Standing up to the NRA after Roanoke, horrifying U.S. gun death toll; PLUS: Denying global warming on Katrina's 10th anniversary; Trump's ugly nativism; Good news for Dems; Marriage dead-enders in KY...
Late night in the Pepsi Center, after almost all of the delegates had cleared out, and only a few folks in the press corps remained, Sen. Joe Biden came out to do a walk-through for tomorrow night's speech. We happened to be there to catch it, along with a phalanx of camera's and Andrea Mitchell who asked the only questions, including the insightfully probing "Senator, what did you think of Hillary's message?"
Surprisingly, Biden didn't say "it really sucked, Andrea. Worst speech I've seen in years." Here's the quick video...
...Later, at the CNN Grill, someone slapped me on the ass and said, "Good game, buddy!" When I turned around, it was an apparently inebriated Charles Barkley.
This sounds like a story you might read on the spoof site, womenforjohnmccain.com, which my colleague Trish at Pensito Review wrote about earlier today, but, sadly, this is no joke. Or at least it's not meant to be.
Yesterday, just in time for the start of the Democratic National Convention, the McCain campaign released a new ad that features Debra Bartoshevich, a nurse from Washington, who claims to be a "proud Hillary Clinton Democrat" who now plans to vote for McCain.
But at news conference in Denver arranged for the Republican National Committee, Bartoshevich revealed what appears to be a shaky grasp on her candidate's position on an issue that is fundamental to actual Hillary Clinton supporters:
Sen. Barack Obama has selected Delaware Sen. Joe Biden as his running mate, according to his official Web site and a text message the campaign sent to supporters on Saturday.
"Barack has chosen Senator Joe Biden to be our VP nominee," the text message, sent at around 3 a.m. ET, said.
"Joe and I will appear for the first time as running mates this afternoon in Springfield, Illinois --- the same place this campaign began more than 19 months ago," Obama said in an e-mail sent to supporters Saturday morning.
"I'm excited about hitting the campaign trail with Joe, but the two of us can't do this alone," he wrote. " We need your help to keep building this movement for change."
Vice presidential candidates are often called on to be the aggressors in the campaign. A comment Biden made earlier this year may have resonated with Obama:
“I refuse to sit back like we did in 2000 and 2004. This administration is the worst administration in American foreign policy in modern history — maybe ever. The idea that they are competent to continue to conduct our foreign policy, to make us more secure and make Israel secure, is preposterous. ... Every single thing they’ve touched has been a near-disaster.”
Events in the campaign this week offer a case study in how Fox "News" assists the right wing --- in this case, the McCain campaign --- to disseminate disinformation:
Monday: Speaking before the Veterans of Foreign Wars, John McCain falsely claimed credit for supporting the 21st Century GI Bill, which was sponsored by Sen. Jim Webb (D-Va.) and Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.):
As a political proposition, it would have much easier for me to have just signed on to what I considered flawed legislation. But the people of Arizona, and of all America, expect more from their representatives than that, and instead I sought a better bill. I'm proud to say that the result is a law that better serves our military, better serves military families, and better serves the interests of our country.
In reality, the bill McCain "sought" was not Webb-Hagel, which he opposed because its tuition benefits were "too generous" to the troops. The version he sought was a different bill that he co-sponsored, and which "in no way resembles" the bill which was ultimately passed, as noted by ThinkProgress...
MCCAIN: Could I --- are we going to get back to the importance of Supreme Court Justices or should I mention --
WARREN: We will get to that.
MCCAIN: OK. All right. OK.
WARREN: You're jumping ahead...
The McCain campaign is fighting hard against charges that McCain cheated on the rules of debate at a rightwing evangelical forum in a California megachurch over the weekend by cribbing the questions in advance. They are so desperate, apparently, that a McCain operative even played the POW card, citing McCain's imprisonment by the Vietnamese 40 years ago as evidence somehow that he did not cheat Saturday night.
Even "Pastor Rick" Warren, the multimillionaire evangelist who hosted the event --- and who clearly favored McCain in the questioning --- has admitted that despite his assertion to the audience that McCain was sequestered in a "cone of silence" during the live session with Obama, McCain was, in fact, in his car during much of Obama's session, where he certainly could have listened to the interview.
And this exchange from the forum appears to indicate that McCain knew that Warren was going to ask him a very specific question about the Supreme Court. Notice how McCain asks if he can go "back" to a question about the court:
WASHINGTON (AP) — A House panel Wednesday voted to cite former top White House aide Karl Rove for contempt of Congress as its Senate counterpart publicly pursued possible punishments for an array of alleged past and present Bush administration misdeeds.
