Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Tony Snow: WH Asserts Privilege for Conversations that Never Happened


In the White House Press briefing that just concluded, Press Secretary Tony Snow said that he was not aware of the President being briefed on the US Attorney issue. He further said the President did not sign off on the firings.

CNN's Ed Henry hit the nail on the head: if no conversations occurred with the President, and no advice was given, then how can the White House assert executive privilege, claiming the need to shield Presidential advice. Tony Snow's response: "That's an intriguing question."

Darn straight it's an intriguing question! What the heck are they protecting if there exists no Presidential advice on the issue? I'll tell you what they are protecting: Karl Rove and Harriet Miers, two of the President's most loyal and trusted advisers.

Snow further stated the true purpose of the White House's actions: to prevent a public 'spectacle' of a public hearing. Well, Mr. Press Secretary, you all have made your bed and it's time to lie in it.

This stinks to high Hell.

Further, on the O'Reilley Factor last night, guest Judge Andrew Napolitano clearly stated that legal precedent is that Executive Privilege applies only in the area of national security issues. For a court to change that precedent would be a major shift in judicial philosophy.

The issue of executive privilege is now dead in the water. There is NO circumstance under which there is a reasonable argument for Rove, Miers, et. al to NOT testify under oath in a public hearing before Congress.

Bush's Offer is not in Good Faith

Last night, I watched the O'Reilley Factor. It's not something I do often, because it is really "info-tainment" and you rarely see a valid presentation of anything close to a fact.

But, I wanted to preview what the right wing's defense of George Bush's bull-headed collision course with Congress would be. Predictably, they continue to use Clinton as justification of their declaration of executive privilege. They forget that they cried foul anytime that Clinton wanted to prevent his staff from appearing before the witch hunt that was run by Sen. Al D'Amato back in the mid-90's.

O'Reilley had former Judge Andrew Napolitano on as his guest last night. Surprisingly, he made it clear to O'Reilley that the courts have spoken clearly over the years on the issue of executive privilege. The established precedent is that this privilege only applies to issues of national security. It would be a major change in judicial philosophy to expand that definition of executive privilege.

Accordingly, Bush's threat to go to court over this issue is in bad faith. They must know they will lose a court battle. So, their strategy must be to delay this issue long enough for the media attention, and subsequently public scrutiny, to wain enough for Congress to back off.

Another interesting point made by Napolitano, which we may hear the conservatives try to use is that the penalty for lying to Congress is the same whether you are under oath or not.

Okay, so that sort of makes sense. But only for a moment. Bush's offer to Congress is that Karl Rove, Harriet Miers, et. al have a 'discussion' with the Ethics Committees that is in private, without the press, not under oath, and without a transcript. This begs the question that if there is no transcript, then who do you prosecute any of these witnesses for perjury? Accordingly, how does Congress ensure that the testimony they are receiving is accurate.

It's all a load of crap. If this Administration has nothing to hide, they will immediately adhere to the subpoenas issued today by the United States Congress. Anything short of that is unacceptable and a gross breach of public trust.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Stonewall Bush Dares Democrats to a Confrontation. They should accept.

George Bush has just finished talking to the American people for the second time in two days. At least he's taking questions today, but it's still as ridiculous as his comments yesterday.

He is clearly challenging the Congress to a confrontation over his staff and former staff testifying under oath about the growing scandal over the firing of nine United States Attorneys (nearly ten percent of all US Attorneys!). He is using the classic argument that says that if White House staffers have to testify under oath to Congress, they will lose any ability to offer confidential advice to the President. That is nothing more than a red herring.

They are free to offer confidential advice to the President until they are blue in the face. Until they start acting unethically. Then, Congressional oversight is warranted.

I still remember the Whitewater Hearings when one after another of the Clinton Administration was dragged before Al D'Amato's Government Affairs Committee to testify there about any number of issues. In these cases, the staff themselves were not suspected of unethical behavior, they were merely a means of seeking damaging information on President Clinton.

There are indeed valid reasons for White House staff to be prevented from testifying to Congress. This, however is NOT one of those times.

The President's position is nothing more than stonewalling. They have made a conscious decision to prevent the truth coming directly from the mouths of his closest and most trusted staffers.
Bush said, "If they are truly interested in information, they need to read all of the emails we have released. They would rather be involved in partisanship. They are just interested in scoring political points."

While he is on message, he couldn't be farther away from the right thing to do. His "fair offer" to have Rove and Miers testify off-camera and off-the-record is wholly unacceptable.

