An amazing interview with Rep. Dennis Kucinich by Meg White is at Buzzflash. Kucinich recently introduced articles of impeachment against President Bush for lying us into war. This would have gotten press coverage, except that Angelina Jolie was doing something last week and the press has to prioritize. Luckily, you can go to Buzzflash and read this–
“Where’s our heart here? What is going on that we can’t connect with the suffering of other people?” he asked. “We can’t say, ‘Oh, yeah, we went into a war, they didn’t tell the truth and all these people died. Sorry about that. Pass the Grey Poupon.’ We can’t do that. We cannot become so callous that we don’t care that innocent people are killed. This is what’s driving me.”
Check out the rest of the interview for details of the impeachment, who else signed on, and what the next step will be.
The House has put Dennis Kucinich’s bill to impeach Cheney back in circulation. It sits before the House Judiciary Committee, waiting to be taken up and possibly passed. From Dailykos.com:
You wouldnâ€™t know it if you just watch TV news or read the corporate press, but this past Tuesday, something remarkable happened. Despite the pig-headed opposition of the Democratic Partyâ€™s top congressional leadership, a majority of the House, including three Republicans, voted to send Dennis Kucinichâ€™s long sidelined Cheney impeachment bill (H Res 333) to the Judiciary Committee for hearings.
The vote was 218 to 194.
Now the behind-the-scenes partisan maneuvering that preceded that vote was arcane indeed, with Kucinich first exercising a memberâ€™s privilege motion to present his stymied impeachment bill to the full House, only to have Speaker Nancy Pelosi arrange for a colleague (Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-MD) offer a motion to table it. The Republicans, anxious to embarrass the Speaker, threw a wrench into that plan, though, by voting as a bloc to oppose tabling. Since Kucinich already has 22 co-sponsors for his bill, it was clear that the tabling gambit would fail. As soon as that became apparent, rank-and-file Democrats, unwilling to be seen by their constituents as defending Cheney, rushed to change their votes to opposing the tabling motion. In the end, tabling failed by 242 to 170 with 77 Democrats supporting a pleasantly surprised Kucinich.
In order to avoid a floor debate on the merits of impeaching the eminently impeachable Vice President Cheney, Pelosi and her allies then moved to send Kucinichâ€™s bill directly to the Judiciary Committee. They were joined by three Republicans, including maverick Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul (R-TX).
Now the hope of the Democratic leadership is that this means Kucinichâ€™s impeachment bill will continue to be safely bottled up in a subcommittee of the Judiciary Committee. But it may not work out that way for them.
Whatever the explanation, this impeachment bill has been endorsed by a floor vote of the full House, with bipartisan support. [full text]
Once again, this is a commanding moment for Ron Paul in influencing the direction of the nation by joining with Democrats to look more sharply upon the deeds of the current administration.
Coffee is the staff of life, and ever since Blue State Coffee opened up Iâ€™ve been stopping by there once or twice a week. I think it would be cool if it became one of those places like the coffee houses of England and France where modern democracy was born, but so far itâ€™s too early to say. The coffeeâ€™s good, though.
Being a fan of the place, I got a little defensive when I saw a letter in the ProJo that I knew was aimed at Blue State Coffee. The name of the writer seemed familiar. Then I realized that Carol Dragon and I work for the same employer, but at different offices. Thatâ€™s Rhode Island for you.
I had to calm down then, and really read her letter. Whatâ€™s more, I have to admit that she makes a good point. The entire letter is hereâ€“
Two articles of interest in The Journal, Aug. 14: One announced that Cal Ripken is a U.S. envoy â€œas part of a program to help burnish Americaâ€™s image abroad.â€? Mr. Ripken will use his new position to improve understanding among youths worldwide. The other article announces the opening of a coffee shop on Thayer Street, in Providence, that sells dog treats in the image of President Bush. Some of the proceeds from the shop will be donated to People for the America Way. If to â€œburnishâ€? means to make shiny or lustrous, Mr. Ripken will need to explain why the American people do not show respect for the leader of our nation. No matter how we feel about the president, we should not tolerate disrespect.
If we are role models for our children and grandchildren, what values are we passing on? If the president is an object of ridicule, is it then okay to ridicule school and church authorities? Classmates? Parents? If we as adults cannot resist being mean-spirited, how do we discourage that behavior in our children? Letâ€™s give Mr. Ripken a hand by stepping up to the plate by being kinder, gentler and by being the best Americans we can be.
