Category ►►► Impeachment Imbecilities
November 5, 2007
Dems On the Rampage, Dennis On a Tear
For this entire year, the Democrats have been stung by repeated legislative embarassments; they failed to:
- Force defeat in Iraq;
- Let the camel-nose of SCHIP into the tent (with the body, socialized medicine, to follow);
- Pass even one, single appropriations bill through Congress and to the president's desk;
- Follow through on their promise to make the 110th Congress "the most honest, most open and most ethical Congress in history" by passing meaningful ethical reform with either a ban on earmarks altogether, or at least complete transparency of the earmarking process -- shining a spotlight on the earmarking roaches in the system;
- Make a decision on the soon-to-expire Bush tax cuts for the middle class;
- Do anything at all about illegal immigration, and so on.
Their perennial, whiny complaint is that the Republicans in Congress keep filibustering Democrat-sponsored legislation, and that President Bush vetoes the trickle that does get through. But navigating that needle is part of the process of leadership.
Neither party has had anything like a veto-proof (or even unfilibusterable) majority in ages; neither has the luxury of completely dominating the legislative conversation and burying the other side's objections.
During the Republicans' tenure, they actually managed to pass significant pieces of legislation, from tax cuts, to allowing faith-based organizations to vie for charitable governmental spending, to beefing up the border with double fencing, to a couple of declarations of war, to easing environmental regulations, etc. The Republicans were largely successful at legislating because they found issues where even the bulk of work-a-day Democrats agreed with the GOP and disagreed with the Democratic leadership; thus conditions were ripe for Democrats to join with Republicans to provide enough votes to invoke cloture, thus preventing a filibuster.
But the Democrats of the 110th loudly announced, even before they assumed office, that they considered congressional Republicans to be mere speed bumps -- and the president an anachronistic irrelevancy. Their "negotiation" style consists of a lengthy series of take-it-or-leave-it ultimata... and evidently, the GOP's response has been not only to "leave it" but to show just how much power a unified minority party has. And of course, the president has the constitutional authority to veto legislation; it's not something dirty or underhanded, as the Democrats seem to believe.
Ergo, the Democrats find themselves at a crossroads. Two paths open before them:
- They can change their tone and begin working with the Republicans to craft bipartisan legislation, supported at least by the GOP rank and file, if not necessarily by the GOP leadership;
- Or they can retreat from the world of legislating into the comforting zone of endless investigations of the Bush administration, in order to create the illusion of progress when in fact all they're doing is loudly burning rubber at the starting line.
With all that as prologue, we come to a couple of articles. From the Associated Press...
House Democrats threatened Monday to hold President Bush's key confidants in contempt of Congress unless they comply with subpoenas for information on the Justice Department's purge of federal prosecutors last winter.
The White House shrugged off the ultimatum, saying the information is off-limits under executive privilege and that the aides in question - White House Chief of Staff Joshua Bolten and former presidential counselor Harriet Miers - are immune from prosecution.
"It won't go anywhere," predicted White House press secretary Dana Perino.
Congressional Democrats nonetheless submitted their 102-page report, and a Republican rebuttal, to the House clerk on Monday afternoon. The report accused Miers of contempt for failing to appear and testify as subpoenaed. She and Bolten were charged with failing to produce documents on whether the prosecutors were fired at the White House's behest.
The essential absurdity of this investigation is found in a couple of short, quiet sentences buried in the middle of the article:
If the report is passed, the House would forward the citation to the U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia for prosecution....
It's not clear that contempt of Congress citations must be prosecuted.
That's quite an understatement. In fact, the courts have made it very clear that they will not force the Executive branch to prosecute itself on orders from the Legislative branch. Thus, the most at Chairman John Conyers (D-MI, 100%) can do is shake his fist and demand that President Bush prosecute his own aides for carrying out his own policies... which seems implausible on its face. So beyond congressional self-abuse, what is the point?
The plain and simple fact is that the "fired" U.S. attorneys -- who were not fired, by the way, but mostly just not reappointed to another term -- were sent packing for purely performance-based reasons: They had their own private, political agendas, which they insisted upon following rather than following the agenda of the President of the United States. As they serve at the pleasure of the president, and the president was not pleased, they were gently encouraged to find employment elsewhere.
When next a Democrat is elected president, he will have the same authority: He need not keep reappointing U.S. attorneys, or any other appointed officials, who march to the sound of a different drum. It's as simple as that.
