Turdblossom’s Still a Lying Sack; AP Journalists Are Still Suck-Ups

A number of people have pointed to Ron Fournier’s "breezy correspondence" with Karl Rove in 2004.

In a chain under the subject line "H-E-R-O," Rove replied to an e-mail from Fournier by saying, "How does our country continue to produce men and women like this?"

Fournier replied, "The Lord creates men and women like this all over the world. But only the great and free countries allow them to flourish. Keep up the fight."

Fournier, now the AP’s acting Washington bureau chief, said Monday: "I was an AP political reporter at the time of the 2004 e-mail exchange, and was interacting with a source, a top aide to the president, in the course of following an important and compelling story. I regret the breezy nature of the correspondence."

But thus far, I haven’t seen anyone point out that AP’s love affair with Turdblossom is still going strong. In yesterday’s case, the AP’s Lynn Elber allowed Rove to completely steamroll her (probably all in the name of maintaining AP’s "breezy" relationship with him). Elber was reporting on Fox News EVP John Moody’s nonchalance about employing a contemptuous character like Karl Rove.

John Moody, Fox News executive vice president, was asked if it undercuts the channel’s credibility to have someone with Rove’s "political baggage" in its lineup.

"No," Moody replied, calling the former Bush adviser an authority on politics and adding that the current difference of opinion with Congress is between Rove and lawmakers.

But then Elber portrays Rove’s refusal to testify precisely as he’d like her to–as a combination of traditional executive privilege and the much more audacious absolute immunity that Steven Bradbury dreamed up.

But when a reporter tried to press the point with Moody, Rove jumped in to dispute characterization of the dispute as personal.

"It’s not between me and Congress. I’ve not asserted any personal privilege. This is between the White House and Congress," Rove said.

The issue centers on "the ability of the president to receive advice from senior advisers and for those senior advisers not to be at the beck-and-call of Congress for testimony," Rove said.

[snip]

Rove has said previously he is bound to follow the White House’s guidance, although he has offered to answer questions specifically on the Siegelman case — but only with no transcript taken and not under oath.

[snip]

The White House has cited executive privilege as a reason he and others who serve or served in the administration shouldn’t testify, arguing that internal administration communications are confidential and that Congress cannot compel officials to testify. [my emphasis]

Apparently Elber reported this entire story without ever actually checking what the White House had cited. Because, as I pointed out here, the White House did not once mention executive privilege in their guidance to Rove not to testify.

Now look at the letter Fred wrote Luskin and the letter Luskin sent to HJC. Go ahead look closely. Do you see the words "executive privilege" anywhere in either of those two letters?

It’s not there.

For that matter, check out the memo Steven Bradbury wrote last year rationalizing why Harriet Miers didn’t have to show up–which is what Fielding cites to justify Rove’s absence today. Look closely. See any mention of executive privilege in that memo? Nuh uh. It’s not in there, either.

So Elber’s argument is incorrect when it states that the White House claimed that, "internal administration communications are confidential." Mind you, they do claim that, frequently, but they did not do so in this case. Rather, they argue:

 The President is the head of one of the independent Branches of the federal Government. If a congressional committee could force the President’s appearance, fundamental separation of powers principles–including the President’s independence and autonomy from Congress–would be threatened.

In other words, the White House did not and is not asserting that this pertains to confidential internal administration communications (and how could they? Rove has been blathering about this stuff on TV for six months!). Rather, Bush is just asserting that were he–or top aides like Rove–forced to appear before Congress, it would threaten the institution of the Presidency itself. 

Now, the significance is important beyond the question of whether or not Rove’s "official duties" included the politicization of investigations into Democrats. Once it becomes clear that the White House did not invoke executive privilege (as we typically understand it), then that dramatically undermines Rove’s claim that "I have not asserted any personal privilege." In a traditional executive privilege claim, true, the privilege resides with the President; when he invokes it, he’s basically forbidding an aide from damaging his prerogatives. The absolute immunity privilege also rests on Presidential prerogative. But as Steven Bradbury describes it, at least (and he seems to be the only one who believes in this nonsense), absolute immunity is not a requirement that Rove not testify, it’s a lack of requirement that he show up. As Fielding says, in the letter that asserts absolute immunity,

We have been further advised that because Mr. Rove was an immediate presidential adviser and because the Committee seeks to question him regarding matters that arose during his tenure and relate to his official duties in that capacity, Mr. Rove is not required to appear in response to the Committee’s subpoena. [my emphasis]

The implication, of course, is that Rove can appear, he just can’t be compelled to do so (mind you, we’re still just pretending that Steven Bradbury’s little theory is valid, which I don’t believe it is). If you need any proof that a presidential adviser can appear, if he chooses to do so, look no further than David Addington, who showed up under subpoena to testify before the very same Committee that subpoenaed Rove, pathetically waving the magic Bradbury opinion, yet still, ultimately, showing up. According to Bradbury’s opinion, Addington didn’t have to show up, but he could, and did (for whatever unknown reason). (In fact, according to the Rehnquist opinion on which the magic Bradbury opinion rests, Addington would have absolute immunity but Rove would not, since Rehnquist’s argument applied only to current aides, not aides who had been fired a year earlier.)

Mind you, Bush did tell Rove not to show up (and presumably didn’t tell Addington not to show up).

Mr. Rove is not required to appear in response to the Committee’s subpoena. Accordingly, the President has directed him not to do so.

I’m not really sure how this works–Bradbury’s magic opinion does rest the privilege in the President. But the aide, himself, has the privilege. While I’m sure Bush’s direction is still significant (again, still pretending that Bradbury’s theory isn’t bunk), it’s nowhere near as strong a claim as it would be if the President claimed he was protecting the advice he was given by Rove, which he hasn’t claimed. It’s still a matter between the White House and Congress–but nowhere near as clearly so as if Bush really had invoked traditional executive privilege.

So here’s where Rove snookers his latest AP interlocutor. He claims this is about "the ability of the president to receive advice from senior advisers and for those senior advisers not to be at the beck-and-call of Congress for testimony" when in this case, it is actually about solely "the ability … for [the President’s] senior advisers not to be at the beck-and-call of Congress for testimony." But Elber, apparently without looking at what the White House said, just repeated Rove’s claim without challenging it. Why should she challenge Rove? Her editor, Ron Fournier, would probably just tell Rove to ignore her challenge and "Keep up the fight!"

Which is how, once again, the AP willingly participated in Karl Rove’s successful efforts to spew disinformation.

Marcy has been blogging full time since 2007. She’s known for her live-blogging of the Scooter Libby trial, her discovery of the number of times Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was waterboarded, and generally for her weedy analysis of document dumps.

Marcy Wheeler is an independent journalist writing about national security and civil liberties. She writes as emptywheel at her eponymous blog, publishes at outlets including the Guardian, Salon, and the Progressive, and appears frequently on television and radio. She is the author of Anatomy of Deceit, a primer on the CIA leak investigation, and liveblogged the Scooter Libby trial.

Marcy has a PhD from the University of Michigan, where she researched the “feuilleton,” a short conversational newspaper form that has proven important in times of heightened censorship. Before and after her time in academics, Marcy provided documentation consulting for corporations in the auto, tech, and energy industries. She lives with her spouse and dog in Grand Rapids, MI.

    • chetnolian says:

      In that piece is an amazing quote from Archibald Cox

      “Over a period of a century and a half thirteen Presidents found a total of twenty occasions on which to refuse to turn over information demanded by an arm of Congress.”

      So how many times has Bush added to this in six years?

      • skdadl says:

        Lovely quote, chetnolian.

        But, y’know, if you’d listened to the Repubs on the HJC (as some of us did today for our sins), you’d have learned that no one in history has ever faced the terrible problems that they do, absolutely no one — I mean, human history has been a picnic until now — so all the rules have had to change and the gloves are off and … and … where is mama? Plus math is hard and why is everybody always picking on us?

        So that’s why Bush gets to do things no other president has done.

        chetnolian, you’re in the U.K., yes? I saw the Guardian article this morning about MI5 collusion with torture in Pakistan. On the one hand, I’m sure that many of us figured that was going on — we have one Canadian case we know about — but it is good to see both the documentation and the push for an inquiry.

  1. BoxTurtle says:

    We’ll never convict Rove of anything. Credit where credit is due, he’s simply too good at covering his butt.

    Now, we MIGHT be able to get Rove to the point where he has to throw Bush/Cheney under the bus to protect himself. We’ve already seen hints that IF forced to testify under oath he’ll tell inconvienent truths, hints he himself has thrown when he feels that BushCo is exposing him to risk.

    So the pressure is working, at least to an extent. After all, it’s BushCo we really want.

    Boxturtle (Though I’m betting we’ll have to depend on Belgium to get them for us)

    • perris says:

      We’ll never convict Rove of anything. Credit where credit is due, he’s simply too good at covering his butt.

      I give no credit to rove, he is a moron, responsible for the fall of his party and president

      he is not good at covering his but, he has the president to back his claims up and make believe rove is above board but rove is not good at anything but destroying things

      • jayt says:

        he is not good at covering his butt,…

        well to be fair, when referring to Rove, that’s a whole lotta ass to cover….

      • BoxTurtle says:

        He’s out of Jail, able to avoid congress, able to avoid Fitz, and has the media eating out of his hand. The things AROUND him have been destroied, but he’s doing just fine.

        Boxturtle (The word that comes to mind for me is not moron, but amoral)

      • ACitizen says:

        Well said sir.

        Anyone else with the tremendous impetus to ‘Do Something!’ after 9/11 could have moved this nation in productive and fruitful directions.

        These ‘Midget Maichiavellians’ so dumb, so locked in the grip of fear and a lust of power not seen for some time, if ever, here in America fucked themselves and us.

        How can you say the vile Rove is any kind of success when Da Preznint is at 25%?

        That’s simple lunacy!

  2. FormerFed says:

    A little OT, but I’m curious if anyone knows why the NYT stopped listing the AP a few months ago in its online section labeled “News from AP and Reuters”. I go there once in a while to see the breaking news stories.

    For a while it was just “News from Reuters” and then after a month or so it changed back to “News from AP and Reuters”. Curious, but then it is obvious that the slant of AP stories has certainly changed over the last year. Did Rupert suck AP up as well as the WSJ?

    • strider7 says:

      Dean’s article about Clifford is a real eye opener.The ties of First America to BCCI are hard to ignore.To think that Clifford wasn’t aware of the owner’s(BCCI) is amazing.If true it really sheds alot of light on the ability of banks to keep secrets and how difficult it is to expose covert slush funds
      Just shows how naive I am when I tried to get valid info on my local bank.Ha HA

      • emptywheel says:

        The “if true” is the operative phrase there. I think Dean-channelling-Bennett is being WAY too kind to Clifford, given the public evidence.

  3. klynn says:

    Posted this at the Lake but thought some here might enjoy this bit since we are talking about the Rove Gang…

    O/T

    Didn’t post this info over July Fourth but since we are talking that gas prices and the economy are “all in our heads” how’s this story…

    Last year Exxon was the sponsor of the Columbus, Ohio Red White and Boom, July 4th finale fireworks. The local radio station announced Exxon as the sponsor and then began the finale simulcast music of the sound track from Stars Wars Revenge Of the Sith from the Death To The Republic scene in the movie. The music for that scene is O Fortuna directed by John Williams.

    This July 4th, 2008, same event, same music; however, the sponsor: Marathon Oil (yes another petro based company).

    Once again, my 15 year old walked away in disgust and shared the lyrics to O Furtuna when we got home.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/O_Fortuna

    In Roman mythology, Fortuna (equivalent to the Greek goddess Tyche) goddess of fortune, was the personification of luck, hopefully of good luck, but she could be represented veiled and blind, as modern depictions of Justice are seen, and came to represent the capriciousness of life. She is also a goddess of fate.

    If a fifteen year old gets that “it” is NOT in our heads, a figment, or a psychological problem, Mr. Pres, we all do.

    Sorry to go O/T Marcy…

  4. SaltinWound says:

    Off topic, but I finally read the Vanity Fair article on Bear Stearns. It’s crazy how ad hoc everything was, not a lot of policy discussion, just the Fed pressuring Morgan to buy the company on short notice and a somewhat random price of two dollars being set–in response to Morgan not being that hot to make the deal and Paulson thinking Bear should be punished. Then everyone at Bear freaked out, so they became the squeaky wheel, and it was upped to ten dollars per share the next week-end. Not a lot of rhyme or reason, just insiders dealing with insiders.

    • Hugh says:

      It’s crazy how ad hoc everything was

      When your financial strategy is to kick the can down the road, then smoke and mirrors is what you use.

  5. emptywheel says:

    Oh, and if anyone’s on tenterhooks wondering if I have heard back from DOJ about whether they think Rove’s official duties include politicizing prosecutions, apparently they still haven’t decided.

    • nomolos says:

      Jeeze I hope you are not holding your breath. These guys are up their ahol eye balls in lies so it would be hard for them to find anything.

  6. SaltinWound says:

    I am on tenterhooks, but I’m making an effort to avoid words and expressions I don’t know the actual meaning of. Tenterhooks is a fine example, but, yes, of course, I’m on them , whatever they are.

    • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

      Yes, but the best analogy seems to be a photographic negative: no picture there, so… enjoy the white space, Congress.

      First, you can’t see us because we’re in the Exec Branch.
      Next, you can’t see us because we aren’t “required’ to appear.
      Does Rove honestly think that simply because he wants to claim that he’s the ‘white space’ the image is invisible? It’s not.
      It’s simply more hideous, but the outlines remain intact and quite clear.

      Rove mistakes ‘white space’ for invisibility.
      Stupid of him.
      Stupider yet of AP.

      • Hugh says:

        Look if Doug Feith could refuse to show up the first time around because Wilkerson had hurt his feelings, then Rove can not show up because it was a sunny day or he had to take a crap.

        These guys are just making stuff up and daring Congress to call them on it because after 7 1/2 years of this going on they know that ultimately the Congress won’t do a thing.

        • Leen says:

          And we wonder where kids get “the dog ate my homework” hogwash. Feith can’t make it to the congressional hearing because Wilkerson hurt his feelings, and Rove had a vacation planned. Heaven help us. How can anyone wonder why there is so much disrespect for our Reps and for the “equal justice under the law” horse crap

  7. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Actually, I think it’s worse than just sloppy reporting. Rove implies, in the response EW highlights, that he has a personal privilege that would excuse his non-appearance, but that he hasn’t needed to use it. He let’s us assume that he could, and the reporting aids and abets that inference.

