Friday, March 30, 2007

"Take My Water And My Glass...They've got Me Totally Paranoid"
Lurita Doan feels the heat.

Well, the story still isn't on the front page, or even in it's own article, but at least the Washington Post gives this terrific nugget inside a different column:

The House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform grilled General Services Administration chief Lurita Doan on Wednesday over allegations that she tried to give a no-bid job to a business associate, intervened in a contract
dispute with a technology company, and had a White House official brief top political appointees at the agency on targeting Democrats and helping Republicans in 2008. All that in just 10 months running the agency.

...Doan, apparently not realizing her microphone was still on, turned to an aide and said: "Take my water, and my glass. I don't want them to track my fingerprints. They've got me totally paranoid."

Someone should explain to the administrator that, when you've done something illegal, it is not called paranoia...it is called guilt.

Hear the audio for yourself here. (You'll have to sit through a preroll ad, but it's worth it.)

Republican Corruption at the GSA
But Where Is The Story?

Yesterday, Laurita Doan was grilled by members of the House Oversight Committee, Democrats wondered how it was that Doan, could not remember the meeting in which she may have violated the law by offering to use her Government Agency to help Republican Candidates.

NPR has the Story.

In her testimony, Doan preferred to emphasize her entrepreneurial efforts. But Democrats were interested in other things: a contract that she tried to award to an old friend; negotiations with Sun Microsystems, in which she became involved; and, more especially, the briefing. In January, Scott Jennings — the top aide to White House political adviser Karl Rove — talked to GSA political appointees about the 2006 election results and the Republican goals for 2008.

However, NPR does NOT have the story on it's front page. You have to search for it.

Meanwhile- here were the story's that the AP felt were important enough to serve me at breakfast:

AP: Top Stories

Iran broadcasts British sailor's apology - 10 minutes ago
Coaltion forces detain Iraq bomb suspect - one hour ago
Report: Helicopter shot down in Somalia - 2 hours ago
Dems edge closer to showdown over Iraq - 2 hours ago
Giuliani faces questions about Sept. 11 - 42 minutes ago
Milk prices expected to rise 9 percent - one hour ago
ICANN rejects creation of '.xxx' domain - one hour ago
Prosecutors: Revoke Hilton's probation - one hour ago

Neither the Attourny General who-ha, OR the GSA story makes the list-- but porn AND Paris Hilton do...

And so I ask again...WHAT LIBERAL MEDIA?

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Well! We Knew It was Going to Be Fun But...
Hearing on Allegations of GSA Misconduct

Hearing on Allegations of GSA Misconduct: Braley Questions

A couple of days ago, Rip and Read knew this was going to be a fun story!

But WOW! I Love this question:

"Can you tell us what, if anything, these slides have to with the GSA's core purpose of procuring supplies and managing federal buildings?"

And can she answer? Hell no!

Poor Lurita Doan -- she's like a fish on a hook. It's really difficult to feel too sorry though!

Check out You Tube for More: http://www.youtube.com/results?search=related&search_query=Democrats%20Congress%20Waxman%20Oversight%20GSA%20Doan%20Braley&v=VePqzIrR-ao

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Demonstrating Against Vermont's Congressional Delegation:
Noise for the Sake of Making Noise?

Last week, a group of protesters staged a sit-in of Peter Welch’s office to protest his lack of willingness to end the Iraq war right this minute.

Yesterday a group of protesters did the same at Bernie Sanders’ office.

The demonstrators, irate that Sanders wasn't present and didn't join the telephone call, said they didn't understand why a war opponent would vote for funding. "The funding has got to stop," said Bunny Daubner, 75, of Bristol. "How can you say you're against a war and still give money to it?"

I understand the frustration; I share it, but good grief, what a USELESS way to focus one’s energy.

“I believe it would be counterproductive to take the position that some are advocating, namely to vote against anything that doesn't include an immediate or nearly immediate withdrawal from Iraq," Sanders said. "That would mean voting with the Bush administration and congressional Republicans and handing a victory to those who want to continue and perhaps expand the war into neighboring countries."-Burlington Free Press

Despite the ages of the protesters, it strikes me as immature grandstanding; I can’t help but think that they are secretly more than a little gratified to have gotten their names in the paper.

In fact, it’s worse than useless…

For one thing, in case these protesters have forgotten: many of us still have friends and relatives in Iraq. George W. Bush has made it quite clear that he is going to keep them there, and he has made it quite clear that he’s not all that concerned that they have the protection they need (body armor, for example) to be as safe as possible.

Would these protesters be willing to sacrifice the life of a young American Solider just to score a political point against Bush?

Also, by focusing their anger on strong potential allies like Peter Welch and Bernie Sanders, the protesters actually help to turn in the energy of the center-left coalition in on itself.

As George W. Bush has proved time and time again, he doesn’t NEED to maintain a majority to retain his hold on power; he simply needs to KEEP the majority divided against itself.

I am proud of the way Vermont’s Congressional Delegation is working to do the long, difficult and painstaking work necessary to knit the majority back together in order to accomplish the goals supposedly cherished by these protesters.

Between the growing scandals at Department of Justice, the recent revelations about Political Abuses at the GSA, and the growing dissatisfaction with the War held by the American public, this work is actually going faster than I would have dared to hope.

Given that, I think it is ironic that some have chosen to thank our delegation by trying to paint them as the enemy.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

The Rush To the Primaries
It's Just Too Damn Early.

Edwards, Hillary, Obama. It's just too damn early for this. A combination of Democratic eagerness for a rematch (where, it is to be hoped, the game won't be rigged this time) combined with the surge of State Pride (and desire for campaign cash) have pushed the primary season ridiculously early.

