Dismantling Cheney’s Control

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cheney.jpg
The next two years are going to be politically bloody and difficult ones for the nation and the world. There is a somewhat understandable, yet naive, hope that Democratic success in the coming election will somehow corner President Bush and his team into a more rational national security posture.
To some degree this is true. Democratic political strength in the nation is palpable, and virtually everyone sees the House of Representatives changing management, though the Senate is far less certain. Senator John Warner, Bush family “fixer” James Baker III, and others see this change in course coming — and are trying to develop fig leaves for Bush to tack a different course on Iraq and US foreign policy in general.
But this view of change misses some key detail and parts of the political picture that need to be factored in.
First, Nancy Pelosi and her leadership team and new Committee chairs will not be able to hold back the calls for investigation, testimony under oath, and “public hangings” for those responsible for the corrupt practices with firms like Halliburton, the politicization of intelligence driven by Douglas Feith and friends; and the management failures that led to Abu Ghraib, Haditha, Guantanamo, and the lack of body armor for American soldiers.
In fact, Pelosi should not hold back. A public spotlight must be focused on those who took this nation in to the Iraq War — and in particular, hearings along the lines of those that Harry Truman called in the Senate in 1940 to expose war profiteers should be quickly assembled and legal investigations of the structural corruption behind this war launched.


I have my doubts that Dems will win the Senate. They may — but to be honest, winning the Senate will seriously harm the ability of Dems to win the White House in ’08. But set that issue aside for the time being.
If the House becomes the primary driver of investigations into the abuses, corruption, and duplicity that took this nation into a war that has undermined American status and security in the world, then the spotlight on the many scandals to roll forward will actually bring over Republicans.
Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid need to make sure that they have space in their plans for Republican defections away from the White House — and the Dems need to force Republicans to vote over and over again on legislation and resolutions and investigation authorizations related to the Iraq War and America’s currently self-defeating foreign policy.
We are going to see the implosion of the Bush presidency I think — and just like Watergate — there needs to be space for the William Cohen types and Howard Baker types of this Congress to join in a collaborative spirit with Democrats to save this country.
The problem with the thesis I am describing is that it doesn’t quite capture how reluctant the White House will be to cooperate — even if the President wants to tack towards a new and constructive direction in America’s Middle East policy.
The tug-of-war between Congress and the White House needs to be viciously theatrical in order to prepare for the 2008 race, but the Dems should NOT want to be responsible for American foreign policy or the full legislative branch of government with control of the House and a razor thin majority in the Senate. The Dems need to force accountability for what has happened on to Bush, and at the same time they really need to put some better conceptualizations of foreign policy and national security policy on the table.
Dems haven’t nearly begun to do the latter, not in my view anyway — and I very much hope that progress is made on this front soon.
But Bush will not go quietly — and more importantly — the allies for a better direction in foreign policy who actually do exist in hidden corners of the Bush administration are dominated by Cheney’s followers throughout the national security bureaucracy.
I think that the Baker-Hamilton report, which will be issued in January 2007, will call for a new, expansive commitment to regional deal-making to solve many of the unresolved problems in the Middle East and to try and create a new equilibrium of interests in the region.
I think George Bush will find the report compelling — and I think he will order his team to try and “operationalize” as much of the Baker-Hamilton report as possible.
But it won’t happen. It will be undermined in the weeds, in the nuts and bolts details, consensus will be derailed, themes reversed after Cheney convinces Bush that parts of the report are politically naive and dangerous to American and Israeli interests. I think it will be slowly torn apart by a thousand cuts in the policy development and implementation process in the Executive Branch.
Cheney doesn’t need to tell his followers — embedded in every significant part of the nation’s national security bureaucracy — what to do. As Chalmers Johnson is fond of saying, “One doesn’t need to tell geisha what to do, they know what to do.” So do Cheney’s people.
Cheney’s acolytes will see a new equilibrium in the MIddle East as code for selling out Israel’s security interests because they do see these issues in zero sum terms, even if the President of the United States does not (by then).
Cheney’s people, if not neutralized, will derail any new opportunities or directions.
They need to be exposed as part of the broad Cheney network and pushed to the side. That is the only way to let some other policy possibilities to take root in the next two years of the Bush administration.
Dems and moderate Republicans can take credit as needed for these new changes in policy — but without neutralizing Cheney down to the roots of his power — policy and political anarchy lie ahead for the country.
– Steve Clemons

Comments

30 comments on “Dismantling Cheney’s Control

  1. Marky says:

    When considering the possibility of Chaffee or Lieberman returning to the Senate, consider how they would vote were Bush to be impeached in the House.
    For sure Lieberman would try his utmost to prevent his BFF W losing his throne.
    I could easily see Lieberman and McCain having the power to save Bush.
    What about Chaffee?
    He’s been milquetoast wishy-washy so many times in the past, would you really want to take a chance on his vote?
    Of course, one has to assume that Pelosi would send an impeachment to the Senate with only the most serious charges.
    Most important question: Will John Roberts wear the late CJ’s lovely and dignified Gilbert and Sullivan tassels?

