Why Hillary Can’t Learn

The LA Times has an article today about Hillary Clinton’s recent meeting with the Democratic Leadership Council, and how she will be heading up its newest plan, the “American Dream Initiative.” According to the story, Hillary spoke about how all Democrats should call a truce and stand together. Forgive me, Hillary, but why does it seem as if your “call a truce” plea means basically all of us choosing to follow the direction of the DLC, an organization that has done nothing for the party in the last several elections but lose us seats in Congress and lose us the Presidency?

For the Democratic party to win elections, it needs to appeal to the working class again — to the little guy. It is never going to do that when it’s perceived as an elitist party that is in bed with big business. People may as well vote for Republicans if that is the case, and they do. If it weren’t for the DLC’s “centrist” mandate to the party, people wouldn’t have been able to say, “well, what is really the difference between John Kerry and George Bush? They’re both the same…”

It’s obvious that much of the US populace does not see nuance. The only way to distinguish yourself therefore is to not try to plead that you are “Republican, but better,” but rather than you stand for traditional liberal values. This country is largely liberal/libertarian, and as time goes on it’s becoming clear that the two modes of thought can peacefully coexist. Libertarians are no more happy with recent governmental intrusions into their personal lives than liberals are. Perhaps the Democratic party needs to start reaching out to libertarians — who are often swing voters — instead of Republicans.

Hillary and the DLC are forgetting one important thing when they talk about how successful they were in the early ’90s. They’re forgetting that Bill Clinton was an anomaly — a once in a lifetime occurrence. His centrist leanings were successful because he was Bill Clinton, end of story. Provide us another Bill Clinton and perhaps your centrist plans will work again. Until that person comes along, the only way to win back the party and win back the government is to go left, and state your case for it. The people will listen, because left is right. The more you try to appeal to all people, the fewer of them will believe you’re sincere. And when they don’t trust you, you’ll never win.

Hillary, right now, I don’t trust you. Don’t call for us all to rally behind you no matter what, because we no longer believe your ideas will work. You and the DLC have had more than a decade now to show that you have the ideas that will bring this party back from the brink. It’s clear that you have failed, and calling us all over to the losing side will not mean success. You need to separate yourself from corporate America and need to separate yourself from the Republicans. Howard Dean is the future direction of the party, and the sooner you come to terms with that, the sooner we’ll vote for you for President. But keep going on about violent videogames, supporting the war, working with those who would destroy this country, and you’ll never be elected again — to anything.

First Step Down a Slippery Slope

In a completely unprecedented move today, the New York MTA has decided it has the right to randomly check the bags of US citizens at all subway stations, on the commuter rails, and on buses. According to the NY Times article, Police Commissioner Kelly announced, “we will be instituting random searches of bags and packages as people enter the transit system,” and that they plan to do it in “a reasonable, common-sense way.”

What the hell does that mean? Since when have ordinary citizens been subject to random searches of their belongings? Kelly added, “he hoped riders would not consider the actions an inconvenience.” Unless there is a credible threat, I’d certainly consider it an inconvenience, and unless there is a credible and imminent threat, I’d also consider it a violation of the Fourth Amendment to the US Constitution, which reads:

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

I think that about sums it up, and I expect all the right-wing Neo-Con talk show hosts to agree with me, especially Mark Levin, who likes to write books about how the Supreme Court is ruining the country and about how no one cares about the Constitution anymore. Well, I care about it. Haven’t we given away enough of our civil liberties yet?

A quick look on FindLaw notes that even the practice of “Detention Short of Arrest: Stop-and-Frisk” requires the same standard of probably cause to be met as that which would be required for a warrant. Now, I’m no law expert, and no expert on the Constitution, but could someone please explain to me how this new MTA mandate is in any way legal? Is there something I’m missing? Maybe some precedent that was established in US law that provides for this sort of thing? I’d like to know, because I could certainly be wrong, but it does seem as if this is the first step down a very slippery slope.