I don't think even the Democrats believe that once the president names someone to a position, he is obliged to retain that person forever, no matter what he does. I think this is just another way for Democrats to investigate -- which requires no negotiation whatsoever -- rather than legislate, which requires actually listening to the opposition and making some effort to accomodate their views in order to gain their support... an odious, Herculean labor that the Democrats simply cannot bear to undertake. (Actually, it's the Democrats, not the Republicans, who remind me of the Stymphalian birds.)
And while we're on the subject, we also have this: Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Venus, 100%) has decided to use some obscure House rule to force the entire House of Representatives to formally cast a roll-call vote on impeaching Vice President Dick Cheney...
"The momentum is building for impeachment," Kucinich said in a Nov. 2 news release. "Millions of citizens across the nation are demanding Congress rein in the Vice President's abuse of power."
House Resolution 333 says Cheney should be impeached for "high crimes and misdemeanors," because he "purposely manipulated the intelligence process to deceive the citizens and Congress of the United States by fabricating a threat of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction to justify the use of the United States Armed Forces against the nation of Iraq in a manner damaging to our national security interests."
Kucinich insists that Vice President Cheney continues to violate the U.S. Constitution by insisting on the supremacy of the Executive Branch....
"Congress must hold the Vice President accountable," Kucinich said last week. He accused Cheney of using his office to advocate the "continued occupation of Iraq and prod our nation into a belligerent stance against Iran."
Which raises an interest question that itself demands an answer: Does Dennis Kucinich actually believe that opposing an Iraq pullout and advocating we be more "belligerent" towards Iran constitute "high crimes and misdemeanors?"
Meanwhile, Senate Democrats must now grapple with the confirmation vote for Attorney General designate Michael Mukasey; with several Democrats jumping ship and supporting Mukasey, including Dianne Feinstein (D-CA, 90%) and Charles Schumer (D-NY, 100%), while the bulk of the leadership still opposes him, the ironic possibility exists that the majority in the Senate, led by Majority Leader Harry "Pinky" Reid (D-Caesar's Palace, 90%), may try to mount a filibuster!
As we close in on the end of the first session of the 110th Congress, the stunning paucity of legislation makes this not just the majority that couldn't shoot straight -- it's the majority than cannot even shoot crooked. Rather, the Democratic congressional leadership, at least so far, resembles Ralphie Parker in a Christmas Story -- daydreaming about shooting Black Bart and his gang with Ralphie's Official Red Ryder Carbine Action Two Hundred Shot Range Model Air Rifle, felling the the GOP gang left and left with unbelievable but wholly imaginary accuracy.
The Democrats had better be careful: They'll shoot their eye out!
September 24, 2007
Cindy Sheehan's Day of Out-of-Tunement Manifesto
I rarely do this, as you know: I rarely link to some piece and say simply "read this." (I'm too in love with the sound of my own fingers typing on a keyboard.)
But here's an exception. Read Cindy Sheehan's Yom Kippur "sermon," delivered at Michael Lerner's Beyt Tikkun "synogogue;" you will be -- if not exactly glad, then at least agape. (Rabbi Lerner is Hillary Clinton's mentor, author of the Politics of Meaning and other works of Socialist agit-prop masquerading as theology.)
My response (I love this) is entirely contained in the list of categories I had to attach to this post.
(Well, one more thing. It has always been my understanding that Yom Kippur, the Jewish Day of Atonement, is a day for each person to atone for what he, personally, has done wrong -- not "atone" for his enemies failing to live up to his own lofty standards, apologize for all the times America hasn't followed his lead, or wallow in self-righteous indignation that nobody listens to him. 'Nuff said; read the list of categories above.)
March 14, 2006
A Circular Firing Squad
A few days ago, brimming with indignation about a clownish assault on the president by liberal to moderate Republicans determined to "distance" themselves from George Bush -- as if voters would admire their "courage" in speaking truth to power -- I made a gloomy prediction:
The GOP had a great chance this year. Normally, the second-term midterm election is very bad for the incumbent party... but this time, the Democrats have been unable to come together on any platform, plan, or campaign theme whatsoever. The Republicans were well poised to maintain their majorities in both the House and Senate.