I have to appreciate her argument on behalf of civility. Without civility thereâ€™s no way we can talk to one another. Sheâ€™s got a point, too, about respect for the office of the President and all our elected officials. It is more telling to show respect for the office, respect for our common responsibility. From that perspective we can see how bad things really are.
Secondly, hating George W. Bush is a waste of time. Thereâ€™s an infinite line of empty suits and washed-up movie actors ready to take his place, and we’ll end up with one of them if we don’t vote in someone better. We have to stop acting like peasants. We have a Constitution that lays out the process of impeachment for high crimes and misdemeanors. Is taking our country into war on a false pretext a high crime? Is the abandonment of New Orleans a misdemeanor? Counting down to â€˜Bushâ€™s Last Dayâ€™ doesnâ€™t do it, because another year is too long. Our government will be as corrupt as we allow it to be. Empty gestures and blowing off steam wonâ€™t get us anywhere, but letters, phone calls, and protests add up to real power when enough people get involved.
When a former high official under the Reagan administration is calling for impeachment, it might be time to reconsider its viability. From Paul Craig Roberts:
Unless Congress immediately impeaches Bush and Cheney, a year from now the US could be a dictatorial police state at war with Iran.
Bush has put in place all the necessary measures for dictatorship in the form of “executive orders” that are triggered whenever Bush declares a national emergency. Recent statements by Homeland Security Chief Michael Chertoff, former Republican senator Rick Santorum and others suggest that Americans might expect a series of staged, or false flag, “terrorist” events in the near future.
Many attentive people believe that the reason the Bush administration will not bow to expert advice and public opinion and begin withdrawing US troops from Iraq is that the administration intends to rescue its unpopular position with false flag operations that can be used to expand the war to Iran. [full text]
â€¢ The Untold Story of America’s Health Care Crisisâ€”An unsettling excerpt, courtesy of AlterNet, from the recently published book, “Sick: The Untold Story of America’s Health Care Crisis â€” and the People Who Pay the Price,” by Jonathan Cohn.
â€¢ Forget Ethics, Remember Politicsâ€”In an editorial, the New York Times decries “the Bush administrationâ€™s never-ending push to turn federal agencies into favor-filled partisan clubhouses,” as exemplified by the scandalous actions of Lurita Doan, the head of the General Services Administration.
â€¢ Democrats in Washington want to keep impeachment off the tableâ€”A report by Steven Thomma of the McClatchy Newspapers on how and why “the push to impeach President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney is gaining a hearing in some parts of the country, but not in Washington.”
â€¢ Teen Tests Internet’s Lewd Track Recordâ€”An interesting piece by Eli Saslow of the Washington Post on “the unruly momentum of the Internet” and how one 18-year-old female pole vaulter from California found herself overwhelmed by an undesired “wave of attention.”
I know there is a presiding sentiment that pressure for impeachment is not going anywhere — look what they did to Russ Feingold when he brought it up, for heaven’s sake. But now that we have a bunch more Democrats elected, it might be worth revisiting the question. Take a look at this survey on MSN. It has a very good sample size (over 466,000 as of this writing) and 88% of the respondents want to see George W. Bush impeached. Now go vote in it.
h/t bullnotbull.com for the link.
Sheldon Whitehouse was on Hardball with Chris Matthews yesterday, discussing the crazy situation at Ashcroft’s hospital bed, the mysterious Rove emails, and the possibility that the Bush Administration will simply “brass this one out.” Here is a link to the video. The transcript of the show is as follows:
MATTHEWS: Joining me is Senator Sheldon Whitehouse. He’s a Democrat from Rhode Island. He sits on both the Judiciary Committee and the Select Intelligence Committee. Heâ€˜s also a former Rhode Island attorney general.
Senator Whitehouse, what do you make of this caper? It does look like â€œThe Godfather.â€? It looks like the hospital scene in â€œThe Godfather.â€?
SEN. SHELDON WHITEHOUSE (D-RI), INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE, JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: It is unbelievable, Chris. It has to be one of the most astounding episodes in the Department of Justice history, all the way back to the Saturday night massacre. And the mental images that it leaves you with are just indelible ones. I mean, a deputy attorney general of the United States at a dead run up the hospital stairs in order to beat Alberto Gonzales to a sick attorney general to prevent something nefarious from happening? The director of the FBI having to instruct his agents not to throw Comey out of the room because theyâ€˜re afraid, evidently, that had Gonzales gotten over there, he would have had the deputy attorney general of the United States thrown out by FBI agents in order to get a signature from a sick attorney general? Itâ€˜s unbelievable.
