Impeachment and Independence

Digby asks a question I’ve been asking — would a failed impeachment hold them accountable?

As much as we all want to see some people impeached, the odds that two-thirds of the Senate would vote to remove Bush and Cheney from office are, well, remote. About 17 Republicans would have to cross the aisle and vote to remove. And I fear that if we go through the impeachment process, and the creatures are not convicted, it would amount to exoneration. It would send a message that whatever articles are brought do not rise to the level of being criminal or a threat to the Constitution.

But I wouldn’t rule it out. If it could be done, it would go a long way toward restoring faith in America. And I would do it even if the vote to convict doesn’t happen until the day before the 2009 inauguration. The rule of law and the integrity of the Constitution must be protected.

I’ve spent the past five years trying to do my little bit to shed light on the Bush Administration. We’ve come a long way. Five years ago, the Bushies were untouchable. The nation was being marched to war, and few dissenting voices were allowed access to mass media. In the 2002 midterms, Republicans would gain eight seats in the House and two seats in the Senate, the latter of which erased the Dems’ slender majority.

Today, the Dems’ slender majority in the Senate has been restored, and the Dems have a slightly larger majority in the House than the GOP enjoyed in 2003.

Today, Kate O’Beirne was ripped apart by Chris Matthews on Hardball.

And you must see David Schuster’s smackdown of Tucker Carlson.

Today on Countdown, Keith Olbermann called on the President and Vice President to resign.

See also today’s Dan Froomkin column, in which Froomkin discusses the appearance of corruption in the Scooter Libby case.

Was there a quid pro quo at work? Was Libby being repaid for falling on his sword and protecting his bosses from further scrutiny? Alternately, was he being repaid for his defense team’s abrupt decision in mid-trial not to drag Cheney into court, where he would have faced cross-examination by Fitzgerald? (See my March 8 column, Did Libby Make a Deal?)

So far, impeachment is mostly being discussed by liberal media — The Nation, The Huffington Post, etc.

But we’ve come a long way. The political landscape has changed. Many things are possible now that were not possible five years ago.

Our nation declared its independence 231 years ago tomorrow. The Founders affirmed that “Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed,” and “whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it.” But we are not asking to alter or abolish the form, but to protect the form by removing corrupt and increasingly despotic leaders.

Remember the words of John Paul Jones: “I have not yet begun to fight.” Even better, David Farragut: “Damn the torpedoes! Full speed ahead!”

Jim Capozzola

I’ve carried Rittenhouse Review on my blogroll from the beginning of The Mahablog (which is five years old today, btw). At the time Mahablog was born, Rittenhouse Review was already a well-established blog. It was one of the first blogs I know of that was really written, meaning it was thoroughly and artfully composed and not just a collection of links bracketed by snark. Rittenhouse blazed a trail for blogging as literature and set a high standard the rest of us struggle to reach. That’s why I’ve got it listed under “Great Literature” on the blogroll now.

I did not know the proprietor, Jim Capozzola, personally. But with the rest of the blogosphere I am sadden to learn that he died yesterday. Susie Madrak of Suburban Guerrilla did know him personally. “The world is so much less scintillating without him in it,” she says.

I can’t quite bring myself to remove the link yet. The Great Literature roll used to contain Fafblog and Body and Soul, now gone quiet. I don’t believe anything bad happened to those bloggers, but losing a great blog is a little like losing a friend, and I still miss them. I trust my two remaining “greats,” Lance Mannion and James Wolcott, are well.

But while there are goings, there are also comings. Some friends of the late, great Steve Gilliard are continuing The News Blog as The Group News Blog. Drop by today and say hi.

Five Years Ago Today, and Today

Today is The Mahablog’s fifth birthday. The very first Mahablog post was written on July 3, 2002.

The first 18 months or so of Mahablog was dumped off its server by the original web host, Lycos Tripod, without consulting me first, but thanks to the Wayback Machine I was able to locate the first Mahablog page, or at least fragments of it. On the day after the commutation of Scooter Libby’s sentence, this first blog post seems almost relevant. Here it is.

* * *

July 3, 2002

“It’s a tad bigger deal than Whitewater,” said my Web buddy Winston. He was referring to the revelation that George W. Bush, once upon a time, violated several SEC regulations and got away with it. (His daddy was President of the United States at the time. Coincidence?)

“You think?” I replied.

You do remember Whitewater? Or does it dimly seem to have been something about lying to Paula Jones about an oath, or about Monica Lewinsky delivering pizza in her thong, or some such? All that nonsense that, thank God, is over, along with the budget surplus and peace and prosperity and steady employment and other dimly remembered things.

What Was Whitewater About, Again?

“Whitewater” was a real-estate partnership set up in 1979 to sell 42 lots along the White River in north-central Arkansas. The partners were James B. and Susan McDougal and Bill and Hillary Clinton. The lots did not sell well; the Clintons sold their remaining interest to the McDougals for $1,000 in 1992, and lost $68,000 on the deal.

Why was this an issue?

It was alleged that the McDougals and former Arkansas Gov. Guy Tucker used McDougal’s savings and loan to create a series of phony loans to enrich themselves, and one of the illegal loans found its way into the Whitewater partnership account.

