SHOCKING ... if true

False but accurate seems to be the new Dem rallying cry. Rather than address serious issues such as global warming, the looming entitlement crisis & our security situation, they prefer to hold harassing hearings to distract the president and make political hay.

The Dem method is to create some big fuss & hold hearings. When the hearings turn up nothing much, they just say that there must be more and investigations should continue. After all, they say, there must be something to the allegations since there are so many hearings. They say that the lack of hard evidence is evidence of a cover up. They are sure that Republicans are guilty of something and that given enough time and the limitless resources of the government, they can find it.

Dems have been holding lots of hearings. They are very good at holding hearings. Dems like hearings because they can say all sorts of things and not really do anything. When it is all said and done, Dems have said a lot more than they have done.

Of course, if you do not specify the exact crime in advance, it is easy to raise suspicion and dig up evidence. Investigate long enough and hard enough and you can find something, or create something. Tyrants have known this for a long time. Democrats know it too.

Take the case of the fired U.S. Attorneys. The President has the right to fire U.S. Attorneys for any reason at all. He does not have to have a good reason. These are political appointees. Clinton fired the whole lot of them when he came into office. If a Dem is elected in 2008, I bet those holding U.S. attorney jobs on election night will be out of work soon after inauguration day. Congressional Democrats have no legal right to judge the president's reasons. This is strictly a political issue. They can react politically. There is nothing wrong with politics. We have politics to decide issues where we disagree. It is dangerous to try to make political disagreements legal issues, as the Dems have been doing.

The main villian here is John Conyers along with Patrick Leahy. The Justice Department turned over 8,500 documents and made available a dozens of officials for public testimony. If he actually read any of them, Conyers found nothing, but since he has already determined guilt, he is trying hard to spin this as a legal case. He has even threatened a criminal contempt citation to punish those who disagree with him on political grounds. BTW - Conyers' current partner Senator Leahy explained why Conyers’ was off base. In fact, he anticipated this problem and explained it years ago. Maybe Conyers should listen to Leahy. He was a smart guy ... once. Maybe he should listen to himself too.

Posted by Jack at July 31, 2007 9:09 PM
Comments
Comment #228005

If you say something enough it becomes true right?

If anything though you have to give credit where credit is due, they have held the hearings and conducted a lot of investigations. And the media is falling all over itself showing us the results of the first 100 days … sorry first 180 days … sorry first …

Posted by: Edge at July 31, 2007 9:41 PM
Comment #228008

Jack, the hearings are extremely necessary and important to many of us who respect and have served to defend our U.S. Constitution.

Now, as for the other matters Democrats haven’t found time to get to, I couldn’t agree with you more. They have been busy, I just don’t think their priorities are in line, outside Forcing a debate on Iraq, addressing health care in this country, and the very important oversight and investigatory hearings absent under Republican rule of Congress.

Posted by: David R. Remer at July 31, 2007 9:52 PM
Comment #228015

Compared to other abuses by this administration, the firing of prosecutors is nothing. Congress should do its duty and immediately begin impeachment proceedings. Republican misrule has damaged the integrity of the government; I wish Congress had the balls to set matters right.

Posted by: Gerrold at July 31, 2007 10:31 PM
Comment #228019

Jack,
In a deft bit of political maneuvering, the Democratic House and Senate are finally managing to pass a Lobbying Reform bill. Although both Republicans and Democrats voted overwhelmingly for it, one Republican Senator from South Carolina kept stopping from going to conference by using the filibuster. The Democrats have found an effective parliamentary response: they will not send it to committee, instead putting it up for votes in the House & Senate as is, without possibility of amendments.

For those actually following politics, this is huge. The Republicans have chosen to stop Democratic legislation with filibusters, thereby giving the impression this is a “do-nothing” Congress. It may be obstructionist, but Republicans certainly have that right. Yet once again, Reid, Pelosi, and Hoyer have outmaneuvered the hapless Republicans.

The Democratic Congress is doing a pretty good job, considering their opponents have no intention of letting anything near and dear to the Democrats pass.

Articles such as the one in this article ignore the less telegenic, yet far more important stories. The article posits the false conception that the only thing happening are televised hearings, and that is simply, flatly not accurate.

As for the hearings… Why did Monica Goodling plead the Fifth, and accept immunity? Oh yeah. That. And Seven DOJ officials have already resigned because of this investigation.

How many White House officials have invoked executive privilege in order to avoid testifying? How many documents are being withheld?

And did anyone who actually watch the Gonzalez testimony on C-SPAN? If so, you then know Gonzalez is despicable. It was one of the lowest, ugliest things I have seen.


But the same talking points keep popping up. For example:

“The President has the right to fire U.S. Attorneys for any reason at all. He does not have to have a good reason. These are political appointees. Clinton fired the whole lot of them when he came into office.”

That is true, but ignores the obvious. The President cannot fire USAs for reasons which are illegal. Obstructing justice is illegal. That is why is accepted practice for an incoming administration to replace USAs, but it is unheard of for them to be fire in midterm.

The continuity of the DOJ from administration to administration comes from the career appointees, who are supposed to put politics aside. That is where Goodling and others fell astray of the law. They used political affiliation as a criteria for hiring.

Well, I could go on and on, obviously. Pardon the rant.

Posted by: phx8 at July 31, 2007 11:08 PM
Comment #228020

Jack, you hit it right on the head. The Democrats, and everybody else with partisan axes to grind against the administration, should step back for a minute and honestly think about whether they’d tolerate attacks such as these on anybody except those they disagree with politically. I seriously hope they wouldn’t.

It’s essentially being maintained that we need these investigations because how else are we going to find evidence of wrongdoing to pin on the administration?

That wrongdoing exists is simply assumed, and what’s so crazy about all this is that the absence of proof is actually being used as the reason why the investigations are necessary. The less evidence there is, the more need there is to investigate. It’s completely backwards and upside-down.

Posted by: Loyal Opposition at July 31, 2007 11:19 PM
Comment #228021

LO,
Did you see Gonzales testify? What did you think?

Posted by: phx8 at July 31, 2007 11:26 PM
Comment #228023

Phx8, I saw some but not all of Gonazles’ testimony.

It did nothing to influence to my long-held belief that the guy is a poor Attorney General who only holds his job because of his long association and personal friendship with Bush. I thought John Ashcroft was much better, but still less than stellar. It’s hard to say, however, if either is worse than Janet Reno.

As for whether or not anything Gonzales said in his testimony warrants investigation or punishment, no. The perjury accusation has been completely discredited at this point, and all that’s left to wonder about is why, considering the legal talent in this country, we keep getting such poor people in the position of Attorney General.

Posted by: Loyal Opposition at July 31, 2007 11:46 PM
Comment #228026

My uncle, when he was Treasurer for Marin County, worked with Ed Meese while he was in Sacramento, and my uncle had only the most complimentary things to say about Meese. But like Colin Powell, Meese fell in with the wrong crowd, and found himself being a team player for the wrong team; it cost him his credibility & reputation, and deservedly so.

My friend since childhood worked very closely with Janet Reno. Although I knew his political inclinations perfectly well, he would never discuss them with me while he was with the DOJ. He did speak highly of Janet Reno. Her devotion to law was pure, and it was total. Unfortunately, she completely lacked political sense. She was easy to manipulate, and ultimately everyone suffered because of it.

That is an interesting observation- despite the large pool of talent, the AGs of recent decades seem to be a very mediocre bunch.

Posted by: phx8 at August 1, 2007 12:10 AM
Comment #228030

phx8 said: “The Democratic Congress is doing a pretty good job, considering their opponents have no intention of letting anything near and dear to the Democrats pass.”

This has all the appearances of having been the Republican’s strategy formed in 2006, when they recognized the polls were not going to support their bid for majority status in Congress in last Nov’s. elections. Drop virtually everything in Congress, pass it on to the Democrats to deal with if they acquire a majority. And then, use their filibuster and Democrats’s slim majority to try to paint Democrats as ‘do nothing’.

This seemed apparent to me, and I thought the Republicans were actually somewhat effective as I began seeing the generalization comments about Democrat’s do nothing Congress. Which prompted me to actually take a look at the record, which in turn prompted my article in the center column regarding over generalizations and how much Democrats have actually passed in just six months, at a rather blistering pace despite the investigation and oversight hearings.

Appears their plan is not working, nearly as well as they thought. But, that can be said about most of what they have tried to do since 9/11. Even their plan to hold their Big Tent Party together through thick and thin, which was very successful, fell apart after November’s elections.

Posted by: David R. Remer at August 1, 2007 12:33 AM
Comment #228032

LO said: “The less evidence there is, the more need there is to investigate. It’s completely backwards and upside-down.”

It would appear from that comment that you will not accept the intention of our founding fathers that government be transparent (except for national security risks), and in the anticipation that people with power will not volunteer such transparency, they actually created oversight and investigation authorities in the people’s Houses to insure such transparency is forced, if not proffered.

You can call it backwards if you wish. But, in a real sense you are calling our founding fathers backwards, for what the Congress is engaging in is entirely defended by the U.S. Constitution and laws emanating from it. The absence of conservative scholars calling Democrat’s action illegal or unconstitutional, is truly a testament in its own right.

Posted by: David R. Remer at August 1, 2007 12:42 AM
Comment #228034

No, David. I’m not rejecting “the intention of our founding fathers that government be transparent.” You are.

I’m saying that political partisans shouldn’t muddy the waters of transparency by persecuting their opponents on political grounds which have nothing to do with known facts. Dressing up partisanship as investigations into “matters of law” when the “transparent” facts do not support accusations of violations of law is the real problem.

Transparency is the enemy of the Democrats here—they’re going absolutely nuts because the facts don’t support their insanely partisan and unsupported presumptions of guilt.

It’s made worse when the inquisitors basically admit that they have no evidence and use that lack of evidence as the very reason why they need to investigate even more.

Seems that you’re perfectly ready to live with kangaroo courts of the kind that typify police states, so long as the victims are those with whom you have partisan beefs.

Posted by: Loyal Opposition at August 1, 2007 1:05 AM
Comment #228036

David,
Yes, I read your article in the center, and it makes a good point. The Democrats are doing pretty well when it comes to passing legislation. Reid & Pelosi have been running rings around their opponents. Unfortunately, what they are doing does not exactly capture the imagination of the public. Hearings are much more interesting for- well, not most people, most pay no attention at all to politics- but anyway, for some, televised testimony catches attention.

The DOJ hearings command some attention, but it is easily dismissed by talking points and dismissive catch phrases, ignoring the fact that the hearings have already resulted in seven DOJ resignations, one person pleading the Fifth and receiving immunity for the crimes she committed, at least three claiming executive privilege, and meanwhile, the withholding of large amounts of evidence continues.

Should Gonzales be impeached? I would like to see it. I think he deserves it. I suspect he has violated his oath to the Constitution. But unlike most, I would not support impeachment unless it is an open and shut case. The evidence needs to be incontrovertible. For me, “high crimes and misdemeanors” should be a high standard. And the obvious course taken by the Republicans is to refuse to testify, and withhold evidence, and chances are that will save their bacon.

They can run out the clock, on this and other issues, such as Iraq. I am pretty sure they will succeed, and dump the Bush administration failures on the next incoming one.

But they will pay a heavy price for the path they have chosen. Republicans ignore the results of the 2006 midterms at their own peril.

Posted by: phx8 at August 1, 2007 1:12 AM
Comment #228042

Jack,

Well it sure beats debating non-existant flag burning and anti-marriage amendments that don’t have a chance of passing. Or how about all those tax payer dollars Republicans wasted holding hearings on Clinton’s sex life? How quickly we forget the Republican legislation debates to distract the public and make political hay.

Posted by: JayJay at August 1, 2007 2:26 AM
Comment #228047

LO
If you have the evidence before an investigation then you do not need an investigation.An asumption of wrongdoing is a prerequsite for any investigation. When your accountant goes over your books he looks for errors does he not?

Posted by: BillS at August 1, 2007 3:38 AM
Comment #228050

Jayjay

Welcome back.

Read the Leahy link. He makes an excellent argument against the Republican witch hunts re Clinton and the Democratic witch hunts re Bush (although I am sure he would like to forget it now).

I make a distinction between political disagreements and legal requirements. Politics can be nasty and brutal. We decide things politically when we disagree. It beats fighting.

When politicans start trying to use the law to settle their political scores, it is very dangerous for the health of democracy. It makes opponents unwilling to compromise or even speak lest they be in legal peril. That is what many are afraid of now. Even the most honest man might make some inconsistent statements. If they are all called perjury, all of us would be in danger.

Making political disagreements into legal issues is also just hateful. What they are saying is that it is not enough to win the point, they also want to ruin the person and bankrupt his family. It is terrible and shows the depths to which some people have fallen. Good people must condemn such behavior on the part of both their friends and enemies.

To my Dem friends, someday when your passions and hatreds fade, you may feel shame for having gone that dark route, just as I hope that some Republicans are ashamed of the foolishness around the Clinton attacks. Politics is rough, but it should have some limits.

BillS

If you investigate something with a goal in mind, you usually can find what you are looking for. The Dems have an intersting take on this. They investigate, find not much and then call for more investigations with the justification that there must be something wrong since the investigation did not find enough.

ALL

Think Ken Starr.

Posted by: Jack at August 1, 2007 7:59 AM
Comment #228052
The President has the right to fire U.S. Attorneys for any reason at all.

Not true. He can’t fire someone for the purpose of interfering with an ongoing investigation. That could be obstruction of justice. (That’s my understanding at least.)

You’ve got to admit, for people with nothing to hide the Bushies are sure being shifty about this. If they had just explained from the outset who decided to fire these particular attorneys and what the rationale was (however thin) then there would be nothing left to investigate.

Posted by: Woody Mena at August 1, 2007 8:22 AM
Comment #228053

Comey, Negroponte and Mueller all contradicted Gonzalez’s sworn testimony. Thus, “the crime in advance” appears to be perjury at the very least.

So why are “the main villains” John Conyers and Patrick Leahey? Oh, because Jack said so.

Got it.

Posted by: Mister Magoo at August 1, 2007 8:35 AM
Comment #228056

Jack,

Yes it is shocking that you are using the Clinton did it smokescreen!!!!!
The fact is bush fired his own people because they where not corrupt enough to fit in with his bush crime family government take over plan. His own people turned him in after the last election. They new nothing would get done with the rubber stamp republicans in control. But you know that Jack, that’s why you are using the Clinton did it smokescreen!!!!!!! You are right it will work on the bush’s 25% supporters. The sad thing is that how many other crimes are going undiscovered. We all know about the blood for oil war. How about the no bid contracts?????? Jack when you need a contractor do you just write them a blank check????? Or do you ask for some kind of accountability for what is done. Maybe you get three our more bids like I do. How can you defend these traitors??????? Every one makes mistakes in trusting some one and then later finding out you have been lied to. All you have to do is admit you where lied to. Know one will think lesser of you, it has happened to me allot. We are not blaming you for this mess!!!!! You could admit you where lied to and help us turn things around. We need honest republicans to stand up and do the right thing!!!!!!!! We where all lied to all the time. This bunch of criminals cannot tell the truth about anything.

Posted by: Outraged at August 1, 2007 9:21 AM
Comment #228059

Jack

The Dems have an interesting take on this. They investigate, find not much and then call for more investigations with the justification that there must be something wrong since the investigation did not find enough.