Chairmen John Conyers and Pat Leahy should pick up the gauntlet thrown down by the President. The ONLY reason for Rove and Miers to not testify under oath and on the record is so they A) don't disclose information damaging to the White House, and B) so they don't find themselves facing perjury charges for lying about what they said and did.

This is unacceptable. Democrats need to STAND UP and DEMAND that Congress get to the bottom of this. Otherwise, a dangerous precedent will be created. At risk is the integrity of the Federal legal system.

My Friend, Mona Sahlin....

Many of you know that I was in Sweden for my friend's 50th Birthday party. Since I planned my trip, she was nominated to be the first woman to lead the Social Democratic Party of Sweden in it's long and storied history.

So, the trip had an unexpected element of excitement, as she was officially elected Leader of the Social Democrats on Saturday. As I do not yet speak or read Swedish, I'm limited in the news coverage that I can read about it.

Below, I'm putting two links. The first is a blog post by a good friend that I made while visiting Stockholm. He is the Editor in Chief of the Party newspaper. The second is from a website that reports Sweden's news in English. If you are interested in reading about my friend's exciting new position, please check them out. If she can bring her party back in the next election, she will be the first female Prime Minister of Sweden!

Monday, March 19, 2007

What is Kay Bailey Hutchison Smoking?

Texas Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison just said "We are fighting for freedom for our children more than any war we have ever been in."

I'm so flabbergasted at this that I'm almost speechless. ALMOST.

She is pathetic and should take a history lesson. I've tried to call her office to see if they wanted to clarify this egregious act of stupidity, but their line is busy. Perhaps I'm not the only one to notice this. I'll update if I get through.

Bush's Stupid, Pointless Speech and Spineless Senators

I swear, George Bush is a total idiot. I am watching his remarks on the 4th anniversary of this disastrous war. He couldn't even walk through the door with grace.

Then, he started out by saying that we embarked four years ago to remove Saddam Hussein from office and to remove the threat he posed to the region.

What a crock! This is yet ANOTHER angle that the George "Idiot" Bush is using. First, it was to prevent the production of WMD's. Then it was about freedom. Now it is about us deciding who is fit to lead another nation. Hell, we suck at picking people to lead our own nation! We're the last country in the world to figure that one out. Unfortunately, it's more than six years too late.

Now, Bush is telling us how great things are in Iraq and that he has JUST gotten an update from the Iraqi Prime Minister. Breaking news.....wait for it: We should know that the "new strategy" is at the beginning stages.

Enough of Bush's remarks. It's nothing we haven't heard before. He should stop banging his head against the wall. The American people have given up on him and this war. Talk about being politically tone deaf! He must really feel like an idiot to have declared "Mission Accomplished" so long ago. But he still has the nerve to come to us asking for our patience.

Here's the reality of what we've done. We have staged a failure of a military action in Iraq. We have ultimately destabilized the region because, while stumbling through this war, we have failed to engage anywhere else in the region in a meaningful way.

We have ignored Iran and that has caused their President to engage in reckless activity to gain any attention or respect. There has been no meaningful engagement in the Palestinian/Israeli peace issue. Syria is cozying up with Iran in defying the United Nations and the United States. Kuwait and Egypt must be wondering when Bush/Cheney/Rice will get their heads out of their asses and make some progress diplomatically in the region.

The new Democratic Congress has a responsibility to express the will of the American people. Speaker Pelosi has provided meaningful leadership in the House of Representatives. Majority Leader Harry Reid can't get anything passed in the Senate. He can't even get a majority of the vote to favor ending this war.

Senator Ben Nelson of Nebraska and Senator Mark Pryor of Arkansas joined with shameful non-Democratic Senator Joe Lieberman in opposing a Resolution calling for a timely withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq. This is an issue that is fundamental to America's place in the world. They don't have the courage it takes to serve honorably in the U.S. Senate and should not be treated as such by the Democratic Party.

While I'm talking about spineless Senators, I should also mention the Republicans who have publicly opposed Bush's policy on Iraq. They include Susan Collins of Maine, Olympia Snowe of Maine, Chuck Hagel of Nebraska, John Warner of Virginia and Gordon Smith of Oregon. Only Senator Smith of Oregon voted appropriately.

The rest of them are an embarrassment. Their public statements on Iraq are not reflected in their votes on the issue. They are liars and cowards. I hope that the voters of their States will hold them accountable.

Cross Posted at Huffington Post