New Donkey, the centrist Democrat blogger, posted on this subject about a week ago- and I think it's worth a read.

This [the rush to nominate] ... is simply crazy. February 5 is nine months before the general election, and roughly six months before the nominating conventions ... It virtually guarantees that three factors: money, name ID, and success in the earliest states, especially Iowa,will determine the outcome. And it may well snuff any serious chance for the lower-tier candidates in both parties ....Most importantly, the emerging calendar will provide zero opportunity for second thoughts after the early rush has anointed nominees. It could be a very long spring, summer and autumn if a nominee commits some major blunder, or some disabling skeleton jumps out of a closet [emphasis added].

New Donkey goes on to say point out that this problem could be solved by having the Democratic National Committee take a leadership role to stop thmadnesses:

...what should happen before the next go-around, is a truly national approach. Whether it's a lottery, or a carefully matched series of states around the country, or regional primaries, or just the kind of spread-out process that prevailed until recently, it could be imposed by the DNC through a combination of (a) strict rules against seating of delegates chosen outside the calendar guidelines, and (b) an aggressive effort to recruit all candidates in advance to support the decision, with ejection from DNC-sponsored debates, or if necessary, a ban on speaking opportunities at the Convention, being the stick.

But if we don't get seriously angry about this abomination right now, we're going to find ourselves in the same situation four and eight years from now.

Given the source (New Donkey is after all, usually butting heads with MyDD and Daily Kos), it's possible that these ideas will be rejected by the netroots as rhetoric of the Republican-Lite wing of the Party...

But...given the fact that HRClinton is the likely beneficiary this year of this insane process...I think it's a conversation in which all should participate.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Henry Waxman Strikes Again!

Waxman According to the Washington Post, more trouble is brewing for the Bush-ies today. Lurita Alexis Doan, head of the General Services Administration, is expected to pay a visit to the committee this week.

Did she improperly use the resources of her agency to play politics for Karl Rove?

And how about this?

The committee is also expected to question Doan about her attempt to give a no-bid job to a friend and professional associate last summer. In addition, the committee plans to look at Waxman's charge that Doan "intervened" in a troubled technology contract with Sun Microsystems that could cost taxpayers millions more than necessary.

This could be fun.


I have to admit, I didn't know much about the General Services Administration OR Lurita Alexis Doan until this morning. Here are couple of things I found out.

Doan founded her own technology firm in the 1980s. She eventually made enough money so that she could afford to give some whopping big chunks to various Republican Election Committees. This definitely seems to be someone who knows who her friends are.

The General Services administration oversees about $58 Billion in federal contracts. (See Washington Post and Wikipedia)

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Welcome to Parasite Gal
Rip And Read Turns 100

Louse Yesterday, Rip and Read ran a picture of a pudgy, hypocritical Texas Republican. Today, we are running a picture of a louse. As much as you might like to think that there is a connection, it must be denied.

The louse is on Rip and Read because we take this opportunity to welcome Parasite Gal to the blog roll and wish her well in her new online venture.

So, when you tire of reading about Republicans here at Rip and Read, take a virtual stroll over to Parasite Wonders .There, you will learn how the OTHER half of the Parasite World lives.

Also, it must be noted that with the posting of this announcement, Rip and Read turns 100 today! This entry marks our 100th post. Happy Milestone to us. Here are links to some of our favorite entries:

Of course, we must admit that, as much as we've learned from writing these essays, the post which generates the most hits on Google is still our second entry: Peeing In the Shower On You Tube. We suspect that this popularity has more to do with the inclusion of the word "pee" in the title than in our brilliant political analysis. It's a sick world, but hey! We'll take what we can get.

Thanks, too, to Vermont Daily Briefing for the chance to participate in The League Of Extraordinary Republican Gentleman. It's been a lot of fun!

Congressman Gohmer...ah, GohMERT
Again, We must note that it is merely a coincidence that Representative Gohmert's Picture is juxtaposed with that of a louse. There is no other connection. As they say in the movie business, any resemblance is completely coincidental. Honest.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Republicans To Washington DC Voters:
"We Care- but don't call us, we'll call you."

Congressman Gohmer...ah, GohMERT The residents of D.C want a vote in the U.S. House. There are plenty of people who don’t want to give them that vote. After all, if you give a D.C. mouse a cookie, he will want a seat in the Senate. Since voters in the District of Columbia (which is a large, east coast city after all) tend to have problems like poverty, crime, drugs etc, they tend to vote Democratic. So, the last thing Republicans want is to see these inner-city residents sneaking into Congress bringing a lot of those damn Liberal Democrats in through the back door. (Especially at risk would be a Senate divided by the width of a whisker.)

So, when the U.S. House seemed poised to grant D.C. it’s first full representative, Republicans used a little legislative chicanery to send the bill back to committee, where it will, hopefully, die. The reason Republicans gave was that D.C.’s gun laws were too tight.

The Washington Post has the story.

Besides, according to Texas Republican Louie Gohmert, these inner-city people don’t NEED their own Representative to Congress:

I would submit to you that Washington, D.C. is also the only city in the entire country that every Senator and every Member of Congress has a vested interest in seeing that it works properly, that water works, sewer works, and no other city in America has that. [Hear him for yourself here]

Well, according to the Post, the Washington Blog, DCist, picked up on Congressman Gohmer's….opps: that's Gohmert's….remarks and was delighted to have finally found a representative to whom they could direct complaints.