    That’s not correct and Rove would know that. He has no personal privilege that would excuse his not complying with a valid Congressional subpoena. Even if he chose to assert his Fifth Amendment privilege against exposing himself to criminal liability by answering Congress’ questions, it wouldn’t excuse his not showing up. Like EP, he would have to assert that right personally and in response to specific questions.

    The bottom line is that Rove is a private citizen being compelled to testify about his personal knowledge about a matter that’s within Congress’ jurisdiction. A matter that no one has yet explicitly said formed part of his official duties for the President (which, depending on the context, might excuse his answering specific questions).

    As EW has taken pains to point out, Fielding’s use of the Bradbury memo is very slippery. It was written a year ago about an unrelated Congressional subpoena compelling attendance of different witnesses. It does not support the claim Fielding makes, though Fielding implies that it does. So far as we know, the DOJ hasn’t given Fielding advice about this subpoena to Rove; if it had and he liked it, he would have used that instead of Bradbury’s year-old letter.

    Fielding’s unexplicit, implied argument seems easily refutable. Congress hasn’t chosen to do so. The clock is still ticking, but it doesn’t seem to want very much to know what Karl has to say.

  8. libbyliberal says:

    Back and call of Congress? The old defensive offense. Congress seems to have lost their “beck and call” power. What about that inherent contempt rule?

    There is a wonderful short story by Melville called Bartleby, the Scrivener. Bartleby simply repeats the phrase, “I would prefer not to.” Talk about successful broken record assertiveness.

    So citizens losing rights and privileges faster and faster, and the President seems to garner them at an equal speed. Journalists, legislators all seem in the thrall of legalese self-serving double talk to protect these “lying sacks.” God, the liars seem to feel extraordinarly entitled to the rights they are stripping and sabotaging from and for everyone else.

  9. DeadLast says:

    I wonder what would have happened if Bill Clinton had argued “executive privilege” in his breezy relationship with Monica.

    A blow job is a blow job, and the AP is blowing…

  10. Badwater says:

    If Obama is elected, the Republics will demand that any and all executive power claimed by Bush/Cheney be illegal for Obama.

    • yellowsnapdragon says:

      They might rediscover the 4th Amendment, too, just to impeach or at least attack Obama.

      • Badwater says:

        There’s little doubt that Republic’s will begin their investigation demands on January 21, 2009. They’re nice enough to give Obama one night of peace.

        • jayt says:

          There’s little doubt that Republic’s will begin their investigation demands on January 21, 2009.

          ooh — legislating with a hangover the day after an ugly drunk. That could be a rough day indeed.

  11. Blue Texan says:

    Fournier replied, “The Lord creates men and women like this all over the world. But only the great and free countries allow them to flourish. Keep up the fight.”

    I may throw up.

  12. tbsa says:

    We’ll never convict Rove of anything. Credit where credit is due, he’s simply too good at covering his butt.

    If you’re giving credit where it’s due then you should give credit to the spineless dems who have allowed bushco to break the law at will. If Rove had a (D) before his name he’d be rotting in some jail long ago.

    • BoxTurtle says:

      Goodness, yes. He has a lot of enablers and he uses them skillfully. The Dem leadersheep has been particularly useful for him, I suspect his hand in making sure that the proper dems were informed enough to be culpable as well.

      Boxturtle (I still like the idea of the ICJ holding him as a material witness at the Hague)

  13. rwcole says:

    House votes to override Clusterfuck veto on medicare by an overwhelming margin. Senate to vote today also. Anyone heard anything? This was a last gasp attempt to save the private insurance companies who were about to lose their federal welfare check.

    • PonchoLefty says:

      Actually my read on this veto is that it was intentional and provided Reupblicans an opportunity to put space between Bush and themselves. This is why Bush vetoed it. He has nothing to lose by doing and now Republicans can claim they do not vote in lock step with Bush. It a ploy for media hype.

  14. newspaperbrat says:

    EW – have a burning off topic question….former LA prosecutor and best selling author Vincent Bugliosi has a new book out entitled The Prosecution of George W. Bush for Murder. The MSM, with the sole & useless exception of CNN, who barely mentioned it, has boycotted the book and author, despite his previous best seller track record.

    Any chance FDL might invite him for a Book Salon appearance?

    • jayt says:

      .former LA prosecutor and best selling author Vincent Bugliosi has a new book out entitled The Prosecution of George W. Bush for Murder. The MSM, with the sole & useless exception of CNN, who barely mentioned it, has boycotted the book and author,….

      Bugliosi was pretty much laughed off the set of Morning Joe last week. But to be fair, it wasn’t difficult to do so, because Bugliosi came across as (how do I put this most kindly?) a lunatic.

    • Leen says:

      Funny I sent EW an article from Raw Story about Bugliosi and mentioned he would be a great guest here at FDL

  15. MsAnnaNOLA says:

    From CSPAN….one can only hope

    Debate on Impeachment Vote
    Today

    This afternoon, members are expected to debate a single article of impeachment for Pres. Bush, submitted by Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH). He introduced 35 articles of impeachment on the President in June and a similar resolution against Vice President Cheney last year.

    • jayt says:

      This afternoon, members are expected to debate a single article of impeachment for Pres. Bush, submitted by Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH). He introduced 35 articles of impeachment on the President in June and a similar resolution against Vice President Cheney last year.

      yeah, the clerk is reading it (in its entirety) right now -> CSpan1.

    • newspaperbrat says:

      Thanks MsAnnaNOLA – the clerk is reading the article on CSPAN live & in living color but no camera shots thus far on who is in attendance – or should I say – who isn’t present. sigh…..

  16. Mary says:

    Jiminee Christmas. The al-Marri 4th Cir decision is out and it’s a morass.

    http://pacer.ca4.uscourts.gov/…..427A.P.pdf

    I haven’t fought through it but the fast pundit takeaway of confirming some nebulous right to detain without any real guidelines, but superimposed with some more nebulous ‘but there should be some kind of process’ unspecified chanting by the robed ones who want to pretend they aren’t abdicating the rule of law in it’s entirety, just in it’s Constitutional format, seem to be correct from a fast look at holdings.

    Good lord.

    • bmaz says:

      Yeah, the al Marri decision seem extremely ill taken in light of the recent SCOTUS decisions. Excuse the pun, it is a tortured opinion to get there from here.

  17. Mary says:

    I guess pretty soon we’ll get the “split the baby” cases on torture of detainees too – where sure, they are allowed to be “some tortured” just not “always completely tortured”

    Do these guys not bother with the freakin prohibition against attainder and the refusal of the US citizens to grant attainder powers to the US govt? Is it just the class all Republican and Levin/Schumer/Reid/Lieberman Democratic judges get to skip?

  18. Mary says:

    56 – Republican Judges and Democratic Judges (who are Democrats in the mold of Democrats such as Levin/Schumer/Reid/Leiberman/Obama.)

    • MarkH says:

      Procedural vote on Articles of Impeachment now c-span

      With roving testimony it would go smoother. I think KKKarl would be able to survive in Copenhagen, Yerevan or Santiago, on the West coast of Australia and that’s better than 30-life in the pen. He should still get somebody like Bailey or Spence for counsel.

      Kucinich is chomping at the bit. When will he hear, “and the race is off!”

        • bmaz says:

          Yes, he was. The whole DuBoc junk brought by the government was largely vindictive and petty, but effective. If Lee had not have been so belligerent to them in the matter (some of which was proper by the way, the government was abusively working to screw him out of his fees; Lee was wrong for insisting on taking a huge fee and not compromising) the matter probably never would have gone so far. The government was punitive and abusive, Lee was arrogant and stubborn; but he should not have been disbarred.

  19. tbsa says:

    The house is voting on whether or not to send the article of impeachment to HJC. It’s a 15 minute vote.

  20. Eureka Springs says:

    OT – House voting on Kucinich articles of impeachment. I suppose whether or not to send them to the Judiciary Committee. 15 minute vote on cspan.

  21. dmac says:

    let’s see–”Fournier replied, ”The Lord creates men and women like this all over the world. But only the great and free countries allow them to flourish. Keep up the fight.””

    talk like this is an immediate ’in’…….forever….universal god language and how we fit in and rule…(first hand knowledge.)

    more–””It’s not between me and Congress. I’ve not asserted any personal privilege. This is between the White House and Congress,” Rove said.”

    reminds me of the ditzy girlfriend who starts a fight in a bar and steps back and acts like ’boys will be boys’

    ala carte more–”The issue centers on ”the ability of the president to receive advice from senior advisers and for those senior advisers not to be at the beck-and-call of Congress for testimony,” Rove said.”

    kinda like how there are no emails to document the bush white house activities for historians to peruse later–or us to peruse now.

    main dish—”Rove has said previously he is bound to follow the White House’s guidance, although he has offered to answer questions specifically on the Siegelman case — but only with no transcript taken and not under oath.”

    ergo no record. gone are the days of documentation of how our government operates for future generations.
    no record, no accountability.

    dessert—”The White House has cited executive privilege as a reason he and others who serve or served in the administration shouldn’t testify, arguing that internal administration communications are confidential and that Congress cannot compel officials to testify. [my emphasis]”

    see no evil hear no evil speak no evil…….can’t prove we’re evil.

    ============

    epu’d–thought people would want to know

    http://www.npr.org/templates/r…..p?prgId=13

    jane mayer was on terry gross’ fresh air today-link above

    and barack is on larry king tonight

    bbl

  22. jayt says:

    Looks like Georgie’s gettin’ thumped on his veto in the Senate.

    Now, if The House would just come through on Kucininch’s Motion, I gotta think that today would qualify as a very bad day, even for George W. Bush.

    P.S.(hope I didn’t speak too soon re The Senate)

    P.P.S. Ohmygawd – even Mary Landrieu voted correctly – there’s a first time for everything, I suppose.

  23. dmac says:

    and i forgot–fournier calls ’god talk’ to rove ’breezy’? nuh uh, he knew what he was doin’, permanent ’in’, said a lot more in that email than is evident…….and he knew it.

    Fournier, now the AP’s acting Washington bureau chief, said Monday: ”I was an AP political reporter at the time of the 2004 e-mail exchange, and was interacting with a source, a top aide to the president, in the course of following an important and compelling story. I regret the breezy nature of the correspondence.”

  24. i4u2bi says:

    It requires very little effort to promote good things for society and denounce the bad things…’it only takes a conscious’, something the Republicans sans Bush/Rove/McCain do not have.

  25. jayt says:

    ok, this looks like a brand-new way of Democratic caving – under a minute left to vote, and nobody is showing up to vote.

  26. moondancer says:

    I wonder why Fournier is still with job. If this isn’t grounds for dismissal from AP, then AP is compromised and shouldn’t be used as a source.

  27. tbsa says:

    Something doesn’t look right 8 republics are voting with the dems. They’ll change at the end. Probably too dumb to push the right button.

  28. Philip Munger says:

    DC inside-the-beltway reporter to Karl Rove – “Could you pass the cocktail weenie tray, Karl. I’ve gotta load up, ’cause it’s a long drive over the the gaggle BBQ at the “Straight-Talk Express.”

  29. i4u2bi says:

    Blackmail is soooo easy when your phone and puter can be recorded at will by Republicans…

  30. jayt says:

    Only 10 Repub’s not voting yet – against a 21 vote lead – this one’s over – it’s going to the HJC!

      • jayt says:

        and there the mold will grow on it like the others…

        Well – that was my next question, obviously. I suppose that there is no requirement that Conyers actually *holds* any hearings, huh?

  31. bobschacht says:

    EW, thanks for parsing this out so clearly.
    I think maybe that this involves Pixie Dust?
    Whenever some nasty old subpoena appears, scatter the Pixie Dust over it and Poof! Its gone.

    This must be covered in one of the secret White House Executive Orders.

    Bob in HI

  32. tbsa says:

    236 yea to 181 nay. 7 dems yet to vote, ten pukes left to vote. 9 (R) crossovers. If all they need is a simple majority, it looks like it will go.

  33. boogiecheck says:

    I’ll be surprised if Conyers does anything with it…he’s had a lot of strong words regarding impeachment…but he’s stalled any efforts. Veterans for Peace petitioned him, and all he’s done is put them off.

  34. klynn says:

    Wow, leave for a few hours and come back to an override of a veto and impeachment going HJC?

    Can we follow that with a Rove arrest?

    I can dream can’t I?

  35. JThomason says:

    Is this more AP spin?

    This time, the panel will open hearings. But House Democrats emphatically said they will not be about Bush’s impeachment, a first step in the Constitution’s process of a removing a president from office.

    Instead, the panel will conduct an election-year review — possibly televised — of everything Democrats consider to be Bush’s abuse of power. Kucinich, a Democrat from Ohio, is likely to testify. But so will several scholars and administration critics, Democrats said.

    AP forty minutes ago.

    • bobschacht says:

      Oh, no. Another kabuki dance aimed at electioneering rather than defending the Constitution. I was afraid that it would not really be an impeachment hearing– just election year posturing. If this report is true, the committee will lack full impeachment investigation tools, such as enhanced subpoena powers. The Democrats will pretend to be doing something, but nothing will come of it. The Republicans, rightly, will simply regard it as election year grandstanding, and the public will treat it as such.

      I’m getting that queasy feeling in my stomach again. Why do Democrats have to be such spineless wimps?

      Bob in HI

        • bobschacht says:

          No, I heard the carefully parsed words in the CBS report, and immediately some warning flags popped up. But, heck, I was hoping…

          Isn’t there a way to discipline feckless leaders before the end of a Congressional term?

          Bob in HI

  36. cosmosis says:

    To the list of suckup journalists, let’s also include dumbass ones like David Remnick.

  37. bobschacht says:

    It’s mostly Kabuki, thanks to Pelosi. I think she must have assimilated to Cheney’s Borg, and is, in effect, a zombie.


    Kucinich wins hearings but not on impeaching Bush

    By LAURIE KELLMAN, Associated Press Writer

    Rep. Dennis Kucinich’s single impeachment article will get a committee hearing — but not on removing President Bush from office.

