Let every American, every lover of liberty, every well wisher to his posterity, swear by the blood of the Revolution, never to violate in the least particular, the laws of the country; and never to tolerate their violation by others.

As the patriots of seventy-six did to the support of the Declaration of Independence, so to the support of the Constitution and Laws, let every American pledge his life, his property, and his sacred honor; let every man remember that to violate the law, is to trample on the blood of his father, and to tear the charter of his own, and his children's liberty.

Let reverence for the laws, be breathed by every American mother, to the lisping babe, that prattles on her lap; let it be taught in schools, in seminaries, and in colleges; let it be written in Primers, spelling books, and in Almanacs; let it be preached from the pulpit, proclaimed in legislative halls, and enforced in courts of justice. And, in short, let it become the political religion of the nation; and Let the old and the young, the rich and the poor, the grave and the gay, of all sexes and tongues, and colors and conditions, sacrifice unceasingly upon its altars.

While ever a state of feeling, such as this, shall universally, or even, very generally prevail throughout the nation, vain will be every effort, and fruitless every attempt, to subvert our national freedom.

- Abraham Lincoln, January 27, 1838
  Address Before the Young Men's Lyceum of Springfield, Illinois

Monday, July 30, 2007

I actually hate this

I hate politics. I don't want to watch this anymore. The only reason I am watching and screaming is because I can't bear that I said nothing before Katrina - and then watched New Orleans drown while no one came. But I hate it. I hate watching Gonzo lying under oath. I hate watching the media spinning everything. I hate seeing our Constitution being thrown under the bus.

When they come for Net Neutrality at last, I will log off and that will be that. I will not be out here with a gag. I am using my free speech while I still have it, but when the net is gone, I hope the people will have gotten the word and at least know what they have lost. I'm tired. My health is not good, and I speak out because my sense of ethics will not allow me to see and say nothing. A conscience is a painful, annoying thing. I'd rather be blissfully ignorant and upstairs reading a book right now. Or heaven forbid, actually sleeping. Sans the nightmares.

America, America, God shed his grace on thee. And crown thy good with brotherhood from sea to shining sea.

As Stephen King would say: bool, the end.

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Sunday, July 29, 2007

Bushie aide blocked health report

Gosh, another wet-behind-the-ears, clean cut, know-nothing Bushie aide (Liberty college?) blocked a medical report drafted by then Surgeon General Richard Carmona because... aw shucks... it just wasn't political enough for him.

It seems there was a Bushie with longstanding connections to both Bush and Cheney standing between the American people and information about their health and safety, not to mention the spread of diseases around the globe.

I'm shocked - SHOCKED to hear this has been happening! Whatever will we hear next? That Bush has been breaking laws?

From the Washington Post:

Carmona told lawmakers that, as he fought to release the document, he was "called in and again admonished . . . via a senior official who said, 'You don't get it.' " He said a senior official told him that "this will be a political document, or it will not be released."

If there is really something called 'corruption fatigue' then I'm suffering from it. Are you?

And aren't you sick of these sweet, WHITE, young and oh-so-innocent looking political robots the Bush administration has planted throughout the entire administration? What -- couldn't Bush find anyone with a brain and a conscience to do his lockstep without squealing? And of course we can't forget -- he can't hire anyone smarter than he is. So that leaves most of the country out of the equation.

The report - which when you hear about it, seems to have been doomed from the offset - highlighted the link between poverty and poor health, urged the U.S. government to fight diseases as an aim of it's foreign policy plan (what plan?) and called on corporations (yeah, right!) to 'help improve health conditions in the countries where they operate.'

I'm so sure!

Nice try Carmona... but this is so totally anti-Bushie! What were you thinking...? Fighting diseases? What does that have to do with bombing people? Where is the money in this?

Did you honestly believe that Bushies are capable of caring about the health or the wellbeing of anyone but their rich, White corporate cronies? Helping poor people? Get out - didn't you see what happened in New Orleans?

Here is a copy of the actual report, posted with this story by The Washington Post.

Three people directly involved in its preparation said its publication was blocked by William R. Steiger, a specialist in education and a scholar of Latin American history whose family has long ties to President Bush and Vice President Cheney. Since 2001, Steiger has run the Office of Global Health Affairs in the Department of Health and Human Services.

The rest of the Washington Post story can be found here. Read it and weep.

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Bill Maher: 'The Decider'

Because surely without some comic relief, we'll lose our minds...

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Gonzo; up to his neck but still paddling

After the head of the FBI, Robert S. Mueller III offered testimony that sharply 'conflicted' with Gonzo's sworn statements about a 2004 confrontation (the Ashcroft bedside party,) in which top Justice Department officials threatened to resign over a secret intelligence operation (turns out that was data mining, by the way; which explains why everyone was ready to quit their jobs. Illegal!)

While Justice Department lawyers continue to express their despair, describing departmental moral even lower than during Nixon's Watergate era, and as the New York Times is calling for either a special prosecutor or Gonzo's impeachment...

Jon Stewart continues to entertain.

Or is that Gonzo doing the entertaining? Lately it's hard to tell. But you have to imagine that Gonzo is every comedian's dream come true...

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Saturday, July 28, 2007

NYT: Scientists hack into electronic voting machines

The Democrats are addressing our voting hell!

From the New York Times:

Scientists’ Tests Hack Into Electronic Voting Machines
in California and Elsewhere

Published: July 28, 2007

Computer scientists from California universities have hacked into three electronic voting systems used in California and elsewhere in the nation and found several ways in which vote totals could potentially be altered, according to reports released yesterday by the state.

The reports, the latest to raise questions about electronic voting machines, came to light on a day when House leaders announced in Washington that they had reached an agreement on measures to revamp voting systems and increase their security.

The House bill would require every state to use paper records that would let voters verify that their ballots had been correctly cast and that would be available for recounts.

We need to throw some big support behind this bill. Our votes are our voice.

Critics say the California findings suggest that Congress should press for a quicker shift from the touch screens to optical scanning, in which voters mark paper ballots. Advocates of those systems say that the paper ballots would be less vulnerable to manipulation than the paper trails generated by the touch-screen computers and that they would hold up better for manual recounts.

If you haven't seen this week's episode of 'NOW,' you should watch the story about voter caging. Unbelievable. Actually, nothing is unbelievable these days, they GOP has raised the bar so high.

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A Warning

I may have posted this here before, possibly last winter. I wrote it after having the strangest dream... Lincoln walked into a 'dream in progress' and gave a fiery oration about democracy.

It's hard to forget a dream like that.

I think I was still 'haunted' by a recent visit to the Lincoln Memorial, and the timeless words written on the walls of his shrine there. I noticed, for the first time, that he looks out across the Mall; directly at the Capitol Building. Directly at Congress.

Watching them.

A Warning

I had a dream, of darkness and despair;
And in that blackness I did see a man
And he, when saw me, reached out for my hand.
I knew the face, the countenance so bleak
And I: I could not face those anguished eyes.

He’s pacing now, his hands behind his back
His shoulders hunched, his agitation clear;
"Our Constitution tossed aside – and why?"
Dark eyes, deep pools of wisdom and of grief;
In quiet desperation search my face;

And I, reminded of the ponderous price,
The heavy weight he bore to keep his faith;
To save the Union and restore the peace
and now he does not rest, even in death,
But brings a dire warning for our time:

"Democracy bequeathed to you at birth
Exists to serve the people’s will and need;
Do you no longer want this precious gift?
Of what are you so fearful now - of whom?
Of shadows that perhaps may come to pass?

This is the strongest nation on the earth!
The biggest danger, always, was your fear;
And used against you, it has made you slaves!
Would you return at last to slavery?
Indenture unto corporate masters now?

This is your government! It’s yours!
And those who tell you 'no,' have robbed you blind
Defend it now, and stand while there is time!
Your freedom on this earth is in your hands;
For no one else can save you from your fate.

The time and place to serve your nation’s need
Is now; right here, and in this darkest hour.
Speak out, stand up, refuse the bitter pill
Of passive servitude and fearful doubt!
How can let your independence lapse?

You drain all meaning from their noble deaths;
The generations who before you fought
To keep the flame of liberty alight;
And now, their sacrifice - no consequence?
And this, from simple fear and ignorance?

And you - your education guaranteed;
Whereas, I learned to read by mine own will
And burning drive to know, then change my world.
Perhaps it is too easy for you now...
You have no concept of the price we paid.

Has too much time elapsed, that you forget?
You cannot see the armies, nor recall;
We faced the largest monarchy on earth!
With fierce desire for freedom we held on,
To live here free! To work this land in peace.

