New CBS News chief backed Bush
From Petrelis Files: New CBS News president Sean McManus gave $250 last year to the Bush-Cheney campaign. McManus was president of CBS Sports at the time. (He also gave $1,000 to Sen. Pat Leahy, D-Vt., in 2003.) The AP reported that CBS confirmed the donations but would not comment on them.
Harriet, we hardly knew ye ...
The White House waits until TPP is headed to the post office to knuckle under on the prevailing wage and announce Harriet Miers' withdrawal from her Supreme Court nomination. That's it! We're taking the gloves off!
What Max said ...
Nathan too ...
Did Harry Reid set Bush up?
Who's the next choice for the Supreme Court?
White House Under Siege
Paul Begala tells what it's like to wait in the White House for a prosecutor to indict.
GOP flip flop on perjury
Yesterday, offering a hint of the attack White House allies will launch on special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald if and when he announces any indictments, Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison dismissed the possible felony indictment of perjury as a mere “technicality.”
Of course, on Feb. 2, 1999, as the Senate opened its trial on the impeachment of President Clinton, Hutchison fuliminated that it was vitally important to prosecute on perjury charges because telling the truth is the lynch pin of our criminal justice system. See ThinkProgress.org for the record.
UPDATE: The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee has thoughtfully assembled some of the comments by Republican senators on the "legal technicalities" that formed the basis of impeachment charges against President Bill Clinton in 1998-99.
Progressive or liberal?
David Sirota answers the age-old question, "What's the difference between progressive and liberal?"
Hundreds of thousands of people in Tennessee are losing their health care coverage as state officials have cut TennCare, a state and federally funded program for the uninsured and uninsurable -- people with no where else to turn. Over the past five months, photojournalist Joon Powell of Nashville has been making portraits of some of the people affected by the service cuts. See the faces of the TennCare cuts.
Your tax dollars at work
Congressional leaders apparently aren't interested in looking into it, much less the White House or the Pentagon, but Human Rights Watch documents "Firsthand Accounts of Torture of Iraqi Detainees by the U.S. Army’s 82 nd Airborne Division," including statements of two sergeants and an officer of the 82nd Airborne who witnessed abuse, speaking on condition of anonymity. They described in multiple interviews with Human Rights Watch how their battalion in 2003-2004 routinely used physical and mental torture as a means of intelligence gathering and for stress relief. According to their accounts, the torture and other mistreatment of Iraqis in detention was systematic and was known at varying levels of command. One soldier raised his concerns within the army chain of command for 17 months before the Army agreed to undertake an investigation, but only after he had contacted members of Congress and considered going public with the story.
It demands a detailed accounting from this government but of course it won't get one, partly because not even American moderates take seriously anything a group like Human Rights Watch says concerning US human rights abuses. These are our tax dollars at work, present tense intended. The recent resolution from Congress condemning torture surely will be ignored.
And that, my friends, is the direct result of the wildly successful efforts of the Bush right to marginalize all organizations and individuals that fail to hew to a right to far right attitude regarding American foreign policy.
Human Rights Watch is neither left or right (this would go without saying if our political discourse wasn't so grossly distorted, but it bears repeating in the present climate). It simply details human rights abuses everywhere regardless of the polarity of the government. It is incredible, truly incredible, that even today Americans, even Americans unalterably opposed to torture, believe that reports like HRW's need to be "balanced" with the official propaganda line of the Bush government in order to arrive at the real truth about Iraqi torture, which "surely lies somewhere in between." It doesn't. Plain and simple, HRW's account is horribly accurate and Bush's assurances are lies that should receive only minimal coverage by responsible reporters.
War crimes are shameful, but so is the enabling of war crimes. Torture and other abuse of prisoners is wrong by any recognizable standard of law and morality and it undermines the "war on terror" that ostensibly is the excuse for abuse of US prisoners in the "war on terror."
We in the US are the only ones who can fool ourselves into believing that if the US press and politicians ignore these accounts they will go away. The foreign press has been filled with accounts of US prisoner torture for years, as a Google on the subject easily turns up.
On a related subject:
Rice: Bush chose Iraq over Al Qaeda
ThinkProgress.org notes that Sunday morning on NBC’s Meet the Press, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice explains why we invaded Iraq:
The fact of the matter is that when we were attacked on September 11, we had a choice to make. We could decide that the proximate cause was al Qaeda and the people who flew those planes into buildings and, therefore, we would go after al Qaeda…or we could take a bolder approach.
