US judge: White House aides can be subpoenaed

•July 31, 2008 • Leave a Comment

By MATT APUZZO – 1 hour ago

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Bush’s top advisers are not immune from congressional subpoenas, a federal judge ruled Thursday in an unprecedented dispute between the two political branches.

Congressional Democrats called the ruling a ringing endorsement of the principle that nobody is above the law. They swiftly announced that the Bush officials who have defied their subpoenas, including Bush’s former top adviser Karl Rove, must appear as part of a probe of whether the White House directed the firings of nine federal prosecutors. Democrats announced plans to open hearings at the height of election season.

The Bush administration was expected to appeal.

In his ruling, U.S. District Judge John Bates said there’s no legal basis for Bush’s argument and that his former legal counsel, Harriet Miers, must appear before Congress. If she wants to refuse to testify, he said, she must do so in person. The committee also has sought to force testimony from White House chief of staff Joshua Bolten.

“Harriet Miers is not immune from compelled congressional process; she is legally required to testify pursuant to a duly issued congressional subpoena,” Bates wrote. He said that both Bolten and Miers must give Congress all nonprivileged documents related to the firings.

The ruling is a blow to the Bush administration’s efforts to bolster the power of the executive branch at the expense of the legislative branch. Disputes over congressional subpoenas are normally resolved through political compromise, not through the court system. Had Bush prevailed, it would have dramatically weakened congressional authority in oversight investigations.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., called it “very good news for anyone who believes in the Constitution of the United States and the separation of powers, and checks and balances” and said the ruling applies as well to Rove, who like Miers and Bolten has been cited by the Judiciary Committee for contempt.

“This decision should send a clear signal to the Bush administration that it must cooperate fully with Congress and that former administration officials Harriet Miers and Karl Rove must testify before Congress,” Pelosi said.

White House spokesman Tony Fratto and Justice Department spokesman Peter Carr said they were reviewing the opinion and declined immediate comment.

The House Judiciary Committee’s senior Republican, Rep. Lamar Smith of Texas, said he was pleased the court ruled in Congress’ favor, but he cautioned that an ongoing showdown in federal court could ultimately curtail Congress’ powers, and he urged Democrats and the White House to strike an agreement.

“Unfortunately, today’s victory may be short-lived,” Smith said in a statement. “If the administration appeals the ruling, our congressional prerogatives will once again be put at risk.”

The chairmen of the House and Senate Judiciary Committees quickly demanded that the White House officials subpoenaed appear before their panels.

Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, signaled that hearings would commence in September on the controversy that scandalized the Justice Department and led to the resignation of a longtime presidential confidant, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales.

“We look forward to the White House complying with this ruling and to scheduling future hearings with Ms. Miers and other witnesses who have relied on such claims,” Conyers said in a statement. “We hope that the defendants will accept this decision and expect that we will receive relevant documents and call Ms. Miers to testify in September.”

“I look forward to working with the White House and the Justice Department to coordinate the long overdue appearances,” said Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vt.

Bates, who was appointed to the bench by Bush, issued a 93-page opinion that strongly rejected the administration’s legal arguments. He noted that the executive branch could not point to a single case in which courts held that White House aides were immune from congressional subpoenas.

“That simple yet critical fact bears repeating: the asserted absolute immunity claim here is entirely unsupported by existing case law,” Bates wrote.

Associated Press reporter Laurie Kellman contributed to this story     

New McCain ad whines that Obama is too popular to be president. Seriously

•July 31, 2008 • Leave a Comment

 

 

Well, once again Senator John McCain’s campaign, who says that McCain does not necessarily speak for HIS campaign, has another NEGATIVE ad out about Barack Obama.  They had to PULL the last ad, conceding that “perhaps there WERE other reasons that Obama did not stop in to see wounded troops at Landstuhl.”

Many news pundits complained about that ad, forcing the McCain Campaign to pull it.  Needless to say, this one is more absurd than the last.

THIS ad says that Obama is merely a celebrity…not unlike Brittnay or Paris.  (Huh?)

Check it out:  Here

A Murderer’s Bookshelf: Hannity, O’Reilly, and Savage On Killer’s Reading List

•July 29, 2008 • Leave a Comment

Yahoo News:   KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – An out-of-work truck driver accused of opening fire at a Unitarian church, killing two people, left behind a note suggesting that he targeted the congregation out of hatred for its liberal policies, including its acceptance of gays, authorities said Monday.