    The House on Tuesday voted 238-180 to send his article of impeachment — for Bush’s reasoning for taking the country to war in Iraq — to the Judiciary Committee, which buried Kucinich’s previous effort.

    This time, the panel will open hearings. But House Democratic leaders emphatically said the proceedings will not be about Bush’s impeachment, a first step in the Constitution’s process of a removing a president from office.

    Instead, the panel will conduct an election-year review — possibly televised — of anything Democrats consider to be Bush’s abuse of power. Kucinich, D-Ohio, is likely to testify. But so will several scholars and administration critics, Democrats said.

    The hearing is a modest gesture by House Democratic leaders to members like Kucinich who insist that Bush’s reasons for going to war meet the standard for impeachment. Kucinich had said that if his impeachment article is tabled he would just propose another one.

    House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., has made clear since she ascended to that post that there would be no impeachment proceedings. But that didn’t stop Kucinich from introducing 35 articles of impeachment, spending four hours in June reading them on the House floor and demanding hearings. The House summarily dispatched them for burial to the Judiciary Committee.

    Kucinich came back with a single article, which was read into the record Tuesday. As it did with the others, the House referred it to the panel, chaired by Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich.

    But this time, Pelosi said with a conspicuous lack of enthusiasm, that it would see some committee action.

    Democratic aides said the hearing could take place as soon as next week.

    The impeachment resolution alleges that Bush misled the public into thinking that he had no choice but to wage war on Iraq and implied that Iraq had helped al-Qaida with the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

    Democratic aides have widely suggested those gauging the bill’s prospects look to a precedent: the impeachment articles against Vice President Dick Cheney, which were sent to Conyers’ committee in November. There’s no evidence they will be considered before the Bush administration leaves office in January.

    Those were Kucinich’s, too. Republicans, seeing a chance to force Democrats into an embarrassing debate, voted to bring up the resolution. Democrats countered by pushing through a motion to scuttle the bill from the floor.

    My hope is that once they get into this thing, it will take on a life of its own, that Pelosi can’t control.

    Bob in HI

  38. masaccio says:

    EW, I read the Levin thread, mostly looking at the questions.

    Valtin asked a good question and got a good, informative answer. The question illustrates a good way to use the format FDL offers: it was related to the subject of the appearance; it contained enough information for the Senator to see that it was serious, and not argumentative; and it advanced Levin’s agenda at least tangentially.

    Several other questions did something good: they carried Levin’s argument to the next step: what should we do next. [email protected] is a good example.

    Then there were a bunch of questions about impeachment, which to my eye look like badgering. Lord knows I support impeachment, and I understand the rancid frustration in our ranks, but those are questions for staff, not a distinguished senior Senator.

    Finally, it is always a problem for guests to deal with the speed of these comments when people get moving. This may suggest we might want to slow things down a bit. It also suggests we might consider suggesting to guests they may want to bring some help to the live-blogging, and offering a couple of ideas to use that help efficiently.

    I really appreciate it that he showed up, and I appreciate your work and that of the rest of the folks involved.

    • WilliamOckham says:

      Carl Levin is older than John McCain. Think about that for a minute. Does anybody think John McCain could have handled himself as well as Levin did? I agree that folks like Levin are probably wise to bring at least one staffer to help group and filter questions.

      In any event, I think the whole event was worth it for the interchange between Levin and Valtin.

      • bmaz says:

        Masaccio too. Valtin is an interesting chap. I went over and checked out his blog. For the torture issues, it is an excellent source of information. I exchanged a couple of emails with him since last night and I think he will participate next time we have a good deep torture discussion. I also kind of doff my hat to Levin just for being the sport to participate; I hope he was not put off by the needling of the ragers. If he was a scunch more experienced, I would say that seeing them was good exposure, but I am not sure if Levin was ready for it. He maybe would have been well served by having a transcriber or something.

        • selise says:

          He maybe would have been well served by having a transcriber or something.

          i was expecting that would be the case. i hope it was – there is no need, imo, for levin to have to deal with even the hassles of typing let alone a commenting system he is unfamiliar with.

          and furthermore, i’d expect that an intern or aide would take a look at previous threads to get a bead on the audience. very hard to think someone with levin’s experience would come to something like that cold and without a typing assist.

          but what do i know?

          • emptywheel says:

            I can assure you that Levin was well-prepared on what to expect (they had reviewed our liveblog of the SASC hearing before we finalized this–i think they were interested in it because of the productive conversation we had there, plus, they knew where to find me). I don’t think even I expected the shellacking on impeachment. Even Nancy Pelosi and John Conyers–both of whom I’ve seen in this position on multiple occasions–get shellacked like that, and both of them actually have some influence on whether we impeach. So why does an entire FDL thread turn into buzzards when visited by someone who has tangential ability, at best, to affect this issue?

            • Leen says:

              Starving for justice. No excuse but it happens when individuals, groups are starving for results

            • klynn says:

              I think people are fed up and want the Constitution to work. There is a dire aspect to the fact that impeachment is off the table when the leaders of our country are committing multiple offenses against Democracy.

              Impeachment would actually build hope right now. To have it “off the table” makes the 70% + understand that “bad guys” win and Democracy at best, is on life support.

              Levin was a representative of the elected body THAT could cause a ground swell of hope in Democracy through the Constitutional act of impeachment.

                • klynn says:

                  EW, my context of Levin is that he is a member of Congress. Yes, he is Senate specific. He can, in the meantime, aid the road to impeachment by being a leading congressional voice for impeachment from the Senate, prior to ever getting anything specific from the House. I think all that participants were hoping for yesterday, was a leading voice from the Senate on impeachment and the participants did not get “it”. A well respected voice from the Senate irt impeachment right now, would probably aid the push in the House.

                  Sitting on his hands while time passes, lacks the proactive, leading voice we crave for justice’s sake.

                  • bmaz says:

                    He didn’t come there to talk about impeachment in the least. The stated purpose of Levin’s visit was clear:

                    Senator Levin to Do Live Chat on Ongoing Senate Investigation into Detainee Abuse at 11 ET Tuesday
                    By: emptywheel Monday July 14, 2008 12:38 pm

                    That was Marcy’s preview post, and this was well announced at both EW and FDL. There was nothing that suggested that a free fire zone on impeachment was proper. None.

                    • selise says:

                      uh, bmaz – i think you are wrong on this one. blame me if you like – but i did ask the question:

                      selise July 15th, 2008 at 6:31 am 7
                      OT – marcy, i assume you want us to stay on-topic (detainee abuse) for senator levin’s visit (and not, for example, bring up energy policy)?

                      emptywheel July 15th, 2008 at 6:47 am 8
                      In response to selise @ 7 (show text)
                      Actually, the specific understanding I’ve got with them is that he’s happy to look at other questions, but will take the Gitmo ones first. So pose it–see whether he bites.

                    • bmaz says:

                      I stand somewhat corrected. But there is a big difference between a rationally interposed question and the serial dogpiling on that occurred (and please know, I am not pointing the finger at you, I agree with Marcy !164 above).

                    • selise says:

                      i guess it kinda depends:

                      do you think levin is aware of the level rage and feeling of betrayal that we feel towards the 110th congress?

                      if he’s not, do you think it is useful for him to know?

                      if it is useful, then how can we let him know without the pile on?

                      while i have no desire to be deferentially polite i also don’t want to undermine whatever marcy’s goals for the visit are. (i agree with JThomason above that it would be dishonest – although i do attempt to use the shift key as a sign of respect and i’m really glad that marcy doesn’t think we were too rude)

                      so, i’m asking the above as serious questions – because it really does come down to how to make the best use of a visit from someone like levin. i don’t know what the answer(s) is(are) but i’m really, really glad to be having this conversation. lessons learned from past experience and all that….

                    • klynn says:

                      Hey bmaz, I did not participate in the “dog pile” yesterday. I lurked until Levin was gone and made a comment addressing a bit of the need for being more proper/respectful in the comments for the sake of productivity on issues…My comment at 166 was addressing “why” the dog pile happened and what people are hungry for from leadership in general. I think the news from Waxman’s office is case in point on the desire for leadership on impeachment from anyone, no matter House or Senate. Just a need to lead the drum beat…while attempts for oversight try to go down towards “that” direction…

                      I agree, it was clear that there was hope for detailed Q & A on torture and the impeachment rally ate up the chat. More questions irt how the concerns and legal questions on torture could lead to impeachment, would have been more productive, I agree to no end. The will of We the People is terribly worn thin right now IMO.

                      The trust of “We the People” is broken and dog piling, productivity lacking, is an unfortunate by-product at this time.

                      Perhaps an overview post about the subject desired for the live chat and having people “spring board” comments for what questions do we want to see asked in order to move the issue(s) forward might be helpful. I know during live blogging hearings we constantly put out questions we wish we could have slipped into someone’s hands at the hearings. Perhaps it could serve as a “warm-up” to a live chat. Now Marcy, I know you were live-blogging just before Levin came on and you were multitasking out the wazoo. So, I do not suggest this as a burden on you. Just trying to figure out “how” do we get a balance of “on topic” questions and “free flow” in a live chat…Especially knowing citizen nerves are Constitutionally thinned at this time in history.

                      Yesterday’s dog pile would have happened no matter what Senator or Rep or subject IMO… The positive of the “pile” is that it is a type of “passion” as stated above. How we catch “that” and bring positive change is a key question.

                    • bmaz says:

                      Heh, you know me better than that. If I thought it was you and that you were out of line, I would have said so. I may be a jerk, but I am a consistently forthright one! And I agree with both Selise and EW, respectful inquiries on impeachment were fine; but there was more than than that. There was kind of a rapacious heckling when the right response was not forthcoming from Levin though; and when you are trying to get someone that powerful and unused to the format to respect the proceedings and more importantly, open up to it more, it just seemed unhelpful.

                    • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

                      I don’t think so, for four reasons:

                      1. It’s hostility that Levin doesn’t need about something that he can’t affect. Why holler at your doctor because you want the oil in your auto changed? For that, you need to rant at your mechanic.
                      Shorter: It’s unproductive, and we don’t have time to waste with that kind of bullshit.

                      2. In the case of Levin, whom I actually respect, it’s wasting a valuable resource. The opportunity to move the torture discussion forward — especially given the new publication of Jane Mayer’s book plus recent hearings, has taken years to put in place. So why waste the valuable resource of Sen Levin’s expertise by ranting about something that’s outside his control? That’s disrespectful and wasteful.

                      3. We look like a bunch of ranters. I don’t personally have any problem with ranting when it’s warranted (hell, I’m usually at the head of the pack). But the whole topic of torture is far too serious, and the ramifications are far too ominous to come across to Levin like a pack of illogical, ranting furies. He doesn’t need that. Nor do we.

                      We need to be productive.
                      That means building relationships, ‘laying pipe’ for the future through the shared experiences of respectful exchanges of information.
                      Which, IMHO, is what this particular blog generally excels at…

                      And I don’t mean to be snotty, but I did see a video clip of Sen Domenici over at TPM earlier, and it that isn’t the saddest sight around… my point being that there are GOPers who couldn’t be coherent on a blog or any other place — all the more reason to respect the resource of everyone’s time and expertise and figure out how to improve the quality of exchanges when a Senator (who is cogent, smart, knowledgeable, and public spirited) makes time to visit and exchange info.

                      JMHO.

                    • Hugh says:

                      Dogpiling is to accept a narrative that bmaz wishes to place on the Levin visit. I do not accept it. In fact, the issue of impeachment was very germane to the issue of torture. There will be no accountability or even thorough investigation of any of the Administration’s illicit activities outside of an impeachment inquiry. Stalling, stonewalling, ignoring requests, selective amnesia, privilege claims, state secrets, national security, the Administration has a multitude of tools to obstruct, forestall, limit, deny, and misdirect any serious examination of its crimes and misdeeds, and it uses them all. The only appropriate and effective means of cutting through these blocks, getting at the truth, and meting out accountability is precisely the impeachment process, the process that Levin does not support and can give no good reason for not supporting in light of his concerns about torture.

                    • emptywheel says:

                      Åctually, Levin has been more effective than all but about 8 Senators in holding the President accountable and in fact he has been successful on some fronts. So you think it’s a great idea to take one of the more effective Senators, who on all but three major issues is totally in line with our views, and thrash him?

                      Even assuming impeachment could be successful (which is expecting a lot from HJC, but let’s just pretend), why does it serve your purpose to someone who has been marginally effective in the past and is trying to align closer?

                      Levin can be an ornery guy. But when he sets him mind to something, he is more effective at achieving it than–say–Russ Feingold because he commands a lot more respect from his colleagues. Yet, rather than discussing and perhaps moving him closer to our perspective you advocate haranguing him.

                    • Hugh says:

                      You seem to be all over the place on this. Levin is “one of the more effective Senators” at the same time he is “marginally effective” but still “more effective” than Russ Feingold. Which is it? Just me but when someone tells me that somebody is so kind of, sort of effective, especially with no examples of that effectiveness, I take that to mean “not effective.”

                      Yet, rather than discussing and perhaps moving him closer to our perspective you advocate haranguing him.

                      If he thinks that Bush has been involved in torture and he obviously seems to, then he should be in the forefront of those demanding Bush’s impeachment. If Bush tortured, he should be impeached, period. You see that is the paradox. I am willing to accept that Levin is against torture but he rejects the one means of “effectively” addressing it. It is rather like knowing someone robbed a bank but refusing to mount a serious investigation, and even if evidence should come forward refusing to prosecute. So what am I left to think?

                      And I would point out to you that in Watergate it was the Senate not the House that began the investigation so the dodge that Levin as a Senator can do nothing about pushing the process is just wrong.

                      Finally, I would say that Levin has a lot of explaining to do as do all officeholding Democrats during the 7 1/2 years of the Bush Administration. The bottomline is that during that period, he did almost nothing and certainly nothing “effective” to stop, block, or reverse Bush’s excesses. We are still in Iraq. Bush is still making war like sounds toward Iran. Nothing was done to rein in Israel or win an equitable peace between Israelis and Palestinians. He did not volunteer to lead any filibusters against FISA or use the respect he “commands” from his colleagues to enact reasonable changes to FISA. Pentagon spending is still the mess it has always been. Private contractors still do pretty much what they want and get paid for it with bonuses. Even the language he recently put in the Farm Bill to close the Enron loophole didn’t close the Enron loophole where it was most needed in the crude oil market. So with a track record like that remind me again how it is he really stands with me on most issues and why it is me and not him who is supposed to make nice.

