Saturday, October 29, 2005

Scooter Libby: Liar

While Scooter Libby has the presumption of innocence with respect to the five-count indictment for perjury, making false statements and obstruction of justice handed down yesterday, one thing should still be made clear. He is a liar. There is no doubt on that point. Whether or not he is ultimately convicted of a crime related to that lie will not change the fact that he did indeed lie repeatedly, and not just the innocent "it slipped my mind" kind of lie. It was an elaborate deception told over and over again to try and cover up and hide crucial facts from the special prosecutor.

Another thing that should be made clear is that he was without a doubt involved in the outing of a covert CIA agent, as was "Official A" who we now know to be Karl Rove. Whether or not he is eventually charged and convicted of a crime specific to that action will not change the fact that he played a central role throughout this entire scandal.
Those who would argue that Libby and Rove are thoroughly exonerated of all responsibility for this mess if they are never found guilty of a crime under the IIPA must also believe that Al Capone was an upstanding citizen who never did anything wrong beyond failing to pay his taxes.
They should also explain why they continue to allow themselves to get away with trashing Bill Clinton as a liar and perjurer despite the fact that he was exonerated of those charges by the Senate.

If President Bush had stuck by his initial promise to remove anybody from his administration who was involved with outing a CIA agent, then Rove and Libby both would have been gone a long time ago, along with a number of other officials. But then the man who promised to bring a new era of accountability to the White House set a new standard that they have to be indicted of a crime before he would take any action.

Friday, October 28, 2005

Obstruction of Justice

In a twisted sort of way I almost have to admire Lewis “Scooter” Libby for his devotion and loyalty to the vice president. The man is facing up to 30 years in prison for perjury (2 counts), making false statements (2 counts) and obstruction of justice. All he would probably have to do to get out of it is cut a deal with the prosecutor and say “Hey, ‘Big Time’ Cheney made me do it.”
But so far the indications are that he has not turned on his boss even though no one but the most blind partisans could doubt that Cheney was fully versed on the whole affair from the beginning.

Besides handing down indictments for a top White House aide, Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald did one other thing that is probably even worse in the eyes of the White House - he kept the investigation going. Karl Rove did not get indicted today, but he is still the target of the ongoing investigation and that is not good news for the Bush administration.

In his press conference today, Fitzgerald spelled out the seriousness of the obstruction charge against Libby and explained why it is significant. He compared it to an umpire having sand thrown in his eyes while trying to determine whether or not a pitcher intentionally threw a beanball that seriously injured a batter.

What is clear is that a beanball was thrown, a player was seriously injured, and the umpire is now going to have to take more time to rub the sand out of his eyes and try to sort everything out. More charges could still be handed down against Libby, Rove and others. If anything, the decision to continue the investigation is the worst possible outcome for the Bush administration because it means that it is not something they are able to put behind them at this point.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Bush's Social Security failure

The Wall Street Journal last week wrote a post-mortem piece on Bush's failed effort to screw-up, I mean, reform Social Security.
Brad DeLong helpfully reprints the article here at the bottom of his post.

Through two campaigns, George W. Bush vowed to fix and partially privatize Social Security, the nation's most popular government program. This year, claiming a re-election mandate and enjoying a Congress controlled by his party, the president finally made his move. Yet now even the president has acknowledged Social Security is dead for this year, his biggest domestic defeat to date. How could it have gone so wrong?...

The article says Bush overestimated his post-election capital and underestimated his opposition.

Embittered Democrats were even more vehemently opposed to any privatization than the White House imagined.

I think that is about right. Bush swaggered into the Social Security debate with his typical mix of arrogance and condescenion and got knocked on his butt. What I would like to see now is for this "biggest domestic defeat to date" to scar his administration the same way the failure of health care reform hurt Clinton and the Democrats in 1993-94.

In some ways it has already hurt him. Bush is currently at the low point in his popularity with the latest polls showing him with only 38 percent support and a majority saying the country is heading in the wrong direction.
If you want to know why those polls are important when Bush won't ever have to face election again look no further than today's announcement that Bush is reinstating Davis-Bacon wage protections for workers cleaning up after Hurricane Katrina.

The Bush administration will reinstate rules requiring that companies awarded federal contracts for Hurricane Katrina pay prevailing wages, usually an amount close to the pay scales in local union contracts.

The only reason Bush did this is because he was going to lose a battle in the House. He no longer has the political capital to prevail in cases such as this and things are not going to get any better for him any time soon once Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald passes out his indictments tomorrow.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Polls and rumors

A new Gallup poll shows that Bush would lose an election to an unnamed Democrat 55 to 39 if it were held today.
Meaningless, I know. But still a delight to see the lights finally coming on for so many people who have had the wool pulled over their eyes for so long. Bush has been such an awful president that people are finally beginning to have buyer's remorse. Too bad we can't take him back and exchange for someone more competent.

