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October 26, 2006

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Very, very well said.

The one thing that I would add is that if it plays out the way you sketch, they would be walking a very fine line, in that acts which are too heavy handed could be used against them in the court of public opinion, exacerbating the desire on the part of members of their own party to distance themselves from the lame duck administration, and changing the 2/3 of the Senate calculation. At the same time, it would give the Democrats a wonderful case of "changed circumstances" and throw the administration back into the Nixonian "spoiled child" mode which Bush is always flirting with.

Once something like that starts to come apart, it can be brutal.

--MarkusQ

All true, Markus. My fear is that they've already sold enough supporters on the "inherent powers" of the "unitary executive" thing that they feel they can make a "genuine issue" (man, that's a lot of quotes) out of the purported Congressional authority to call the executive to account. Especially when it involves compelling one branch to act at the behest of another.

The theory behind their signing statements is that they actually intend to portray Congressional direction of the executive as "overreaching."

Then it becomes a "he said, she said" situation, which they can ride out to the end of the term.

Dems charge Bush with "overreaching." And Bush charges Dems with the same. And the press covers it as a wash.

Personally, I think if the corrupt sheriff orders the deputies not to serve duly authorized subpoenas on his cronies, we've got bigger problems than being accused of flip-flopping. I mean, at that point, what power does Congress have to enforce impeachment? If we've essentially become a dictatorship, then having made a campaign promise not to impeach is pretty small potatoes.

You people need to get on with life, with governing, if you get a chance to do so, in less than 2 weeks..

Haven't you been beat up enough in the courts as it is. You claim that laws were broken, and then the courts say NOT. I especially like the NYt. ~the law was broken, now it is in the courts, we shall have satisfaction, oh no, the courts are wrong, when will everyone wake up and realize that we are right? ...~
(no not every time, but enough)

You want the courts to decide. They go against you. You cry and say "we want fair-minded judges." Sure Judges that decide the way you want. Those especially fair-minded judges! MY fair-minded judges.

Pitiful!

You have to get the votes, the seats, and then the Presidency if you wish to change the country and its direction.

Anything else is pettiness. Chicken S**t.

Graduate level? How about pre-pre something? Or Huggies Pull-Ups?

The only thing saving you is that there is just as much self serving thinking over on the Republican side.

But I don't think they have sold enough supporters on the "inherent powers." Case in point, all the signing statements are couched in code language referring to the President's Constitutional authority, they don't come out and say he has the power to ignore the law. When anyone but Yoo and Addington is asked about the "unitary executive," they fall back on the claim that it's just an obscure argument about who controls independent agencies like the FDA. Plus they did go back to Congress for the Death of Habeas Corpus Act, rather than continuing to fight for inherent powers.

All of these things say to me that they aren't confident they've made the sale to anyone other than hardcore wingnuts. I think at most they think they've been really clever, and they'll pull the "unitary executive" stuff out of their sleeves if they need it and claim that everyone already agreed to it, and the general public will say "what the hell are you talking about?"

And as for the press, corporate-controlled as they are, if they Administration tries to go in for refusing subpoenas, I think "another Watergate" is a far more likely storyline than "he said, she said" for the journalistic herd to fall into.

Jodi, you're living on another planet. The courts have found exactly the opposite.

They went back to Congress for the MCA, and it's what, two weeks, maybe three, and they're already saying the MCA doesn't mean what Congress said it means. And why doesn't it? Because the "administration" doesn't consider waterboarding torture.

If there were ever a court case, I think the safe bet is that the "administration" comes with the argument that the definitions don't match, and that even if they do, the executive has... "inherent authority."

But haven't the courts already told the "administration" that that's wrong? Yes they have.

And Bush says, "So?"

Pelosi is rich. Clinton was impeached.

Jodi,

I don't think you understand that the courts have sided with the democrats. The problem is that Bush et al, doesn't like the ruling. Doesn't like the judge.

Kagro, I think you are absolutely right about Pelosi's position. In my opinion it is problematic on one hand and/or dishonest on the other. I understand she would rather play the well reasoned rational head of state who will let only the facts sway her. That would be nice. I realize that not all the facts are available to make the definitive call about "impeachment". Truthfully, the subterfuge has made it difficult for anyone to be able to say that Bush himself broke the law.

