-efficient technologies.
Still, the White House objected yesterday to several elements of the Democratic proposal, congressional aides said, including requirements that the car companies notify Washington of any transaction of more than $25 million and that they pull out of lawsuits against states seeking to enforce tougher tailpipe-emissions standards.
Under the proposal, the car companies would be required to submit detailed plans for restructuring by March 31, when they would be eligible for additional government assistance. The Bush administration was pressing to strengthen those provisions to make clear that only companies that were either financially viable or taking steps to achieve viability could receive more federal cash.
Wow. Giving in to Bush demands. That's a new one for Congressional Dems ... (yeesh)...
Aside from the distastefullness of Pelosi and Company's hapbit of ALWAYS giving in to a weakened president, it seems to me that the proposed $15 billion "mini-bailout" does three things:
1) Ties President-Elect Obama's hands, by making all deals binding through March, thus giving a Bush appointee, who if history is any guide, will be a union-busting Kleptocrat, authority that reaches into the next administration.
2) Jeopardizes the UAW, by creating conditions that can likely only be met by eviscerating the current, slimmed down union contract, and/or by laying off thousands more workers, to meet Wall Street's standards of "profitability."
3) Puts suppliers in jeopardy, but potentialy forcing the Big Three to break contracts with these, typically smaller, companies in order to meet the bailout requirements.
Instead of such a deal, can't Congress simply appropriate money for the automakers, within their constitutional authority, and dare the lame duck president to veto? The bottom line is that the auto companies are practically worthless, particularly GM and Chrysler, and as Michael Moore says, they could be bought outright for a fraction of the cost of bailing them out. The Congress holds the whip hand, but as usual, they are too timid to use it. Nancy Pelosi can talk about "haircuts" all she wants, but the fact remains that this is a big give to the outgoing president.
It's a shame when ordinary Americans, like the workers at Republic Windows and Doors, are ballsier than the people who supposedly represent us in Congress.
“The Federal Reserve would be extremely reluctant to extend credit where Congress has actively considered providing assistance, but after due consideration, has decided not to act,” Bernanke wrote Dodd. The letter was dated Dec. 5 and released Tuesday.
... lending directly to an auto company would represent a “marked departure” in the use of the Fed’s emergency program, which is aimed at promoting financial stability, a crucial underpinning for the broader U.S. economy, the Fed chief wrote.
“It would raise the question as to whether the Federal Reserve should be involved in industrial policy, which has traditionally been outside the range of our responsibilities,” Bernanke wrote. “Our view is that questions of industrial policy are best resolved by Congress.”
Sorry, Hillary. This is the most powerful woman in America
Nancy Pelosi could sure teach Harry Reid a thing or two about wielding power. If you doubt for a second that she is the most powerful woman in the country, ask yourselves two questions:
1. Who did Nancy Pelosi support for the chairmanship of the powerful House Energy and Commerce Committee: fellow Californian Henry Waxman, or John Dingell, who has held the gavel, or been the ranking member, for a quarter century, and who is the longest serving member of the House? Answer: Waxman.
2. Who is going to be the chairman in the 111th Congress? Answer...
The major shift in the leadership also represents a triumph for the left wing of the party, over the doctrinaire old guard. As the Christian Science Monitor puts it:
The 255-member House Democratic conference voted 137 to 122 Thursday to replace Rep. Dingell, a close ally of the auto industry, with Waxman, a longtime champion of environmental causes. The vote places Waxman in charge of a panel with one of the broadest jurisdictions of any congressional committee, responsible for legislative oversight relating to consumer protection, food and drug safety, air quality, energy supply and transmission, telecommunications, and a host of other matters relating to interstate and foreign commerce.
Environmentalists are praising the outcome, which was unusual in that it defied Congress’s seniority system. Dingell, the House’s longest-serving member, assumed office in 1955 and has chaired the energy committee for 28 years.
“Waxman’s victory is a breath of fresh air – of clean air,” wrote Frank O’Donnell, president of Clean Air Watch, an environmental advocacy group. “It was a stunning defeat for the corporate lobbyists on K Street.”
