Browsing the blog archives for March, 2007.

Life in the Real World

Bush Administration

Many opposed the Iraq War supplemental bill passed by the House yesterday because it didn’t go far enough, and as I wrote here that is a reasonable opinion with which I respectfully disagree. Today Big Tent Democrat is objecting to some of the arguments in favor of the supplement. I think many of Big Tent’s arguments are valid, but IMO they reveal a huge blind spot; a reality not being faced. And that’s the reality of arithmetic.

Once again, here are the numbers:

Number of Democrats in the House — 233
Number of votes needed to pass a bill — 218
Number of member of the Blue Dog Coalition — 44

As they say — do the math. In my time-space continuum, the House will not pass a bill without some votes from either Blue Dogs or Republicans, or both. Perhaps Big Tent lives in a better place, where thinking pure thoughts will summon the Good Peace Fairy, and a sprinkling of progressive pixie dust will make up for the shortfall of conservative votes. But I don’t believe that’s how it works here.

Among those of us against the war, the difference between those who are pro-supplement and those who are anti-supplement is this: Those who are anti-supplement think that passing a better bill is possible. Those of us who are pro-supplement think it isn’t.

I think Big Tent misreads Markos because Big Tent assumes passing a better bill is possible, but Kos’s opinion assumes that it isn’t. I don’t interpret Kos’s post to mean, as Big Tent says, “the point is the House Dems’ proposal will never become law” or that it would be a good thing to keep the war going until 2009 to help elect Democrats in 2009. I think Kos is arguing in favor of something as opposed to passing nothing.

Yes, one argument for passing the supplement was to help Dems win the messaging battle in 2008. But IMO that doesn’t mean anyone, including Kos, prefers winning a messaging battle in 2008 to getting out of Iraq in 2007. It means that winning a messaging battle is preferable to losing a messaging battle.

Believe me, were there a reasonable hope of passing something like Barbara Lee’s bill, and getting it enacted into law, then that’s what I would have preferred. I believe most of us would prefer that. But that wasn’t the real choice we were and are facing. The real choice is between passing something (which helps us win a messaging battle) and passing nothing (which doesn’t).

Elsewhere — Farhad Manjoo writes in Salon:

MoveOn signed on to Pelosi’s supplemental funding bill, citing a poll of its members showing overwhelming support of the idea.

MoveOn’s longtime allies in the antiwar movement, however, look at the bill — and MoveOn’s support for it — and see something very different. Groups who call for immediate withdrawal argue that MoveOn’s position is a betrayal of their cause, and that Pelosi’s bill merely continues the war while allowing Democrats to say they’ve done something to oppose it. Cindy Sheehan, the “peace mom” who favors immediate withdrawal, describes MoveOn as supporting “the slow-bleed strategy of the Democratic leadership.” Gail Murphy, of the group CodePink, says, “MoveOn has taken a compromised position — in fact I think they were involved behind the scenes in creating a compromised position.” Other peace activists call MoveOn’s e-mail poll of its membership a sham. If MoveOn’s millions of members knew the full details of the bill, they would surely oppose it.

There is room for criticism of Moveon’s email to members about the supplement, but if Moveon’s endorsement helped make the passage of something, as opposed to nothing, possible, then I say good for Moveon. I also say that Sheehan and Murphy are trotting down the same self-marginalizing road the New Left walked in the 1970s. That path leads to the state of Utter Irrelevancy. There they will spend eternity discussing bureaucratic collectivism with the moldering remains of the Popular Front. Meanwhile, the United States, its government and its citizens, will ignore them, except when their names are the answers to questions in some future edition of Trivial Pursuit.

The question is, will sufficient numbers of liberals and progressives not take that road and remain effectively engaged in American politics? I hope so.

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Entre Nous

Bush Administration, U.S. Attorneys

You want to read Digby.

Oh, and don’t miss the Saturday morning cartoons.

