Prospects are so bad for Republicans in the Senate that Sen. Mitch McConnell, their embattled leader, has given them free reign to vote against the party and, certainly, their unpopular president, if it will help them save their seats in November.
In stark contrast, Republicans in the House are apparently determined to follow Bush in lockstep over the cliff (to mix multiple metaphors), or at least that's the impression they gave at the impeachment hearing last Friday --- which was officially titled "Executive Power and Its Constitutional Limitation" --- when GOP Judiciary Committee members put on a show of the sort of blind loyalty to George Bush that put their party in its dire predicament in the first place.
One by one, these pols --- all of them the sort of Republicans who give white guys a bad name --- took turns lashing out at the proceedings and trying to spin Bush's crimes as insignificant and morally relative to other president's misdeeds. At worst, it was a disgusting display of complicit politicians trying to save their own skins by fending off any pursuit of justice for Bush. At best, they came off a bit comically, like vampires in movies clawing and snarling at sunlight just seconds before they meet their doom.
Speaking of horror, a prime example of growling and back-biting --- not to mention outright lying on the record --- was the performance of Rep. Steve King of Iowa (who is not related to the novelist Stephen King).
We were up not long after dawn on this coast to catch the hearings in full and have been able to follow them with the exception of one hour when we had a radio commitment. In any case, it's still-ongoing, and well worth the watch on C-SPAN 1, for a change. If you can't get to a TV, you can catch it online here. I suspect we'll have more on it later today, as time allows. For those of you watching, feel free to "open thread" your thoughts on it here.
UPDATE 1:15pm PT: Phew. The six-hour session just concluded with Conyers stating that these were "the most important hearings we've held in the Judiciary in this session of Congress." We concur, but are thus left wondering what took 'em so long. As mentioned, hopefully more later on today's sobering and historic hearings (if we can overcome our sore wrist).
All six hours will be re-aired in full tonight (Friday) on C-SPAN beginning at 8pm ET.
As we broke earlier this week, after previous snubs and threats of subpoenas, Ohio's disgracefully-partisan former Sec. of State J. Kenneth Blackwell was finally set to testify to the House Judiciary Committee today (as well as another legendary GOP vote suppressor, former FEC chair and DoJ Voting Rights Division gamer, Hans von Spakovsky.)
After a late start, and a then a blackout of the Judiciary Committee's webcast feed just after Blackwell began his opening statement ("Thank you Mr. Chairman..." and then suddenly the feed went out), things picked up again during the opening statement of GOP propagandist/attorney Cleta Mitchell who went on and on about the same old nonsense concerning "voter fraud" via voter registration applications submitted by ACORN, the GOP's old "voter fraud" strawman...
The U.S. House Judiciary Committee's subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties will be holding a hearing this Thursday on "Lessons Learned from the 2004 Presidential Election."
Though no press release has yet been sent out by the Committee, and the link to the hearing's page at the Judiciary website is currently broken, The BRAD BLOG has both good news and bad news to report here.
The good news: Ohio's former Sec. of State J. Kenneth Blackwell has been invited to testify and has confirmed that he will actually show up this time, according to several Judiciary sources. Blackwell had previously snubbed the committee's earlier invitation to testify back in February about the myriad crimes that were committed on and by his watch in the 2004 Presidential Election.
Following his last refusal to appear --- when he responded to the committee claiming "my schedule will not permit me to attend the hearings" --- Judiciary Committee spokesperson Jonathon Godfrey hinted that a subpoena might be forthcoming if Blackwell continued to refuse to appear. This time, at least as of today, it looks like he's coming, according to confirmation by Godfrey this afternoon. Thus guaranteeing what should be a very lively hearing.
More good news: Shameless GOP "voter fraud" zealot and disgraced former FEC chair Hans Von Spakovsky will also be appearing. By invitation of the Republicans on the committee, amusingly enough. What were they thinking in inviting this embarrassment? Beats us, but we're happy to hear he'll be back on the Congressional hot seat. Thanks Repubs!
'Whether He's Pulling the Gun or Not...He's the Guy Who Made the Gun,' Allege Buckeye Lawyers About Man Said to Have Been Behind Florida 2000, Ohio 2004, RNC Emails, Congressional Computer Networks, & More...
