Michelle Bachmann

97 House Republicans Join Latest Mob Attack on African-American Obama Appointee

Van Jones

Eric Holder

Valerie Jarrett

Shirley Sherrod

And now, Susan Rice.

Republicans are orchestrating yet another mob attack on one of President Obama’s African-American appointees. In this case, 97 House Republicans have signed a letter imploring Obama not to nominate Rice to replace Hillary Clinton. Yet they don’t raise any of the possibly legitimate reasons to oppose Rice’s appointment–her troubling record on Africa, her closeness to Obama.

No.

These 97 Republicans don’t even try to make this look like legitimate opposition. Instead, they rehash a Benghazi attack that hearings last week debunked.

Ambassador Rice is widely viewed as having either willfully or incompetently misled the American people in the Benghazi matter. Her actions plausibly give the U.S. (and rivals) abroad reason to question U.S. commitment and credibility when needed.

They don’t know what the problem with Rice is, this mob of frothing Republicans. But if she’s black, they seem to be saying, she must be either incompetent or deceitful.

This frothing mob includes such leading lights of the racist right as Steve King, Ted Poe, Louie Gohmert, Michelle Bachmann, and Tim Griffin, and such discredited hacks as Scott DesJarlais and Joe Wilson.

While Alan West signed the letter, along with several Latinos, the letter largely pits a bunch of white radicals against a single black woman whom they claim is not credible because she read talking points developed by the CIA.

This is not the act of reasoned legislators. It’s a mob attack. A mob attack, like so many others, targeted blindly at an African-American professional appointed by our nation’s first African-American President.

Four of Seven Dwarves: Consistent, Courage, Resolute, Cheerful

“Consistent” (Paul), “Courage” (Santorum?!), “Resolute” (Willard), “Cheerful” (Newt)

Those are the one word answers the GOP candidates gave CNN’s John King to explain themselves.

All I could think of where the seven dwarves remaining. (Bachmann? Crazy. Perry? Dummy. Cain? Slutty.)

That said, I’m not sure what service men and women think of Santorum claiming credit, presumably for his socially restrictive policies while never serving, is all that courageous. And Willard? “Resolute”? I guess that’s Mormon for “multiple choice,” right?

These people are clearly all too delusional to have their finger on the nuclear button.

Bachmann Was Almost Right: The ACLU Is in Cahoots with the CIA

As I have puzzled over the civil liberties and human rights communities’ stance on the NDAA Detainee Provisions, I’ve come to the unfortunate conclusion that Michelle Bachmann was not far off when she claimed, “Barack Obama … has essentially handed over our interrogation of terrorists to the ACLU. He has outsourced it to them.”

After all, in the guise of “fixing” some of what I agree are problems with the Detainee Provisions–the laws regarding detention and interrogation of detainees–the ACLU is telling its members to lobby for the Udall Amendment to the NDAA.

But there is a way to stop this dangerous legislation. Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colo.) is offering the Udall Amendment that will delete the harmful provisions and replace them with a requirement for an orderly Congressional review of detention power. The Udall Amendment will make sure that the bill matches up with American values.

In support of this harmful bill, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) explained that the bill will “basically say in law for the first time that the homeland is part of the battlefield” and people can be imprisoned without charge or trial “American citizen or not.” Another supporter, Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) also declared that the bill is needed because “America is part of the battlefield.”

The solution is the Udall Amendment; a way for the Senate to say no to indefinite detention without charge or trial anywhere in the world where any president decides to use the military. Instead of simply going along with a bill that was drafted in secret and is being jammed through the Senate, the Udall Amendment deletes the provisions and sets up an orderly review of detention power. It tries to take the politics out and put American values back in.

As a threshold matter, the ACLU’s  support of the Udall Amendment appears to put them on the same side of the debate as–among others–former CIA exec John Brennan and the former Director of the CIA, Leon Panetta. (Current CIA Director and outspoken detention authority while still at DOD, General David Petraeus, has been eerily quiet over the last several weeks.)