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  2. Marky says:

    There will be no way to avoid impeachment.
    The White House will not divulge any information, honor any subpoenas, or if they do the witness will refuse to answer questions; they will fight every little battle in court as far as possible.
    Not to mention that Bush will continue to make and act on his signing statements.
    We already have a severe constitutional crisis—the election of a Democratic majority in Congress will merely expose this to the public.
    Bush will either back down, or be impeached.
    Obviously he will not back down.
    Impeachment shouldn’t be the first order of business, but it is inevitable.
    I don’t know if the Republicans in the Senate will finally bail on Bush and convict him, however.

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  3. Carroll says:

    “We must never forget that the record on which we judge these defendants today is the record on which history will judge us tomorrow.” [Michael R. Marrus, The Nuremberg War Crimes Trial 1945-46 p. 81]
    I think the world has already judged us, it just hasn’t stepped up to do anything about it…yet.
    The ony thing the dems could do that would matter to the world as far as our reputation goes, is to offer up all the criminals to an international court.
    Why should the world at large ever trust the US again if it doesn’t come clean on it’s on war criminals?

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  4. Pissed Off American says:

    http://www.walter-c-uhler.com/Reviews/pelosi.html
    An Open Letter to Congresswoman Pelosi: Please Reconsider Your Pledge to Take Impeachment “off the Table”
    Posted 30 October 2006
    Dear Honorable Congresswoman Pelosi:
    In early September 2002, Vice President Richard Cheney and the Director of Central Intelligence, George Tenet, met with the Gang of Four – the four top leaders of Congress, Dennis Hastert, Richard Gephardt, Trent Lott and Tom Daschle – to brief them on the so-called intelligence that supposedly demonstrated Iraq’s possession of weapons of mass destruction.
    As Michael Isikoff and David Corn write, in their new book, Hubris, “They displayed aerial photos of what appeared to be new construction at what Cheney said were Iraqi nuclear weapons sites. They showed drawings of what Tenet described as mobile biological weapons laboratories…[and] they shared snapshots of unmanned aerial vehicles…said to be capable of carrying chemical and biological weapons great distances.” [p. 31] The Gang of Four was disturbed by this so-called intelligence. Senator Lott was “sold.” [Ibid] Even Senator Daschle “wanted to grant Cheney and Tenet the benefit of the doubt on fundamental questions of national security.” [Ibid]
    Unfortunately, this episode not only proved that Cheney and Tenet had gotten their briefing routine down pat, but also the accuracy of comedian Louis Black’s observation: Democrats are the party of “no ideas,” while the Republicans are the party of “bad ideas.” After all, as readers of Ron Suskind’s book, The Price of Loyalty, surely recall, Tenet produced a similar aerial photo of a so-called weapons site at President Bush’s very first meeting of the National Security Council in January 2001 – and Cheney cheered him along.
    Back then, Tenet claimed that the “CIA believed the building might be ‘a plant that produces either chemical or biological materials for weapons manufacture.’” And Cheney “motioned to the deputies, the backbenchers, lining the wall. ‘Come on up,’ he said with uncharacteristic excitement, waving his arm. ‘You have to take a look at this.’” [Suskind, p. 72]
    But, while a dozen people, including Bush, were gazing “intently at the tablecloth-size photo,” [Ibid, p. 73] Treasury Secretary Paul O’Neill asked Tenet, “I’ve seen a lot of factories around the world that look like this. What makes us suspect that this one is producing chemical or biological weapons?” O’Neill’s question compelled Tenet to concede: There was “no confirming intelligence” as to the materials being produced at that plant. [Ibid]
    But, note the enthusiasm with which Cheney and the ideologues in the Bush administration embraced such dubious intelligence about Iraq at that very first meeting of the National Security Council. It spoke volumes about how the Bush administration would hype and “fix” intelligence to make the case for its illegal, immoral invasion of Iraq. As I will demonstrate below, the Bush administration’s illegal, immoral invasion of Iraq requires a thorough investigation — as a prelude to the impeachment of both the President and the Vice President.
    Congresswoman Pelosi, in your recent 60 Minutes interview with Lesley Stahl you assured her that, if the Democrats win a majority in the House of Representatives and you become Speaker of the House, “impeachment is off the table” because making the Bush administration “lame ducks” was good enough for you.
    You made a similar pledge earlier this year. Unfortunately, the definitions provided by Lewis Black notwithstanding, I can only marvel at your “bad idea.” Please, you must reconsider. It is ill conceived and will prove to be counterproductive.