I used to ride the subway and the LIRR every day. To think that a cop could come on board and search me because he didn’t like the way I looked, or because I had a briefcase or backpack? Well, it was unthinkable at the time. What is the next step? Stop my car? When do we declare that the terrorists have won? It would appear that Raymond Kelly and Mayor Bloomberg have signaled today that, at least in New York City, the terrorists are succeeding.

Why is Ann So Skinny?

Today I’m looking through a few blogs and I find a comment somewhere that Ann Coulter doesn’t like Bush’s new nominee for the Supreme Court and that she’s “savaged” him in her most recent column online. So I head over to anncoulter.org to find out what she’s whining about now, secure in the knowledge that it must be that, like most right-wing nutjobs, she wants to continue to overplay the Neo-Con angle. Sure enough. Check this out:

If the Senate were in Democrat hands, Roberts would be perfect. But why on earth would Bush waste a nomination on a person who is a complete blank slate when we have a majority in the Senate! We also have a majority in the House, state legislatures, state governorships, and have won five of the last seven presidential elections ? seven of the last ten! We’re the Harlem Globetrotters now – why do we have to play the Washington Generals every week? Conservatism is sweeping the nation, we have a fully functioning alternative media, we?re ticked off and ready to avenge Robert Bork . . . and Bush nominates a Rorschach blot.

And it occurs to me that right there is the reason why Ann’s so skinny. Hate is literally eating her alive. Now, I’m as upset as the next lib that the Supreme Court effectively installed Bush as president with its decision in Bush v. Gore, but to carry so much hatred for so long about the Bork nomination that you’ve been seeking vengeance for this long against Democrats? Yipes. Not surprising I guess. Hannity and Limbaugh and Coulter like to claim that “libs are unhinged” and “libs are full of hate.” It certainly seems like they identify with the words “unhinged” and “hate” much more than we possibly could (why else would they bring it up all the time?), and Coulter has just confirmed it in her latest article.

As for Conservatism sweeping America, she evidently didn’t watch McLaughlin this week, where the host brought up an NBC/WSJ poll that says Americans would prefer Democrats in charge of Congress in 2006. Forty-seven percent would like to see Democrats control Congress after the 2006 elections, while only forty percent would like Republican control. It’s clear that America has not embraced the Neo-Con agenda. Why do you think that is? Perhaps because it’s been a complete and utter disaster at home and abroad? Terrorism up sharply last year, the economy keeps hobbling along, more job cuts and foreign outsourcing, more uninsured, more poor, more dead, more wounded. Who wouldn’t want a change?

I think Ann’s about to get skinnier.

Poor Security Enforcement at the White House

Just found a couple things over at the Daily KOS. First, a reference to an article where, contrary to what’s being claimed by the right-wing blowhards like Hannity and Limbaugh, Robert Novak claims to Newsday in 2003 that sources came to him with the information about Valerie Plame. “I didn’t dig it out, it was given to me,” he said. “They thought it was significant, they gave me the name and I used it.”

Ouch. So do you believe Rove’s people or do you believe Novak?

Not only that, but it would appear as if Karl Rove, Scooter Libby, Bush and Cheney have all violated their security oaths. Check out this piece on the Daily KOS that references this article regarding government official security clearances (pdf), which was released by Henry Waxman’s office. According to the KOS, “this paper covers the Executive Order and agreement that everyone who works in the Administration is required to sign in order to obtain a security clearance.”

Please pay particular attention to the following phrases:

…an official who has signed a nondisclosure agreement cannot confirm classified information obtained by a reporter…

Before … confirming the accuracy of what appears in the public source, the signer of the SF 312 must confirm through an authorized official that the information has, in fact, been declassified. If it has not, … confirmation of its accuracy is also an unauthorized disclosure.