                    • emptywheel says:

                      Hugh

                      I agree with you that Levin is wrong about impeachment. (Though I also think, with this HJC, impeachment would be like throwing an indictment down a black hole.)

                      That said, I think you’re forgetting that Levin was the one, while in the minority, successfully pushing for investigations into DOD spying programs, while Levin is wrong on funding the war, he has been an opponent to the war–again, doing things to reel it in–as long as anyone.

                      Levin is NOT as good as Feingold on the issues. But he’s pretty good.

                      BUT Feingold, though brilliant on the issues (on all issues but impeachment, I might add), is ignored by our caucus.

                      So how do you change that? According to you, the way is to yell that the people who ARE effective within the caucus because they don’t sound like those who AREN’T effective within the caucus.

                      If Feingold showed up, would you do the same–get snippy because he, also, does not support impeachment, so the whole thing disintegrates into an attack? Would you–as you apparently seem ready to do with Levin–choose NOT to use the opportunity to work with Feingold on the things you agreed on because you thought it more important to have your temper tantrum?

                    • emptywheel says:

                      Actually, that’s not true–Yesterday’s dogpile did not happen–the question did not even get raised–with Dorgan. With Dorgan we had a completely productive conversation about how we push for accountability on contracting. So why does Levin get creamed and Dorgan not?

                    • klynn says:

                      I realize this thread is terribly “overtaken” at the point. A dead horse… After reading your response to mine at 176, I thought I should clarify the latter portion of my response to bmaz that you noted.

                      Let me contextualize my comment from the standpoint that the Dorgan live chat was about contracts and Levin’s was about torture. When looking at both topics, torture is quite a few buttons higher on the “trigger anger” scale (in my observation). In that regard, I think if “anyone” talked about contracts the live chat would have gone the way Dorgan’s did and that when one live chats about torture, there is a higher risk for escalation of inhospitable interaction (extremely so) in the comments. Thus, I do not think “it” was Levin, but the interplay of torture being a heated, personal topic of justice and humanity (or injustice) and consequently “impeachment frustration” tends to interplay quickly when torture is the topic. This view does not justify what happened in the thread, not one bit. It’s just my view of “how/what” probably happened. Thus, my closing comment at 176. My regrets for not clarifying my reasoning.

                      Please know Marcy I am in support of your concerns on the overall outcome of the live chat and my comments have not meant to insult you or Senator Levin. I have simply been trying to make sense of what I saw evolve online as I lurked the live chat because, I was taken by surprise in many ways but then began to somewhat understand the undercurrent of anger, again, surprising myself. One of those “seeing both sides of the same coin” moments…As a mom, I usually “balk big time” regarding expressions of inhospitable behavior, not giving an inch for the “why”. Although, the chat was not all inhospitable.

                      You’ve got to know something, outside of my husband, parents and children, you rank quite high on my “most respected persons” list simply based on your tireless commitment to democracy through your blogging, authorship and networking efforts to build coalitions of cogent people resources in an “iron sharpens iron” fashion for the rule of law, and you manage to convey that you are a real person, just like your readers. An amazing gift for all of us.(And yes, bmaz ranks up there too for supporting the Buckeyes –had to get that in there…)

                      Having worked in DC (and worked with many Senators/Reps) working to set up a meeting with someone, who has extremely limited time, is difficult. Once the time is made, it becomes crucial for the time to be effective. Especially, for future access and time. “People influence” is a real tool for change. Often the “people influence tool” tends to receive negative views because it is interpreted as the “within the beltway game” the “rubbing shoulders”. We both know this acute reality. And I understand your overall frustration through the reality of what evolved online. My hope is that Levin understands on some level the “hot button” of torture and that you are an amazing gift not just to all of us but to him and his staff too.

                      I sent Levin a thank you for coming and that he is the right person to be working on the deep concerns regarding torture.

                      You risk so much on your readerships’ behalf when you are in the middle as host and constituent, bridge building for the progressive netroots. We are a community which needs to build networks of influence to uphold the rule of law, restore diplomacy and address global concerns which our nation needs to get back to reflecting leadership policies on such as human rights, alternative energy and the environment. Being in the middle of that bridge building can be …so many realities…

                      Hopefully, this clarifies the context of my last comment at 176.

            • WilliamOckham says:

              Because the impeachment question is the only question that really matters. Why did they let Bush and Cheney get away with constitutional crimes (warrantless wiretapping) and war crimes (torture)? Unfortunately, the question gets less urgent to the Beltway crowd the closer Bush is to leaving office, but more urgent to the rest of us as we see the real villains getting away.

              I spent a couple of hours coming up with the question I asked. I wanted to ask the impeachment question in a way that broke through the reflexive response that Washington Dems have built up. If Senator Levin thinks honestly about the question I raised, he either has to conclude that we need to drastically alter the system or the legislative branch has to do its job.

              [and what Mary said @ 139]

            • selise says:

              I can assure you that Levin was well-prepared on what to expect

              that is what i expected. indeed, while i may disagree with levin on any number of things, i don’t expect that his staff would let him participate without being well prepared. and i hope providing all the support he would need to participate most effectively. if they left him to hunt and peck, i would be very disappointed. imo, being able to use a computer doesn’t mean he has to prove it during a session like that.

              So why does an entire FDL thread turn into buzzards when visited by someone who has tangential ability, at best, to affect this issue?

              well, i’m probably not the best person to try to answer your question, but i’ll give it go and hopefully others will give their own answers.

              first, compared to any of us, he has far and away more ability to affect this issue. the comparison that mattered yesterday wasn’t levin vs pelosi/conyers – it was levin vs us. second, i think impeachment is really just a short hand way to reference and encompass the whole issue of congressional oversight and putting some limits on an out of control executive branch. finally, i think impeachment is also a way to indicate that preventing the kinds of abuses we’ve seen from bushco is congress’ constitutional responsibility.

              i think this kind of short hand isn’t specific to fdl – i’ve seen it all over the blogosphere. and i think that many people who rant about impeachment would be very happy to see some kind of effective oversight in any of the important areas.

              and our policy of using torture is certainly one of those areas – and one that levin has some oversight responsibility for. when i asked him what the Ds could have done differently wrt to oversight on the torture issue and he blamed the Rs without any reflection on what he (or Ds in general) could have done differently, i found that a woefully inadequate answer. it probably wouldn’t have pissed me off so much if we hadn’t been hearing that or similar from almost every D in congress for years. we joke about how the Rs like to blame clinton for everything. well, it doesn’t wash with me when the Ds in congress blame the Rs in congress – even now when they have the committee chairs and could be having effective investigations and hearings.

              so, that is why i came back with a more obnoxious question referencing the mayer report on extraordinary rendition during clinton administration and schumer’s quote seeming to approve the bush administration’s use of torture.

              however, compared to many who have visited fdl (for example, wes clark and harry reid), i actually think levin did a pretty good job of trying to respond to questions in the limited time he had.

              one other thought… from participating in previous guest threads with political figures at fdl, i have learned not to expect much in the way of answers (and that’s being polite). to me the benefit of the thread is that it is my one and only chance to have a comment i write on an issue i care about actually read (probably by an aide, but maybe even by the guest). i have no other forum for that – and that is a very big deal to me. but it strikes me now that you were looking for something different – that you really did want the chance to ask questions and get specific detailed answers that would further your own research. if i have that right, then my apologies for not seeing it before levin’s visit… and a suggestion for future visits with who knows who – if you would make clear what you want to get out of the visit (for example, research vs wide ranging policy discussion), that would help i think.

              i think most of us are pretty angry with the democratic party in general and our congress specifically right now – at least i am feeling angry/betrayed – the recent fisa debacle was really bad, but i think it’s more my growning realization about how corrupt the Ds are. now, i know in my head that levin isn’t responsible for every bad thing any D in congress has done. but he came at a time to catch some of that collateral anger.

              p.s. thanks again for the chance to ask my question on energy speculation / market regulation. i was trying to time it to just before the end and posted it just a couple minutes too late – my bad.

              • emptywheel says:

                selise

                THanks–that’s fair enough. And I thought your follow-up “obnoxious” questions were actually quite good (big surprise). If Democrats in Congress realize that Democrats out here will start holding their own accountable, too, then maybe they’ll get a little more caeful with their actions.

                I guess the question is, what do we do with people (take Waxman, above all) who is actually doing reasonably good work, even while he doesn’t support impeachment. Do we undermine his efforts to do something else because he won’t do impeachment?

                • selise says:

                  I guess the question is, what do we do with people (take Waxman, above all) who is actually doing reasonably good work, even while he doesn’t support impeachment. Do we undermine his efforts to do something else because he won’t do impeachment?

                  really important question for which i have no ready answer.

                  • emptywheel says:

                    And I’ll reiterate, I thought your questions were productive.

                    As to the no ready answer–that’s the problem.

                    We’re almost certainly not going to get impeachment.

                    So what do we do in the meantime? Do we just spin our wheels?

                    I’m actually fairly confident that our attention to the Waxman/Levin/Whitehouse/HJC attempts at oversight do some good at sustaining them and making them more effective. So when we engage with people trying to do that, it’d really pay to engage.

                    • selise says:

                      I’m actually fairly confident that our attention to the Waxman/Levin/Whitehouse/HJC attempts at oversight do some good at sustaining them and making them more effective. So when we engage with people trying to do that, it’d really pay to engage.

                      i agree.

                      you’ve convinced me that i should at least try to give some thought to this. i guess that with the opportunity comes the responsibility to be thoughtful about what i do with it.

                      p.s. i’m not trying to defend myself or my questions (although thanks for the encouragement) – i just think this is one of those teachable moments i should try to take advantage of. and i appreciate the discussion to that end.

                    • masaccio says:

                      If it matters, I thought both the original and the follow-up were good. The follow-up was a bit long for this format, but as we realize, we may be talking to staff at the end of these things.

                      I called Senator Levin’s office today to thank him for appearing and dealing with all of us. I also thanked the staff.

            • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

              Because:
              (1) People don’t know that Levin lacks influence on the topic of impeachment (To most of us, even blog readers, “Congress = impeachment power”. It’s not accurate, but many don’t realize there are several steps in that equation. They think there are only two.)

              (2) They perceive him as influential enough to affect Reid, and thereby Pelosi?

              (3) They’ve just ‘had it up to the eyeballs’ and they’ll start flogging it whenever an elected official comes around.

              So… more blog reader education may be in order?
              And also guidelines?

              I’d still really, really like an answer to the question that Wm Ockham posed on that thread b/c it would be helpful to understand going forward.

              But IMHO, it’s a compliment to FDL and EW that Sen Levin gave it a shot.
              A little QA on the item might help leverage future opportunities, however.

    • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

      Really good points; I’ve been somewhat troubled by similar thoughts.
      It’s such a great opportunity to engage with people who have a lot of information to filter, and other factors could leverage the amount of info that flows (both ways).

      But just for snarky chuckles, here’s a link to Rachel Maddow (filling in for KO) on the topic of John McCain starting to get online and learn a bit about The Google: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/21…..2#25681659

      Wince ;^ }

      • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

        …and other factors…

        Sorry, I meant other formats — or guidelines for such visits by officeholders — would probably better leverage the time and opportunity.

    • emptywheel says:

      Thanks for that, Massacio. I think you’re right. Not sure if you saw where I noted that this was Levin’s first real chat. Which explains the slowness.

      • Leen says:

        Admirable that Senator Levin was willing to visit and debate. Hopefully he will come again.
        Thank you Senator Levin

  39. masaccio says:

    Digby has this from Variety:

    “I have not been personally subpoenaed,” explained Rove, before descending into arcane explanations of executive privilege.

    • emptywheel says:

      I’m trying to find that reported a second time–I’m wondering if it was a misquote, bc I don’t see it in any of the other reporting.

  40. MarieRoget says:

    In a chain under the subject line “H-E-R-O,” Rove replied to an e-mail from Fournier by saying, “How does our country continue to produce men and women like this?”

    Not by any means Rove could understand.
    Jeez, Fournier, so obviously playing you & you buy into this.

  41. Mary says:

    So why does an entire FDL thread turn into buzzards when visited by someone who has tangential ability, at best, to affect this issue?

    Serious answer – I think people are looking desperately for a reason to stay Democrats, to donate, to enage with their friends and neighbors on behalf of the Democratic option, to show up and work hard for Democrats – – and they are really looking hard to find any true shared value with the Democratic leaders and so they keep coming back to what seems wildly basic and wildly obvious to them; and to what they see as not only an extreme failure of shared values, but as Democratic leadership actually playing for the other team. If they are playing for the other team – – why should their “fans” show up for the games?

    It’s the kind of frustration you get from marriages that are failing and where there is something so huge and so basic (like – you don’t invite your drunken friends over and let them rape our 8 yo) and what they get from someone they thought they shared values with is “tsk tsk tsk, bad drunken friends, aren’t you glad you’re married to ME instead? I didn’t rape the baby, what’s that – you expect me to testify against and take action against my friends the baby rapists – my stars and garters, no way, I would never support sending my baby rapist pals to jail, wth is wrong with you?!? Just hush and be glad you’re married to me and not them”)

    It’s the kind of thing that makes for a constantly open would and a constant need to rehash, because its pretty central to self definition and to party definition and affiliation.

    In essence, people are obsessed with wanting something to happen to the baby rapists and they are slowly realizing it just won’t happen, so the minimum they can cling to is at least wanting “their” partner, “their” leaders, “their” party, to say unequivocally – This Should Be Punished. Even if it isn’t going to happen, it’s just too hard to accept working for a party and identifying with a party where the best you get is “I may not rape the baby – but I’d much rather sit down and booze it up with the baby rapists than the baby’s mother, bc all she does is whine about why nothing is happening to my drinking buddies.”

    It’s why I stayed away from the live sections – I’d want to cut balls off the enablers and their pals just as much as the perpetrators and I know it and I know it wouldn’t get you where you wanted the conversation to go.

    I do think a suggestion made for you guys to take some questions ahead of time so staffers can help get answers cooking and so the conversation goes where you want it to go isn’t a bad idea. But with Congressional approval at what – 15% or so? – I don’t know how anyone in Congress shows up for a Q & A and expects there not to be a lot of frustration and bitterness without pre-screening. It’s a more Republican tactic and approach, so the Democratic Congressmen and women will be more comfortable with it anyway.