And I do agree with the ACLU that the Udall Amendment sets up an orderly review of detention power.

But, as I’ve noted, there’s one aspect of the Detainee Provisions that Udall doesn’t leave for orderly review: the scope of the language describing a “covered person.” Instead, Udall’s Amendment says covered people should be those “whose detention … is consistent with the laws of war and based on authority provided by” the 9/11 and Iraq AUMFs, as well as “any other statutory or constitutional authority.”

(b) Covered Persons.–A covered person under this section is any person, other than a member of the Armed Forces of the United States, whose detention or prosecution by the Armed Forces of the United States is consistent with the laws of war and based on authority provided by any of the following:

(1) The Authorization for Use of Military Force (Public Law 107-40).

(2) The Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution 2002 (Public Law 107-243).

(3) Any other statutory or constitutional authority for use of military force.

Udall pretty much unilaterally reasserts the application of the AUMFs (plural) and other vaguely defined legal bases to detention (and, because that’s how OLC has built up Executive Power over the last decade, a bunch of other things), in an effort to defeat SASC’s language that limits such detention authority to those tied directly to 9/11 or “who [were] part of or substantially supported al-Qaeda, the Taliban, or associated forces.” Udall’s Amendment may give SSCI and SJC another shot at this law, but it dictates that detention authority apply to a far broader group of people than the SASC language describes.

Hey, Mark. See that calendar? We’re not going to pass and sign this bill before December 1. We’re due to pull our troops out of Iraq by the end of that month. Are you telling me we need to include that language for less than 31 days? Or just to provide a bubble during which the Administration can do whatever it wants with Ali Mussa Daqduq, the alleged Hezbollah agent in US custody presenting so many legal dilemmas for us in Iraq? Or are you instead applying the AUMF for a war that is effectively over to grant the President authority to hold a much broader category of “terrorist” than the 9/11 AUMF authorized? Why, at this late date, are you including the Iraq AUMF?

Given your “based on authority provided” language, I assume it is the latter, meaning this attempt to do an orderly review of detention authority also mandates that that detention authority be applied as if the Iraq war were not ending.

And all that’s before you consider the “any other statutory or constitutional authority for use of military force,” which seems to say that in any circumstance in which Congress has authorized some use of military force, Udall’s Amendment also piggybacks detention authority … and whatever else (like assassination and wiretap authority) gets built off of detention authority in secret by the OLC.

The Udall Amendment, while giving the Senate Intelligence and Senate Judiciary Committees an opportunity to weigh in on what the President must and can do with detainees, goes far beyond the language in the SASC version of 1031, which reaffirmed the war on terrorists, but only on terrorists who have anything directly to do with, or are associated with, 9/11.

I may be badly misreading this. But as I understand it, the ACLU is basically lobbying to codify a vastly-expanded AUMF that will serve to legitimize many of the intelligence community’s most egregious civil liberties abuses, not just on detention, but on a range of other “war powers,” like wiretapping and assassination.

And while that may not be the same as outsourcing interrogation to the ACLU–as Bachmann described it–it does amount to using the ACLU to give sanction to a broad expansion of Executive war and surveillance powers the likes of which the CIA loves to exploit.

Michelle Bachmann’s Nuclear Theft

When Michelle Bachmann announced at the GOP National Security debate last night that there were 15 Pakistani nuclear sites that might be accessible to terrorists…

BLITZER: All right. You’re a member of the Intelligence Committee. Do you think, as Governor Perry has said, that Pakistan should no longer receive U.S. aid because they’ve shown they’re not a good friend, ally of the United States?
BACHMANN: Pakistan has been the epicenter of dealing with terrorism. They are, as Governor Huntsman said, there are al-Qaeda training grounds there. There’s also the Haqqani network that can be trained there as well.
And they also are one of the most violent, unstable nations that there is. Continue reading

“The Congressional directory now reads like a casebook of lunacy”

There are a number of reasons to read this entire article–Republican Mike Lofgren’s explanation of why the TeaParty convinced him to leave his congressional staffer position after 30 years: the pithy descriptions of Republican nut-jobs (like the quote I’ve taken for my title, which he uses to describe Steve King, Michele Bachman, Paul Broun, Patrick McHenry, Virginia Foxx, Louie Gohmert, and Allen West), the accurate description of the corporate-purchased impotence of the Democratic party, and the description of how today’s Republican party puts party above the good of the country.