This may be news to the Secretary of State but the proximate cause of 9-11 was al-Qaeda. Nevertheless, the administration decided to invade Iraq instead of focusing our efforts on destroying al-Qaeda and capturing Bin Laden.
Today, bin Laden remains at large, international terrorism is on the rise and the invasion has become “a potent recruiting tool for al Qaeda and other terrorist groups.”
To all but the Bush administration and die-hard Republicans, the invasion of Iraq has been a dismal failure. Among other things: It legitimized al Qaeda in the eyes of fundamentalist Muslims, many of whom previously had recoiled at the 9/11 attacks. The new Iraqi constitution, if it is approved, likely will result in the rise in predominantly Shi'ite Southern Iraq of a fundamentalist Islamic republic on the model of Iran. A civil war likely will ensue in Iraq and the fundamentalist jihad may spread to neighboring Saudi Arabia and Turkey. Al Qaeda is on the rise again in Afghanistan and only a military dictatorship stands between Pakistan and a nuclear-armed al-Qaeda-friendly regime.
Closer to home, the occupation of Iraq by US forces has strained the US military, drained the US budget, and the use of national guards and reserves has left states unable to react and restore order in their own natural disasters, such as the recent hurricanes in Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas. Nearly 2,000 US troops have died in Iraq and uncounted thousands have been wounded by Iraqi insurgents, who have proved a successful model for resistance of future occupations. Nice work, Dubya!
Follow Our National Dream
Granny D, who walked 3,200 miles across the nation in 1999-2000 to bring attention to the need for campaign finance reform, is still kicking at 95. See her recent spech at the Orchard House in Concord, Mass.
We meet in a time when two great and growing divisions are separating us as Americans: rich versus poor, and left versus right. I would like to speak to the second of these, as its resolution would help solve the other.
The political issues that divide the American people are great issues, with severe consequences for the moral life of the nation and the fate of the planet. These are issues equal to the issues that divided us in 1860, and we should fear the historical similarities.
In some ways the conflict of the Civil War was not resolved, but rather accommodated, in the same way that smoldering coals under ashes are but a fire asked to bide its time. Do not the sparks now swirl up fresh? Is the heat and danger we feel not the old conflict between those who believe that authority comes from above: from an Old Testament God, delivered through husbands, presidents, preachers, ayatollahs and plantation overseers to people arranged in layers according to their worth--is it not a conflict between those authoritarians and those others who instead believe that all men are created equal, and that the authority to govern issues forth from them, upward to their government--their common vessel of community--and not downward? Is this not the divide of 1860 and also of our own time?
See the rest.
Desperate Times at Delphi
Todd M. Jordan writes at Future of the Union:
Death threats, bomb threats, militancy. Today Delphi Kokomo was under martial law.
On October 6, 2005, anyone entering the factory was subject to anywhere from up to 5-6 security searches and seizures during their 8-hour shift. Like martial law, anyone who entered or exited the factory was searched and identification was checked carefully. By the end of the day Delphi Kokomo had brought down every security guard they could muster up to screen the normal one guard gates. Talks of turn-stile gating, more barbwire fences, metal detectors, and security wands filled the mouths of management as they watched us go through humiliation and intimidation by the once-friendly guards. The guards who used to wave us on with a smile everyday now became instruments of oppression. It was a new atmosphere of fear and tension today. ...
See the rest at Future of the Union, a United Auto Workers rank-and-file publication.
Caring for Creation
Bill Moyers, in a speech to the Society of Environmental Journalists, says that we must speak to the millions of evangelicals who share a deep concern about the sustainability of creation.
More O'Reilly Bloviation
It's a full-time job following up on Bill O'Reilly's lies and misstatements, and MediaMatters does yeoman work in that mission, but a correspondent of Eric Alterman also makes a good catch on O'Reilly's recent effort to compare the Irish emigration of the mid-1800s to the plight of black slaves.
Said "Professor" O'Reilly:
"My people came from County Cavan in Ireland. All right? And the British Crown marched in there with their henchman, Oliver Cromwell, and they seized all of my ancestors' lands, everything. And they threw them into slavery, pretty much indentured servitude on the land. And then the land collapsed, all right? And everybody was starving in Ireland.