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Pile It On

Bush Administration

Stuff is, as they say, happenin’. Matthew Mosk writes in today’s Washington Post:

The three Democrats on the Federal Election Commission revealed yesterday that they strongly believe President Bush exceeded legal spending limits during the 2004 presidential contest and that his campaign owes the government $40 million.

Their concerns spilled out during a vote to approve an audit of the Bush campaign’s finances, which is conducted to make sure the campaign adhered to spending rules after accepting $74.6 million in public money for the 2004 general election.

Republican commissioners defended the way the Bush campaign billed the cost of more than $80 million in television ads, which were the source of the dispute.

Of course they did. Let’s take a peek back into the Maha archives — from December 31, 2005 — “Federal Election Commission Stacked With Bush Cronies.” The stacking occurred after the 2004 election, but the stackees are the guys who are claiming Bush didn’t do anything wrong.

This story caused me to search The Maha Archives for this post from December 31, 2005: Federal Election Commission Stacked With Bush Cronies.

The FEC normally has six members, three Republicans and three Democrats. One of the Republican, Michael Toner, just resigned, but not before voting on this issue. Toner is a former attorney for Bush ‘s election campaign staff and the Republican National Committee. The two other Republicans who voted are David Mason, a former Heritage Foundation fellow and a Clinton appointee; and Hans von Spakovsk, who became a commissioner by recess appointment in December 2005. A New York Times editorial of December 31, 2005 said of von Spakovsky,

The most objectionable nominee is Hans von Spakovsky, a former Republican county chairman in Georgia and a political appointee at the Justice Department. He is reported to have been involved in the maneuvering to overrule the career specialists at Justice who warned that the Texas gerrymandering orchestrated by Representative Tom DeLay violated minority voting rights. Senators need the opportunity to delve into that, as well as reports of Mr. von Spakovsky’s involvement in such voting rights abuses as the purging of voter rolls in Florida in the 2000 elections.

Let’s go back to the Washington Post:

The dispute centered on the use of what the commissioners called “hybrid” ads, which were intended to promote both the president and Republican members of Congress. The Bush campaign argued that it should not bear the full cost of these ads, so it split the tab with the Republican Party.

As a result, only half of the cost would count toward spending limits imposed on the campaign when it agreed to take public funds. Weintraub said the spending limit is an essential part of the agreement candidates make to accept public financing. “Bush-Cheney 2004 took the $74 million, and then they broke the bargain,” she said.

Commissioner Hans A. von Spakovsky, a Republican, strongly disagreed. “There was no broken bargain,” he said. “There was no violation of the law.”

Of course not, Hans.

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The Hissy Fit

Bush Administration

President Bush’s fit (staged in front of some props people in military uniforms and VFW hats) went roughly as follows:

The Dems abdicated the responsibility to support the troops, he said. Instead, the Dems, in an act of political theater, voted to substitute their judgment for that of the military commanders on the ground. The bill contains “rigid restriction” that would require “an army of lawyers” to understand.

(That would be an army of Bush-appointed lawyers. One normal lawyer could skim through it and explain it to you without much trouble.)

There’s too much pork, too many conditions, and an artificial timetable for withdrawal, he said, and I will veto this bill if it comes to my desk.

(He’d get away with it, because there’s far from a veto-proof majority in the House, and it’s a long shot passing the bill in the Senate at all.)

What the Dems did today, the President said, delays delivery of vital resources for our troops.

(To which I say, again, if he’d put more Iraq War funds in the regular budget and stop hitting Congress up for “emergency” supplemental bills — money he knew months earlier he’d have to ask for — then he wouldn’t have to worry about vital resources for our troops.)

You’ll like this: “We’re beginning to see some signs of progress.” Please.

He wants a “clean bill that I can sign without delay.” Congress is supposed to just rubber stamp his little requisitions. Well, dammit, is this a republic, or ain’t it?

Don’t answer that.

Bush didn’t take questions.

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Congress, Democratic Party, Iraq War

[Update: The bill just passed — by 218 votes.]