MATTHEWS: So what does it tell you about Gonzales?
WHITEHOUSE: Well, you know, I think, once again, it makes his continued tenure as attorney general hopeless from any objective perspective. Seen from the point of view of the Bush administration, if what youâ€˜re looking for is an attorney general who isnâ€˜t going to look in any unfortunate corners too hard, maybe heâ€˜s their idea of an ideal candidate. But if youâ€˜re interested in the fair administration of justice and if youâ€˜re interested in the wellbeing of the Justice Department, this kind of thing is lethal.
MATTHEWS: is he a presidential retainerâ€”in other words, a sort of a functionary, a stafferâ€”or is he actually serving as attorney general, an independent member of the cabinet who speaks to the president as a colleague, or is he simply somebody who does the presidentâ€˜s bidding every moment of the day?
WHITEHOUSE: Sadly, the evidence is that he is much more somebody whoâ€˜s over there to do the presidentâ€˜s bidding and to watch the presidentâ€˜s back than somebody who is prepared to stand up and make the tough calls that attorney generals often have to, often against the people who put them in power.
MATTHEWS: Well, letâ€˜s go back over this case here of the attorney general, John Ashcroft, in hospital bed, just having had his gallbladder taken out the day before after six days of intensive care. Someone details the chief of staff to the president and Gonzales over there to tell him to sign some letter that the president wants sign. Now, I have to tell you, having watched this White House for seven years now, that seems more like a vice-presidential mission than a presidential mission. Have you people on the committee been able to determine whose orders these people were following, Gonzales and Car, at that moment?
WHITEHOUSE: No, not as of yet. The other thing that we need to look into further is the whole question of the internal investigation by the Office of Professional Responsibility into this, into misconduct in the Department of Justice, including the attorney general, that was shut down when the White House refused to allow the OPR investigators, I think for the first time in the departmentâ€˜s history, the necessary security clearances. So thereâ€˜s a lot still to look into in this matter.
MATTHEWS: Let me ask you about the question of Karl Rove. Heâ€˜s always the focus of attention in this city. Karl Rove apparently had a number of e-mails back and forth with regard to the Justice Department decision to fire those U.S. attorneys. Do we know if those e-mails exist? And two, do you know if youâ€˜re ever going to get them?
WHITEHOUSE: Not at this point. Not at this point. As time goes by, they get harder and harder to retrieve and recover. Obviously, I hope that we recover as many as possible because I think itâ€˜s a critical part of this puzzle, and the puzzle is critically important to our country. I mean, the Department of Justice is a great and noble institution, and it should never be in the situation it is right now. And I think itâ€˜s a matter of real urgency to get it back on its feet and get people who care about it, like James Comey, back in charge again.
MATTHEWS: I get the message from the White House that theyâ€˜re very confident that they donâ€˜t have ever turn those e-mails over. Is that your sense, that theyâ€˜re just going to be able to stonewall this? You can subpoena them all you want, youâ€˜re not going to get Karl Roveâ€˜s e-mails.
WHITEHOUSE: Well, the problem is that if you go the subpoena route and then you pursue it into court to pursue the contempt of the subpoena, by the time the delays and the lawyers and everything have taken place, theyâ€˜re getting pretty close to the end of President Bushâ€˜s term. So he may be able to just brass this one out.
MATTHEWS: Let me ask you about another question. Paul Wolfowitz over at the World Bankâ€”it looks from all the outside press thatâ€˜s been leaking out, and maybe theyâ€˜re doing it on purpose, that Bob Bennett, his attorney, figures the best he can get for Paul Wolfowitz at this point is a clean bill of health on his way out the door. Is that the way that you read it?
WHITEHOUSE: I donâ€˜t know any more about it than you do, Chris. I really canâ€˜t be very helpful there.
MATTHEWS: Well, letâ€˜s go back to the attorney general case. Where is this going to end, Senator? Youâ€˜re on Judiciary. You canâ€˜t remove an attorney general. What can you do to make this case and in a clear-cut fashionâ€”in other words, his removal from office?
