The Watering Hole: Wednesday, June 20, 2012: Does it really Matter?

Ok, so for the next few months, if you’re in a “swing” State, you’ll be inundated with SuperPAC commercials designed to get you to vote against your own best interests. We will also be systematically bombarded with messages from the Mainstream Media designed to influence our thinking.

IT’S ALL A SHOW. IT REALLY DOESN’T MATTER.

If the Powers That Be really want Obama out, all they have to do is raise gas prices to about $5.00/gallon. Instead, gas prices are going down, heading into the summer vacation season. That’s not to say they won’t go up between now and the election – but they are an accurate predictor of where our economy will head. So, pay attention to the pump, not the talking heads.

Ok, that’s my $0.0199 cents. And you?

OPEN THREAD
JUST REMEMBER
EVERYTHING I SAID
DOESN’T REALLY MATTER

 

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Wednesday Open Thread – The Watergate Break-in

On June 17, 1972 a guard at the Watergate complex noticed that several office locks had been taped open. He removed the tape and on a later pass noticed that the locks were again taped open. At that point, he called on the police and thus started a sequence of events [1] that led to the resignation of the president of the United  States – Richard Milhous Nixon a bit over two years later (August 9, 1974) and stretched into the 21st Century.

The Watergate Complex

The Watergate Complex

 The Watergate Break-in[2] was a watershed moment in American history. This was not the first illegal entry of Democrat offices by Republican operatives.  An earlier break-in[2] had gone undetected. Nixon would have probably escaped with only a few scrapes if he had not vigorously pursued a cover-up of the incident.

And just yesterday, the FBI released its records on E Howard Hunt[3]. It bears today’s date because Japan is on the other side of the IDL.
[1] The Washington Post
[2] Wikipedia
[3] Japan Today

“Torture Works” vs. “I Make Up Stories”

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Dick Cheney has been trying to tell us that torture works (okay, he still refuses to use the word “torture”, but in the interests of accuracy and clarity, I will substitute the word “torture” for any other euphemism they may utilize), that we gained valuable intelligence from its use, and that “it saved lives.” Did it, Dick? Did it really save lives? Or did it cost lives? American lives? Americans in uniform? Did your insistence on the use, and staunch defense, of a series of illegally-authorized interrogation techniques, which were based on methods known to elicit false confessions, actually end up getting one or more of our soldiers killed?

Thanks to the ACLU, we now know that Dick Cheney was lying through his gritting teeth when he said we received valuable intelligence through the use of torture, particularly in the case of Khalid Sheikh Muhammad (also, and more conveniently, known as “KSM”.) He claimed that intel “saved lives.” Given Dick’s well-documented history of spreading falsehoods, I have every reason in the world to believe that not only was this statement a lie, it was actually the opposite of the truth. I have reason to believe that people died because of the information we gained through torture. And the reason is a very simple one. KSM himself said, in his statement at his “Combatant Status Review Tribunal Hearing” (Pg 15):

I ah cannot remember now…I be under questioning so-many statement which been some them l make up stories just location UBL. Continue reading

Send Bush to jail (and throw away the key)

I wrote in an earlier post, that one of my wishes for the Obama Presidency was signature and ratification of the Rome Statute which constitutes the International Criminal Court in The Hague. I still believe this should be done to restore the trust of the world in American politics by accepting accountability to international standards.  Initially my idea was to find a way to hold President Bush accountable and try him for his crimes in a court of law. However, after some research, I doubt that end would be achieved by joining in the ICC. The Rome Statute states explicitly that it’s rules apply to the signatory states only after the ratification unless it’s jurisdiction was approved retroactively by the signing state.  At least that is how I understood the text.  There may be lawyers among you who know better than me and I would very much appreciate to learn more from you.

I do think it is possible that an Obama Administration signs the statute (or re-signs it, it has already been signed by the Clinton Administration, but the Bush Administration “un-signed” it) and the Democratic Congress ratifies it. I don’t believe it would be made retroactive though, because that would amount to handing Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld and some more to The Hague. Barack Obama, among other things, has stressed bi-partisanship and just imagine the Republican’s and their voters’ reaction.

So where does that leave you? You will have to go it alone. And the Bush Administration must be held accountable for their actions. There is a number of crimes that have been assembled by the National Lawyers Guild in an attempt to impeach Bush. In November Joel S. Hirschhorn wrote an article in MWCnews saying:

I want President Obama soon after taking office to go on television and announce the formation of a special group of outstanding jurists and attorneys to make a recommendation whether or not the US Justice Department should bring criminal charges against George W. Bush.  Based on earlier analyses, including work by the American Bar Association, I have no doubt they will recommend indictment.