    As one of the courageous members of Congress who refused to vote for the October 2002 “Joint Resolution to Authorize the Use of United States Armed Forces Against Iraq,” you retain high moral and political credibility (unlike Senator Hillary Clinton), especially now that the majority of Americans know that Iraq had no weapons of mass destruction or ties to al Qaeda and further believe that the Bush administration deceived them in order to send their husbands, wives, sons and daughters to war.
    As you undoubtedly know, in Chapter 1 of the Charter of the United Nations, “Article 2.4, expressly prohibits Member States from using or threatening force against each other, allowing only two exceptions: self-defense under Article 51, and military measures authorized by the Security Council under Chapter VII.” [A more secure world: Our shared responsibility, Report of the Secretary-General's High-level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change, United Nations, 2004, p. 62]
    Moreover, when discussing self-defense under Article 51, that report notes that nothing in the U.N. Charter “shall impair the inherent right of individual or collective self-defense…until the Security Council has taken measures to maintain international peace and security.” But it adds: “A threatened State, according to long established international law, can take military action as long as the threatened attack is imminent, no other means would deflect it and the action is proportionate.” [Ibid, p 63]
    Americans now know that the threat posed by Iraq was NOT imminent, because Iraq possessed no weapons of mass destruction and had no ties to al Qaeda. Moreover, the former Director of Central Intelligence George Tenet claimed, “his analysts ‘never said there was an imminent threat.’” [Morning Edition, National Public Radio Feb. 5, 2004].
    Thus, forthright investigations – not the dishonest, perhaps criminal, stonewalling orchestrated by Senator Pat Roberts — must be conducted to determine whether the Bush administration misused the intelligence it received (or concocted its own intelligence) to disguise the nature of their illegal, immoral “preventive” war.
    Particular attention should be paid to the bogus intelligence fabricated by the untrained, pro-war ideologues hired by Douglas Feith. Such bogus analysis, alleging operational ties between Iraq and al Qaeda, allowed Messrs. Wolfowitz, Rumsfeld, Libby, and Cheney to reject five legitimate Intelligence Community reports, which found no evidence of such ties. (See my article — http://www.walter-c-uhler.com/Reviews/Gestapo.html ).
    Moreover, by staring a war instead of allowing the UN inspectors to continue their inspections, the Bush administration failed to exhaust every means to deflect war – as demanded under international law.
    And when it failed to send enough troops to secure the peace after its illegal, immoral invasion — and, thus, failed to prevent the insurgency and civil war that experts predicted — the Bush administration abetted the unleashing of disproportionate looting, death and destruction in Iraq. Thus, any and every excuse the Bush administration offered for its unconscionable invasion was immediately besmirched with needlessly spilled blood and lost treasure – due to its criminal negligence.
    Finally, when the Bush administration failed to secure a second Security Council resolution authorizing the use of force, it gave fallback justifications for invading Iraq that met none of the criteria specified under Article 51. Which is why, U.N Secretary-General Kofi Annan publicly asserted that Bush’s war was “not in conformity with the UN Charter,” and thus was “illegal.” [John Burroughs and Nicole Deller, The United Nations Charter and the Invasion of Iraq, Neoconned Again, p. 368]
    As you probably know, Congresswoman Pelosi, Article VI of our Constitution states: “The Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding.
    Thus, the Charter of the United Nations is the supreme law of the land. And, thus, the Bush administration’s violation of the UN Charter constitutes an impeachable offense under our Constitution.
    Moreover, when one recalls that the United States boldly took the lead in establishing both the United Nations and the Nuremberg International Military Tribunal – and both in an effort to assure that wars of aggression would be outlawed and punished – any failure by United States America to investigate and prosecute its own wars of aggression would be viewed as rank hypocrisy and further debase our national honor around the world.
    Thus, what U.S Representative Robert H Jackson asserted in Nuremberg in November 1945 remains equally applicable to America today: “We must never forget that the record on which we judge these defendants today is the record on which history will judge us tomorrow.” [Michael R. Marrus, The Nuremberg War Crimes Trial 1945-46 p. 81]
    Speaking for the United States, in its opening address of the Nuremberg Tribunal, Associate Justice Robert H. Jackson asserted: “This inquest represents the practical effort of four of the most mighty of nations, with the support of 17 more, to utilize international law to meet the greatest menace of our times – aggressive war.” [Ibid, p. 80]