You say they find not much Jack. Get real, if they find anything it is worth pursuing. In light of the current state of governmental credibility I would think it is high time someone seriously pursues wrongdoing and sleaze in government. Any attempt to possibly use the justice system to favor political needs should and must be pursued vigorously. The previous republican congress’s idea of pursuing wrong doing was a self investigation, slap on the hand and a promise not to do it again. Corruption was acceptable and accountability was virtually non existent under republican rule. You can not honestly deny that Gonzalez has left the door open to serious suspicion. There simply are too many unanswered questions to disregard allegations. To do so would be telling government officials that to continue with this brand of opaque governance is proper. You go ahead and continue with your rhetorical spin Jack. It is what you are good at. But seriously, you are not doing your party any good or pulling the wool over anyones eyes.

Posted by: RickIL at August 1, 2007 9:53 AM
Comment #228064

LO, I have witnessed your comments simply dismissing facts in order to maintain your position. What’s happening is legal, constitutional, and there is evidence enough for oversight that the power of government was used for political purposes regarding both the DOJ dismissals, and the wireless wiretapping issue.

Dismissing and ignoring these facts pointed out many times now, gives meaning to your comments of denial. Your comments appear defensive for political purposes, which says to me anyway, what motivates your comments is not good governance and rule of law, but, identification with your party as if it were an NFL home team, the law and country be damned.

This kind of loyalty to party over good governance and nation are precisely why both the Duopoly parties are loosing registered voters to the Independent category. Your party more than the other, obviously, but, it fluctuates over elections.

I think it is a conflict of interest for a voter to both be loyal to their party right or wrong, and call themselves a patriot of the nation. The two conflict far too often, as in your party’s President’s violation of FISA law for example, and your party loyalists defending law breaking.

Posted by: David R. Remer at August 1, 2007 10:27 AM
Comment #228067

phx8, good posts (even the rant :^).
You wrote:
“The evidence needs to be incontrovertible. For me, “high crimes and misdemeanors” should be a high standard.”

As Mister Magoo just pointed out, Gonzales has already clearly perjured himself. We can’t have an Attorney General who lies repeatedly and still gets to keep his job, can we?

Woody, I agree that they brought this all on themselves. They didn’t even think to have a ready excuse made up. They’ve been so arrogant and unstoppable in their lawbreaking, they thought they didn’t need an excuse.

Posted by: Adrienne at August 1, 2007 11:16 AM
Comment #228070

Jack-
It’s not an either-or proposition. We’ve been doing those things, too. There are only so many of us on these committees, and there are hundreds of folks in Congress. Maybe the anemic oversight of the Republican Congresses spoiled you in terms of how much a government can do, but this was actually par for the course long ago.

We’ve turned up quite a bit on the Administration’s dealings, actually. You’re minimizing things. Across the way, I documented one of the newest news items to come across on the Attorney firing case, where an attorney was almost fired for keeping settlement proceedings and their announcements moving along at a quick pace. Imagine that: firing people for doing their job.

No, what we’re getting is a situation where getting testimony from individuals in the White House is like pulling teeth, where even when they do volunteer to testify, they ask that it be off the record and not under oath. Can you give me any good reason why that should be standard practice?

Maybe it’s because traditionally, to avoid the appearance of impropriety, most US Attorneys are given autonomy from the politics, once they’re in place, reason being because you don’t want the defense in these cases to claim political motivation, and have that stick. You also want to preserve the appearance and the reality of impartiality, knowing that a case went before the court because the Prosecutor believed it was necessary to enforce the law, not because some Senator or Representative thought it would be good for their campaign, or because the national party wanted to keep its majority.

The president does have the right to fire each and ever one of the US Attorneys. However, most Presidents have chosen not to, because that all too easily brings accusations their way of political tampering. The Republicans, as of late, have become rather oblivious to such issues of impropriety, in both appearance and reality. They’re smart enough to realize it might look bad, but for some reason they move forward with it. Just ask that Murkowski woman from Alaska, who said that the deal might come back to bite her in the ass.

Politics has become a game of ass-covering, of using institutions and positions meant to serve our interests as a people for the personal enrichment of them, their cronies, their sponsors in the business world, and the upper-class in general. That’s got to stop, because we are seeing the pernicious results of that corruption in our day to day lives.

The US Attorneys will likely be replaced on Inauguration day 2008, but that will be customary. Just about every incoming president has done that. However, it’s always been a more or less wholesale event Nobody got selective about it, much less wrote up a list and got the president’s political consigliere involved. When people say that the appointments are political, it’s the origin of the appointment they’re talking about. They aren’t talking about taking the highest federal law enforcement officers in a state, and manipulating their offices to benefit the party.

If there’s a central point here, as in my entry, it’s this: there’s nothing strictly political about these offices. While the decisions there may have political consequences, their main consequence for the everyday American is not political, it’s very real. These Attorneys can take away people’s freedom, their fortunes, their good name. If that office becomes politicized, then the impression that we will have fair treatment under the law, regardless of what the political prerogatives are in the land, will be harmed. There’s a good likelihood that the next president will be a Democrat, so the question you must ask yourself is whether you want Democrats to hire and fire these chief law enforcement officers according to their political whims.

If a future Democratic president, say, doesn’t like Drug law enforcement, what would your response be if they fired attorneys that were too vigilant on the matter? If they wanted increased gun crime prosecution, and the prosecutors balked on good evidence against pursuing that route, would you want the president handing them their pink slips?

Or do you want these people doing their job? Their job is to enforce the law, and I wholeheartedly support them doing that.

A government cannot function properly if politics figures into everything, because politics is so often about appearances, and governing is so often about realities. One of the most damning comments about this administration was by a former head of faith-based initiatives, who said that there was no policy wing to the Bush White House, only a political wing; nobody was figuring out what was best to do, or how to do things, folks were just trying to play the Washington game. We need leadership that is more than just games-playing.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at August 1, 2007 1:26 PM
Comment #228071
LO, I have witnessed your comments simply dismissing facts in order to maintain your position.

David, no one should claim to have either a perfect command of all the facts or a mind so flawless that their interpretation of facts is the only one possible.

Unfortunately, your arguments on this subject tend to put forth your own political opinions as “facts” in and of themselves and then use these so-called “facts” as the basis of discrediting the arguments of others. The pre-determined conclusions are so rigid that objective facts can make no dent in them.

Here are some facts for you then. Try to get beyond your political opinions and at least acknowledge them.

The challenges to the the President’s interpretation of the FISA laws have been thrown out of court. What’s more, the president has suspended that wiretapping program anyway. Further, Congress itself has attempted in the past to actually bolster the president’s view of this matter with legislation, and even right now, as we speak, the Democratic Congress and the Administration are trying to find an acceptable compromise on this issue.

At the very worst, the administration in the past held an incorrect interpretation of the law. Not the same thing at all as “breaking the law,” any more than it can be said that the measure’s detractors “broke the law” because their challenges were thrown out of court for lack of legal merit.

What’s more, as far as these investigations go, don’t simply assume that because Congress has oversight over the Executive branch, that those who disapprove of these investigations believe that “Congress should have no oversight of the administration.” That just a cheap debating trick.

A cop has the right to pull over speeders on the highway. If I say that a cop shouldn’t pull over and give tickets to commuters with Red Sox bumper stickers because he’s a die-hard Yankees fan, I’m not actually saying that cops have no right to enforce the laws on our highways. That’s nothing but a straw man. The issue is not whether Congress should be pursuing investigations based on partisan disagreements alone.

That Gonzales committed perjury is completely discredited nonsense. Even the New York Times admitted it, and there’s this opinion piece by a partisan Democrat in yesterday’s Washington Post. It’s a good example of somebody with strong partisan beliefs showing that they can put them aside when they begin actually acknowledging what the facts are as opposed to what they wish they were.

Posted by: Loyal Opposition at August 1, 2007 1:36 PM
Comment #228073

Gobal Warming, I thought that according to the Republicans there is no such thing, or is the false pres now agreeing with Al Gore?

Posted by: KT at August 1, 2007 2:52 PM
Comment #228075

“Rather than address serious issues such as global warming, the looming entitlement crisis & our security situation”

Jack,

Putting the same old debate over “attorney-gate” to rest for a moment I’d like to address those three issues.

Re: global warming—I’m sure you’ll see some highly contested debate and legislation regarding the environment by this time next year, probably late winter or early spring. That’s just an “edumicated” guess.

Re: security—I’d certainly think that Implementing the 9/11 Commission Recommendation Act (HR 1) qualifies in that category. I’d love to see a real border security measure as a “stand-alone” bill———-no “comprehensive” to it but that’s not likely.

The third and my choice to target for arguments sake is “the looming entitlement crisis”. Wow, you think all of these hearings are an act in futility!

Just consider that Medicare part D and Medicare Advantage plans did nothing but move Medicare much closer to insolvency and the fact that Bush and Congressional Republicans are fighting changes to those two programs tooth and nail what good would it do to undertake an even more comprehensive plan to reduce Medicare costs?

IMO the answer is to move every American towards equal access to health coverage regardless of their income level and cut out the middle man, but it ain’t gonna’ happen with a Republican in the White House, let alone without an overwhelming Liberal majority in both the Senate and the House.

Then there is Social Security. Do you think for one moment that Bush would sign into law any piece of legislation that didn’t include some sort of “privatization” scheme? Personally I’d like to see Congress propose developing a true “lock box” for the trust fund (with a deadline to restore the funds “stolen” so far) and annual adjustments to the cap on Social Security taxes (now at $97,500.00) as a start.

But it’s not going to happen, not until the pendulum swings much further to the left …….. like after the next great depression.

Posted by: KansasDem at August 1, 2007 4:25 PM
Comment #228077

I should add that I hope my predictions and assumptions in that last post are wrong. I don’t mind being wrong, in fact sometimes I love being wrong.

Posted by: KansasDem at August 1, 2007 4:30 PM
Comment #228080

LO said: “David, no one should claim to have either a perfect command of all the facts or a mind so flawless that their interpretation of facts is the only one possible.”

I understand the perceived need to be a relativist, no truth or facts, right or wrong, only anarchy of opinion and interpretation of events for the sake of maintaining one’s status as cheerleader for the home team. This kind of rationalization in the face of cognitive dissonance is participated in by a substantial portion of our society. It’s a free country.

I just wanted to point out how it is that Bush’s admin. can maintain 29% approval regardless of anything and everything that it does. Same was true of public opinion in Adolph Hitler’s Germany, even after WWII ended and his actions were made public.

Posted by: David R. Remer at August 1, 2007 5:00 PM
Comment #228081

LO-
Interpretation of FISA? To call it an interpretation is a creative interpretation all its own. The law is set up as the sole authority for domestic surveillance. Bush did not follow that law, but instead decided to search and surveil suspects and their associates in the United States without a warrant.

The reason the ACLU’s case was dismissed is that there’s no evidence that can be presented to the court that shows the ACLU was an injured party. That does not mean that the ACLU wasn’t injured, it’s just that the program was so secret, nobody can reveal what went on!

That civil suit, though, does not speak as to whether the program was illegal or not. The whole situation surrounding the visit to Ashcroft in the hospital came about because the acting Attorney General, James Comey I believe, balked at re-authorizing it. That’s a pretty good indicator that people within the administration thought it was illegal. Another indicator is that we know at all; the leak on this matter came from NSA employees who believed that the program was of shaky legality.

And no, an incorrect interpretation of the law is not mutually exclusive of breaking the law. If that interpretations leads to action, then that action can potentially break the law, if the right conditions are met.

On the subject of pulling over speeders, your people seem to be arguing that a die hard Yankees fan shouldn’t pull over somebody with a Red Sox sticker, because that would be partisan. You don’t really address the legality of any non-warranted search and seizures, instead trying to make it a difference of interpretation, even though no successful interpretation of the fourth amendment has shown the administration’s argument to be Kosher.

Gonzales basically has engaged in the same kind of wordplay that got Clinton in trouble, and his distinction is likely no more valid than Clinton’s distinction between oral sex and the missionary variety. Even now The Director of National Intelligence indicates that the program in question was just one of many approved. He, too, hair-splits about what was and was not part of the Program.

What we have here, though, are a multitude of inconsistent stories coming out of the administration, each with its own definition of what the program is and isn’t, who was responsible for what, and what’s still going on even today.

Looking at your link concerning FISA, I hate to inform you that your understanding of our position is lacking if you think we’ve moved much of anywhere. Our position was always that we were willing to legislate to adapt the analog-era FISA laws to the new digital times, so that warranted surveillance could be done against our enemies. It was never our position that we wanted to let our enemies in this country, citizen or not, go un-noticed. We just wanted folks to have to justify who they were looking in on, not simply have this super-secret power they could use as they please on us.

The whole Gonzales thing does not help matters. The one thing many American have feared, is that we will trade off freedom for security. The only way to keep that from happening is to maintain the checks and balances that force those looking for terrorists to keep their eye on that ball, and not use their new powers to other ends.

Your notion that accusations of perjury against Gonzales are discredited don’t hold water. You can hold onto your partisan democrat opinion pieces all you want to, because the folks at the FBI think Gonzales perjured himself.

Mueller, who was not in the hospital room, spoke to Ashcroft right after Gonzales left and testified he took notes about the incident. Fedarcyk said that appeared to be insurance against a White House counterattack.

“Usually you take notes to protect yourself. He used them to throw Gonzales under the bus. That’s huge,” Fedarcyk said.

“This is not partisan politics. It’s a bold, strategic, calculated move.”

There’s no confusion here, for the folks at the FBI.

The real question here is how we can expect an Attorney General to function having disastrously mishandled his relationships with not merely Democrats, but even the heads of his subordinate agencies? How can he lead having alienated and publically sunk the image of so many within the department? And how does he have any credibility when the head of the FBI thinks he’s a fricking liar!

Let’s talk about what you wish the facts were: you wish Attorney General Gonzales could do his job. Fact is, he’s done a heck of a job, brownie style, and the time has come to replace his leadership with a more competent, less ideological individual.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at August 1, 2007 5:00 PM
Comment #228084

“he’s done a heck of a job, brownie style, and the time has come to replace his leadership with a more competent, less ideological individual.”

Stephen Daugherty,

I agree, but………..these terms, “the time has come to replace his leadership with a more competent, less ideological individual”, really need to be applied to GW Bush.

I mean look, Bush gave us Rumsfeld’s head on a stick and now we have a new Sec of Def doing Bush’s bidding. Alberto is only a symptom of what really ails us. Until Bush and Cheney are gone nothing will really improve.

Sadly we can’t make that happen until January ‘09.

It’s still important to pursue any and all violations just to set a precedent, but we won’t accomplish much until Bush and Cheney are gone.

Posted by: KansasDem at August 1, 2007 5:22 PM
Comment #228085

Remer -
“I understand the perceived need to be a relativist, no truth or facts, right or wrong, only anarchy of opinion and interpretation of events for the sake of maintaining one’s status as cheerleader for the home team. This kind of rationalization in the face of cognitive dissonance is participated in by a substantial portion of our society. It’s a free country.”