I could not agree more. The documentary “Taxi to the Dark Side” ran on a German tv-channel yesterday and it brought back the atrocities of the “War on Terror”. And yes, I would like to see Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Gonzales, Yoo and some more held accountable for these crimes and more in a court of law.

Friday’s House Judiciary Hearing on Impeachment: A Victory and a Challenge

by Dave Lindorff (CommonDreams)

The dramatic hearing on presidential crimes and abuses of power held on Friday by the House Judiciary Committee was both a staged farce, and at the same time, a powerful demonstration of the power of a grassroots movement in defense of the Constitution. It was at once both testimony to the cowardice and self-inflicted impotence of Congress and of the Democratic Party that technically controls that body, and to the enormity of the damage that has been wrought to the nation’s democracy by two aspiring tyrants in the White House.

As Rep. John Conyers (D-MI), chairman of the committee, made clear more than once during the six-hour session, this was “not an impeachment hearing, however much many in the audience might wish it to be.” He might well have added that he himself was not the fierce defender of the Constitution and of the authority of Congress that he once was before gaining control of the Judiciary Committee, however much his constituents, his wife, and Americans across the country might wish him to be.

At the same time, while the hearing was strictly limited to the most superficial airing of Bush administration crimes and misdemeanors, the fact that the session — technically an argument in defense of 26 articles of impeachment filed in the House over the past several months by Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) — was nonetheless a major victory for the impeachment movement. It happened because earlier in the month, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), who has sworn since taking control of the House in November 2006, that impeachment would be “off the table” during the 110th Congress, called a hasty meeting with Majority Leader Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-MD), Rep. Conyers, and Rep. Kucinich, and called for such a limited hearing.

It was no coincidence that shortly before Pelosi’s backdown, peace activist and Gold Star mother Cindy Sheehan announced that her campaign had collected well over the 10,000 signatures necessary to qualify for listing on the ballot as an independent candidate for Congress against Pelosi in the Speaker’s home district in San Francisco. Sheehan has been an outspoken advocate of impeaching both Bush and Cheney. “Pelosi is trying to throw a bone to her constituents by allowing a hearing on impeachment,” said Sheehan, who came to Washington, DC to attend. “It’s just like her finally stating publicly that Bush’s presidency is a failure — something it has taken her two years to come to, but which we’ve been saying for years.”

So determined were Pelosi and Conyers to limit the scope and intensity of the hearing that they acceded to a call for Republicans on the Judiciary Committee to adhere to Thomas Jefferson’s Rules of the House, which prohibit any derogatory comments about the President, which was interpreted by Chairman Conyers as meaning no one, including witnesses or members of the committee, could suggest that Bush had lied or deceived anyone. Since a number of Rep. Kucinich’s proposed articles of impeachment specifically charge the president with lying to Congress and the American People, this made for some comic moments, with witness Bruce Fein, a former assistant attorney general under former President Ronald Reagan, to say he would reference his listing of crimes to the “resident” of the White House.

In the end, the rule imposing a gag on calling the president a criminal fell by the wayside, with witness Vincent Bugliosi, a former Los Angeles deputy district attorney, accusing Bush of being guilty of the murder of over 4000 American soldiers and of hundreds of thousands of innocent Iraqi civilians because he had “lied” the country into an illegal and unnecessary war, and with committee member Shirley Jackson Lee (D-CA) suggesting that the president may have committed treason in invading Iraq, and that he appeared to be preparing to do it again with an unprovoked invasion of Iran.

Conyers also acquiesced in a Republican effort to minimize public monitoring and involvement in the hearing, allowing the minority party to fill most of the available seats in the hearing room with office staffers who showed little interest in the proceedings. Only a few dozen of the hundreds of pro-impeachment activists who had come to the Rayburn Office Building at 7 am in order to get seats in the Judiciary Committee hearing room were allowed in, with the rest having to remain in the hall or go to two remote “overflow” rooms to watch the proceedings on a TV hookup. Conyers also went along with a call by Republican members of the committee to have some of those who did make it into the hearing ejected simply for wearing buttons on their shirts calling for impeachment (the Republican members referred to these as “signs”), though such small personal tokens are routinely allowed in congressional hearing rooms.

It was clear that this was to be a tightly controlled and strictly limited hearing.

It was also clear that it was intended to go nowhere.

Really.. Read the rest of this great post.

Video from the Limits of Executive Power Hearings

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Vincent Bugliosi Testimony

More from Bugliosi

Be sure to pay close attention starting at 4:49. It’s truly amazing that this was said at a hearing.