“This is huge for those who’ll want strong action on both climate change and clean energy and energy independence (and health care)” wrote Joseph Romm, a former Clinton energy adviser and a blogger for the Center for American Progress, a think tank headed by John Podesta, Bill Clinton’s former chief-of-staff. “Heck, it’s the second best piece of news on global warming this month!”
Dingell had long opposed measures the auto industry didn't like, like increasing CAFE standards or increasing gas mileage (or building electric cars.) Yet another single that if they want help, Detroit will have to make major changes, and not by slashing the incomes of their employees.
The AP says 9-term Texas Congressman Chet Edwards, a Nancy Pelosi favorite, is on the short-short list. While that's nice for Nancy, and Edwards does chair a veterans committee, I'm not sure what he brings to the table, and he's an unknown quantity in a debate. I still am going with Biden as the pick. Said as much on the radio today, so hopefully I won't have to eat crow come Monday!
Among his credentials, Edwards is chairman of the House Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations Subcommittee. His district previously included Fort Hood, and the Waco Democrat is frequently pressed into service as a surrogate for the party on military issues.
Potential liabilities include Edwards vote in favor of the war in Iraq, which may not sit well with the party's liberal base. He is a low-profile member of Congress, whose selection may not give Obama's ever-tightening race against Republican John McCain the immediate boost the party is looking for.
Edwards is a native of Corpus Christi and graduate of Texas A&M University and Harvard Business School. His Central Texas congressional district includes President Bush's Crawford ranch.
Edwards has some seeming advantages: he endorsed Obama way back in February, he's a southern while male, which apparently is important to getting a Democrat into the White House, and he's a centrist (although the NRO folks point out he'd be a heartbeat away from reversing most of Obama's policies, and he voted for the war in Iraq ... then again, so did Biden...) He's also a good looking guy who would match up well with Obama, if he's not really short. I mean, he actually looks like a Chet, based on his Congressional pic. And from his official bio, more fuel for why Chet may be on fire, as it were...
As the Chairman of the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations Subcommittee, Congressman Edwards is known as a national champion for America’s veterans, troops, and their families. In 2007, he authored the largest increase in veterans funding in the 77-year history of the Veterans Administration, an $11.8 billion increase. American Legion National Commander Marty Conatser called Edwards’ record VA Appropriations bill, “a monumental achievement.” This year, both the American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars recognized Congressman Edwards’ leadership with their national awards given to only one member of Congress. In 2007, he was awarded the Disabled American Veterans' “Going to Bat for Veterans” award for authoring the historic VA funding increases. Working with Speaker Pelosi in 2005, Congressman Edwards introduced the GI Bill of Rights for the 21st Century, which dramatically improved veterans’ health care and benefits, and covered the full cost of a college education. Edwards then received the Military Order of the Purple Heart’s "Inspirational Leadership" award in 2005. In 2008, Chairman Edwards played a key role in enacting the new GI Bill of Rights into law.
Nancy, you scamp... BTW Edwards is a Baptist, which doesn't help with the Catholic gap... And I'm not sure the Democrats would want to chance losing his seat (he has a challenger) when every vote counts to keep a strong majority in the House. I'd be surprised if he's the pick, and as I said before, I remain bullish on Biden, but hey, anything can happen...
A federal judge puts the ixnay on otnay owingshay upyay in ongresscay... if you know what I mean...
WASHINGTON - President Bush’s top advisers are not immune from congressional subpoenas, a federal judge ruled Thursday in an unprecedented dispute between the two political branches.
House Democrats called the ruling a ringing endorsement of the principle that nobody is above the law.
In his ruling, U.S. District Judge John Bates said there’s no legal basis for Bush’s argument and that his former legal counsel, Harriet Miers, must appear before Congress. If she wants to refuse to testify, he said, she must do so in person. The committee also has sought to force testimony from White House chief of staff Joshua Bolten.
“Harriet Miers is not immune from compelled congressional process; she is legally required to testify pursuant to a duly issued congressional subpoena,” Bates wrote. He said that both Bolten and Miers must give Congress all non-privileged documents related to the firings.