But I was particularly struck by this tie between normative behavior–collegiality and good faith–and the functioning of our democracy.

It should have been evident to clear-eyed observers that the Republican Party is becoming less and less like a traditional political party in a representative democracy and becoming more like an apocalyptic cult, or one of the intensely ideological authoritarian parties of 20th century Europe. This trend has several implications, none of them pleasant.

In his “Manual of Parliamentary Practice,” Thomas Jefferson wrote that it is less important that every rule and custom of a legislature be absolutely justifiable in a theoretical sense, than that they should be generally acknowledged and honored by all parties. These include unwritten rules, customs and courtesies that lubricate the legislative machinery and keep governance a relatively civilized procedure. The US Senate has more complex procedural rules than any other legislative body in the world; many of these rules are contradictory, and on any given day, the Senate parliamentarian may issue a ruling that contradicts earlier rulings on analogous cases.

The only thing that can keep the Senate functioning is collegiality and good faith. During periods of political consensus, for instance, the World War II and early post-war eras, the Senate was a “high functioning” institution: filibusters were rare and the body was legislatively productive. Now, one can no more picture the current Senate producing the original Medicare Act than the old Supreme Soviet having legislated the Bill of Rights.

Far from being a rarity, virtually every bill, every nominee for Senate confirmation and every routine procedural motion is now subject to a Republican filibuster. Under the circumstances, it is no wonder that Washington is gridlocked: legislating has now become war minus the shooting, something one could have observed 80 years ago in the Reichstag of the Weimar Republic. As Hannah Arendt observed, a disciplined minority of totalitarians can use the instruments of democratic government to undermine democracy itself.

Among other things, it describes why I never supported filibuster reform: Not because I like the filibuster or the Senate’s other structurally undemocratic features. But because attempting to tweak the filibuster just ignores the root cause of our problems, that Republicans have given up the norms that keep our democracy working and serve, however imperfectly, to achieve the best outcome for the country.

As Lofgren notes, this nihilistic approach serves an explicit Republican strategy.

A couple of years ago, a Republican committee staff director told me candidly (and proudly) what the method was to all this obstruction and disruption. Should Republicans succeed in obstructing the Senate from doing its job, it would further lower Congress’s generic favorability rating among the American people. By sabotaging the reputation of an institution of government, the party that is programmatically against government would come out the relative winner.

But it destroys the country in the process.

Lofgren doesn’t quite say it, but it seems the logical conclusion of this state of affairs (barring a resurgence of Democratic values and spine and a new skepticism on the part of the press) is the collapse of the country, leaving just the corporatists and their Bible thumping puppets behind.

Emptywheel Twitterverse
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JimWhiteGNV RT @marynmck: key to controlling Ebola as it comes to the US: simple stuff. good patient interviews, good infection control. http://t.co/L8
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JimWhiteGNV RT @JamesRisen: Press can't talk to people at political rallies? http://t.co/cZqCOLUwym
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JimWhiteGNV @SCOTUSblog @ColMorrisDavis So the insane-sex marriage lobby is happy?
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bmaz @Will_Bunch Why does a cop get a level of ultimate detail in presentation NO other defendant ever gets, even by McCulloch's own admission?
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bmaz @Will_Bunch Any other case in the world, with identical facts, and the grand jury would take 2-3 hrs, day at the most. This is just insane.
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bmaz @TimothyS Apparently the oh so attentive @AmbassadorPower cares more about China than the far worse oppression in Ferguson and Occupy in US.
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bmaz @Will_Bunch I'm absolutely stunned there has been so little pushback on how McCulloch is throwing the grand jury. What he is doing is absurd
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