So delighted in fact, that the blog suggested to it's readers that THEY call up their new congressman and share their concerns…early calls went to the wrong Republican, but no harm done, he also voted against the bill…but soon, Washington's residents were eagerly jamming their new Congressman's phone to complain about crime, garbage removal, and potholes.

As Gohmert's staff struggled to carry out its new duties, reviews on the DCist comment page were mixed. "I just gave a call to ask about garbage collection. And Man, our rep's are not very friendly."

According to the Post, one Republican congressional office was "deluged" with calls.

Now, I know that there is a legitimate debate to be held about why the District of Columbia was excluded from Congressional Representation by the founders.

But I also know that, to men like Gohmert, that is not what this is about. This is about keeping those damn Democrats from getting more votes.

After all, as the Post points out:

Democrats, who recently won control of Congress, have made a priority of giving a vote to the mostly African American city. [emphasis added]In floor speeches yesterday, they described it as an issue of fairness, linking it to laws and court decisions that gave blacks full rights.

Republican's like Gohmert see it differently, and used the same old Republican Compassionate Conservative line of Bush-Wah. But they got busted and embarrassed when Washington's Voters decied to take them at their word

…and I'm having too much fun watching Gohmert and his buddies clean that egg off their faces to worry about the "legitimate debate".

One reader writes in DCist that: Each week, DC residents should pick one member of Congress who opposes giving us voting rights and make him or her our "member of the week."

Meanwhile, the author of the DCist itself remarked that, given thet fact that Republicans based their maneuverings on gun rights, Representative Gohmert should reflect on "what happened the last time a group of Americans were taxed, unrepresented and, thanks to [Gohmert's] efforts, armed to the teeth..."

All I can hope is that Gohmert's Texas constituants have to pay his phone bill.


Gohmert is the same Republican who remarked of Decorated Veteran (and Democrat) John Murtha, that "...thank God he was not here and prevailed after the bloodbaths at Normandy and in the Pacific or we would be here speaking Japanese or German."

This info comes from Wikipedia, which, I notice has been altered to reflect recent events. As of 10:00 am Eastern Time, March 24, Gohmert's entry reads:
In March of 2007 Gohmert unilaterally ended the historical disenfranchisement of Washington the District of Columbia … Since that time Gohmert has become the 'go-to' representative for the District of Columbia and residents are encouraged to contact his office for any constituent services.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Vermont's Welch On The War:
Turn the heat Up Another Notch

As I remarked yesterday, I am very heartened by what I am hearing. I am getting ready to take part in a winningbattle in 2008 to take this country back from those who have hijacked her and attempted pervert everything she stands for in the world.

This is going to be a long fight. It didn't start with Bush, perhaps it didn't even start with Reagan. But it seems possible that the balance may be shifting again.

As Winston Churchill might have put it: "This isn't the end. It isn't even the Beginning of the End. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning."

With these thoughts in mind, I enjoyed watching Vermont's Congressman, Peter Welch, deliver supplemental remarks on the floor of the House. Hope you like it too.

Rep. Peter Welch on Iraq Supplemental


After I wrote this this morning, I turned my attention to the Washington Post, and was dismayed to read the headline: "Liberals Relent on Iraq War Funding".

Great. I thought. Here I am celebrating, and the liberals are Relenting. But then, I actually read the story.

The situation is not perfect. I would have preferred that the Bush administration be denied further funding for the war. However, this was not meant to be. But, as must always happen in a democracy, compromise allows for forward movement. Here are a few quotes from the story:

Liberal opposition to a $124 billion war spending bill broke last night, when leaders of the antiwar Out of Iraq Caucus pledged to Democratic leaders that they will not block the measure, which sets timelines for bringing U.S. troops home.

The acquiescence of the liberals probably means that the House will pass a binding measure today that, for the first time, would establish tough readiness standards for the deployment of combat forces and an Aug. 31, 2008, deadline for their removal from Iraq.

This is not the best news...but, Damn, it is GOOD news.

To the surprise of many antiwar activists, House Democratic leaders have been able to keep their conservative Blue Dog members largely onboard as they ratcheted up the bill's language. But with Republicans virtually united in opposition, Democrats can afford only 15 defections.

Consensus building is a GOOD thing...just ask Ned Lamont if the Daily Kos crowd can win on it's own.

When Democratic leaders first spoke of attaching strings to Bush's $100 billion war request, their biggest fear was that they would lose their conservatives. Since then, the bill has actually grown more assertive in its efforts to bring the troops home. [emphasis mine]Initial efforts to tie the deployment of combat forces to tough standards for resting, equipping and training the troops have been bolstered by binding benchmarks for the Iraqi government to meet. If the Iraqis fall short, troop withdrawals could begin as early as July 1. In any case, the withdrawals would have to begin in March 2008, with most combat forces out by Aug. 31, 2008.

Again. There is a lot to be upbeat about...

Thursday, March 22, 2007

A Message to Vermont Kossacks:
Stop Peeing in the Grill, This Going to be A Great Party!

Because of household repairs, my computer has been offline for about a week. This means I haven’t been blogging. But I have been reading the news, and I am having a great time.

Still, that’s not true of everyone. Certainly, Bush hasn’t been having a great time. But it seems like there is faction over at the very lefty Green Mountain Daily who are not having as much fun as they should be, either.

So I have a message for them: CHEER UP! …and stop peeing in the bar-B-Que pit! This is shaping up to be a great party that’s going to go on until 2008, and then we are REALLY going open up the “whup ass” and have some fun!

[Just in case you missed it, Vermont Daily Briefing has a great post about the clean new wind scouring the land.]