They had to leave the country, just as Africans had to leave -- African-Americans had to leave Africa and come over on a boat and try to make in the New World with nothing. Nothing. And succeeded, succeeded. As did Italians, as did -- and I'll submit to you, African-Americans are succeeding as well. So all of these things can be overcome I think, [caller]. Go ahead."
Alterman: "Where to start? Oh, yes -- Cromwell as the British Crown's 'henchman.' Cromwell? The guy who beheaded Charles I. Is he this stupid or does it just not matter any more."
See more on Cromwell at BBC and Wikipedia.
Atrios goes into the vault for the commentary surrounding Sandra Day O'Connor's nomination to the Supreme Court back in July 1981. It's deja vu all over again, with the right wingers unsettled over Reagan's choice of O'Connor and the White House offering assurances that she thinks the right way.
Don't count on Harriet Miers being a stealth moderate, in the O'Connor vein, much less a liberal, but she probably is the best we can hope for out of the Bush White House. Democrats need to probe her on constitutional questions and demand pertinent White House documents, and she might yet turn out to be Scalia in a skirt, but the stress her appointment is putting on the radical right wingers so far is a good sign.
O'Reilly slanders WWII vets
How low will Bill O'Reilly go to pursue a political point? Crooks and Liars notes that in a debate last night with retired Gen. Wesley Clark and Fox News' Bill O'Reilly over Clark's position that claims of prisoner abuse needed to be investigated, the following exchange occurred:
Clark: And let me explain something. You go all the way up the chain of command --
O'Reilly: General! You need to look at the Malmedy massacre in World War Two, and the 82nd Airborne who did it! ...
It's hard to figure out what O'Reilly is getting at, since the Malmedy massacre refers to 83 US soldiers who had been taken as prisoners of war during the Battle of the Bulge and were massacred by Nazi Waffen SS soldiers. It was a notorious incident and was depicted in the movie, "Battle of the Bulge."
But Steve Gilliard notes that O'Reilly is taking up a theme championed by then-Sen. Joe McCarthy in an infamous 1949 campaign to free Nazi SS officers who were convicted of war crimes for the Malmedy massacre.
McCarthy, who apparently was trying to please a wealthy right-wing German-American businessman in Wisconsin, insisted that the entire case was a frame-up, with confessions obtained by horrific torture.
He intervened in Senate hearings on the case and lied repeatedly during his defense of the Nazi murderers. His most spectacular claim was that the American investigators had crushed the testicles of German prisoners as an interrogation technique. McCarthy was later shown to have served as the pawn of neo-Nazi and communist provocateurs who were using the Malmedy case to whip up anti-American sentiment in postwar Germany. The main source for his false charges concerning Malmedy was a Germany lawyer named Rudolf Aschenauer, whose closest ties were to the postwar Nazi underground and to American right-wing isolationists, but who has also been identified as a communist agent. Aschenauer testified at US Senate hearings in Germany that he had passed information about Malmedy to McCarthy. The SS officers were guilty, as the Senate report confirmed -- although most of them later got their death sentences commuted in a gesture to former Nazi officials who aided the West in the Cold War. But McCarthy had succeeded in his larger purpose, winning publicity for himself and casting a negative light on the war-crimes trials.
Thus in O'Reilly's mind it was soldiers from the US 82nd Airborne, and not the Waffen SS, who committed atrocities at Malmedy. We all know that O'Reilly plays fast and loose with facs, but in embracing the stories of long-discredited Nazi apologists, at long last he has lost his mind.
See the video clip at Crooks and Liars.
Roberts, Miers and the Good Old Boys
Most of the commentary on the appointment of John Roberts and now Harriet Miers revolves around their supposed positions on abortion and other social issues that form a small, if important, part of the Supreme Court's docket. But as Nathan Newman notes, "More typical is the first case John Roberts presided over yesterday as Chieft Justice.
The combined cases, IBP, Inc. v. Alvarez and Tum v. Barber Foods, involve the question of whether workers in food processing plants have the right under the federal minimum wage law to pay for the time they have to spend getting dressed in protective clothing before starting regular work on the production line. At the companies in the lawsuit, workers had not been paid for the time "donning and doffing" the specialized gear and are bringing a class action lawsuit for lost pay.
There's no big constitutional issue involved, but for the plaintiff workers, the question would add up to millions of dollars -- and potentially billions of dollars for workers across the country.
