the blog of DC Drinking Liberally
I’ve been halfway following online the House Judiciary Committee’s questioning of Attorney General Alberto Gonzales. Here are a few disorganized thoughts:
[Update] Moved the text of the original post here. :)
Al Gore threw down a gauntlet today.
Not some little leather glove with a long cuff like you’d see at a Rennaissance festival.
A real gauntlet.One of the big ugly bastards that jousters wore on the off hand, a thick leather glove that only existed to protect your skin from the fully articulated steel fingers, thumb, and wrist. A heavy plate that covered the back of your hand, and the thick armor to protect your lower forearm. You know. The kind of gauntlet that if you got hit in the face with it, your dentist would have a religious experience.
Got the point across? Good. Now we’ll set the scene. But first, grab a cup of coffee… this is a long one, and well worth your undivided attention.
I admit I haven’t been following every twist and turn of the issue of Alito’s membership in Concerned Alumni of Princeton (CAP), but I really don’t understand Arlen Specter’s point here:
“Judge Alito’s name never appeared in any document,” Specter said. It was not mentioned in any letters to or from the group’s founder or executive director, did not appear on any canceled checks for subscriptions, was nowhere to be found on any articles, lists of board members or contributors, and was not in any minutes or attendance records from CAP meetings,” Specter said.
He quoted CAP founder William Rusher as saying: “I have no recollection of Samuel Alito at all. He certainly was not very heavily involved in CAP, if at all.”
Is the Republican position now that Alito was never a member of CAP at all, but just lied about being a member when he was applying for a job in the Reagan Justice Department?
The Shrub is fighting for the political life of the GOP, the Libertarian wing of the party now up in arms over the revelations regarding the Warrantless wiretapping (to say nothing about how most Liberals feel). I believe he is mounting three defenses, all three based on a series of “of course” conclusions that when looked at from beginning to end, are pretty damn ridiculous. What I like to characterize as “weasel words.” It’s interesting when people who claim to believe in strict construction of the Constitution interperet it so freely - and even more interesting when they interpret the laws with an even more cavalier disregard for consequences.
[Crossposted at Stealthbadger.net]
Bush has been forced into two prominent reversals in the past 24 hours. One of them promises hope, while it’s unclear what the other means for the future.
Yesterday afternoon the White House announced a reinstatement of a provision of the Davis-Bacon Act. Suspending it allowed companies doing post-Katrina reconstruction to pay their workers less, so Josh Marshall dubbed the move the Gulf Coast wage cut. The reversal was a response to a maneuver by Rep. George Miller (D-CA), who put together a coalition of Democrats and moderate Republicans who were going to bring the issue to a vote in the House. Seeing that they were on the losing side in terms of both votes and political perception, the administration had no choice but to surrender, even though it caused some Republicans to say things like this:
“It’s the kind of thing that shows they’re turning their backs on the things that Ronald Reagan and those who built this party care deeply about,” said Rep. Tom Feeney (R-Fla.).
Then this morning came another sign of weakness with the withdrawal of Harriet Miers’s nomination to the Supreme Court. We can thank Harry Reid for helping get Miers nominated and thus widening divisions within the Republican Party. Unfortunately the withdrawal can’t really be viewed as anything other than a cave-in to the extreme right, so the next nominee will probably be someone more to the liking of that wing of the party (well, at this point it’s spread from the wing to take over the whole body). We’re not going to get someone else opposed by both left and right, and the opinions of Democrats won’t count. Let’s hope the political damage caused by the Miers nomination has enough long-term effects to make up for that.
On Thursday November 3, we are pleased and proud to host Lisa Maatz, Director of Public Policy and Government Relations for the American Association of University Women (AAUW).
She will be discussing the Miers nomination, and taking your questions. Free apetizers (we’ve worked out a pretty impressive spread with Timberlake’s), and the happy hour prices (basically, $1 off all drinks) will apply for the whole evening.
More on Lisa Maatz and AAUW after the jump
It’s been amusing the past two days to watch the shrieking meltdown occurring on the right over the nomination of Harriet Miers to the Supreme Court. We’re seeing harsh criticism of Bush from people who have previously blindly supported his every action and statement (and painted people who didn’t as traitors). I still imagine that they’ll soon be putting this unfortunate episode behind them and returning to their faith in Our Leader, but for the time being I think the best strategy for the left is to sit back and pass the popcorn, and certainly not to make the conservatives more comfortable by criticizing Miers too strongly ourselves right now.
It’s been particularly funny to see the outcry on confirmthem.com. The site’s whole reason for being is to support the idea that all of Bush’s appointees must be rubber-stamped by the Senate, so it’s hard to see how they can justify the sort of posts that appeared starting on Monday. Perhaps they just need to change their domain name — Orin Kerr on the Volokh Conspiracy has a few suggestions.
Another great site for hilarious outrage recently has been the Corner on National Review Online, and it’s there that I found my personal favorite post on the subject, by Rod Dreher:
There is no event that cannot be related to an episode of “The Simpsons.” The freak-out among social conservatives about the Miers nomination reminds me of the “Kamp Krusty” episode, truly one of the all-time greats. You’ll recall that Bart and Lisa spend a summer at Kamp Krusty, which is gruesome, ghastly and horrible in about a million different ways.