The story of our forefathers remains
In history books, available to all;
Thus any child of liberty can learn
Our nation's lineage and forward path.
If only you would seek to learn your past!

Democracy will pass into decay;
I would this fate had passed our children by.
This land, this government designed to last
Into eternity; and all we asked
Our children yet unborn, was vigilance.

We did not ask you light the fire yourselves;
But merely tend the flame lest it burn out,
or worse, be snuffed by malice and deceit.
For all bequeathed to you – for all we gave;
We died for you that you might know true peace.

Adversity is always at the door;
Alas, true character is forged in fire,
And thus, is often lost as embers cool.
The child that knows not of the father’s pain,
Embraces war; and all must bleed anew."

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Friday, July 27, 2007

ACLU: US Constitution in grave danger

Not that this is news to me, but when the ACLU comes out and makes a statement like this... we've gone down a very dark road indeed.

I fail to see how Congress has any choice, given their oaths of office, but to defend it. Those who fail to defend it now should be accountable in the next election... and indeed when they come home for their 'August vacation' and leave their posts in Washington. This abuse of our democracy cannot stand. The people have spoken... unfortunately we are having trouble being heard over the din of the lobbyists.

From United Press International:

The ACLU in a statement urged the U.S. Congress to "vote to hold White House officials in contempt for refusing to cooperate with legitimate congressional subpoenas."

The ACLU statement said the issue had become "a constitutional crisis that threatens to destroy the separation of powers."

"Presidents have tried in the past to overreach in claiming executive privilege," said Caroline Fredrickson, director of the ACLU Washington Legislative Office. "However, Congress has long served as a check to such abuses of power, slapping the president's hand when needed and pursuing contempt or enforcement actions that eventually resulted in the release of crucial information. Today's Congress must do the same if it wishes to remain a meaningful and independent branch of government."

The ACLU said it "rejected claims that Congress' responsibility to conduct oversight or investigate executive misconduct was somehow less important than its legislative function and therefore not worthy of compulsory enforcement."

"It's do-or-die time for the separation of powers," Fredrickson said. "Congress is facing a historic moment when it can fight for its rightful place in our Constitution or accept the president's continued and sweeping claims of supremacy."

The ACLU noted that U.S. courts "have long supported Congress' authority not only to pass laws, but also to investigate their application. The courts have asserted that claims of executive privilege are a potentially dangerous proposition that should only be applied, and can only be upheld, under narrow circumstances."

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Would you walk away from $5 billion to save the land?

Would you walk away from $5 billion to protect and preserve your tribal land, if you were the last remaining member of your clan? I guess that depends on who you are, how you think, and what you value:

"This is my country. Look, it's beautiful and I fear somebody will disturb it," he says, waving his arm across a view of rocky land surrounded by Kakadu National Park, where the French energy giant Areva wants to extract 14,000 tonnes of uranium worth more than $5 billion.

Jeffrey Lee is the sole remaining member of the Djok clan (which must be a lonely fate.) He alone is the custodian and protector of his tribal land, the Koongarra. "I'm not interested in money. I've got a job; I can buy tucker; I can go fishing and hunting. That's all that matters to me," said Lee, who has vowed that he will never allow the ecologically sensitive land to be opened up to mining. Not at any price.

Even $5 billion.

The skyrocketing price of the uranium under his tribal land could make him one of the richest men in the world. Think about that. He would be in the company of financial giants like Bill Gates. He'd never want for anything again; could own fast cars, be financially secure with never a health care concern, live anywhere - or everywhere - and be a power broker. A mover and shaker.

But Lee isn't interested in these things. Lee isn't a taker; he is a protector:

Mr Lee said there were places on his land where the rainbow serpent had entered the ground that were so sacred, "I can't even go to them or talk about them.

"I can't allow people to go around disturbing everything."

Lee is apparently that rare human for whom the lust for power and wealth holds no siren song, no dark pull. His wealth lies all around him in the soaring beauty and simple pleasures of his heritage, the land.

Lee, who works as a ranger Kakadu, wants to see his tribal land incorporated into the national park where "it will be protected and safe forever".

Koongarra is only three kilometers from Nourlangie Rock; one of the most famous sites in Kakadu, Australia. Mr Lee's determination to ban all mining on his land puts pressure on the Federal Government to formally incorporate it into Kakadu National Park.

The government has agreed in principle for Koongarra to be incorporated into the park 'at the request of the tribal owners.' And the only tribal owner left is Jeffrey Lee.

"There's been a lot of pressure on me, and for a very long time I didn't want to talk or think about Koongarra," Mr Lee said.

"But now I want to talk about what I have decided to do because I fear for my country.

"I was taken all through here on the shoulder of my grandmother. I heard all the stories and learnt everything about this land, and I want to pass it all on to my kids."

This week Mr Lee took the Herald to a rocky outcrop overlooking the Koongarra deposit, a sacred place where, according to his clan's beliefs, a giant blue-tongue lizard still lurks and should not be disturbed.

Here it is, painted on a rock hundreds, perhaps even thousands, of years ago, its jaw apparently bitten off in a mystical fight.

This is what Mr Lee calls a djang, or place of spiritual essence, which he has closed to the 230,000 tourists who visit Kakadu each year.

"My father and grandfather said they would agree to opening the land to mining, but I have learnt as I have grown up that there's poison in the ground," he said.

Five billion is an enormous amount of money. But if money is the only thing one seeks in life... is there ever really enough? And will you ever really be happy?

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Thursday, July 26, 2007

Congress: No August recess for you!!

Open letter to both Houses of Congress:

Don't come home. I'm serious. STAY WHERE YOU ARE. We as a nation cannot afford to have you taking an entire month off at a time like this. Proceed with the full vote in the House and declare Miers and Bolton in contempt. Demand a special counsel to investigate Gonzo - and stay there and follow through. Get it done!

All you have to do, if you won't listen to us directly, is to look at your poll numbers and you will see that we are displeased. We want justice. We demand a return to the rule of law. We're not asking you, we're demanding this: we sent you to Washington to represent us.

Don't come home. We don't want you here. We want you THERE. I shudder to imagine what Bush and Cheney will be doing while you are away for an entire month. Don't let them. We want you on that wall.

Don't come home. We don't want you here.

Our troops aren't getting any 'August recess' from the 100+ degree heat of Baghdad. They are there every day, fighting in the blazing sun and risking death and injury. You have an obligation to remain and work, because your work is only just beginning and you have nothing to show for your work until there are RESULTS.

Stay and work. The rest of us don't have the luxury of an August vacation.

Your work is the most important work of all: it falls to you to defend our Constitution and our very democracy. No -- no August vacation in a 'time of war.' This war has two fronts... the one overseas, and the one in Washington D.C.

Stay right there and fight it. We don't want you here.

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Senate calls for special counsel to investigate Gonzo & subpoena for Rove

Fiery end to a hot July!

From Think Progress:

Senators Call For Appointment Of Special Counsel To Investigate Gonzales For Perjury

At a news conference this afternoon, four members of the Senate Judiciary Committee called for the appointment of a special counsel to investigate Alberto Gonzales on perjury charges.

Sens. Charles Schumer, Dianne Feinstein, Russ Feingold, and Sheldon Whitehouse explained in a letter to Solicitor General Paul Clement that “it has become apparent that the Attorney General has provided at a minimum half-truths and misleading statements” to the Judiciary Committee. They wrote:

We ask that you immediately appoint an independent special counsel from outside the Department of Justice to determine whether Attorney General Gonzales may have misled Congress or perjured himself in testimony before Congress.

The Senate appears more willing to go after these lying neocons than the House; although I'm not counting Conyers out just yet. It appears both Houses are working together right now to clamp down on the unitary executive before the August recess; with both Judiciary Committees taking the lead:

"We have now reached a point where the accumulated evidence shows that political considerations factored into the unprecedented firing of at least nine United States Attorneys last year," said Leahy, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee....

"It has become apparent that the attorney general has provided at a minimum half-truths and misleading statements," four members of the Senate Judiciary Committee wrote in a letter to Solictor General Paul Clement.

They asked Clement to immediately appoint an indepedent counsel from outside the Justice Department to determine whether Gonzales "may have misled Congress or perjured himself in testimony before Congress."

"We do not make this request lightly," wrote Sens. Charles E. Schumer of New York, Dianne Feinstein of California, Russ Feingold of Wisconsin and Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island.

Gosh, maybe they are getting annoyed with Gonzo's lies.