    But, he also concluded: “The ultimate step in avoiding periodic wars, which are inevitable in a system of international lawlessness, is to make statesmen responsible to law. And let me make clear that while the law is first applied against German aggression, the law includes, and if it is to serve a useful purpose it must condemn aggression by any other nations, including those which sit here now in judgement.” [Ibid, p. 85.]
    Article 6 of the Tribunal’s Charter list “Crimes against Peace; namely, planning, preparation, initiation or waging war of aggression” [Ibid, p. 52] as its first and foremost crime. And in its indictment of notorious Nazis, the Tribunal listed as “Count One” the “conspiracy” to commit “Crimes against Peace, in that the defendants planned, prepared, initiated and waged wars of aggression.” [Ibid, 58] It then cites the execution of plans to invade Austria, then Czechoslovakia, then Poland, then Denmark, Norway, Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Yugoslavia and Greece – before its invasion of the Soviet Union.
    Count Two indicted the Nazis for actual crimes against peace. Count Three indicted them for “War Crimes,” including the ill treatment of civilians and the mistreatment of prisoners of war – such as have occurred at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo in our recent past. Count Four indicted the Nazis for “Crimes Against Humanity”
    In January 1947, lawyer, former U.S, Secretary of War and former Secretary of State, Henry Stimson, published an article – “Nuremberg, Landmark in Law” — in Foreign Affairs. He concluded: “International law is still limited by international politics, and we must not pretend that either can live and grow without the other. But in the judgement of Nuremberg there is affirmed the central principle of peace – that the man who makes or plans to make aggressive war is a criminal. A standard has been raised to which Americans, at least, must repair; for it is only as this standard is accepted, supported and enforced that we can move onward to a world of law and peace.” [Ibid, p 245]
    Today, as the “fortunate” escape the whirlwind of torture, death and destruction in Iraq by becoming refugees (1.6 million since 2003) or displaced persons within their own country (190,000 since February 2006) the U.S. and British armies, “claiming to bring democracy and prosperity have brought bloodshed and misery worse than under the most ruthless modern dictator.” [Simon Jenkins, "We have turned Iraq into the most hellish place on Earth," The Guardian, Oct. 25, 2006]
    Were the United States still a shame-based country, as it was even when Henry Stimson wrote about Nuremberg, the criminals in the Bush administration who unleashed this whirlwind would resign and surrender themselves to the proper authorities, or commit suicide. But, America is not Japan and, as we already know, our officials possess neither character nor shame. Instead, they already are plotting to escape justice.
    “Justice,” for the crime of invading Iraq, already has been splendidly stipulated by the renowned conservative military historian, Martin van Creveld: “For misleading the American people, and launching the most foolish war since Emperor Augustus in 9 B.C. sent his legions into Germany and lost them, Bush deserves to be impeached and, once removed from office, put on trial along with the rest of the president’s men. If convicted, they’ll have plenty of time to mull over their sins.”
    But, in order to thwart justice, the Bush administration’s “Plan A,” is to win at least one house of Congress in November and, thus, stymie and delay investigations and impeachment proceedings. If “Plan A” fails, “Plan B” is to invade Iran.
    Thus, the percentages offered by Middle East expert, William R. Polk, seem correct — “at least a 10% chance of an American attack on Iran before the November 7 Congressional elections and about a 90% chance before the administration’s end on 2008″ [History News Network, 10/16/06] — even if scaring Americans in order to ward off impeachment doesn’t figure among his reasons.
    And, thus, Congresswoman Pelosi, by taking impeachment off the table, you will have given the Bush administration an adequate substitute for “Plan A” while effectively removing any penalty for pursuing “Plan B.”
    Please, scrap your bad idea of taking impeachment off the table. Although making the Bush administration lame ducks may be good enough for you, America’s lost self-esteem and its lost honor around the world require much more – as does the need to prevent additional Bush administration crimes against the peace. It requires that we Americans “repair” to the standard to which we seek to hold everyone else.
    Walter C. Uhler is an independent scholar and freelance writer whose work has been published in numerous publications, including The Nation, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, the Journal of Military History, the Moscow Times and the San Francisco Chronicle. He also is President of the Russian-American International Studies Association (RAISA).