    • bmaz says:

      In essence, people are obsessed with wanting something to happen to the baby rapists and they are slowly realizing it just won’t happen, so the minimum they can cling to is at least wanting “their” partner, “their” leaders, “their” party, to say unequivocally – This Should Be Punished.

      Not to mention that the new leader of the party just took the death penalty for baby rapists off the table. And threw it in the same trash can with the 4th
      amendment and the rule of law.

  42. klynn says:

    Unfortunately, the question gets less urgent to the Beltway crowd the closer Bush is to leaving office, but more urgent to the rest of us as we see the real villains getting away.

    quote from – WilliamOckham @ 141

    THAT urgency is real beyond words Marcy. It’s part of who we are. It’s foundational to our corporate and individual self-perception.

    John Rawls, for instance, claims that “Justice is the first virtue of social institutions, as truth is of systems of thought.”: Justice can be thought of as distinct from and more fundamental than benevolence, charity, mercy, generosity or compassion. Studies at UCLA in 2008 have indicated that reactions to fairness are “wired” into the brain and that, “Fairness is activating the same part of the brain that responds to food in rats… This is consistent with the notion that being treated fairly satisfies a basic need”. Research conducted in 2003 at Emory University, Georgia, involving Capuchin Monkeys demonstrated that other cooperative animals also possess such a sense and that “inequality aversion may not be uniquely human.”[3] indicating that ideas of fairness and justice may be instinctual in nature.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Justice

    http://newsroom.ucla.edu/porta….._rss=49042

    Bobschacht @120:

    My hope is that once they get into this thing (Dennis Kucinich HJC on impeachment), it will take on a life of its own, that Pelosi can’t control.

    Bob in HI

    Marcy, if Levin even suggested yesterday that the netroots start a movement irt impeachment and that he would back it…It (netroots impeachment movement with the effort/zeal/net leadership of FISA) would take on a life of it’s own.

    Perhaps Dennis could use some backing?

  43. klynn says:

    On Waxman…did I get this correct?

    In sum: no contempt at this time. We’ll consider our options…

    Nada. Nothing. Zip.

    Dark cloud now darker…Okay then…Dark clouds require the light of justice…

  44. klynn says:

    EW, WO or Mary:

    I thought EP was not allowed in regards to evidence that can show criminality of actions?

    I realize “since when did THAT stop anyone in this administration”. Just asking for actual clarity despite the BUSH MO.

    • WilliamOckham says:

      klynn,

      I’n not a lawyer, just a well-informed computer geek. A real lawyer might come along to correct me, but here goes:

      You’re probably thinking about classification where there is an explicit regulatory statement that it can’t be used to cover up criminality (although that’s honored more in the breach…). Executive privilege is a common law thing that is orthogonal to criminality. Then there is the states secrets privilege which, as far as I can tell, has only been used to cover up criminality. I’m not joking.

    • bmaz says:

      You can assert EP to discussions about cleaning the crap out of the cat box. The standard about criminality that you refer to is in relation to whether or no the claim of EP will stand up to legal scrutiny. But if Congress will not seek to enforce the law, then the EP assertion has worked. And yet another bullshit precedent of acceptance has been set for the future.

      • klynn says:

        bmaz, thank you. I did not forget to list you on my question @ 146, just listed those who had commented in the last 30 min.

        Again, you stepped up to give legal guidance and understanding.

        Oh crap, it’s BS precedent again…Get the shovel and boots…wait, I’ll go get my ladder…were almost too deep now…

  45. klynn says:

    Well, I stopped watching bc my vid feed kept dropping. I am just basing my questions on the bit I heard and the docs posted. Specifically, Waxman’s opening statement.

  46. selise says:

    wow. all kinds of wonderful answer to marcy’s question while i was typing.

    love mary’s baby rapist analogy. right on.

    now that there is a new thread, maybe it is ok for me to leave the following longish quote. last night i listened to an interview with sibel edmonds (audio, transcript, IG report). i don’t know if her accusations are for real – but i think they deserve to be heard and i take very seriously that daniel ellsberg has been supporting her for years. this is the kind of thing i read and i wonder what is really going on (my apologies if this has already been covered, i haven’t been able to keep up with all the threads):

    Horton: Well, didn’t Congressman Waxman promise that he would hold hearings, Luke?

    Ryland: Yes, he promised, and he hasn’t done a thing since.

    Edmonds: Let’s talk about that because this is another important issue, and it’s not only with my case, but in the cases of many, many whistleblowers who are the members of my organization, National Security Whistleblowers Coalition, and that is that we were very, very anxious to have this majority change with the Congress, because for years, when we went to these offices, whether it was Congressman Conyers, or Waxman, we were given only one excuse, one justification, and that was “We want to have hearings, we want to have accountability, and the Big Bad Republicans are preventing it, because they have the majority and they are not letting us do it.” So for years we were under this assumption, and we were celebrating in November – and when I say “we” we have members who are libertarians, we have Republicans, we have Democrats, and we have people like me who basically just say “we are Americans” – and guess what? Once that majority changed, both in the Senate and in the House, these people who had these ongoing relationships with us, they used to have meetings for our members, for whistleblowers… I went inside the Secure Compartmentalized Facility and had two or three sessions with just Congressman Waxman’s office before he became the Chairman.

    Now, after the elections, they just went completely silent. In fact, they became antagonistic – they said “We don’t want to talk with these whistleblowers because we have a very very busy schedule,” and we asked them “What happened to all these promises you made that if you were the majority you would be doing this?” In fact, one of the promises was that “One of the first hearings that we are going to have was going to be on this case, the State Secrets Privilege, and you’re going to testify.” And his office, along with other Democratic offices just stopped even taking calls from us, and the change was absolutely amazing, and obviously this is not the case only with the whistleblowers because just take a look at the approval rate for Congress today, it’s much lower than the confidence in the administration because it is plunging – 17-18 percent.

    This means that the American people are not happy with the Congress. All the promises that they gave, none of them were fulfilled. And I am not a diplomatic person, and one of the things that I say today when I talk with people is “Well, listen, they might look like champions, but all we have gotten with people like Chairman Waxman, and Chairman Conyers is all barking, okay?” They come out whenever any case becomes sexy and grabs the headlines, and they just bark, and they say “We want to hold hearings, we want to subpoena people” As soon as the issue dies down in the media, and it dies down very quickly as you know, they just go away, they don’t do anything. They haven’t brought about any type of accountability, any type of meaningful hearings. They had some show-only hearings, but nothing that in any way will bring any accountability or further action.

    And they do have the power. So many of our members are kind of disillusioned saying that before they were saying that the Republicans were the factor in not having accountability and inaction by congress, now we see that it is the Democrats, and that includes the speaker of the House, Pelosi. So what do we do? On the other hand we have the mainstream media because if they were to do their job, that would create the necessary pressure on Congress, and congress would do what they are supposed to do. It is not about doing favors, it is basically about fulfilling their obligations to the American public – and we don’t have that with the mainstream media. So this is why we are in this state – this sorry state of our nation of seeing these criminals going unpunished and not seeing any accountability and we haven’t seen any change whatsoever.

    even if a senator like carl levin can’t do anything about it – i wish he would tell us the truth of what is happening and why.

  47. Mary says:

    “I thought EP was not allowed in regards to evidence that can show criminality of actions?”

    EP isn’t allowed when the branch of govt it is being asserted against puts down their foot and is willing to take on the confrontation – otherwise it’s de facto allowed.

    But there is a general common law concept that even the king (although apparently not W) is subject to the law of the land. So, at present there is an Executive Order on the “classification” element of Executive Privilege which says that illegal activities will not be “classified” OTOH, you have a Dept of Justice claiming all kinds of torture, lies to the court, destruction of evidence etc. are “legal” as long as the President wants them done or says so. On top of that, you have a President and Dept of Justice claiming that the President can secretly change his Executive Orders (so we now know that human experimentation on Presidentially designated “illegal combatants” for example, has actually been ok’d for some time as the EO prohibiting it was long withdrawn) YOu also have the fact that where no statutes have been enacted to provide remedial aspects to aspirational treaties, it is up to the President to define what is or is not a violation. And DOJ is willing to say his definition goes – and as Selise pointed out with Schumer’s quote yesterday – the Democratic Congress is ready to go along with that too.

    So as long as you look solely to the Executive Branch and its criminals at DOJ to define criminality, EP can be invoked for things that are criminal in either a court or Congressional setting. The primary difference in a criminal case court setting (which you don’t have, because you don’t have any prosecutors to prosecute – just co-conspirators running DOJ) you would likely have a court at some point put its foot down. Maybe not anymore, though, with Alito and Roberts joining Thomas and Scalia (otoh, if they get their shot at putting their foot down with a Dem President, the way the did with Clinton’s Secret Service having to testify, they’ll come back around)

    So the boundaries of EP in the Congressional showdown are what Congress says they are, in that Congress can take action in response if it doesn’t like what it is hearing – contempt, censures, withholding funds, etc. Congress could pass a statute tomorrow saying that any current or ex aide who refused to testify lose their pensions. They aren’t doing it. They could pass a statute tomorrow making it a felony for a DC USA to refuse to enforce a Congressional subpoena and with a very very long SOL – they haven’t done it. They could go into the bluff business themselves and pass a statue that allows counsel for the Judiciary Committees to convene a Grand Jury in DC on its own and seek indictments etc on its own and let the Executive play defense for awhile on why they think Congress can’t usurp their law enforcement position, but as long as Congress funds it and writes the statute for it, a merry old time will be had by all until it gets to the Sup Ct. Congress has a boatload of options, but won’t use them bc Dems a) are complicit and b) are cowards and c) are lazy and disinterested in anything but power and money.

    I think the takeaway from yesterday with Levin is that Democratic leadership is unwilling to challenge the Executive no matter what. Unwilling to even pay lip service to challenging the Executive. So in that instance – EP is what Mukasey, Cheney and W say it is.

    • klynn says:

      They could pass a statute tomorrow making it a felony for a DC USA to refuse to enforce a Congressional subpoena and with a very very long SOL – they haven’t done it. They could go into the bluff business themselves and pass a statue that allows counsel for the Judiciary Committees to convene a Grand Jury in DC on its own and seek indictments etc on its own and let the Executive play defense for awhile on why they think Congress can’t usurp their law enforcement position, but as long as Congress funds it and writes the statute for it, a merry old time will be had by all until it gets to the Sup Ct. Congress has a boatload of options, but won’t use them bc Dems a) are complicit and b) are cowards and c) are lazy and disinterested in anything but power and money.

      EW, why not make one of Mary’s above suggestions the next netroots movement and put pressure on Congress?

      Or we petition to have any of Mary’s suggestions put on every state ballot this Nov.? In other words I’m advocating supporting Mike Gravel on the passage of legislating national referendums, (never thought I would write or think that). I know crazy talk and dangerous in many ways…

      http://vote.org/

    • bmaz says:

      There is the EO, yes, but it has long been the common law that privilege gives way to the legitimate investigation of criminality. There is a very good paper on this somewhere circa the Nixon investigation by Congress.

  48. JThomason says:

    I had a call last evening from an Obama organizer right when I was leaving work. I immediately let her know that I was disappointed in Obama of late. Oh she said “oh, you are like a lot of people who are angry about the security bill he signed last week.” I told her I didn’t think he had signed any bill but had voted for it breaking his pledge to filibuster telecom retroactive immunity. “Oh yeah,” this is what she was talking about.

    This went on for several rounds and at every turn though she reminded me that she was looking forward to my volunteering to help the campaign as if my disavowal was of no consequence. She eventually confessed that the strategy was to target the margin of disaffected Republicans.

    I bring this up because it is so illustrative of the problem. She looked past my objections and only wanted my help. In many ways I suppose this is nature of “politics as usual.” I pointed out to my caller that Obama was doing a poor job of practicing the politics of “change.”

    In the context of the beltway expectations I think the Levin thread was perfect. I am not sure why the suggestion was made that crowd was being rude. I have been around here for awhile and I know rude when I see it. I think the questions were pointed and well informed. I do not think moderation is the answer. This will only squelch the passion around the issues. There are plenty of opportunities to listen to mediated Senators. If Levin is truly interested in a representative process he should have a thoughtful reason for why he doesn’t support impeachment that he is willing to express. As it is now it appears the reason implied is “we don’t want to be held to a rigorous Constitutional and international standard when we have power.” What on earth does this have to do with an Nation of laws and not men?

    If Marcy, Christy or Jane moderated I am sure we would get intelligent penetrating questions but would we get the scope of passion and representative depth of concern? I am sure that it would be an interesting dialog around crucial interests but I do not believe the effect would be the same. It was the scope of passion and representative depth that moved the FISA needle. This is the issue implicates the differences between conventional reporting and blogging. And this is not to discount the possibility of the blog becoming more of a reporting outlet from the perspective of sources serving its commenting constituency.

    The practices of politics as usual apparently entail overlooking the deeply held concerns of constituents while continuing to count on support because there is no true concern that these concerns need to be ultimately answered. The level of political concern seems to exist solely in the realm of manipulating perception and accruing power. And Levin was directly confronted with the reality that these assumptions and practices are understood. As illustrated by the approach on the phone call I took and as has been repeated over and over here nothing will change until Congress realizes they are losing support! No need to let up just because we have taken a seat with a Senator. It would be dishonest to be deferentially polite.

    • emptywheel says:

      I don’t think it was rude. I just think it was a waste of an opportunity, and frankly a waste of my time in working to pull it together. ANd probably fairly damaging to my efforts to broach closer ties with the Senate.

      We got that chat yesterday, I expect, bc Levin was impressed with the intelligent–but impassioned–discussion we had on the SASC hearing thread. It came about because we had proven our ability to engage with the ISSUES, intelligently. But then we pissed that away, largely.

      After the, say, sixth very well-spoken passionate call for impeachment, it would have been nice to see intelligent (like selise’s and WO’s) questions that RATIONALLY lay out the logic AND might elicit some discussion. Nope, we got another 20 passionate calls for impeachment.