Yesterday I saw this on Hal Turner’s Web Site:

“Got What They Deserved!

Man Shoots Up Church Over Liberal Views

Protected Illegal Aliens, Promoted Gay Rights and desegregation

This should happen far more often.     Click Here

Today, I read on Huffington Post that

This evening we learn from the Knoxville News that officers entering the home of murder Jim Adkisson “found Liberalism is a Mental Health Disorder by radio talk show host Michael Savage, Let Freedom Ring by talk show host Sean Hannity, and The O’Reilly Factor, by television talk show host Bill O’Reilly.

The presence of somebody’s books in a mentally disturbed person’s home does not make them accessories to a killing. But right-wing rhetoric toward liberals and humanists like those who attended the Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church has been exceptionally violent for years. Liberal groups are often called “Nazi” or “Nazi-like” by O’Reilly (he even said that about our own Arianna Huffington). Savage says he’d “hang every lawyer” who tried to establish constitutional rights for Guantanamo prisoners, describes Obama as an “Afro-Leninist,” and said the folks at Media Matters were “brownshirts.” He describes Rep. Wexler as a “Nazi” and calls Nancy Pelosi a “Mussolini.”

As for Hannity, he said that “there are things in life worth fighting and dying for and one of ’em is making sure Nancy Pelosi doesn’t become the speaker (of the House).” Think about it: “worth fighting and dying for.”

And that’s just a sampler.

Ann Coulter says liberals should be beaten with baseball bats and tried for treason (she’s not clear about the order in which these events are to take place.) Dick Morris says they’re “traitors” who should be decapitated.

The political divide in this country has reached critical mass.   It is a sad commentary that Americans cannot agree to disagree with each other’s political leanings.   The Limbaughs, Hannitys and O’Reillys of broadcast media (radio andTV) have sent a vile message out to their listeners. 

They have painted anyone who does not think or LOOK like them as “the enemy”.  This is America and one’s political preference should not be an issue.  This is a Democracy and as such we are free to choose whichever Political Party we want to associate with, without vitriolic rhetoric from an opposing party.

I think that is the agenda of Fox News.  We have already heard Scott McClellan admit on MSNBC’s Hardball, that Fox News got “talking point memos” daily from the White House. 

It is my opinion that Fox news has to take SOME responsibility for what has happened in Knoxville, TN.

A Word About Satire versus Caricature

•July 22, 2008 • Leave a Comment

Last week The New Yorker Magazine  published a cover depicting Barack and Michelle Obama as Radical Islamic Militant types.  The magazine, generally known for its “liberal” views claims they were “making fun of the people who believe the Obamas would be similar to the magazine’s depiction of them.”

The problem with THAT theory is that there was no one on the cover “viewing” the Obamas in that light.  There was no one looking at a computer screen with the controversial magazine cover image.  There was no Fox News image showing THAT image in the background.

Satire is defined as: “…a literary technique that attacks foolishness by making fun of it. Most good satires work through a “fiction” that is clearly transparent. “

I am not sure just how transparent the New Yorker magazine cover was.  I think it was more of a caricature, becuase the audience in which The New Yorker Magazine cover intended to satirize was NOT featured in the satire.

NOW we come to South Caroline State Senator Kevin Bryant.  This is a State Senator who claims HIS depiction of Obama/Osama is strictly FUNNY and meant as humor.  This state senator is on vacation at a religious camp teaching young Americans how to be good Christians.  My question Mr. Bryant, is THIS how you teach those children to treat people who do not look like them?  Hmmm…WWJD?

White House Accidentally E-Mails Story On Iraqi PM Backing Obama Withdrawal Plan To Reporters

•July 20, 2008 • Leave a Comment

Huffington Post:

As Reuters reported earlier today, Iraqi Prime Minister al-Maliki has voiced his support for Obama’s withdrawal plan. Needless to say, such support is not a PR victory for the Bush administration. And so it was no doubt embarrassing when, according to ABC’s Jake Tapper, the White House sent the article–accidentally–to reporters:

The White House this afternoon accidentally sent to its extensive distribution list a Reuters story headlined “Iraqi PM backs Obama troop exit plan – magazine.” […}

The White House employee had intended to send the article to an internal distribution list, ABC News’ Martha Raddatz reports, but hit the wrong button.