At a press conference this afternoon, Schumer accused Gonzales of violating his constitutional oath:

He took an oath to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. Instead he tells the half truth, the partial truth, and everything but the truth. And he does it not once, not twice, but over and over and over again. His instinct is not to tell the truth, but to dissemble and deceive.

Senator Russ Feingold went as far as to call Gonzo out for perjury:

Based on what we know and the evidence about what happened in terms of the gang of eight and what he said in that sworn testimony in the committee, I believe it’s perjury.

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Colbert: "Don't go to this site!"

Go go Stephen! This is hilarious - and the 'plug' nearly crashed the Kos server last night. Daily Kos community reaction here.

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Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Document proves Gonzo was abolutely lying

Under oath.

Impeach this one, maybe? Or wouldn't it be quicker to just toss him in jail? Perjury -- that's kinda a slam dunk, isn't it?

Documents show that eight congressional leaders were briefed about the Bush administration's terrorist surveillance program on the eve of its expiration in 2004, contradicting sworn Senate testimony this week by Attorney General Alberto Gonzales.

--- snip---

Gonzales, who was then serving as counsel to Bush, testified that the White House Situation Room briefing sought to inform congressional leaders about the pending expiration of the unidentified program and Justice Department objections to renew it. Those objections were led by then-Deputy Attorney General Jim Comey, who questioned the program's legality.

"The dissent related to other intelligence activities," Gonzales testified at Tuesday's hearing. "The dissent was not about the terrorist surveillance program."

"Not the TSP?" responded Sen. Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y. "Come on. If you say it's about other, that implies not. Now say it or not."

"It was not," Gonzales answered. "It was about other intelligence activities."

A four-page memo from the national intelligence director's office shows that the White House briefing with the eight lawmakers on March 10, 2004, was about the terror surveillance program, or TSP.
A Gonzales spokesman is insisting that the attorney general 'stands by his testimony.'

But of course.

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Jon Stewart hails Bush experts

Make me laugh, please. My government is so screwed up.

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Ask a Ninja about Net Neutrality

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I'm sure the Democrats will claim him, Fox!

Silly, silly Faux News... the antithesis of real news reporting. But always good for a laugh!

If you've ever noticed, any time a Republican steps out of line, the Fox ticker immediately labels him (or her) a Democrat. If a Democrat does something they like... they label him or her a Republican.

This one is my favorite!

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Clinton campaign smacks down O'Reilly over Daily Kos smears

O'Reilly has been going after Daily Kos almost daily. I don't watch his BS and haven't even bothered to acknowledge it out here, purely because it doesn't dignify response.

But Hillary took a strong stand in defense of Daily Kos - and strength in the face of GOP bullying is something the Democratic Party has been sorely lacking over the years.

I still distrust Murdoch (and that is my chief reason for my distrust of the Clinton campaign right now - Murdoch is the enemy of truth in journalism.) But I cannot help but applaud Hillary's stand against O'Reilly. Good on her for that, and it shows she appreciates the internet and open discussion of democracy. In spite of Murdoch lurking in the background (and Comcast,) perhaps she will come out in favor of Net Neutrality... another of my big concerns.

Here is some background on the whole O'Reilly smear campaign against Daily Kos, from Media Matters:

O'Reilly compared Daily Kos to Capone, Mussolini

On the July 23 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor, responding to Fox News contributor Kirsten Powers' assertion that "there's a lot of stuff that [Daily Kos bloggers] do that isn't horrible," host Bill O'Reilly said: "It's kind of like Al Capone." O'Reilly continued: "We'll only do bad things on Thursday, and we'll slaughter a bunch of people, but on Friday we'll go to church." In response to Powers' statement that "there's a lot of good diaries put up there," O'Reilly said: "[Former Italian fascist dictator Benito] Mussolini made the trains run on time."

In recent days, O'Reilly has repeatedly compared Daily Kos to the Nazis and the Ku Klux Klan, as Media Matters for America has documented (here, here, and here). For example, on the July 19 edition of The O'Reilly Factor, O'Reilly said: "[T]he hate this site traffics in rivals the KKK and Nazi websites." Media Matters has also noted that O'Reilly previously used the phrase "Mussolini made the trains run on time," to compare the Italian dictator to billionaire philanthropist George Soros.

O'Reilly asserted earlier in the July 23 segment that the Democratic Party is "held hostage" by Daily Kos, because bloggers "say to the candidates, 'If you don't toe our line or be nice to us, we're going to pull funding for you. We're not going to raise money and we're going to attack you.' " He added: "And you know who the most attacked person is? Hillary Clinton." Fox News contributor Michelle Malkin responded: "Yeah, that's right. The far left is emboldened. And they see a lot of these Democrat candidates not only cowering in front of them but then crawling on their knees to pander and try and get their votes."

While O'Reilly cited left-wing bloggers for "attack[ing]" Clinton, Malkin has herself attacked Clinton -- as recently as July 20 when, while guest hosting The O'Reilly Factor , she talked about a letter to Clinton from Undersecretary of Defense Eric Edelman saying that Clinton's request in May for a briefing on U.S. contingency plans for withdrawal from Iraq "reinforces enemy propaganda." Malkin asked Fox News contributor Juan Williams, "Wasn't this a case of Hillary putting on her little imaginary four stars on her sleeve and playing armchair general? Isn't that perhaps what got the Pentagon so ticked off, Juan?"

From the July 23 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor:

O'REILLY: On the radio today I basically said if the Democratic Party is going be held hostage by these people, and they are. Because not only do these people say terrible things, Michelle, they actually threaten the candidates. And they say to the candidates, "If you don't toe our line or be nice to us, we're going to pull funding for you. We're not going to raise money and we're going to attack you." And you know who the most attacked person is? Hillary Clinton.

MALKIN: Yeah, that's right. The far left is emboldened. And they see a lot of these Democrat candidates not only cowering in front of them but then crawling on their knees to pander and try and get their votes. Which I think in the end is probably a stupid thing to do because there's this perception that they're a lot more powerful than they are.

O'REILLY: Than they are, absolutely.

POWERS: I think that's right. But what I was going to say --

O"REILLY: Real quick.

POWERS: -- is there's a lot of stuff that they do that isn't horrible. Most, like 90 --

O'REILLY: Oh, I see. It's kind of like Al Capone.

POWERS: No. No. No. But it's really --

O'REILLY: We'll only do bad things on Thursday, and we'll slaughter a bunch of people, but on Friday we'll go to church. Stop.

POWERS: But the majority -- look, the majority of the stuff -- there's a lot of good diaries that are put up there. There's a lot of smart political stuff that's on there.

O'REILLY: Mussolini made the trains run on time.

POWERS: Oh, it's not like Mussolini. That's ridiculous.

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Breaking: House issues contempt citations to Miers, Bolton

CBS Radio has reported early this morning that the House Judiciary Committee has decided to hold Miers, a private citizen, and Bolten, the White House advisor, in contempt. Contempt citations could be handed out as early as today.

CBS also played the following statement from Senator Arlen Specter, which I can only speculate represents that the Senate signing off in support of this action. I think it is noteworthy that Specter himself - a ranking Republican - made the comment. This was probably intentional; to undercut any attempt by the White House to spin this as a partisan act.

That, and Specter is paying back a whole lot of IOUs to Cheney...

"If the White House does not allow the Justice department to enforce these citations, we can try them in the Senate, which I think could be very productive." - Senator Arlen Specter (R-PA)

I often wonder if Arlen Specter will, almost singlehandedly, save what is left of the moderate sector of the Republican party. As much as the neocons confound us, we cheer Bruce Fein and Paul Craig Roberts when they speak out against the neocon element in their party.

Specter goes even further. Specter fights for the law. Specter fights for justice, habeas corpus, and has been resisting Cheney behind the scenes since well before the Democrats took over the majority. And he doesn't give a damn whether he is siding with Democrats, Republicans or French Poodles while he does it.

I really like this guy. He and Leahy are a terrific tag team. Dare I feel... hope?

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Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Jon skewers YouTube debates

OK: I have a confession to make. I didn't 'cover' these debates because frankly I thought they were a bit ridiculous. Some of the questions were great, but the fact that we had to make a silly video to ask them... grow up America. Everything doesn't have to be reality TV to be real.

Dump the gimmicks. Look around. Reality is happening in D.C., right now. It's called 'saving the Constitution and democracy.' And it won't be on CNN. It may be on YouTube (but only if you put it there!)

Thanks Jon; this pretty well sums it up.

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He's really quite ridiculous

Transcripts of today's 'Gonzo grill' in the Senate are truly mesmerizing. I am amazed that the Senate still hasn't tossed the liar in a jail cell for contempt.

