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The LiberalOasis Blog
The daily view from the oasis

July 1, 2005 PERMALINK
O'Connor Resigns. Get Ready.
(posted July 1 11 AM ET)

Sandra Day O'Connor is stepping down.

This is will be an even more brutal fight than a Rehnquist retirement because O'Connor is a swing vote, and replacing her with a right-winger shifts the ideological balance of the court.

Short of actual war, this will be as brutal as it gets.

Please re-read LiberalOasis' April 19th post "Putting On Your Game Face For The Supreme Court Showdown," and get ready.

July 1, 2005 PERMALINK
To Impeach, Or Not To Impeach?
(posted July 1 2:15 AM ET)
(edited July 1 9:45 AM ET)

Atrios notes that a new Zobgy poll finds that 42% of Americans believe “if it is found that President Bush did not tell the truth about his reasons for going to war with Iraq, Congress should hold him accountable through impeachment.”

The Left Coaster earlier noted that 52% already do say that Bush “intentionally misled” the public.

And Think Progress adds that “only 41 percent of the American public supported Congress proceeding with impeachment hearings against President Clinton in late September 1998.”

There are a few ways to look at that data.

One is that since the Republicans were able to get impeachment treated seriously by the media with a similar level of support, liberals should feel emboldened to at least discuss why impeachment would be justified.

Another is that since Republicans pushed for impeachment with only minority support from the public, they made their biggest mistake of the 1990s.

The mere prospect of it in advance of the 1998 mid-term elections led to Democratic gains in the House.

Republicans were expecting gains of their own since it is typical for the president’s party to lose seats in a mid-term election, especially during the “six-year itch.”

In turn, Newt Gingrich was so humiliated by the outcome he resigned as Speaker.

So liberals may want to think twice before pushing for impeachment with a similar level of minority support.

Of course, these situations are not exactly parallel.

For one thing, there’s practically no chance that this Republican House will ever vote for impeachment of this Republican president. And there’s similarly little chance that the Democratic leadership will get behind impeachment.

(There is a little loose talk about pushing impeachment among a few liberal House members, but even Rep. John Conyers, who organized the Downing Street Memo hearings, is not on board.)

So if some politicians and activists step up the impeachment talk, it would not really be with any hope of an actual impeachment, but with the hope of reframing the political discussion about Iraq.

The question then becomes: is impeachment the only way, or the best way, to achieve that?

Another way the situations are not parallel is that we’re not dealing with lies about sex, but lies about war.

Liberals often make this juxtaposition to argue that Bush’s lies are far more serious, but it has yet to gain traction beyond partisans.

Why might that be?

While we look at what the lies were about, others look at whom the lies were (supposedly) intended to protect.

One could feel Clinton was misleading people to save himself, while Bush was misleading people in a selfless attempt to protect others from harm.

In that vein, note the polls cited above: a majority feel Bush did mislead, but less than a majority open the door to impeachment.

The question then becomes: if proof of lying isn’t enough to get the majority of public upset, how can pushing impeachment change minds about Bush and Iraq?

Two weeks ago, LiberalOasis criticized Dems for failing to developing a party policy for Iraq that makes clear how their foreign policy goals dramatically differ from the Republicans.

Sadly, it’s not just those in the Beltway that don’t have a unified view. Grassroots liberals appear to have the same problem.

Everyone has an opinion about what can (or can’t) be done in Iraq, and it’s not coalescing into a singular vision.

This is a debilitating problem and it won’t be solved quickly.

And if a push for impeachment, or any other tactic, is to have any prayer of reframing the debate and changing public opinion, the problem must be solved.

We have successfully argued that Social Security is not in a crisis, which allowed Dems to stay focused on criticizing Bush’s plan and not deal with the political complications of proposing their own.

Iraq is a crisis. A crisis of Bush’s making but a crisis nonetheless. And the public demands a strategy and a resolution.

To not do so is to lack credibility in the broader Iraq debate.

You want to push for impeachment?

Then you better say at the same time what you believe should happen with Iraq after impeachment.

Otherwise, you will just look political while people continue to die.