I think the only honest answer is that we must gather important facts about the gravest of concerns. Namely, did Bush lie to go to war. If Bush and co lied to start a war, they must be held accountable for the sake of this nation and all it stands for. If we do not police our heads of state, we violate the principles that make a democracy different from a dictatorship or emperialist nation.

I don't care about any other violation. That one, is to me the foundation crime. It ended up killing hundreds and thousands of American and Iraqi people, maiming many thousands more with disabilities for life. This is why wars should not be entered into lightly and this is what makes democracy a better form of government. Because the only way, Bush was able to start this war, was by lying to the American people. There is nothing about democracy that is conducive to this use of power and control. That's not what a democracy is about.

If Pelosi and others do not understand that this is paramount to regaining our intergrity in the global realm, then they are missing the boat. If we want to have influence anywhere else in the world it needs to come primarily from respect. And on the rare occasion when fear needs to be the enforcer we need the world completely and squarely beside us.

What she should have said was this...and it needed to be repeated like a mantra. (which is how we get objective met, by the way). "We need to find out the truth about the lead up to the war. This is paramount to our integrity and safety. At this point, the democrats have not been privy to all the facts regarding this issue. At the time, that we are able to gather the appropriate information and assess the problem we will make a determination about the need for legal remedy. Until that point, there is no use quessing about what will happen. If their was no wrong doing, their will be no need for impeachment or legal remedy. If the need exists then we must pursue justice..."With liberty and justice for all". If a legal remedy creates consequences for us, then this administration is responsible. It would be like ignoring a problem child's behavior because it's too much work to enforce the rules. It's bad parenting and bad governing to do that.

The mantra would be "let the facts speak for themselves, the democrats are committed to uncovering the facts."

FWIW, I agree that it was a bad idea for Pelosi to get caught in that trap, and to think that the GOP scare tactic about impeachment could in any way be defused by such a pledge. The sensible response would have been to say that the Democrats don't have plans for impeachment, but it would be irresponsible to make blanket promises, because we can't know what will happen in the future. (That's the kind of Democratic dog-whistle I wish we'd hear more of -- where everyone knows that "can't know what will happen in the future" means "can't know what will be uncovered," but they never admit that's what it means.)

Well shoot, impeaching President Bush leaves you with President Cheney. That's a crappy option. Did Pelosi promise not to impeach [i]anyone[/i], or just Bush? Because if you impeach Cheney based on his statement that committing a was crime is a no-brainer and he provce he authorized or advocated such actions to Bush, then there isn't any flip-flopping involved.

Kagro X,

I'm going to completely disagree. I think what Pelosi said was completely innocuous. The public already leans towards impeachment. When the country faces up to what has gone on, there will be essentially no political cost to reversing her stance. The average person on the street understands how this game is played. I actually don't think what she said is that much different from what you think she should have said.

In the final analysis, impeachment is important, but sending Bush, Cheney, and Rumsfeld to jail after they leave office is far more important. That will require electing a President with a real respect for the law.

But haven't the courts already told the "administration" that that's wrong? Yes they have.

And Bush says, "So?"

I read the standard boiler-plate Feddie Soc. talking points (via a living robot) the other day, and the argument is predictable: can branches have subpoena power over each other? Madison would've been delighted to see the CO- EQUAL branches 'jostle', la dee da, tra la, etc. Fundamentalist, and therefore (paradoxically) *extremely* selective. In fact, a tight legal argument for impeachment is very powerful. The reason impeachment is a necessity is that there is such a strong case - an irresistable case - for it, as Kaygro X illustrates once again in the above quote. Impeachment is hardly off the table, because this is a textbook case - the one historians have been waiting for! It's people inside the 'beltway' who have a more pervasive heebee jeebees about impeachment, as compared to the general public - as ever.

I'm waiting for a Democrat who realizes the simple fact that having had a presidential impeachment so recently is - in this case - all the more reason to do one now, not an impediment to doing. The symmetry is perfect - unwarranted; warranted. The impediment is imaginary. If your imagination is even dinkier than the Revolutionaries', how are you going to lead?