How much more of this can they take?

The man obviously cannot be embarrassed into telling the truth. He appears to know that nothing will be done no matter what he says. And yet... and yet... we get this:

Specter: How can you get approval from sedated Ashcroft?

Gonzales: Can I continue?

Specter: No, answer my question.

Gonzales: Obviously there was concern about Ashcroft's condition. There are no rules governing when Ashcroft decides he is well enough.

Specter: He had given us AG duties.

Gonzales: We knew he was ill...

Specter: Not making progress. Moving on. Do you think constitution govt can survive if Pres has unilateral authority to reject congress inquiries for Exec Privilege and prevent prosecution of claim?

Gonzales: Ongoing matter, I am recused, I cannot answer.

Specter: I am asking about constitutional law.

Gonzales: You are talking about an on-going issue.

Specter: No. Answer.

Gonzales: I won't answer - it is ongoing controversy and I am recused.

Leahy: Calls for decorum (room is protesting).

Specter: Won't pursue. This is hopeless. You are not just AG, you are a lawyer. This is a fundamental issues separate from USA resignations. Other subject. Do you have a conflict regarding the firing of US AGs?

Gonzales: Yes.

Specter: Do you have a conflict of interest about Miers?

Gonzales: Yes. I won't answer.

Specter: Let's find one you will answer. How about death penalty case? Charlton contacted your office and said case was not appropriate for dp. Testimony that AG spent 5-10 minutes on the issue...is this accurate?

Gonzales: I have no specific recollection of this case. But we have a detailed process for capital case review.

Specter: I am not interested in that. I want an answer to my question. You don't remember a case regarding a man's execution?

Gonzales: I have no recollection of the conversation.

Specter: Do you disagree with the testimony?

Gonzales: I can't agree or disagree.
He can't agree or disagree? Huh?

It gets even more ridiculous:

Schumer: I'll let you speak in a minute, but this is serious, because you're getting right close to the edge right here. You just said there was just one program -- just one. So the letter, which was, sort of, intended to deceive, but doesn't directly do so, because there are other intelligence activities, gets you off the hook, but you just put yourself right back on here.

Gonzales: I clarified my statement two days later with the reporter.

Schumer: What did you say to the reporter?

Gonzales: I did not speak directly to the reporter.

Schumer: Oh, wait a second -- you did not.


OK. What did your spokesperson say to the reporter?

Gonzales: I don't know. But I told the spokesperson to go back and clarify my statement...

Schumer: Well, wait a minute, sir. Sir, with all due respect -- and if I could have some order here, Mr. Chairman -- in all due respect, you're just saying, "Well, it was clarified with the reporter," and you don't even know what he said. You don't even know what the clarification is. Sir, how can you say that you should stay on as attorney general when we go through exercise like this, where you're bobbing and weaving and ducking to avoid admitting that you deceived the committee? And now you don't even know. I'll give you another chance: You're hanging your hat on the fact that you clarified the statement two days later. You're now telling us that is was a spokesperson who did it. What did that spokesperson say? Tell me now, how do you clarify this?

Gonzales: I don't know, but I'll find out and get back to you.

Pundits are losing their minds trying to find a way to spin this, or even simply cover it. I just laugh, shake my head... and wonder if maybe this time - this time - they will disbar him.

Is all of this for show? If so, it is a good one. An 'American Idol' for political pundits. Or perhaps the 'Gonzo Gong Show.'

Andrew Cohen from the Washington Post seems almost speechless with contempt:

Forget about the politicization of the Justice Department. Forget about the falling morale there. Forget about the rise in violent crime in some of our biggest cities. Forget about the events leading up to the U.S. Attorney scandal and the way he has handled the prosecutor purge since. Forget about the Department's role in allowing warrantless domestic surveillance. Forget about the contorted and contradictory accounts he's offered before in his own defense.

Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales deserves to be fired for his testimony Tuesday alone; for morphing into Jon Lovitz's famous "pathological liar" character (or maybe just one of the Marx Brothers) as he tried to dodge and duck responsibility before the Senate Judiciary Committee not just for his shameful leadership at Justice but also his shameless role in visiting an ailing John Ashcroft in the hospital to try to strong-arm him into renewing the warrantless surviellance program. Can anyone out there remember a worse, less-inspiring, less confidence-inducing performance on Capitol Hill? I cannot.

Neither can Gonzo. In fact, he couldn't remember much of anything today.

The most amazing thing (I think) to come out of today's testimony is proof that Cheney has been granted authority parallel with the President when it comes to intervening on pending matters at the Justice Department.

Now it's all starting to make sense, eh?

According to RAW STORY:

Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) questioned the Attorney General about the independence of the Justice Department and communications with the White House on pending cases or investigations.

He then pointed to a May 4, 2006 memorandum signed by Gonzales which showed that the Office of the Vice President had been granted parallel privileges with the Executive Office of the President on communicating directly with the Justice Department's staff on criminal and civil matters.

"What - on earth - business does the Office of the Vice President have in the internal workings of the Department of Justice with respect to criminal investigations, civil investigations, and ongoing matters?" the Senator asked.

Gonzales was stumped, "As a general matter, I would say that's a good question."

Whitehouse then pointed out that in the same memo, the Chief of Staff and Counsel of the Vice President were also explicitly granted the same authority.

"On its face - I must say - sitting here, I'm troubled by this," Gonzales added.


Whitehouse got the drop on the White House today - he came prepared. Here is a snip of the now famous memo that Gonzo can't recall ever seeing, or signing:

Catchy, huh?

Whitehouse went on to compare the Gonzales memo to the 'Ashcroft memo,' which allowed various members of the President's staff to communicate with the Justice Department. He then compared both memos with a letter written by Attorney General Janet Reno in 1994, which placed specific limitations on communications about pending cases to conversations between the White House Counsel or Deputy Counsel, the President or Vice President, and Attorney General or Deputy or Associate Attorney General. Not scores of miscellaneous staffers.

In other words... there was once a line between the judicial and the executive. I wonder, has that line now been irreparably blurred?

And now the kicker! From RAW STORY again:

In addition to granting the staff of the Office of the Vice President the ability to communicate with the Justice Department on civil and criminal matters, Gonzales' May 2006 memo gave Cheney's staff the ability to raise another issue with the Justice Department: 'Presidential Clemency Matters.'

Whether or not Cheney's office has intervened in discussions relating to presidential clemency has been of interest to Congress in recent weeks.

Before the White House commuted the sentence of former Cheney Chief of Staff I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, Reps. John Conyers (D-MI) and Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) of the House Judiciary Committee asked Cheney to recuse himself from internal White House deliberations on the subject.

White House spokesman Tony Snow did not rule out Cheney's engagement in the discussions on Libby when he discussed Bush's decision earlier in the month.

For once... no Snowjob?

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The high price of contempt

Gonzales is again testifying before the Senate, and once again... his testimony is damning. Leahy and Specter are ripping him to shreds, but I can't help but wonder (once again;) to what end? Do they intend to do anything about this obvious and complete contempt of Congress? Or allow it to continue?

I think most of us believed Gonzo would be out of office months ago. Yet there he sits, still smug, still suffering continual memory lapses or simply refusing to answer. He is no Attorney General... he is the private council to the White House.

From Truthout.org

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Ranking Member Arlen Specter (R-PA) failed to disguise their contempt for Alberto Gonzales in their opening statements. Leahy, after running down the laundry list of Gonzales' failures and instances of questionable testimony, said that the administration's stance on their surveillance programs was "just trust us." Well, "I don't trust you," said Leahy.

Specter was no more sparing in his criticism. Pointing out that the Justice Department suffered from a "lack of credibility, candidly, your credibility," Specter went on a tear of his own ("the list goes on and on"). On Gonzales' infamous visit to John Ashcroft's hospital bed in order to get the ill attorney general to sign off on the president's surveillance program, Specter said "It's just decimating, Mr. attorney general, to your judgment and your credibility."

I am beginning to wonder if the Democrats' insistence that they do not have the votes to impeach, oh, anyone at all, really translates to 'we don't have our lobbyists on board with impeachment.'


Take the DoJ's failure to prosecute a potentially HUGE Enron-like fraud case. The corporations love this administration. How could they not? It's a gravy train!

Consider that there are now about 24 lobbyists for every legislator in D.C.. Why else would the solution - impeachment - be so obvious to us, and so impossible for them?

We don't have lobbyists whispering in our ears. And the Democrats and GOP alike depend on corporate campaign contributions to get re-elected.