    • masaccio says:

      I want to make it clear I was not suggesting moderation beyond the usual rules we have at FDL. I was thinking we might have a short hiatus period between postings, posted in advance, so that people would not be piling in so fast. If you look at that thread, and it is not unusual for open threads, there were 51 comments in the first 30 minutes. No one could handle that. If we want more than canned responses, we can’t be some kind of press scrum, each of us screaming Mr. President, Mr. President.

  49. Mary says:

    158 well, they’d have to get the bill signed or a veto proof majority and could look at it being used “against” Dems too later with a Republican majority – so they won’t pursue those and they may not be the best option – I’m just saying that they could have started long ago doing lots of things to put pressures on, but they aren’t interested. ANd there’s going to be any way to make them interested – right now, they are basking in polls that tell them that even with plumetting approval for the Democratic led Congress, they will be picking up seats bc people have been beaten down into believing they are the only game in town.

  50. JohnLopresti says:

    I am still reading here, but wanted to leave an interesting anecdote on the 4th circuit from ABAjournal, highlighting the Republican obstruction of replacement of a vacancy in that court beginning 14 years ago, which segued into Bush’s gambit to place T.Boyle on that bench. The report linked appears to describe that circuit as a neocon testbed in attempting to veer the courts into the authoritarian zone. Boyle, it will be recalled, is the judge from that district who refused to make public 10,000 of his decisions. One supposes Boyle might find an affinity with Bush policy even after Bush is termed out of office next year; maybe the presidential library Bush is establishing would attract Boyle, some place to continue the tradition of redacted history. Used to be plebe ideologues would call the practice revisionism.

  51. Hugh says:

    Interesting differences in perspective on Levin from posters versus commenters. Posters wish to cultivate their access to the powers that be and are accordingly willing to place limits on discussion to promote those connections. Commenters are naive because they have this silly idea that the Great and Powerful and need I say it Very Serious have come here to have a one on one conversation with as, and this is the really ludicrous part, as equals, like we lived in a Democracy or something. Let this be a lesson to us all. Our job as commenters is to defer both to the Mighty that our posters know, or wish to get to know, and the posters themselves.

    Maybe we should give this process a name and in the spirit of irony call it transparency, the transparency of the left not to be confused with the bad, though identical, transparency of the right.

    • masaccio says:

      Please note that I started this with my comment last night at 123. This wasn’t EW’s idea. I wanted to see what we could learn from the process, in the spirit of EW’s post on lessons from the FISA debacle.

  52. Citizen92 says:

    Has the theory of “executive privilege” been settled for ‘average citizens’ who have contact with the President of the United States?

    In other words, could Karl Rove be compelled to come to a Oversight hearing to talk about his contacts with President Bush after he went off-salary? What about Rove’s continued contacts with others who still work at the White House.

    Rove recently claimed on videotape that he talks to the President ‘every few days’ and has lunch with him ‘every couple of weeks.’ I have no evidence of claims that he stays in touch with anyone else.

    Did the Cheney Energy Policy committee settle it? Cheney’s meetings with outsiders were never disclosed.

    Just wondering if Waxman could compel Rove to appear by (slightly) changing the subject?

  53. JThomason says:

    What with fig leaf legal opinions, completely disingenuous and obfuscating testimony, the resort to a Nuremberg defense and violation of law and treaty it’s not really such a stretch to imagine that a prima facie showing justifying an impeachment inquiry has already been made. I think its the failure to acknowledge this and to rather announce opposition to impeachment without justification is what is really is ultimately so provocative. Levin is not blameless here.

    Reigning in the Bush administration with secret appropriation restraints may be having some effect but its really not effecting the call for justice in the face of obvious depravity.

  54. Hugh says:

    If Feingold showed up, would you do the same–get snippy because he, also, does not support impeachment, so the whole thing disintegrates into an attack?

    I would demand that he defend his position and I would put forward the reasons I thought he was wrong.

    Would you–as you apparently seem ready to do with Levin–choose NOT to use the opportunity to work with Feingold on the things you agreed on because you thought it more important to have your temper tantrum?

    Levin doesn’t represent my views. His record speaks for itself, and it is ludicrous at this juncture to recast him as some kind of crypto-progressive. One of the things that we progressives do is hold those in positions of authority accountable for their actions and inactions. This is not a temper tantrum (nice ad hominem with just the right touch of strawman thrown in btw). It is about applying the same standard to all, not just Republicans. It is not my fault but Levin’s that under such a standard he comes up so short.

    • emptywheel says:

      Fine. Then we disagree. But in the future, I’ll make sure you don’t turn my efforts into a forum for you to hijack a thread because apparently the one and only issue that matters to you is impeachment and you believe it productive to make everyone else listen to you make that point ad infinitem.

      As to Levin’s record, can you name the actual votes cast with which you disagree? I’ll cede votes on war funding and CAFE standards. But as to the war itself? MCA? FISA? Bankruptcy? Which are the votes you are so angry about?

    • emptywheel says:

      And one more point, Hugh. I used the term temper tantrum because the combined effect of that many people asking the same question over and over again was not only futile, but childish. So it was an ad hominem against the whole mob effect, not you in particular.

    • bmaz says:

      Jeebus Hugh; with the possible exception of Kagro, I don’t know of anyone who has been screaming about impeachment of someone, anyone, longer or louder than I have been. And I am every bit as pissed and desirous as you are. But impeachment is a creature of the Constitution and the Constitution sets us with a republic form of government which means we act through our elected officials. None of them agree with everything we do; hell we don’t even all agree with each other on everything.

      In the spectrum of bad Senators, Levin isn’t even in the lower half of the Democrats, not even getting to the putrid Gooper side. From what i know and have seen of your views both from comments and your superb list, I’ll hazard a guess that Levin is in the best 10-12 Senators for voting correctly on the things you care about, and I will bet that Feingold is in the top five easily. Really, who else you got? Kennedy? Dodd? Kerry?

      These guys may not be perfect, but they are the best we got, and they deserve some respect. Yes, our views should be expressed to them; but hectoring them when they come to discuss a subject we care greatly about is just lame and incredibly counterproductive. Now, you can chalk up my opinion to being a “poster” versus a “commenter”, as you gratuitously did above, if you want; but that is a cop out. My position emanates out of nothing more than practicality and respect given where respect is earned. If we can’t give that to them, what the hell makes you think they will give it to us? We should cease mistaking making asses out of ourselves with the making of our point known. They are different things.

      • Hugh says:

        How is it disrespectful (and let us be clear the respect accrues much more to the office than the person) to ask a Senator to defend his stand on impeachment given his stand on torture? If torture is not an impeachable offense, what is? If Levin ducks the issue, who is being disrespectful of whom? As I have said all Democratic officeholders during the Bush years have much to answer for. I withdrew my support from Obama because of his position on the FISA Amendments Act. Is it now hectoring to bring up that position in the future in discussions of whether or not he is progressive? I find it deeply significant that you and Marcy attack your commenters over what was, despite you chacterizations, a legitimate point. Even if you disagreed with them, this was not the way to register such disagreement.

        Personally, I would like to know if you think that torture is sufficient grounds for impeachment. And if so and if you accept that torture has occurred is there any argument you can raise that does not necessitate impeachment.

        • bmaz says:

          Hugh, I think you know I agree with you on both torture and impeachment. I know you know that (for one, I just confirmed it above). But I just happen to agree completely with the second paragraph in Marcy’s comment @196. And what i said to J. Thompson, who I also greatly respect, same as I do you, @198 above. I simply think there should be a method to our madness. The goal is to win the war, not to make the biggest racket.

  55. Hugh says:

    As Harry Reid pointed out on the MCA a single Senator could have derailed the process if he or she so chose. I note that Levin did not derail the process. All he did was offer an amendment which was voted down like all the amendments were. Nor did he participate in or lend his name to any serious effort to block or filibuster the FISA Amendments Act. We both know that many perhaps most of the votes we see are cosmetic in nature. What is important is leadership, the willingness to put one’s name and reputation on the line, even in a losing cause. Levin just hasn’t done this. As I pointed out earlier today at #175, Levin’s appearance brought up an interesting fault line on this blog and fdl in general. Do posters value their commenters over their access or not? This is a criticism that we on the left have leveled against journalists in the MSM. As the power of the left blogosphere grows, it clearly is becoming a problem here as well.

    Impeachment was a legitimate question to ask Levin given his stand on torture. It still is. You keep throwing up these strawmen. No one hijacked the Levin thread. There were some there who merely spoke an inconvenient truth. You can censor or ban. You can make charges of temper tantrums and hijacking, but in doing so you lose the legitimacy of having a frank, open, and serious discussion.

    • emptywheel says:

      So apparently, no, you don’t have individual votes, you just don’t like the way he works, which (as I pointed out) tends to be radically more successful than Russ Feingold’s methods. Because it’s not how one votes that turns someone into progressives, it’s whether they agree with Hugh on one particular issue.

      Also: “The legitimacy of having a frank, open, and serious discussion” was precisely what we provided you, and others, with the opportunity for. You, among others, chose to turn it into a rant. Did Levin give all the answers as we might like? No. But did a bunch (not all) of the commenters act like a bad caricature of bloggers? Absolutely. I would have been happy if there had been a discussion, first, about torture, but second, about impeachment–provided it were a discussion. But it wasn’t. It was a rant, and the fault lies as much with those who chose to rant as with Levin.

      • Hugh says:

        So apparently, no, you don’t have individual votes, you just don’t like the way he works, which (as I pointed out) tends to be radically more successful than Russ Feingold’s methods. Because it’s not how one votes that turns someone into progressives, it’s whether they agree with Hugh on one particular issue.

        December 30, 2005, Bush signs into law the 2006 Defense Appropriations bill which contains the McCain Detainee Treatment Act which ostensibly limits harsh interrogation techniques. The act is weakened by the Kyl-Levin amendment which allows evidence gained by torture and restricts habeas corpus rights of detainees to challenge their treatment. Bush completely vitiates the provision by appending a signing statement which states that the President will abide by its limitations, if he feels like it.

        Kyl-Lieberman

        http://www.senate.gov/legislat…..vote=00349

        Levin also voted for the promotion of David Petraeus to CENTCOM command and Odierno to head MNF-Iraq.

        I have already pointed out the deceptive nature of cosmetic votes and the failure in leadership that isn’t about votes at all. I have pointed out that many of the problems at the Pentagon continue under Levin’s chairmanship at Armed Services. Levin’s name also appears as ranking minority member on a June 2006 report about excessive speculation in crude oil futures market. Yet he really didn’t do anything about this until quite recently and even then re the Enron loophole he screwed up.

        I am done with this. If I lay out my reasons you name call. At the same time you do not lay out your own case. You ask for votes but that does not get at the issue of leadership. I have now given you some votes, secure in the knowledge that you will find these insufficient as well. There is something profoundly and unwarrantedly unfair about what you are doing here.

        • bmaz says:

          There is something profoundly and unwarrantedly unfair about what you are doing here.

          Okay. Now that is flat out fucking bullshit. And so is the allegation that she, or I for that matter, have not laid out the case, that is bullshit too. And the discussion has proceeded with you in complete decorum too, at least within the norms or the blogosphere (which, granted, are a lot looser than most norms). You just don’t agree with the case and therefore act like it has not been stated. Hugh, I respect you greatly, and from what I have seen via threads over the years, like you. But this is bullshit. Nobody banned you, nobody called you horrid names; in fact, you are being engaged on the merits by one and all. If the positions were reversed, I think you would not be being treated with the belligerence that you have just anted up to Marcy.

        • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

          Hugh, I admire your remarkable list, and I always read your comments with interest.

          FWIW, here’s my take too damn late on a weekday evening:

          1. Marcy Wheeler, Jane Hamsher, Christy, and whoever runs the servers work their asses off. They’ve created something amazing. IMHO, they therefore have not only the right — but the obligation — to set some general guidelines.

          2. I don’t figure that Levin or anyone else is **ever** going to come here b/c of my contributions or what I have to say. When I start my own blog (ha!!), meet the caliber of quality day in, day out that EW and bmaz and Jane Hamsher and other posters produce — content so good that it draws the interest of senators– then (and ONLY then) will I think that it’s okay for me to be rude or hector an elected official that they’ve invited to the site.

          3. Bit of personal background — FWIW — I’ve certainly had to prepare for meetings, listen to testimony, work with staff, review and sign off on reports… yadda, yadda. I have busted my ass, and I can tell you for a fact that I’ve lost respect for people who whined and pissed and moaned and wouldn’t let go of a topic. They may have had a lot of knowledge and completely legitimate points of view, and sometimes even expertise — but dammit, we’re only human. After a certain point (like, after the third bitching whiner) you kind of want to say, “Okayyyyyy, I heardddd ya.” Your eyes glaze over.

          4. You mention Levin in June 2006. Okay, that was before the Dems were in control. The most he could hope for was to get information into the public record; was Frist still Majority Leader then? The Committee Chairs were rotters like Toobz, Domenici… I figure it’s a near miracle Levin managed to remain sane through that mess.

          5. It’s a fair guess that Levin has had to put a lot of focus just to move torture as far forward as he has. Yet people on that thread didn’t even always acknowledge what he HAS accomplished. How is that useful?

          6. I hang outI don’t show up at my friends’ home to insult HER other guests, so why do it online?

          7. What Marcy and FDL offer is remarkable. It’s not me busting my ass over obscure documents the way that CHS and EW do. I think a little basic courtesy and respect are in order, if only because they’ve put years of work into creating a forum that can provide a good exchange of info. They may want to consider saying, “On this thread, for this guest, the topic is A. Stick to it, please. Here’s the objective for today’s thread: we’re collecting ideas, (or asking for feedback on Issue B).” I think that’s reasonable.

          8. Simply from a viewpoint of ‘resources management’, the issue is not about being heard. It’s about resources. Time, money, energy.
          An hour of a Senator’s time, or a manager’s time, is valuable.
          But I’d also note that an hour of bmaz’s time, or EW’s time, or Wm Ockham’s time, or MadDogs’ time, or your time, or my time — it’s valuable.
          One Senator; many of us.
          So if we’re not focused on what is to be accomplished, it’s a waste of valuable, limited resources.
          And I say this because — particularly on FISA, or Net Neutrality, or any number of topics — the expertise is actually in the netroots. The people who know valuable (technical, scientific) information are more likely found among commenters than it is on Senate staff (and yeah, I say this based on my experiences with Senate and Congressional staff in my state).
          That means the Senators (and Congresscritters) chance to learn FROM the resources on the netroots is really valuable.
          So why ruin that potential by harranging them on impeachment?