After the GOP lost seats in the House in 1998, the head of the Christian Coalition at the time, Randy Tate said about the focus on Clinton’s private behavior:

The returns show that if that is your one obsession, and you have nothing else to offer and no other agenda, you're going to have problems.

“Impeach Bush,” by itself, is an obsession, not an agenda. If it is to be pursued, it needs to be part of a larger agenda for Iraq.

You think pushing for impeachment is going to backfire?

Then you have the same burden. Shaking your finger at other liberals is not the best use of your time.

You need to try to reframe the debate too, so we’re not just talking about how best we can “stay the course.”

Without a singular view, there’s probably no way around having a cacophony of voices from liberals and Dems on Iraq for the foreseeable future.

The risk is without agreement on what to do going forward, it will be too easy to only debate the past, leaving the false impression that liberals and Dems have no thoughts about how end the Iraq crisis.

But hopefully, if we all are at least offering ideas about what should be done going forward, regardless of our other strategies, we can at least expand the discussion and move towards a unifying vision to offer to the public.

June 30, 2005 PERMALINK
Why Cooper and Miller Should Talk
(posted June 30 1 AM ET)

It’s one thing to rally around friends in trouble, but the twisted logic many media pros have used to try to defend the NY Times’ Judith Miller and Time’s Matt Cooper has been appalling.

The judgment day for the duo is near, now that the Supreme Court refused their appeal and a federal judge has given them one week to cough up what they know about PlameGate or go to jail.

And so, we are blessed with another round of media types lamenting that these two “innocents” are going to jail for no reason and whining how this is “chilling” for the freedom of the press.

This latest round is led by William Safire, back from the Retirement Home For Hacks, Liars and Wannabe English Professors.

Safire summed up the heart of the issue in an NYT op-ed yesterday. Let’s dissect his argument point-by-point:

1.

The principle at stake here is the idea of "reportorial privilege," embraced in shield laws in 49 states and the District of Columbia, but not in federal courts.

That privilege not to testify - held by lawyers, members of the clergy, spouses and others - gives assurance to whistleblowers that information confided to a reporter revealing corruption or malfeasance in government will not result in loss of job or more severe retaliation from on high...

Yes, that’s why the journalist’s code of ethics generally requires protecting sources, and why it is a good idea to have some sort of federal shield law.

But blowing the cover of CIA agent Valerie Plame was not the act of a whistleblower.

It was the act of a White House official trying to punish a whistleblower (Plame’s husband Joe Wilson, who challenged Bush’s truthfulness in accusing Saddam of trying to obtain nuclear material), and in turn, intimidate potential whistleblowers.

Media types are arguing that to give up the leaker will mean that future whistleblowers won’t trust the press to keep quiet and therefore, won’t talk.

More likely, future whistleblowers are frightened at the how the media is so easily used as a tool against them, and would feel reassured to see the media join them in standing up to a corrupt government official.

2.

To every privilege there are exceptions; a lawyer, for example, cannot conspire with his client in committing a crime, and a reporter's testimony may be necessary in a capital case.

And when the crime in question is the leak itself, protecting the source is akin to covering up the crime.

The reporter is the only direct witness to the crime. If an investigator can’t get information from the witness, the crime can’t be solved.

This is a rare situation, and a clear exception that does not violate the principle of the source protection rule.

3.

But this investigation has shown no national security crime at all, as defined in the identities act.

This is just a nonsensical statement.

Safire earlier wrote that “evidently no such serious crime took place” because the prosecutor ”admits his investigation has been stalled since last October.”

But the investigation is stalled because Cooper and Miller won’t talk!

The prosecutor said in his filing: “By October 2004, the factual investigation that might result from such testimony was for all practical purposes complete. The investigation has since been stalled by contemnors’ refusal to comply with an order to testify. The public’s right to have this investigation concluded diligently should be delayed no further.”

Apparently, the prosecutor doesn’t feel comfortable saying whether or not he can prove the crime until he can talk to the duo, as he has good reason to believe they possess crucial evidence.

To pretend that because the investigation is in flux means there isn’t any crime at all is beyond dishonest.