The firing of the U.S. Attorney generals is NOT going to lead directly to an impeachment. The president can hire and fire U.S. Attorney’s at will, for good reason, or bad reason, or no reason at all. They serve at his pleasure. There is an excellent article on the subject by ADAM LIPTAK in the New York Times, March 18th.

However, MOST Presidents don’t fire U.S Attorney’s just for political reasons. It makes them look like they are, to quote (ha!) Bush himself: “On a Partisan Witch Hunt”.

It’s a lot of fun to see Patrick Leahy out in front like (as one commenter on GMD put it) “a junk yard dog”.

And it’s going to make Bush appear even more the twisted, tiny, ineffectual little man than he does already.

Much more of this and the American people will finally say: F#%k you! Both to the President and to the Party he rode in on.

Everything that Democrats have been saying is finally being proven true and the Republican bastards are starting to feel the heat.

So, why is it that when you go to an ultra lefty site like Green Mountain Daily, the mood is often SOOO dark that you feel like George W. Bush just go elected to a third term?

Consider this comment from JDRyan- somebody I have a lot of respect for- attached to an essay begging for “impeachment” (again!):
Is it just me
or are some of you baffled at how our delegation is hardly paying attention to this? I'm particularly shocked about Bernie.. considering his anti-Bush rhetoric is par for the course, you'd figure at least he'd be on board

Seriously: Leahy, Bernie and others have finally got the Bushies on the ropes, and are making them look like crooks and morons every day and night on the evening news. Yet, the Daily Kos “Kossac” crowd is all but accusing our congressional delegation of participating in some deep dark conspiracy to keep the Impeachment talk out of the State House.

Maybe they are correct. Maybe this is a Conspiracy of Power. But maybe, just maybe, these seasoned old political infighters have just a bit more experience than we are giving them credit for.

Maybe tricky old foxes like Leahy and Sanders know what’s possible, and what’s not possible, and how to use reality to their credit to bring the Bush Blitzkrieg to a stop.

I’d love to see Bush be humiliated and removed from office, but much more importantly, I’d love to see the damage he has done be reversed.

Frankly, I’d say that Pat Leahy and Bernie Sanders and most of the rest of the Democrats are off to a damn fine start.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Patrick Leahy:
Building a Case?

Recent revelations about the firings of the U.S. Attorneys by the Justice Department, at the instigation of high level White House players, for political reasons, have generated much outrage.

Senator Charles Schumer has called for the ouster of Attorney General Alberto Gonzales. Vermont’s own Patrick Leahy also “blew [his] stack” when he learned that the White House was linked to the firings. He had been previously told, under oath, that this was not the case.

The President CAN fire these people for anything, or for nothing, they are political appointees who serve at the pleasure of the executive branch.

However, the Administration has obscured the reasons for the firings, and deliberately misled Congress about the partisan nature of the action; instead, they claimed to be acting out of high minded concerns about "job performace". The problem lies, not in the firings, but in the lie.

In an NPR Interview with Senator Leahy, he says: “What I quarrel with is the fact that they did not tell us the truth about what happened. What I quarrel with is the fact that even though they were under oath, they withheld information. That is unacceptable. I realize that they were used to having six years of a complacent rubber-stamp Congress controlled by their party. That changed in last year's election. We're going to ask questions. I would ask these same questions if it was a Democratic administration. I'm not going to accept half-answers and I'm not going to accept misleading answers. I want full answers; I want them under oath.”

It’s unsavory, to say the least; but unlike Schumer, Patrick Leahy is going one slow step at a time: “What I want to do is the same thing I used to do when I was a prosecutor: build a case; go to whoever I feel, and the committee feels, is essential to uncover the truth; we will have them come and testify.”

There have been a lot of debates about the speed at which the Bush Administration is being called to answer for its misdeeds by Democrats in Congress. Vermonters, in particular, are hoping to see representitives from our small state take a leading role in bringing an end to the disaster that is called the Bush Administration.

My hope is that by going slowly and carefully, but also firmly and steadily, we will draw the net around these crooks, liars, and thugs, and put our government back on the right track.

Personally, I don’t give a damn about making a statement. I’d like to see a significant number of these heels go to jail. I think, given a little patience and a little time, we can do it.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

America's Voters Choose "Character"

Primary SeasonThe AP released a story this morning asserting what I have long suspected: "Character Trumps Policy" when Americans enter the Voting Booth.

A new Associated Press-Ipsos poll says 55 percent of those surveyed consider honesty, integrity and other values of character the most important qualities they look for in a presidential candidate.

Strategists from both major parties agree. According to the AP article, Ken Mehlman, the Goon who ran Dubya's 2004 election campaign, (notice I didn't say: RE-election?) is quoted saying: "Voters only look at policies as a lens into what type of person the candidate is".

On the Democratic side of the aisle, Chris Lehane offered this insight: "Modern day presidential campaigns are essentially character tests, with character broadly defined to encompass a mosaic of traits -- looks, likability, vision, philosophy, ideology, biography, communications skills, intelligence, strength, optimism, empathy, ethics, values, among others" .

Granted, Mehlman and Lehane are both controversial figures. Lehane was the Campaign Spokesman for Gore in 2000 and encouraged Kerry to say nasty things about Howard Dean in 2004. Mehlman, as previously mentioned, was part of the D.O.P. (Damned Old Party) Team that felt that they should win at least one of their four year terms. Both will be accused of playing "politics as usual".

It is because of men like this, the high minded will say, that we are forced to choose between two empty suits each year...and isn't it time for a change?