          In the bigger picture, it’s about ensuring that information flows freely, in a trustworthy fashion. Ranting and hammering any elected on a topic they didn’t show up to discuss is going to impede the information flows that need to happen.

          FWIW, I think massacio opened a hornet’s nest, but a very valuable one. Sometimes a little buzz and confusion is a good thing if it results in more clarity moving forward. This is all being invented as we move forward, and it still beats the hell out of bad information or talk radio.

  56. JThomason says:

    Would I be wrong in suggesting Levin is no babe in the woods when it comes to heated political talk? I would lay odds that he accomplished his purpose in coming here with his reference to the secret annex. It gives some cover in highlighting the political maneuvering is not at an end.

    • bmaz says:

      No, you may be right about that; but it is not just about this subject and this time. And it is NOT about stifling access, opinion or speech/thought either. It is about thinking about the bigger picture and longer term. Levin can take the heat. But, that said, will it cause him to want to engage the netroots in a bigger way and more often? No fucking way. I am not as old as Levin, nor am I a powerful Senator; but I have talked to them and known a couple well enough. One was Barry Goldwater, he was a tough old coot just like Levin, and I guarantee you he would have walked away from yesterday saying “Heh, those fuckers are engaged and passionate, and that is a good thing; but I’m not going to screw around with that shit anymore”. That may be right or wrong, but it is a fact. Well, we need more engagement with these people that generally line up with us, and we especially need more engagement on the issues where our interests are identical, such as torture; and make no mistake, torture was the main subject yesterday. Shooting all our messengers all the time is dumb.

      • JThomason says:

        I don’t disagree with you and I was not citing Levin’s purposes cynically. I did not participate in the thread with Levin because the context was not clear to me so I didn’t think I had much to offer. I have previously expressed appreciation of certain features of the experience yesterday that I observed from reading the thread.

        You know the lack of inhibition is a feature of the tubes and has been since it has enjoyed broad public access. And I also appreciate legitimate proprietary concerns as well as an assumption that people will appreciate shifting standards of decorum as circumstances change.

        I just don’t know how one gets around the patent illegality of a torture regime. Maybe there was a tacit convention of stipulation of this difficult fact combined with the fact that if one looks at the Senate from a party perspective “conviction” seems unlikely. I am not sure how one fully anticipates the need to make this more or less explicit.

        I think the experience raises incredibly difficult questions. I do appreciate the information about the secret annex.

  57. selise says:

    i was thinking last night about how to reply more fully to bmaz @178 and i come back to find almost 30 more comments and a discussion that has devolved into some else entirely.

    anyway, i have a very long general reply to post. hopefully it is not too long or has too many links to be caught in moderation. if that is the case, my apologies and we’ll just have to wait for it to be released.

    i will also try to respond specifically to a few of the new comments (since my @181).

  58. selise says:

    now this thread is what i call a pile on. and i just re-read the levin thread.

    in no way do i think the comments during levin’s visit justify the above statements and i’m going to try to show why i think this. but first i want to make clear that this is not about the comments i left – as they say on the senate floor: i would like to associate myself with the comments of my colleagues, my fellow commenters.

    levin was with us for a total of 38 minutes and 65 comments. seven of the comments were from levin, so i’ll subtract them from the total, which leaves 58 comments from us.

    of those 58 comments, 38 comments (or about 66%) are included in one or more of the categories below:

    impeachment is mentioned in 13 of them by 9 different commenters with no commenter mentioning it in more than 2 comments. (comments 6, 22, 27, 28, 29, 31, 37, 39, 41, 48, 49, 51, 63)

    criminals, crime, justice, trials, or prosecution of bush administration officials is mentioned in 13 comments, (comments 5, 13, 15, 16, 17, 24, 33, 45, 47, 51, 58, 61)

    oversight, accountability is mentioned in 13 comments. (comments 3, 13, 16, 22, 25, 30, 38, 45, 47, 57, 58, 60, 61)

    the responsibility of congress (or the Ds in congress) is mentioned in 13 comments. (comments 9, 17, 20, 22, 36, 41, 42, 47, 57, 58, 60, 61, 63)

    complicity of the Ds in congress is mentioned or implied in 9 comments. (comments 22, 25, 30, 31, 48, 50, 52, 55, 56)

    as i said above @148, “i think impeachment is really just a short hand way to reference and encompass the whole issue of congressional oversight and putting some limits on an out of control executive branch. finally, i think impeachment is also a way to indicate that preventing the kinds of abuses we’ve seen from bushco is congress’ constitutional responsibility.” imo, this is consistent with our comments during levin’s visit. thirteen comments mentioning impeachment is certainly a lot, but it does not characterize the “entire FDL thread” – what does characterize the thread during levin’s visit is the issue of the lack congressional oversight we’ve seen from the 110th congress, specifically wrt to the issue of torture – which was, after all, the advertised topic. impeachment is only one part of this larger issue.

    here are the comments left by levin:

    1 – Hi everyone. Thanks Marcy.

    7 – In response to emptywheel @ 2 (show text)
    We know that Jim Haynes is close to David Addington, the Vice President’s Chief of Staff and former counsel as well, but I would not want to draw any conclusions about a lawyers representation of a particular client.

    12 – In response to selise @ 3
    Could anything have been done differently? Lots. For one thing, the Republican Congress was protecting the Republican administration and did not engage in oversight that was so essential to force the administration to follow law. The legislative check and balance was MIA.

    21 – In response to JPL9 @ 6
    I believe that an Obama administration especially can reach out to countries around the world and dramatically change the impression of America by ending the unilateralist policies, and the cocky, arrogant rhetoric of the Bush administration. For instance when Senator McCain proposed that we kick Russia out of the G8 he makes it harder for Russia to join us in putting the kind of pressure on Iran which is essential to resolving the threat of an Iranian nuclear program. That kind of comment represents a continuation of the Bush unilateral approach which comes across as domineering and bullying. I don’t support impeachment proceedings against President Bush.

    26 – In response to Siun @ 11
    Urge Senators Obama and McCain to commit themselves to apply the interrogation standards in the Army Field Manual to all U.S. employees and contractors, including the CIA. And also of course vote in November.

    40 – In response to Valtin @ 16
    Lt. Col. Baumgartner did so testify at our hearing. However information relating to his discussions with Shiffrin remains classified. When our report is finalized we will press the DoD to declassify this matter.

    59 – In response to emptywheel @ 38
    Congress has three powers that can be used: they can pass a law, even in classified form as a classified annex to an unclassified bill (such as the intelligence authorization bill), second, the power of the purse which can be carried out in a classified or unclassified manner, and third there is of course our oversight power and responsibility.

    65 – In response to Valtin @ 53
    We have many pending requests for declassification, and we’re not waiting for our report to be finalized to ask for declassification of numerous documents. The Yoo memo is an example of where we put maximum pressure on for declassification. There is only one minute left in the roll call, so I have to run. Thanks for joining me today.

    i don’t want to criticize levin’s comments – as i wrote above, i think he did pretty well especially in comparison to some of the other guests we’ve had. but i do think it’s important to look at levin’s comments because they show several things central to our discussion.

    1. when levin (@21) replied to JPL9’s comment on impeachment and essentially blew him off, there had been to that point exactly one comment, JPL9’s, that mentioned impeachment. it was only after this reply from levin that there was a burst of comments on impeachment.

    2. when levin (@12) answered my question about what the Ds could have done differently with blaming the Rs, he was both ignoring my question to blame the Rs and avoiding any mention that Ds are now in the majority, that he is now chair of the senate armed forces committee and that the responsibility for forcing the administration to follow the law, to provide a legislative check now rests with the Ds.

    3. when levin (@26) answered Siun’s question about how can we citizen’s can support levin’s work with a comment about obama and mccain and voting in november, he was ignoring the responsibility of the 110th congress and what could and should be done now with kicking the can down road to november’s election.

    i think it is important to note that all but one of the impeachment comments comes after levin dismissed the possibility without explanation and that it was after levin’s comments @12 and @26 where he ignored the responsibility of the Ds in the 110th congress and his own as the senate armed forces committee chair that our comments got more insistent, direct and angry.

    our comments were, at least in part, a response to a senator who came to talk about torture – certainly an impeachable offense if there is one – and then proceeded in effect to deny any responsibility for preventing or stopping it.

    ……

    there is something else i think is important to consider – and that is the context in which our conversation with levin occurred. we had just spent the last few weeks coming to terms with the fact that the Ds in congress had, instead of providing oversight and preventing the bush administration’s abuses and lawlessness, just contrived to cover up, give immunity to and “legalize” bush’s program of warrantless wiretapping. here’s what glenn greenwald wrote about that just 3 days before our conversation with levin:

    Torture and the rule of law

    Things like “torture” and “illegal eavesdropping” can’t be compared as though they’re separate, competing policies. They are rooted in the same framework of lawlessness.

    If the rule of law doesn’t constrain the actions of government officials, then nothing will. Continuous revelations of serious government lawbreaking have led not to investigations or punishment but to retroactive immunity and concealment of the crimes. Judicial findings of illegal government behavior have led to Congressional action to protect the lawbreakers. The Detainee Treatment Act. The Military Commissions Act. The Protect America Act. The FISA Amendments Act. They’re all rooted in the same premise: that our highest government leaders have the power to ignore our laws with impunity, and when they’re caught, they should be immunized and protected, not punished.

    When our political and media elite aren’t defending the Bush administration’s lawbreaking, they’re dismissing its importance.

    my bold.

    and here is glenn again, early on the morning of levin’s visit:

    The motivation for blocking investigations into Bush lawbreaking

    As we witness not just Republicans, but also Democrats in Congress, acting repeatedly to immunize executive branch lawbreaking and to obstruct investigations, it’s vital to keep that fact in mind. With regard to illegal Bush programs of torture and eavesdropping, key Congressional Democrats were contemporaneously briefed on what the administration was doing (albeit, in fairness, often in unspecific ways). The fact that they did nothing to stop that illegality, and often explicitly approved of it, obviously incentivizes them to block any investigations or judicial proceedings into those illegal programs.

    In light of this sordid history of active complicity, is it really any wonder that these leading Democrats are desperate to quash any investigations or judicial adjudications of Bush administration actions that they knew about and did nothing to stop, in some cases even actively supporting?

    on the day before levin’s visit, after describing the “overwhelming Democratic victory” in november 2006, glenn lists what the Ds in congress have done with that victory. the list is a list of outrages and levin was at least partially responsible for many of the items on glenn’s list.

    Accountability Now and Strange Bedfellows: The strategy and rationale

    As the above-chronicled events demonstrate, all of these assaults on our core civil liberties and the rule of law are not Republican attacks with Democrats fighting against them. They are attacks launched by the political establishment against the citizenry, and they ought to be responded to as such.

    as i wrote above, “the benefit of the thread is that it is my one and only chance to have a comment i write on an issue i care about actually read… i have no other forum for that – and that is a very big deal to me. but it strikes me now that you were looking for something different – that you really did want the chance to ask questions and get specific detailed answers that would further your own research.”

    now, if one disagrees with glenn’s assessment, then perhaps i can understand why our comments might have seemed a bit harsh. but for those of us who do think we are under attack by the political establishment – of which levin a member – then i think our comments were completely fair. they were an accurate reflection of our concerns.

    however, if the desired goal of the thread was not to give commenters the chance to ask questions that reflect our priorities and concerns, but instead to further marcy’s research, i think that is a perfectly legitimate goal. but we’ve got to be told that is what is wanted, otherwise we will do what we have done before when we have a problem with either the actions of the guest or the responses of the guest.

    as an example of what is typical, i think it is helpful to look at the recent thread (june 29) with representative wexler – a thread in which i participated. in this thread several of us did intentionally (at least it was intentional on my part) pile on wexler for his co-sponsorship of h.con.res.362. i personally left 6 comments on h.con.res.362 or iran in general. my comments were very pointed with phrases like, “aggressive, provocative posturing,” “dangerously irresponsible” and “wrong, dangerous and counterproductive.” my goal was to communicate both how wrong i though his action was and how much i cared about the issue.

    again, if this is not what was wanted, we need to be told what marcy and bmaz want us to do differently. and for everyone who has been claiming how unproductive this kind of confrontational exchange is, please take a look at how wexler changed his position and on july 9th wrote this op-ed: “Iran Resolution Must Change” – which, btw, generated a lot of high-fiving over at FDL.

    • emptywheel says:

      selise

      I don’t disagree with your point that after Levin blew off the impeachment question, that’s when the pile-on started. That’s kind of my point. If you got no response the first time, why try a second, third, fourth, and thirteenth time? At some point, that becomes unproductive.

      This:

      however, if the desired goal of the thread was not to give commenters the chance to ask questions that reflect our priorities and concerns, but instead to further marcy’s research, i think that is a perfectly legitimate goal. but we’ve got to be told that is what is wanted,

      I think is a false question, and I find it frankly, insulting. The point of the chat was, first and foremost (and my response about Levin prioritizing these questions should have made this clear to you of all people), to discuss TORTURE. Not to discuss impeachment. And everything that has been said here has to do with whether the commenters at this site used that opportunity productively. To suggest I had Levin on to “further my own research” turns what I thought was an attempt to make an opportunity for readers into a selfish goal. Had I wanted to “further my own research,” don’t you think I would have just talked with Levin, without sharing the time? But I am just about convinced that it wasn’t worth the effort, because apparently it gets me accused of putting access ahead of my readers, of staging this discussion to further my own research, and so forth. I get it!!! You guys don’t like these chats!! You insult me when I set one up!!! I won’t make this mistake again!!!

      As to the context of FISA. Yes, we’re frustrated. I get that. So why is it productive to beat up on one of the guys who voted against BOTH immunity and the bill itself?