The misfire comes at an odd time for Bush foreign policy, at a time when Obama’s campaign alleges the president is moving closer toward Obama’s recommendations about international relations — sending more U.S. troops to Afghanistan, discussing a “general time horizon” for U.S. troop withdrawal and launching talks with Iran.

 

 

 

 

McCain Leaks Details of Obama’s Iraq Trip

•July 18, 2008 • Leave a Comment

Huffington Post:

Reuters reports that McCain shared details of Obama’s trip to Iraq at a fundraiser:

Republican presidential candidate John McCain said on Friday that his Democratic opponent, Barack Obama, is likely to be in Iraq over the weekend.
The Obama campaign has tried to cloak the Illinois senator’s trip in some measure of secrecy for security reasons. The White House, State Department and Pentagon do not announce senior officials’ visits to Iraq in advance.

“I believe that either today or tomorrow — and I’m not privy to his schedule — Sen. Obama will be landing in Iraq with some other senators” who make up a congressional delegation, McCain told a campaign fund-raising luncheon.

 

Josh Marshall points out that there’s something very wrong with this:

The Reuters piece hints at it. But if Obama is going to be in Iraq this weekend, this is a major breach on McCain’s part. As a knowledgeable insider notes …
“If it is true that Obama is going to Iraq this weekend, it is a very serious mistake for McCain to have disclosed it publically. Even for run-of-the-mill CODELs the military gives guidance like, “Please strongly discourage Congressional offices from issuing press releases prior to their trips which mention their intent to travel to the AOR and/or the dates of that travel or their scheduled meetings. Such releases are a serious compromise to OPSEC.” If Obama is going to Iraq this weekend, I can not begin to imagine how much this is complicating the security planning for the trip.”

It’s known that Obama is leaving on his foreign trip this weekend and the Journal OpEd page this morning said that Obama could arrive in Iraq “as early as this weekend.” And with a slew of reporters in tow, it’s not exactly highly classified information. But there is a reason definite information about these sorts of trips aren’t released in advance.

Hypothetically, maybe McCain was just guessing. But even so it would still be a serious lapse of judgment on his part.

The Politics of FEAR – Barack and Michelle Portrayed As Militants

•July 13, 2008 • 3 Comments

The New Yorker Magazine raised a few eyebrows when their latest cover showed a picture of barack Obama in a white turban (a la Osama Bin laden) and Michelle Obama toting an automatic rifle.

The purpose of the cover was to talk about how fear has injected itself into the political arena.

Huffington Post:

Who knows if they’ll get this in Dubuque, but they sure aren’t going to like it in Chicago: This week’s New Yorker cover features an image of Michelle and Barack Obama that combines every smeary right-wing stereotype imaginable: an image of Obama in a turban and robes fist-bumping his be-afro’d wife, dressed in the military fatiques of a revolutionary and packing a machine gun and some serious ammo. Oh yes, this quaint little scene is also in the Oval Office, under a picture of Osama bin Laden above a roaring fireplace, in which burns an American flag. All that’s missing is a token sprig of argula.

The illustration, by Barry Blitt,is called “The Politics of Fear” and, according to the NYer press release, “satirizes the use of scare tactics and misinformation in the Presidential election to derail Barack Obama’s campaign.” Uh-huh. What’s that they say about repeating a rumor?

Presumably the New Yorker readership is sophisticated enough to get the joke, but still: this is going to upset a lot of people, probably for the same reason it’s going to delight a lot of other people, namely those on the right: Because it’s got all the scare tactics and misinformation that has so far been used to derail Barack Obama’s campaign — all in one handy illustration. Anyone who’s tried to paint Obama as a Muslim, anyone who’s tried to portray Michelle as angry or a secret revolutionary out to get Whitey, anyone who has questioned their patriotism&mdah; well, here’s your image.

The companion article by Ryan Lizza, who has written extensively about the campaign, is very long (18 pages!) and probably won’t thrill a lot of Democratic party faithful, either, since it advances the image of Obama as a skilled and calculating politician who advanced by becoming a master of the game:

“[P]erhaps the greatest misconception about Barack Obama is that he is some sort of anti-establishment revolutionary. Rather, every stage of his political career has been marked by an eagerness to accommodate himself to existing institutions rather than tear them down or replace them….he has always played politics by the rules as they exist, not as he would like them to exist. He runs as an outsider, but he has succeeded by mastering the inside game.”