[Update 2: More updating below]

This is a follow up to the last post, on the Iraq War supplemental bill being voted on today (noonish, CSPAN says).

Today people whose opinions I respect are arguing both for and against passage of this bill. The arguments boil down to this:

No — It allows the war to continue for nearly 18 more months. We can do better.

Yes — It’s not an ideal bill, but this bill has a chance of passage. Actually passing an antiwar bill (as opposed to voting for something better that fails to pass) will weaken Bush politically and perhaps make it politically tenable to pass something tighter and stricter in the future. But if this bill fails, passing something tighter and stricter in the future will be even more difficult than it is now.

The hurdle is 218 votes. There are 233 Democrats in the House. Although it’s not impossible that a stray Republican might cross party lines and vote for an antiwar measure, realistically Nancy Pelosi has to get 218 Democrats to agree to vote for the bill to ensure passage. If more than 15 Dems vote against the bill, it will fail. And, like it or not, 44 of those 233 Democrats are Blue Dogs — moderate to conservative Dems who mostly represent “red” districts. Roughly 50 or so more House Dems are DLC Dems. A few — not all — Blue Dogs are also in the DLC, and right now I’m not inclined to spend the morning sorting out exactly how many are or aren’t. Let’s say about half. That puts us in the neighborhood of 60 House Dems who are on record as not wanting to get caught moving too far left, possibly because they’re afraid they’ll lose their seats if they do.

Let’s look at the liberal side of the spectrum: The House Progressive Caucus has 69 members. At, David Swanson asks the Progressive Caucus members to vote no on the supplement bill. His arguments against the bill are valid arguments. His arguments in favor of Barbara Lee’s “fully funded withdrawal” bill are valid arguments. I’d much rather the House passed Lee’s bill than the one they’re voting on today.

I’ve never set foot inside the House of Representatives, and I don’t presume to understand what’s possible and what isn’t. But The People Who Understand These Things say there is no way enough Blue Dogs and other moderate Dems would vote for Barbara Lee’s bill to pass it. Maybe they won’t vote for it because they think it’s political suicide; maybe they won’t vote for it because they genuinely don’t like it. In the real world, in order to get those 218 votes, Nancy Pelosi has to give the House something that most of the Blue Dogs and most of the Progressive Caucus will vote for, as well as most of the other Dems.

Yesterday Rep. Jerrold Nadler — long a solidly liberal Dem — was quoted in the New York Times

To vote “no,” in effect would be to say, “Let the war go on.” There will be other votes, but this at least starts in the right direction. It’s not as far as I wanted to go, but it’s a substantial step.

As I’ve said, there are people of good will with reasonable opinions who disagree on this issue. Unfortunately, there are some who don’t get that. All week I’ve been hearing accusations that various people or organizations — is one — have “sold out” because they favor passage of the supplement bill. I’ve heard people say that Nancy Pelosi doesn’t want to end the Iraq War. Late last night a commenter to my last post said,

The actual strategic hope of the people favoring this bill seems to be that the president will veto it. You can then show him to be against even an obligation to meet his own benchmarks, and this will demonstrate him to be an unreasonable man. Does that seem like the right way to understand what you are doing?

In other words, nobody actually wants this bill to pass into law. It’s just a messaging device. That seems to be Kos’s position.

‘Scuse me while I bang my head against a wall and scream.

First, Pelosi is putting forward a compromise bill that has some chance of passage, as opposed to an un-compromise bill that has no chance of passage. How does that translate into “nobody actually wants this bill to pass into law”?

Second, if Bush vetoes today’s bill, as he promises to do, what makes you think he wouldn’t also veto Barbara Lee’s bill?

Third, the Senate can’t even pull together enough of a majority to have a vote on a bleeping nonbinding resolution.

Sure I want the war to end tomorrow. I wanted it not to start. Our choices in Congress are to do something to end it, or to do nothing to end it. I’m for doing something.

If the supplement bill passes, as it’s expected to do, what should we as antiwar citizens do?