The ruling is a blow to the Bush administration’s efforts to bolster the power of the executive branch at the expense of the legislative branch. The Bush administration argued it was immune from such subpoenas, arguing that Congress can't force them to testify or turn over documents.
The report goes on to quote Nancy Pelosi as saying Dems plan to "act quickly and call Miers and Bolton to testify before the House Judiciary Committee, where they can claim executive privilege in person.
“We look forward to the White House complying with this ruling and to scheduling future hearings with Ms. Miers and other witnesses who have relied on such claims,” Conyers said in a statement. “We hope that the defendants will accept this decision and expect that we will receive relevant documents and call Ms. Miers to testify in September.”
Bates, who was appointed to the bench by Bush, issued a 93-page opinion that strongly rejected the administration’s legal arguments. He noted that the executive branch could not point to a single case in which courts held that White House aides were immune from congressional subpoenas.
“That simple yet critical fact bears repeating: the asserted absolute immunity claim here is entirely unsupported by existing case law,” Bates wrote.
Unless of course it gets to the Supreme Court, where Tony Scalia will find a way, and if Justice Kennedy is having a bad day? Zappo!
So of course now the question everyone is asking is, what does this mean for our good friend Karl Rove? Some thoughts on that here.
If the 109th Congress will go down in history as boot-licking hand maidens to a criminal White House, the 110th will go down as the most cowardly, utterly useless opposition body in U.S. history -- the polar opposite of the body that faced down Richard Nixon, and the wimp-ridden antidote to the scheming, partisan body that tried to undo the election of William Clinton.
How useless is the current Congress? Let me count the ways...
They can't compel Karl Rove or Josh Bolten to testify before them, and their constant threats of "contempt!" fall by the wayside...
They can't out-maneuver Republicans, who stop bills cold on the House and Senate floor.
They capitulated in cowardly fashion on FISA, giving Bush everything he wanted on domestic surveillance and telecom immunity, junking the Fourth Amendment in the process (and they've got more coming, from the still-enforced PATRIOT Act to complete surveillance of the Internet.) ***NOTE: read this post on the Bushies' database of some 8 million Americans whom they could surveil and detain at will in the event of "an emergency" if you really want to feel sick to your stomach.***
They continue to give Bush everything his heart desires on Iraq, backing down time and again on the issue of a timetable for orderly withdrawal, and forking over all the cash Dubya's Pentagon can stuff into a sideways appropriation.
They cannot reign in a recalcitrant attorney general who is thumbing his nose at them as surely as his predecessor did.
They cannot pass meaningful legislation outside of a housing bill that even Bush wasn't dumb enough to veto in an election year.
And their only concern, from Pelosi on down, appears to be getting re-elected.
Worst of all, they refuse to hold accountable, through the only means the Constitution allows: impeachment; a president that many of them -- or really any of them who have an iota of understanding of the Constitution -- know committed clearly impeachable offenses (many of these guys are lawyers.) Instead, the Democratic-controlled 110th Congress, like their GOP-led predecessors, are spending their time "saving the president's chestnuts" and scheming among themselves to hold sham "impeachment-like" hearings that are unworthy of press coverage (which is why they aren't getting any,) while promising the White House that nothing will come of them. Even Dennis Kucinich, the author of the "hearings," capitulated, allowing the House leadership to let him make a fool of himself and his colleagues, while wasting the valuable time of dozens of earnest witnesses (not to mention bloggers, who thankfully have lots of time on their hands...)
What then, is the purpose of our current Congress? A useless bunch, almost all of them, particularly in the House, where most of the rotten, Bush-petting legislation and cowardice orginates, but also in the Senate, where Harry Reid and company continue to quizzle and cower under the outright treachery of one Joseph Lieberman.
With all of the lack of spine, one wonders whether the administration's domestic wiretapping extended into the Congressional office building. That might at least explain why they continue to do the bidding of a lame duck president and his criminal gang. Next, I expect them to approve offshore oil drilling and pass a law declaring torture to be the law of the land. What more damage can they do to the constitution and the Republic at this point, having declared, in essence, that there are no impeachable offenses -- that a president can break the law with impunity, and that he and his cabinet; hell, his FORMER cabinet members -- can feel free to ignore Congress altogether, with Congress's blessing. They have squandered their constitutional prerogatives, made a mockery of their own authority, and allowed that man, that idiot in the White House, to humiliate them and blacken our country's honor, not to mention killing more than 4,000 of our bravest citizens in furtherance of a fundamentally un-American neoconservative cause.