Last week Ohio Attorney Cliff Arnebeck held a press conference in Columbus to announce his motion to lift the stay on the long-running King Lincoln Bronzeville v. Blackwell lawsuit in which massive improprieties, irregularities, and violations of the Voting Rights Act are alleged to have taken place in the 2004 Presidential Election in Ohio.
In the wake of the failure by the Buckeye State's Attorney General to properly investigate the allegations, and new evidence and testimony unearthed by Arnebeck and other private investigators, he is now asking that the stay on the lawsuit be lifted by the court in order to refocus the case and depose Karl Rove, and a number of other top GOP operatives believed to be involved in manipulating the results of the '04 election.
One of those operatives is Republican tech-guru Mike Connell.
Steve Heller covered last week's press conference for us, which featured comments from data security expert Stephen Spoonamore alleging fraud in the '04 election and Arnebeck's assertion that he believes "Rove will be identified as having engaged in a corrupt, ongoing pattern of corrupt activities specifically affecting the situation here in Ohio."
After last week's presser, Velvet Revolution's Brett Kimberlin sat down to follow up with Arnebeck and attorney/investigative journalist Bob Fitrakis, who participated in both the original '04 election lawsuits and has reported in detail on the related matters continuously since then at the Columbus Free Press.
In the video-taped interview, posted at right (appx. 10 mins), the two attorneys focus specifically on their concerns about GOP operative/IT specialist Connell, who, they allege, has been found to have been "at the scene of the crime" for numerous questionable elections since 2000. Connell's firm was also responsible for creating the RNC email systems used by Karl Rove and others. He is also said to have installed the existing Congressional computer networks for high-security House and Senate committees such as Judiciary and Intelligence.
The complete text transcript of the interview follows below...
Transcript of the 7/17/2008 VelvetRevolution.us Interview
with Cliff Arnebeck and Bob Fitrakis
VELVET REVOLUTION: Cliff and Bob you just had a press conference, talking about the next steps you are going to take in litigation. It looks like you're looking for discovery to understand the facts behind what happened in 2004 and make sure this doesn't happen in 2008. Can you give us an idea of the kinds of people or the names of people that you intend to target?
CLIFF ARNEBECK: At the very top of the list is probably Mike Connell. For the same reason that Spoonamore is so valuable to us as a witness, Connell has a breadth of perspective in this stuff and when Connell, with his politics and his position, identifies Triad and the Rapp family as an area, as a point of vulnerability - Well, we're saying, if Connell makes the same observation --which we think he will because if you look at this objectively, it makes no sense. Here's a guy, he's a mathematician or an engineer or whatever; we anticipate he is going to say "Yeah, that looks odd."
So Connell's an important witness and because we're talking about a conspiracy, one of the problems is you say 'where's the coordination, where's the communication?' --- Here's one individual who's been part of all the elements of the things that we think are problematic.
BOB FITRAKIS: He's a high IQ Forrest Gump. It's like everything important --- 2000 election Florida; 2004 Ohio; firewall in Congress --- he happens to show up and be the builder of these [im]penetrable forces and also may know who has the key to get in.
VR: So he's at the scene of the crime... whether he's pulling the gun or not.
FITRAKIS: Every single crime --- Well even more than that. He's the guy who made the gun.
Following up on Jon Ponder's earlier coverage of the latest Impeachment machinations --- with a date now set for some kind of hearings in the House Judiary Committee on July 25th and even several Republicans breaking ranks to vote in support of accountability --- a statement this week from Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) pretty much nails the entire matter, at least the most obvious, in one fell paragraph as reported at RAW STORY:
"Our Constitution is being destroyed. We are losing our nation to a war based on lies. I am determined to get this bill to committee for a hearing," he said. "The President has conducted the affairs of the nation in a manner which cries out for justice and it is the Constitutional obligation of Congress to check his wanton abuses of U.S. and international law. We have troops whose lives were put on the line because the President told them Iraq was a threat to the United States and it was not. The loss of lives of our troops and of innocent Iraqi civilians is a direct result of the lies this president told to Congress. He must be held accountable."
UPDATE: John Conyers' press release on "Imperial Presidency" hearings (nothing like Impeachment hearings, of course) to be held in the U.S. House Judiciary Committee next Friday and six different "allegations of misconduct by the administration" (nothing like Articles of Impeachment, of course), now follows in full below...