What's involved is interpreting slightly ambiguous language in the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 and a conservative amendment in the so-called Portal-to-Portal Act of 1947. See Scotusblog for the nitty gritty legal details. Most statutes have ambiguous language, so judges' biases and views play a big role in how they get implemented in practice.
What Roberts and Miers share is a history as corporate lawyers where they spent much of their professional lives arguing that those statutory ambiguities should be resolved in favor of their corporate clients. That likely business bias is far more relevant to 95% of their work as Supreme Court Justices than whatever views they have on broader constitutional or social issues.
And those evaluating Court nominations should worry about those biases far more than is evident in most of the public debate.
See links to relevant sources.
If a DA can get a ham sandwich indicted, as the cliché goes, Tom DeLay has provided plenty of ham for the buffet offered by Travis County District Attorney Ronald Earle in Austin, Texas. But DeLay's crack defense team might wish they had waited until next week to present their motion to dismiss the conspiracy indictment against DeLay, which a Travis County grand jury voted last week.
DeLay's attorneys on Monday claimed that the original indictment was brought under a conspiracy statute that did not take effect until 2003, after the alleged conspiracy took place. However, George Dix, a professor at the University of Texas law school who is an expert in criminal law and procedure, told the Associated Press he doesn't believe changes made to the Texas election code by the 2003 Legislature have any effect on the conspiracy charge.
The penal code's conspiracy charge allows for the charge if the defendants allegedly conspired to commit any felony, including an election code felony, Dix said.
In any case, perhaps in an effort to avoid seeing the case against DeLay dismissed on a technicality, Earle moved to get a new grand jury to indict DeLay on a money laundering charge, which carries a maximum life sentence, in addition to a conspiracy to launder money charge, which carries a potential 20-year term. Uncertain is whether the original charge of conspiracy to violate the election law, which carries a two-year maximum prison term, is still standing. The statute of limitations on the money laundering charge would have expired today. DeLay had previously waived the statute of limitations on the investigation, but his attorneys had moved to rescind that waiver on Monday, the Austin American Statesman reported, according to TalkingPointsMemo.com. That gave the DA only a few hours to add the backup indictment.
The Washington Post reported that the new indictments stand in the way of any quick reinstatement based on any legal flaws in last week's indictment.
The backdrop for yesterday's action may have been a dispute over the continued viability of a waiver of the three-year statute of limitations that DeLay granted in writing on Sept. 12, in order to keep trying to persuade Earle not to issue any indictments. After last week's conspiracy charge, DeGuerin said the waiver was withdrawn.
Yesterday's indictments maintained the waiver was still in effect. But DeGuerin said in an interview that Earle may have brought the new charges so speedily because he was uncertain of his ground on that issue. A key transaction in the alleged conspiracy -- the payment of $190,000 by the RNC to the Texas Republican candidates -- occurred on Oct. 4, 2002, or three years ago today.
That means that if the waiver is no longer in effect, the new charges had to be brought quickly. "I think they were losing sleep about this over the weekend," DeGuerin said.
DeGuerin reiterated yesterday that DeLay was unaware of the transactions involving $190,000 before they occurred and learned about them only weeks afterward. But Craig McDonald, director of Texans for Public Justice, said that "for a new grand jury to indict DeLay on a day's notice suggests the evidence of his participation is convincing."
DeLay remains at large.
UPDATE: A poster at DailyKos notes some suspicion that Earle pursued the new charges when DeLay's lawyer tried to renege on a deal.
You see, as at least two people (including DKos' own Walt Starr) have speculated, Deguerin may have had DeLay sign the waiver as part of a deal. He waives the statute of limitations. And then he only gets charged with conspiracy, not the more serious crime of money laundering. As Norm Pattis explains:
So why am I so sure he'll plead [guilty to conspiracy]? A line in the indictment notes that his lawyer waived the statute of limitations on the conspiracy charge during grand jury proceedings. Why would a competent lawyer waive a complete defense? Because worse was on the way if he did not.
Initiates know the practice as charge-bargaining. You see a funnel cloud barreling at you and you ask your local prosecutor, quietly, "on what charges are you willing to take my client if he pleads?" I suspect DeLay will enter a plea late in the year.
So Deguerin, thinking he's the smartest thing in Texas, waits for the first grand jury to run out, believing his guy is in the clear, then he starts attacking the lesser charge he bargained for.
Sometimes fancy lawyers can get just too fancy.