That’s a nice piece of prose, but it doesn’t answer the question. You were accused of playing loose with the facts. Your response is that the other person doesn’t believe there should be any facts. That doesn’t answer the question of why you believe them to be factual since evidence has been given which seems to disprove your “facts”. I thought you above this…but in fact, you have just proved his LO’s point. Nice.

Posted by: Don at August 1, 2007 5:40 PM
Comment #228087

Woody Mena:

No, it is not obstruction of justice because even if you fire an attorney General, open investigations continue unabated.

Case in point: When Clinton fired ALL the Attorneys General, including the one investigating Webb Hubbel (you remember him? No agenda for Clinton there, right?) the investigation continued and if you are brave enough to recall the outcome, you will understand that just firing an AG does not stop what they were doing when fired.

Posted by: Beirut Vet at August 1, 2007 6:43 PM
Comment #228088

“Seems that you’re perfectly ready to live with kangaroo courts of the kind that typify police states, so long as the victims are those with whom you have partisan beefs.”

LO,

The heated debate between you and David R. Remer made me take a second look to see what the hoopla is about. Well………your statement about “kangaroo courts” is a perfect place to start. The Democratic Congress’ opposition to “kangaroo courts” is one of the big reasons for these hearings.

The overt politicization of the offices of the US Attorneys is a perfect example of “kangaroo courts” in practice. If in fact a US Attorney has placed his/her career in jeopardy by pursuing the investigation and/or prosecution of Republicans or because they failed to pursue the investigation and/or prosecution of Democrats rather than following the rule of law regardless of political affiliation, whooooaaaaa—————Houston—-we have a problem!

What’s happening in Congress now could hardly be called a “kangaroo court”. For instance Sara Taylor had her attorney seated right next to her. No one has been forced to appear without access to legal counsel.

What I believe will unfold is a battle over the legal constraints of executive privilege. How is that a bad thing? Just imagine either Ron Paul or Dennis Kucinich being elected president. Would you want them to have the same unrestrained executive privilege that Bush has displayed? Or, for that matter even Hillary?

We’re treading on very unsteady ground ……… a change from three co-equal branches of government to one branch that trumps the other two!

Posted by: KansasDem at August 1, 2007 7:06 PM
Comment #228090

LO, you’re playing games. Gonzalez would be proud. First, as I’ve pointed out elsewhere and as Stephen D. just pointed out, the courts have not ruled on the legality of the administration’s warrantless wiretapping of U.S. persons. I hope you don’t repeat that falsehood again. Second, the issue is not about how the executive branch “interpreted” FISA; it’s that it disregarded it altogether. What the administration claims is that the Congressional authorization of force implicity provides the right to forego even the barest overight provided by the FISA court. It used to claim this minimum and in some cases retroactive oversight was a burden; that claim was so absurd the administration doesn’t make it any more.

In terms of statutory law, the administration must first claim that the AUMF provides the right to engage in warrantless wiretapping. Then it must claim that this authorization supercedes the very clearly stated FISA. The courts are extremely unlikely to uphold the administration’s interpretation because of the doctrine that if an ambiguity exists, specific language overrides general language. FISA is very specific on the procedures that must be followed to engage in wiretapping. The power the administration claims it derives from AUMF for domestic warrantless wiretapping is not specific — indeed, it contains no such language; the administration claims it implies that power. One district judge has already ruled that the domestic warrantless wiretapping was illegal, but the full Circuit turned overturned on the grounds that the plaintiff’s could not prove they were victims. Indeed, one can see why the administration would not release the names of targets even if it has concluded they are not involved in terrorist activities.

The other Constitutional remedy lies with Congress. It can trial and convict high officials for high crimes.

Posted by: Gerrold at August 1, 2007 7:15 PM
Comment #228093

Don, was a nice piece of prose, wasn’t it? Thank you. As for answering the question, Stephen D. and Kansas Dem have done this better than I could have. I will just add my name to their replies.

Posted by: David R. Remer at August 1, 2007 7:33 PM
Comment #228099
What I believe will unfold is a battle over the legal constraints of executive privilege. How is that a bad thing?

It’s not necessarily a bad thing at all, but it’s also very likely that this battle will in fact STRENGTHEN executive privilege in the long run. Have you stopped to consider what happens if this ends up the Supreme Court and the administration wins, as I suspect they would?

Has Bush really used “unrestrained executive,” however? I think not. It’s actually been invoked relatively rarely by this administration—if for no other reason that for most of his term, Bush, unlike his predecessors, has operated with a Congress of his own party. Clinton, remember, was invoking executive privilege right and left over Whitewater, Paula Jones, Monica Lewinsky, “travelgate” and a whole host of matters. In fact, he actually lost in court over his attempts to shield subordinates from testifying in the Jones matter.

Understand that I’m not attacking Clinton here—merely pointing out that Bush’s invocations of executive privilege are hardly unusual. Especially for a president facing a Congress controlled by the opposing party. Nor am I suggesting that Clinton committed any “crime” by invoking it and later being overruled. Unlike others here, I don’t think an administration is guilty of crimes if they’re eventually overruled on their interpretation of a legal question.

Gerrold, I haven’t said that the courts have ruled the wiretapping program legal—merely that they threw out the challenges to it, as you’re aware.

You’re correct about the issues of statutary interpretations that are in play here, but there’s another whole dimension that you haven’t mentioned: the question of Article II of the Constitution. The administration has never maintained that they’re deriving their authority here solely from the laws regarding FISA. If this ends up the Supreme Court, the statutes and the Constitutional questions will (presumably) all be be weighed against each other.

If the administration was overruled at the end of such a process, however, THEN they could be accused of impeachable crimes if they PERSISTED in the program (which seems unlikely, since they’ve already suspended it and Congress seem poised to give them new statutory authorities in this area anyway).

Whether any of us agree with the administration’s former position on this issue or not, they at least attempted to craft a very narrowly defined policy about wiretapping which tried to balance various aspects of the law. Note that such wiretapping was never simply “domestic wiretapping” as its opponents maintain. It was very narrowly worded to involve ONLY communications which 1). included at least party who was overseas, 2). involved known affiliates of terrorists and 3). involved a suspected and rapidly unfolding terrorist plot.

If this now suspended policy is later ruled to have been illegal, an overzealous attempt to monitor potential terrorist plots, then so be it. But good luck convincing the American public in a highly publicized impeachment trial that the president should be punished for being too zealous and overreaching in his readings of the law in attempts to protect the American public from terrorist plots. In fact, it wouldn’t surprise me at all if Bush would absolutely love it if the Democrats tried to throw him into that particular briar patch.

Posted by: Loyal Opposition at August 1, 2007 9:00 PM
Comment #228101

In the responses above we have many examples of SHOCKING … if true.

Re terror surveillance, I believe that the administration acted reasonably to protect the U.S. after September 11. Naturally some of what they did turned out not to work or be an overreaction. Big deal. Some people in congress disagree. So far it is a dispute between the President and congress. It is not decided by any means. Congress can investigate. The president can investigate. I suppose anybody can investigate. But angry passion or self righteousness is uncalled for.

Re the attorneys - Dems are investigating. They found things they thinks are significant, but not everybody agrees. What they have is a charge looking for a crime. Again, their self righteousness and passionate intensity is not justified by the facts.

All this reminds me of fitzmas. The Dems proudly raved and swore that the investigation would turn up something really terrible. When it turned up nothing, they just kept on saying they had something.

Or maybe the Ohio election returns. When all the lawyers and investigators turned up nothing, they assumed the fact that there was an investigation (that they made) was evidence of wrongdoing.

All the things the Dems say would be shocking … if true. IF is the key word. If wishes were horses, beggars (and Dems) would ride. Oh how they would ride.

Kansas

What unrestrained power? The executive can hire or fire these attorneys. Congress controls the budget. The courts decide constitutionality. The constitution does not envision that the president knuckle under to congress and congress obviously has not knuckled under to the president.

Posted by: Jack at August 1, 2007 9:40 PM
Comment #228103

“Have you stopped to consider what happens if this ends up the Supreme Court and the administration wins, as I suspect they would?”

LO,

I really can’t imagine one single judge on SCOTUS ruling in Bush’s favor on this. Not even Scalia. The concept of executive privilege is not even mentioned in the United States Constitution. The SCOTUS never even considered the concept until the Nixon tape controversy.

I suspect if SCOTUS ruled in favor of Bush on this point that the next time we Dems have control of the Presidency and both houses of Congress we’d pursue re-stacking the court. It’s been done before.

The original SCOTUS consisted of six justices. The court was expanded to seven members in 1807, nine in 1837 and ten in 1863. After many shenanigans the number of Justices on the SCOTUS was once again set at nine in 1869. I’m sure you know about FDR’s “court packing plan”, so it can happen!

http://tinyurl.com/57z8m

I’m sure you’ve seen me mention before how the pendulum swings. In recent years it swings a bit left and then a bit right, but we have major issues looming in the near future: foreign policy (especially the middle east), entitlements, over 17% lacking health coverage, peak oil, income disparity, etc.

Sooner or later the lid will blow and then we’ll see extreme swings……………my guess is left first, then far right, then whoever survives will swing left European style. But I’m no soothsayer by a long shot.

Posted by: KansasDem at August 1, 2007 10:01 PM
Comment #228104

Kansas

It goes back at least to Grover Cleveland in 1885. He also removed a U.S. attorney. Congress demanded files related to the firing. Cleveland refused saying they were executive acts “based upon considerations addressed to me alone.” Nothing came of it. Congress backed down recognizing that he was within his rights.

Re peak oil - peak at what price? We reached peak oil a long time ago at $10 a barrel. We may never reach peak at $100. There is no such thing as peak oil. Oil is available at a price. At some point that price will be too high and we will not use much oil anymore.

Posted by: Jack at August 1, 2007 10:17 PM
Comment #228109
we’d pursue re-stacking the court. It’s been done before.

PLEASE do, it was one of the lowest parts of the democratic party, made even worse by the SCOTUS backing down in their rightfully calling most of the ‘new deal’ as unconstitutional.

In fact, had FDR not backed down from his threat it is likely he would not have been re-elected. So, please, go on…

Posted by: Rhinehold at August 1, 2007 10:50 PM
Comment #228110

Jack,

I don’t know whether to laugh or cry. I assume you’ve read my posts both on this thread and Stephen’s thread in the blue column so I’ll try one more analogy just for you.

Imagine some gangster, drug dealer, bank robber, etc. saying, “hey they started investigating me just because I bought a new Cadillac, there’s no law against buying a new Cadillac”!

True enough, there isn’t, but if everyone knows you’re living on disability and food stamps they might be suspicious! If the proper authorities fail to investigate they’re NOT doing their job.

One of the “jobs” assigned to our Congress is oversight of the executive branch although not enumerated in the Constitution. “Oversight also derives from the many and varied express powers of the Congress in the Constitution. It is implied in the legislature’s authority, among other powers and duties, to appropriate funds, enact laws, raise and support armies, provide for a Navy, declare war, and impeach and remove from office the President, Vice President, and other civil officers. Congress could not reasonably or responsibly exercise these powers without knowing what the executive was doing; how programs were being administered, by whom, and at what cost; and whether officials were obeying the law and complying with legislative intent.”

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Congressional_oversight

Bottom line: Congress is doing their job. You may not approve of the job they’re doing but there’s very little you can do about it. You can write letters to your congresspersons just like I do. Hell, I write letters to Kennedy and Biden, properly identifying myself as a non-constituent, just because I know they ‘get-r-done’ or at least try.

In this case ‘Berto and others have left a trail of breadcrumbs that’s hard not to follow. Clinton’s “breadcrumbs” were a stain on a dress. Bush & Co’s. breadcrumbs include the fired attorneys!

Posted by: KansasDem at August 1, 2007 10:54 PM
Comment #228112

“So, please, go on…”

Rhinehold,

Nowhere do I defend that tactic. My point was that the pendulum will swing from left to right to left ad nauseam. Such is the effect of dissatisfaction among the electorate in a democracy.

Would you prefer a dictatorship, or possibly a monarchy? IMO Bush and Cheney are trying very hard to move us in that direction. But, I just know you’ll disagree.

Posted by: KansasDem at August 1, 2007 11:10 PM
Comment #228114

LO et al.,

We’re getting into rather arcane matters of law, so for those interested I want to link to two letters written to Congress.

The first is from the Assistant Attorney General outlining the administration’s legal argument for NSA’s secret spy program. It was sent to Congress shortly after the program was revealed by the NYT.

The second letter to Congress was sent by a number of Constitutional scholars arguing that the administration’s legal arguments were untenable. It was sent shortly after the first letter.

Contained within these two letters are all the arguments (of which I am aware) for and against the legality the program.

LO, I think you are right that the more important administration defense is the Article II one; I truly believe the statutory defense hasn’t a real chance of standing up in court. The administration argues that implicit in AUMF is the power to engage in domestic warrantless wiretapping; yet we know that Congress specifically denied the administration’s attempt to secure “war-making authority within the United States.” I also believe the Article II defense won’t stand up for reasons detailed in the second letter. I want SCOTUS to address the arguments, but I doubt it will anytime soon. If and when it does, I have zero doubt that it would not accept either the statutory or Article II defense. At issue is the generally recognized power of Congress to have broad powers to legislate as it sees fit in the domestic arena (Article I) and, in addition, to make rules and regulations for the land and naval forces, while the president as commander in chief has broad powers in the foreign arena (implicit in Article II). A plain reading of Article I and II says that Congress has the power to raise, organize, and establish rules and regulations for the armed forces, and that the president is commander in chief.

Warrantless wiretapping of foreign sources is not an issue; regardless of whether the president has that Constitutional power, Congress has already authorized it. The issue is whether the laws that Congress established regarding domestic issues can be overridden by the commander in chief. Remember, one of the president’s responsibilities is to faithfully execute the laws of the land.

The problem with waiting for SCOTUS to make clear what already seems clear to many Constitutional scholars is that it might take years for a case to reach the court, if ever. If the Circuit Court ruling that such a case can only be brought by an actual victim of domestic warrantless wiretapping prevails, then such a case may never be brought, because all targets are secret. Meanwhile, information obtained from such wiretapping can be passed along to prosecutors of criminal cases — and given that that information, once learned, may be obtained through other means, targets might not be identified that way, either.

What’s the remedy then? One possible solution I recently encountered was for Congress to amend FISA to make it easier for plaintiffs to sue — anyone who could reasonably argue their communications where “chilled” by the possibility that their communications to parties overseas might be monitored without a warrant — journalists, for example. That could override the obstacles that plaintiffs face. I have no doubt that the administration would resist such a provision attached to FISA because I can’t imagine it wants the courts involved. The other remedy is for Congress to initiate impeachment proceedings.

Posted by: Gerrold at August 1, 2007 11:25 PM
Comment #228115

Jack,

The true “peak” regarding oil has much less to do with price than it has to do with how much oil’s inside this big round ball we call the earth and how much damage we’re willing to do to old Mother Earth extracting that last drop of oil.

I have no doubt that society would survive if every oil well on earth dried up tomorrow. It would be a real jolt at the time but it would later be seen as little more than a hiccup in the history books.

Re: “Attorney-gate” I’m done beating my head against the wall. History will decide whether or not this was an important debate. The courts will undoubtedly determine how far it all goes from here.