I actually think principled conservatives wouldn't nec. have a problem with impeachment. It's going to hang in the air no matter what. KX is right that subpoena power is overrated, because Bush will just stonewall, say 'no'. But it's in the 'administration's' interest to drag everything out, delay the actual 'showdown' (which is risky for them), so that is a real pressure point. And the WH seems terrified of being investigated, so that's good. It's better to have some congress than not.

Impeachment has legs, no matter how outlandish it sounds to some at the moment.

Isn't the biggest problem with foreswearing impeachment while vowing subpoenas and investigation simply the issue of, what is the point of the investigation? Just to pursue knowledge for its own sake? You know I like to advocate for basic research, but it is not really what I expect of Congress.

Or, to turn it around slightly, if Pelosi already knows that no impeachable offenses were committed then specifically what evidence does she think it will be important to subpoena?

Pelosi and the DC Dems are still caught up in the "battered wife" syndrome. It was not too long ago like spring time that Emmanuel and Schumer and many other DC leaders did not want to bring up Iraq and national security in the campaign. They worked hard to get "centrists" who were prime triangulators. So taking impeachment off the table is still in the same vein.

Now there is change taking place in the Dem party at the margin. Candidates like Tester, Webb, McNerney, et al won the primaries against the DC establishment annointed candidates. If Tester wins for example he will be another powerful voice to repeal the Patriot Act. If Webb wins he is on record that rolling back the abuses of Bush/Cheney is one of three priorities. As more such candidates get elected in future election cycles the Dem party will also change. That's why the primaries are so important.

Getting back to 2007, if the Dems gain a majority in the House. Committee heads like Conyers and Waxman will pursue what the deem is right and investigate. If the investigations uncover wholsesale abuse of power and determine as Katie Jensen stated in her post above that Bush lied to go to war then public opinion could very well demand accountability. Impeachment may not be the only form of justice. A war crimes tribunal could also play out. In the event that the Administration refuses a subpoena, again its a matter of ginning up public opinion. Since the Dems do not have the combat ability now nothing may come to pass until more principled candidates like Tester and Webb get elected.

I actually think principled conservatives wouldn't nec. have a problem with impeachment.

I think you are understating the case. As a "principled conservative" myself, I am demanding impeachment. And many of my friends feel the same (we jokingly call ourselves "Tough Love Republicans").

Although I disagree with many people here on a variety of social issues, I am willing to work with you (and have given more money this election than ever before, all but $20 to progressive Democrats) for one reason: you people truly are "reality based" and are the best shot my party has of throwing out the rascals that lied to us, took over our party, and turned it into something that resembles evil incarnate more and more every day. I hope someday to engage in honest debate with you about the details of how to run our country, but we have to work together to save it first.

I don't think most progressives understand how deep the notion of accountability runs in true conservative circles. And I don't think that the beltway insiders of either party recognize that things like honest and respect for the constitution and such aren't just code phrases for "hot button issues" for many of us; they are the issues.

Hell hath no fury like a "values voter" who realizes he's been taken for a chump.

--MarkusQ

Glad to hear it, Markus. Many many progressives realize that it's an insult to conservatism to have to add 'principled' to it, but - hey, not our fault. In fact, the case for impeachment is inherently conservative (in the American sense of that word), which is why I think it's so strong.

Holy Shit! Markus, You rock! I've got no problem with true conservatives, but I loath these, coporate rule neo-con butchers. Yes, the right headed people of both parties need to work togather to rid ourselves of these humanity haters. As for impeachment, I've got no problem with the kinder-care logic.

I can't believe you challenged me to find Court Decisions that went against the Dems.

Someone here must be 3 sheets to the wind already on a Thursday afternoon.

Let us start off with

1. 2000 Presential Election

Have you repressed that already? I can see why you would.

Woah, did we just jump back to the Clinton years? Again?

I thought we were talking about the Bush administration's illegal torture and wiretaps.

Many many progressives realize that it's an insult to conservatism to have to add 'principled' to it, but - hey, not our fault.