Now the Debbie Wasserman Schultz's of the world might explain that I simply don't understand how politics works -- the Congress has to "get the people's business done," and the people want lower gas bills, not impeachment. Well when members of Congress take the oath of office, they, like the president, swear to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States. The pork for their districts comes later. And because the Constitution is so fundamental to our freedoms, to our ability to live free in a country that still belongs to us, and not the president, impeachment of a criminal administration IS the people's business. Getting re-elected, well, that's YOUR business, Debbie. Besides, what exactly has Congress gotten done "for us" in the last two years? Hm? Not much.
Checks and balances are endangered when Congress refuses to perform its oversight role and hold members of the executive branch accountable for their actions. The Intelligence Committee decision is just the latest in a series of caves to the White House by this Republican-led Congress. Congress caved when it reauthorized the PATRIOT Act, which includes provisions that deprive Americans of civil liberties. Congress has failed to fulfill its oversight responsibility for a wide variety of executive agencies, including the Mine Safety and Health Administration, which has reportedly reduced some fines for safety violations and failed to collect others at all.2 Congress has refused to investigate the Bush administration’s attempt to hide the true estimated cost of its Medicare prescription drug benefit, the White House’s disclosure of covert CIA agent Valerie Plame’s identity, and corporate special interests’ and oil lobbyists’ involvement in Vice President Cheney’s energy policy task force.
It’s no wonder that, according to the Washington Post, “Government scholars and watchdog groups say the decline of congressional oversight in recent years has thrown off kilter the system of checks and balances the Founding Fathers created to keep no one branch of government from becoming too powerful.”iii
At this stage, I'm not even sure why they're there. We should throw off this false patina of multi-cameral government and simply install our president as king. He already has his puppet parliament.
If I had my way, our pathetic Congress would be turned out on their asses this fall, starting with Nancy, Harry and the hugely disappointing John Conyers, and with the exception of a small handful, including Jim Webb (because of his advocacy for our veterans), Russ Feingold, Dick Durbin, Henry Waxman and Robert Wexler. The rest of them can go to blazes. (Chuck Hagel is retiring, Barack Obama is running for president.)
Unfortunately, most of these clods' seats are perfectly safe.
And that might be the biggest shame of all.
I'll close with part of the testimony from Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin, one of the other "good guys," at the faux-impeachment hearings yesterday:
"What this Congress does, or chooses not to do in furthering the investigation of the serious allegations against this administration - and if just cause is found, to hold them accountable - will impact the conduct of future presidents, perhaps for generations."
"Mr. Chairman," Baldwin continued, "there are those who would say that holding this hearing - examining whether or not the president and vice president broke the law - is frivolous. I not only reject this, I believe there is no task more important for this Congress than to seriously consider whether our nation's leaders have violated their oath of office. The American public expects no less. It is, after all, their Constitution. No president or congress has the authority to override that document, whereby 'We the People' conferred upon the branches of government limited and defined power, and provided for meaningful checks and balances."
There can be no question at this late date in the Bush presidency that the issue of whether the American system will be characterized by "meaningful checks and balances" is at stake - and that goes to the heart of the matter of why Friday's hearing ought not be the end of a process but a beginning.
Even after George Bush and Dick Cheney have left the White House, the definition of the presidency that they have crafted will remain.
"On January 20, 2009, the next president and vice president of the United States will stand before the American people and take an oath of office, swearing to 'preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.' This commitment and obligation is so fundamental to our democracy that our nation's founders prescribed that oath in our Constitution. They also provided for the removal of the president and vice president for, among other things, 'high crimes and misdemeanors,'" Baldwin explained to the committee. "Presidents and vice presidents do not take that oath in a vacuum. They are informed by the actions or inactions of past presidents and congresses, who establish precedents for the future."
It is in the power of the Congress to begin setting the precedent to which Baldwin addressed herself. That power was defined by the framers of the Constitution, as were the practices and procedures to be used in executing it.