Posted by: KansasDem at August 1, 2007 11:27 PM
Comment #228118
Would you prefer a dictatorship, or possibly a monarchy? IMO Bush and Cheney are trying very hard to move us in that direction. But, I just know you’ll disagree.

Well, until they try to amend the constitution to allow them to run again, I don’t see how a ‘dictatorship’ or ‘monarchy’ are possible. They may be TRYING to make it easier for their party to retain control, but 1) they are doing a horrible job since the democrats took control of the congress recently and 2) that would make them the same as just about every other administration that has come down the pike, republican and democrat.

But, you know me, always defending Bush… *sigh*

Posted by: Rhinehold at August 1, 2007 11:32 PM
Comment #228124

Beirut Vet-
Not quite. You’re still losing the person managing the investigation, in favor of somebody else who might decide things differently, more in line with what the Administration wants.

The fact that Clinton fired everybody makes the explanation that he did so just to curtail one attorney’s investigation more unlikely, as he probably lost people who did his bidding with those who weren’t. It’s the selectivity that makes this a more politicized affair, that there were only certain people fired, who were doing particular things.

LO-
He’s using it to avoid basic questions of what his people were doing, even using it as an excuse for his people to not even show up. Nixon tried that, and it didn’t work.

Clinton did try to keep people from testifying, but I think it’s funny that you’re justifying Bush’s actions by Clintons, when the Republicans cried bloody murder about it. It should be significant that the courts didn’t accept most of Clinton’s arguments in these regards.

There are many reasons why a case will be thrown out. To claim it as a source of vindication is naive, because there are any number of reasons why a lawsuit might be thrown out. The reasons, according to reports, for the ACLU dismissal had nothing to do with the merits of the law, but rather whether the ACLU could prove that a program whose actions are national secrets actually hurt them. Since they don’t have clearance for that information, and it is forthcoming from the administration, that’s it.

The idea that the AUMF authorizes warrantless wiretaps on American citizens is poorly supported, the brainchild of John Yoo and others whose work most legal experts hold in low regard. The American Bar Association came down against the whole thing- the national organization of those who practice law. Only a riot or a civil war justifies a suspension of people’s rights.

The constitution also forbids ex post facto laws, which means that you can’t legalize actions that took place before a law was enacted. You also can’t legalize an unconstitutional act. This was domestic wiretapping if even one American citizen was on the line.

I wouldn’t count on Bush’s intentions to save him with the public, because the public think he’s done a poor job of protecting us, and that his actions are doing more harm than good.

Jack-
There’s plenty of damaging evidence out there, and Democrats have been more right than wrong. If you were right, Rove would not have told Matt Cooper, nor Libby Judith Miller that Valerie Wilson Was a CIA employee.

If you were right, there would be no list, no improper contacts between Senator Domenici, Rep. Wilson and David Iglesias.

If you were right, and nothing was the matter, the courts would have ruled that the program was legal, and Alberto Gonzales could have freely admitted to much of it.

We wouldn’t be finding anything out, but we seem to be finding plenty, including the latest revelations about Attorney Brownlee and the management in central Justice.

Why do we keep on finding out these things, if there’s nothing to find out? Why is the director of the FBI’s testimony at odds with his Boss’s?

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at August 1, 2007 11:41 PM
Comment #228144

Stephen D. and Jack,

There is a reality in our humongous federal bureaucracy that is inescapable. Any administration, Democrat or Republican, that thinks it can cut corners and fudge and get away with it for 8 years, is absolutely STUPID !

The reason is simple, its the old maxim we learn as kids, where one kid tells a story (cover up story in the case of federal government), and asks them to pass it along to the next person, but, not tell anyone else. We learn early in life that secrets are not easily kept, and if acting in ways that generate many secrets to be kept becomes a modus operandi, many cats will come out of the bag, each in succession clawing at the open wounds created by the former.

It happened in the Nixon administration. It is happening again. Running huge complex government requires records and tracking of what is transpiring, and the point of records is to communicate. In an adversarial multi-party government, to both try to track what is happening and keep the communications a secret, is a train wreck in the making for any administration that believes secrecy can shield their actions.

It takes a monumentally stupid administrative leader (GW Bush) or, arrogantly defensive one (Nixon), to think they can succeed at this game of cover-up for 8 years. Those below the President take their cues as to management style and tactics from the President, his Chief of Staff, and Political Advisor. The more times they have to say, “keep this under wraps”, the more the management tactic and style percolates down through the entire administration. And the risk of exposure increases geometrically as do the number of managers and employees below the President.

When will they ever learn, Bob Dylan asked, When will they ever learn? These are the risks political parties take in favoring finding an electable candidate over finding a capable one who can survive their office with their Party’s reputation intact. Republicans would do well to look back to Dwight D. Eisenhower, or Gerald Ford for inspiration and model. But, instead they look to Reagan, the man who was eminently electable, but, at best, only average in capability, for their model.

Posted by: David R. Remer at August 2, 2007 1:37 AM
Comment #228151
It takes a monumentally stupid administrative leader (GW Bush) or, arrogantly defensive one (Nixon), to think they can succeed at this game of cover-up for 8 years. Those below the President take their cues as to management style and tactics from the President,


I don’t think it is mere coincidence that both Rumsfeld and Cheney were a part of Nixon’s administration.

Posted by: Cube at August 2, 2007 3:04 AM
Comment #228152

Kansas
The fundamental flaw in the peak oil idea is the notion that oil is a natural resource unaffected by man. Of course it is a natural resource, but it is valuable only to human societies that have a use for it and that use is to a large extent dictated by the cost. We could burn diamonds for fuel. We do not because they are way to expensive.

Oil can be extracted in a variety of ways, some cheap; others not. We have reached much of the cheap oil. It gets more expensive until at some point it is too expensive to do. The result is that we stop using oil and find replacements. This will not happen all at once. Gradually, as the price rises, we will move to alternatives.

The peak oil idea implies some kind of crisis. This is not true. It also implies that we need to shift from oil right away. This is partly true, although for ecological and geological reasons unrelated to “peak oil”. Absent those concerns, it would be wise to use oil as long as it was low cost alternative and stop as it got more expensive.

Re the drug dealer - if the police started to investigate you because you owned a fancy car, it would be an abuse of power. You cannot have investigation just because somebody w/o a solid reason thinks you are guilty. The Dems do not even have that justification.

I do not have a general problem with investigation. What I object to is the criminalization of politics. Things like FISA or the attorneys are political issues. There may be a right and wrong way to do it, but they are not legal issues.

Re FISA – this one really troubles me. The president was acting to protect the U.S. He may have been wrong or overzealous in his defense of our country, but I can think of no nefarious motive possible for his conduct. The Dems may disagree, saying he went too far or did too much, but their impugning his motives and making it sound evil, is silly and counter productive. Their concern may be justified; their anger is not.

Gerrold

You are trying to short circuit the process. You are assuming that quick action is needed because the president is wrong. That is a fact not currently decided. There is a disagreement re whether he is right or wrong.

Congress can try to enact the remedies you propose. It is their political decision. I have some confidence in the process in the long run. I wish congress would get to the task of amending the laws and either provoke a legal incident to help decide the case or make changes. In either case, the terrorist surveillance program is too important to be a political football.

Stephen

It seems that Rove confirming what Armitage said was bad judgment. That is not the same as criminal and evidently Fitzpatrick did not consider it a breach of the law, since he did not indict either Rove or Armitage. The Dems tried to make a mistake in judgment a crime. They were wrong about that.

David

The bureaucracy is like a swamp. It does useful things, but it is hard to manage. You assume, however, that Bush is doing something dishonest. This is not in evidence. When I look at this situation, I see many of the same mistakes and drawbacks inherent with running a very large political/bureaucratic operation. The Dems amplify them and make them look nefarious, but really have not turned up much. They have discovered the organizational equivalent of snow in Minneapolis. What a revelation.

This is a bad trend. The Republicans did it to Clinton and they were convinced (and had evidence) that he was a crook. They were mistaking politics/bureaucracy with crime. Now the Dems are doing it, only with more vigour.

Posted by: Jack at August 2, 2007 7:49 AM
Comment #228153

Jack,

The remedies I discuss are not short-circuiting the process. They are as legitimate and Constitutional as waiting to see if, somehow, the issue can ever be addressed by SCOTUS with the cards so stacked against plaintiffs. I do consider the issue urgent because it involves fundamental questions of separation of powers and civil liberties. There is disagreement only because the administration is using arguments that are extraordinarily over reaching. Yes, that’s my opinion, but it’s also the opinion of, I would assert, the vast majority of Constitutional scholars. As one scholar says, impeachment is not a Constitutional crisis; it is the solution to a Constitutional crisis.

Posted by: Gerrold at August 2, 2007 8:40 AM
Comment #228155

Wrong, Jack. Your comments reflect partisan blinders or denial of the facts. There is absolutely no doubt in my mind, that if this were a Democratic president you would be making the same calls and supporting the same actions Democrats are now making against Bush.

If however, I am wrong, then your view of government is corrupt such that corruption of it appears as normal and acceptable behavior. Transparency, oversight, and checks and balances, are all intended by our founding fathers, in many writings, and GW Bush et.al. have grievously violated these precepts and intents, as well as the laws like FISA, Geneva Convention, and an extension of executive power enjoyed by the likes of Adolph Hitler, Nikita Kruschev, and Putin today.

And the more Republicans defend Bush et. al, the more they lose favor with the public at large. Which raises a real quandary for the GOP. If they are unwilling to become the party of the people, they are left only with becoming the party of slight of hand in order to acquire power and abuse the system centered upon law and the people. Is this the reputation the GOP wishes to carry forward in America? It’s a serious question. One which the GOP should weigh and consider very carefully while there is still a little time to rectify their reputation.

Many Republicans in Government are denouncing this reputation, and one or a couple more are added to the roll each month. From Sen. Arlen Specter, John Warner to the NY representative sitting on the Military Appropriations Committee, (forget his name), but, these persons are vindicating their integrity and protecting their respect for the Constitution by publicly observing how the Bush administration is badly managing affairs in the GOP name.

But, so far, there are too few to rescue the GOP’s reputation which is sinking like a stone. Republicans like that hypocrite Rep. Lamar Smith (R) who this week denounced the Ethics Reform bill as too weak just before voting for it, after opposing such reform for the last 14 years, are killing the last vestiges of respect for, and faith in, the GOP by the public at large.

Republicans have, as the Japanese did on Dec. 7, 1941, awakened a sleeping giant in the American public, and they are increasingly, and ever more fervently, opposing the GOP and all that it has come to stand for these 6 years. You watch, there is going to be another rout of Republicans in 2008, and the GOP led by the Bush administration’s actions, is solely responsible.

Keep your eye on California where a Republican civilian is trying to get referendum going on changing California’s election law so that 19 of the district’s electorate votes can go Republican in 2008. If the GOP doesn’t stop this guy, they are going to lose much of the independent vote that supported Arnold in California, and there goes the GOP’s gains in that very important state as well.

Slight of hand works only when folks aren’t watching as in 1992 and 2002. The American public is watching now. Your party can no longer gerrymander its way out of minority status or alter states election laws to retain or acquire power. The people are hip to the tricks and won’t stand for it, but, they will remember the attempts.

Your party won’t get its act together if its supporters refuse to hold them to a higher standard of accountability and public representation. Crying big government or big spending after growing government and spending beyond all tolerable bounds, rings hollow and deceitful. And crying Constitutionality against Democrats will simply hit the floor with a dull thud.

Posted by: David R. Remer at August 2, 2007 9:39 AM
Comment #228156

Jack-
As I recall, Fitzgerald has given the sense through multiple statements that he believes there’s more to this than just somebody lying to him. As others have told Loyal Opposition, just because somebody declines to go through with a prosecution in a case like this doesn’t mean that a crime didn’t take place, or something people would think of as one.

Fitzgerald, A Republican appointed by Bush, stated outright that Valerie Wilson was a covert agent at the time. This was his legal determination. It’s clear from the evidence that he believed that Rove and Libby were part of the leak. You folks are quick to say that because he did not prosecute that he didn’t think a crime was committed, but his own words have him claiming that Libby’s obstruction of justice, his perjury, “threw sand in the umpires eyes”. With a lot of the evidence we see around, including his closing statements and evidence revealed of Cheney and other’s correspondence with him, it’s obvious that he thought things went deeper, and that there was a deliberate effort to leak.

Legal judgments have a formal logic that sometimes doesn’t quite match with what people would consider an appropriate informal conclusion to draw. Evidence can be thrown out on formal grounds that positively indicates a certain conclusion is true. A law, interpreted correctly, can lead to a determination that is counter to people’s sense of the law’s intent, an outcome that people would find unjust with a reasonable interpretation of the facts.

Fitzgerald established significant facts over the course of his investigation and prosecution, facts that remain true, and should be included in any analysis of what went on.

Wilson was a covert agent. Wilson’s employment as a CIA agent was a classified secret. She and her husband did not divulge this secret to others who were not cleared for it. All these points flatly contradict what many Republicans asserted as true, in fact what many still claim as true.

Rove and Libby revealed this information to reporters not cleared for it, and confirmed it as well. By the definition of leaking, that is to reveal secret information not publically known to the press or public, what Rove and Libby did qualifies. Since there don’t seem to be any perjury allegations arising against Matt Cooper and Judith Miller, we can assume that Fitzgerald believes their testimony to be truthful and correct to the best of their knowledge. Since both revealed this information before it was publically known, Libby in fact before Novak was told by Armitage about it, it would take an unreasonable stretching of the facts to say that these two did not leak Valerie Wilson’s Identity to the press. The fact that they did so to reporters who they met with makes it seem all the more deliberate.

What we run into, and the likely reason more prosecutions were not forthcoming, are the technical aspects of the law. As I understand it, the law was geared towards those trying to help our nation’s enemies by such divulgence. As loathesome as the act of outing a covert agent is, it can hardly be argued that Libby, Rove, or especially Armitage, outed her to help another country get the upper hand over ours.

The law also requires that a person know that what they said was that big of a secret at the time, and Armitage in particular claimed that he didn’t know this.

At the end of the day, those who wrote the laws regarding this case found it unthinkable that a politically motivated administration could be so cavalier and/or cynical as to reveal the employment of an agent to the press. That is the only reason why nobody was charged for the leak itself: because the law was not written to punish this kind of leak, for the reasons it was done.

On the facts, Democrats can logically establish that most of what we believed to be true, was true. The only problem was that the law was not written to protect agents from political insiders looking to bolster their boss’s political fortunes. If Armitage is telling the truth, what does it say about this administration that such classified information is so carelessly thrown around that people like Armitage pick it up without knowing it’s sensitivity?

This administration has a very dysfunctional vision of what proper secrecy is. The recent revelation of the list of those who the Vice President had meet with his Energy Task force, was a bit of a disappointment, because virtually none of the names on this list, which the White House fought tooth and nail to keep secret, were folks we wouldn’t have already guessed were invited to this fossil-fuel friendly White House.

There a number of theories of why they would try and keep secret something like that, when it was so obvious. I have a twofold view on it: One, they thrive on uncertainty. People can guess all they want to, they just want their opponents to keep guessing, and not know for sure.

Two, though, it gives them the power to do things their way, and to delay other people from responding to their decisions.