*laugh* We're more or less used to it. I sense that "progressive" has lost the "distancing ourselves from the morons who claim to represent us" taint on your side as well.

The sad fact seems to be, once any principled movement anywhere along the spectrum gains traction it will be besieged by opportunists, carpetbaggers, concern trolls, and hypocrites of all stripes and flavors until the original founders are forced to distinguish themselves in some way and, eventually, to flee. It happened to "the Party of Lincoln" back when it was the Democrats that were crypto-Racists, and to the Libertarians when corporations decided that they were people too, and probably even to the Farmers for Ur when the Priests of Elyysa decided they were for better irrigation policy too--at least in public.

BTW, the one Republican I gave to this cycle was Schlesinger, 'cause I like his moxie. I haven't given a dime to any incumbents.

--MarkusQ

P.S. To Jodi -- your "you people" attitude leads me to believe that you are also a Republican, or at least claim to be. In that case, I would be interested in how you defend Gore v. Bush and the SCOTUS intervention from a State's Rights perspective. What constitutional basis do you find for their intervention?

This was my point, too, in my post over at kos a few days ago. I'm still not confident about how it will play out when the Resident and his cohort deliberately provoke the (not so) latent Constitutional crisis inherent in their claims to plenary power.
Perhaps impeachment will be back on the table at that point. But will any of the cowed, bribed and blackmailed Republican politicians ever dare to cross the line? Getting the Senate to convict both Bush and Cheney--that would then mean giving the Presidency to that far-left liberal grandmother with her San Francisco values (and uncover a lot more serious dirt).
I fear that the stakes for these men are too high to permit any serious investigations. Abuse of power, war crimes, theft of billions of dollars--it's a never-ending story.

Markus: well said.

notjonathon: There's always the Nixon-route. Replace Cheney with a Republican, etc. Even if it means President McCain (whom I don't admire, BTW), it's worth it to impeach the top of this cabal. The integrity of the Constitution means more than any momentary political (dis)advantage. Kaygro has made this point very well in the past, and I agree with him. See? The case for impeachment really is essentially conservative.

Jodi,

One ruling I was referring to was Hamden. That ruling (despite all the crying about bad judge, bad argument) is being ignored by Bush co. That ruling was part of the impetus for them to work furiously to pass the "pro torture" bill so that Bush co could use it to vindicate himself if necessary.

Now they are so brazen that Cheney was bragging about using waterboarding, pretty much admitting that we used it despite the fact that McCain et al said that waterboarding is torture and should not be allowed. Cheney told a conservative radio crowd that the use of waterboarding was a "no brainer" for getting information.

The law, the geneva conventions, does not support this behavior. But, despite the uncivility of this Bush co behavior, it pales in comparison with the war dead.

Jodi, you'll pardon me for saying so, but your latest point is simply too retarded to address seriously. The presidential election of 2000? Get your head out.

You're not even playing the same sport, let alone in the same ballpark. How about the election of 1856, while your at it? Or, hey, the Council of Trent?

The presidential election of 2000 as a "court case" that bears on the "inherent powers" doctrine? I'll take addled non-sequiturs for $1000, Alex!

Katie, Abu got a court order staying Judge Diggs's injunction that stopped the wiretaps while it's on appeal. They're not ignoring the decision, they just called a time out while they try to rig the circuit court that will hear the appeal.

Sure, it's still illegal, and probably unconstitutional too. But in court at least, they're sort of playing by the rules. It's OUTSIDE of the courts that we need to be worried about at this point.

Can we impeach both Bush and Cheney at the same time? Wouldn't that make Pelosi President? Then she would get to appoint whoever she wanted as VP right? *looking out the corner of my eyes at Obama, wiggles eyebrows*

Oh, and then let's lock Cheney up in a turkish prison and deny him Habaes appeals.

jonnybutter--

I thought of the Nixon precedent, but these guys in the WH intend to play for keeps. I don't see them going along with a dump-Cheney scenario, for Bush would realize that he is the ultimate target. I really think that they have enough blackmail material (either sexual, alaDusty Foggo, and/or financial, i.e., Cornyn) on Repubs in the Senate to prevent them from joining in a Guilty verdict.