(a) Express support for congressional Dems, and do what we can to make pro-war politicians and the Bush administration feel more isolated against the tide of public opinion, thereby paving the way for more congressional action against the war, or

(b) Whine because it wasn’t the bill we wanted, and throw verbal brickbats at Nancy Pelosi and and everybody else who “sold out”?

You know where I stand on this.

Chris Bowers writes,

Right now, with few remaining progressives willing to vote against the supplemental bill, and with the House leadership probably having enough votes to pass it (for more on this, see here), the remaining progressive opposition is being cast as “principled,” in contrast to the “pragmatic” progressives who have decided to vote in support. This is certainly the dichotomy proposed by McJoan in her latest piece on the supplemental over at Dailykos. This is a binary opposition with which I disagree, primarily because I have always looked at ethics from an applied perspective, where the ethical value of a given action can only be judged in the context of the consequences of that action. In this circumstance, I am, not arguing that voting against the supplemental from the a progressive stance is unethical, just that it is not any more ethical than voting in favor.

In the same post, Chris pasted a statement from the Progressive Caucus that they would not block the bill. Josephine Hearn reports for The Politico (yeah, I know, it’s The Politico), “California Democrats Barbara Lee, Maxine Waters, Lynn Woolsey and Diane E. Watson said they did not want to stand in the way of the bill and have urged other liberal lawmakers to vote for it.”

I hope nobody accuses Barbara Lee of selling out.

Update: Here are the Dems who voted no, and it appears Lee, Waters, Woolsey and Watson were among the no’s.

Davis, Lincoln
Lewis (GA)

I’m not saying these Democrats are wrong. On the other hand, one more no vote would have, IMO, set back the antiwar cause enormously.

President Bush is expected to throw a public hissy fit about 1:45 EST.

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Bush Administration, Congress, Iraq War

Tomorrow the House is going to vote on a bill that would end most military involvement in Iraq by the end of August 2008.

My understanding is that the House will be voting on one of Bush’s “emergency supplement” bills, which is how he likes to fund the war rather than through the regular budget. The bill would provide for $124 billion that will mostly go to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, plus “extra money tucked in for veterans’ health care, hurricane recovery and farm aid,” writes Renee Schoof of McClatchy Newspapers. But the House Dems are attaching conditions.

Briefly, the bill would

  • Add $1.2 billion more for the war in Afghanistan than Bush requested; $3.4 billion for veterans’ and military health care; $2.5 billion to prepare troops in the United States for combat; $6.4 billion for hurricane recovery; and $3.7 billion for agricultural assistance.
  • Require that the Iraqi government meet benchmarks that Bush outlined in January for quelling the violence. Redeployment would be sped up if the benchmarks weren’t met. Some American forces would remain in Iraq to train Iraqis, protect American diplomats and military forces, and fight terrorists.
  • Require that the president explain his decision if he sends any troops into combat who aren’t fully trained, rested and equipped.
  • It’s not a de-funding bill, but the way it was talked about on some of the cable news shows this afternoon made it sound as if it was. I finally figured out that the Republicans are warning that, since Bush will certainly veto the bill, this would delay funds going to the troops.

    And that would be proof that Bush doesn’t support the troops, I say. He’s the one who waits until the last minute and then hits up Congress for “emergency supplement” bills. Why wasn’t this stuff in the budget? OK, I know the answer. First, keeping much of the Iraq War costs out of the budget helps the Bushies lie about balancing the budget. Second, it’s harder to trace where off-budget monies go.

    Other Republicans whine that Congress shouldn’t “micromanage” the Commander in Chief. First, the bill is hardly “micromanagement.” And I say Bush has had four years to manage the war, and he hasn’t. It’s time for someone else to provide some direction, since he clearly can’t do it.

    Tonight there are predictions the bill will pass. The magic number is 218 votes. The magic number for a similar measure in the Senate is 60 votes, which is probably out of reach.