4.

Maybe an official misled an agent, or even perjured himself to save his job; is that sufficient cause to incarcerate innocent journalists and impede the entire press's traditional means of exposing official corruption?

Um, lying to law enforcement is supposedly a pretty big deal. There were a few Republicans who thought so a few years back.

Finally, if Miller and Cooper are so interested in “exposing official corruption” they could both start by exposing the corrupt leaker.

One of Miller’s defenses is that “I could be going to jail for a story I didn't write.”

Put aside the point that it's not about what she wrote, it's about what she was told.

If her interest in exposing corruption outweighed her interest in keeping White House contacts, she would have written a story right after she got the leak: a story about a White House official breaking the law to punish a whistleblower.

(Cooper, at least, did write that story, albeit while allowing officials to remain anonymous while they attack Wilson and Plame by name.)

Miller has also contended that, “what's at stake here is the public's right to know.”

She’s right. The public has a right to know who is the criminal in the White House that blew Plame’s cover in retaliation.

If Miller, and Cooper, really care about the public’s right to know, they have one week to prove it.

It would be far better to have that right exercised instead of having the crucial info locked away in a jail cell.

(More on Miller and Cooper from The Left Coaster.)

(UPDATE 6/30/05 10 AM ET -- Time Inc. announced it is handing over Cooper's notes.)

June 29, 2005 PERMALINK
The Annotated Speech
(posted June 29 1:30 AM ET)

Some highlights from last night's speech, since barely any Dems and independents had the stomach to watch it live:

The troops here and across the world are fighting a global war on terror...

[...a concept that I have already acknowledged is not only misnamed, but is need of a complete strategic revamping. Hopefully this review of counterrerror policy will move a little quicker than the last one I did.]

Our mission in Iraq is clear. We are hunting down the terrorists...

[...and after we hunt them down, we arrange meetings with them.]

These ... savage acts of violence ... have not brought the terrorists any closer to achieving their strategic objectives. The terrorists [have] failed to stop Iraqis from signing up in large numbers with the police forces and the army ...

[...the new Iraqi Army, where soldiers spend their time writing and singing beautiful songs pining for Saddam Hussein to come back.]

The only way our enemies can succeed is if we forget the lessons of September the 11th...

[...the main lesson being: when your poll numbers drop, keep talking about September the 11th...]

...For the sake of our Nation’s security, this will not happen on my watch...

[Just like genocide in Africa will not happen “on my watch.”]

We are improving roads, and schools, and health clinics … and working to improve basic services like sanitation, electricity, and water...

[...”Working to improve” means of course, “haven’t quite gotten around to that yet.”]

In the past year, the international community has stepped forward with vital assistance. Some thirty nations have troops in Iraq...

[And only 14 countries have ditched us! Those Japanese, Italians and Poles think they can sneak out too, but they have another thing coming.]

Some Americans ask me, if completing the mission is so important, why don’t you send more troops? .... sending more Americans would suggest that we intend to stay forever...

[...and we wouldn’t want to send the wrong message to the Iraqi people by doing something crazy like building 14 permanent military bases.]

[T]o those watching tonight who are considering a military career, there is no higher calling than service in our Armed Forces.

We live in freedom because every generation has produced patriots willing to serve a cause greater than themselves.

Those who serve today are taking their rightful place among the greatest generations that have worn our Nation’s uniform.

[So follow my example, er, I mean, follow my daughters’, um, uh, follow my vice-pres, er, my top adviser, oh forget it.]

QUICK HIT

Stand Up For The Strib

The Minneapolis Star Tribune (which has kindly published a few pieces from LiberalOasis) offers an editorial page that, of all the nation’s major dailies, is arguably the most devoted to the truth and the least afraid of the Bush White House.

And it is under attack from the Right for just that reason.

Last week, the Strib not only ran an editorial defending Dick Durbin when Durbin lacked the courage to defend himself, it also ran a lengthy excerpt of Durbin’s speech so readers could examine his words in context and make up their own minds.

Since then, the right-wing Hugh Hewitt has launched a campaign encourage people to cancel their subscriptions to the Strib, in hopes of pressuring the paper to end its defense of real American values.