This tendency, though, has had some seriously negative effects on the administration. If you want people to really pay attention, tell them you’ve got a secret. Secret are kept to manipulate people. Secrets are kept to avoid being caught and/or punished for mistakes and malfeasances. Secrets are kept to keep control of the situation from devolving to others.

But there’s another side to it, one with far worse consquences: secrets are impediments to the flow of information, and that information is often what people need to know to get things moving right.

Secrets played a role in both the rise and fall of Enron, and much of the mischief its energy policies inflicted on people. A lot of people in California believed that their power generation was insufficient in 2001, when in fact they had more than they needed, and generators were being kept offline. Investors believed that the company was sound, but only because of the lengths the company went through to deceive the market, measures that were not altogether unique to Enron.

This is the real bad trend, the real problem, when it comes to the way that the Bush administration deals with us as a country. Bush is very paranoid about having his deliberations exposed to the public. He had his gubernatorial papers sent to his father’s library in a successful attempt to keep them from being made public, as is customary for a Texas Governor. He has been brutal about leakers, and has set this government on a pace to expand the bounds of what is kept secret, even to the point of taking material already declassified and part of published reports, books, and articles and reclassifying it.

And now, presented with serious oversight for the first time in his administration, this President is stonewalling across the board, even using executive privilege to justify his people not even showing up when given a subpeona.

Can you honestly tell me just what qualifies all these dealings for Executive Privilege? Because honestly, I’m getting the impression that this just seems to be a blanket claim of immunity from oversight, rather than a true privileging of closely held advice to the president.

Moreover, there’s a big problem with the rationale: should executive branch officials really have the privilege of not having to worry what the public or congress will think of what they’re telling the president? So far, the secrecy of this Presidency has been a perpetual breeding ground for trouble. I don’t feel that the secrecy of this administration, and it’s disconnect from the public, from common sense, from its duties to the people are unconnected.

I think you have to start asking yourself whether you want to be kept out of the loop as to what your politicians are doing in your name.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at August 2, 2007 9:58 AM
Comment #228170

I hear a crash in another room in my house. My three year old daughter comes running into the kitchen. I ask her what happened. She looks at me guiltily and tells me nothing happened. I don’t know about you but I’m damn sure going in that room to see what’s been broken.
With the current administration it is not a question of whether something has been broken or not. It is a question of how much damage has been done and how much continues to be done. I want to know - and I say this: If you don’t want to know what damage may have been done to our constitution and country, who’s the Patriot?

Posted by: Scott at August 2, 2007 12:00 PM
Comment #228180
I wish congress would get to the task of amending the laws and either provoke a legal incident to help decide the case or make changes. In either case, the terrorist surveillance program is too important to be a political football.


Congress has attempted this many times, or at least the Democrats in Congress have tried to address this situation. The Republicans either thwart their attempts, or when questioned about details the President declares executive privilege. When cases have been brought to the courts, the President has declared that all evidence is “state secrets” or he has authorization through the War Powers Act. Due to lack of evidence, the court cases so far have been thrown out. When Gonzales was questioned why the issue over FISA wasn’t resolved in Congress he said:

ATTORNEY GENERAL GONZALES: That question was asked earlier. We’ve had discussions with members of Congress, certain members of Congress, about whether or not we could get an amendment to FISA, and we were advised that that was not likely to be — that was not something we could likely get…

It is a political decision, it is also a constitutional decision, and this Administration with the help of Republicans has sought to circumvent or at least prolong this process at every step.

Posted by: Cube at August 2, 2007 3:37 PM
Comment #228181

Stephen, it really doesn’t matter if Fitzgerald thought there might be more to the story. He is not a judge or a jury but a prosecutor. If he has a case, he should bring it, especially when he was granted resources, authorities and advantages that no prosecutor but him in our system of justice EVER gets.

What a prosecutor believes but can’t prove or doesn’t bother trying to prove is an opinion with no more merit than anybody’s else’s. Mr. Nifong reportedly still believes that “something happened at that party.” Nifong and Fitzgerald’s unproven theories plus $2 will get you a cup of coffee.

Fitzgerald himself claimed that he was the functional equivalent in this case of the Attorney General, and there’s strong evidence, based on his jailing of members of the press, that he was got just a little bit drunk on his own power.

As for the White House claiming “blanket immunity” from Congressional oversight, that is simply not true. In fact, just today, one of Karl Rove’s aides, Scott Jennings, testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee over the attorney firings. Several others, including Gonzales, have already testified under oath. If anyone is claiming unlimited powers here, it’s not the White House. The question now is whether we’re going to maintain ANY separation of powers at all, or just hand all of the powers of the judiciary and the executive branch to congress in order to facilitate unlimited partisan show trials on the floor of congress.

Posted by: Loyal Opposition at August 2, 2007 3:44 PM
Comment #228192

LO-
I don’t know if you noticed, but Fitzgerald convicted Libby about lying about not being a leaker, and not getting his information from administration sources. Cheney’s note to Libby about this was one of the pieces of evidence.

The whole case makes no sense if you could not link Libby to the leak.

I don’t know why you see fit to compare a well-respected attorney with several high-profile conviction under his belt and reputation for tight cases with some two-bit fraud like Nifong. Nifong can’t even prove there was a rape. Fitzgerald not only proved there was a leak, a necessary prerequisite for proving that Libby lied about the leak, but he also proved that the information was shared with him by folks at the highest levels. He brought witnesses here and in the grand jury who indicated that more than one administration official was disseminating the information.

If Fitzgerald was drunk on his own power, why the hell did he leave most of the leakers alone? That he made the claims he did, yet did not prosecute others for the leaks when the law was unclear on the matter shows restraint, not drunkness on power.

But I guess anybody who dares to challenge the adminstration is getting too big for their britches in your eyes.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at August 2, 2007 5:44 PM
Comment #228197

Stephen, loyal opposition whether it be Democrat or Republican, will defend party action right or wrong. They place a higher priority on party loyalty than they do on good governance or rule of law, or ethical and responsible behavior. It’s a team sport with loyal opposition win or lose, and literally, if the country loses, so be it, they stayed loyal to their team.

It’s an interesting piece of psychology that drives loyal opposition fans to utterly reject criticism of their team, regardless of merit or warning of failed consequences, and predisposes them to accept without analysis any critique of their opposition’s team. Cognitive Dissonance and rationalization are such folk’s primary defense mechanisms, and being subconscious adaptive mechanisms, they really are largely incapable and debilitated from altering their behavior, which makes rational argument or debate a largely futile action, unless and until some other internal overriding goal or need becomes a motivator. (Finding their loyalty tied to a continually losing team, for example, which inevitably affects their self esteem.)

This dynamic is seen in American politics and sociology of Congressional races throughout the last century until the Newt Gingrich crowd devised a plan to instill the pride of joining a winning GOP in 1992 and 1994. But, after 40 years in the wilderness as the minority party, the GOP was unable to act like a winning party of the people, and unable to champion the people’s causes. And in 2006 it was back to the wilderness, for perhaps another 40 years, relying on loyal opposition psychology to keep them in the game, at all.

There is a lesson here for the Democratic Party, in the face of a rising tide of independent voters, if the Democratic Party leadership has the acumen to take it to heart. It will prove to be the gravest of mistakes for the Dem. Leadership to interpret the GOP rout coming in 2008, supported in large part by Independent voters experiencing a lack of choice, as some sort of lock on power for decades to come regardless of failures to heed the demands of Independent and growing coalitions of 3rd party voters.

If, and its still a pretty big if, another party emerges to replace the GOP as Democratic contender, Democrats could easily find themselves having to rely upon their own loyal opposition to even stay in the political arena for decades as a minority party. And it largely rests on Democrats actions on S.S., Medicare/Medicaid, national and trade deficits over the course of the next 8 to 12 years. Fail to save our economic future in the face of the entitlement/retirement crisis, and the big if I mention above, becomes significantly smaller.

Posted by: David R. Remer at August 2, 2007 6:38 PM
Comment #228207

David, I feel the need to defend the term “loyal opposition” against how you’re defining it. After all, it is my screen name!

To be part of the/a loyal opposition does not mean that you are simply loyal to your own party. It means that you are against those who control the government but loyal to the government itself.

In my case, it means being opposed to most of the Democrats who control Congress, as well many of the policies of the administration, while remaining strongly loyal to our political system and our principles of government.

Posted by: Loyal Opposition at August 2, 2007 9:20 PM
Comment #228208

Gerrold

Your remedies are not the short cut. The short cut is that you are sure that terrorist surveillance programs or the attorneys is a crime. If Dems agree, I think they should try those remedies you advocate. Let them decide that way.

David

One reason I advocate smaller government is that it is impossible for any large bureaucratic/political organization to operate efficiently. It is no surprise that our Federal government has never managed it. There are roles that government must play. There are some it can play and lots that it cannot. Unfortunately, people demand what they cannot get and politicians pretend to be able to comply.

When the public watches closely, they will become less enamored with the Dems. Then they will make the same mistake of thinking they can throw the rascals out. They will refuse to recognize that what we face is a systemic problem.

BTW – I would not hold my breath for that route in 2008. The Dem controlled congress has lower rates than the president and they still have more than a year to disappoint the public.

The Dems also will not address SS. They do not want to admit there is even a problem. When they figure it out, their solution will be to raise taxes. Our kids will get stuck for it and I hope that they will not tolerate it. Us old guys should expect to work longer and save more. Tough on us.

Stephen

Fitzgerald can say what he wants. His deeds tell more truth than his words. He KNEW who first leaked and did not indict. That was not hidden from him. Novak told him and Armitage admitted it. He knew it even before he started to investigate. So if he knew who did the crime he was investigating and did not indict, he clearly had no case.

Or maybe he had the leakers, but they were not the ones he wanted. In our law, we go after people for what they do, not who they are.

Cube

The Dems in congress can vote to impeach. They do not need Republican votes. Bring it on. If they REALLY believe all that BS, their honorable course is clear. If they do not do it, that says a lot about them and what they really think.

Gernerally, i believe that what a person does is a more truthful representation of what he thinks than what he says.

Posted by: jack at August 2, 2007 9:27 PM
Comment #228227

Jack said: “One reason I advocate smaller government is that it is impossible for any large bureaucratic/political organization to operate efficiently.”

That’s bullcrap. Toyota does great. The IRS was a model of efficiency until Bush and Republicans got control and greatly increased its costs through duplicative work by contracting out to the private sector for collections.

When the shareholders DEMAND efficiency and hold management accountable for it, efficiency is normally achieved. The voters are the federal government’s shareholders. They have neither demanded efficiency nor held elected representatives accountable for it on election day.

Then there’s legal efficiency which is truthfully efficient, and illegal efficiency like Bush’s end run around FISA, which cost his administration and our efforts seriously in the complications of dealing with the illegality issue.

It is up to the people to demand it, and hold politicians accountable for it on election day. Then, we will see unparalleled efficiency in federal government as far as our Constitution will permit, which would be, of course, the optimum achievable.

Posted by: David R. Remer at August 3, 2007 12:54 AM
Comment #228228

Loyal Opposition, I think your comments throughout this web site speak accurately of your definition of loyal opposition. Actions usually speak louder than defensive explanations.

Posted by: David R. Remer at August 3, 2007 12:58 AM
Comment #228232

David,
“The IRS was a model of efficiency until Bush and Republicans got control and greatly increased its costs through duplicative work by contracting out to the private sector for collections.”

You just lost ALL credibility with that statement.

Posted by: tomd at August 3, 2007 4:04 AM
Comment #228234

tomd-
I know you’d like us to share your assumption on that, but would you care to back your assessment with some facts and good argument?

Jack-
I just pointed out to you his deeds. Nifong sought indictments and convictions against three people on minimal evidence, and did so poor a job in his investigation that he was eventually disbarred. Legal experts thought he was a fricking idiot, the way he handled it.

Fitzgerald, on the other hand, did not sensationalize things. He built a very basic and persuasive factual case against the person who basically lied his ass off to the investigators. He proved the leak side of the case sufficiently to get jurors to believe that Libby had something to lie about.

Logically, Libby could not have been convicted of lying to the grand jury about when he learned the information and from whom, and about the fact that it was sensitive and not widely known, unless Fitzgerald had proven the opposite was true.

Why is one solid conviction a runaway investigation? Whitewater was a runaway investigation. It darted back and forth between the original scandal, a twelve year old real estate deal, the Vince Foster suicide (where he insinuated murder but quickly dropped the matter), the Paula Jones case, and finally ending up at the president lying about an affair he had had during the investigation. He wasted forty million taxpayer dollars, and the whole thing took the length of the Clinton administration. Fitzgerald’s investigation remained focused on the events surrounding the leak itself. Libby was convicted for lying about his role in it.

How many Mad-dog prosecutors come out and say that they were frustrated in their investigation; I’d think standard operating procedure would be righteous spiels.

I think a lot of these shorthands are just empty rhetoric. You call something a witchhunt to make it seem unfair. You compare somebody to Nifong to insinuate that their investigation was unfounded, that there was no crime. You talk about mad-dog prosecutor when you don’t like that an investigation is going places inconvenient to those you think are righteous citizens.

But how about, for once, backing up these comparisons, these analogies, with the premises and logic that would make them legitimate?

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at August 3, 2007 9:13 AM
Comment #228235

Jack,

I am sure that murder, burglary, extortion, and driving under the influence are crimes. When there is evidence of such deeds, I want criminal trials to determine guilt or innocence.

According to FISA, which was created after SCOTUS suggest Congress legislate on wiretapping issues and was created with the understanding that sometimes we would be at war, warrantless wiretapping of citizens is a crime. The administration defends its actions using arguments that most Consitutional scholars find specious. So, exactly, how is it a shortcut on my part to want the virtually insurmountable barriers to plaintiffs lowered? Or how is it a shortcut to want Congress to use its power to try and if necessary convict?

Good grief, Jack.

Posted by: Gerrold at August 3, 2007 9:28 AM
Comment #228239

Jack,

One thing is VERY clear from this administration and the reactions both in front of Congress and by their actions:

They are hiding a great deal of the truth!

This is obvious to even the least astute of us watching these things!

Yet, you make political hay by making these subjectively biased accusations!

Are you so proud that you cannot see the forest for the trees?

Posted by: RGF at August 3, 2007 10:32 AM
Comment #228246

It’s disengenuous to compare Clinton’s firings with Gonzales’. The timing and reasons were very different in ways that really matter. When Gonzales fired these judges it was obviously because they weren’t towing the party line on specific votes. Democrats and Republicans alike dislike him, because he lies, obviously, and has really done disservice to the nation by filling up the justice department with green party hacks.

Posted by: Max at August 3, 2007 11:18 AM
Comment #228255

tomd, your comment reflects a serious ignorance of the topic and what was said. But, if you don’t want to research it, but, instead knee jerk a response, that’s fine. Ignoring facts is a favorite past time of many Americans, so you have lots of company.

Posted by: David R. Remer at August 3, 2007 11:55 AM
Comment #228259

David, instead of telling tomd that he is ignorant and that he should go out and “research” what is actually a fairly absurd claim on your part, why don’t you supply even the tiniest scrap of proof to support your own knee-jerk response? Those who live in glass houses… you know the rest.

YOU claimed that “the IRS was a model of efficiency until Bush and Republicans got control and greatly increased its costs through duplicative work by contracting out to the private sector for collections.”