    David Sirota:

    Immediately after the 2006 election, pro-war Rep. Ellen Tauscher (D) told the New York Times that she hoped Democrats played a “kabuki dance” with progressives – pretending to be one thing, then doing another. It was an insulting comment – but the shrewd use of a “kabuki dance” should not be discounted as a critical political tool. And that’s exactly what’s going on with the supplemental on behalf of progressives.

    Right now, Obey’s Iraq bill is being painted in the media as something of a moderate compromise. That has led some organizations on the left to label the bill as a full-on sellout. But as progressives, we must ask ourselves: Would we rather own the public debate, or wield real power?

    Here are the facts: The Iraq supplemental bill begins redeploying troops by March 2008, and completes a full withdrawal by September 2008. You can label the bill anything you like. For all I care, you can label it the Iraq War Indefinite Continuation Act and Fox News can run slick graphics cheering on the legislation as the greatest escalation of militarism since Genghis Khan. But as long as that language is in there and the bill passes, then at the end of the day, real, binding power has been wielded to end the war.

    You might remember Rep. Obey from the YouTube video, in which he became exasperated at a hopelessly uninformed “activist” and called her a “liberal idiot.” The activist preferred another bill that would have provided money only for a withdrawal. That bill was proposed by Rep. Barbara Lee, who I understand has agreed to vote for Obey’s bill tomorrow.

    David Sirota continues,

    Congressional progressives now face the same pangs that come with evolving into a movement with majority power, rather than serving merely as contrarian voices in the minority. They are undoubtedly being pressured by a small but very vocal group of organizations that make up what’s known as the Professional Protest Industry – organizations that exist solely to see the world as they want it, not as it is (a note: not everyone working to kill the supplemental is part of the Professional Protest Industry – many folks just legitimately believe stopping the supplemental is the best way to go, and I absolutely respect that even though I think it is the wrong strategy – however, there is no denying that there is a loud, vocal Professional Protest Industry – check out International ANSWER or the LaRouchies for a few examples). As a matter of existence, this industry wants – no, needs – to prioritize the public debate over wielding real legislative power, because that is the niche that makes them relevant. That these organizations have attacked some of the most steadfastly progressive groups for not being antiwar “enough” shows exactly where their priorities are.

    But lawmakers are not professional protest organizations. They are elected to wield power – that is their job. To be sure, noise and protest and press conferences can play a key constructive role in shaping legislation. But when legislation in question ultimately comes to a vote, power is wielded with the quiet force of the law, which is why the binding redeployment language must remain, by far, the most important element of this bill to anyone who is interested in ending the war.

    Finally, if one can appreciate the difference between packaging and power, consider that it is not a reach nor spin to consider the current supplemental a version of a “fully funded withdrawal.” Though it does not include language saying that the money appropriated to the Pentagon can only go to fund withdrawal activities, it is a bill that is funding for the military with the explicit, binding order that the war end by a date certain. In accepting the orders of the bill, the military knows it is being ordered to spend the money consistent with the language that says the war ends by September 2008 at the latest.

    The bottom line, as I see it, is that if this measure passes tomorrow it will weaken and isolate Bush and the hawks. If it doesn’t, the spinners will hoot about the Dems being “divided” and that they are selling out their constituents by not working hard enough to end the war. And Bush will be seen as the “winner” who can go ahead and do as he pleases.

    There are some progressive antiwar Dems who say they will vote with the Republicans because they want a better bill. I think that would be a huge mistake. If the House falls short of 218 votes for that reason, names will be named.

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    Truth and Truthiness

    Bush Administration, Democratic Party, Valerie Plame

    May all the buddhas and bodhisattvas bless Marcy Wheeler, who took on the mighty task of being Keeper of the Facts in the Valerie Plame Wilson case. Today she takes on the fact-challenged House testimony of Victoria Toensing. This is worth a bookmark.


    By now you may have heard the sad news that Elizabeth Edwards’s cancer has returned. There were reports earlier today that John Edwards would suspend his campaign, but he says this is not so.