And the rules in the document actually become more stringent from there, requiring any executive to jump through hoops to make absolutely, positively sure there is no breach of confidentiality when even CONFIRMING a reporter’s question or statement. Clearly, the right-wing chalking this up to “no big deal, he was just confirming some information” is no excuse, even if it was true, which, according to Novak’s statement, it is not. I can only imagine the hell that Hannity, Limbaugh, etc. would raise if this had been a Democratic administration caught in such a compromising position.

But it doesn’t stop there. Waxman’s release also clarifies that the President and the administration as a whole have certain duties under Executive Order 12958:

Under the executive order, the White House has an affirmative obligation to investigate and take remedial action separate and apart from any ongoing criminal investigation. The executive order specifically provides that when a breach occurs, each agency must “take appropriate and prompt corrective action.” This includes a determination of whether individual employees improperly disseminated or obtained access to classified information. [emphasis mine]

The executive order further provides that sanctions for violations are not optional. The executive order expressly provides: “Officers and employees of the United States Government … shall be subject to appropriate sanctions if they knowingly, willfully, or negligently … disclose to unauthorized persons informatio properly classified.” [emphasis mine, again]

So what is the White House waiting for? Even if, as Rove’s lawyer claims, Rove only “confirmed” the information to Novak, that was enough to breach the terms of the nondisclosure agreement that he signed, and based upon this admission by Rove’s lawyer, this is enough to cause Rove’s security clearances to immediately be revoked. The question is, how will Bush get away with keeping Rove in the administration? We know he will, right? This should be good.

Raising the Bar…

So first Bush says if someone divulged classified information, he won’t work in the Bush administration. Then he says if someone outed a CIA operative they won’t work in the Bush administration. Yesterday in Washington he said, “if someone committed a crime, they will no longer work in my administration.” Today, Scott McClellan also raised the bar (check out my post below for excerpts of what his earlier statements were). Of course, this is the same McClellan who, when he gets in a jam over something he said in the past, just claims he never said it, even though most of his statements are a matter of public record. Out of the gate this morning, the Press Corps asked him about Bush’s comment and how it appeared to “raise the bar” on what it would take to get someone fired from his administration.

Q: Scott, the President seemed to raise the bar and add a qualifier today when discussing whether or not anybody would be dismissed for — in the leak of a CIA officer’s name, in which he said that he would — if someone is found to have committed a crime, they would no longer work in this administration. That’s never been part of the standard before, why is that added now?
MR. McCLELLAN: No, I disagree, Terry. I think that the President was stating what is obvious when it comes to people who work in the administration: that if someone commits a crime, they’re not going to be working any longer in this administration.

And by the way, god bless Helen Thomas, who asked, “What is his problem? Two years, and he can’t call Rove in and find out what the hell is going on? I mean, why is it so difficult to find out the facts? It costs thousands, millions of dollars, two years, it tied up how many lawyers? All he’s got to do is call him in.”

Now… Let’s get back to what Bush himself said yesterday… “if someone committed a crime, they will no longer work in my administration.” Hmmmm… Last I checked, George and Dick’s DUIs count as crimes. I think they’re misdemeanors, right? What about John Poindexter, who was “convicted on multiple felony counts on April 7, 1990 for conspiracy, obstruction of justice, lying to Congress, defrauding the government, and the alteration and destruction of evidence pertaining to the Iran-Contra Affair.” Until funding was cut for the scarily-named “Information Awareness Office,” whose stated goal was “Total Information Awareness,” Poindexter was the Director of that division of DARPA.

What about Elliott Abrams, who was convicted of lying to Congress about the Iran-Contra affair? On February 2nd of this year, he was appointed as Deputy Assistant to the President and Deputy National Security Advisor for Global Democracy Strategy.

I’m sure I’m forgetting others.

And folks, just in case you’ve heard Hannity and El Rushbo spewing about how it hasn’t even been determined that Rove was one of the leakers, let’s not forget that Rove’s own lawyer said Rove was the one who confirmed to Novak that Plame was a CIA operative. According to the article in the Washington Post, “At the end of that 15- or 20-minute call, according to the lawyer, Novak said he had learned that Wilson’s wife worked for the CIA. “I heard that, too,” Rove replied, according to the lawyer, confirming the Times account.