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  5. JoMoHo says:

    I feel that we are doomed no matter what happens in November. The damage has been done. An unstoppable cascade of events has begun. War, deep societal divisions, major demographic changes on the horizon, rising competition (China/India), splintering alliances, widening rich-poor chasms, pandemics (current–HIV–and future–influenza). This list goes on and on.
    To those who were “aware” during the 1960s and 1970s (especially during 1974): did things seem as dark as they do now?
    Was the country’s division as palpable?
    Was there a sense of impending catastrophe like we have now with the upcoming demographic bubble?
    As someone who was a child during those times I have no meaningful memories.

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  6. Matthew says:

    Steve:
    Thanks for hard-hitting, yet constructive, piece. Cheney’s probable opposition to constructive steps and more balance in the ME is akin to Bob Woodward’s description of Rumsfeld at the Pentagon. (Woodward used a golf analogy: By increasing the tightness of his grip, he drove more shots off the fairway.)

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  7. Jon Stopa says:

    ” But I am less a fan of DYING and the Democrats’ idea of protecting the USA is to give a basketball autographed by Michael Jordan to that North Korean guy – whatever his name is – and to appease SoDamn Insane as he flagrantly violated the terms of peace.
    So Count me in with the Neocans any day over the Democrats
    Posted by: Robert Morrow at October 29, 2006 06:19 PM”
    Are you seriously kidding? The Bush Adminstration made it possible for North Korea to build the bomb which just went off. North Korean spent fuel rods were locked under the control of UN inspectors. Bush personelly insulted Kim Jung Il, broke off negotiations and caused the inspectors to be removed. The North Koreans took the rods away and hid them, the rods ultimatelly becoming the bomb. The genius that caused this is John Bolton, our UN Ambassador. He gave Kim Jung Il the material to build this bomb.
    Do you feel safer with idiots like this at the wheel? Really? Even when you turn off your keyboard, and you’re only talking to yourself?
    Don’t real world results count?

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  8. Security Conscious says:

    Geat! Let the retribution and purges begin. Just what we need in the midst of our war on global Jihad. Dem “Progeessives” burning Republican leadership at the stake to prove a point. Perhaps all of that pathos and energy would be better served by the Dems actually presenting their startegy for dealing with the Arab Muslim Jihadists. Party-time for simply negating the NeoCon agenda will be past. It will be timely and appropriate to actually provide an approach of substance. Let’s see…Iraq, Sudan, Isreal/Palestine, Syria, Iran, et al.

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  9. J. Thomas Duffy says:

    Steve
    Great post …
    I agree with some of the latter comments, go after Cheney first … Shining a light on that cesspool will go towards isolating Bush, exposing, even more then to-date, what a weak president he is …
    I can see it now … The tags and crawlers on CNN, updating the “Secret Bunker” hearings …
    Then the fireworks … Do they actually get the goods and hold Cheney and his cronies accountable, or does Cheney, perhaps with help of Rumsfeld, pull a coup?
    Stay tuned batfans …
    Peace
    JTD
    The Garlic: All The Cloves Fit To Peel

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  10. jf says:

    Sorry, Mark. Schmitt. At least I got your vowell right.

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  11. jf says:

    Excellent post.
    And to Mark Schmidt:
    Great points, but don’t you have a blog to update every couple of months or so?

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  12. Easy E says:

    Posted by: Pissed Off American at October 29, 2006 11:27 PM
    IF GEORGE BUSH AND DICK CHENEY ARE NOT INDICTED FOR WAR CRIMES, AND FOR VIOLATING THIER OATHS OF OFFICE, THAN THIS NATION IS NOT A NATION OF LAWS.
    Period.
    ***************
    AGREED 100% AND SECOND THE MOTION.
    Perhaps it’s best not to make this a pre-election focal point, but if Dems are lucky enough to take control this needs to rise to the top. To hell with Pelosi.

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  13. Alex says:

    I watched “Courage of Our Convictions: One Brief Shining Moment” today on LinkTV. It’s about George McGovern.
    In his ’72 acceptance speech at the Dem convention, Come Home America, the parallels are remarkably the same between the Nixon and Bush administrations. So much so, you wouldn’t even notice the difference.
    Gary Hart or one of the others interviewed, said that when get together, they’re pretty nostalgic. The Nixon folks on the other hand aren’t because a lot of them ended up in prison or disgraced.