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    “Republican Holy Office of the Inquisition”

    Bush Administration, corruption, criminal justice, U.S. Attorneys

    Sidney Blumenthal:

    In the U.S. attorneys scandal, Gonzales was an active though second-level perpetrator. While he gave orders, he also took orders. Just as his chief of staff, Kyle Sampson, has resigned as a fall guy, so Gonzales would be yet another fall guy if he were to resign. He was assigned responsibility for the purge of U.S. attorneys but did not conceive it. The plot to transform the U.S. attorneys and ipso facto the federal criminal justice system into the Republican Holy Office of the Inquisition had its origin in Karl Rove’s fertile mind.

    There’s more evidence of political manipulation of justice this morning. Carol D. Leonnig writes for the Washington Post:

    The leader of the Justice Department team that prosecuted a landmark lawsuit against tobacco companies said yesterday that Bush administration political appointees repeatedly ordered her to take steps that weakened the government’s racketeering case.

    Sharon Y. Eubanks said Bush loyalists in Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales’s office began micromanaging the team’s strategy in the final weeks of the 2005 trial, to the detriment of the government’s claim that the industry had conspired to lie to U.S. smokers.

    She said a supervisor demanded that she and her trial team drop recommendations that tobacco executives be removed from their corporate positions as a possible penalty. He and two others instructed her to tell key witnesses to change their testimony. And they ordered Eubanks to read verbatim a closing argument they had rewritten for her, she said.

    “The political people were pushing the buttons and ordering us to say what we said,” Eubanks said. “And because of that, we failed to zealously represent the interests of the American public.”

    If you don’t remember the tobacco case, here’s a June 8, 2005 article by Ms. Leonnig for background. She wrote then,

    After eight months of courtroom argument, Justice Department lawyers abruptly upset a landmark civil racketeering case against the tobacco industry yesterday by asking for less than 8 percent of the expected penalty.

    As he concluded closing arguments in the six-year-old lawsuit, Justice Department lawyer Stephen D. Brody shocked tobacco company representatives and anti-tobacco activists by announcing that the government will not seek the $130 billion that a government expert had testified was necessary to fund smoking-cessation programs. Instead, Brody said, the Justice Department will ask tobacco companies to pay $10 billion over five years to help millions of Americans quit smoking.

    Steve Soto remarked (June 7, 2005):

    Well, all those campaign contributions taken by Bush/Cheney (nearly $260,000 in 2000 and 2004) and the GOP from the tobacco industry over the years finally bought a $120 billion payday for Big Tobacco when the Alberto Gonzales Justice Department shocked the industry and anti-smoking advocates alike today by scuttling the government’s own litigation.

    Remember when I said of the U.S. Attorney scandal, “this is huge“? If clear ties to President Bush are established, this issue has the potential of putting impeachment back on Nancy Pelosi’s to-do list.

    Back to today’s article by Ms. Leonnig:

    Yesterday was the first time that any of the government lawyers on the case spoke at length publicly about what they considered high-level interference by Justice officials.

    Eubanks, who retired from Justice in December 2005, said she is coming forward now because she is concerned about what she called the “overwhelming politicization” of the department demonstrated by the controversy over the firing of eight U.S. attorneys. Lawyers from Justice’s civil rights division have made similar claims about being overruled by supervisors in the past.

    Pay close attention to this part:

    Eubanks said Congress should not limit its investigation to the dismissal of the U.S. attorneys.

    “Political interference is happening at Justice across the department,” she said. “When decisions are made now in the Bush attorney general’s office, politics is the primary consideration. . . . The rule of law goes out the window.”

    In its defense, the Justice Department explains it conducted its own internal investigation and cleared itself of wrongdoing. The JD also says the decision to pull back on the case was vindicated last year when a U.S. district judge said “she could not order the monetary penalty proposed by the government.” So they have an excuse for reducing the amount of damages sought. But changing testimony? Weakening the case?

