Friday, October 28, 2005

Some Past Perjury Comments

I have been listening to Sean Hannity attack the indictment and ignore the actual charges, pretending instead that this is somehow a vinidcation for the WH and poor Scooter was just too busy to remember the truth. Just in case you were wondering, below is what Republicans have said about perjury and obstruction of justice in the past.

Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchinson (2/5/99)
I do think, along with Senator Lieberman, that something needs to be said that is a clear message that our rule of law is intact and the standards for perjury and obstruction of justice are not gray. And I think it is most important that we make that statement and that it be on the record for history. ...

Rep. Stephen Buyer (1/16/99)
The statutes against perjury, obstruction of justice and witness tampering rest on vouchsafing the element of truth in judicial proceedings -- civil and criminal -- and particularly in the grand jury. Allegations of this kind are grave indeed. To borrow the words of Constitutional scholar Charles J. Cooper, the crimes of perjury and obstruction of justice, like the crimes of treason and bribery, are quintessentially offenses against our system of government, visiting injury immediately on society itself, whether or not committed in connection with the exercise of official government powers. In a society governed by the rule of law, perjury and obstruction of justice simply cannot be tolerated because these crimes subvert the very judicial processes on which the rule of law so vitally depends.

Rep. Henry Hyde (12/10/98)
If we tolerate such serious crimes as perjury and obstruction of justice . . . there will be grave, damaging consequences for our system of government.
Studies show that perjury is an increasingly common occurrence in our courts. Contrary to what some have asserted, there are numerous recent examples of federal prosecutions of perjury in civil cases. There are at least 115 people in federal prison today for perjury in civil cases. If he has committed these crimes and is not impeached, a terrible message will go out across the country that will undermine the integrity of our court system. We will not only send the message that there is a double standard . . . but also a message that these crimes are not as serious as some people once thought they were. More people in the future will likely commit perjury in the courts . . .

Bob Barr (12/1/98)
It is important despite the political spinning from the White House that perjury isn't important.

Ken Starr (11/19/98)
In cases involving public officials, courts treat false statements with special condemnation. United States District Judge Royce Lambert, here in Washington, recently sentenced Ronald Blackley, the former chief of staff to the former secretary of agriculture, to 37 months' imprisonment for false statements. The district court, Judge Lambert, stated, in his words, "The court has a h--duty to send a message to other high-level government officials that there is a severe penalty to be paid for providing false information under oath . . . perjury seems to have been recognized as a high crime or misdemeanor at the time of the founding of our republic. And the House manager's report in the impeachment of Judge Walter Nixon for perjury stated, 'It is difficult to imagine an act more subversive to the legal process than lying from the witness stand.'

Former Attorney General Richard Thornburgh (1/22/98)
charges of obstructing justice and suborning perjury are
very serious. They go to the integrity of the whole justice system because, if in a criminal case we can't count upon truthful testimony or on testimony being given free of outside influence, then the whole system has a tendency to collapse.

Robert Bork (12/15/98)
As--as a matter of fact, we've always treated perjury as serious as bribery. And the 1st Congress--one of the first statutes they passed, punish bribery. I'm--I'm sorry, punish perjury. And the Supreme Court has said that perjury undermines the entire system of justice. We have just put two women in prison for per--lying about sex under oath. What are we gonna do with them? No, the--the whole judicial system is undermined once people feel free to lie in order to get out.

Robert Bork (9/11/98)
All perjury is perjury. If you lie under oath, it doesn't matter what you're lying about.

Of course, I guess that only applies if you name is Clinton.

Indictment Thoughts

Having read through the indictment, it seems as though the prosecutor has a very strong case for perjury, making false statements and obstruction against Scooter Libby. Supposedly Libby is a smart guy, so it is hard to understand why he would do something so stupid. (Was he protecting someone? His boss perhaps?) The strength of the indictment certainly makes it difficult for those on the right to attack it.

But the indictment doesn't answer a number of questions, including whether the was an underlying crime. Maybe Fitzgerald will answer that at the press conference, or perhaps another indictment may be coming down the pike.

Now supposedly Rove's lawyers were able to cast enough doubt on his probable indictment that Fitzgerald held off for a while. My guess is that that indictment will be coming next week.

Libby Indictment

You can read the papers here.

Libby Indicted on Perjury and Obstruction

The Washington Post story here.

It certainly appears as if Rove is not out of the woods yet.