WHITEHOUSE: There may be other ways to get our hands on some of the e-mails. They may have turned up, for instance, in the Fitzpatrick investigation. We may be able to get them from other sources. Those e-mails are going to be critical. The Office of Inspector General is looking into the whole U.S. attorneys firings. Theyâ€˜re going to have a lot of access. They can do this full-time. I think people in the department probably trust them, probably even want to reach out to them to try to get this situation off their backs so they can stand tall again and be rid of this attorney general. So I think that OIG report is likely to be very thorough. Thatâ€˜s going to be another enormous blow, I suspect, to the attorney general. So there will be continued interest in this. Weâ€˜re going to continue to press it as hard as we can. You know, I want our Department of Justice back and…
MATTHEWS: Well, thereâ€˜s no way you get it back if the president says he wants to keep it in the hands of his friend, Alberto Gonzales, is there? Thereâ€˜s no constitutional means to remove this man, I guess unless you impeach him.
WHITEHOUSE: That I think is the only legal means. But I think if we continue to put the pressure on, it may get to the point where even if the presidentâ€˜s highest purpose is to get his administration out of Washington without further indictment, itâ€˜s still not worth it to carry the weight of Attorney General Gonzales and his incompetent and very unprincipled administration of the Department of Justice.
MATTHEWS: You mention the weight. Do you have enough weight to impeach and convict him and remove him from office?
WHITEHOUSE: You know, after the run that the Republicans took at President Clinton, I think thereâ€˜s a real bad odor in the publicâ€˜s mind about that. It is the one device that is at our disposal. Itâ€˜s been used in the past, for secretaries of war back in the Civil War. But I think right now, everybodyâ€˜s focus is on really trying to get to the bottom of this and find out for once and for all what happened.
MATTHEWS: And you would tell the president to fire him, if you could.
WHITEHOUSE: It would be in the interests of America. It would be in the interests of the Department of Justice. I think, frankly, it would be even in the interests of the president, at least the proper interests of the president.
MATTHEWS: OK, thank you very much, U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse.
It takes a certain strength of character and integrity to admit error and own up to one’s mistakes. Dick Cheney, the man who rides shotgun in the Bush administration, is clearly lacking in this regard, as is his boss. Despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary (as noted below), the Vice President maintains to this day that there were substantial links between the Iraqi government and members of al-Qaeda prior to the U.S. invasion in 2003. Cheney touts such fictitious links as a way to justify the decision to go to warâ€”and to justify his role in promoting this tragic course of action. Whether he believes his own rhetoric is uncertain, but his continued perpetuation of the canard suggests the beliefâ€”or hopeâ€”that, if he keeps repeating the lie, it will become the truth. The fact that many Americans still find reason (or the lack thereof) to take Cheney at his word is a pity. But the greater pity is that a man so utterly lacking in moral character and intellectual honesty remains in a position of significant authority, when he and his co-conspirator in the White House ought be pilloried and impeached. They should be held accountable for their war crimes.
From the Washington Post:
Captured Iraqi documents and intelligence interrogations of Saddam Hussein and two former aides “all confirmed” that Hussein’s regime was not directly cooperating with al-Qaeda before the U.S. invasion of Iraq, according to a declassified Defense Department report released yesterday.
The declassified version of the report, by acting Inspector General Thomas F. Gimble, also contains new details about the intelligence community’s prewar consensus that the Iraqi government and al-Qaeda figures had only limited contacts, and about its judgments that reports of deeper links were based on dubious or unconfirmed information. The report had been released in summary form in February.
The report’s release came on the same day that Vice President Cheney, appearing on Rush Limbaugh’s radio program, repeated his allegation that al-Qaeda was operating inside Iraq “before we ever launched” the war, under the direction of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the terrorist killed last June.