There will be a hearing related to Rep. Dennis Kucinich's Article of Impeachment against George Bush in the House Judiciary Committee. That was assured by a vote of 238 to 180 on Tuesday. (Details on that hearing, now posted here.)
But, according to Keith Olbermann on MSNBC's "Countdown" last night, Speaker Nancy Pelosi has mandated that questioning in the hearing be relegated to Bush's abuses of power, not his criminal wrongdoing.
“There’s never been one [hearing] that accumulated all the things that constitute an imperial presidency,” said Judiciary Chairman John Conyers, according to CQ Politics. He indicated topics covered in the hearing would include the firing of U.S. attorneys for political reasons, the betrayal of CIA agent Valerie Plame and Bush's alleged lying to Congress about the reasons for invading Iraq.
Kucinich's single Article of Impeachment only deals with Bush's lies to Congress.
There were no Democratic votes against holding the hearing. While 180 Republicans voted to follow their Dear Leader lock-step over the cliff, 10 Republicans abstained and nine Republican members of Congress voted with the Democrats. Here are their names...
The McCain campaign's Alabama chairman, Attorney General Troy King, the virulent homophobe who is the subject of rumors that his wife discovered him having sex with another man, was a client of Strategum USA, the consulting firm of Ralph Gonzalez, a closeted gay GOP political operative who was killed last summer in a double murder-suicide in his home in Orlando.
Gonzalez was also the one-time campaign manager/consultant for Florida's hard-right, scandal-plagued 24th Congressional District U.S. Rep. Tom Feeney whose close ties to disgraced GOP lobbyist Jack Abramoff and involvement in an alleged electronic vote-rigging conspiracy have been reported extensively for years by The BRAD BLOG.
Last Friday, the McCain campaign quickly scrubbed all references to King from its website without offering a public reason.
The August 27, 2007 Birmingham News report of the murder-suicide which took Gonzalez' life, discussed the consultant's work for King in Alabama...
Perhaps impeachment won't die in the House Judiciary Committee after all, as Pelosi gently --- if tepidly --- seemed to put the topic back on the table, according to Politico today, (via RAW STORY):
Pelosi has said previously that impeachment "was off the table," so her comments this morning were surprising, and clearly signaled a new willingness to entertain the idea of ousting Bush, although no one in the Democratic leadership believes that is likely since the president has only six months left in this term.
"This is a Judiciary Committee matter, and I believe we will see some attention being paid to it by the Judiciary Committee," Pelosi told reporters. "Not necessarily taking up the articles of impeachment because that would have to be approved on the floor, but to have some hearings on the subject."
Pelosi added: "My expectation is that there will be some review of that in the committee."
Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) filed 35 Articles of Impeachment against George W. Bush in June. Those articles, like the ones before them against Dick Cheney, were referred to House Judiciary where action has yet to be taken on them. Yesterday, Kucinich announced that he will introduce yet another Article today, on Bush lying the country into war, in a privileged resolution on the House floor.
This morning, his office announced the new article will be filed between 3:30 and 4:00pm ET today. They are asking the public to sign their petition calling on Congress to take action on the matter.
DISCLOSURE:The BRAD BLOG was consulted by Kucinich concerning the Bush Articles of Impeachment. The information submitted was included in Article 28, "Tampering with Free and Fair Elections" and Article 29, "Conspiracy to Violate the Voting Rights Act of 1965" of the original 35 Articles filed last month against Bush.
The torment and imprisonment of former Alabama governor Don Siegelman, allegedly via the hands of Karl Rove and his political hitmen operatives, has been extensively covered by The BRAD BLOG.
Over the weekend, Velvet Revolution.us (co-founded by The BRAD BLOG) sat down with him for an exclusive video-taped interview in Alabama. The entire interview will be posted soon, but we have posted two excerpts on YouTube. Both are embedded below.
Siegelman wants you to let Congress know that Rove must face the consequences of his actions. So do we.
Rove has been subpoenaed to testify before Congress tomorrow, July 10th, regarding the politicization of the Justice Department. The House Judiciary Committee wants to question Rove about his knowledge of the persecutionprosecution of former Alabama Democratic Gov. Don Siegelman and the U.S. Attorney firing scandal.
But Rove's attorney, Robert Luskin, has informed the Judiciary Committee that Rove will not attend the hearing.
Luskin has offered to make Rove available to the committee behind closed doors and not under oath. Luskin also insists that there be no transcript of the questioning and that Rove would not respond to written questions from the panel.