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  14. Alex says:

    If I were the Dems, I’d start with Cheney and crew first. And then move onto Bush.

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  15. Pissed Off American says:

    If there are no indictments handed down against George Bush and Dick Cheney, than this nation is no longer a nation of laws. There can be no equivication about this, and it is truly irrefutable, and provable. George Bush and Dick Cheney took this nation to war by using fabricated intelligence, fear mongering, and just plain LIES. Every death that has resulted from our invasion of Iraq was a death founded by lies. This is not conspiracy theory. This is not contempt prior to investigation. This is provable fact, backed by evidence.
    I repeat myself….
    IF GEORGE BUSH AND DICK CHENEY ARE NOT INDICTED FOR WAR CRIMES, AND FOR VIOLATING THIER OATHS OF OFFICE, THAN THIS NATION IS NOT A NATION OF LAWS.
    Period.

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  16. John says:

    RE: Steve Duncan and Venezuelan voting machines.
    The press reports I saw failed to mention that the electronic machines used in Venezuela provide a paper receipt, which the voter can review before placing into a ballot box. 50% of the paper ballots are randomly chosen for audit to assure a match with the machine before finalizing the tally.
    Instead of engaging in fear mongering, the press should be looking at the Venezuelan machines and trying to learn something about running free and fair elections.

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  17. Darth Bush says:

    Of course we won’t relinquish, we are Sith lords. Even the Democrats are corrupt. What makes anyone think democratic rule will be better?

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  18. Zathras says:

    Steve may know some political consultants, but he’d be well advised to stop pretending he is one.
    Democratic strength in the country is not “palpable.” It is a product almost entirely of public disaffection with the Republican administration and Congress. No Democrat assuming a chairmanship next January ought to assume that voters have come around to embrace specific agendas of the organized interests that dominate the Democratic Party. Voters are instead poised only to reject the party in power, and if they perceive that party as interested only in settling scores and preparing for the 2008 campaign they’ll turn on it just as they’re reacting against the Republicans now.
    With regard to that campaign….Democrats are going to be best off in future races if they win as many races this year as they can. Years like this don’t come around very often, and if I were a Democrat the last thing I’d worry about is the problems Democratic control of the Senate might pose for my party’s Presidential candidates in two years. True, a number of those candidates are Senators now, and would find the task of chairing committees a distraction from fundraising and campaigning. Too bad for them. Honestly, if you have potential Presidential candidates who have never accomplished very much in public life — the Democrats have quite a few at the moment — you should be rooting for them to be given an opportunity. Whether they want it or not.
    There is one other thing about Steve’s post here, an idea that reading other liberal blogs suggests as well. This is that liberals — or “progressives,” or whatever else they want to call themselves — are looking for a platform on foreign policy and national security affairs that everyone among them can be comfortable with and that requires no one to make uncomfortable compromises. Well, good luck with that, but my intuition tells me the way to make an impression on the public is for some ONE to gain a reputation for having strong views on issues the public cares about. Frankly, most liberal commentators and almost all prominent liberal politicians (Sen. Feingold is an occasional exception) seem to have stronger views on the need not to stray too far from the rest of the Democratic Party than they do about anything else.

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  19. John says:

    I don’t understand why people keep talking about impeachment. First, there aren’t the votes in the Senate and never will be, even if recaptured by the Dems. Second, the result would be a Cheney presidency or, should Cheney resign first, the appointment of McCain as VP, which would give him a head start on 2008. It’s just not going to happen.
    However, the next two years will assuredly be bloody. Cheney & Rumsfeld have backed the US into a strategic corner in Iraq and Afghanistan: the US can’t afford to not win and yet they can’t win. Bring on the investigations! Interrogate Cheney!
    On the down side, the economy is headed toward recession, perhaps intentionally to provide relief on oil prices and make Iran, Venezuela, Russia, etc. more malleable. Given the foreign currency reserves these countries have amassed, any recession will have to be prolonged to have any effect. The recession will inevitably be blamed on the Dems in the House–”remember how good things were before government got divided in ’06?”
    Setbacks in Iraq, Iran and Afghanistan will also be blamed on the Democrats, who will be charged with tying the administration’s hands (no factual basis needed). “The Dems are making us lose.”
    With some basic journalist professionalism, and a competent Democratic leadership, Cheney & Co. should not be able to keep pulling the wool over voters’ eyes. Anyone taking odds on that happening?