Until now. It's not that Republicans will vote for Democrats; but with the Congressional GOP attacking and trying to bring down the Republican president, a huge chunk of the Republican electorate may simply decide to stay home -- "a plague on both your houses." Today, if I were betting, I would wager that the Democrats pick up at least ten seats in the House and four or five in the Senate; maybe more. And I'm no longer even sure the Republicans deserve the majority anyway. Thanks, Mr. Stupid.
Bah. I should know better than to rely upon the Democrats to grab the bull by the tail and look the facts in the face. Whenever I stray from my normally sunny optimism and sink into pessimistic near-despair, I turn out to be wrong: optimism is not just healthier, it's actually a better model of the universe!
In fact, it took the Democrats less than a week to find a way to kneecap themselves, returning us to the electoral status-quo ante... especially given the speed with which the Bush administration strong-armed the Prime Minister of Dubai to offer the Big Lizards modest proposal of inserting an American intermediary in between the United Arab Emirates and control of terminal operations at six American ports.
With the combination of Bush's alacrity in staunching the bloodflow and the Democrats renewed determination to lose at any cost, I think we're back on track for an election of zero movement: a couple of seats here or there, going perhaps either way -- and then everything resumes its preset orbit in Congress. Here are the signs of the Derangement Party's electoral death-wish:
- Joe Biden (D-DE) dives over the Murtha cliff;
- Russell Feingold (D-WI) lunges for the censure chimera;
- John Conyers (D-MI) fires blindly for the impeachment jackpot.
First, "Slow" Joe Biden (as Hugh Hewitt calls him) has begun loudly demanding that we pull out of Iraq if we haven't won in the next six months. Heck, even the soldiers in Zogby's poll gave us a year!
Six months is, as I recall, the same timeframe that Rep. John Murtha (D-PA) suggested for "redeploying" ourselves "over the horizon" from Iraq (I guess that would be to Iran, Saudi Arabia, Syria, or Turkey), hoping to turn victory into Vietnamesque defeat... so Biden is not exactly being Mr. In-Between here (nor is he "Ac-Cent-Tchu-Ate"-ing the positive).
The U.S. should pull troops from Iraq after this summer if the political conditions in the country do not improve, the top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee said Sunday.
By "after this summer," I conclude he means September: just six months. Biden added the following, evidently blissfully unaware that the Iraqis voted in a constitution back in October:
Sen. Joseph Biden of Delaware, who is aiming for the 2008 presidential race, said the Iraqis must have a constitution that unites fighting factions of the society or "it's game over."
I guess we now know what Joe doesn't know. Say, Joe, what do you know?
Feingold is a weirder case. Like most senators, he is a lawyer (Harvard Law, 1979); and even though he only practiced for three years before tumbling into his endless political career, he should certainly know better than to refer to the NSA al-Qaeda intercept program as "[Bush's] unlawful authorization of wiretaps of Americans within the United States." CNN can only gaze in silent envy at Feingold's economy of conspiracy-mongering.
The senator attempts to conjure the image of the Rev. Martin Luther King, jr. being wiretapped by the FBI for speaking truth to -- oh, wait, I already used that one. "I can call spirits from the vasty deep!" declares Russell Feingold.
Instead, the NSA program more resembles the "Magic" program, the codeword for the decryption of the Japanese military code before we entered World War II.
Feingold was roundly dissed by the rest of the Democratic caucus, who one and all became extraordinarily absorbed with other business when Sen. Feingold tried to drum up support for "censuring" Bush. The only previous president who was ever censured was Andrew Jackson in 1834, for yanking the federal lettuce out of the Whig bank, as I understand it.
And naturally, given his "druthers," Rep. Conyers has to go Feingold "one louder": Conyers is pushing for out and out impeachment of the president, though he hasn't quite figured out the grounds yet. From the AP story:
In the House, Rep. John Conyers of Michigan, the top Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee, is pushing legislation that would call on the Republican-controlled Congress to determine whether there are grounds for impeachment.
I can just hear Conyers now, gesturing at Robert Byrd's dogeared copy of the Constitution: "Help me out, guys... there's gotta be something in there about talkin' Texan being a high crime or misdemeanor!"
Oh yes, that's just what Americans want... another impeachment battle! During wartime! Even Markos Moulitsas Zúniga of the Daily Kos cringed when impeachment was raised at a recent blogger-con.
Just when you think the Democrats will finally pick up the ball and run with it, they pull off an incredible, fifty-yard reverse lateral instead. What a difference a week makes.
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