How then is it possible that a Republican-controlled Congress impeached President Bill Clinton over his attempt to conceal marital infidelity but that a Democratic-led Congress will not even consider impeaching this president for far more serious transgressions against the public trust? That is the question that arises from early revelations in the trial of Lewis “Scooter” Libby, Vice President Dick Cheney’s former chief of staff.John Nichols remembers Molly, too.
Cheney, like some Daddy Warbucks cartoon character of old, has been so blatant in his corruption of the nation’s second highest office that we seem to have become inured to further revelations of his evil influence. Instead of being shocked, we are more likely jaded by even more examples of the man’s use of his office to persistently undermine our democratic heritage.
Wednesday, January 31, 2007
Syndicated political columnist Molly Ivins died of breast cancer Wednesday evening at her home in Austin. She was 62 years old, and had much, much more to give this world.
For the time being, our site will be dedicated to remembering Molly, her work, her wit, her contributions to the political discourse of a nation. We invite readers to submit their own thoughts and recollections, to say a few words of praise.
Then, we will return to the hunt.
mcjoan on Kos:
Senator Feingold's approach recognizes the reality that this administration will not listen to the American people, to the Iraq Study Group, to Congress, to our allies in the region or the world. Non-binding resolutions stating the political opposition to escalation, to the continuation of this catastrophic occupation, are politically important, but won't end the war. The only way that this president can be forced to end this war is if the Congress refuses to fund it.video, (7:19)
``What I think many of us are concerned about is that we stumble into active hostilities with Iran without having aggressively pursued diplomatic approaches, without the American people understanding exactly what's taking place,'' Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., told John Negroponte, who is in line to become the nation's No. 2 diplomat as Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's deputy.
Obama, a candidate for president in 2008, warned during the Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing that senators of both parties will demand ``clarity and transparency in terms of U.S. policy so that we don't repeat some of the mistakes that have been made in the past,'' a reference to the faulty intelligence underlying the U.S. invasion of Iraq.
In 2004, John Edwards rarely had an unkind word to say about his rivals for the presidency. But it isn't 2004 any more.
Should Hillary Clinton apologize for backing the Iraq war? "That is a moral decision she has to make," Edwards told me.
Is George Bush a "good man in difficult circumstances trying to do the right thing?" No, Edwards said. He is not.
That nonbinding resolution against the Iraq troop surge favored by Barack Obama? "Useless," said Edwards. "Exactly like a child standing in the corner and stomping his feet."
The Washington Post might be surprised to learn that that the phrase "Democrat Party" appears on the White House web site dozens of times as used by President Bush. But they might be even more surprised to learn that the phrase "Democrat Party" is a focus-group tested strategy deployed by the Republican Party's top PR consultant--Frank Luntz--who has also admitted to intentionally using it in his recent book--a book that is currently on the Amazon.com best seller list.Josh links to Matt on "what the big deal is when Republicans call the Democratic party the 'Democrat party'."
Honestly, though, how can we possibly expect the Washington Post to conduct all of this difficult research into the Republican use of "Democrat Party," which took me all of ten arduous minutes.
At the very least, though, they could go over to the New Yorker online and read a recent article by Hendrik Hertzberg on the topic, which lays out the whole story.
"The history of "Democrat Party" [slur] is hard to pin down with any precision," wrote Hendrik Hertzberg in a great piece called "The "Ic" Factor"that appeared last summer in New Yorker (8 Aug 2007). It may be hard to pin down, but Hertzberg does a fantastic job.
This is no longer a battle over whether Bush will run with McCain's escalation plan and prolong the war. This is now a battle over ending the war.tpm media posted the video of "Obama Calls for Withdrawal by 2008," his speech on the Senate floor on YouTube (4:23). Lynn Sweet, writing in the Chicago Sun-Times:
The bar is higher, and Obama is the first of the top-tier presidential contenders to clear it, and he did so with room to spare.
This isn't a wussy "stop the escalation" measure, nor some half-measure like "withdraw some troops but not all" (which appears to be the Edwards position). And forget Clinton. Who the heck knows what her position is? She's too busy trying to look "responsible" to give us an unambiguous position on Iraq. Of course, it helps that Obama is the only top-tier candidate to have opposed the war from the beginning...