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  20. steve duncan says:

    When will notice be taken of the latest electronic voting machine news? The U.S. is investigating ties Chavez may have to ownership of many machines used in several states? Can’t anyone see this as the groundwork being laid to contest close elections favoring Democrats in their final outcome? It’s a pushback against all those alleging Diebold and Bushco are conspiring to steal the election. “Oh yeah, so we stole a few races? Ha! You and your leftist, terrorist buddy Chavez actually are to blame for all this confusion. Our patriotic supporters went to the polls only to be stymied by machines owned by an avowed Bush hater!” This is so transparently an attempt to confuse the electorate as to who is actually planning an electoral heist it’s laughable. I won’t hold my breath waiting for the MSM to label it for what it is.

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  21. Roger Wehage says:

    No matter how you spell democrat, it comes out looking republican…

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  22. Mark Schmitt says:

    Steve, you write:
    “there needs to be space for the William Cohen types and Howard Baker types of this Congress to join in a collaborative spirit with Democrats to save this country…The problem with the thesis I am describing is that it doesn’t quite capture how reluctant the White House will be to cooperate.”
    That’s one problem with your thesis. The bigger problem with your thesis is that THERE ARE NO WILLIAM COHEN AND HOWARD BAKER TYPES. Wish there were, but this is not the Capitol Hill where you and I worked. There are people who occasionally pretend to independence and then cave, like Specter and Lindsay Graham, there’s the John McCain Confidence Trick, and there’s Olympia Snowe. That’s it, the end. The Republicans have degraded themselves for a decade in subservience and whether’s there’s “space” for them or not, they are not able take it. Pelosi and Reid will have to make their judgments about how to conduct themselves, but they should not think that if they go gentle, they will bring along moderate Republicans, because they’re not. There might be other reasons to seem magnanimous and clearly seem ready for bipartisan government (as they have promised), but they aren’t the reasons you cite.

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  23. km4 says:

    Steve C., nice to see your provocative posts again ;)

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  24. Prabhata says:

    Those of us who follow politics do not “hope that Democratic success in the coming election will somehow corner President Bush and his team into a more rational national security posture.”
    But I’m hoping that the Democrats in the House will brake the Bush agenda. That agenda has been coasting like a barrel down a steep hill. Nothing of the Bush agenda will be reversed because the Dems will not have veto proof numbers in Congress, even if they take the Senate. If the Dems control the House, they will have the most powerful tool, the power of the purse. If used properly, that tool can force Bush to use the money with accountability and transparency. That would be enough for now.

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  25. dahreese says:

    Should there be a major political shift with the upcoming elections, I am not opposed to the investigations of wrong doing within our government regardless of political party. However, there have been so many exposed wrong doings within this Bush administration, do we have the energy and the resources (and the remaining Republicans will certainly be in opposition) to prosecute those wrong doings, expose others in the process, and try at the same time to set our country on a sustainable, successful course?
    Whether there are prosecutable offenses or not, certain things ought to be revealed to the American people;
    Who were the members of the Cheney “energy committee”?
    Release of the full Senate Committee Investigation report witheld by Sen Roberts on what intelligence the Bush administration knew about 9/11 prior to that tragedy.
    Who in the White House gave an “official” “go ahead” to the illegal torture policies we have used?
    It goes without saying there are many other questions and items that ought to be revealed to the American people and let the chips fall where and on whom they may.
    Certainly we need a better system of appointing federal and supreme court judges, as our present system is (obvious to anyone with his or her eyes open and who has watched the Bush administration at work) to appoint a judge whose verdict will likely be preposioned upon his or her upbringing and then goes searching for a law or laws that will support that preposition before rendering a verdict. If the courts want respect, let them earn it.