But I can't shake the conviction that Mehlman and Lehane are right. After all, the AP story notes that, even though voters had already begun turning from the war in Iraq, they didn't turn from Bush until they began to doubt his character.

I can't help but believe that the American voter is basically an uncomplicated animal at heart: we make our decisions about leadership the same way elk do. We watch the bucks (and this year, one doe) prance back and forth waving their antlers in the fresh morning air, posing, pawing at the ground, and occasionally butting heads.

Then, we choose the elk with the biggest rack.


AP Poll: Character Trumps Policy for Voters, by Ron Fournier and Trevor Tompson, March 11, 2007

The Spinner: How Chris Lehane, revered by some and reviled by others, gets the campaign consultant job done

Daily Kos: Chris Lehane is history, September 15, 2003

Friday, March 09, 2007

It's Really Not that Funny After All:
Newt's Infidelity

At the behest of a friend, it was my intention to write a humorous post about Newt Gingrich's revelation today that he was screwing around at the same time Bill was teaching Monica about cigars.

In an interview with the Oily James Dobson, of Focus on the Family, Gingrich was asked if the allegations of sexual impropriety were true.

According to the AP Gingrich replied: "The honest answer is yes...There are times that I have fallen short of my own standards. There's certainly times when I've fallen short of God's standards."

Gingrich makes the case, however, that he is not a hypocrite. After all, he was just committing adultery, Clinton was accused of lying in court. (Have you ever noticed that conservatives ALWAYS have a reason why THEY aren't guilty?)

At first, it seemed like an easy way to have a little fun. After all, there hasn't been a story this good since Rush the Pill Popping Pundit.

But then I listened to the interview. This is certainly not an example of "Gotcha Journalism" from the Right. This is no hit job. Listening to Dobson and Gingrich talk, it is obvious that this is a "dramatic re-creation" of an earlier conversation. One which each party seems to have felt would be worth airing in public.

Why would Newt deliberately expose himself?

It's pretty obvious that the Right Wing tossed a softball for Newt to belt out of the park. By the time Newt throws his hat into the Presidential ring, which he will do next fall, after it becomes clear that the Radical Right is not at all happy with their less than completely crazy choices, this story will have become OLD NEWS.

The story obviously won't hurt Gingrich with the Religious Right, because there is nothing the Born Again Snake-Handlers love more than a sinner come home to Christ! He's Sinned, He's Confessed, He's Repented, He's Forgiven. Amen.

It's a neat trick, and it could be a fun post. But I'm not writing it.

Why? Because as I think about it, this looks like the beginning of an effort by the Right to Dust Newt Off and Return Him to Power.

And that is scary, very scary.

Because the REAL FOCUS of the interview was not the cute little Come to Jesus moment.

The REAL FOCUS was what Newt Gingrich calls: The Genuine Danger of Terrorism.

At a speech in New Hampshire Last Fall, Gingrich said:

This is a serious long term war, and it will inevitably lead us to want to know what is said in every suspect place in the country, that will lead us to learn how to close down every website that is dangerous, and it will lead us to a very severe approach to people who advocate the killing of Americans and advocate the use of nuclear of[sic] biological weapons.

Newt Gingrich is seriously proposing that we: "adopt rules of engagement that use every technology we can find to break up their capacity to use the internet, to break up their capacity to use free speech, and to go after people who want to kill us"

In effect, we are going to need to place Freedom of Speech in a sort of Blind Trust, until we win the war on Terror.

At this moment, as I write, stories are going up on the internet about the recent findings of a Justice Department Audit:

The FBI improperly and, in some cases, illegally used the USA Patriot Act to secretly obtain personal information about people in the United States, a Justice Department audit concluded Friday.
And for three years the FBI underreported to Congress how often it forced businesses to turn over the customer data, the audit found.

These are exactly the people and the institutions Mr. Gingrich proposes to trust with protecting our free speech.

Mr. Gingrich is the person the right wing wants to be our next President.

And there is nothing funny to write about there. Not one funny little word.

Because if you thought Bush and Cheney were scary, you ain't seen nothing yet. You see, unlike Bush, Newt Gingrich is NOT stupid..EVIL..but not stupid. And unlike Cheney, Newt Gingrich would NEVER shoot anyone...at least, not accidentally.

It will make you sick, I know, but you owe it to yourself to go to the Focus on the Family site and here the "interview" between Dobson and Gingrich for yourself.

Because, unfiltered by the "Liberal" Media, which totally misses the real story in persuit of a joke, it will make your blood run cold.

It's Here: http://www.oneplace.com/ministries/Focus_on_the_Family/archives.asp?bcd=2007-3-9

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Impeachment Would be a Mistake

There has been a loud cry from the Vermont “netroots” for the impeachment of George W. Bush. I completely sympathize. Bush has led this country into one of the worst military blunders of our history. He has done damage to a century of goodwill built-up by his predecessors: from Wilson to Clinton. His administration has continued to add to the Federal deficit; ultimately, this will place programs the American people need, cherish, and depend upon, programs such as Social Security, in grave danger. His reliance on creating a climate of fear has brought our ancient civil liberties into question. Finally, his policies have led to great loss of life. American Solders and Iraqi Civilians have paid the ultimate price in a dubious cause of questionable worth.

George W. Bush’s administration has been both a failure and a disaster for this country.
Impeachment, however, would be a mistake, and would play right into the hands of Karl Rove and company.

Crazy F*#!king Hippies

Recently, on Green Mountain Daily, an entry appeared entitled “Crazy F*#!king Hippies”. A cartoon shows a Donkey and an Elephant watching a crowd of protesters.