But Obama's move will force the rest of the candidates to take a harder line on Iraq or risk being left behind. It seems like such an obvious move, but it's an indictment of DC that Obama's obvious stance is actually a sign of "leadership". With the Joe Kleins of the city castigating Democrats who don't fall in line behind Bush's latest lame-brained gambit, taking a position shared by over 60 percent of the American people and probably the entire Democratic primary electorate is tougher than you'd think.
Barack Obama has apparently reconsidered his position against setting a "date certain" for U.S. troops to withdraw from Iraq. (snip) Obama started moving toward setting a timetable in the weeks leading up to his announcement of his 2008 Democratic presidential exploratory campaign. (snip) Asked if the Obama legislation represented a change in position, Obama spokesman Tommy Vietor replied, "This is entirely consistent with the Nov. 20 speech." Added Robert Gibbs, another Obama spokesman, "Obama's legislation embraces the goals set out by the bipartisan Iraq Study Group in saying that the goal is to have all combat forces out of Iraq by the end of March 2008."
Tuesday, January 30, 2007
U.S. Senator Barack Obama (D-IL) today introduced binding and comprehensive legislation that not only reverses the President's dangerous and ill-conceived escalation of the Iraq war, but also sets a new course for U.S. policy that can bring a responsible end to the war and bring our troops home.
Peace activists from across the United States gathered in Washington Saturday for what they said was the largest demonstration to date against the Iraq war.
Long-time social activist Tom Hayden told IPS President Bush's ability to wage war is increasingly tenuous.
"Wars are based on pillars," Hayden said. "You need available soldiers, you need bipartisan support. You need recruitment of more soldiers, you need money, you need your moral reputation to be preserved and you need allies. By any of those measures the pillars are being undermined."
Hayden noted that more than 1,000 active duty U.S. soldiers have signed a petition calling for an immediate withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq. Unhappiness with the war is also growing among veterans, with the group Iraq Veterans Against the War estimating their organisation has quadrupled in size over the last year.
"Supporting the troops that have signed these petitions and supporting efforts to stop military recruitment at our high schools and at community colleges are absolutely vital," Hayden added. "But people every day can do something. You want to convince your undecided neighbor to go against, you want to convince your kid not to go, you want to take a picket sign to the military recruiting office. You want to link up with the poor people's and labour organisations and say this war costs 287 million dollars an hour."
"If you put your energies toward a pillar they will eventually tip," he said, "and they cannot fight a war without these resources."
Monday, January 29, 2007
As huge crowds gathered in Washington over the weekend to protest the war –- organizers on Saturday estimated half a million, while AP, the New York Times, and the Washington Post all opted for the ludicrously low-balled "tens of thousands" –- one leading politician was notable for fleeing the city ahead of the angry hordes. No, it wasn't President Bush, who stayed put in the White House. It was Hillary Clinton.
But Obama will be well-financed, too. And what Barack Obama understands intuitively, John Edwards is trying to offer, and Jim Webb demonstrated amply in his short, blunt State of the Union reply last week, is that we Americans now desperately want an honest leader who says what's on their, and our, mind.
This is politics in 2007 -– not 1999. Should the nomination actually be decided by voters next year –- which Obama's entry virtually ensured -– Clinton suddenly becomes a far less compelling candidate. Triangulation is so last millennium. In a warped way, Clinton is being authentic in her inauthenticity; she's being true to who she is. But that's not enough. Money notwithstanding, Hillary Clinton is an awful candidate for our times. She would make a worse President.
Senate Democrats oppose the war in Iraq, they just don't plan on stopping it.
They have discovered that standing up to the president is not quite as easy as vilifying him.dditional Resources
Fact sheet on Feingold’s proposed legislation
Use the power of the purse: An opinion piece by Senator Russ Fein
Sen. Russ Feingold, D-Wis., has decided, however, to challenge what he calls the "timidity" of Democratic leaders. He is going to introduce legislation cutting off funding for the Iraq war and he may do it, he told me, as early as this week.