But Bart refuses to believe it, because to have done so would mean having to question his faith in his hero, Krusty the Klown. But when the camp leaders try to pass Barney the Drunk off as Krusty, Bart cracks. He spouts: “I’ve been scorched by Krusty before. I got a rapid heartbeat from his Krusty brand vitamins, my Krusty Kalculator didn’t have a seven or an eight, and Krusty’s autobiography was self-serving with many glaring omissions. But this time, he’s gone too far!”
If this analogy holds true, Cheney and Rove will soon be heard to say, “To the hydrofoil!” Bwahahahahahaha!
Republicans are now claiming that if Democrats want the release of memos written by Roberts earlier in his career, it’s only fair that they release some memos of their own. The Hill has the story:
Conservative strategists are drafting a letter to Democratic members of the Senate Judiciary Committee demanding the release of hundreds of internal memos detailing contacts between the lawmakers and liberal interest groups opposing John Roberts’s nomination to the Supreme Court.
By planning to press Democrats on the sensitive subject, conservatives seem to be pulling a page from the Democrats’ own political playbook. In the weeks leading up to the confirmation hearings, Senate Democrats have repeatedly called on the White House to give them memos Roberts penned while he was deputy solicitor general in President George H.W. Bush’s administration.
This sounds halfway reasonable, until you think about it for a few seconds. It’s typical Republican strategy: throw dust in the public’s eyes and hope they won’t notice it’s irrelevant. Unfortunately, the Hill puts forth only the Republican side, mentioning one Democratic source who declined to comment and then quoting three separate conservatives who favored the Republican ploy.
The reason the Democrats want memos written by Roberts is because they’re being asked to determine whether he’s fit for a lifetime appointment to the highest judicial position in the nation. Since the memos are examples of his legal work and indicators of his skill, personality, and philosophy, they are relevant to that determination.
The reason the Republicans are asking for the Democratic memos is because they’re hoping to find something in them that will embarrass the Democrats. The memos were not written by Roberts and are clearly irrelevant to whether he should be confirmed. They are in no way equivalent to Roberts’s memos, but they would be equivalent to any memos related to communication between Republicans and conservative groups (say, Focus on the Family or Americans for Tax Reform). I’m taking a wild guess that the Republicans aren’t offering to release any of those memos.
I was reading Dana Milbank’s account of the Roberts Confirmation hearings when I came across this passage (italics added):
“Are you sending us a message?” Sen. Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.), the ranking Democrat on the committee, asked hopefully. Democrats labored to unmask Roberts as a fierce conservative, but they were largely thwarted.
The clock in Hart 216 neared 11 this morning, and Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, the Democrats’ liberal lion, was on deck to question Roberts. He tapped his pencil, fixed his tie, adjusted his glasses, scratched his brow, leaned his cheek on his fist and scowled down at the nominee. Sens. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) and John Cornyn (R-Tex.), two of the committee’s conservatives, left the room rather than expose themselves to the exchange.
What struck me about the passage was the use of subjective language in what is supposed to be a newspaper story. Thus the italics. I italicized what I believed to be more artful construction of a narrative, rather than something that can be verified.
I can’t help but wander if Milbank is a frustrated novelist. Which would explain his generally sarcastic tone, not to mention his tendency to lash out randomly at people.
If that’s the case, a tip to Mr. Milbank: since you referred to Kennedy as a “liberal lion,” it’s a better choice to say he “snarled” instead of “scowled.”
In covering the Roberts appointment, the press is mostly ignoring the fact that they spent a whole day telling us the nominee was Edith Clement because confidential sources in the White House were telling them she was. Finally Howard Kurtz is talking about the issue, but he avoids the point that Atrios and Kevin Drum make: What’s the purpose of protecting a source who’s lied to you? And how does that work, anyway? When the same source calls a journalist again, does the journalist just pretend not to notice that the information was bogus last time? Or does the administration have an infinite supply of disposable sources ready to call journalists?
The White House apparently views the media, and by extension the public they’re supposed to inform, as an enemy in a war. Therefore it feels justified in using disinformation against them, and us. That’s a dangerous situation for a democracy. And if the Bush administration is willing to lie to us about such a small thing, what else are they willing to lie about? That question has been asked many times before, of course, on topics from whether Dick Cheney had ever met John Edwards to whether aluminum tubes were weapons of mass destruction. The answer seems to be that they’re willing to lie about anything. Lying has zero cost, as far as they’re concerned, so as long as they think there’s any benefit at all, no matter how small, lying is their first instinct.
There are other shameful aspects of how Bush handled the announcement of Roberts. How does Judge Clement feel about being used as a decoy? It shows a serious lack of respect and consideration. Also, originally the announcement was supposed to be made in a week or two, but the schedule was suddenly rushed, presumably to knock the Rove-Plame story off the front pages. Once again, this administration puts politics above everything else.
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