The second installment of "Bush League Justice" on MSNBC Live with Dan Abrams continued last night with an investigation into the Bush administration's "unprecedented use" of signing statements to subvert the rule of law. A signing statement is a president's written interpretation of legislation passed by congress which accompanies his signature when he signs a bill into law.
For example, in 2005 congress voted overwhelmingly to ban torture which Bush signed into law. However, Bush also included a signing statement which basically allowed him to ignore the new law.
To date, Bush has issued 1,100 signing statements which is nearly double that of all 42 presidents that preceded him combined.
According to Abrams, the Bush administration "has turned the Division against the very people it was designed to protect. Instead of pursuing discrimination cases on behalf of African Americans, the Bush Civil Rights Division has focused on supposed reverse discrimination cases against whites and religious discrimination cases against Christians." Abrams points out that between 2001 and 2006, "not one voting discrimination case was brought on behalf of African Americans."
The segment continues with Abrams questioning former DoJ attorneys David Becker and Alia Malek about the Bush administration "stack[ing] the deck against Democrats." In one example given by Becker, congressional redistricting plans thought to favor Democrats would get "very, very, serious scrutiny" while redistrictings that favored Republicans would receive a "very hands off approach" even if, as was the case in Texas, the plan was unanimously found to discriminate against Hispanics by career Justice Department officials.
In addition to stacking the deck against Democrats, Abrams states that the Justice Department has been "hijacked" by the far right. After evidencing this claim with a couple of telling statistics, a somewhat exasperated Abrams continues, "They fundamentally changed what the Civil Rights Division does. It's no longer there to protect African Americans. It is to go after reverse discrimination cases and also to try and promote religion in schools and other public places."
Part 1 continues (at the 6:15 mark) with Abrams playing the "pretty amazing statement" by John Tanner, the current chief of the DoJ's Voting Rights Section, about minorities not being disenfranchised by Photo ID laws because they "don't become elderly the way white people do, they die first." Unfortunately Abrams, like many in the mainstream media, failed to credit The BRAD BLOG for our original video and reporting of the incident.
Despite the slight we look forward to more excellent reporting on this long overdue topic throughout the week.
Likely worth watching this week is Dan Abram's "Bush League Justice" series at 9pm ET Mon - Thur on MSNBC.
Blogging at MSNBC and Huff Po, Abrams says the series is in response to his "increasing frustration and outrage over how the Bush administration has politicized the usually apolitical Justice Department," which, he writes, has "significantly abused its authority to try to enhance power at the expense of any sense of objective justice" and has "decimated some of the most fundamental and cherished principles that define justice in this country."
He also goes on to focus on the breathtaking failures of the DoJ's Civil Rights division, which we've taken considerable notice of here at The BRAD BLOG --- including, but not limited to, most recently its Voting Section chief John "Minorities Die First" Tanner --- over the past several years...
Maybe most egregious is the now nearly unrecognizable Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice. Since 1957, it has led the effort to enforce civil rights laws and the fight for minorities. Even Richard Nixon's effort to delay implementation of school desegregation was less radical than how this president has flipped the goals and mission of the Division and allowed it to become a tool of the radical right.
Instead of pursuing cases of discrimination against African Americans, the Division under President Bush has focused on supposed reverse discrimination against whites and religious discrimination cases against Christians. A Boston Globe report even showed that almost half of the new hires in that department who had "civil rights experience" had "experience" only in defending employers or --- fighting --- affirmative action.
Those in the Voting Rights Section of the Justice Department must really feel like they are in an upside down world. From 2001 to 2006, not one voting discrimination case was brought on behalf of African-American voters. Instead they have focused on alleged voter fraud cases that effectively target minority communities rather than protecting them.
Abrams goes on to point out several more troubling points about the Bush League DoJ, including a "University of Minnesota study conducted this year [which] shows that for every elected Republican investigated during this president's tenure, there were seven elected Democrats investigated."
A line in his final graf caught our eye as both the most inadvertently self-critical as well as the most incisive: "This series is long overdue."
