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July 31, 2007

Congressional privilege

Impeachment is about removing people who undermine the legitimacy of government, it is the true “congressional privilege” to counteract executive overreach.

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“Bush” on Pardoning Libby

It's been a while since I posted a humorous take on the political situation.  This parody of Bush's “I'm above the law” attitude was released to commemorate the launch of the progressive  blog  OpenLeft  (note: R-rated language).

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July 30, 2007

Clip: Congress, Bush and The Real Constitutional Crisis

Re: Congress, Bush and The Real Constitutional Crisis :

The Bush gambit is to permanently derail progressive policy goals by building an impenetrable wall between the people and their government and by asserting ultimate and absolute presidential authority. These ambitions are made obvious by the Administration's actions: Bush's unprecedented veto threats; the obvious “we-don't-really-care-what-you-think” attitude of Gonzales during his committee testimony; the Administration's questioning Senator Hillary Clinton's patriotism when she asked for details of Bush's Iraq plans; the refusal to disclose details of the Administration's emergency government plan.

Even a temporary eviction from the White House beginning in 2009 would not deter the neoconservatives and their anti-democratic allies. A Democratic president will have her/his hands full cleaning up the Bush garbage. While a Democratic president would probably resist further steps along the above-the-law path, it's unlikely a president will willingly give up any power that has accrued to the presidency during the Bush reign. So, the right wing reasons, we'll just pick up in 2012 where we left off in 2008.
In the end, the battle for the future of America may make necessary the impeachment of a president who is very publicly moving to destroy our constitutional form of government. It may not seem the politically prudent thing to do. But this is a president who lied us into a war, who uses his pen to make laws (constitutionally reserved for Congress) through signing statements, who commutes the sentence of a convicted criminal to protect himself from scrutiny, who believes he has the right to declare anyone he wants an enemy combatant and then “disappear” that person the way we taught our tyrannical and thuggish client-state dictators to do during the Cold War. If these are not sufficient to justify a legal and constitutional challenge to the legitimacy of the Bush presidency, exactly what would a president have to do before we would impeach him?
Congress can interrupt the narrative of its own ineptitude and restore the dignity and power of a people who are willing to govern themselves. But to do so, we must be awake to the real constitutional crisis that is at hand.

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Re: Dangerous Privilege

Re: Dangerous Privilege:

This obfuscation [extraordinary claims of executive privilege], though, is not merely an extension of the Administration's pet theory of monarchical executive power; it is also a calculated strategy to avoid accountability. The Administration knows that federal courts have long been reluctant to force secrets from the executive, and is thus willing to fight the House Judiciary Committee's contempt citations against Joshua Bolten and Harriet Miers.  By playing hardball until the clock runs out on the Bush II era, the White House hopes to eliminate accountability for warrantless wiretapping, partisan manipulation of the Justice Department--and even torture. Worse, it sends the message to future Presidents that they can do the same.

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Re: Andy Stern’s Angle on Universal Coverage

Re: Cato-at-liberty » Andy Stern’s Angle on Universal Coverage:

Employers don’t need the government to save them from the rising cost of health benefits. Just as Dorothy always had the power to return to Kansas by clicking her heels, employers have always had the power to pare back their health benefits…

All else being equal, firms that contain their labor costs this way will beat the firms that don’t. Those companies that support ‘universal coverage’ want to increase the labor costs of their competition, whether through higher taxes or health premiums. Universal coverage won’t make America more competitive — it will cripple America’s most competitive firms to protect its least competitive firms.

And, of course, that’s the entire point…. Companies that support ‘universal coverage’ never bother to mention that covering all the uninsured would cause health spending to explode, because they don’t really care about overall health spending. All they care about is that their competitors spend as much as they do.

First of all, there they [Cato, libertarian economists] go again, building their case on a hypothetical that doesn't conform to reality and thinking they've “won” some argument, when all they've proved is that they live in an alternate reality.

Second, we disagree on the outcome an assumptions.  Their view is that healthcare isn't important and it doesn't matter if people don't have it; their only concern is for employers competitiveness.  Lack of a moral compass is no big deal to those worshiping at the alter of the “free” market.

Third, “all else being equal” ignores:

  • lost time and productivity of workers that aren't covered
  • competition with foreign companies whose employees are covered by universal care

Fourth, the author proved his own theory wrong anyway: the companies which today don't provide healthcare are generally those that are least competitive today; the strongest do provide it.  So, his claim is that those that lower their healthcare costs will be more competitive has already been tested in the market ... and isn't the case.

And finally, the author doesn't understand the healthcare market economics since he trots out the old “covering all the uninsured would cause health spending to explode.”  Again, “all else being equal”, which it wouldn't: emergency care would decline significantly, which is vastly more expensive than today's situation -- in fact, it is so expensive, and the costs borne to such a large extent by hospitals that hospitals are starting to look for ways to provide regular care to uninsured to cut their emergency room costs.  The risk pool would be widely shared instead of focused on a limited number of people paying premiums with a hidden tax to cover the uninsured as today.