Expect a GOP counterattack that this is an outrage since there might not be an underlying crime. More on that later.

Is the Bush Ship Sinking?

This is certainly the question that conservatives are asking themselves this week. Other than the John Roberts nomination, it is hard to find anything positive that the President has accomplished since his inauguration. (Please don't come back at me with "Iraq has a Constitution." I think that 2000 dead Americans makes that a wash at best.)

And today it seems as though at least one high administration official, Libby, will be indicted, and another, Rove, will continue to twist in the wind.

So the question at hand: is this administration sinking?

Both fortunately and unfortunately the answer is, of course not. Fortunately because this is the President of the United States and the leader of the free world. Unfortunately, because Junior is proving himself to be much like his just withdrawn Supreme Court nominee, not really up to the task, but there because he knew the right people. (Let's be honest here, there is no way this guy gets to where he is except for the fact that his Daddy was President. No matter how you feel about the guy, there is no way to deny that.)

He has already lost the fear factor, and Republicans are becoming more apt to campaign away, if not quite against, him than with him. (See Kilgore in VA, Schwarzenegger in Cali and Bloomberg in NYC.) So he needs a victory and he needs it bad.

The road to recovery will begin with his next Supreme Court nominee. I am predicting that he nominates a hard right conservative, and tries to get the Senate Democrats to filibuster the nominee. This is a risky strategy, because if he fails, his Presidency may really be done. But he needs the fight to rally the base, and try to paint the Democrats into the "extreme liberal" corner. It is too early to tell how the fight will end, but one thing is certain, by the end this President will show himself to be much more the divider than the uniter.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Miers Withdraws

This has been predictable for a while, she was soooo bad that the only real question was the timing.

Here is my recycled list of the possible nominees.

Third Circuit Appeals Court Judge Samuel A. Alito Jr., D.C. Circuit Appeals Court Judge Janice Rogers Brown, Fifth Circuit Appeals Court Judge Edith Brown Clement, U.S. Senator John Cornyn, U.S. Senator Elizabeth Dole, Fifth Circuit Appeals Court Judge Emilio M. Garza, Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales, Fifth Circuit Appeals Court Judge Edith Hollan Jones, D.C. Circuit Appeals Court Judge J. Michael Luttig, Tenth Circuit Appeals Judge Michael W. McConnell, former Solicitor General Theodore B. Olson, Seventh Circuit Court Appeals Judge Diane S. Sykes, former Deputy Attorney General Larry Thompson, Fourth Circuit Appeals Court Judge J. Harvie Wilkinson III, and Fourth Circuit Appeal Court Judge Karen J. Williams.

What I said back in September still applies today:

will stay away from Olsen and Janice Brown - too inflammatory ... My best guess is Alberto Gonzales or Larry Thompson.

The only major question is which type of conservative does he nominate, one that will get Roberts type support, or one that will provoke a filibuster fight. I know the political instinct will be for a fight, but it might be hard to win that one given the President's current lack of political capital. You can't pick that fight unless you are sure that you can win.

Brotherly Love

Robert George thinks that Jeb is protecting Junior from more FEMA related bad news by taking the blame for the slow response to Wilma. I guess that's what brothers are for. Of course, this doesn't really jibe with Jeb's earlier comments that said Florida wasn't Louisiana. Ooops.

Inside Insight

Paul Begala, who has some experience in dealing with a White House and a President under crisis, has some thought about was is going on in the WH right now, and what should be. Read them here.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Nothing Today?

Both ABC & CNN are reporting that there will be no indictments annouced today.

The Anticipation

Someone need to talk to Fitzgerald and explain that the anticipation is killing some of us. Is this a big story, a huge story or a non-story? Any of the three is a distinct possibility.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

I-Day is Almost Nigh

The Washington Note is reporting that target letters have been sent, indictments will be filed tomorrow and then announced on Thursday.

(For what it is worth.)

The Leak Scandal

Tom Maguire has a pretty comprehensive update on the activity in the past day or so, but seems less impressed by the revelation that Cheney told Libby about Plame than he should be. No matter what the prosecutor might do, it does expose Cheney as pretty much lying to the public about what he knew and when he knew it.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Withdrawal Strategery

I previously said that the Miers withdrawal was imminent, which I completely stand by. (Imminent, of course being relative.) But even if we don't know the timing, at least now we know how the WH will justifying the withdrawal.