I happened to catch the end of Tucker Carlson's show on MSNBC a couple of Fridays ago, and heard him sign off with this:
CARLSON: That does it for us. Thank you for watching, as always. We mean that sincerely to all eight of you.
All eight of you? It's not often you hear a cable host admit his ratings suck.
I knew someone at TVNewser would pick this up, and, sure enough:
A TVNewser tipster tells us "MSNBC management [is] infuriated" at Tucker's flippant sign-off.
And Tucker underestimates his viewership by a factor of 10,000. His 10-day average in the A25-54 demo is 80,000. He finished in third [behind other shows in the same time slot] on seven of those days, and fourth, behind Headline News, on three days.
In the background, of course, is the ratings success of "Countdown," Keith Olbermann's groundbreaking show at 5 p.m. Olbermann has surprised nearly everyone in the cable news business by creating a rating success with news slanted to the left and commentary that often excoriates George Bush and his regime.
"Countdown" has been on for more than four years so it was just a matter of time before the executives at MSNBC noticed (or could no longer deny) that Olbermann's show is the most successful live show in their line-up. Now it seems they're ready to copy Olbermann's success by bringing on another liberal host (which would make a grand total of two in all of TV land).
By Brad Friedman...trying to keep up with all from the road...
Our story so far...Last Friday I was at the BlogWorld Expo in Vegas, where billionaire Dallas Mavericks owner, HDNet media impresario, and blogger Mark Cuban gave the closing keynote address. I asked him about the various attacks on him from Bill O'Reilly concerning Redacted, the new Brian DePalma film which HDNet is releasing this week...and which O'Reilly has not seen...but has declared to be "anti-troop" nonetheless.
Cuban told me that he's "very grateful" to the far-Right Fox "News" desk-jockey for the publicity he's brought to what would otherwise have been a small film release. "Bill O'Reilly is my new best friend!" he declared. My coverage of that, blogged from the conference room just after his address, is here.
On Sunday, Cuban himself blogged more on the topic at his BlogMaverick site, in a post which begins, "I've grown to love Bill O'Reilly. Seriously. If there is anyone who can publicize a political movie, it's Bill and I truly appreciate that about him." Cuban then goes on to speak to O'Reilly's concerns about the film...which O'Reilly has not seen.
On Monday, a visibly angry (or mock-angry, as the case usually is) O'Reilly shot back. He ranted that in a different day FDR "might have incarcerated" Cuban and that "General Patton would have slapped the tar out of him." O'Reilly's ingenious plan to teach Cuban a lesson: A campaign calling for Dallas Mavericks fans to display "Support the Troops" signs at games, and for protesters to show up outside movie theaters showing the film with "Support the Troops" signs. O'Reilly said he would be doing so himself. We posted video of his silly rant yesterday.
Which brings us up to yesterday, when O'Reilly railed again against Cuban, calling him an "extremist." Ironically, Ann Coulter would join him for the conversation...about the film O'Reilly hasn't seen.
At the same time, MSNBC's Kieth Olbermann (O'Reilly's actual arch-enemy) jumped into the fray to have much fun at O'Reilly's expense from the night before. His report included a video-taped look at the actual answer Cuban gave to my question last Friday at the BlogWorld Expo (though not the question itself), along with an examination of O'Reilly's claim that Cuban would have been locked up by FDR and slapped by Patton for having produced the film...Which O'Reilly hasn't seen.
Olbermann also notes that the Dallas Mavericks had previously planned a "Support the Troops" night for the Texas National Guard at their upcoming home game anyway, but we're sure that O'Reilly will take credit for the thousands of green shirts with such a message --- long-planned to be given out to fans that night --- along with the Mavs' long-standing "Seats for Soldiers" program as some response to his ingenious plan to teach Cuban a lesson...by "promoting" his film for him, even though he hasn't seen it.
Here's last night's O'Reilly and then Olbermann videos, courtesy of our own video-ace, Alan Breslauer...
Lastly, Olbermann had a short follow-up segment with a former Reagan Administration Official, Constitutional Attorney Bruce Fein, for a historical look at FDR's actual imprisonment plans during WWII...