That’s a very big claim. That the IRS is or ever has been a “model of efficiency” is laughable on its face. But to go further and say that the Republicans and Bush “greatly increased its costs” through “duplicative work” by “contracting out to the private sector for collections” requires several layers of proof. For one thing, outsourcing to private collections began in 1997—who was President then? Bush?

I wish that instead of just regarding your opinions as “facts” and accusing others of partisanship or ignorance for not buying into them, you’d show a little more respect for the word “fact” actually means. Or at the very least, not insult those who don’t believe that the facts are what you claim they are simply because you label them as “facts.”

Posted by: Loyal Opposition at August 3, 2007 12:46 PM
Comment #228262

LO,

Perhaps you should notify Wikipedia to correct this:

“Outsourcing collections”
“In September 2006, the IRS started to outsource the collection of taxpayers debts to private debt collection agencies.”

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Irs

Posted by: KansasDem at August 3, 2007 1:49 PM
Comment #228264

KansasDem, after reading into a bit more, I do see that the program became more expansive in September of 2006, but the first time I heard of the IRS using private collections was in 1997. In any case, if we use Sept. 06 as the starting date, then that means (according to David at least) that the IRS was “a model of efficiency” for five years under the Republican Congress and Bush. And the time that it went to pot (Sept 06 to now) has mostly been a time of Democratic Congressional control.

Posted by: Loyal Opposition at August 3, 2007 2:11 PM
Comment #228266

Now I know why the red column is asking for more writers. People like Jack continue to paint issues like this as a red vs. blue issue rather than a right vs. wrong issue, and in so doing keep perpetuating the ugly, vitriolic partisanship of politics as usual that has diminished our moral authority throughout the world and here at home.

Anyone who can defend or deflect accountability away from the incompetent bufoon know as Alberto Gonzales simply astounds me. Worse, Jack’s hack partisan spin of bashing the democrats after the fact is a pitiful, albeit expected, example of someone who will defend his tribe at all costs rather than admitting to the truth that the majority of Americans so plainly see.

Then again, since when has Jack or this administration cared one whit about what real Americans think?

Posted by: Mister Magoo at August 3, 2007 2:28 PM
Comment #228268
As for the White House claiming “blanket immunity” from Congressional oversight, that is simply not true. In fact, just today, one of Karl Rove’s aides, Scott Jennings, testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee over the attorney firings.


When asked repeatedly about the events surrounding the attorney firings, Jennings responds:

“Senator pursuant to the president’s assertion of executive privilege, I must respectfully decline to answer your question at this time.”

Good thing you claim to be non-partisan, or I would suspect that your defense of this administration was motivated by bias.


Jack

I’ve never called for impeachment hearings, not that it might be a good idea. My comments have been primarily about FISA and the illegal wiretapping. But if the president were impeached, whom would that leave as president? Nah, I rather keep the “idiot” than replace him with “stupidly arrogant.”


Posted by: Cube at August 3, 2007 2:42 PM
Comment #228272

Loyal Opp, and tomd, my sources are reputable. One is the IRS oversight board which reports the 2007 IRS proposed budget was $11.3 billion a 6.9 percent increase over ‘06’s appropriation.

The IRS recently disclosed that the nation’s annual tax gap — the difference between what is owed and what is collected annually — stands at $345 billion, (more than 1/3 trillion annually) and some experts believe it could be even more. This is in no small part to the 10 and 20 cents on the dollar collections and amnesty for taxpayers owing over $10,000 to the IRS, (can you say upper middle class and private business owners, which Republicans authorized such breaks and amnesty for?).

Cato Institute reports: “Yet, since 2000, the IRS
budget has increased by more than 35 percent and the enforcement budget has jumped by more than 50 percent. All this money seems to have little impact. IRS researchers have confessed that ‘random audit studies show little variation in the overall noncompliance rate in the last forty years’ “

This is, as I said in my original comment, due in large part to the Administration’s and Republican congress’ farming out collections (at greater expense) to private collection firms, who lack the legal authority to enforce collection, which duplicates the work when IRS by law must resume collection when debtors simply refuse the private contractor requests.

These verifiable sources clearly indicate the Republicans have driven up the cost of IRS operations without any improvement in collections efficiency or reductions in the Tax Gap.

Under the Clinton years, we got the same results at a substantially lower cost. Congress in 1998 authorized policies that would address the Y2K problem and public dissatisfaction with collection hardball tactics. Under the Bush administration public approval of IRS collection methods have improved substantially. But, one can readily see why, the government forgiveness and amnesty for middle and upper middle class tax debtors in arrears by more than $10,000 who walk away from the debt having paid only 20 cents on the dollar. Of course public opinion improved. But, cost effective efficiency dropped significantly as reported by the Cato institute and IRS Oversight Board.

Now, if you want to rebut, do so with verifiable facts and figures as I have just done. I don’t make claims I can’t back up, because I don’t make factual claims I have not seen research on already. tomd’s comments appear to take a decidedly Republican approach, ‘no one is credible who doesn’t agree with him and the GOP.’

OK, Loyal Opp, where are is your research? tomd ?

BTW, the cost in cents per $100 revenue collected breaks down like this (IRS figures)

1997 .44
1998 .43
1999 .43
2000 .39
2001 .41
2002 .45
2003 .48
2004 .48
2005 .46
2006 .42

Definitely more efficient in the last 4 years of the Clinton administration, for many varied reasons.

Posted by: David R. Remer at August 3, 2007 3:13 PM
Comment #228278

David,

What blew your credibility with me is the claim that the IRS was a “model of efficency.”

Just google “horror stories + irs” to see the efficency of the IRS. Of course if you only look at collections and not the measures used for those collections as a measure of efficency then you might have something. On the other hand a nuke would be pretty efficent in Iraq, but we wouldn’t tolerate that would we?

Posted by: tomd at August 3, 2007 5:00 PM
Comment #228292

Gerrold

The Constitution separates the powers. There is disagreement re where those powers start and stop. That is why it is NOT a crime like those you mention. Before you could have a trial re guilt, you have to have a constitutional crisis to determine IF it is a crime.

President Bush did what he thought necessary to protect the country from another terror attack. I cannot think of any nefarious motivation or result from the terrorist surveillance program. Some people, mostly Dems, think that privacy is not given a high enough priority. This is a disagreement. Nobody has committed any crimes. It is perhaps the classic tradeoff argument.

How much terror risk do you want to suffer for how much privacy? Reasonable people can disagree w/o anybody committing a crime.

David

I think the IRS functions reasonably well in getting you to give them some of your money. But it is not very efficient and was not during the Clinton time either. I try to be honest re my taxes. Nevertheless, the rules for depreciation, capital gains etc are complicated and protean. I am not sure I paid the right amount - ever. I have an MBA, BTW, and understand lots of the terms etc. People who are sure that they have paid all their taxes exactly right, just are not paying attention. Sometimes the rules are contradictory. Even the IRS cannot give you a definite answer. I may have paid too much or too little, but I am never sure that I am right. I think I tend to overpay because I am over cautious. This is not a good thing either. It also takes a lot of time to keep records and fill out taxes. The IRS imposes these hours of work on us taxpayers. It is not too hard to produce good productivity numbers when you can coerce millions of Americans to do work free of charge.

Re management in general – thing get too big they require exponential levels of coordination. At one time we needed the machine bureaucracy. The communications revolution has made some of these things unnecessary.

Bureaucracy infects the private sector too. The difference is that when the bureaucracy in the private sector gets out of hand, the business loses money and eventually cannot be sustained. Government can throw more money at the problem.

The other thing about firms, individuals and governments is that none of them can do everything. I know there are some tasks I cannot do. There are some sorts of organizations that are suited to some tasks. Innovation requires a loose organization that government cannot have in the most part.

I would also say that we do not WANT the government to be innovative. Do you really want to devolve power to bureaucrats to innovate? Governments need to follow rules and the rules can never cover all the eventualities.

You evidently like the IRS better than I do, but you cannot want bureaucrats at the IRS to figure out innovative ways to get you to pay more in taxes. Actually, maybe that is what they are doing already with ambiguous rules that lead honest Americans to give them too much.

So, let government do what it does best. But government is NOT society. Firms and individuals should do the innovating and make most of the decisions about their lives and values. Government has a facilitating and supporting role, not a managing one.

Stephen

What deeds? Fitzgerald did not indict the KNOWN leaker. He has no right to extrapolate about what he would have done if the found the leak, because he didn’t do it. He was not a mad dog prosecutor, but he did go as far as he could and came up with almost nothing. That is the bottom line. Merry Fitzmas.

The Clinton and Libby cases are very similar. Both were caught lying about a crime that was never charged. The parallel could not be much closer.

It really does not matter what you think Libby was lying about. Fitzgerald was investigating the leak of Plame’s identity. He KNOWS who did it and did not do anything about it. If he found out that other people did it too, what would that matter? It is not something he indicts about anyway.

Nifong, BTW, almost got away with his racism and the Sharpton/Jackson cabal is not happy that the racial railroading hit the snag of the truth.

RGF

Re FISA, I am glad to have a robust terror surveillance. I do not have privacy concerns about that. If I am talking to a terrorist on the phone or internet, I want to know because he is using me and deceiving me. I thank the government both for protecting me against terrorist violence AND against terrorist deception.

So I see that same things you do here, but I am pleased.

Mister Magoo

If I didn’t care what people think, I probably would not be casting these pearls before you. And you must be interested in what I write, or you would not bother to read it. Thank you for the continued support.


BTW - I really do not need to be very eloquent re subpoenas etc. Leahy has done it for me. Read the link from Leahy. He did an excellent job of explaining by such things were stupid.

Posted by: Jack at August 3, 2007 9:38 PM
Comment #228296
The Clinton and Libby cases are very similar. Both were caught lying about a crime that was never charged. The parallel could not be much closer.
Really! So what crime was Clinton found lying about, that was never charged? Libby was found guilty of lying about what he knew about the Valerie Plame saga. The leak of Valerie Plame’s status as a CIA operative was the point of the Grand Jury’s investigation. Clinton was found lying about the nature of his involvement with Monica Lewinsky, but in this case the Grand Jury was investigating the Clinton’s involvement in Whitewater. I’m sorry that the Republicans can only point to an extramarital affair as the cause for Clinton’s being found guilty, it’s not as sexy as fraud. But I guess if you want to spin something, you work with what you are given.

Now on a more serious note, one has national security implications, and the other one is about somebody getting laid. The parallel doesn’t exist, unless you are allowed to spin it as you have.

Posted by: Cube at August 3, 2007 10:35 PM
Comment #228299

Cube

Clinton lied about something that was not thought to be a crime (getting sexual favors). Libby also lied about something that Fitzgerald did not think was a crime, since he did not indict the guy he KNEW did it.

They both lied about things that were not deemed by the investigators to be an indictable crime. BTW - having sex with an intern would normally be considered a form of sexual harassment, which is not as innocent as you say.

In both cases, the perjury is what was important.

Posted by: Jack at August 3, 2007 10:59 PM
Comment #228304
Clinton lied about something that was not thought to be a crime (getting sexual favors).

No, he lied about his sexual history while being questioned about sexual harassment charges against him. Pretty serious I would say. The ironic thing is that he would have had to answer the specific line of questioning if he hadn’t authorized that change of the law previously.

Cube,

Clinton was not being questioned by Whitewater when he committed pergury, he was being questioned about the sexual harassment charges against him. I think that’s a bit more serious than fraud, don’t you?

Posted by: Rhinehold at August 4, 2007 12:01 AM
Comment #228318

Cube, your comment: “Jack & Rhinehold, Or as we affectionately refer to you both, Tweedledee and Tweedledum, you two can argue over whose whom.”

is in violation of our Rules for Participation. Comply with our Rules or you will lose your privilege to comment on WatchBlog.

Posted by: Watchblog Managing Editor at August 4, 2007 6:39 AM
Comment #228319

Jack said: “But it is not very efficient and was not during the Clinton time either.”

Compared to what, Jack? What is your yardstick for making such a claim?

Posted by: David R. Remer at August 4, 2007 6:41 AM
Comment #228320

Jack said: “People who are sure that they have paid all their taxes exactly right, just are not paying attention. Sometimes the rules are contradictory. Even the IRS cannot give you a definite answer.”

Jack, now you are criticizing the Congress which determines what is taxed and by how much, not the IRS. The IRS does not determine what and how much is taxed. The people’s representatives are responsible for that. (Barring the occasional interpretation error by IRS of Congressional intent.)

The answer to this problem is fairly obvious. A flat tax rate either across the board, or tiered by progressive income groups. This would eliminate virtually all vagaries regarding computation of taxes. But, again, this is not a problem of the IRS, but, of Congress’ tax policy.

Jack, your following argument is false: “Bureaucracy infects the private sector too. The difference is that when the bureaucracy in the private sector gets out of hand, the business loses money and eventually cannot be sustained. Government can throw more money at the problem.”

The Government loses money too, just like a business, it is called deficits and national debt. There are limits to the amount which a business can borrow, (American Home Mortgage Corp.) which just went bankrupt due to lack of regulation in the sub-prime mortgage marketplace. But, government is no different. It too has a limit on the amount of money it can print and borrow, before the creditors become scarcer than oxygen in space.

The rules of economics don’t change from business to government. Whether an organization is non-profit (government) or for-profit, the economics and financial rules of health and bankruptcy are the same. The only difference is in the method by which they take in revenue.

I haven’t a clue what you are talking about in reference to innovation and the government and private sector. The government put men on the moon, that was innovation. The government hires people to solve problems. So does the private sector. People innovate, Jack, not businesses and government. The people they hire innovate or not, according to their job description. Your entire argument on this issue makes no sense to me.

You seem to be arguing that the same creative person hired by the private sector can innovate, but, if hired by the government their innovative abilities disappear? It is a preposterous argument Jack. That person’s innovative abilities don’t change just because the signatory of their paycheck changes.

Posted by: David R. Remer at August 4, 2007 7:02 AM
Comment #228321

tomd, efficiency is measured by the ratio of input cost to generate a specific outcome. As I quoted to you, the cost to collect tax revenue has not improved since the Clinton administration, the opposite is true.

Your claim that the IRS’ methodologies have angered some taxpayers (true enough), is not an argument about efficiency, but, of customer satisfaction, and that customer satisfaction depends upon many factors not the least of which is the laws, Congress passes as to what is taxed, who is taxed, and by how much, which the IRS has little to nothing to do with.

As for efficiency, cost per dollar of revenue collected, the IRS is efficient compared to the private sector at roughly .44 cents per $100 collected. The biggest argument against IRS efficiency is the Tax Gap.

The Tax Gap is the difference between what is owed, and what is collected, which currently runs $345 billion annually or, more than a trillion every 3 years in uncollected taxes. This tax gap has gone up under the Bush administration and Republican control of Congress. This is more than almost any year’s Federal budget deficit. Which is to say, if this money was owed was collected, there would be no federal deficit, adding to our national debt.

Hence, the IRS has become less efficient under Republicans and the Bush administration. It remains to be seen if this will improve under Democrats, I don’t have a crystal ball that works. But, it was less under the Clinton Administration.