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  26. Carroll says:

    “First, Nancy Pelosi and her leadership team and new Committee chairs will not be able to hold back the calls for investigation, testimony under oath, and “public hangings” for those responsible for the corrupt practices with firms like Halliburton, the politicization of intelligence driven by Douglas Feith and friends; and the management failures that led to Abu Ghraib, Haditha, Guantanamo, and the lack of body armor for American soldiers.”
    You really think so? I hope you are right. I can’t picture Pelosi and Waxman and others r-e-a-l-l-y trying to get to the truth and punish any big names or officals, and they wouldn’t dare tackle the doings of Feith because of his Israeli connections, no matter how many Americans have died as a result of his phony intell pushing. It was a good show while they were trying to regain control and some of it may have been sincere.
    BUT…what if ALL the truth did come tumbling out?..including where the US billions in Iraq and the billions of Iraq’s own money really went?…there would be so many dirty little deals and secrets and unsavory and probably illegal domestic and global connections on both sides of the aisle revealed they would all go up in flames. The dems aren’t sucidial, self preservation of the two party system will trump the public’s right to know about crimes in goverment. Remember that just 34 dems and 7 repubs voted against the torture bill.
    The only things I have seen so far that haven’t dead ended in whitewashes and coverups or shuffling guilt off on minor no-bodies by both parties have been a few of the investigations by the FBI.
    But I do,do,do hope you are right, I just doubt it.

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  27. Robert Morrow says:

    If I get to pick between either Dick “Waterboard” Cheney or 2) surrender monkey Democrats, I am going to have to pick the neocons who have an affinity torture and torture light.
    I am not a big fan of torture nor am I proud of extraordinary rendition where the US government outsources torture to Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia even Syria because we don’t do that stuff locally.
    But I am less a fan of DYING and the Democrats’ idea of protecting the USA is to give a basketball autographed by Michael Jordan to that North Korean guy – whatever his name is – and to appease SoDamn Insane as he flagrantly violated the terms of peace.
    So Count me in with the Neocans any day over the Democrats

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  28. Minnesotachuck says:

    Steve,
    I believe that your assertion that the upcoming two years will be “politically bloody and difficult” will prove to be the understatement of the century, regardless of the outcome of the elections. Those centrists and Democrats who would prefer that the Republican Party retain control of both houses of Congress, thus so thoroughly completing the discrediting of itself that it will take decades to recover, don’t realize what they’re asking for. An additional two years of the Bush-Cheney cabal’s unfettered access to the levers of national security power, given the reinforcement of their arrogance via an electoral victory, will give their proven incompetence and fantasy lives free rein to exacerbate the damage they’ve already done to such a point that our country may never recover. In this scenario it’s not realistic to expect that the Jim Baker initiative will drive much change. Dubya will simply be emboldened to thumb his nose at him, and by extension Poppy.
    On the other hand, if the Democrats gain control of either house of Congress, I suspect that the administration, at Cheney’s instigation, will stonewall any investigations from the get-go. If this happens in the House, which is the more likely scenario as you point out, a groundswell demand for impeachment proceedings will not be long in coming, as Bush-Cheney deny the Congress’s right to any meaningful oversight based on their expansive notions of executive power.
    Neither the Constitutional clauses pertinent to impeachment nor the amendments dealing with Presidential succession anticipated the situation that currently faces the country, namely that both the President and his Vice President may be jointly complicit in behavior that rises to the standard to justify removal from office. Because of this there are complex timing issues that will have to be considered if impeachment is undertaken; if these are mishandled they may provide Bush and/or Cheney an opportunity to avoid expulsion from office on technicalities. Also, as I pointed out in a comment a few days ago on Firedoglake (which I’ve reposted on my own blog-link below), this will put the House Democratic leadership, and especially putative Speaker-to-be Nancy Pelosi in a very awkward position. She would face a Hobson’s choice of either putting her in a position of having to go back on her “impeachment is off the table” promise, or letting the administration off the hook for patently obvious “high crimes and misdemeanors.”
    If an impeachment bill does pass the House the conventional wisdom is that there is little chance of mustering the two-thirds vote in the Senate needed to convict and remove from office. However, if the basis of the bill is not the result of investigations into administration deeds and misdeeds over the past six years, but instead is about the President and Vice President flat-out denying long-established Congressional prerogatives it could be a different matter. That’s the sort of thing that starts Senators actually thinking about the long-term implications to their institution. If it does begin to look like they don’t have the votes, I have my doubts as to whether Bush, and especially Cheney, will fly off into the sunset as meekly as Nixon did in 1974 after Senator Goldwater and his compadres broke the news to him.
    As you wrote, the next two years are going to be politically bloody. And I haven’t even gone into the Twenty-Fifth Amendment, Section 4 of which, to my unlawyerly eye, provides some opportunities through which Cheney, especially, might be able keep his gnarly-fingered grasp on the levers of power. I’ll bet David Addington and friends are doing their research right now.
    I think you are dead on in pointing out that it is essential that the Democrats, and Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid especially, provide for GOP defections in their plans. My comment/post has some suggestions along this line, which are too long to quote here.

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