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Clip: Bill Moyers: On Impeachment

Clip: Bill Moyers: On Impeachment:

Bruce Fein: In the past, presidents like Abe Lincoln, who confronted a far dire emergency in the Civil War than today, sought congressional ratification approval of his emergency measures. He didn't seek to hide them from the people and from Congress and to prevent there to be accountability. And, of course, Congress did ratify what he had done. Secondly, sure, times can be terrifying. But that also should alert us to the fact that we can make mistakes. The executive can make mistakes.

Take World War II. We locked up 120,000 Japanese Americans, said they were all disloyal. Well, we got 120,000 mistakes. They lost their property. They lost their liberty for years and years because we made a huge mistake. And that can be true after 9/11 as well. No one wants other downgrade the fact that we have abominations out there and people want to kill us. But we should not inflate the danger and we should not cast aside what we are as a people. We can fight and defeat these individuals, these criminals, based upon our system of law and justice. It's not a - we have a fighting constitution. It's always worked in the past. But it still remains the constitution of checks of balances.

Bruce Fein: “former Justice Department official during the Reagan administration who drafted articles of impeachment against Bill Clinton”.

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Clip: Why Can't They Impeach The Entire Republican Party?

A bit tongue in cheek, but still the motivating point is true.

Clip: RJ Eskow: Why Can't They Impeach The Entire Republican Party? - Politics on  The Huffington Post:

The shameful fact that no Republicans joined today's call to investigate Gonzales raises a question: “Why can't they impeach the entire Republican Party?” After all, the utter lawlessness of the last six years could not have occurred without the active complicity of the full GOP leadership. They have chosen to react in a partisan way to both unconstitutional usurpations of power and simple acts of criminality, and have benefited as the perpetrators seized and held office through unscrupulous means.

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Re: Impeachment Coalition Taking Shape

I think this is a critical observation, about which I'll have more to say soon ....

Re: Impeachment Coalition Taking Shape :

It's important to frame this by understanding that impeachment is always a political issue, and never a legal one.  As such, the important question is not whether the President committed crimes, but whether there is a coalition behind restoring legitimacy to the political system.  This coalition needs to have at its core a set of elite decision-makers who have decided that impeachment is the only option that will allow them to preserve something they value.  In this case, Bush is threatening the very legitimacy of Congress, and House members and Senators worked hard to get where they are.

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M37's sprawl potential

Here's a dramatic pair of maps from Sightline, showing growth for the decade of 1990-2000, with limited sprawl in Oregon, but much in neighboring Washington, and what Measure 37, left as it is, opens up -- undoing 30 years of preserving farm and forestland:

846D3B7D718340Ed05F1195Ab294D61F  6Aa579822A5781B007E883930C72E8Bf

To keep this from happening, support Measure 49 to protect farms, forestland and groundwater, fix Measure 37 flaws that prevent transferring Measure 37 waivers, etc. and restore balance between respect for property owners and for strong land-use protections.

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July 25, 2007

Comment re: Nurturance is Responsible, Strong and Necessary

[Comment posted re: Nurturance is Responsible, Strong and Necessary 7/25/2007]

I think the actual situation is more complicated and different than you lay out.  While I agree with your position about “nurturant” behavior, I don't think that Digby's criticism is unfounded.  Personally I think the word is “hapless” more than “feckless” -- ineffective as opposed to unfortunate.

On the positive side, Democrats in Congress are doing the oversight, calling the hearings, lining up the ducks in a transparent, open fashion.  They are being responsible to the people, strong in the face of withering criticism and insults, protective of their oath and constitution, and doing necessary work to restore balance and faith in the Congress and government.

But they also goof up abysmally.  In a Senate that has had more work blocked by the minority using the filibuster than any other in history, simply to make it look like the Democrats “can’t get anything done”, Majority Leader Harry Reid let the framing be: we’re pulling an all-nighter!  look at us getting out the cots!  And the reporting was that he couldn’t get the votes, not that the Republicans blocked the vote.  That wasn't unfortunate, it wasn't nurturant or not nurturant, it was inept.

The Democrats show both a lack of real strategy as well as an inability to frame (whether shallow or deep) what they are doing.

On the contempt proceedings, the administration is running out the clock on the final 18 months.  But since the administration has already said they won’t enforce criminal contempt or subpoenas against themselves, the Congress needs to show more backbone.  For example, sure proceed with the hearings and citations of contempt, etc. as part of doing this openly, freely, etc.  Set up a test case if they want to force the administration to refuse to do its job and take it to court (years pass ...).  But simultaneously, they need also to cite people for inherent contempt and back it up by allocating more money to the Sergeant At Arms to enforce the rulings, by creating a jail that can hold a dozen people without being dependent on the administration, by not allocating funding for the vice president, except that necessary to allow him to take over if the president is incapacitated and to serve as President of the Senate -- the vice president has no other constitutional duties, do the same for other administration expenses.

But no, they plod along as if on grass tennis courts while the administration is playing on asphalt with souped up balls and specially strung rackets.

I think that is what Digby was getting at, not that they need to try and be as bad as the conservatives.

That doesn’t mean that Democrats have to abandon nurturant strengths, but they must play the full hand because the other guys aren’t playing by the rules.

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