I reached him by telephone Monday in Fond du Lac, Wis., where he was conducting one of his "Listening Sessions" with voters during a snowstorm.
I asked him whether Democratic voters were further to the left than their elected leaders, especially their presidential candidates, when it came to the war.
"That is not only true of Democrats," Feingold said, "it is true of the public as a whole. The mainstream view of the American people is to get out of Iraq."
Feingold is going to put his fellow Democrats to the test: If you are really against this war, he is going to tell them, now is the time to show it.
"Those (Democrats) who are timid on this, who are they listening to?" he said. "The people don't want us to talk just about ending the escalation. They think this whole war is wrong."
The peers who elected Barack Obama as the first black president of the Harvard Law Review say he was a natural leader, an impressive student, a nice guy. But in the 1990 Revue — the graduating editors’ gleeful parody of their elite publication — they said quite a bit more.
“I was born in Oslo, Norway, the son of a Volvo factory worker and part-time ice fisherman,” a mock self-tribute begins. “My mother was a backup singer for Abba. They were good folks.” In Chicago, “I discovered I was black, and I have remained so ever since.”
After his election, the Faux-bama says, he united warring students into “a happy, cohesive folk,” while “empowering all the folks out there in America who didn’t know about me by giving a series of articulate and startlingly mature interviews to all the folks in the media.”
In dozens of interviews, his friends said they could not remember his specific views from that era, beyond a general emphasis on diversity and social and economic justice.
Instead, they wonder how the style of leadership they observed on campus could translate to another kind of historic presidency.
“The things that make law school politics fractious are different from the things that make American politics fractious,” said Ron Klain, who preceded Mr. Obama at the law review and later served as Vice President Al Gore’s chief of staff. Mr. Klain has watched the senator’s rise.
“The interesting caveat,” he said, “is that is a style of leadership more effective running a law review than running a country.”
Sunday, January 28, 2007
On Monday, a small army of anti-war activists will fan out across Capitol Hill to lobby for congressional support to impeach President Bush, who's facing a storm of opposition for his handling of the Iraq war.
The activists may get a sympathetic ear on their anti-Bush message from Democrats, many of whom favor formal investigations into the administration's handling of the war and terrorism. But they'll likely get only get polite smiles - and little, if any, support - when they bring up the "I" word.
Although impeachment supporters know that they face long odds with little support either in Congress or from other groups on the left, many like David Swanson, Washington director of ImpeachPAC vow to fight on.
"If election didn't do it then, the march doesn't do it, then lobbying doesn't do it then, well, we will have to try something else," he said.
In his latest column in the Sunday New York Times, Frank Rich takes aim at Senator Hillary Clinton (D-NY) for trying to "rewrite her own history on Iraq to match" the positions held a long time before by other prominent Democrats, including at least one of her main rivals for the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination: Senator Barack Obama (D-IL).
"The Democrats' pre-eminent presidential candidate can't escape the war any more than the president can," Rich writes. "And so she was blindsided Tuesday night, just as Bush was, by an unexpected gate-crasher, the rookie senator from Virginia, Jim Webb."
Rich adds, "Though he's not a candidate for national office, Webb's nine-minute Democratic response not only upstaged the president but also, in an unintended political drive-by shooting, gave Clinton a more pointed State of the Union 'contrast' than she had bargained for."
"Clinton cannot rewrite her own history on Iraq to match Obama's early opposition to the war, or Webb's," Rich continues. "She was not prescient enough to see, as Webb wrote in The Washington Post back in September 2002, that 'unilateral wars designed to bring about regime change and a long-term occupation should be undertaken only when a nation's existence is clearly at stake.'"
DES MOINES -- At the first public event of her week-old presidential campaign, Hillary Rodham Clinton made gender a factor in the 2008 contest, noting the White House has too long been home to "white men."
She also said "she accepted" there were probably going to be stories about her clothes and hair.
And she mentioned other "funny stories" that could be out there "about differences between us" -- which could mean any number of things. She talked about a double standard, but she could have been referring to several items at that point.