The protesters bring up the fact that the war is based on a lie; there are no weapons of mass destruction. The Donkey Cheers them on. The Elephant growls: Crazy F*#!king Hippies.

The protesters note that the government is spying on us. The Donkey Cheers them on. The Elephant growls: Crazy F*#!king Hippies.

The protesters scream that Katrina relief was a disaster. The Donkey Cheers them on. The Elephant growls: Crazy F*#!king Hippies.

The protesters cry: Impeachment. The Donkey and the Elephant looked shocked.

And then the Donkey growls: Crazy F*#!king Hippies.

These people are incensed. And they want action. They want to see George W. Bush placed on a pillory of disgrace and made to feel some small token of shame for what he has done to this country.

I agree, I sympathize, and I think impeachment would be a HUGE MISTAKE.

My gut feeling is, in fact, that a serious move to impeach Bush would play right into the hands of both this president, and those who are trying to find a worthy successor for him: one who will continue Bush’s agenda.

The Impeachment Process: What’s the Charge?

Before going into my argument, it is probably worth reviewing the Impeachment process.

The House of Representatives functions somewhat like a grand jury. It decides if there is enough evidence that the President (or other public official) should be brought to trial, or impeached. The trial then moves to the United States Senate The Senate hears the case, and decides if the official deserves to be removed from office.

That is the extent of the Senate’s power: removal from office. However, after the convicted official is removed, he is then liable to a criminal prosecution resulting from his actions.

The charges that can lead to Impeachment are very, very specific: Article Two, Section 4 of the Constitution states: The President, Vice-President, and all civil officers of the United States shall be removed from office on impeachment for and conviction of [emphasis mine] treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors.

The question then becomes: what could President Bush be charged with, that he would also be convicted of?


Given the damage that President Bush has done, both to this country’s traditions of liberty and to its strategic and diplomatic position in the world, it certainly sounds as if we could charge him with treason.

But no…the Constitution is quite specific about the definition of Treason. In Article 3, Section 3, treason is defined very narrowly: Treason against the United States shall consist onlyin levying war against them, or in adhering to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort.. Note the “only”.

In the eighteenth century, memories of Tudor England’s Star Chamber were not far distant; and, of course, the examples of aristocratic Europe were plain to see. The founders did not intend for “treason” to be a catch-all crime, used to “disappear” anyone who dissented from the government of the day.

Given the fact that Rovists have endeavored to tar anyone from the center to the left who dare disagree with their polices with the stigma of treason, and given their obvious lack of respect for civil liberties, I cannot say that I think the founders were wrong to keep the lid so firmly on the crime of treason.


This would be appropriate, to be sure. Many of us believe that there would be no sweeter vision of justice than to see George W. Bush convicted of inviting his Halliburton and Big Oil cohorts to the public table to gouge themselves on taxpayer money braised with the blood of our solders.

But we have no real evidence of this, nothing hard and fast, nothing that would hold up in a court of law.

In Congress, Henry Waxman is holding hearings in the U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. Among other questions, Congressman Waxman is asking: What happened to the 363 TONS (yes, TONS) of money we shipped to Iraq? The committee is also looking into the administration’s slipshod dealings with our government contractors, and evaluating the Administration’s request for more money.

Vermont’s own Peter Welch is a member of that committee, and it should be interesting to see if they come up with material that results in criminal charges.

But there is no firm evidence yet; at least, not firm enough to convict the President of the United States. Personally, I doubt there will be. There is no need for Bush to personally get his hands dirty. To help his friends, all he need do is turn a blind eye toward them. It is very hard to prove intentional malfeasance over shear stupidity and blindness.

High Crimes and Misdemeanors

And here we come to the most famous phrase in the impeachment language: High Crimes and Misdemeanors.

When you can’t convict for Treason, or for Bribery, there is always this catch-all.

But if you look into our history, you will find that, although the House has, in moments of passion, adhered to Congressman Gerald Ford’s assertion that: "An impeachable offense is whatever a majority of the House of Representatives considers it to be at a given moment in history", the Senate has not followed suit.

In fact, given that a two-thirds majority is needed to obtain a conviction by the Senate, it is, and always has been, highly unlikely that the Senate will respond to the passion of the moment.

Because the Right-Wing seems so much better at using passion to remove opponents from power (think: Schwarzenegger in California) I, for one, am very glad that our founders thought to balance passion against sober judgment. In my opinion, both forces are vital to the successful running of any community. Especially one as large and varied as the United States of America.

The American People: Deeply Conservative

But I realize that many others of Liberal persuasion would disagree with me. They would prefer that the voice of the people be heard loud and clear- and that there be no disconnected elite in a position to growl such phrases as: Stupid F*#!king Hippies.

It’s a good argument (and also one not to delve too deeply into here: this essay has already grown too long). But my short answer it this: The American people are, by nature, conservative. In each new addition of his masterful, radical work, A People’s History of the United States, Howard Zinn includes a final chapter entitled: “The Coming Revolt of the Guards.” It was there when the book was issued to me as a college text back in 1987. Last time I looked, twenty years later, the book has been extensively updated, but the chapter is still there. Zinn’s chapter is a “not a prediction, but a hope”…and yet it has not come to pass.

I believe that this lack of dynamic, radical change is due to the basic conservatism of the American people. Change does come- witness civil rights, child labor, environmental protection, enfranchisement…but it comes for the most part slowly: three steps forward, one step back.

The arguments of the right are short term arguments. They, much more than liberal arguments, appeal to the passions most deeply held by the American people. Because of our conservatism, if we allow ourselves to be subjected to fast revolution, it will be a Revolution to the Right, not the left.