No wonder they cite the 2008 campaign as their reason for not impeaching. It is undoubtedly true. I am sure a number of corporations have told them straight out that they will not give any campaign contributions if the Democrats impeach.

It always comes down to money in the end.

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Slant me baby; gimme that yellow news!

The AP is really slipping. Or perhaps it 'slipped' long ago. But at times it is impossible to even read AP news alerts - the bias literally shrieks off the page.

Take this recent story about Russ Feingold's push to censure Bush.

Now we all know that if any administration EVER deserved to be censured, it is this one. American citizens are growing tired. We're not too fond of crime in high places, never have been, never will be. It's in our national DNA.

And while he cannot initiate impeachment -- that process has to start with John Conyers in the House Judiciary -- Senator Russ Feingold decided to act. After being pummeled three times out here with our impeachment comments, it appears that Senator Feingold heard our cries for justice and decided to censure Bush and Cheney.

Because this is something the Senate can actually do. Well that's the plan anyway.

Now for the AP's take on this:

Washington - Liberal Democratic Sen. Russ Feingold said Sunday he wants Congress to censure President Bush for his management of the Iraq war and his "assault" against the Constitution.

Oh AP editor: how do you really feel? Nice use of quotes to show your disdain. And of course, so relevant that Senator Feingold is 'liberal', and you must immediately point this out as the obvious reason for his unreasonable attack on poor president (24% rating) Bush.

But Feingold's own party leader in the Senate showed little interest in the idea. An attempt in 2006 by Feingold to censure Bush over the warrantless spying program attracted only three co-sponsors.

Bad, bad Senator Feingold. Always making waves! See? He tried this once before! And his own party leadership is against it! Crazy, crazy Senator Feingold.

Feingold, a prominent war critic, said he soon plans to offer two censure resolutions - measures that would amount to a formal condemnation of the Republican president.

And he's also against the war! I'm sure that is related!

The first would seek to reprimand Bush for, as Feingold described it, getting the nation into war without adequate military preparation and for issuing misleading public statements.

Yes, as Russ described it, they are being cited for attacking a sovereign nation on false pretenses. That about sums it up.

The second measure would seek to censure Bush for what the Democrat called a continuous assault against the rule of law through such efforts as the warrantless surveillance program against suspected terrorists, Feingold said.

Russ Feingold is a Democrat? Gosh - thank you for reminding us once again!

And actually -- I hate to bring this up -- but the issue isn't that the Bush administration is spying on terrorists. The issue is that they are illegally and unconstitutionally spying on us.

And now for the equally biased coverage of the opposing viewpoint:

At the White House, spokesman Trey Bohn said, "We realize that Senator Feingold does not care much for the president's policies."

Ya think? Forgetting of course, that only 24% of Americans (if that) actually DO care for the president's policies.

AP, AP... such an embarrassment to journalism. This isn't just Senator Feingold 'going off on his own.' Dig a little deeper, AP guys. Did you happen to see the way we (here on Daily Kos) beat the crap out of Senator Feingold last week for not endorsing impeachment? The man tries to represent the people, and gets... this predictable media disdain.

Bohn said Bush wants to work with Feingold and other Democrats on such matters as supporting U.S. troops, improving energy choices and securing health care and tax cuts for families. "Perhaps after calls for censure and more investigations, Congress may turn to such things," Bohn said.

You see? Once again, those lousy Democrats are impeding progress!

Senator Feingold... Russ... Bush wants to work with you! You just haven't noticed with all of the endless filibusters on these very issues. But really. He does. Really. If only you wouldn't waste everyone's time with such silliness as condemning a rogue presidency, we could get back to the daily obstruction games.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said Feingold's proposals showed the nation's frustration. But Reid said he would not go along with them and said the Senate needs to focus on finishing spending bills on defense and homeland security.

Frustration? Harry, Harry... we're PISSED OFF. Get that through your head. We're outraged. We're freaking out.

And we've noticed how well your spending bills are going, yes we have. Damned well. That all-nighter resulted in real progress. I'm not blaming you for that one, just sayin. You have time... because you'll never get anywhere with this GOP filibuster-bluster, and you know it. Do something for us -- for the people. Just this once.

"We have a lot of work to do," Reid said. "The president already has the mark of the American people _ he's the worst president we ever had. I don't think we need a censure resolution in the Senate to prove that."

Oh yes, so much work to do. All of it more important than the Constitution, illegal wiretapping, lies, obstruction of justice, outing a CIA agent, more lies, more obstruction of justice, and an imperial presidency.

Senator Reid -- we don't need a censure resolution, that is true. We need impeachment.
As for the Senate's top Republican, "I think it's safe to say Russ Feingold is not a fan of George Bush. I think that's the best way to sum that up," said Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky.

Senator Feingold, you're so mean. Why don't you like the president? Don't you love America?

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Vast Enron-like fraud probe abandoned by DOJ

Well isn't this fishy. And what a shock -- it appears the DoJ was involved:

US Dropped Enron-Like Fraud Probe
By Marisa Taylor
McClatchy Newspapers

Monday 23 July 2007

Prosecutor who built case against Virginia insurer was replaced.

Two years into a fraud investigation, veteran federal prosecutor David Maguire told colleagues he'd uncovered one of the biggest cases of his career.

Maguire described crimes "far worse" than those of Arthur Andersen, the accounting giant that collapsed in the wake of the Enron scandal. Among those in his sights: executives from a subsidiary of Berkshire Hathaway, the investment empire overseen by billionaire Warren Buffett.

In May 2006, he felt strongly enough about his case that he prepared a draft indictment accusing executives from a Virginia insurer, Reciprocal of America, of concocting a series of secret deals to hide its losses from regulators. Although he didn't name anyone from Berkshire Hathaway's subsidiary, he described the company as a participant in the scheme.

But Maguire never brought those charges.

Months after preparing the draft, he was removed as the lead prosecutor on the case and reassigned.

(What would we do without McClatchy? I mean -- who else is covering this? Did you see it on the news tonight? Cronkite would have run it... but those days are long over.)

It appears the Enron scandal scared the neocons and their business backers more than just a little bit. Nowadays, they keep close watch on 'real' prosecutors. If they step out of line (by trying to prosecute high profile criminals) they just 'reassign' them and pad the system with guys who won't do the work; won't prosecute the big fish.

Because surely, if this has been fully prosecuted, it would have been a WHALE of a story. (I know, I know... whales aren't fish. Let me off the hook this time.)

OK... a shark. Not as big, but more appropriate. And no insult to sharks intended... but these guys are definitely predators.

Even some within the DoJ were suspicious. After spending a cool two million bucks on the investigation, why would the government decline to prosecute? Some of DoJ insiders believed that Maguire 'overreached and had been knocked down.' Another story was that the government needed 'resources for terrorism investigations.' Heh, right. When you need an excuse for anything these days, pull out the terrorism card.

In the Reciprocal of America case, the fallout was clear. More than 80,000 lawyers, doctors and hospitals in 30 states lost their malpractice coverage. As they couldn't expect new insurers to cover them for past cases, some who were sued have claimed losses of hundreds of millions of dollars.

That's right; people lost money, lost coverage... were cheated. People suffered.

But surely that's just peachy as long as the big fish are never made to pay. There were even guilty pleas in this case; the CEO & Executive Vice President of Reciprocal of America were jailed on charges of fraud. Maguire was going after the parent companies for their involvement... and that apparently wasn't allowed.

Not by the DoJ.

The DoJ is of course declining to comment, because of course -- they can't remember. The corporation's lawyers insist the parent companies had no part in the crimes. So really there is no story here. And that is undoubtedly why none of the major media corporations covered it. Crazy McClatchy and their dedication to fringe news... the news American journalists don't want to report.

Tom Gober, an independent fraud analyst suggested that Maguire's supervisors were urging him to drop the case against General Reinsurance shortly before he was reassigned:

[He] concluded that the Justice Department had buckled under pressure from defense lawyers. Shortly before Maguire was removed, his supervisors were urging him to drop the case against General Reinsurance... Gober's suspicions were fanned by allegations of politicization in the Justice Department after nine U.S. attorneys were fired. He took his complaints to the Office of Professional Responsibility, which investigates Justice Department misconduct.

"It just stinks," he said. "You don't come in out of nowhere and in no time kill three years of sophisticated effort."

Even the FBI was urging additional prosecution; both the FBI and the Assistant U.S. Attorney attested that there was plenty of evidence against the parent corporations. Only the DoJ stood between justice and the 'big fish.'

Only the DoJ...