The basic argument is that Pelosi *could have* made a reasonable move in pre-empting impeachment in terms of current public opinion for electoral purposes, knowing she can change public opinion down the road using subpoenas. However, such a move will be thwarted ultimately by the unitary executive's disregard for congressional subpoena power. It seems difficult to forecast the dynamic between public opinion and the unitary executive. The natives are already getting restless. How does the administration slow that down? They would need to do something rather "positive," which seems unlikely. Stonewalling subpoenas isn't exactly one of those "positive" things for which Americans yearn.

Great post, as usual.

I think that any impeachment of Bush would also indict cheney, don't you? I see it like watergate in that, once you uncover one cockroach there are usually many more hiding under the mat. If we went to impeach Bush I am certain that Cheney would go as well. I think they could both be indicted (or unindicted) as co conspirators for lying to the public about the war. I think both are easily guilty of lying to both congress and senate. That's not legal. Would a lie be hard to prove?? I think people already "believe" they have been lied to.

If not that, he's got some serious health problems and just might pull a Kenneth Lay in response to the stress. My worst fear would be indicting Cheney and not getting to Bush.

But I digress, too painful to think about.

Well, you could just flat arrest Cheney, if you think you had the goods.

Impeachment must be off the table, and remain off the table, until such time as it is put on the table.

Congfress must thoroughly investigate, impeachment or not. It is for the public's benefit. If the public sees it as with the goal of impeachment, i.e. retribution, they will tune it all out.

In any event, I think it will all lead to a Constitutional crisis, just as it did in Watergate. Stonewalling a congressional investigation itself is grounds for impeachment. Nancy Pelosi didn't anticipate that George Bush, an honorable man, would try to impede the Congress. It's understandable that impeachment was off the table before it was on the table again.

Wow, lets give them a fair trial and then we will hang them, boys.

Ooops said "boys." Must be a Republican skunk in the bunkhouse.

Ok, let's get away from that "Republican Speak."

Look you gals! You haven't anything but emotions to stand on.

And what is wrong with 2000. No one said that decisions against Democrats were limited to any thing other than the Republicans during Bush's term. (This Bush.)

I'll get back to you Katie. Running late tonight.

What's wrong with 2000? It's extraplanetary, Jodi. It has nothing to do with anything. It's not even arguably connected or connectable to what we're talking about.

You're so far out, you're in orbit with this.

One thing that keeps coming back to me is that the republicans keep drumming in as thier call to not vote for democrats is that they will impeach bush.
The way I see it, why are they so sure about that unless they know Bush has done criminal things. That he's done the impeachable.
We say he has but, if the republicans are so worried about it then, it shows they were derilict in thier oaths of office to uphold the constitution and go after the president.
There are things the democrats are thinking about in regards to impeachment.
For one thing they have alot of work to do to just stabilize all that Bush has destroyed. For another, it will take a long time to get the hearings, evidence and witnesses for trial. Bush has only two years left. They do not know yet what all they will uncover. Are the American people as a whole stand for an impeachment trial or will they think it a waste of time. And last, can anyone say President Cheney?
Oh he'll go to but, in the meantime, as Bush is brought up Cheney will be in charge until he is on trial or the new president of the 2008 elections is sworn in.

I'm with bob and bill ockham above -- I was initially sad to hear about Pelosi's pledge, but can see it playing out with her as the "good cop" in a Law and Order: HR (i.e., House of Representatives) edition. Finally, after beat cops Henry Waxman and John Conyers assemble enough evidence to proceed, Lt. Pelosi goes all S. Epatha Merkerson and is reluctantly persuaded to pursue impeachment: "It now looks as if, contrary to my prior understanding, crimes and misdemeanors so heinous have been committed that to fail to proceed would be to ignore our duties to the Constitution."

MarkC: I don't think anyone's seriously arguing that she'd actually feel more bound to Lesley Stahl than the Democratic Caucus and the Constitution, should circumstances warrant a reversal. Only that the pledge might create more problems later than it solves now.