This weekend GOP Senators starting making noises about needing more papers for Miers, including from her time as WH Counsel. This has been a touchy subject in the past, and today, the WH indicated it did not plan on releasing a great deal of her documents. That will be the hook and it is really smart, since it won't look like a withdrawal, but a stand on principle! The President willing to make a personal sacrifice in his stand.

That is it would have, if Charles Krauthammer hadn't written an op-ed saying the administration should do just that.

No one will be fooled. (OK, except Fred Barnes, he'll believe anything coming out of the WH.)

A Trio of Problematic Stories for Conservatives

According to the New York Daily News, Junior seems to be having trouble adjusting to his recent adversity. He seems to be lashing out at junior staffers.

According to the Boston Globe, conservative leaders are dismayed that they are not being listened to, and that, gasp, the rank and file have their own ideas about stuff.

And finally, it turns out the SC Republicans aren't quite as conservative as you might think, according to Lee Brandy. (But make no mistake, they are still pretty conservative.)

Just something to think about. (Yes, there is more than a little Schadenfreude in this post.)

Name the Subject of This Blind Quote

He's a vile, detestable, moralistic person with no heart and no conscience who believes he's been tapped by God to do very important things

Has to be Ken Starr right? Wrong!

Apparently this is what the WH is saying about Patrick Fitzgerald in anticipation of indictments.

Ok try this one. Name this Presidential defender:

I certainly hope that if there is going to be an indictment that says something happened, that it is an indictment on a crime and not some perjury technicality where they couldn't indict on the crime and so they go to something just to show that their two years of investigation was not a waste of time and taxpayer dollars. So they go to something that trips someone up because they said something in the first grand jury and then maybe they found new information or they forgot something and they tried to correct that in a second grand jury.

I think we should be very careful here, especially as we are dealing with something very public and people's lives in the public arena. I do not think we should prejudge. I think it is unfair to drag people through the newspapers week after week after week, and let's just see what the charges are. Let's tone down the rhetoric and let's make sure that if there are indictments that we don't prejudge.

Anyone? No, not Paul Begala, but it is a Texan.

Its Kay Bailey Hutchinson on Meet the Press.

Amazing what difference a couple of years and the party in the White House can make. (Kay Bailey, in case you forgot, did vote for impeachment a couple of years ago for precisely that.)

Ben Bernanke = Harriet Miers?

Apparently Bernanke is going to be named as Alan Greenspan's replacement as head of the federal Reserve. If you are like I am and have never heard of him before, the first question that popped into your head was probably: Is this Junior's accountant?

UPDATE - Apparently he is a (the?) White House economic advisor.

FURTHER UPDATE - You can see his bio here. I guess he looks ok.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Miers Withdrawal Imminent?

I can't tell if this Washington Times story is actually news, or wishful thinking. But it says that the White House political director, Sara Taylor, is reaching out to conservatives to see how to handle a possible withdrawal. She, of course, denies any outreach, but this is the first hint that the WH is looking for a graceful way out.

Friday, October 21, 2005

An Ominous Sign for Rove & Libby

Apparently Patrick Fitzgerald now has a webpage at the DOJ website. That can't be good news if you were hoping that he was going to close down the grand jury without any indictments.

(Yeah I know, this is the ultimate in tea leaf reading, but it does seem odd to start a page now.)

It is Scary . . .

that four years after 9/11 this is still a reality.

Hopefully your city is better prepared!

Degrees of a Nomination

First there was anger, then denial (maybe this is all a plot to soften up opposition to the real nominee), then plain embarrassment. Now there may even be a degree of sympathy for Harriet Miers over how she is being placed in a position for which she is clearly not qualified, if Arguing with Signposts' latest comments are an indication.

Maybe the next step will be outright support by those on the right end of the political spectrum -- in which case I will stand and salute the WH for their pure political brilliance. (But somehow I doubt it.)

Professor Bainbridge has the latest news on the nomination, but apparently has not made the jump to sympathy for Miers, yet.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Pirro Gaffe of the Day

According to Newsday Jeanne Pirro told a group of upstate New Yorkers that "a difference between Democrats and Republicans - we don't want them next door molesting children and murdering women." And then when pressed upon it, her campaign manager stated that she didn't really mean it.

There have certainly been more outrageous statements made in a political campaign, but don't fold like a cheap suit when pressed on it. It is hard for me to understand why the NY GOP was so in love with this woman -- she is a miserable person and a worse candidate.

