March 22, 2007

Under Oath, On The Record, & In Public

Believe it or not, for the first time in over six years, George Bush has said something that I agree with. But, I'm not gonna tell you what it is up front. That was just the tease. Read on, and you'll see what I mean.

Of course this all has to do with the confrontation-du-jour between the Executive and Legislative branches of our government - in particular, the scandal involving the dismissals of eight US attorneys. I'm not going to get into the specifics of this scandal, because I've already done that once, and certainly there have been many other bloggers and journalists who've articulated all the points ad nauseum.

My shtick at this juncture is to ask a tough question of the Bush Administration - Why are you insisting on shielding your senior officials from answering questions from Congress UNDER OATH, ON THE RECORD, AND IN PUBLIC? The only possible reason for this is that they have things to hide. Of course they have many things to hide, and that's not necessarily a bad thing. After all, we don't want our enemies finding out things they shouldn't. The Bush Administration has been THE MOST SECRETIVE of any presidential administration ever. The real question we need to answer is - are they hiding some wrongdoing? Or.. Have the Bushies been naughty?

Under Oath

Ab-so-frickin'-lutely! The Bush Administration officials, as well as any and everyone who comes before Congress or any hearing or any courtroom should be giving their testimony under oath! There should be NO room for ambiguity as to whether or not their testimony is honest, and there should be serious consequences for knowingly making false statements (perjury). I'm sick & tired of the White House's consistent & persistent pattern of lying!

We've gone through this before with Dubya and the 9/11 commission. There's no reason whatsoever that ANYONE should be exempt from being honest when testifying.

On The Record

You mean we shouldn't write down what you say? Why bother saying it if you're not going to own up to saying it? Once again - ridicules. This has to do with oversight and checks-&-balances in our government. EVERYONE should be accountable for what they say and do, and there should be NO ambiguity as to what was said simply because it was "off the record".

In Public

Here's where I agree with George. I don't believe these hearings should be in public. In fact, I think they should be closed-door hearings so that NO ONE outside of the Congressional committee (and necessary staffers) and the questionee are in attendance.

In this way, each administration official testifying will not have visibility as to what the others testified. Sure, they can try to coordinate their stories, but if they don't know what each of them said, there's a better chance of catching one or more of them in a lie when their stories don't synch. They'll be even more compelled to tell the truth, and there'll be no objections about national security if it's not broadcasted to the public.

At the pleasure of the President

Jon Stewart had a great sketch on how the right-wing talking points espouse presidential prerogative. The Daily Show put together a montage of clips of each neo-con saying essentially the same thing - "... [so-and-so] serves at the pleasure of the President...".

To that I say "THE PRESIDENT SERVES AT THE PLEASURE OF THE AMERICAN PEOPLE!". Somehow Emperor George seems to have forgotten that. We are his boss, yet he continues to thumb his nose at us. Usually that kind of insubordination will get one fired. We should be so lucky.

March 16, 2007

Scooter & Gonzo - Fall Guys For A Corrupt Presidency

In all the years I've been following politics it seems the White House has been enveloped in scandal. It doesn't really matter who's living there at the time - there's scandal. And, it appears that there's so much more scandal in each president's second term. That is, if he was lucky enough to be awarded (able to steal) a second term.

In Nixon's second term we were subjected to Watergate. In Reagan's second term we were subjected to Iran-Contra. In the late 1990's we were subjected to a steady diet of Monica & Whitewater. (Yes, the Republican-controlled Congress made it their mission to attack Clinton in every way possible, until they finally nailed him for lying about a blow-job.)

The Bush Administration's second term is no exception when it comes to scandals. In fact, the Bush Administration is nothing but scandal, because they're completely and utterly corrupt. These latest two scandals, the CIA Leak and the US attorney dismissals, are a clear indication of how the neo-cons at the top manipulated and cajoled to hold on to power and attack their enemies. Their political enemies, that is. I'm not talking about terrorists... I'm talking about Democrats.

The US Attorney Dismissals

As I write this Alberto Gonzales is still the Attorney General of the United States. However, the US attorney firings scandal is unfolding and it's likely that he will not survive the Bush tenure. Even Republicans are starting to call for his resignation.

The right-wingers are espousing the argument that previous administrations (Clinton) fired all of the US attorneys when THEY were elected. Sure, the US attorneys, along with everyone else in the administration, serve "... at the pleasure of the president". It is true that Clinton, and every other president, made sweeping changes in the Justice Department when they took office. That's their prerogative because, as they say, "to the victor go the spoils". The difference is that Clinton replaced the US attorneys through the appropriate mechanisms. Each nominated attorney went through a vetting and approval process to satisfy Congressional oversight. Each nominated attorney was qualified. And none of the attorneys in Clinton's tenure were fired for not being political attack dogs on Republican operatives. Bush/Rove/Gonzales, on the other hand, are now firing US attorneys that THEY hired in the first place, specifically because they didn't kowtow to Republican demands to attack Democrats. And they're appointing new attorneys without going through the formal approval process, by exploiting a loophole in the USA Patriot Act. Yes, the Bushies are real big on recess appointments - they hate to be subjected to Congressional scrutiny.

So the core issue of the US attorney dismissals scandal is that these attorneys were being pressured by Alberto Gonzales (i.e. the Bush Administration) to go after Democratic candidates in the run up to the 2004 & 2006 elections. There are a lot more sub-plots here, such as Carol Lam's prosecution of Duke Cunningham which earned her a pink slip, but by-and-large what we're seeing is a concentrated effort by the Bush Administration to attack their political enemies to stay in power. While George, Dick, & Karl were the masterminds, Gonzo will take the heat and be the fall guy.

The firings of the 8 attorneys who didn't capitulate to Republican demands is just the tip of the iceberg. I wish some investigative reporter would do some real research about all the rest of them who did.

The CIA Leak Scandal

We don't have to look back too far to see another instance where the White House was enveloped in scandal - attacking their political enemies. But the boys at the top got off Scot-free while one of their underlings took the heat.

Yes, the CIA Leak scandal showed us how far the Bush Administration will go. Scooter's trial brought out mounds of evidence depicting Rove & Cheney as The Riddler & The Penguin plotting to take down Batman.. er.. Joseph Wilson, who clearly stood for truth and justice. But in the end, while George, Dick, & Karl were the evil masterminds, Scooter took the heat and ended up the fall guy. This time the price paid was our national security, since Valerie Plame was an undercover agent working on non-proliferation of WMD's in the Middle East. The White House sacrificed her, her front company (Brewster Jennings), and all the intelligence assets who were ever associated with them, in an effort to discredit someone who exposed their lies which led us to war.

The Three Stooges (George, Dick & Karl) continue to lie, cheat, & steal their way into the history books, while their underlings pay the price. Then again, even these underlings aren't paying the ultimate price... They're not in Iraq sacrificing their lives for their boss’ profits.