I heard Sean talking about how one of the distinctions is that Rove did *not* call Novak to tell him this information. Does that really matter? We’re still hearing about “it depends on what the meaning of ‘is’ is,” and Sean wants to parse words? This whole “parsing words” thing goes hand in hand with another right-wing Neo-Con tactic — someone says something you don’t like? Attack them. Think about what happened post-Wilson’s article. Turns out he was right, and the administration was wrong. So why is everyone even remotely involved with the RNC attacking him and his wife? Simple. Smear, smear, smear… Try to convince people Rove didn’t commit a crime, try to convince people that Wilson is a man of low moral character and that his wife was telling everyone she was a CIA agent already, so what difference does it make if Elliott Abrams and Scooter Libby and Karl Rove confirmed it. Oh yeah, and try to convince people that Wilson wasn’t sent by normal channels to check out the validity of the nuclear threat, but that his wife was somehow involved in getting him sent. Just like the Swift Boat Vets all over again. If you’re going to tell people the truth about me, I’m going to spread enough stink that some of the fallout will stick to you too. I’m not going down alone.

There is no defense here. What happened to the “administration bringing in a new era of honor and accountability” to the White House? I think we all know the answer to that question. Bottom line, Rove acted as at least a second source so that Novak could publish his column. Bottom line. Now, it also looks like Scooter Libby did the same thing. Gee. And I thought Scott McClellan said he spoke personally to these two and they assured him it wasn’t them who leaked this information? Hey Scott, what’s it feel like to be lied to? Now you know what the White House Press Corps feels like.

Who are the REAL Traitors?

Ann Coulter and those of her ilk have been calling liberals “traitors” since I can remember. Traitor=those guilty of treason. According to dictionary.com, the second definition of treason is a simple one — A betrayal of trust or confidence. It is now certain that Karl Rove confirmed to Bob Novack that Joe Wilson’s wife was a CIA “operative.” Not “officer,” but “operative,” indicating that she was under cover. Clear-cut outing of a CIA operative by a Senior White House official. To me, that would seemingly indicate a “betrayal of trust or confidence” on a very high level. But don’t take my word for it — as Harry Reid mentioned on the Senate floor yesterday, one President George Herbert Walker Bush noted in 1999 that “Even though I’m a tranquil guy now at this stage of my life, I have nothing but contempt and anger for those who betray the trust by exposing the name of our sources. They are, in my view, the most insidious of traitors.”

So it would seem, Ms. Coulter, that the White House has a traitor in its midst, that definition coming from the current sitting president’s own father, an ex-president himself. Yet the GOP continue to smear Joe Wilson with their daily talking points. (for Mr. Wilson’s side of the story, see his Letter to the Senate Select Intelligence Committee)

It is under debate whether or not Rove actually mentioned Plame by name, and the right-wing is playing semantics with this open end. If Rove said “Joe Wilson’s wife” instead of “Valerie Plame,” or if he in any way confirmed that she was an operative, and Novack plainly knew about whom Rove was referring, does it really matter? I guess it depends on what the meaning of “is” is… Either that or semantics is only important when it’s a Democrat who is guilty of something. And for once, the press is having none of it. Since the White House press corps has suddenly freed its collective backbone out from underneath Scott McClellan’s thumb, it’s been nothing but entertainment reading the daily press conferences over at the White House press secretary’s website. While it may be fun seeing this administration trying to backtrack and deny it said something once again, this is, of course, a very serious matter. It’s a matter of national security and it’s a matter of whether or not senior White House officials should be held responsible when they jeopardize the lives of government officials by blowing their cover. But let’s backtrack a bit, and check out what White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan said on October 7, 2003.