Can the IRS be made more efficient regarding the tax gap. Of course. But, to do so will inevitably create less customer satisfaction, as more persons who evaded taxes are forced to pay what they owe. But, it must be remembered that Congress and the White House (DOJ) are primarily responsible for the laws governing enforcement and penalties for failure to pay taxes, not the IRS.

Posted by: David R. Remer at August 4, 2007 7:27 AM
Comment #228328

Jack,

That doesn’t make sense.

Anything that undermines anybody’s rights under our constitution, WEAKENS US ALL!

You say you feel safer because of the illegal actions of this administration, but that is because you have not not felt it. That is what Obama was referring to when he said this country is suffering from a lack of empathy.

Your perspective would change rapidly and radically if you were to subjected to having had illegally obtained information taken from you or if you found yourself falsely accused, now wouldn’t it?

It is not ok for our government to undermine the very underpinnings of our legal system and run rough-shod over our constitution and our democracy with respect to some of us only to have others of us exclaim: “As long as it isn’t me, I’m ok with it.”

Posted by: RGF at August 4, 2007 9:52 AM
Comment #228329
There are limits to the amount which a business can borrow, (American Home Mortgage Corp.) which just went bankrupt due to lack of regulation in the sub-prime mortgage marketplace

David,

How was their bankruptcy due to the ‘lack of regulation in the sub-prime mortgage marketplace’ when they weren’t a sub-prime lender?

Posted by: Rhinehold at August 4, 2007 10:15 AM
Comment #228331

Jack,

Huh? I’m arguing for the Courts or Congress to settle the issue. To achieve that goal, I suggest that Congress lower the almost insurmountable barriers to plaintiffs or use its own powers to try. I have no idea, anymore, what you are arguing.

Posted by: Gerrold at August 4, 2007 10:31 AM
Comment #228333

Rhinehold, they bought sub-prime loans, which subsequently defaulted. And when they went to borrow to cover their liabilities, they were denied. In addition, the credit crunch casued by the sub-prime crisis, helped insure there borrowing option was closed, as lenders are now trying to minimize risk, in light of the spillover from the sub-prime industry.

Posted by: David R. Remer at August 4, 2007 10:38 AM
Comment #228334

Jack-
First and foremost, the whole point of a warrant is that the government must prove probable cause of some kind to employ its powers and its scrutiny against private citizens. That doesn’t mean that folks among them aren’t committing crimes, but that there must be good enough evidence of that being true for the government to take action. How can you justify spying on American citizens who have not yet established to be involved, as a witness or a perpetrator, in a crime, if you hold this view of innocence presumed against guilt in such a pure fashion.

I’m not saying that you’re intentionally taking both sides of this argument, but that you’re not thinking systematically about it.

In terms of Bureaucracy, my experience is that the worst aspects of it are meant to be defense mechanism. Often the point of it is to cut costs, and reduce workload. It’s also a favorite method of getting people to give up on things, when you don’t want them to avail themselves of government services. Often enough, bureaucratic roadblocks are a Republican’s best friend, or at least the result of actions that cut budgets, complicate getting services, and presume that the person in question is trying to laze around and cheat the government. Bureaucracy is the wall, often enough, that Republicans throw up to keep out the “lucky duckies”. Witness the IRS’s disproportionate pursuit of those who claim the Earned Income Tax Credit.

Bureaucracy and its frustrations are often just a second-order effect of the size of an endeavor or a business reaching a certain size. Once you get beyond a certain size, as an organization, some hierarchical, organized structure is necessary to get the job done at all, much less on a timely basis. However, those looking to cut corners, like the Republicans, can use bureaucracy to frustrate those who bring costs and liabilities to the game.

One aspect to this is whether this becomes common practice, whether by intent or by accident it becomes cheaper to make the system inefficient.

Republicans insist the market thrives on efficiency, but if you think about things in economic terms, that’s not always the case. Scarcity, by its nature, creates a certain level of inefficiency. Ideally, the market pressures bring that inefficiency to a minimum, but such pressures rely on people’s ability to chose alternatives that are less pricey or troublesome. One of the big troubles with Walmart, or any company that gains sufficiently large market share, is that they can settle down and become more inefficient, due to a lack of competition. Also, if a certain way of dealing with customers becomes the vogue, such as drop-kicking technical support to Bangalore, then the fact that everybody’s rushing to do it will insulate against the disadvantages of doing things that way.

It can also become advantageous to make the system less efficient when one controls the balance of supply and demand, or profits from finding any excuse to raise prices. The Republican’s efforts to broaden the speculative markets and deregulate natural monopolies and oligarchies is a large part of what makes energy so expensive nowadays, and why for no reason, oil hit 78 dollars a barrel recently. Second order forces are complicating a picture that use to be mostly just supply and demand.

In short, bureaucracy and inefficiency are not necessary hazardous to big business. In fact, they can be quite profitable if they can get away with it, and the Republicans have helped foster the governmental culture that’s aided many of these business, in the name of helping the economy, to allow them to get away with these things.

As for innovation in government? Well, we can have looser, freer discourse in it, but the Bush Administration has taken it upon itself to mostly stomp on that, to do their best to make the government follow rigid party lines.

Truth is, we do want a government with creative people in charge. When folks are doctrinaire, rigid-minded, bureaucratically incapable of seeing past the red tape, you get agencies running like FEMA did. When people don’t know how to creatively deal with a problem, they make things worse by applying solutions they know to be inappropriate, just for the sake of saying they did something. Governments do need to follow some rules, but they also need to have the authority and the expertise available to deal with situation which are complex, problematic, yet critical to our interests.

On the subject of Fitzgerald, he has every right to think outside the box, to consider more than just the defendant in front of him, especially when it’s very clear that the defendant did not act in isolation.

As for Libby and Clinton, they both lied. simple as that. It doesn’t matter what they lied about, it’s still a crime, and we don’t fail to punish crimes just because there isn’t an “underlying” crime behind them. Libby’s lie was far worse. Clinton parsed the meaning of sexual relations. Libby misled or tried to mislead Fitzgerald’s investigation with a wholesale fabrication of the facts.

The indications are that the reason he didn’t prosecute was that the law was poorly written to deal with the novel circumstance of somebody who wasn’t an enemy of the country exposing a covert agent for political reasons, much less one who was doing so inadvertantly, thinking it was just some gossip. The law was written to deal with folks who were exposing covert agents on behalf of foreign powers looking to hurt our country.

It’s by technicality that the leakers were not prosecuted for the leak, and that technicality should be a source of disgust for you, not reason for feeling vindicated. Your leakers remain free for the offense because nobody imagined an administration would reveal the identity of an agent for political reasons. It was written by people who found that prospect that unthinkable.

In short, your people got off on the leak because their act was too unthinkable for somebody to have had the foresight to make it illegal.

As for your response to RGF?

First, you assume that they’re successful most of the time in finding the patterns. If you read Ron Suskind’s The One Percent Doctrine, you’ll find that it’s not. The data mining is fairly fallible. Computers are stupid, and they can’t properly judge meaning or context. If you’ve dealt with artificial intelligence as of late, you’ll understand how bad computers are at guessing what something means.

But lets go beyond that: why do you want such a computer deciding, not a judge, not a police officer who has to supply a good reason, whether you’re a suspect? Why do you assume that you have to know a terrorist to end up on a watchlist?

Why do you assume that if these people are willing to datamine without warrants that they aren’t also extracting other information without them? Why would they be so selective, especially when they justified things under the AUMF. The Director of National intelligence recently told Congress that this was one program among many, not the sum totality of everything.

Why do you assume that the people who hold these powers, or to whom they are delegated, will not abuse them, or that under their secrecy, we’d be able to nip these abuses in the bud?

The very reason for our constitutional freedoms is a healthy distrust of the government’s purity and ability to resist the temptations of power. We also constructed it that way, because we need government that is correctable, that isn’t allowed to simply conserve its screwed up form for the benefit of those who don’t want to show political weakness.

You’re assuming 1) that such intrusive methods will protect you, and 2) that folks will use these powers prudently and justly. It is surprising to me that I find I have less faith in my government in those regards, than a Republican who is supposed to have next to no faith in it at all.

I think you should consider this: the terrorists all come from countries where people are not protected from the abuse of power from their government. They built up their nihilist attitudes watching governments impose their notions of the world on people, their religious sensibilities, their power on people’s lives. I do not think that their extremism is unconnect to the kind of thirst for power those surpressed by those in power get. Don’t get me wrong; the terrorists are no more good guys than the governments whose extremism prompted their thirst for power. Still, America preserves itself from that grief in part by not having such a paranoid security state that everbody’s business becomes the government’s business. When the government starts to believe that it has to intrude everywhere in order to preserve order and security, that’s when we not only lose both of those, but suffer the consequences of tyranny besides.

Does that sound somewhat Republican? Perhaps it does. I believe law should be selectively applied, and there applied with full vigor. I believe sometimes the Government needs the authority to intervene to do the people’s work, but that it should take good evidence or a reasonable regulatory system to set that intervention in motion. I believe in law and order, but recognize that the complexity of how law and order works in a society should be acknowledged and taken into account.

Nuances are important in the proper execution of the law, and Fitzgerald, I believe, rightly interpreted the law. As far as I can see, he wasn’t too happy with the result.

I just wonder: would you be willing to support laws criminalizing the outing of Covert agents for political reasons, or would you let what happened happen again, next time perhaps in a Democrat’s administration? I think one good guide for what laws and policies are wise to support is the Golden Rule: don’t push policies now that you wouldn’t have exercised on you later by your rivals.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at August 4, 2007 10:47 AM
Comment #228345

Rhinehold & Jack,

I apologize to you both and to others if you found my reference offensive. My comment was meant in jest, and motivated by how similar your political positions seem to be. It can be difficult to convey tone and inflection in the written word, and perhaps I failed in doing so in this case. To be honest the comment was meant as a jab, but maybe I didn’t realize how referencing the twin brothers from the story Alice in Wonderland could be considered offensive. But we all have different viewpoints and again I do apologize to any who may have been offended. I will repost my comment without the offensive phrase included.

Posted by: Cube at August 4, 2007 1:49 PM
Comment #228346

Jack & Rhinehold

Let’s talk about the red herring, I mean the sexual harassment charges. Yes sexual harassment is very serious. But that never was an official part of the Whitewater investigation, even though Clinton was asked about the charges and his relationship to Lewinsky. Fortunately, we had an Attorney General at the time Janet Reno, who recommended expanding the Grand Jury to investigate if Clinton tampered with Lewinsky’s testimony.

In accordance with the Independent Counsel Reauthorization Act of 1994, I hereby notify in writing the special division of the court that I have commenced a preliminary investigation … into whether violations of federal criminal law were committed by Monica Lewinsky or any other individual, as described below.

Janet Reno

Isn’t it wonderful to have an Attorney General that acts in the best interest of the nation and does not participate in partisan politics? I wonder if Gonzales could…never mine, we all know the answer to that.

Clinton’s perjury was the result of his trying to cover up his relationship with Monica, and nothing to do with sexual harassment. Unless of course Monica felt she was harassed, and she has never given any indication of that. In fact all indications were that she was a willing adult participant in this matter. Now if you want to apply your own judgments to Clinton’s actions that is fine. But I won’t presume to know how Monica felt about what happened. We do know a politically motivated Linda Tripp betrayed Monica’s trust, when she reported Monica’s spurned amor she felt for the president. Nor would I condone Clinton’s actions, he was wrong and he was rightfully punished. As President he should have never placed himself in a compromising position (no pun intended Watchblog Edit.).


Clinton was convicted of perjury; Libby was convicted of obstruction of justice and perjury. The implication being that if it wasn’t for the obstruction of justice, others may have been convicted in the Libby case. In fact Fitzgerald, made statements indicating that was his thought process. So to state that Fitzgerald did not think there was no underlying crime that was committed is patently untrue. Nevertheless Libby eventually supplied documents that indicate that he ordered by Cheney to release the information to the press, on the orders from the president.

Grand Jury Case 1:05-cr-00394-RBW Document 80 Filed 04/05/2006 Page 20 of 39

Vice President advised defendant that the President specifically had authorized defendant to disclose certain information in the NIE. Defendant testified that the circumstances of his conversation with reporter Miller - getting approval from the President through the Vice President to discuss material that would be classified but for that approval - were unique in his recollection. Defendant further testified that on July 12, 2003, he was specifically directed by the Vice President to speak to the press in place of Cathie Martin…During the conversations that followed on July 12, defendant discussed Ms. Wilson’s employment with both Matthew Cooper (for the first time) and Judith Miller (for the third time).


Posted by: Cube at August 4, 2007 2:18 PM
Comment #228350
Clinton was convicted of perjury

That’s actually not true. Hence the Republican outrage.

Posted by: American Pundit at August 4, 2007 2:31 PM
Comment #228355

AP,

Thank you for the clarification, you are absolutely right.

Posted by: Cube at August 4, 2007 3:18 PM
Comment #228362

David

Compared to what you can get with an efficient organization. The Federal government does a very good job FOR a big bureaucratic political organization. However, we should use such a thing sparingly.

Consider the intractable immigration mess. You know Visa or Mastercard can keep track of millions of people and generally verify them within seconds. If you wanted to send a package to an illegal alien in the U.S., Federal express could find him. The government cannot do these things because of its nature as a big bureaucratic political organization.

Re taxes

I am blaming the entire system. Congress makes the rules. The IRS carries them out and tries to interpret them. IF you eliminated the role of congress and the law, the IRS would be like a big private firm. It works reasonable well in that limited capacity. Unfortunately, we cannot disaggregate parts of government. It is kind of like that question, “besides that, Mrs. Lincoln, how was the play? We get the whole thing when we invite the government to solve a problem.

Re organization

You got my point. A bureaucracy in private business can behave like a government bureaucracy. Bureaucracy, BTW, is not inherently good or bad. It is sometimes appropriate, sometimes not. It is the hammer of the organizational toolbox. It is good for bashing big things. It can drive in nails. It can even drive in screws with less effectiveness. But it is not good at tightening those bolts or sawing wood.

Re losing money, government can stand it a lot longer. If I have big plans to make a businesses work, and it does not work, I cannot go on. The government can keep on throwing money at something for a much longer time.

NASA is a success in many ways. But it is not really an innovator. It had the mission of getting a man into space to the moon. It was innovative in getting the task done, but it did not have the task of innovation. Beyond that, NASA was a heroic model in the 1960s, and is less so today. It did not make a good transition from the single mission idea. This is very common in large organizations.

I do agree and believe that something like NASA is a government role. But you see from the problems with even this excellent organization the problems of government innovation.

Your point about hiring people to innovate is misplaced. You are thinking of innovation to accomplish a task. I am talking about innovation to define the tasks that should be accomplished. Government, being status quo, wants to innovate on today’s themes. Government would not have mandated a personal computer. It created the Internet backbone, but would not have mandated Google or Youtube.

The biggest task of the innovator is to determine the task. If you want this done through political deals and then handed off to a bureaucracy, you are pro-big government. If you are in favor of a more decentralized system that devolved choice to individuals and firms, you tend to like the market. Role reversal is a problem.

Think of the most obvious of government organizations: the military. They are very innovate in accomplishing the assigned task, but you probably do not want them to innovate in determining the tasks they will accomplish.

I want to make very clear that government has a role to play in the economy. You know that I have great respect for people who work in government. Just do not ask them to do things they cannot do.