And isn't that becoming the familiar story... and I'm sure we'll hear it over and over and over again within the next year and a half, as the Democrats refuse to prosecute (anyone for anything) in their attempt to cruise right into a landslide 2008 victory. I wonder when it will occur to Democrats that we'd like substance -- not just a bland, inept alternative to criminality?

Read the entire article. I can't post the entire thing here, although I'd like to. I'm still reeling. This stinks worse than a salmon in a trash can on a hot and humid day.

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Monday, July 23, 2007

Unlikely Guantanamo whistleblower

Anyone can have a conscience. And these days, people of conscience are coming forward in unprecedented numbers.

According to today's article in the New York Times, Colonel Abraham is one of the strongest voices against the Pentagon's process for determining the guilt or innocence of detainees at the Guantánamo prison in Cuba:

In June, Colonel Abraham became the first military insider to criticize publicly the Guantánamo hearings, which determine whether detainees should be held indefinitely as enemy combatants. Just days after detainees’ lawyers submitted an affidavit containing his criticisms, the United States Supreme Court reversed itself and agreed to hear an appeal arguing that the hearings are unjust and that detainees have a right to contest their detentions in federal court.

Some lawyers say Colonel Abraham’s account — of a hearing procedure that he described as deeply flawed and largely a tool for commanders to rubber-stamp decisions they had already made — may have played an important role in the justices’ highly unusual reversal. That decision once again brought the administration face to face with the vexing legal, political and diplomatic questions about the fate of Guantánamo and the roughly 360 men still held there.

Former Nixon supporter and long time conservative Colonel Stephen E. Abraham came forward in June and expressed deep misgivings about the Guantánamo hearings, and questioned whether justice was being served.

The Pentagon is denying his charges and trying to minimize his role in the process by calling him a 'database manager,' but the fact remains that his voice and experience are quite credible, and his accusations profound:

“What disturbed me most was the willingness to use very small fragments of information,” he said, recounting how, over his six-month tour, he grew increasingly uneasy at what he saw. In the interviews, he often spoke coolly, with the detachment of a lawyer, but as time wore on grew agitated as he described his experiences.

Often, he said, intelligence reports relied only on accusations that a detainee had been found in a suspect area or was associated with a suspect organization. Some, he said, described detainees as jihadist without detail.

Apparently his words are making a difference. If he had not spoken out, the fate of these mysterious detainees - of which we know little or nothing, and whose guilt has never been proven in a court of law - would no doubt be languishing there still.

But after Abraham's testimony in June, the Supreme Court actually reversed itself and agreed to hear an appeal by the detainee's lawyers.

“Nobody stood up and said the emperor’s wearing no clothes,” Colonel Abraham said in an interview. “The prevailing attitude was, ‘If they’re in Guantánamo, they’re there for a reason.’ ”

Actually quite a few of us have noticed the emperor's very obvious lack of clothing. But it's nice to hear it from a former Nixon man.

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NY Times Editorial: "Just what the Founders Feared"

In an excellent editorial in the New York Times, Adam Cohen lays out my favorite argument for impeachment: the unitary, 'monarchical' presidency and the dangers it poses to our democracy:

"Given how intent the president is on expanding his authority, it is startling to recall how the Constitution’s framers viewed presidential power. They were revolutionaries who detested kings, and their great concern when they established the United States was that they not accidentally create a kingdom. To guard against it, they sharply limited presidential authority, which Edmund Randolph, a Constitutional Convention delegate and the first attorney general, called “the foetus of monarchy.”

The founders were particularly wary of giving the president power over war. They were haunted by Europe’s history of conflicts started by self-aggrandizing kings. John Jay, the first chief justice of the United States, noted in Federalist No. 4 that “absolute monarchs will often make war when their nations are to get nothing by it, but for the purposes and objects merely personal.”

And as James Madison himself once warned, war is the obvious tool for any president intent on gaining excessive powers that would never be allowed in peacetime:

Of all the enemies to public liberty war is, perhaps, the most to be dreaded, because it comprises and develops the germ of every other. War is the parent of armies; from these proceed debts and taxes; and armies, and debts, and taxes are the known instruments for bringing the many under the domination of the few. In war, too, the discretionary power of the Executive is extended; its influence in dealing out offices, honors, and emoluments is multiplied; and all the means of seducing the minds, are added to those of subduing the force, of the people.... [There is also an] inequality of fortunes, and the opportunities of fraud, growing out of a state of war, and ... degeneracy of manners and of morals.... No nation could preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare. - James Madison

We have certainly noticed how Mr Bush uses 'the war', 'national security' and 'executive privilege' as excuses for obstructing any congressional oversight. If there were no war, he would have no basis at all for any of these claims... and even with the war, his basis is extremely weak.

Cohen goes on to remind us that:

When they drafted the Constitution, Madison and his colleagues wrote their skepticism into the text. In Britain, the king had the authority to declare war, and raise and support armies, among other war powers. The framers expressly rejected this model and gave these powers not to the president, but to Congress.

The Constitution does make the president “commander in chief,” a title President Bush often invokes. But it does not have the sweeping meaning he suggests. The framers took it from the British military, which used it to denote the highest-ranking official in a theater of battle. Alexander Hamilton emphasized in Federalist No. 69 that the president would be “nothing more” than “first general and admiral,” responsible for “command and direction” of military forces.

The biggest power invested in Congress, is the power to cut off funding for a war that is not in the best interests of the nation. This is one of the gravest, most critical roles of Congress in wartime. And one that Congress absolutely must uphold:

The founders would have been astonished by President Bush’s assertion that Congress should simply write him blank checks for war. They gave Congress the power of the purse so it would have leverage to force the president to execute their laws properly. Madison described Congress’s control over spending as “the most complete and effectual weapon with which any constitution can arm the immediate representatives of the people, for obtaining a redress of every grievance, and for carrying into effect every just and salutary measure.”

The framers expected Congress to keep the president on an especially short leash on military matters. The Constitution authorizes Congress to appropriate money for an army, but prohibits appropriations for longer than two years. Hamilton explained that the limitation prevented Congress from vesting “in the executive department permanent funds for the support of an army, if they were even incautious enough to be willing to repose in it so improper a confidence.”

The Tillman case is but one example: how on earth can Bush claim 'executive privilege' for failing to disclose information about the death of former Cardinals football player Pat Tillman by friendly fire? Will this information somehow 'embolden' an already emboldened enemy?


Abuse of power is abuse of power. Attacks on the Constitution are not to be allowed, if we are to remain a free people living in a free democracy.

If we cannot end this war, then we must reign in this executive branch that continues to promote this war for it's own self interest. If the war continues unabated... if Congress refuses to use the 'power of the purse,' we stand to lose not just our army, our 'treasure,' and our status in the world -- but likely our democracy as well.

Our founders predicted this. The knew all of this from firsthand experience with a tyrannical monarch, and they wrote everything down as a warning for future generations, and built our Constitution around it. Alas, if only we would look back to our very own history for guidance. It's all there: in their words, and in our laws.

The accumulation of all powers, legislative, executive, and judiciary, in the same hands, whether of one, a few, or many, and whether hereditary, self-appointed, or elective, may justly be pronounced the very definition of tyranny. - James Madison

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The 'Russ Feingold' diaries

As many people know (by now,) Senator Russ Feingold regularly posts 'diaries' out on Daily Kos.

On July 13th, he posted a diary about Democratic progress in ending the war in Iraq. His diary was immediately 'hijacked' by loud and almost endless demands, pleas, and intelligent arguments for impeachment. I don't think a single comment was really about the diary itself. Russ came out to Kos, and he was immediately jumped: he was the one representative people hoped would listen.

Within the comment section, he responded at least once; saying that he didn't believe that impeachment was a 'good use of time'; that there was much work to be done, and that impeachment would be a lengthy process.

This of course, spurred even a greater flurry of angry, frustrated comments. People discussed precedent, the rule of law, danger to democracy, the destruction of our government, the destruction of our good name around the world, and mostly the gross illegality of this administration. The comments were at times amazing, and in total very consistent.

Hundreds of people came out of the woodwork to voice their concerns.

Later in the week, Russ came back. He posted a second diary, this one specifically addressing impeachment and again reiterating his thought that it wasn't a good use of the time remaining in this congress.

While some have pointed to Republicans’ decision to impeach President Clinton, I am also concerned about the over-use of impeachment. And I am conscious of the fact that I would have a specific role to play as a sworn, impartial juror should an impeachment be tried in the Senate. If charges come to the Senate, I will approach them and the trial with the same seriousness that I had when I participated in the Clinton impeachment trial. I would not prejudge the case one way or the other should it come to this.