  59. selise says:

    wow. i think i better reply to this one first.

    marcy – my intention was not to be insulting, but to take your concerns seriously and to reply in a serious way. perhaps i should have just written that you may have had another goal (without specifying what it might be) than we did. what i was trying to communicate is that i see nothing wrong with that, if it was indeed the case. i just want some guidance on how i can best help you in furthering the goals you have for all of us. that is all. certainly not an accusation of any kind. where did that come from?

    i don’t see the issue of torture as separate from the responsibility of congress, and levin in particular, to put a stop to it and hold those responsible accountable. one way to do that would be impeachment hearings on the issue. so for me – and i’m not trying to say you are wrong and i am right, i’m just trying to explain my thinking – the issue of torture is not a separate issue from consideration of impeachment or more broadly, oversight in general. and furthermore, i see the issue of usa’s policy using torture as something that the Ds are in part responsible for creating – not only in permitting to continue.

    the purpose of additional comments in support of an issue raised in an earlier comment is to make clear how important the issue is considered. that is why, for example, i brought up iran in 6 comments (and that was just me) during the wexler thread.

    i see now that you don’t like that. but i didn’t know that until after the levin thread (and i’m guessing other commenters didn’t know it either). i would happily have tailored my comments, as i’m sure many at fdl would have, if we knew what you wanted.

    i do like the chats – that is why i particpate whenever i can.

    i don’t think i insulted you – that was certainly not my intent.

    i don’t think the fact that levin voted against telco immunity and h.r.6304 (and s.2248) is a reason to give him a pass on the issue of congressional oversight of the use of torture. first of all, voting the right way is not enough. second, it’s not like levin was on the right side of all the issue’s on glenn’s list that i reference. finally, and more importantly, even if levin was perfect except on the issue of torture oversight – as you point out, torture was the topic of the discussion.

    and yes, i did and do think it was productive to give levin a hard time. but i’m quite willing to reconsider and even more, to follow your judgement (after all it is your blog) instead of my own – if i know what your judgement is before the thread. again, i think that is true of most if not all of us.

    i really don’t understand why you are so pissed off at me for having a different view point. i don’t understand why yesterday morning you said you didn’t think we were rude and then last night you wrote that we threw a “temper tantrum”, that we “beat up on” levin and we were “snippy.”

    i don’t understand why you accuse hugh of hijacking a thread and making the impeachment point “ad infinitem” when he made (if i still know how to count) exactly 2 comments on impeachment (out of a total of 4 comments) during the conversation with levin.

    i thought we had just begun to discuss your questions on how to best handle our group interactions with members of congress (see my replies @170, @173 and @174), and i thought it was clear that we are all starting from very different places on this question. i don’t understand why you are angry now that we don’t all see it the same way before anyone has articulated an answer or we’ve even had a chance to really hash it out.

    i’ll quit now if you want. i really have tried to respond in a constructive fashion. even if it is beyond my capability to do that, i hope you will understand that is my intent.

    • emptywheel says:

      selise

      I appreciate your statement that you didn’t mean to insult me. Sorry I mis-read it. (Though the fact remains that Hugh basically has accused me of being an access whore.)

      Also, as I stated above, I think your comments had a nice balance of critical constructiveness.

      My issue is not that the impeachment question was asked–I think it was an appropriate question to ask, once or twice, constructively. It’s that it was asked over and over again and hijacked the thread and became increasingly personalized. Look back at your catalog of questions. See what you didn’t count (just because of the categories you established, I understand, but still, it’s really telling)? Torture comments.

      THere were a bunch of torture questions–over 20 (though that includes about 3 or 4 impeachment questions; it also includes two from Hugh). But the thread went from one where just about everyone was discussing torture to one where just about everyone was talking about impeachment and/or frustration with Congress.

      Call me crazy. I find that unproductive. And frankly, if someone offered another opportunity to do one these, I’d turn down the opportunity. What’s the point? I see now it is the top priority of folks here to harangue members of Congress. That’s fine–you all are entitled to your own priorities. But I found that thread profoundly unproductive because of those priorities and I don’t intend to set up another similarly unproductive thread because it is a waste of my time.

    • bmaz says:

      First off, I want to thank the folks that are still around this long dead thread that are making a yeoman’s effort to express and explain their own feelings and perceptions respectfully, but honestly and to have a sincere discussion about what did happen, why, what it means, and what it portends for the future. It is not that others would not have done the same if they knew this was still going on back here, but since i think the only ones likely to be coming back are the ones that have participated lately I would like to personally thank Marcy (hey it is her blog, she goes first), Selise, Reader of Tea Leaves, KLynn, masaccio, and JThompson. I am not quite sure where to put Hugh in that regard, because while I think he successfully exposed some raw edges that needed to be worked through, I think he also caused a good amount of it, if not on the Levin thread, then certainly here through unnecessary belligerence, especially to the hostess. But, thanks to the foregoing folks, I think an important and necessary discussion has been had and, hopefully we will all be better for it.

      All that said, I personally pretty much agree with Marcy when she says

      There were a bunch of torture questions–over 20 (though that includes about 3 or 4 impeachment questions; it also includes two from Hugh). But the thread went from one where just about everyone was discussing torture to one where just about everyone was talking about impeachment and/or frustration with Congress.

      Call me crazy. I find that unproductive.

      I find it inherently unproductive too; although, I don’t think that it was intentional or malicious by anybody. We are all frustrated by the lack of accountability, and specifically consideration of impeachment, and it literally oozes and boils out at every opportunity. I share that sentiment completely. But you know, change comes from within the system, that is the way our Constitutional republic government is designed. In that, we have to realize when critters are at least mostly on our side and afford them some respect and support, and help them help us. We may want better, but they are the best we currently have. Hey, if it was Lieberman, I would have been chucking stones with the best of them.

      But while Levin may not be perfect, he is very easily among the better ones for us, he is older and very timid and skeptical of this format, and he needed perhaps a little of what lawyers call respectful sandpapering. He is also Marcy’s homestate Senator, and was here by hard fought personal work by Marcy. I can flat out tell you, she has been working very hard to get Levin involved like this for a long time and is convinced that, if Levin could be made comfortable interacting with us, that very good things on both sides could result. How she feels about Levin in this regard is no secret, it was plain to see for years, but especially recently on the Rules Committee liveblog, and even in the advance thread announcing Levin’s visit. This was not the normal FDL meet and greet, and I think it is very easy to see why Marcy is so frustrated.

      Lastly, I would like to say that perhaps there are more and better things that can be done on the front end as to delineating the topics when it is not a free fire meet and greet, and conveying to commenters why that is the case. I truly think that this discussion has been very valuable in that regard. I pledge to do all that I can to help see that we do indeed get better at this, both in my role as a commenter and whatever other roles I may play. I also hope that Marcy will continue to make the efforts in spite of the frustrations encountered in this one. It is vital for all of us, and if we can get it right, it could be critical for the legislators as well. The enthusiasm, passion and intellect is all here in spades; we can all strive to learn and focus them to better serve one and all. My thanks and appreciation to everyone.

      • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

        Thanks bmaz; I agree that the end of this thread is really, really interesting. Lots of thoughtful, honest efforts to figure out what the problem really is and how to address it.

        And in my case, one of my main concerns is ‘productivity’.

        I was in on the early days of email threads, then Web-based threads, in an entirely different context and what began to intrigue me (then, later, fascinate me) was the ability of a good group with good guidelines to get a phenomenal amount of work produced, at a very high quality, in a terrifically efficient amount of time.

        People no longer had to sit in longggggg meetings; information could be exchanged very effectively, and decisions could be made, and you could easily search and retrieve info that you needed. It was like going from a tricycle (phone + Dayrunner + meetings) to a Ferrari (Web-based topical threads with archived info). It was like growing wings.

        And for several years, I told myself not to even look at political threads/blogs because the Political Junkie side of me would spend endless hours on them, and it would impact my… productivity.

        Well… as it happens, over the past couple of years the linkages between healthy social networks (as opposed to corrosive ones), and economic vitality, and trust/openness have become ever more apparent to me. (Shorter: if you’re an asshole and you lie, cheat, steal — or torture — you may have short term economic/political benefits, but it’s an asinine, head-up-the-ass long term strategy.)

        So if we want a different, better kind of politics — the kind of politics that makes better governing possible — then we need to be more… ‘mindful’. More thoughtful.
        That doesn’t mean get rid of Trash Talk (!).
        It means: “trashing and flaming go on Trash Talk threads, but other productive work goes on Topic Threads”.

        I guess that much of this comes back to expectations, and also to creating the consensus about objectives.

        I think it’s fine to rant (God knows, I do plenty of it!). But maybe we need to be more clear about keeping the rants on “Trash Talk” threads. Because one reason that I can’t even stand the Orange Satan is that the information there just seemed to be devolving into emotional ranting and I didn’t really see anything getting done or moving forward.

        Whereas at FDL, or EW, I felt as if each week I had a few more puzzle pieces, a few more timeline items and things started to make more sense: “Oh, Hunt… Texas… Kurdistan… Okey dokey, now I’ve seen that name before, so now where does that piece fit…?” It’s a bit like being in an online course; each week, you have a few more facts in your knowledge base.

        I would point out — with tremendous respect — to EW and bmaz (and the one or two others who might read this) that all of us are more knowledgeable about the torture issue than we’d have been without EW’s posts. And some of that information is do unpleasant that it does raise the level of frustration with Congress.

        At the same time, and I say this from my experiences serving on boards, or serving in admin roles on occasion, I think that when you are ‘behind the curtain’ it really hits home how little power/influence you have UNLESS AND UNTIL you have more people who understand the issues, can speak about them, and agree with your objectives. Without those, you are a powerless voice in the wilderness.

        But what I came to realize is that people ‘looking at ‘the show’, who are NOT behind the curtain and don’t have that perspective’ tend to invest you (in their own minds) with some kind of superhuman powers that you don’t actually possess. So they start acting demanding, and they make statements like selise’s “voting the right way isn’t enough” comment.

        Because I can say in complete honesty that makes me want to absolutely scream and slam doors.

        I gotta say, i want to ask — Selise, have you ever sat on a commission, board, council, or committee with people who have a ton of resources against your views? Have you ever had to play the kabuki on a committee where you’re up against ‘Free Marketeers’ who have a ton of connections that each and every day subvert your objectives, and are proud of doing so?! For Christ’s sake!! I kind of want to say, “PLEASE get a fucking clue!”

        Sen Levin is up against world class ratfuckers.
        Step back one minute and figure how much m-o-n-e-y is involved in Armed Services. How many Blackwater and other contractors want money! Money! MONEY!! How many defense contractors want contracts, deals, access to this man…? THOUSANDS.

        So step back a minute and think about Levin must be up against.
        He’s up against Cheney. And Bush. And all the resources they can still muster: executive privilege, Pixie Dust, 4 Supreme Court Justices (and often a few add-ons), DoJ, DoS, CIA…

        Get a goddamn fucking CLUE!!!!!!!
        He’s dealing with world class ratfuckers who do not want to have any penalties or inconveniences to their nice lives.

        Now, I’ll never know the in’s-and-outs, but it’s a fair guess (given Mora’s testmony and other ‘tea leaves’) that some current and retired military, some FBI, are pissed as hell about the torture debacle and they’re probably rooting for Levin to get to the root of the disaster.

        To do that takes shitloads, boatloads, planeloads of time, detailed documents, endless interviews, and every fucking ‘i’ has to be dotted and every damn ‘t’ has to be crossed.

        Do you have a c-l-u-e how much work it must have required to set up the hearings he held?!!

        Because we’ve all watched Rove slip out of one tiny pinhole after another — always on a ‘technicality’. Because that’s how ratfuckers always reveal themselves — they’re never interested in honoring the spirit of the law, and they always use ‘the letter of the law’ to slip away. Which is why to track down and catch ratfuckers is tough, sloggy, almost impossible work.

        But it happens.
        It took years for Enron to implode, but it did. Because it was evil.
        And BushCheney are evil.

        But to catch them requires careful, patient, thankless, sloggy work.

        I think that some on the blogs (and I am guilty at times myself) think that just because someone is a US Senator they have Magical Powers and they can Make It So. Well, step back a minute.
        That’s NOT the bridge of the USS Enterprise they’re standing on.

        Yes, they have power, but they also have lots of constraints.
        I think that some of those who comment on blogs think that they can just say, “HOLD impeachment hearings!!” and that presto! magically, it will all happen before the popcorn is eaten.

        Life doesn’t work that way.
        Levin is up against huge forces — I can’t even imagine what he’s up against, but i can look back to some of my own experiences and roughly extrapolate.

        He’s up against people who think he’s standing between them and their paychecks, or between them and the risk of prison. These people are going to take **anything** he says out of context. They are going to screw him every chance they get. They are going to lie to him, evade him, yadda, yadda, because that’s what ratfuckers do.

        So basically, EW worked her ass off for several years to build the kind of resource that FDL/EW has become, and she invites a Senator on, and people think they’re justified in ranting at the man?
        Yikies.

        Saying that ‘Voting the right way isn’t enough” is pretty naive, IMHO.

        On the one hand, it’s not. First, you gotta do the homework.
        Then you gotta understand WHAT the fuck you’re supposed to be voting on, and if there’s a last-minute amendment, then WTF will it mean down the line?
        Then, after the vote you have to figure out how to fund whatever got voted on — and make sure the budgets are clear and funded.
        So ‘voting’ is the tip of the fricking iceberg.
        And that’s why it’s damn insulting to someone like myself to read, ‘It’s not enough to vote the right way”.

        Cause I kind of want to say, “Oh? Really??! So I’m also supposed to clean your damn toilet, mop your floors, flx your car engine, pay off your mortgage and also care for your aging parents?! WIll THAT be enough???!”

        Followed by a really fast, “Fuck off.”
        And then by a ‘Anyone who runs for office in this day and age is nuts.”

        Shorter: maybe we should all cut each other a bit more slack.
        Maybe we should clarify what senators like Levin are up against — NOT ONLY in terms of Republican control of the Senate, but in terms of the ECONOMIC interests affected by their decisions.
        Maybe we should get more information.
        Then we should clarify our objectives.

        Then we should seek to meet them in a productive fashion.

        Okay… good think I don’t bill for the time writing blog comments, ’cause I just lost money on this lonnnnnnnggggg comment’.

        Selise, don’t take it personally — I’m kind of using ‘the Idea of Selise’ to create an argument. But I DO hope that my perspective helps you think more broadly about why the Levin thread sent me spinning.

        I hope that EW doesn’t give up the idea of having people come as guests, but I do think guidelines, and a more realistic sense of what KIND of power people have, and what they’re really up against, would help people be more grounded, more decent, more productive.