(And, no, I do not have any intentions of making this a daily post, unless she makes me.)

More on Miers

Bob Novak's column is a must read today. At this point I cannot fathom Miers ever getting sworn in for the Supreme Court. The Democrats are keeping their powder dry, but once they really go after her, already lukewarm Republican Senators will need to make a choice: support a bad candidate just because the Democrats are against her, or humiliate the President and hope his next try is better. My money will be on the later.

This is Getting Embarassing

From today's Washington Post:

The top two members of the Senate Judiciary Committee yesterday complained about the written responses they received from Supreme Court nominee Harriet Miers this week, and warned her to expect tough questions from Republicans and Democrats alike when her confirmation hearing begins Nov. 7.

Barely concealing their irritation during a 35-minute news conference at the Capitol, Chairman Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) and ranking Democrat Patrick J. Leahy (Vt.) called the lobbying on Miers's behalf "chaotic," and said the answers she provided Monday to a lengthy questionnaire were inadequate. "The comments I have heard range from incomplete to insulting," Leahy said.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

NY Senate

There is no politician I hold in lower regard than Jeanne Pirro (including Tom DeLay) but I almost feel bad about how poorly her Senate campaign has been run, almost. The latest gaffe is detailed here.

Actually, I take that back, I am enjoying every second of her joke of a campaign. When Hillary skunks her next year, no one will be happier. (And I am hardly the world's biggest Hillary fan.)

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

I Love Rumors!

According to US News & World Report, the rumors are flying that VP Cheney will have to resign, and be replaced by Condi Rice.

Of course, the real scary news is that if Cheney and Rove had to resign, then George W. Bush may actually have to run the White House.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Miers is Done

This John Fund article, in which he details a conference call in which two close associates of Harriet Miers told Christian conservatives that Miers would vote to overturn Roe is the final nail in her proverbial coffin.

Nobody in America seems to know what her judicial philosophy is, but her boyfriend, possible the only person in American who would know, is out there telling people how she will vote?!? I said before that I thought that Miers was going to be a vote to overturn Roe. But I assumed she would be coy about it, a conference call with your boyfriend telegraphing your opinions is not coy.

This will kill Democratic support. They already had doubts about her anyway, but were enjoying the sight of the GOP going after each other. Now the Democrats will have a chance to pile on. Unless Miers and the White House have a real good excuse for this, and I can't imagine what that might be, this nomination is done.

(BTW - I have no doubt that Fund was turned on to this story by conservatives who opposed the nomination, but even her vote to overturn Roe is enough for most conservative opponents.)

Friday, October 14, 2005

Ideas Have Consequences

We have been hearing this a lot from conservatives opposed to Harriet Miers. But honestly, has anything this White House has done in the past 5 years demonstrated that they are worried about consequences? Tax cuts without corresponding spending cuts - no problem. Invasion of Iraq, without building a national consensus - fine. Ask Americans to support a war on terror, but not ask them for any sacrifice - check. How could any of these be a problem down the road?

This is an Administration that believes that once a decision is made, that's it, time to move on to the next topic, lets not spend any more time worrying about the last topic. When you feel that way, the consequences of your decisions don't really matter.

(Of course, you could also point out to many of these conservatives who are now braying about Miers, but have been fairly strong and vocal about their support for this administration in the past, that they are now suffering the consequences as well. But that would just be snarky.)

Less Swagger

That appears to be Craig Crawford's advice to (or possibly his diagnosis of) the White House. Of course, right now, there is very little to swagger about, but of course, that hasn't stopped them before.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

1994 Redux?

There do seem to be some striking similarities between 2005-6 and 1993-4 brewing. Both had newly (re)elected Presidents who overreached on their goals of reshaping a major function of the government (health care/social security); Congresses of the same party that were beginning to rebel against the President and his goals; growing public frustration with one-party government; and increased optimism by the other side about what looked like impossible dream of taking over Congress.

There are of course many differences and I personally believe that history does not (exactly) repeat itself. However the unpopularity of the Republicans and the increased optimism by Democrats in 2005-6 is replicating one feature from 1993-4: the ability to recruit strong candidates. The old adage goes that you can't beat something with nothing, and too often Congressional races are uncompetitive. But if the Democrats are able to recruit attractive, motivated candidates for 2006, they will find that races that seemed to be longshot are all of a sudden within their grasps.