Watch Kucinich, Wexler, Fein and more below the fold.
Continue reading

Impeachment Hearings Are the Appropriate and Necessary Next Step


by John Nichols – via Truthout

As the House Judiciary Committee took up the question of how best to address what its chairman described as “the Imperial Presidency of George W. Bush,” it was the ranking Republican in the room, Iowa Congressman Steve King, who observed that, “We are here having impeachment hearings before the Judiciary Committee.

These are impeachment hearings before the United States Congress, King continued. “I never imagined I would ever be sitting on this side when something like this happened.”

King was not happy about the circumstance.

A resolute defender of President Bush and Vice President Cheney, the congressman was objecting to the very mention of the “I” word.

As it happened, impeachment was mentioned dozens of times during the hearing, often in significant detail and frequently as a necessary response to lawless actions of the president and vice president.

Read on…

John Nichols ends his article with this:

As we know, the framers of our Constitution called for impeachment only in the case of high crimes and misdemeanors. The standard is purposely set high because we should not impeach for personal or political gain – only to uphold and safeguard our democracy. Sadly, in my judgment, at least two high-ranking administration officials have met that standard. Although the call to impeach is one I take neither easily nor lightly, I now firmly believe that impeachment hearings are the appropriate and necessary next step.

I agree wholeheartedly. I listened to the entire nearly 6 hours of the hearing today. Surely members of the Judiciary will come to the same conclusion. One can still hope..

John Nichols and Constitutional scholar Bruce Fein were guests of Bill Moyers Journal (PBS) on July 13, 2007 where they did a segment called “Tough Talk on Impeachment“. One of the House members this morning read quotes of John Nichols from the transcript of that segment before asking Bruce Fein to expand on it (which he was happy to do, and did it well).

If you haven’t watched this episode of Bill Moyers Journal, do yourself a favor and watch it.

Here’s the segment of the interview I am referring to:

BILL MOYERS: That struck me about your writings and your book. You say your great– your great fear is that Bush and Cheney will hand off to their successors a toolbox that they will not avoid using.

JOHN NICHOLS: Well, let’s try a metaphor. Let’s say that– when George Washington chopped down the cherry tree, he used the wood to make a little box. And in that box the president puts his powers. We’ve taken things out. We’ve put things in over the years.

On January 20th, 2009, if George Bush and Dick Cheney are not appropriately held to account this administration will hand off a toolbox with more powers than any president has ever had, more powers than the founders could have imagined. And that box may be handed to Hillary Clinton or it may be handed to Mitt Romney or Barack Obama or someone else. But whoever gets it, one of the things we know about power is that people don’t give away the tools. They don’t give them up. The only way we take tools out of that box is if we sanction George Bush and Dick Cheney now and say the next president cannot govern as these men have.

BRUCE FEIN: Well, that’s accurate but also we do find this peculiarity that Congress is giving up powers voluntarily. because there’s nothing right now, Bill, that would prevent Congress from the immediate shutting down all of George Bush’s and Dick Cheney’s illegal programs. Simply saying there’s no money to collect foreign intelligence-

BILL MOYERS: The power of the purse-

BRUCE FEIN: –the power of the purse. That is an absolute power. And yet Congress shies from it. It was utilized during the Vietnam War, you may recall, in 1973. Congress said there’s no money to go and extend the war into Laos and Cambodia. And even President Nixon said okay. This was a president who at one time said, “If I do it, it’s legal.” So that it we do find Congress yielding the power to the executive branch. It’s the very puzzle that the founding fathers would have been stunned at. They worried most over the legislative branch in, you know, usurping powers of the other branches. And–

BILL MOYERS: Well, what you just said indicts the Congress more than you’re indicting George Bush and Dick Cheney.

BRUCE FEIN: In some sense, yes, because the founding fathers expected an executive to try to overreach and expected the executive would be hampered and curtailed by the legislative branch. And you’re right. They have basically renounced– walked away from their responsibility to oversee and check. It’s not an option. It’s an obligation when they take that oath to faithfully uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States. And I think the reason why this is. They do not have convictions about the importance of the Constitution. It’s what in politics you would call the scientific method of discovering political truths and of preventing excesses because you require through the processes of review and vetting one individual’s perception to be checked and– counterbalanced by another’s. And when you abandon that process, you abandon the ship of state basically and it’s going to capsize.

They lay out the important piece concerning the precident that is being set by this Congress allowing this administration and this president to run roughshod over the Constitution and our laws with no oversight or accountability, and what it means to future presidencies –  and ultimately the very future survival of our form of government and of this nation.

Watch entire interviewRead entire transcript

CSPAN will be running the entire hearing of today again this evening in case you missed it.