“This is al-Qaeda operating in Iraq,” Cheney told Limbaugh’s listeners about Zarqawi, who he said had “led the charge for Iraq.” Cheney cited the alleged history to illustrate his argument that withdrawing U.S. forces from Iraq would “play right into the hands of al-Qaeda.” [full text]
Remember Kenneth Starr, the former independent prosecutor whose overzealous pursuit of President Bill Clinton in the Monicagate scandal led to impeachment proceedings? Ever wonder what happened to Ken? Contrary to rumor, he is not currently working in the corner square on Hollywood Squares. Nor is he spending his time with Barbie and Stacie in their Malibu Playhouse, although you are getting warm. Mr. Starr is currently in Malibu, although strictly on business. He is a Dean and Professor of Law at Pepperdine University. Interestingly enough, the brief bio of Starr posted on the law schoolâ€™s website (here) makes no mention of Monicagate or the impeachment of President Clinton. Perhaps Starr has come to feel embarrassed by his role in that whole messy business, particularly in light of more recent and egregious high crimes and misdemeanors committed by the resident of the Oval Office. In any regard, the former independent prosecutor has moved on and appears to be doing just fine and dandy.
What brings Kenneth Starr to mind is a news report from Washington state that details yet another example of prosecutorial zealotry. Read on, Macduff…
TACOMA, Wash., April 7 — Talk about taking a bite out of crime.
Government lawyers tried to confiscate the gold tooth caps known as “grills” from the mouths of two men facing drug charges, saying the dental work qualified as seizable assets. They had them in a vehicle headed to a dental clinic by the time defense lawyers persuaded a judge to halt the procedure.
“I’ve been doing this for over 30 years, and I have never heard of anything like this,” said Richard J. Troberman, a past president of the Washington Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. “It sounds like Nazi Germany, when they were removing the gold teeth from the bodies, but at least then they waited until they were dead.”
Prosecutors had a warrant to seize the gold dental work, according to documents and lawyers involved in the case. But they eventually abandoned the effort, saying they mistakenly thought the grills were removable. more…
Isnâ€™t it nice to know how well our tax dollars are being spent and how intelligent and reasonable certain of our government prosecutors are? For their dubious actions in this case, I hereby award them the Kenneth Starr Award for Overzealous Prosecution. Congratulations!
It would appear that Senator Russ Feingoldâ€™s efforts to have President Bush censured for authorizing warrantless surveillance on American citizens is about as welcome among his colleagues as a gift basket of rotten fruit from Jack Abramoff. Most members of the majority partyâ€”that would be the Republicans for those of you who have been slumbering these past 5 yearsâ€”have responded with disdain or self-righteous anger. Most members of Feingoldâ€™s partyâ€”that would be Democraps, of courseâ€”have responded with Jello-like enthusiasm. And lukewarm Jello at that. Well, at least Jon Stewart, host of The Daily Show, seems supportive, as reported in an Associated Press article by Frederic J. Frommer:
“This feels like some attempt at accountability,” Stewart told Feingold, D-Wis., at the end of the senator’s appearance on the Comedy Central show Wednesday night. “And that’s what I really like about it.”
“And so I appreciate that, and I thank you for it,” Stewart added. “And I hope that your colleagues let you still eat at the lunch table.”
Stewart poked fun at the tepid response that Feingold’s proposal has generated on Capitol Hill. So far, only two senators, both Democrats, have signed on as co-sponsors.
“A lot of your Democratic colleagues are reacting as though you’re Jack Abramoff and you have a casino you want to talk to them about,” Stewart joked, referring to the disgraced lobbyist.
Feingold, who has accused his Democratic colleagues of “cowering,” said it was important for the party to show some backbone.
“How many times are we going let George Bush and (Vice President) Dick Cheney say, ‘You guys don’t support the troops. You’re not patriotic,’ and let them push us around?” asked Feingold, whose appearance was via satellite from Milwaukee. “We have to stand up to them.”
Stewart played a clip from a recent news conference of House Majority Leader John Boehner, in which the Ohio Republican said of Feingold, “Sometimes you begin to wonder if he’s more interested in the safety and security of the terrorists as opposed to the American people.”
After the audience groaned, Stewart asked, “How long have you been working with the terrorists, and are they nicer than they seem?”
“Oh no, they’re a bad bunch,” Feingold said, laughing.
Feingold conceded that a member of his own family questioned the proposal.
“My daughter called me up and said, ‘Dad, what are you doing? This thing hasn’t been done since the 1830s,’ so it takes some explaining,” Feingold said.
“That’s what I like about you, senator,” Stewart said. “You’re kicking it old-school.”
For a more serious take on the reactions to Feingoldâ€™s censure move, I refer you to an editorial by John Nichols in The Nation entitled â€œCensuring Censure.â€? If you want to take action, I refer you to the following MoveOn.org petition page: http://political.moveon.org/censure/. A new century calls for a new censure.