I fully respect the anger and frustration many Americans feel with this Administration. I share much of it. But on balance, I think Congress’s time is much better spent ending the war in Iraq, conducting the oversight that was absent for the last six years, and advancing progressive legislation.

Once again, Kos posters came right back at him about the continual filibusters and obstruction by the GOP (implying that the Democrats weren't getting much accomplished anyway.) They also reiterated the continuing damage being waged on United States citizens, detainees, Iraq, and the climate by this 'unitary' executive branch (and no, I won't capitalize unitary - it is the antipathy of all that is American, a contradiction of our precious Constitution, and as such does not deserve to be acknowledged.)

The second diary filled up with fiery impeachment comments just as the first. There are, at this point 1889 comments posted. He apparently read all of the comments, and even added an update:

UPDATE: I know that many of you disagree with my approach to this issue, but I thought it was important to make it clear where I’m coming from and explain why I am not calling for impeachment.

I certainly do believe in holding this Administration accountable and upholding the Constitution and the rule of law. That’s why last year I called for the President to be censured for his authorization of the illegal wiretapping program. I thought that was the appropriate course because it would have put the Senate on record in condemning the President’s wrongdoing. I still think that the censure resolution played an important role in focusing the public and the media’s attention on the issue. And I am working to make sure that Congress finally exercises its oversight responsibility by holding hearings and demanding information about the wiretapping program, the U.S. attorney firings and other abuses of power.

Many of you also wrote that if I recognize that the President and Vice President may have committed impeachable offenses, than it is our responsibility to impeach. As I pointed out, it is the role of the House to impeach, and it is the role of the Senate to try impeachments. But the Constitution left it up to the judgment of members of Congress whether or not moving forward with impeachment is best for the country.

Please keep the comments coming. I’ll do my best to read them all. I very much appreciate your honesty and directness. This exchange is very important to me.

Yesterday, Russ came back out to Kos again, explaining his plan to censure Bush and Cheney:

The last time I posted on Daily Kos, it certainly generated a lot of interest, even though many people disagreed with what I had to say. I read all of the comments and I know many of you disagreed with me. As always, I appreciate how honest and passionate the Daily Kos community is about the issues that matter and even when we don’t agree it was important to have the civil exchange that we did.

After that last post, you really got me thinking. While I still am not convinced that Congress should pursue impeachment, you made some great points about how important it is to hold this administration accountable for its terrible misconduct. That includes tough oversight by Congress, but we should do more than that. The history books should show that Congress formally condemned this President, and others in the administration who have so brazenly misled the American people and undercut the rule of law.

Wow, imagine that. He was listening and thinking about our responses. And he came right out and said it publicly.

At this point, everyone was attacking him (they are still attacking him today,) declaring that he has betrayed the people and that he 'doesn't understand' the desire for impeachment and the reasons for demanding it.

There are now over 1000 comments posted to yesterday's diary.

Members of the Daily Kos community may be outraged and angry with Russ. And yet... just look what he has done. We now have three Russ Feingold diaries full of impeachment fury -- diaries that will stand for all to see, that will be seen, simply because they were posted by Senator Russ Feingold.

I may be out on a limb here, but the fact that he came back... well, I have a theory.

I do believe he is on our side. He is a brilliant man - he was a Rhodes scholar and he graduated Harvard with honors (law degree) I think we are pushing it, if we think Russ doesn't 'get it.' Russ gets it.

If you look at the other yahoos and bozos who somehow managed to get elected to our government -- Russ can think circles around them. And he's a completely ethical guy... he's our wizard (to put it in Hogwarts terms.) He may in fact be a little too clever for us, in our anger and frustration.

Think about his recent diaries. They generated a firestorm of impeachment comments - very well-thought out and fiery comments. Excellent comments. What a gold mine of impeachment fury.

After the first round, he came back yet again and egged everyone on, to produce still more fiery comments. Another gold mine. Another huge repository of great and insightful impeachment comments. And then he came back again yesterday, but this time he offered something... something that he, as a Senator, can actually deliver. And he gave everyone credit for making him think. He told everyone that he was listening. What he didn't say, but that everyone should contemplate... is that due to his diaries, there are now three repositories of impeachment arguments that are impossible to refute. It is impossible now for anyone in Congress to say that 'the people' do not understand impeachment, and that they do not support it. The comments show how smart the people actually are.

Russ can't initiate the impeachment process himself (it has to start in the House,) and he will have to serve as a juror if impeachment leads to a trial in the Senate.

Russ is helping us. He's even willing to be a lightning rod for the cause. Do we really believe that other congressmen and senators somehow missed Russ Feingold's diaries - and all of the comments they generated? Please. I even emailed the links to Bruce Fein, in case they might be useful.

Everyone is watching. And they know the American people are outraged. And thanks to Fox's O'Reilly (who blasted Daily Kos on several recent broadcasts) many conservatives are now reading the site as well. And they will see these arguments, and I suspect some of them - exposed to this information for the first time - will pause and think.

All because of Russ. No one would have bothered with anyone else's diaries, but because they are Senator Russ Feingold's diaries -- everyone is paying attention.

We never lost Russ. But at some point, we might stop attacking him... and go after the House. It has to start in the House.

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Russ calls for censure of Bush and Cheney

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Sunday, July 22, 2007

Homeland insecurity

This is from a diary posted today on Daily Kos. It is just one more dangerous warning, and so I want to repost sections of it here, and direct you to read the rest of it.

It is time to watch and pay attention.

In Friday's Portland Oregonian, there was an item about Representative Peter DeFazio (D,OR) being denied access to White House plans concerning the continuity of the U.S Government after a terrorist attack contained in The National Security and Homeland Security Presidential Directive (National Security Presidential Directive NSPD-51/Homeland Security Presidential Directive HSPD-20). Why is this of interest? Why would Representative DeFazio want to see these plans?

Because Representative DeFazio is a member of U.S. House Committee on Homeland Security.

The diary goes on to mention that even Norm Ornstein, a legal scholar from the American Enterprise Institute (Bruce Fein is also a member) cannot understand why a member of the Homeland Security Commitee - with clearance - would be denied his right to view these documents.

Norm Ornstein, a legal scholar who studies government continuity at the conservative American Enterprise Institute, said he "cannot think of one good reason" to deny access to a member of Congress who serves on the Homeland Security Committee.

"I find it inexplicable and probably reflective of the usual, knee-jerk overextension of executive power that we see from this White House," Ornstein said.

As for DeFazio, even he is now becoming suspicious (perhaps he will become one of the three necessary co-signers to move impeachment forward?)

This is the first time DeFazio has been denied access to documents. DeFazio has asked Homeland Security Committee Chairman Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., to help him access the documents.

"Maybe the people who think there's a conspiracy out there are right," DeFazio said.

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GOP smashing previous filibuster record

Remember the good old days, when the GOP was determined to get rid of the 'filibuster' entirely?

Republicans say that Democrats have abused the filibuster by blocking 10 of the president's 229 judicial nominees in his first term -- although confirmation of Bush nominees exceeds in most cases the first-term experience of presidents dating to Ronald Reagan. Describing the filibusters as intolerable, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) has hinted he may resort to an unusual parliamentary maneuver, dubbed the "nuclear option," to thwart such filibusters.


Too bad they didn't do it.

According to a new story from McClatchy, entitled 'Senate tied in knots by filibusters,' this GOP Senate is on track to blow all previous records for 'obstructionism' in Congress:

WASHINGTON: This year Senate Republicans are threatening filibusters to block more legislation than ever before, a pattern that’s rooted in — and could increase — the pettiness and dysfunction in Congress.

--- snip ---

Nearly 1 in 6 roll-call votes in the Senate this year have been cloture votes. If this pace of blocking legislation continues, this 110th Congress will be on track to roughly triple the previous record number of cloture votes — 58 each in the two Congresses from 1999-2002, according to the Senate Historical Office.

Of course, as you've already guessed... the Democrats are to blame!

Republican Senate leader McConnell said Friday in a news conference that when he became minority leader, "it was not my goal to see us do nothing. I mean, you can always use the next election as a rationale for not doing anything. But as you all know, we've had a regularly scheduled election every two years since 1788, so there's always an election right around the corner."

--- snip ---

"And I think clearly the way to accomplish things is in the political middle, and I would challenge our friends on the other side of the aisle to step up and take a chance on something big and important for our country."

Oh please.

Of course the mainstream media has blamed the Democrats for gumming up the works, and most especially for demanding the all night session to debate an early withdrawal from Iraq. Some news reports have even accused the Democrats of filibustering.