The arguments of the center-left take time to resonate. The American people often do not want to admit the truth of them. They long for the Bush/Reagan “dead or alive” cowboy approach.

That is why the center-left coalition lost in 2002, and again in 2004.

But Americans are not completely stupid, and they are realizing now that this approach does not work. At least, not in the case of Iraq.

Our arguments ARE resonating now. And the truth of them is being admitted. This is a slow process; it has to be, given the nature of an American public which is highly resistant to it.

This process MUST be given time to continue…we must NOT give the Right wing a rallying point which they can use to obfuscate the process and cloud the question of Bush’s responsibility.

Two Thirds? No Way

Let’s look at an important point once more: It requires a two-thirds majority to convict and remove the President. Unlike the Watergate case, there is no smoking gun. Therefore, it is highly unlikely that, in a Senate all but split down the middle, there would EVER be the two-thirds majority needed to convict Bush on any but the most blatant charge.

But perhaps it is not necessary to convict Bush. Perhaps it is only necessary to make him appear before the bar of history, and thus stain his reputation. Perhaps there is a tactical advantage to this?

It’s a legitimate argument, but I believe that a look into the history books will show that it would backfire on the center-left.

When Impeachment Fails: Johnson

We have impeached two presidents in our national history. Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton.

The most famous Presidential Criminal of all, and the only President to be forced to resign his office, was Richard M. Nixon. It is worth noting that Nixon was notimpeached by the U.S. House of representatives.

As everyone remembers, Nixon resigned in disgrace before the House could impeach him. While some sources reported that he was momentarily tempted to fight, it quickly became apparent that, not only did the House of Representatives have the “Smoking Gun” tape, which recorded Nixon personally authorizing hush money, but that there would be a strong possibility that the Senate would find the two-thirds majority needed to convict.

But what happened to the two Presidents who were actually impeached by the House of U.S. Representatives?

In the story of Andrew Jackson, it is hard to find a clear cut hero.

Johnson succeeded Lincoln upon his assassination. A Tennessee Democrat, he broke with his party on the question of Southern Session. The former Democrat was nominated by the Republicans to serve as Lincoln’s VP to show the nation and the world the Party of Lincoln was the party of all loyal men. [Freidel, Frank. Our Country’s Presidents. National Geographic Society. Washington DC. 1981.] But, he was never fully trusted by them.

Certainly, it is hard to love Johnson. As Howard Zinn points out, Johnson, seeking to bind the nation’s wounds, often ended by siding with former slave owners and racists. “Johnson Vetoed bills to help Negros,” writes Zinn, “he made it easy for Confederate states to come back into the Union without guaranteeing equal rights to blacks.”

However, the Republican Congress of the time is not very lovable either. Following the war, and the assassination, the passions of the country ran very high. According to Nevins and Commager in their Short History of the United States [Random House. New York. 1945] this situation was quickly exploited by a Republican Party who wished to “perpetuate it’s power and by the wish of selfish business groups to use the situation to their own advantage. Manufactures who wanted high tariffs, bondholders who wanted to be certain of interest payments…railroad builders who wanted land grants all rallied behind the Republican Regime.”

These Radical Republicans, annoyed at the Democrat, Johnson, for standing in their way, passed some highly questionable laws about who he could, and could not, appoint to his cabinet. Johnson defied these laws. And he was impeached by the House.

The Senate voted NOT to convict Johnson by one vote. It is possible that some Republican Senators were more concerned at the judgment of history than they were at the judgment of their party.

Johnson’s term was soon over. However, he WAS later elected to the United States Senate. From Wikipedia: [In the Senate] Johnson denounced the corruptions of the Grant Administration and his passions aroused a standing ovation from many of his fellow senators who had once voted to remove him from the presidency.

So, with Johnson, we see that a failed Impeachment has enabled historians to make an argument that he was a bullwork against those same forces of corporatism that Bush’s foes are fighting today. And we see that it helps gain for this mediocre President a STANDING OVATION in the Senate.

Now, I urge all in the center-left who are crying for Bush to be impeached to project that same picture 150 years into the future. Is this really the curtain call you want for George W. Bush? A STANDING OVATION in the Senate? Personally, I find that an increadibly distasteful picture.

When Impeachment Fails: Clinton

Fortunately, it is not necessary to spend a lot of time recreating this moment in history. It is still fresh. What is worth noting, however is that the party of Clinton gained seats during the 1998 midterm elections, that Clinton’s approval rating has continued to RISE following his impeachment trial, and that his wife is considered a very serious contender for the Presidency. Bill Clinton has hardly been confined to obsurity by his opponenents.

Republicans, unable to beat Clinton in open political warfare, chose to fight using the weapon of impeachment. They were beaten then, and they continue to be beaten. With the exception of the die-hard Clinton haters, most people seem to reguard this impeachment trial as pointless partisan warfare. Many remember Clinton was a certain degree of respect.

Again, is this the fate we would wish for George W. Bush?

Don’t Hand Them a Weapon

For eight years (if you include the 2000 campaign) George W. Bush and his cronies have been unsavory, slippery, dishonest, nasty, unscrupulous opponents of the Center-Left coalition.

They have done great damage to this country in every area. They have wreaked havoc on our diplomacy, our military, our financial stability, our programs of social justice, our environment, and on our civil liberties- upon which all else depends.

For most of that time, they have frustrated all of our efforts to stop them. Not until 2006 was there even so much as a glimmer of hope.

Now, we are tempted to go for broke, our luck is changing, and many of us are ready to bet all of our chips on impeachment.