Voting along party lines, the House Judiciary Committee said that Rove had broke the law by failing to appear at a July 10 hearing on allegations of White House influence over the Justice Department, including whether Rove encouraged prosecutions against Democrats.
The committee decision is only a recommendation, and it was unclear whether Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., would allow a final vote. Rove has denied any involvement with Justice decisions, and the White House has said Congress has no authority to compel testimony from current and former advisers.
...Rove has denied any involvement with Justice decisions, and the White House has said Congress has no authority to compel testimony from current and former advisers.
The White House's opinion that advisers cannot be compelled to testify does not address whether or not the witness is nonetheless required to appear in response to a subpoena. From Congress.
It remains to be seen whether Congressional Democrats will actually assert authority and re-establish parity as a co-equal branch of the federal government under the Constitution, or if this is just more sound and fury, signifying nothing.
Last February the full House voted to hold White House officials Josh Bolten and Harriet Miers in contempt of Congress. They have failed to enforce that vote, which passed 223 to 32, and AG Mukasey has said he would not enforce the House's contempt finding.
Last December, the Senate Judiciary Committee recommended finding Rove in contempt in a bi-partisan 12 to 7 vote, during which Republican Arlen Specter noted "we have no alternative," given Rove's snub of the subpoenas issued by the panel.
Despite the endorsement from even two Republicans on the committee, Democratic Senate majority leader Harry Reid has failed to bring the recommendation to the full Senate for a vote. Will Pelosi hold the House committee's endorsement (and the will of the American people, and the Rule of Law) in similar contempt?
UPDATE FROM BRAD: In addition to the Committee's finding of contempt, the resolution passed today also recommends an interesting additional course of action recommended for the House, as noted in the Resolution's markup memo [WORD] that we received from the House Judiciary this morning...
'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.
Video: Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) gets nowhere as he attempts to grill Attorney General Michael Mukasey on the investigation into Karl Rove's influence in the federal prosecution of former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman.
Update (from Brad): Wow. Remarkable exchange. Made either more or less astounding by the reminder that it was Schumer himself who, with Diane Feinstein, sealed the confirmation of Mukasey. Regretting that one yet, Senator?
(P.S. Good catch, Jon! Don't let me stop you from posting an update that includes the answer to Sheldon Whitehouse's question at the end there! )
Last week we noted that John McCain had managed to complete a full 180-degree reversal on his position on offshore drilling in a mere 18-day period. Now he's topped that record by reversing a stated position within a single news cycle. Traveling in Colombia, he told reporters that he wouldn't criticize Obama while he was overseas, but on the plane a few hours earlier he had criticized Obama while speaking to these same reporters for, what else, changing his position on trade:
"I believe that partisanship ends at the water’s edge," McCain said emphatically, when asked about Obama at a press conference at the Colombian Presidential retreat here.
But on the inaugural flight of the Straight Talk Express --- airborne edition -– McCain felt freer to let loose.
On the plane, he blasted Obama’s opposition to the proposed Colombia free trade deal.
"He’s a protectionist and anti-free trade," McCain said. "Now he has switched, I mean remarkably, from saying that he would unilaterally renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement in the strongest possible terms in Ohio – he went to North Carolina and said well, I’m for free trade.
"It wouldn’t surprise me to see him switch on this one," McCain said.
For his next trick, McCain will reverse himself before he even speaks.
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...
This is not a joke. Two Republican U.S. senators who disgraced themselves with extramarital affairs have signed on as sponsors of the Federal Marriage Amendment, which would prohibit same sex marriage anywhere in the United States.
The senators are David Vitter of Louisiana, who admitted he consorted with prostitutes over a long period of time, and Larry Craig of Idaho, who pleaded guilty to a charge of soliciting sex in a men's room.
The amendment states, "Marriage in the United States shall consist only of the union of a man and a woman. Neither this Constitution, nor the constitution of any State, shall be construed to require that marriage or the legal incidents thereof be conferred upon any union other than the union of a man and a woman."
Although John McCain was stumping in Ohio on Friday, his campaign arranged for him to talk by phone to leaders of B'nai B'rith International, a major Jewish group, who were meeting in Ottawa. Reporters were invited to dial in to the conference call at 3 p.m. to listen.
McCain soon came on the line and launched into his spiel. "Thank you for all the good you do," he began.