And Hewitt’s allies at the blog Powerline are trying to keep up the pressure by directly attacking the top editor.

These thuggish attempts to silence brave American voices must be countered.

The best way to do so is to show that speaking truth to power sells.

So if you live in Minnesota and don’t subscribe, now’s the time!

Click here to subscribe, and then email the publisher, Keith Moyer at kmoyer@startribune.com to let him know you’re subscribing because you support the paper’s editorial policy.

Even if you don’t live in Minnesota, you can subscribe and receive the paper via mail, or digitally on your computer.

June 27, 2005 PERMALINK
The Sunday Talkshow Breakdown
A weekly feature of LiberalOasis
(posted June 27 1:45 AM ET)

In last week’s Talkshow Breakdown, LiberalOasis noted that Condi Rice’s attempt to prop up sagging poll numbers for the war consisted of little more than the same old talking points.

This week, the PR offensive continued, with Defense Sec. Don Rumsfeld and Gen. John Abizaid hitting the shows.

And while Rummy outdid Condi in the number of times he said “progress,” he probably did not generate the kind of headlines he was counting on to set the stage for Bush’s “major” speech on Tuesday.

The two main story lines that came out of Rummy’s appearances were:

1) “Defeating Insurgency Could Take As Long as 12 years, Rumsfeld Says”

2) “Rumsfeld Acknowledges U.S. Officials Met With Iraq Insurgents”

It does appear that Rummy was trying to communicate that he and the Administration are not oblivious to the public’s concerns with how things are going.

He began on NBC’s Meet The Press by saying “wars are tough things, and I think the concern on the part of the public in every war [is] understandable,” and on ABC’s This Week with “war is a tough, difficult, dirty business...it’s a terrible thing.”

Then in both cases, he quickly segued into his “progress” talking point – an attempt to reconcile the disconnect between the continuing violence and the Administration’s happy talk.

But while Rummy was looking to gain credibility by showing he was not far removed from reality, he overshot with his errant “12 years” comment, on Fox News Sunday:

We're not going to win against the insurgency. The Iraqi people are going to win against the insurgency.

That insurgency could go on for any number of years. Insurgencies tend to go on five, six, eight, 10, 12 years.

Coalition forces, foreign forces are not going to repress that insurgency.

We're going to create an environment that the Iraqi people and the Iraqi security forces can win against that insurgency.

The “12 years” part was not a talking point (he did not repeat it during his other interviews). By going off-message with hard numbers, he gave reporters an easy news hook.

That was a self-inflicted PR wound.

His comments about meeting with insurgents was more of an ambush.

It appears that it was some insurgent leaders that leaked details of the meetings to the UK’s Sunday Times, perhaps because they were displeased at how the meetings went and wanted to embarrass the US.

Rummy chose not to deny the report.

(Why is unclear, at least to LiberalOasis. Would it be futile to deny because future meetings are likely? Does admitting it help argue Bush is not hellbent on endless war? Does confirming the meeting help fracture the insurgency?)

And Rummy did what he could to shrug off the revelation as a minor matter.

He had help.

For two of his three interviews (ABC and FOX), he was not even asked if this constituted negotiations with terrorists, which could backfire by giving incentive for more terrorist acts.

He was perfunctorily asked the question on MTP:

RUSSERT: Is that negotiating with terrorists?

RUMSFELD: No, no...you've got a situation in Iraq where you've got terrorists over here, you've got Sunni insurgents here, the Ba'athist types.

And then you've got people who haven't decided what they're going to do, and then you have people supporting the government. Then you have the government.

And the goal is to get people to all move towards the support of the government.

And it isn't a matter of negotiating with terrorists.

There's no one negotiating with Zarqawi or the people that are out chopping people's heads off.

Russert let the matter drop. But Rummy’s claim is far from what the Sunday Times reported:

On the rebel side were representatives of insurgent groups including Ansar al-Sunna, which has carried out numerous suicide bombings and killed 22 people in the dining hall of an American base at Mosul last Christmas.