The Judiciary Committee has rejected that so-called "compromise."
We join Siegelman's request, as stated in his interview, in asking you to please contact the House Judiciary Committee and your House Representative to politely but firmly insist that they hold Karl Rove in contempt of Congress.
You can call the House Judiciary Committee at 202-225-3951 and you can email them via this page.
You can call your House Rep. at 202-224-3121. More contact info for your specific Representative can be found here.
As Siegelman notes about Rove during the VR interview, in the first posted excerpt (seen at right)...
This is a guy who has told Congress that he will not show up under subpoena unless he is not sworn to tell the truth, unless he has the questions in advance, and unless he is assured that nobody is writing down his answers. Now does that sound like somebody who's prepared to tell the truth?
We won't know the truth until Congress digs it out, and that's why it is so incredibly important that anybody that reads your blog or listens to it or watches it gets on the phone, gets on their computer, or writes Congress and tells them to hold Karl Rove in contempt if he does not show up to testify on July 10th.
[H]e needs to be held in contempt, needs to be arrested, needs to be brought in and made to sit before Congress and answer questions.
In the second excerpt (video at right, below), Siegelman goes on to point out that only Congress currently holds the power to reveal the truth about what went on in this sordid affair...
House Majority Leader Rep. Steny Hoyer, (D-MD), one of the new FISA bill's strongest champions, spoke about the bill's new "exclusivity provision" on the floor of the House on March 14, 2008. He proclaimed that "It clarifies that FISA is the exclusive means of conducting surveillance in the United States for foreign intelligence purposes."
On June 20, Hoyer optimistically echoed his previous comment: "This legislation makes clear that FISA is the exclusive means by which the government may conduct surveillance."
Sen. Dianne Feinstein, (D-CA), in an email sent to some constituents, including myself, wrote that the new FISA bill: "Includes provisions I authored that make clear that FISA is the exclusive (or only) authority for conducting surveillance inside the United States...FISA would be the only legal authority for conducting surveillance on Americans for intelligence purposes..."
But the old FISA bill, which was the law when Bush began to spy on us without warrants, also had an "exclusivity" provision that stated:
[P]rocedures in this chapter or chapter 121 and the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 shall be the exclusive means by which electronic surveillance, as defined in section 101 of such Act, and the interception of domestic wire, oral, and electronic communications may be conducted.
Since the "President" ignored the old FISA law, despite its existing exclusivity provision, what makes Hoyer or Feinstein or any of the other Dems think he'll bother to obey the new version of the law?
The existing law didn't keep Bush from breaking it last time, so it's beyond me what makes law makers think he won't do the same this time around. I decided to contact three different Democratic officials, all in favor of the new law, to try and find out why they believe they won't be fooled again...
On Friday, just 10 days after the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee issued subpoenas to the Dept. of Justice (DOJ) for notes from a June 2004 interview the FBI conducted with George Bush and Dick Cheney regarding their roles in the CIA leak scandal, the House Judiciary Committee issued subpoenas for documents related to the leak as well as the department's alleged political prosecutions.
According to a news release from the House Judiciary Committee, "[Chairman] John Conyers, Jr. (D-Mich.) today issued a subpoena to the [DOJ] to provide to the committee a number of previously requested documents by July 9. The Subcommittee on Commercial and Administrative Law voted this week to authorize committee Chairman John Conyers, Jr. to issue the subpoena at his discretion. The documents the committee is seeking cover a broad range of issues including the Valerie Plame leak, allegations of selective prosecution, and other matters."
Committee weighs risks, benefits of electronic voting machines Fla. 'vote-flipping' programmer voices doubts about tool
Clint Curtis touched a hidden button on the screen of a simulated electronic voting machine as onlookers witnessed votes switch from one candidate to another.
The House Committee on Elections invited Curtis, a computer programmer from Florida, to testify Wednesday on the accuracy, risks, benefits and security of electronic voting technology. The committee also heard from other expert witnesses, election officials and the Texas secretary of state.
Curtis said a Florida representative approached him in 2000 to design "vote-flipping" software to help the congressman win an election. Requesting a fraudulent program for a machine is not illegal in Florida, but using one is.
"You cannot trust electronic machines, no matter how many honest people you have. It only takes one person with access to the machine," said Curtis, an advocate for hand-counted paper ballots. "Programmers can be bought."