It would be a bad bet on our part.

Presently, the right wing is fractured and floundering. Conservatives cannot find a clear cut leader and they are reeling from last fall’s reversal of fortune.

The American people, despite their basic conservative instincts, seem to be coming around to a more sensible view of the world. We see this in Bush’s plummeting levels of support, and, of course, in last fall’s midterm elections.

The facts, in other words, are speaking for themselves to our fellow citizens.

But, if we throw Impeachment into the mix, not only will we give conservatives a point around which they can rally; but by bringing a charge without being able to obtain a conviction, we will actually leave the question of Bush’s guilt wide open.

Because it is likely that Bush would not lose his trail in the Senate, the American people will have an excuse to stop their journey toward common sense.

That is why I agree with the political leaders of Vermont: Bernie Sanders, Patrick Leahy, and Gaye Symington that Impeachment is not the right decision and that we would be handing our opponents a weapon.

Instead, let us continue to support and follow the efforts of Congressman Waxman to expose the fraud perpetrated by this administration, let us continue support the prosecution of second tier officials like Scooter Libby. Let us continue to show the American people what “Support the Troops” means to a Republican Administration that runs Walter Reed.

Let us keep exposing the Bush Administration for the Disaster it truly is.

And IF we do, in the course of this exposure, find a smoking gun…by all means let’s go for impeachment. I’d love to see George W. Bush be forced from office and stand open to criminal prosecution.

But, until that moment arrives, let us NOT allow Bush to beat us one last time. Until we really have the smoking gun, let’s don’t pretend that we do.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Identity Politics Replaced?
Obama and "the storyline"

POTUS? I don't want to blog about Barack Obama- the subject is well covered in the Vermont Blog-o-sphere. Over at Vermont Daily Briefing, Philip Baruth has all but turned that blog into an "Obama for President" site; while at What's The Point, Neil Jensen has gone him one better and HAS actually turned the blog into an Obama for President site.

You, oh dear five readers, do not need to come here and get more of the same.

But I can't help it. I keep going back to the subject.

At VDB, Philip Baruth wrote about the media's need to shape a gripping storyline...and the story they want to tell is..."Every Democrat Loves Obama EXCEPT Black Americans....what do they know that we don't? More...after the break!"

Even NPR is playing the game. In a February 28, Morning Edition Story, Steve Inskeep aired an interview with Obama. The Senator is heading to speak at Selma this year.

Here's an except from the printed transcript:

At his Capitol Hill office this week, Obama spoke with Steve Inskeep about his
upcoming trip to Selma and his experiences as an African American presidential

Do you try to talk in the same way to a black audience as a white

I think that the themes are consistent. It think that there's a
certain black idiom that it's hard not to slip into when you're talking to a
black audience because of the audience response. It's the classic call and
response. Anybody who's spent time in a black church knows what I mean. And so
you get a little looser; it becomes a little more like jazz and a little less
like a set score.

That is the way the story is framed: Obama, The African American candidate. The leading question: Do you do different stuff with black people than you do with white people?

The implied question, of course, being: which Obama is the "real" one?

(--And of course, if any of these big media types actually CAME from anywhere besides "TV Land", they'd realize that a LOT of Americans change their accent depending on who they are talking with. I listen to my Vermont friends turn into Peperidge Farm advertisements when they call their Mama in the Northeast Kingdom. As for me, when I get on the phone to Southern Relatives, I slip into something between Jeff Foxworthy and Willie Nelson. It just happens...it's not sinister...unless you are one of the big media pod-people with no home outside of a Georgetown cocktail party to call your own.)

I have to admit, I don't get it...the story isn't Barack Obama: The African American Candidate; the REAL story is that Obama is the first CANDIDATE who just HAPPENS to be African American.

His appeal (and for that matter, Hillary Clinton's appeal) cut's across the lines of "identity politics"--- He is not just a candidate for Black Americans, but a strong candidate for ALL voters who self-identify as Democrats. Hillary Clinton is not universally popular among women...some like her, some don't...just as many Democrats at large like her...and many don't.

To me, the most exciting thing about this race is that it looks like maybe, just maybe, we can leave behind "Identity Politics" and show the fractured, factional world, the we practice "Community Politics".

Just a hope- but today, it looks pretty bright.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

The Vital Center Loses A Voice:
Arthur M. Schlesinger 1917-2007

If we are to survive, we must have ideas, vision, and courage. These things are rarely produced by committees. Everything that matters in our intellectual and moral life begins with an individual confronting his own mind and conscience in a room by himself.

Arthur M. Schlesinger 1917-2007

Mos' Doug Goes to the White House
Jim Douglas and George Bush hold executive sleepover-
Rip and Read Has Photos!!!.

I'm a bit pressed for time this morning, so I hope to revisit this entry later (revising it, expanding it, and maybe correcting some of the spelling). However, I got my e-newsletter from the Vermont Democrats yesterday, and the big news is that Governor Douglas got to spend a couple of nights and have a private dinner with the President.

In their weekly digest, the Vermont Democratic Party wrote:

Considering he's surrounded by sycophants and pre-screened audiences, it's nearly impossible for President Bush to hear the concerns of most Vermonters. ... There's still no word from Douglas on what they discussed. As the Burlington Free Press reported, Douglas said, "I don't want to go into too much detail about a private conversation."

Considering the mystery about what went on....Rip and Read will publish the following photo. Sources say it was taken during Douglas's stay with the Bush family...but frankly, we have our doubts.

Is this a photo of Jim Douglas and George Bush? We report. You decide.

More on the story at the Bennington Banner