So now, if you cared, you're all up to date!
And a personal message for Cuban from The BRAD BLOG: Hey, it's been our pleasure to give your film all this free publicity! Sorry we haven't called you an extremist or called for you to be locked up, but it's the best we can do. (We also did a fairly good job of making noise with Dan Rather's blockbuster HDNet exposé on touch-screen voting machines to boot!) Both have been our pleasure. But, feel free to say thanks by purchasing a BlogAd here, as you've done on a number of the other progressive blogs, but not ours --- We could certainly use the support to keep taking down the bad guys! Not to mention an ad buy here is a great way to "thank" O'Reilly for all he's done for ya! Hope you'll consider it!
Listening to Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI) for fifteen minutes is worth a week of the para-discourse from elsewhere on national television. Feingold said on Meet the Press this morning that he will introduce a resolution to censure George W. Bush “in a few days.”
The censure resolutions will focus on two huge issues:
• Bush's process for getting us into the war in Iraq, including misleading statements and misuse of intelligence before the war; and
• “the outrageous attack on the rule of law,” including illicit electronic surveillance and other surveillance, and administration approval of torture. “This administration has assaulted the constitution,” Feingold said briskly.
Feingold said that he has talked with the Democratic leadership about the resolution, adding that it might provide an opportunity as well for Republicans uncomfortable with the administration but unwilling to use impeachment.
Questioned by Tim Russert about whether the resolution would pass, Feingold said basically we’ll see how it goes. He commented, “There’s a lot of support in the country for actually impeaching the president and the vice president.”...
"I think we in journalism have got to stop being so scared of being unobjective and to start focusing on our job which is to question, question, question," Chris Matthews told Jay Leno this week. Welcome aboard, Chris. Took ya long enough.
Leno begins his July 17, 2007 interview with Matthews by saying that the Hardball host has been "all fired up" this week. Well, that certainly describes Matthews in the video below. While he does take a couple backhanded, albeit deserving, shots at Tim Russert, he focuses his wrath primarily on the Bush administration, adding that "this crowd wasn't even exactly elected, you know."
While Matthews glosses over his own culpability when speaking of the failures of the press, he does deliver a powerful indictment on the Bushies and their vast propaganda campaign against the American people. Here's a particularly good rant:
MATTHEWS: The misinformation, the indoctrination that is going on. And the rest of the American have gotten so skeptical now. Do you think that the American people believe that the brass didn't have something to do with Abu Ghraib? Do you think the American people don't think we were given a bill of goods to get us in over there? Do you think anybody in America believes that we are going to get out if this surge doesn't work?
The latest I've heard this weekend was if the surge doesn't work Bush is going to want more troops. He has snookered us again. So I think we in journalism have got to stop being so scared of being unobjective and to start focusing on our job which is to question, question, question. String them out.
We got to stop treating politicians who get elected, and this crowd wasn't even exactly elected, you know, stop treating them like the dispensers of the truth. That's our biggest mistake. We put them on these Sunday shows and say, "Okay Daddy, tell us what the truth is.' And we write it down and type it up and we put it in the paper the next day.
I think we have got to be damn skeptical about this crowd because on WMD, on the connection to 9/11, on this surge, every step of the way, on the torture, on every step of the way --- we have been given misinformation.
In the last part of the interview Leno shifts the conversation to the 2008 presidential election and Matthews predicts a Hillary/Giuliani showdown. The video follows in full...
Harold A. Schaitberger, the General President of the International Association of Fire Fighters does not pull any punches in his smackdown of GOP presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani (see video). Discussing a video released by the Fire Fighters PAC today, Schaitberger says that fire fighters are dead today because of Rudy and that the former Mayor was far more concerned about recovering gold at Ground Zero than he was missing fire fighters.
MSNBC's Dan Abrams looks up the definition of "Excessive" in the dictionary, reviews Justice Department guidelines for commuting prison sentences and evidences how Bush ignored all proper procedure in the Libby case, before concluding: "I fear this is another example of the disdain for the courts and for rules that attempt to ensure equal justice for all."