November 2006 is still along way off, and many of the problems that are facing the GOP may have been resolved by then, but at least the Democrats will have recruited a talented team.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Is This the Low Point?

According to the Political Wire:

For the first time in the NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll, President Bush’s approval rating "has sunk below 40 percent, while the percentage believing the country is heading in the right direction has dipped below 30 percent. In addition, a sizable plurality prefers a Democratic-controlled Congress, and just 29 percent think Supreme Court nominee Harriet Miers is qualified to serve on the nation’s highest court."

No wonder Democrats have been silent for the last few weeks.

If it gets much worse, well, that's when talk of a Cheney Presidency begins.

Is This The Conservative Crack Up?

Howard Fineman posits that we are in the midst of the long awaited conservative crack up.

As much as I would love to see this, two bad months does not a crack up make. But it is hard right now to see how the President rights this ship. The obvious move is to withdraw Miers nomination, appoint someone like Janice Rodgers Brown or Priscilla Owens and pick a fight with the Democrats over their nomination. But I don't think that the WH would win that fight right now. They would get back the conservatives, but would lose the moderates in the Senate, and appear to be caving into the right's demands.

Maybe this is the crack up after all.

(BTW - Light blogging because of an extremely busy personal and professional schedule, plus it has been fun to sit back and watch the right fight amongst themselves.)

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Miers Reaction

The Moderate Voice has a pretty excellent run down on the various reactions to the latest SCOTUS nomination. It certainly has been interesting watching the GOP fight among themselves for a change. I don't expect this to last for long, unless Bush has truly lost the right wing, which I don't think he has yet. But this certainly doesn't help what is becoming a growing rift, or at least growing concern by some on the right that Bush may not be a great as they once thought.

My thoughts are that all in all Miers is a pretty mediocre pick. Bush picked someone he knew, probably because unlike many of the other possibilities, he has a pretty good guess on how she will vote on something like overturning Roe. And my prediction is that she will vote to do just that. It certainly appears that the White House is trying to tell social conservatives, trust us. (This certainly explains why James Dobson is so quick to jump on board in support -- he is being told by the WH that she is a vote against Roe, although apparently even Dobson is having some second thoughts.)

But in someways that shows that even the WH doesn't understand the social conservative movement. Roe is important, undoubtedly the most important thing, but it isn't the only thing, and on other issues important to the movement, particularly gay rights, Miers’ records is much less favorable. And her mixed record (what little there is), rightfully worries many social conservatives, because the most important issue that will face the Supreme Court in the next 15 years is something that we don't even realize right now. A nominee with no track record could go either way on that issue.

In addition, the social conservative wing was itching for a fight. They see that they are in some trouble in DC right now and a fight about abortion and gay rights is always popular. In addition, they would love to get rid of the judicial filibuster (which I think is short sighted) and this pick would have been the great chance to do so. For now the social conservative wing is leery, but willing to support because of the "trust me" message.

On the other hand, financial conservatives and libertarians have finally given up on Bush's "trust me" line, so Miers nomination has nothing to support it. Many may ultimately come around, because that is what the Establishment ultimately does, but some will see at this as just another reason to give the Democrats another look.

Democrats, on the other hand, are in a bit of a quandary. They are certain they could have ended up with a worse nominee, but without any track record, it is natural to assume that she will be with the more conservative members of the Court. (Of course, this was also the assumption with Souter, back when the last President Bush put forth his stealth nominee.) I think it is also fair to assume that she will be a vote against Roe. (But in private, I think that a growing number of Democrats don't think that Roe is as untouchable as it once was. Indeed some believe that overturning Roe might just be the thing that brings middle class women back to the Party.) And, of course, since Bush is having a tough time of it right now, it is indeed tempting to try and kick him when he is down. So the Democrats will ultimately go with the Devil they know.

The most interesting point to watch is Bush himself. He is under siege from his right, which has not happened to him before. But he is not one to re-think one of his choices, so despite the hopes of many on the right, I would think there is very little chance that he would withdraw the nomination. And even if he did, the next nominee would be trouble for moderate Republicans because it would look as though the right wing zealots are in complete control. It certainly is going to be fun to watch.

Monday, October 03, 2005

Next SCOTUS Nominee

Apparently it is Harriet Miers.

Talk about a stealth candidate. I don't think she has any judicial record.
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