The committee watched as Curtis clicked on an invisible button that suddenly placed the losing candidate of his mock election safely in the lead.
"24 lines of code can flip an election," Curtis said.
He offered to write a new code from scratch in less than three minutes, emphasizing the ease of creating a "flipping" code.
On Wednesday, coverage of his testimony by the Dayton-Beach News-Journal (who endorsed Curtis during his 2006 run against Tom Feeney, the Republican U.S. House Rep who Curtis alleges asked him to create vote-rigging software) included this:
"They seem to understand," Curtis said in a telephone interview afterwards. "They seem to get it. I think they'll do what Florida did, get rid of (electronic touch screens) and get something voters can count on."
For those who don't know Curtis, where have you been? You can read his remarkable story, first broken by The BRAD BLOG back in late 2004, summarized here. He is now hoping to run against Feeney again in Florida again this year, though he must first win his Primary against a Democratic Party-backed candidate. If you'd like to help him beat the millionaire chosen by the short-sighted Dem insiders, please stop by (and feel free to donate!!!) at www.ClintCurtis.com.
DISCLOSURE: We were invited, by the Republican who heads the committee, to testify at the hearing this week as well. Due to prior travel plans, unfortunately, we were unable to be there, but happy that Curtis, and several others who we recommended, were able to show up and speak truth to power.
'Welcome to Judiciary Committee's First Book of the Month Club Meeting,' Snarks Ranking Member, Comparing Former Press Sec to Judas, During Oversight Hearing Concerning First-Ever Outing of Covert CIA Operative by an American White House
The testimony was interrupted by House floor votes shortly after it began, but not before opening statements from Chairman John Conyers (D-MI), ranking member Lamar Smith (R-TX), and Scott McClellan himself (text here), as well as a single round of questions from Reps. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) and Howard Coble (R-NC).
Not surprisingly, the Dems were respectful to the former WH Press Secretary, and even Coble was restrained and decent-ish in his first set of questions on behalf of the Republicans, following Smith's predictable attempts to try and smear McClellan and his publisher (as little more than operatives of the evil evil master overlord of all things not-Republican: George Soros).
Smith's opening statement --- characterized as "character assassination" which "has no place in this committee," as Nadler described it --- likely portends what's to come from the bulk of the Republicans should the hearings ever get re-started this morning.
In the meantime, McClellan, to his credit, again has refused to back off of his claims even one iota. As legendary "Pentagon Papers" whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg wrote to us recently, following McClellan's recent Fox "News" appearance, in which he stood up to bully boy Bill O'Reilly, "he sounded to me as though he had ACQUIRED, even if belatedly, the instincts of a whistleblower (and he's paying the usual social price for that with respect to all his old colleagues, though compensated by royalties)."
With all of that in mind, Smith's opening statement (video now posted at left, text posted below), described the hearing as "the Judiciary Committees first book of the month club meeting" before proceeding to plug Ann Coulter's book. He then accused McClellan of "selling out the president and his friends for a few pieces of silver." It was something to behold, and demonstrated (yet again) just how far these guys are willing to go to protect the Administration (versus offering oversight, as required by the Constitution) when they need to.
Remember, this hearing has to do with an administration, for the first time in the history of this nation, having revealed the identity of a covert CIA operative...and one who was monitoring WMD traffic in the Middle East, of all things.
The text of Smith's complete opening statement follows in full...
Is the photo at left beginning to seem less and less absurd?
Looks like we're headed for an interesting game of chicken next month in the House Judiciary Committee surrounding Rove's subpoena to appear before it to answer questions in the Don Siegelman affair (and perhaps others) on July 10. RAW has the story worth putting on your radar, with no less than two House Judiciary members hinting that they may be willing to take extra steps (e.g., use of "inherent contempt" to have Rove arrested by the House Sergeant at Arms if need be) should he refuse to testify.
If Rove refuses to appear, says Rep. Wasserman-Schultz, "then we have to take the next step." And Rep. Sanchez notes, "We really need to set our foot down and show there are consequences to people who laugh in the face of Congressional subpoenas."
Tea leaves sure, but interesting ones, worth watching. The point is also made that the Committee may continue with this particular investigation, even as a new President takes office. Would be a whole different ballgame under those conditions. Presuming that new President isn't McCain, in any case. Hmmm...