    The political appointees who allegedly interfered with the prosecution were “then-Associate Attorney General Robert D. McCallum, then-Assistant Attorney General Peter Keisler and Keisler’s deputy at the time, Dan Meron.” McCallum is now the U.S. ambassador to Australia

    The Clinton Justice Department brought the unprecedented civil suit against the country’s five largest tobacco companies in 1999. President Bush disparaged the tobacco case while campaigning in 2000. After Bush took office, some officials expressed initial doubts about the government’s ability to fund the prosecution, Justice’s largest.

    Eubanks said McCallum, Keisler and Meron largely ignored the case until it became clear that the government might win. She recalled that “things began to get really tense” after McCallum read news reports in April 2005 that one government expert, professor Max H. Bazerman of Harvard Business School, would argue that tobacco officials who engaged in fraud could be removed from their corporate posts. Eubanks said she received an angry call from McCallum on the day the news broke.

    “How could you put that in there?” she recalled him saying. “We’re not going to be pursuing that.”

    Afterward, McCallum, Keisler and Meron told Eubanks to approach other witnesses about softening their testimony, Eubanks said.

    Yesterday Bob Barr, of all people, appeared on CNN blasting the Bush Administration’s apparent interference with the justice system. From Think Progress, which has the video:

    Barr blasted the White House, saying “the integrity of the Department of Justice is being used as a political football by the administration to prove who’s the toughest hombre in all this.” Rather than fighting accountability, Barr said, “the administration really ought to be going out of its way to do what prior administrations have done, such as the Bush 1 administration and Reagan administrations, and that is take whatever steps are necessary to assure the American people that the integrity of our justice system has not been compromised.”

    Last year Barr left the GOP to join the Libertarian Party. One wonders what the Bushies/GOP did to him to piss him off.

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    I Know You Do

    Bush Administration

    You want to read Tbogg.

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    Action Alert

    Bush Administration, Congress, The Constitution, U.S. Attorneys

    Make a Phone Call for the Constitution

    Emails and faxes are good, too.

    Update: ABC News —

    A Democratic-led congressional panel defied President George W. Bush on Wednesday and authorized legal orders to force several White House aides to testify under oath about the firing of eight U.S. prosecutors.

    Subpoenas! Here’s the news release from the House Judiciary Committee.

    Judiciary Subcommittee Authorizes Chairman Conyers to Issue Subpoenas in US Attorney Investigation

    (Washington, DC)- Today, the House Judiciary Commercial and Administrative Law Subcommittee (CAL) voted to authorize the full committee Chairman John Conyers, Jr. (D-MI) to issue subpoenas for current and former White House and Justice Department officials Karl Rove, Harriet Miers, William Kelley, Scott Jennings and Kyle Sampson, as well as documents that the Committee has not yet received.

    “The White House’s offer provides nothing more than conversations. It does not allow this Committee to get the information we need without transcripts or oaths,” Conyers said. “This motion allows the Committee to pursue good faith negotiations. We are continuing our talks with the White House, along with the Senate, but we must protect the interest of the Congress and the American people by maintaining the option to move forward with our investigation with or without continued cooperation from the Administration.”

    “We have worked toward voluntary cooperation, but we have to prepare for the possibilty that the White House will continue to hide the truth,” said CAL Subcommittee Chairwoman Linda Sánchez. “This Congress respects White House prerogatives as a safeguard for the internal deliberations on the legitimate creation of policy, but they are not a ‘get out of jail free’ card. There must be accountability.”

    The motion authorizes the Chairman to issue subpoenas at his discretion for the officials to appear before the Committee relating to the ongoing investigation. It also authorizes Conyers to subpoena additional documents relating to the issue – specifically, unredacted documents that have not previously been provided.

    My understanding is that, if people receiving subpoenas refuse to comply, Congress could bring contempt of Congress charges. However, to do that Congress has to go through a (Bush appointed) U.S. attorney. Hmm.

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