McClatchy is one of the only news departments that has maintained any semblance of balance and honesty in their news reporting. As we've seen, just about every other news service has blamed the Democrats for congressional inaction, and ignored the fact that the GOP has been obstructing at every turn. The fact that they are taking it to a new historic level... can't wait to see that reported on CNN and NBC.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., forced an all-night session on the Iraq war this week to draw attention to what Democrats called Republican obstruction.

"The minority party has decided we have to get to 60 votes on almost everything we vote on of substance," said Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo. "That's not the way this place is supposed to work."

Even Sen. Trent Lott, R-Miss., who's served in Congress since 1973, complained that "the Senate is spiraling into the ground to a degree that I have never seen before, and I've been here a long time. All modicum of courtesy is going out the window."

I read McClatchy, but it was fun to take a trip down memory lane and revisit Frist at his high-handed finest; criticizing the Democrats for 'blocking 10 of the president's 229 judicial nominees'. Uh huh.

Maybe its time to bring back that nuclear option...

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Saturday, July 21, 2007

Is anyone coming?

Throughout our history, a leader would always arise to bring us out of the darkness. These days, the only comfort I can find are in these 'soundbites' from the past.

It is the common fate of the indolent to see their rights become a prey to the active. The condition upon which God hath given liberty to man is eternal vigilance; which condition if he break, servitude is at once the consequence of his crime and the punishment of his guilt. - John Philpot Curran

I have no idea why Congress will not act.

I only know that some nights... when it's late and quiet and I cannot sleep, I hear Patrick Henry's fiery oration in my head:

Is life so dear or peace so sweet as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take, but as for me, give me liberty, or give me death!

He also said:

The liberties of a people never were, nor ever will be, secure, when the transactions of their rulers may be concealed from them.

Do any of our politicians read the words of our nation's founders? Anyone?

I think of Lincoln, FDR, Martin Luther King and the Kennedys. And I can't help but wonder... are we orphaned now? Is anybody coming?

God grants liberty only to those who love it, and are always ready to guard and defend it. - Daniel Webster

Al Gore has 'fallen out love with politics.' Well that's just ducky. Some of us never 'fell in love with it' in the first place. Heaven forbid that in our time of greatest need, we only have politicians in our government. Are there any great statesmen left?

Is anybody coming?

It is a universal truth that the loss of liberty at home is to be charged to the provisions against danger, real or pretended, from abroad. - James Madison

I can't help but wonder why James Madison would have bothered to include 'or pretended,' if it were impossible - or even unlikely that someone would pretend.

At least the real leaders in our past left us some words of wisdom that we can eat and sleep and breathe, and maybe live.

The dogmas of the quiet past, are inadequate to the stormy present. The occasion is piled high with difficulty, and we must rise -- with the occasion. As our case is new, so we must think anew, and act anew. We must disenthrall ourselves, and then we shall save our country. - Abraham Lincoln

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Friday, July 20, 2007

Olbermann on fire

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The plot thickens

The latest claim from the White House is that Bush can invoke executive privilege whenever he wants, and that this will nullify any attempt to pursue contempt charges against anyone in the White House.

I'm curious... do they just make these rules up as they go along? Have any of them even read the Constitution?

Bush administration officials unveiled a bold new assertion of executive authority yesterday in the dispute over the firing of nine U.S. attorneys, saying that the Justice Department will never be allowed to pursue contempt charges initiated by Congress against White House officials once the president has invoked executive privilege.

Somewhere out there, Nixon is giggling (until Lincoln chases him around the Oval Office again, kicking him in the shins.)

The official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the issue publicly, added: "It has long been understood that, in circumstances like these, the constitutional prerogatives of the president would make it a futile and purely political act for Congress to refer contempt citations to U.S. attorneys."

Mark J. Rozell, a professor of public policy at George Mason University who has written a book on executive-privilege issues, called the administration's stance "astonishing."

"That's a breathtakingly broad view of the president's role in this system of separation of powers," Rozell said. "What this statement is saying is the president's claim of executive privilege trumps all."

Basically Bush is saying 'if I don't want to give it to you, you can't have it, I am the decider!' Then he beats his chest a few times and spits.

Sigh. Another temper tantrum in the White House.

What will Conyers do next? The people vs. King George the Unelected. Film at 11.

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You can't say you don't know

A powerful message from Greenpeace

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Thursday, July 19, 2007

The Daily Show: C-Span After Dark

Jon Stewart can make anything funny: even tedious, all night GOP BS vote obstructions!

C-Span After Dark

Political Theater

Red Aye

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Bush chief of staff faces possible contempt charge

Possible contempt. I suppose like Gonzales -- anything is possible, if not likely. Somehow these guys just always skate.

But here's the goods, from Reuters:

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The White House chief of staff faced possible contempt charges after a congressional panel on Thursday ruled as invalid President George W. Bush's bid to limit the probe of the firing of federal prosecutors.

On a party-line vote of 7-3, a Democratic-led House of Representatives Judiciary subcommittee rejected Bush's contention that his claim of executive privilege shields the top aide, Joshua Bolten, from having to turn over subpoenaed documents.

"Those claims are not legally valid," said panel Chairwoman Linda Sanchez, a California Democrat.

Here is the official letter from Chairman Conyers:


Mr. Fred F. Fielding
Counsel to the President
Office of the Counsel to the President
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20530

Dear Mr. Fielding:

I am disappointed that the President's Chief of Staff Josh Bolten has continued to disobey the subpoena served on him on June 13, 2007, and has not produced the documents called for by that subpoena. Enclosed with this letter is a copy of the text of a ruling by Chairwoman Sanchez at today's meeting of the Subcommittee on Commercial and Administrative Law rejecting the claims of privilege that you have sought to raise in response to that subpoena. The ruling was sustained by a 7-3 vote of the Subcommittee.

This letter is to formally notify you that I must insist on compliance with the subpoena, and that Mr. Bolten's failure to promptly mitigate his noncompliance could result in contempt proceedings, including, but not limited to proceedings under 2 U.S.C §§ 192, 194 or under the inherent contempt authority of the House of Representatives. In light of Chairwoman Sanchez's ruling, we strongly urge immediate production of the responsive documents pursuant to the subpoena. Please let me know in writing by 10 a.m. on Monday July 23, 2007. whether Mr. Bolten will comply. If I do not hear from you in the affirmative by then, the Committee will have no choice but to consider appropriate recourse.

The Senate Follies... (or should I say folly)

Meanwhile GOP members of the Senate - the obstructionists - are facing our own contempt... but as you can see, we're not terribly effective either. Over 70% of us want out... but hey, who's counting heads?

I so enjoyed the all-nighter with the Senate, (except for Libermouth - did he talk for an hour or did it just feel like a week?) I was happy to see my respect for Chuck Hagel was well placed (he once again bucked the GOP lockstep and voted to hold a vote; yes, it this was all simply about holding an up and down vote on an amendment to get our troops started on an exit from Iraq. Republicans can't even manage that.)

Was disappointed with my own Senator Lugar - especially after his recent speech calling for a change in direction prior to the September deadline (which by the way just magically changed to November!) It would have been nice if his words could have been accompanied by his vote. As they say... talk is cheap.

We did get a little more insight into the 'why' of the GOP obstruction, with an eye-opener of a comment from Idaho Senator, Republican Larry Craig, who came right out and admitted we can't leave Iraq 'without the oil:'

Idaho GOP Sen. Larry Craig stood on the Senate floor late Tuesday night and said:

"What happens to the world energy supply if Iran does gain more control in the Middle East? What are the realities of the consequences of an Iran that possibly could gain control over 54% of the world energy supply? They could place a choke hold over the Strait of Hormuz and possibly in sea lanes in the region, severely limiting the supply of oil to the world market. That is not just a reality that the United States must face, but a reality for the world. I have worked very hard with my colleagues to lessen the U.S. dependence on foreign oil.

He was cut off by the presiding officer, but later amended his remarks to include in the Congressional Record this:

However, we are not yet capable of raising production in the United States because we have been blocked by the other side of the aisle from doing so. Therefore, a premature withdrawal from Iraq could have dire consequences with our economy and energy supply; but would also have the same effects on the world economy.

Waiting on Iraqis to sign that 'we're taking all of your oil' bill, aren't you?

Well, the Iraqi Parliment is taking the summer off... and apparently so are you! Golly - I guess those poor troops will just have to slog around in 100+ heat and get their limbs shot off until you all come back from summer vacation. Happy golfing and I hope y'all get nice tans. I'm sure the troops are getting very tanned... or are those scorch marks from the bomb blasts?

(This makes me sick.)

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