This had all happened before Bill Clinton was elected president. However, the suicide of White House Counsel Vince Foster in 1993 caused right-wingers to foam at the mouth. Why did he kill himself? Maybe because he knew something? Maybe he was killed to shut him up? We have to look into this!

Hence, Ken Starr and the endless Whitewater investigations, which began in 1994 and which, I think, are over, although I’m not going to swear to it. The investigations cost us taxpayers more than $60 million, and not enough evidence was ever uncovered to charge the Clintons with a crime.

Other people were charged, but the “crime” was essentially an Arkansas state matter and not something the entire United States government should have been wasting time and resources on for six or seven or eight years, or however long it was.

After coming up empty on Whitewater, Ken Starr and his “team” went on a fishing trip (or Tripp?) to get whatever dirt they could get on the President in order to bring impeachment charges. At the exact same time that the President was being raked over coals over Monica Lewinsky and fighting impeachment in the House, Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda were causing considerable trouble and needed tending to, but it seems only President Clinton and his administration noticed this.

(For details, see the Mahachronicles: Timeline of Terror! )

Oh, by the way, we still don’t know why Vince Foster killed himself. Maybe he was depressed.

Compare and Contrast:

In 1986, George W. Bush and his partners sold their failing Spectrum 7 Energy Corp. to Harken Energy Corp. Bush received more than 200,000 shares of Harken stock and was made director and consultant to the company.

Four years later, Bush unloaded those shares for a nice profit. With that money, he bought a stake in the Texas Rangers baseball club, which would eventually make him a multimillionaire.

So what’s the problem?

The problem is that Harken was losing money but had concealed this from the public by some nice Enron-style manueuvering. Harken created a phony profit by selling 80 percent of a subsidiary, Aloha Petroleum, to a partnership called International Marketing & Resources. The catch was that IM&R was also Harken; the partners were all Harken insiders. Further, $11 million of the $12 million “sale” was through a note held by Harken. $12 million the company entered in its books as a capital gain was actually vapor.

In January 1990, IM&R sold its 80 percent of Aloha to a privately held company called Advance Petroleum Marketing. APM was now obligated to pay the Harken loan.

On June 22, 1990, G.W. Bush sold his Harken stock for $4 a share.

By August 22, 1990, Harken could no longer conceal it was losing money; its second quarter report was a disaster. Stocks fell to $2.37 a share. And, that fall the Securities and Exchange Commission discovered the Aloha sale scam.

The SEC investigated G.W. Bush for insider trading. Among the most damning acts of the president’s son was the fact that he filed his Form 4 report on the sale of the Harken stock 34 weeks late. The SEC usually prosecutes people for these little lapses.

But not George W. Bush, the son of the sitting President of the United States.

I’m sure if any talking head brings this up on television he or she will be promptly shouted down. And I’m not holding my breath until major media report it, either.


Bush’s Insider Connections Preceded Huge Profit On Stock Deal

Bush Violated Security Laws Four Times, SEC Report Says

* * *

Now we’re back in 2007. A couple of post scripts to this story: First, when a few little details of the Harken episode slipped into mainstream media, the Right quickly claimed that Bush had been investigated by the SEC and exonerated. Not so; the SEC began to investigate him, but the investigation was dropped. Bush was not accused of a crime, but neither was he cleared of one.

Did I mention that his Daddy was President of the United States at the time, and the SEC commissioner a long-time friend of the Bush family?

The other postscript is that George Bush made a very nice profit on his Texas Rangers investment and rode the baseball owner hobbyhorse into the Texas governor’s mansion, and then into the White House. And now we’re saddled with him.

There’s an editorial about the liberation of Libby in today’s New York Times that’s worth reading:

Soft on Crime

When he was running for president, George W. Bush loved to contrast his law-abiding morality with that of President Clinton, who was charged with perjury and acquitted. For Mr. Bush, the candidate, “politics, after a time of tarnished ideals, can be higher and better.”

Not so for Mr. Bush, the president. Judging from his decision yesterday to commute the 30-month sentence of I. Lewis Libby Jr. — who was charged with perjury and convicted — untarnished ideals are less of a priority than protecting the secrets of his inner circle and mollifying the tiny slice of right-wing Americans left in his political base. …

… Mr. Bush’s assertion that he respected the verdict but considered the sentence excessive only underscored the way this president is tough on crime when it’s committed by common folk. As governor of Texas, he was infamous for joking about the impending execution of Karla Faye Tucker, a killer who became a born-again Christian on death row. As president, he has repeatedly put himself and those on his team, especially Mr. Cheney, above the law.

Within minutes of the Libby announcement, the same Republican commentators who fulminated when Paris Hilton got a few days knocked off her time in a county lockup were parroting Mr. Bush’s contention that a fine, probation and reputation damage were “harsh punishment” enough for Mr. Libby.

Presidents have the power to grant clemency and pardons. But in this case, Mr. Bush did not sound like a leader making tough decisions about justice. He sounded like a man worried about what a former loyalist might say when actually staring into a prison cell.

Yeah, pretty much.

PS — I do accept birthday presents — just click the “donate” button below —

PPS — This is also my daughter Erin’s birthday, which means I remember what I was doing 27 years ago today. That was a good day.