RGF

I do not believe the terrorist surveillance program has violated our Constitution and as far as I know, this has not been decided.

Also, as far as I know, the program has adversely affect NO innocent Americans. Have you heard of any? So it is hard for me to empathize. If you are talking to Al Qaida, I hope they do catch you. You will have neither my sympathy nor empathy.

Gerrold

I am arguing that the terrorist surveillance program is not a crime. It is a disagreement over powers. It has not been decided to general satisfaction whether he acted within his power or not. Beyond that, nobody has attributed any nefarious motives. In the worst case scenario, the President was overzealous in his defense of the U.S. against terrorism. There is no cause for the indignation the Dems are doing.

Stephen

I understand what you are saying. I am just saying that it is a tradeoff between safety and privacy. I am not that much of a privacy advocate. I do not think anyone has a legitimate reason to talk to terrorists. BUT I do believe that we should protect these guys according to the constitution. Therefore, I do not think that information gathered with only the methods of warrant less research should be used as evidence. As far as I know, it has not and is not.

The terrorist surveillance is a means to identify and anticipate terrorist actions. You sometimes do not have probable cause because it is researching. If I am watching a mountain pass with my binoculars, I do not have probable cause to focus in on any particular individual who comes through the pass. I am LOOKING for clues. If I already had them, I would not be looking. But if you prevent me looking, I will never find anything.

Re Plame

It looks like it was a very bad thing. It also looks like it was not much of a secret identity and that it was revealed inadvertly by Armitage in order to explain the strange case of sending the retired Joe Wilson on a mission to Chad.

Plame and Wilson were not very diligent in protecting it. If I were covert, I would not recommend sending my politically connected spouse on a mission that was bound to become political. HOWEVER, Fitzgerald evidently determined that the outing was not a crime, since he KNEW who did it and did not act on it. What more do you want? I take leaking secrets very seriously. We should apply the law to leaking w/o regard to politics. But we do have to determine the exact modalities. Fitzgerald was unhappy, but he did not indict.


Cube

Frankly, I do not much care. I do not take offense easily. I am perfectly able and even eager to counter all but the most egregious offense. But the Watchblog has such rules and I think it does keep the site a little more civil. I am glad the Watchblog editor does such a good job.

Re the sexual harassment

It was a serious issue. I did not like the whole investigation. It went way to far, AS such things always do. That is why we be very careful with such special prosecutors. Give a smart guy a task and a pile of money and he will want to find SOMETHING.

Libby and Clinton both lied about something the special prosecutors never actually prosecuted. I do not think that says as much about either Clinton or Libby as it does about the nature of the special prosecutor system.

Posted by: Jack at August 4, 2007 5:36 PM
Comment #228366

Cube,

Just to clarify, Clinton committed perjury during the sexual harassment lawsuit by Paula Jones. In this lawsuit they asked him questions about his past and current sexual activities, something that was possible because of his direct actions. Instead of answering the question accurately, he committed perjury, both to keep his wife and daughter from knowing if his actions, keep the public from knowing and keep the judge from knowing as it may very well have given more credence to Paula Jone’s case (one she settled out of court with Clinton on, btw).

It was after the discovery that there was evidence of this perjury that the special prosecutor was given power to investigate if the evidence was accurate and true. It turned out to be and impeachment proceedings commenced (Clinton also lost his law license among other things).

I’m not sure why the ‘sexual harassment’ case was a ‘red herring’ as it was during questioning of this lawsuit where he committed the perjury, but I find it interesting that so many that want to give him a pass on his actions choose to simply ignore it.

“It was just about adultery, man…”

Posted by: Rhinehold at August 4, 2007 6:52 PM
Comment #228369

Jack said: “I am talking about innovation to define the tasks that should be accomplished.”

There you go. Two choices, an efficient dictator, or inefficient democratically elected representative government.

Look nearly all of your complaints about government stem from two factors. Two parties opposing each other and the lack of consensus by the people to make absolute majority demands upon their government. Now, the reason for the latter, is the former. A large majority of the public making the same demand upon their government, while not rare, is also not commonplace for the host of issues facing the nation. But, it is the duopoly party system that works incessantly at dividing public opinion and opposing democratic consensus.

NASA engineers do and did innovate very well. People innovate, not organizations. Organizations people them to innovate, or not, as the management of the organization dictates. State Governments have been extremely innovative in addressing the illegal immigration problem created by the federal government, they have also been innovative in balancing their budgets, and addressing many other issues, with a diversity of approaches.

The only difference between state and federal government is the lack of consensus of demand by the voters, and lack of holding politicians accountable to those demands by voting them out of office. (Though that is now changing for the better).

And you are absolutely right about how far in debt is the difference between private organizations and the federal government. But, that too is largely a matter for the public voters to demand balance and hold official accountable for it.

So, the bottom line is consensus, and the root of consensus is education and information. On this issue, the political parties have worked diligently and long since the 1960’s to avoid and prevent an educated public with consensus, and with immense effort, I might add. The greatest hostility to such education and consensus has come from the right, but, the left has played key parts as well.

Of course, what many folks don’t realize is that 3 or more parties actually results in sustainable goal oriented government behavior far better than two parties who change course and direction with each party’s control of Congress. With 3 or more parties, on any given issue you are more likely to have two opposing parties and deciding 3rd or more party consensus, keeping the extreme opposites from nullifying policies before they have attained their objectives.

But, a viable 3rd party in Congress is not even a remote possibility at this point in time. Neither are the two parties going to put education and public consensus at the top of the priority list.

Therefore, unless the voters, specifically the Independent voters, get their act together and make a concerted effort to make tenure in Congress for the duopoly incumbents a rarity, America is screwed. If we continue to fail to act decisively, appropriately, and quickly to address entitlements, tax policy and reform, spending responsibility through prioritization, deficits, global climate change, or population management, which pose grave threats to our future over the next 40 years, other nations will rise and ours will falter.

The gravity of this is being perceived by Independent voters, but far less so, by duopoly supporters who believe the greatest impediment to saving our future is the other half of the duopoly party. Absolutely WRONG focus. The greatest impediment to that future is the two parties themselves, who refuse to see past the next election to address such longer term challenges with consensus and decisive action.

And therein lies the biggest source of government inefficiency today, Jack. You hire a person to do a job, it doesn’t matter if that person is paid by the government or a private organization, their potential for innovation and productivity is not altered by who pays their check. That is a fundamental flaw in your argument.

If the people demand efficiency from their representatives and fire them if it is not forthcoming, then gov’t. employees will be efficient, or be fired by their representatives. Same with innovation, productivity, whatever. These are all attributes of people, and what one gets from them stems directly from what they are trained to do, what is expected of them, and how accountable they are made for results expected.

The checks and balances in our Constitution were put there to prevent inefficiencies of bad policy from having to be overcome and set right again. The two parties, have for many, many decades exploited the cracks and crannies of those checks and balances and stretched them to the breaking point, now seen in the Bush administration.

The difference between a common criminal and a political criminal is this. A common criminal commits crimes only against himself or a few others, and gets very stiff punishments for them. The political criminal commits crimes against 300 million people and is more often than not, going to incur only modest punishment if they receive any at all.

This must change before government can become efficient. The people must hold political criminals to much harsher standard than the common criminal for the same crime. Only then, will politicians experience the fear of reprisal from the public and the motivation to work for the nation and people instead of themselves and their party. Immense gains in efficiency, innovation and responsiveness to the nation’s challenges then could be realized.

Posted by: David R. Remer at August 4, 2007 7:27 PM
Comment #228381

Jack, “You know Visa or Mastercard can keep track of millions of people and generally verify them within seconds. If you wanted to send a package to an illegal alien in the U.S., Federal express could find him.”
Visa keeps track of the card carried by people. Its relatively easy in the age of computers and modems to do so. Lets see them try it without the card.
Fed Ex ships where you tell them to and to whom you tell them to. Do you Spose they know the adressee is illegal. Lets see how good they are without the illigal immigrant’s address. Just send a package without an address , just a name.

Posted by: j2t2 at August 4, 2007 11:05 PM
Comment #228385

Rhinehold:
“I’m not sure why the ‘sexual harassment’ case was a ‘red herring’”

Hey, I know the answer to that. It’s because Paula Jones was really just a professional victim, and the charge of sexual harassment was absolutely ludicrous. Indeed, it was so ludicrous that the court dismissed the lawsuit even before the trial could took place. And after all, why should we believe that it took a woman who claimed to be so highly offended by an incidence of sexual harassment three whole years after the incident had (supposedly) taken place to make an issue of it?
No, the clear and obvious truth is, Paula Jones was simply an opportunist who lusted after money. Oh, and she was kind of a slut as well, because only a woman who has been awarded an out of court settlement for 850,000 would later claim to be so poor that she would “need” to pose naked for Penthouse Magazine for the money — and all the respectful male attention that was sure to garner, I guess.
Hilariously enough, when the magazine’s photo spread and article appeared, it went under this sensational little title: ‘Paula Jones Uncovered! She Shows All And Tells All: How the Far Right Used and Abused Her to Destroy Clinton’

Like I said, Paula Jones, professional victim.

Posted by: Adrienne at August 5, 2007 12:37 AM
Comment #228412

Jack,

It is clear to me that you have not researched the domestic warrantless wiretapping issue. This issue, in a case remarkably similar to what we’ve seen under the Bush administration, was addressed by SCOTUS in 1972. It upheld the need for judicial approval of warrantless wiretapping of U.S. citizens and dimissed the administration’s argument that certain vague provisions overrode specific statutory language. It held that Congress can address legitimate executive branch concerns for protecting the secutiry of the United States through legislation. FISA is the result.

I’ve noticed you claim that you are arguing the the executive branch has not broken the law. Yet, you are arguing nothing; you are simply asserting. I don’t blame you; the legal argument for the executive branch in this case is an extremely difficult one to make.

I do not intend to blame Republicans entirely for this mess. Many principled conservatives are pointing out the unConstitutional nature of the president’s actions. And the Democrats, as a whole, are not addressing the issue, either. There is plenty of blame to go around.

I want SCOTUS or Congress to address this issue. I gather you do not want either to do so. Indeed, that is understandable.

Posted by: Gerrold at August 5, 2007 12:21 PM
Comment #228447

Gerrold

The Democratically controlled congress vindicated the president. We can do what we need to do to protect the U.S. while protecting liberty, a majority of congress has decided.

Adrienne

Excellent job in smashing that sexual harassment bugaboo. You are right about people like Paula Jones and Anita Hill, who bring up things from long past. Sexual harassment laws have time limits precicley to avoid such sorts of deceptions as well as “honest” differences of memory.

j2t2

Exactly my point. The private sector can do things the Fed cannot. We do not want to give the Feds the power to do such things, so we should not be surprised when they cannot.

David

In the private sector, we do not need or always want democracy. The private sector can deal with directive leadership because it is circumscribed by market forces and rule of law. That is why SOME things belong to the private sector and some things are better done by government or NGOs.

Most success stories involve some single minded guy who thought different thoughts. Usually, his neighbors, maybe even his family do not agree. When I made many of my investments, friends thought I was nuts. Sometimes they were right, but in the most part my judgment - FOR ME – was better than theirs. If you forced a majority consensus not much would get done. A democratic political process produces a least common denominator. There are many things were that is okay or desirable, but you certainly cannot run an prosperous economy on political consensus.

Lets just take an example. How about you, AP and I are trying to reach an agreement. I think we are all three reasonable. We are not particularly selfish or irrational. We could reach lots of agreements, but not on everything. If you want to get more interesting, throw in Adrienne and Eric.

We have different points of views and that is the strength of pluralism and a market economy. I would not trust your advice about some things; you would not trust mine about others and neither of would trust AP. In a market economy, we could mix, match and try what works. Maybe I would be surprised that you were right and start to adopt some of your ideas – and improve on them. You would do the same. We do not need a consensus on all our actions. It is not a good thing. The only consensus we need is to let each other do what we think best. Even if government really knows what is best for me, I usually would still prefer to make my own choices and my own mistakes.

You want to have checks in government. I agree. I also want checks ON government. Government should do what it needs to do and leave the rest to we the people.

Posted by: Jack at August 5, 2007 4:57 PM
Comment #228465

Jack,

In no way does this legislation vindicate the president. It still requires notification to the FISA court, which this administration choose not to do for years. What the legislation might do, though in a weasely, vague way, is make it easier to argue that domestic warrantless wiretapping is legal, though to me even that is not clear. It still contains provisions requiring authorities to certify that targets are reasonably believed to be outside the United States, though, apparently, it toned down the very specific language in FISA.

I’m still working through the legislation and crosschecking it with FISA to understand what it really means. What is very clear to me is that our media has down an absolutely lousy job of reporting the contents of this amendment.

This bill was what Bush wanted, but only a true partisan could argue that it vindicates the administration’s illegal surveillance of American citizens.

Posted by: Gerrold at August 5, 2007 9:17 PM
Comment #228473

“You are right about people like Paula Jones and Anita Hill, who bring up things from long past. Sexual harassment laws have time limits precicley to avoid such sorts of deceptions as well as “honest” differences of memory.”

Bit of difference there between those two, of course. Anita Hill didn’t get anything out of coming forward, only the chance to tell the country that she didn’t think a man like Thomas should be allowed to sit on the Supreme Court. Besides, David Brock, former journalistic hit man for the GOP admitted he’d lied and demonized Hill to protect Thomas for his former party.
Thank goodness Brock grew a conscience and a deep seated disgust at the low-down dirty GOP slime machine though. He later went on to found the website Media Matters for America, and now he spends all his time debunking that slime machine! :^)

Posted by: Adrienne at August 5, 2007 10:36 PM
Comment #228708

Jack said: “There are many things were that is okay or desirable, but you certainly cannot run an prosperous economy on political consensus.”

And you never heard me argue for a command economy, as your above reply implies. You can, and must, however, regulate the greed and natural tendency toward monopoly and oligopoly which free market corporations inevitably lend themselves to.

You said: “You want to have checks in government. I agree. I also want checks ON government. Government should do what it needs to do and leave the rest to we the people.”

Government should do what it set out to do in our founding documents, promote the general welfare of the nation and its people. I also want checks on unbridled greed that would work and starve the nation for the benefit of a minority of its population.

Posted by: David R. Remer at August 8, 2007 1:00 AM
Comment #228767

Jack,

None of this makes sense at all.
It was YOUR boy who deceived Congress, the American people and the U.N. to instigate a treasonous war.

Now you accuse the Dems of falsity?

You see? - That’s what I mean when I point out that the republicans are devoid of ideas, allegience to ideas, purpose or even plan!
Label loyalty is the only thing the republicans seem capable of these days.

Fiscal conservatism’s home was in the republican party —- not now!!!

republicans claimed to be the law and order party —- but after the rst of got through laughing about that (thinking of Iran-contra and Watergate), we noticed the treasonsous B.S. arising from Plame-gate, warrantless searches, lying to the U.N. and then violating 1441, lying to congress about intelligence, manipulating votes in Flrida and Ohio…and it wasn’t funny anymore.

If any ideal - moral, legal, economic had any value to republicans…
the republican party would be DEAD in this country.

But, republicans keep fooling themselves and the fire keeps burning.

Posted by: RGF at August 8, 2007 2:19 PM
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