Clinton, raised in Park Ridge, wanted a conversation, and she got one. Teacher Terri Hoffman, who lives in Des Moines and was raised in Rolling Meadows, told Clinton:
"A friend of mine went to high school with you and slept over when you had sleepovers," she said, referring to a Clinton Maine South chum named Diane Korda.
Without missing a beat Clinton said, "I hope she did not talk too much."
At another stop, Hillary had a different message. "Clinton: Iraq war Bush's responsibility:"
DAVENPORT, Iowa (AP) -- Hillary Rodham Clinton said Sunday that President Bush has made a mess of Iraq and it is his responsibility to "extricate" the United States from the situation before he leaves office.Howie P.S.: She made some other comments that you can read in the full story. The New York Times has "Tale of Two Clinton Campaigns (video, 2:15) and " "Hillary Clinton Goes to Iowa (video, 2:12).
It would be "the height of irresponsibility" to pass the war along to the next commander in chief, she said.
"This was his decision to go to war with an ill-conceived plan and an incompetently executed strategy," the Democratic senator from New York said her in initial presidential campaign swing through Iowa.
"We expect him to extricate our country from this before he leaves office" in January 2009, the former first lady said.
MEDIA DOWNPLAYS ANTI-WAR MARCH SIZE---This past weekend’s anti-war march was big, say the organizers and I have no reason to doubt them. They made this claim:
“Washington, D.C. -- In a massive showing of public opposition to the Iraq war, 500,000 people filled the streets around the Capitol today, completely surrounding the building. Participants converged on the National Mall from all over the country to voice their support for an end to the conflict in Iraq.
Three hundred buses rolled in early this morning, coming from more than 40 states and including at least 20 buses filled by New York City trade unions. United For Peace & Justice, the march coordinator, called this one of the the largest and most diverse demonstrations since the war began. According to UFPJ National Coordinator and veteran peace and justice leader Leslie Cagan, “This is a decisive moment in the history of this country and of our peace movement. In November, the people of this=nation voted for peace. We are here today, all ages, from all walks of life, to hold our elected officials to the mandate of the people.”
Add in protests in the rest of the country and it was even bigger.
But is that the picture most of America received? I didn’t see any report Saturday night on the front page of the Sunday NY Times online but, by the morning , the print edition of the Times wrote:
This coverage is deplorable but worse: the anti-war movement had not made it an issue. With more than half the country opposing the war, the movement is still being under reported and marginalized! And, naively, not doing anything about it.
We still need a march on the media. Anyone with me?
Actor Sean Penn summed up the new energy -- and the new focus -- of the anti-war movement Saturday, when he turned George Bush's own words against the president.
Just hours after the president had again reasserted his false claim to authority to pursue a war that is not wanted by the American people or the Congress, Penn told anti-war demonstrators gathered in Washington that Bush would be wise to review the Constitution.
"In a democracy," the actor told the cheering crowd, which organizers said numbered in the hundreds of thousands, "we are the deciders."
While ending the war was the first priority for those who marched in Washington, San Francisco and dozens of other cities across the country Saturday, the demand for accountability was high on the agenda.
"This past November the American people sent a resounding signal to Washington, D.C., and the world. We want change. We want this war to end. And how did Bush respond? Twenty-one thousand, five hundred more will risk their lives for his misguided war," declared actor Tim Robbins, as he addressed the tens of thousands who had gathered on the National Mall. "Is impeachment still off the table? Let's get him out of office."
The crowd roared, "Impeach Bush! Impeach Bush. Impeach Bush!"
It was cold and dark when Pat Baxter-Rebal got up to dress for Hillary Clinton’s 8:30 a.m. town hall meeting on Sunday.
Sunday morning in Iowa usually means church, but life is a series of choices and Baxter-Rebal chose Hillary over heaven.
Pat put on her bright red blazer, the better to be recognized when question and answer time came.
On her right lapel she put a big Hillary Clinton button and on the left she put her special button with Dick Cheney holding a ventriloquist’s dummy with the head of George W. Bush on it.
“I am a Democratic activist,” Pat said.
You might think, perhaps, that Pat Baxter-Rebal might actually be planning to vote for Hillary Clinton, but you would be wrong.