And then there is this poll which illustrates just how far out of the mainstream my friends over at All Things Conservative are by insisting that there is nothing to the CIA leak scandal.
Only 1 in 10 people in the poll believe that Bush administration officials did nothing wrong.

Meanwhile, the big rumor going around is that Fitzgerald will hand down 3 to 5 indictments tomorrow, possibly sealed. I can hardly wait!

Monday, October 24, 2005

Kay Bailey Hutchison: Raging hypocrite

Over at ATC, Bill, X, and the gang have spent the better part of the day hyperventilating over whether or not Leonard Pitts, a Miami-based syndicated columnist, may have been hypocritical in a column about the death penalty. It seems that Pitts was critical of what he called the “cynical” use of relatives of murder victims to attack a Catholic politician who says his religious beliefs prevent him from fully embracing capital punishment (although he says he would still uphold the law). But a while back, Pitts praised Cindy Sheehan, whose son was killed in Iraq, for using her “moral authority” to oppose the war.

My response. Who cares?

It’s clear to me that the bigger hypocrite today is our own U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison who went on the Sunday talk shows to test the waters on the Republican response to the pending indictments of top White House aides Karl Rove and Scooter Libby. Hutchison’s tact is to poo-poo the charges as “some perjury technicality” and implies the 2-year investigation has been a waste of taxpayer dollars.

Here is the full quote:

"... if there is going to be an indictment that says something happened, that it is an indictment on a crime and not some perjury technicality where they couldn't indict on the crime and so they go to something just to show that their two years of investigation was not a waste of time and taxpayer dollars."

Of course, Sen. Hutchison was not so dismissive of indictable crimes a few years ago when the target was President Bill Clinton:

"I do not hold the view of our Constitution that there must be an actual, indictable crime in order for an act of a public officer to be impeachable. It is clear to this Senator that there are, indeed, circumstances, short of a felony criminal offense, that would justify the removal of a public officer from office, including the President of the United States. Manifest injury to the Office of the President, to our Nation and to the American people and gross abuse of trust and of public office clearly can reach the level of intensity that would justify the impeachment and removal of a leader."

So to sum up, Sen. Hutchison believes that in the case of a Democratic administration you do not need actual indictment to justify the removal of a public official from office. Vague charges of “manifest injury” to the Office of the President and “gross abuse of trust” is more than enough reason to have an impeachment in that case.

But, for a Republican administration, suddenly an indictment alone is not enough to warrant dismissal. Now, it has to be an indictment for something that she considers to be a crime and not something that the prosecutor might consider a crime but which she dismisses as a technicality.


Sen. Hutchison's trial balloon over the weekend apparently got shot down because she is now backtracking on her "perjury is just a technicality and not a crime" theme.
Hutchison now says she was "misconstrued" and insists that perjury is a "terrible crime."
Welcome back to the reality-based world, Senator!

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Future of the Democratic Party

This story in the Washington Post today gives me renewed hope about Democratic prospects of regaining the House.

With the Capitol all but deserted last Monday night, the Democratic "30-Something Working Group" seized the House floor and took aim at their Republican adversaries.
As C-SPAN cameras beamed their performance around the country, Rep. Timothy J. Ryan, 32, of Ohio and Rep. Kendrick Meek, 39, of Florida recited a litany of GOP misdeeds -- mismanaging Hurricane Katrina and neglecting education and health care, for example -- and offered the Democrats' alternatives.

Their conversation even veered to religion, a subject many Democrats are afraid to touch. Ryan described the problems of the poor as a moral obligation and asked of Meek: "Where is the Christian Coalition when you are cutting poverty programs? They are fighting over Supreme Court justices."

The two newcomers -- who have served a combined six years in the House -- are part of a new generation of Democrats who are working to try to topple the GOP. Their fresh ideas, modern media skills and aggressive political tactics have inspired a party that has drifted for much of the past decade -- wedded to old notions and seemingly incapable of capitalizing on White House and congressional Republican miscues.

As part of the new approach, House and Senate Democrats are devising an alternative agenda of key policies. Ryan is pushing proposals aimed at drastically reducing the number of abortions over the coming decade by offering support and services to pregnant women. Others are crafting a plan for reducing U.S. dependence on imported oil by using more domestic agricultural products, an approach that would have significant appeal to Midwestern voters.

And what do you know? They are even being labeled as Pragmatists!

Unlike some of their forbears, the newcomers are pragmatists who view the past decade of GOP rule not as an aberration but as a sea change in political campaigning, fundraising and lobbying to which Democrats must adjust. They arrived in Washington as challengers and are comfortable questioning the establishment -- because they have not been part of it.

"Everyone recognizes the bottom line: We've got to win the House," said Van Hollen, who is in his second term. "So people are looking for creative alternatives, and they're much more willing to experiment now."

The Republicans, through their inept incompetence, have opened the door for the Democrats to make a comeback that might otherwise have taken many more years to develop. If the old hardliners will allow this new blood to energize the party we could be back in the game sooner than expected.