And, dlake: Nobody can really say President Cheney, no. The idea of an impeachment that proceeded to the point where Bush was convicted and removed, but which didn't touch Cheney, is beyond imagination. The only thing more outlandish than that is the idea of a Congress that removes Bush from office for specific acts of, and then mysteriously forgets how to impeach and rolls over for exactly the same behavior from the guy who was behind it all in the first place.

Inconceivable.

A neutered President Cheney, on the world's shortest leash, and a reestablishment of the rule of law? Deal.

I have never felt so strongly about the need for us to restore the best part of democracy which is the power of the people, as opposed to the power of corporations. I am occasionally fearful that Lou Dobbs is correct and that even the dems have become straw men for corporate america. Pray it ain't so.

Pelosi can say whatever she wants to about impeachment -- the bottom line is that Conyers is slated to head the Justice Committee in the House, and he can do an impeachment investigation without Pelosi's blessing -- and get articles of impeachment passed by that committee and submitted to the House as a whole.

And if there is one thing that will force an impeachment (and conviction) it will be the executive branch's refusal to provide information demanded by legislative branch supoenas.

NPelosi tends to be pretty straightforward. As some people here have highlighted, simply beginning to find out the hidden information and reverse some of the polity of the past six years will be substantial tasks. Alternatively, to begin with a large task like impeachment might be hasty. Over the years I have found her to be fairly like the article linked, plain, smart, and a mainstream kind of politician, asiduous; and far from kookie or corrupt. Part of her job as Speaker would be letting the country see that kind of wholesome, realistic personage; it would help develop support. She is receptive; but she has a reasonable sense of priorities and moves boldly and quickly when a situation requires. I liked her responsiveness to the search of William Jefferson's private office even given the damning evidence gathered elsewhere and the 80-page search warrant. It looks like a lot of the first-time representatives have some ideas substantially outside of the course the Republicans set. Although she and Hastert both have been ex officio members of the HPSCI intell committee, tables will be reversed there in the new congress, and things Goss and Roberts managed to hide in intelligence, and the face-offs over the neoFISA will be open for review; Conyers, Waxman, and others are ready for that shift of emphasis. This will be occurring quickly, I would guess, as Libby's trial begins within a few months after the new congress is in session.

I am sure Pelosi will be examining the Baker-III redesign of Iraq policy, as well, as the true pursestrings on expenditures begin in the lower chamber.

Much about the scale of plans depends upon what the Senate is prepared to do in the next congress, as well. Certainly the way conference committees accept input and compromise will be vastly different with Pelosi directing the House's contribution.

It is possible, too, with developments in the Libby trial and civil proceeding, Cheney and his close advisors may become persons of interest in a protracted investigation. The revisions encompassed in the FISA rewrite, Patriot, DTA and MCA all call for attention. Hopefully, the Senate will participate in that depth of review. Hearings which were short shrift in the recent past could be more expansive with Democratic Party leadership. Speaking of MCA, here is website I visited today for the first time; the article I read posted there today was somewhat graphic.

I have a hard time believing what I am hearing here.

Let me clear it up for you, Jodi: You're living in a fantasy world.

Regarding the All-Encompassing Fear of President Cheney:

Don't impeach Bush, and you have a horrendous President utterly unaccountable to the citizens.

Impeach Bush, and you have a vile President whose power is limited to what the Constitution allows and is diminished to Ford-like proportions. You have a President who is accountable to the citizens.

I'll take President Cheney, hands down.

(That said, if you impeach Bush, there's plenty to go on to impeach Cheney, Rumsfeld, and much of the rest of the gang too.)

Kagro X, you in the Bay Area? Pelosi's office, 8:30 AM Nov. 8th, impeachment demonstration -- yea or nay?

I guess this is what they mean when they say "the inmates are in control."

Simplify, I'm on the opposite coast, but I got word of it the other day. File an e-mail report with me? I'd love to throw it in my impeachment/accountability newsletter.

Did I mention that? Probably not.

Jodi, what it means is this: you're living in a fantasy world. I can't say it any plainer. Unless I resort to, "head up your ass." But I wouldn't do that to you.

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