McClellan: Unfortunately, in Washington, D.C., at a time like this, there are a lot of rumors and innuendo. There are unsubstantiated accusations that are made. And that’s exactly what happened in the case of these three individuals. They’re good individuals, they’re important members of our White House team, and that’s why I spoke with them, so that I could come back to you and say that they were not involved. I had no doubt of that in the beginning, but I like to check my information to make sure it’s accurate before I report back to you, and that’s exactly what I did.

Later in that same press conference, he said:

I think it’s very important to understand that there is a Washington, D.C. game of rumor and innuendo. It’s the ugly side of Washington, D.C. And I’m not going to play that game, and you shouldn’t read anything into that. But let’s make very clear that the subject of this investigation is whether someone leaked classified information. And there are a lot of names being floated, and a lot of unsubstantiated accusations being leveled against good people. And, unfortunately, that’s what happens when — in times like this in Washington, D.C. The ugly side comes out.
No one wants to get to the bottom of this matter more than the President of the United States. If someone leaked classified information, the President wants to know. If someone in this administration leaked classified information, they will no longer be a part of this administration, because that’s not the way this White House operates, that’s not the way this President expects people in his administration to conduct their business.

Let’s look at that again, shall we? If someone in this administration leaked classified information, they will no longer be a part of this administration, because that’s not the way this White House operates, that’s not the way this President expects people in his administration to conduct their business. So Scott McClellan speaks for the President, right? It certainly seemed like this was further clarified only the day before, on October 6th, when he said,

I think I made that very clear last week. The topic came up, and I said that if anyone in this administration was responsible for the leaking of classified information, they would no longer work in this administration. This is a very serious matter. The President made it very clear just a short time ago in the East Room, and he has always said that leaking of classified information is a serious matter. And that’s why he wants to get to the bottom of this. And the sooner we get to the bottom of it, the better.

So is Scott McClellan, and the president, lying? Either Bush didn’t know about it, in which case he should fire Karl Rove, or he did know about it, in which case he has been lying all along. So let’s assume he didn’t know about Rove’s disclosure? Check out Scott’s response to this question from earlier this week:

Question: Can I ask for clarification on what the President said at Sea Island on June 10th of last year, when he was saying that he would fire anybody from the White House who was involved in the leak of classified information?
MR. McCLELLAN: Again, I’ve nothing to add on this discussion, and if we have any other topics you want to discuss, I’ll be glad to do that.

Late responses included the following:

…Again, we’ve been through this for two days now, and I’ve already responded to those questions.
…This is a question relating to an ongoing investigation, and you have my response related to the investigation. And I don’t think you should read anything into it other than we’re going to continue not to comment on it while it’s ongoing.
…David, there will be a time to talk about this, but now is not the time to talk about it.
…Again, you’re continuing to ask questions relating to an ongoing criminal investigation, and I’m just not going to respond any further.

Etc. Etc. Etc., ad nauseum. Perhaps one reporter put it best when he (or she) noted,

You’re in a bad spot here, Scott… (LAUGHTER) … because after the investigation began—after the criminal investigation was under way—you said, October 10th, 2003, I spoke with those individuals, Rove, Abrams and Libby. As I pointed out, those individuals assured me they were not involved in this, from that podium. That’s after the criminal investigation began. Now that Rove has essentially been caught red-handed peddling this information, all of a sudden you have respect for the sanctity of the criminal investigation.

Sit back and hold on, folks. It’s going to be fun watching Bush and his criminal friends squirm their way out of this one and come up with some way to keep Rove on the staff. After all, remember this administration can come up with an explanation for everything.

  • He helped Osama with 9/11! No?
  • He’s got WMD! No?
  • He gassed his own people! We need to free them and we’ll be greeted as liberators… No?
  • It’s a front in the war on terror. No?
  • We’re fighting them over there so we don’t have to fight them here… What? London? No? Ummm…

If the press corps is smelling blood here, it’s about fucking time. Mr. Rove, you are a traitor. Mr. Bush, unless you desire to be in the company of traitors, you should fire Mr. Rove, immediately. Otherwise, you will prove once again that, based upon your actions, your words mean nothing.