... (The) American people have been forced to sit by while credible allegations of abuse of power mount:
And we continue to sit by, waiting for a Congress with the courage to act.
UPDATE: Check out Congress' latest capitulation, to big oil. |
President Bush's latest executive privilege claim, this time over FBI interviews of Dick Cheney and his staff regarding the outing of CIA agent Valerie Plame, drew contempt threats directed at the derelict Attorney General, Michael Mukasey, from Henry Waxman yesterday. Not only should Waxman follow through, Congress should junk the absurd handshake deal that's keeping them from exercising their right as a co-equal branch of government, to have their subpoenas honored (not only by Cheney and Bush, but also by Karl Rove,) or to file inherent contempt of congress charges against the intransigent. Mukasey should go first, as he has refused to carry out his duty as A.G., no less than did his predecessor, the squirlish Alberto Gonzales.
Last night, GOP hack Brad Blakeman asserted on Dan Abrams' show "Verdict" that Mukasey was, by refusing to enforce congressional subpoenas, simply serving his client, the president of the United States. Read the Constitution, Brad. The attorney general's client is the American people. It's the White House counsel who serves the POTUS. I'm surprised Abrams, a lawyer, failed to call Blakeman on that one.
(The Politico) Rep. Brad Miller (D-N.C.) has introduced legislation calling for the appointment of a special prosecutor to handle criminal contempt of Congress charges when Justice will not cooperate.
The Miller bill grows out of the dispute between House Democrats and the White House over subpoenas issued to White House Chief of Staff Josh Bolten and former White House Counsel Harriet Miers.
The committee issued the subpoenas as part of its probe ino the 2006 firing of nine U.S. attorneys. Bolten and Miers, relying on an assertion of executive privilege by President Bush, refused to comply with the subpoenas. The House passed both criminal and civil contempt resolutions against Bolten and Miers, but the Justice Department, citing earlier legal opinions, declined to allow a federal prosecutor to bring the case before a grand jury. The Judiciary Committee has filed a civil lawsuit against the Justice Dept. seeking to enforce the subpoenas.
According to Miller's office, his new bill would allow a federal judge to "appoint an independent ;Special Advocate' to investigate and prosecute alleged Contempt of Congress charges passed by the House of Representatives against current and former executive branch employees, when the Justice Department fails to do so." The special prosecutor would technically work for attorney general, but in reality, would be "largely independent from both the executive and legislative branches and not subject to undue political influences."
“The law explicitly requires the Justice Department to present Contempt of Congress charges to the grand jury, but the Bush Administration claims Congress can not compel a U.S. attorney to prosecute contempt cases where the White House claims executive privilege,” Miller said in a statement. “Other presidents have made bodacious claims about their powers, but always compromised in the end. No president, not even Nixon, has gone this far before.”
Good idea, Congressman. And while you're at it, how about proposing legislation requiring Nancy Pelosi and the other Bush cuckolds running the House of Representatives to use their constitutional authority, rather than ducking and running from the president, including -- no especially -- on the subject of impeachment, about which Miss Nancy is allowing only Potemkin hearings. As Johnathan Turley (who yesterday called such hearings little more than a "fancy dress ball") has said repeatedly (echoed by John Dean) there is more than enough reason to believe that crimes have been committed by this White House, such that impeachment is the only constitutional option. If the House won't even consider it, than divided government is dead, and the 110th Congress risks going down in ignominy, just like the 109th. |
Nancy Pelosi stands her ground in the face of attempted threats by Clinton donors who want her to back down on pledged vs. super delegates:
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has reaffirmed her position that superdelegates should not “overturn the will of the voters” in the face of criticism from top donors to Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.).
“The Speaker believes it would do great harm to the Democratic Party if superdelegates are perceived to overturn the will of the voters,” Pelosi spokesman Brendan Daly said in a statement late Wednesday.
“This has been her position throughout this primary season, regardless of who was ahead at any particular point in delegates or votes.”
In a letter first reported Wednesday on talkingpointsmemo.com, 20 top Hillary fundraisers and donors blasted Pelosi for saying that when the presidential nominating contest nears its conclusion, superdelegates should support whoever leads in pledged delegates.