This is Iowa and people do not give their hearts or votes away easily. Not even to candidates they respect and admire.
“I am also considering Barack Obama - - he was here last fall - - and Tom Vilsack,” Pat said.
What about John Edwards, who has been to Iowa 17 times since 2004?
“I like him a lot,” Pat said. “But I have a sense that he is a lightweight. He doesn’t have the ballast. It’s hard to get past his charm, but his charm doesn’t count for much with me.”
She considers Barack Obama more experienced than Edwards, even though Barack Obama is in his first term as a U.S. Senator and Edwards served a full term, because Obama served eight years in the Illinois senate.
“That counts for a lot here,” Pat said.
But why not just go with Hillary?
“I am not satisfied with her explanation about the Iraq war,” Pat said.
But come on. After the cat, the blue eyes, the paw print, the red blazer, the knowledge of children, the 12 TV cameras and international press corps taking down every word, after all this, you are really not going to commit to Hillary?
“Well, she is one of my top three,” Pat said.
About 100,000 antiwar protesters from around the country converged Saturday on the National Mall, galvanized by opposition to President Bush's plan to increase the number of troops in Iraq.
Although longshot presidential contender Rep. Dennis J. Kucinich (D-Ohio) made an appearance, the demonstration failed to lure the big guns of Democratic politics, such as presidential hopefuls Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) and Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.)
"If I was Barack Obama, I would be up there," said Will Ehrenfeld, 18, a freshman at Tufts University.
Martin Freed, 60, of Alaska, said Democratic leaders were "cowards" for skipping the protest. "They ought to be out here addressing us," he said.
They staged the first of two rallies outside the Democratic Party headquarters at 9th and Figueroa streets, intending to send a message to those now in control of Congress.
"The Democrats, like the Republicans, voted for this war because they, like the Republicans, believe that the oil in Iraq belongs to us," said Jim Lafferty, executive director of the Los Angeles National Lawyers Guild.
One man, dressed as Jesus, carried a sign saying, "Even I can only forgive so much, George." Dozens of signs declared "Impeach Bush."
Drumbeat in Seattle: "Stop the war now"---Howie P.S.: We can go to Mars but still can't agree on a techonology to count the number of people who show up at anti-war rallies.
Saturday, January 27, 2007
Shouting "U.S. off of Iraqi soil," more than 1,000 anti-war demonstrators marched Saturday afternoon from the Center for Social Justice on Capitol Hill to the Langston Hughes Performing Arts Center off Yesler Way. The march was timed to coincide with a demonstration of tens of thousands of protestors in Washington, D.C.
The demonstrators took a minute to regroup, then continued east on South Jackson Street toward the arts center, where Army 1st Lt. Ehren Watada, who is facing a military tribunal for disobeying orders, read a prepared speech to a filled auditorium.
Soldiers have a right to choose which wars to fight in, said Watada, who rose to public view after refusing to deploy to Iraq in June 2006. "It is not only our right but our constitutional and moral duty," he said.
Watada's speech also called for people to continue to protest the Iraq War, which he said was unconstitutional. Watada compared his dissent in the current war to the lack of dissent in Nazi Germany during World War II.
"In a system of democracy such as ours, the crimes of the government are the crimes of the people," he said.
Watada ended his speech by suggesting that the American military presence in Iraq was as if Great Britain or the French had come to the United States during the American Civil War.
"What if they killed President Abraham Lincoln, put the South in charge of the country and changed the Constitution to benefit French and British companies?" he said. "If we truly believe in democracy we must listen to what the Iraqis want."
U.S. Sen. Hillary Clinton confronted doubts today about her ability to win the 2008 presidential election and defended her position on the Iraq war during her first day in Iowa as a candidate for president.Howie P.S.: It doesn't inspire much confidence in the candidate when she tells us she accepted "the Bush administration’s justifications for the war" that later "would be proven to be unfounded." There were plenty of people who figured that out before the vote and many people made the effort to communicate that to her, but she chose instead to believe George W. Bush. I don't see how her explanation strengthens her qualifications for the job.