Also represented was the so-called Islamic Army in Iraq, which murdered Enzo Baldoni, an Italian journalist, last August[.]...

...“It looks like the Americans are in big trouble in Iraq and are desperate to find a way out,” [an Iraqi insurgent] commander said. “Why else would they have rounds of negotiations with people they label as terrorists?”

Note that Ansar al-Sunna is “a Sunni extremist group said to be linked with al-Qaida.”

This would appear to differ ever so slightly with Bush’s campaign pledge:

You can't talk sense to the terrorists. You cannot negotiate with terrorists.

We must engage these enemies in Afghanistan and Iraq and around the world so we do not have to face them here at home.

Not to mention just last week, when WH Press Sec. Scott McCllen was defending Karl Rove’s attack on liberals:

...for too long, people looked at these terrorist attacks and thought they could be dealt with in a certain way. Maybe there would be ways to negotiate with terrorists...

...all Karl was talking about ... was the different approaches to how you go about winning the war on terrorism.

Well, this certainly is a different approach.

The Blog Wire
Tracking the liberal blogosphere

[iranian bloggers]

Brooding Persian: "Notice ... that all the talk about poverty and prostitution has vanished over night. The fear generated among the trendy elite by Mr. Ahmadi Nejad's strong showing has made most of our official 'reformists' ... forget their rhetoric. ... [They have] unabashed, fundamental contempt for the absolute majority of our population ... And our 'neo conservatives' have capitalized on it.

Editor: Myself: "The reform movement can't reach beyond a certain population. They only have newspapers and Internet, with an approximate reach of five to seven millions. While the regime has a monopoly on TV and radio ... Until the reformists change this balance, they are doomed to lose the elections"

Iranian.com: "when our people see the elections for what they are (false, corrupt, and a mockery of fairness) and stay home in an educated act of defiance, we call them apathetic and blame them for the victory of the new hardline president"

No War On Iran: "I think it is the right of people to boycott elections if they want – everyone should be free to show their disapproval or support for the system in the way they deem best. After all, is that not the point of democracy, to think for yourself? Boycott is just not the way I have chosen."

[/iranian bloggers]

Tapped: "It seems that we are back to the bad old days of cold Cold-War calculations: The United States doesn’t care what happens inside the borders of a cooperative regime. That, at least, is the message the administration sends to the genocidaires in Khartoum -- while out of the other side of its mouth, it decries their genocide."

Huffington Post's Kristen Breitweiser: "Karl when you say, “Conservatives saw the savagery of the 9/11 attacks and prepared for war,” what exactly did you do to prepare for your war? Did your preparations include: sound intelligence to warrant your actions; a reasonable entry and exit strategy coupled with a coherent plan to carry out that strategy; the proper training and equipment for the troops you were sending in to fight your war? Did you follow the advice of experts such as General Shinseki who correctly advised you about the troop levels needed to actually succeed in Iraq? No, you didn't."

Daou Report: "I spent my youth in Beirut during the height of Lebanon's civil war, and I fought the Syrian presence ... I watched young boys give their lives and mothers cradle their dying children in blood-soaked arms. I've seen more bloodshed, war, and violence, and shot more guns than most of the 101st Fighting Keyboardists combined. I wouldn't presume to question the strength or dignity of a stranger, and I pity those who blithely push the right=strong, left=weak rhetoric. It says far more about their inadequacies than it does about the target of their scorn. Today, Karl Rove took that rhetoric to a new, filthy low."

Shakespeare's Sister: "[Karl Rove,] you were NOT there on 9/11. I was. I was standing in the street watching when the towers went down. I inhaled those buildings and those dead people for weeks afterwards ... We pulled together as a community ... YOU saw 9/11 as an opportunity to sleaze every unctious, despicable plan you and your cronies had on the back burner into American life."

Not So Conservative Judaism: "The idea of using a Jewish foundation, however, as a way to hide ill-gotten gains is pretty revolting ... I, for one, am incredibly embarrassed to be a part of a tribe the membership of which includes Mr. Abramoff ..."

Not In My Bible: "I better not see one Republican using flag napkins at a Fourth of July cookout"

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