They cited remarks she made to ABC’s “This Week” with George Stephanopoulos on March 16.
“We respect those voters and believe that they, like the voters in the states that have already participated, have a right to be heard. None of us should make declarative statements that diminish the importance of their voices and their votes,” the letter said.
... The letter says that its signers “have been strong supporters of the DCCC,” or the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, which is in charge of electing Democratic House members.
It concludes by saying they “hope you will be responsive to some of your major enthusiastic supporters.”
Memo to Clintonistas: one doesn't get to be speaker of the House by being a punk. And a majority of Democratic voters ... dare I say ... agree with Nancy.
Andrea Koppel of CNN just reported that Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (sorry, I just love typing that...) and Senate leader Harry Reid have sent a letter to Dubya, telling him in blunt language that a "troop surge" is an idea that has already been tried, and that has already failed. Not sure whether that means the Dems are laying down the gauntlet on more troops in Iraq (Reid had been one of the Dem Senators supposedly "open" to listening to Bush's surge idea) but it does indicate that Pelosi, who sided with Jack Murtha over Steny Hoyer for Majority leader mainly based on the Iraq issue (plus personal fealty) ... isn't afraid of a fight with the White House over the war. Developing...
President George W. Bush The White House Washington, DC 20500
Dear Mr. President:
The start of the new Congress brings us opportunities to work together on the critical issues confronting our country. No issue is more important than finding an end to the war in Iraq. December was the deadliest month of the war in over two years, pushing U.S. fatality figures over the 3,000 mark.
The American people demonstrated in the November elections that they don’t believe your current Iraq policy will lead to success and that we need a change in direction for the sake of our troops and the Iraqi people. We understand that you are completing your post-election consultations on Iraq and are preparing to make a major address on your Iraq strategy to the American people next week.
Clearly this address presents you with another opportunity to make a long overdue course correction. Despite the fact that our troops have been pushed to the breaking point and, in many cases, have already served multiple tours in Iraq, news reports suggest that you believe the solution to the civil war in Iraq is to require additional sacrifices from our troops and are therefore prepared to proceed with a substantial U.S. troop increase.
Surging forces is a strategy that you have already tried and that has already failed. Like many current and former military leaders, we believe that trying again would be a serious mistake. They, like us, believe there is no purely military solution in Iraq. There is only a political solution. Adding more combat troops will only endanger more Americans and stretch our military to the breaking point for no strategic gain. And it would undermine our efforts to get the Iraqis to take responsibility for their own future. We are well past the point of more troops for Iraq.
In a recent appearance before the Senate Armed Services Committee, General John Abizaid, our top commander for Iraq and the region, said the following when asked about whether he thought more troops would contribute to our chances for success in Iraq:
“I met with every divisional commander, General Casey, the Corps commander, General Dempsey. We all talked together. And I said, in your professional opinion, if we were to bring in more American troops now, does it add considerably to our ability to achieve success in Iraq? And they all said no. And the reason is, because we want the Iraqis to do more. It's easy for the Iraqis to rely upon to us do this work. I believe that more American forces prevent the Iraqis from doing more, from taking more responsibility for their own future.”
Rather than deploy additional forces to Iraq, we believe the way forward is to begin the phased redeployment of our forces in the next four to six months, while shifting the principal mission of our forces there from combat to training, logistics, force protection and counter-terror. A renewed diplomatic strategy, both within the region and beyond, is also required to help the Iraqis agree to a sustainable political settlement . . In short, it is time to begin to move our forces out of Iraq and make the Iraqi political leadership aware that our commitment is not open ended, that we cannot resolve their sectarian problems, and that only they can find the political resolution required to stabilize Iraq.
Our troops and the American people have already sacrificed a great deal for the future of Iraq. After nearly four years of combat, tens of thousands of U.S. casualties, and over $300 billion dollars, it is time to bring the war to a close. We, therefore, strongly encourage you to reject any plans that call for our getting our troops any deeper into Iraq. We want to do everything we can to help Iraq succeed in the future but, like many of our senior military leaders, we do not believe that adding more U.S. combat troops contributes to success.
We appreciate you taking these views into consideration.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid
Speaker Nancy Pelosi
Oh, and another thing: CBS is reporting that despite Bush, McCain and Lieberman's wildest neocon fantasies, the military is telling the Commander in Chief that the maximum number of troops available to carry out the McCain doctrine is not 40,000 or 20,000, but 9.000 soldiers and Marines, “with another 10,000 on alert in Kuwait and the U.S.” (sounds a lot like strategic redeployment ... doesn't it...?
Meanwhile, in what looks increasingly like a likely candidate pairing for 2008, the McCain and Lieberman Show descended on the uber-neoconservative American Enterprise Institute (home of the second-to-last neocon standing, Frederick Kagan ... the other is the ultimate survivor, perennially wrong, but still getting paid to give his opinion, Bill Kristol...) to back Bush's lonely longing for an escalation of the war in Iraq... (more on the lil' visit here ... complete with something both men will get increasingly used to this year: protesters.
Meanwhile, remember that old tale about rats and sinking ships? Guess who's belly flopping into the water now?:
... True, Saddam's hanging was just and, in principle, nonsectarian. But the next hanging might not be. Breaking precedent completely undermines the death penalty provision, opening the way to future revenge and otherwise lawless hangings.
Moreover, Maliki's rush to execute short-circuited the judicial process that was at the time considering Saddam's crimes against the Kurds. He was hanged for the killing of 148 men and boys in the Shiite village of Dujail. This was a perfectly good starting point -- a specific incident as a prelude to an inquiry into the larger canvas of his crimes. The trial for his genocidal campaign against the Kurds was just beginning.
That larger canvas will never be painted. The starting point became the endpoint. The only charge for which Saddam was executed was that 1982 killing of Shiites -- interestingly, his response to a failed assassination attempt by Maliki's own Dawa Party.
Maliki ultimately got his revenge, completing Dawa's mission a quarter-century later. However, Saddam will now never be tried for the Kurdish genocide, the decimation of the Marsh Arabs, the multiple war crimes and all the rest.
Finally, there was the motley crew -- handpicked by the government -- that constituted the hanging party. They turned what was an act of national justice into a scene of sectarian vengeance. The world has now seen the smuggled video of the shouting and taunting that turned Saddam into the most dignified figure in the room -- another remarkable achievement in burnishing the image of the most evil man of his time.
Worse was the content of the taunts: "Moqtada, Moqtada,'' the name of the radical and murderous Shiite extremist whose goons were obviously in the chamber. The world saw Saddam falling through the trap door, executed not in the name of a new and democratic Iraq, but in the name of Sadr, whose death squads have learned much from Saddam.
The whole sorry affair illustrates not just incompetence but the ingrained intolerance and sectarianism of the Maliki government. It stands for Shiite unity and Shiite dominance above all else.
We should not be surging American troops in defense of such a government. This governing coalition -- Maliki's Dawa, Hakim's SCIRI and Sadr's Mahdi Army -- seems intent on crushing the Sunnis at all costs. Maliki should be made to know that if he insists on having this sectarian war, he can well have it without us.
Nancy Pelosi gave one hell of a speech to become the third most powerful individual, and the single most powerful woman in America -- one drinks bender/cocaine overdose and one heart attack away from the presidency. She followed John Boehner's rather moody introduction, including his tribute to Gerald Ford and his ironic imputation to "be nice" in the next Congress. Pelosi laid out clearly that she will provide firm leadership on the issues that matter to Americans (one can hope, and today, at least, I'm willing to hope,) including Iraq, but that when it comes to the House of Representatives, it's mama's world. She showed a light touch (which I'm sure conceals a hell of a knife collection) by gushing about how the support of her family allowed her to go "from the kitchen to the Congress." I loved the touch at the end of bringing all the Congressional kids to the stage (it's all about the children.) And she vowed to force the Congress to do something it hasn't done in recent memory: pay for its programs as you go. Clearly, a traumatized and exhausted country needs some good mothering, and if you ask me, Nancy's just the grandma to git 'er done. Here's the text of her speech. Cliff notes: "embrace girl power..."