Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Don't Hijack My Thread! - April 18

Iraq--Civil War and al-Sadr
SCOTUS Abortion Ban
Rove's Lost Emails
Gonzo's Testimony



Political Nexus said...

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Political Nexus said...


TheKK: It’s time for Don’t Hijack My Thread. Welcome to the show. Featuring an interactive discussion on the week’s hottest topics in progressive politics. Our hosts are Adam Lambert, blogging as clammyc and David Atkins, blogging as Thereisnospoon. Gentlemen, I turn the thread over to you.

clammyc: Thanks KK, just a couple of tips before we get started. If you would like to send us an instant message, send it to ePluribusRadio—that’s with AIM. If you would like to call in, again that call in number is (718) 508-9410. And again, today’s topics, I don’t know if we will be able to get through all of them but we’ll start with Iraq and al-Sadr, the SCOTUS ruling today on the partial birth abortion ban, Rove’s missing emails, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales’s upcoming testimony before Congress, Don Imus versus Coulter and Limbaugh, the Democratic and Republican primary, and the money primary. With that I guess I will kick it off with Iraq, one of my favorite topics to talk about. I think we really need to discuss what has been going on here lately and the fact that al-Sadr has, again, withdrawn his coalition from the government, I think this is a major major step here and not a step in a good direction. As we have seen over the past six months, US troops have been killed at the highest rate since the invasion, in fact, in 2003. A majority of Americans now are saying that they expect the US to lose in Iraq and everyday we find another hundred or two hundred bodies killed, found tortured, bombings now inside the Green Zone, and I think that this is a sign of tremendous worsening of the situation here. What this means in terms of the Iraqi government, I think we are looking at something that is on the precipice of disaster and collapse, completely.

Thereisnospoon: The Iraqis do not see that government as legitimate and al-Sadr pulling out is just one more step along the way to the total delegitimization of the Malliki government. What is truly sad about this is it leaves conservatives and some people to believe that if our troops leave we will see continued violence at this level, ad infinitum, and it’s just not the case. This sort of violence is an attempt to destabilize the government that everyone sees as an American puppet government anyways. The sooner we get the troops out of there, the sooner the people who are engaging the violence, and that includes al-Sadr, are going to have to be accountable to those people and set up government for themselves. Even conservative commentators like Fareed Zakaria have been making this point for years. Right now, al-Sadr gets to take his ball and go home because there seems to be a higher power and a higher authority than him. The minute that there is no higher power or authority, he has to actually try to govern.

clammyc: To take that to the next step, al-Sadr’s whole point here and why he has withdrawn this time is because he is sick of not having the US troops leave. He wants them out. And he has got a significant block in the United Iraqi Alliance. And that is really the key here. The United Iraqi Alliance is really a number of groups, all with competing agendas here. Yes, they are all Shiites, for the most part, and yes they make up the largest part of the government, but you’ve got one faction that wants to deal with Iran and one that wants Iran to stop meddling. You’ve got one that wants to combat US troops and another that just wants to keep things under wraps. The only thing that they really have in common is that they all want to keep power and they really don’t want the Sunnis to have any. And that is really no way to run a government and I think really, what happens here is you’ve got bench marks that are being missed all over the place and the only thing that can be pointed to as any success is the election with the purple fingers, and the fact that we’re now in a situation where a government that nobody thinks is legitimate is on the verge of collapse. We’ll be in a situation where our troops are being lifted out with helicopters if we’re not carefully.

Thereisnospoon: With the attacks in the green zone and the continued escalating violence there, I don’t think we’ll see troops airlifted out of there but I do think that George Bush’s continued stand on no withdrawal date is directly responsible for the deaths of most of those people. The thing that I see talked about by remotely enough democratic politicians or even progressives is the fact that this bloodshed not only would not be occurring but would be abating, but abate—there will still be Sunni and Shiite violence to a certain extent, but it is going to abate to a large degree after we leave because the powers that be feel like they have no vested interest in trying to run a government of the people. You see this with Hamas in Israel—in Palestine. The moment Hamas actually took power you actually saw a number of attacks on Israelis decrease and you saw fighting between Hamas and Fatah, because the moment you force these people, who were using violence, to take the reigns of power, they begin to alienate their populations or they begin to govern. The same thing happens with the Mullahs in Iraq.

clammyc: I think that is an excellent idea. Before we move on, I think this is something we should be talking about in a future show or even a FrameWork show, what a withdrawal or a redeployment, whatever you want to call it, would look like, who it should involve and so forth. Moving on, to today’s SCOTUS ruling upholding the congressional ban on late term abortions. Certainly a hot topic being discussed all over the blogosphere, all over the news as well. It is a highly emotional issue, I want to try to keep the emotions out of it, I do have a point that I do want to make, obviously, a medical necessity, or a medically necessary procedure being outlawed, that could save the life of the mother, now I think adds another element to this which is being overlooked. But from a hypocritical political perspective, the Supreme Court justices, the very justices that ruled in favor of upholding this ban, are the same ones, the same conservatives that talk about strict constructionalists and upholding the constitution and why Rove vs. Wade should never have been decided they way it was to begin with, that the government has no say in doing this, are the same people now who are upholding a federal ban on a medical procedure, it just reeks of hypocrisy from my perspective. And we’ll see how that gets reconciled by conservatives.

Thereisnospoon: It doesn’t and it proves by and large that their legalistic arguments for wanting to overturn Roe vs. Wade are just cover for a patriarchal agenda. And the issue is totally fraught with difficulty, especially when you look at public polling on the partial birth abortion ban and we don’t really have time to get into that aspect but in terms of what democrats should do now it is very clear—the vast majority of the public is not in favor of partial birth abortion or dilatation extraction or whatever you want to call it for voluntary reasons, but the vast majority of the public is also in favor of doing whatever it takes to save the life of the mother. It is only extremists that have that position and that has not been made clear enough to the voters. So I see no reason why dems should not push through legislation in the house and the senate, we have the numbers to back it up, some simple version of “doctors should be able to do whatever it takes during pregnancy to save the life of a mother” and let Bush and the republicans attempt to beat that down. And if God forbid, we do come to a circumstance where some woman does die because of this legislation we need to hit that horse as loud and as far as we can because the public will be very angry about that.

clammyc: I couldn’t agree more. Putting together a law that is very simple talking about saving the life of the mother, that is something that has not been nearly as prominent in the entire discussion from the very beginning.

Thereisnospoon: And the problem is a lot of people are cheering this because they think a bunch of women are going out there and terminating six month pregnancies because, oh they decided they didn’t want to have the child anymore. And that is just not happening but the public doesn’t know that and they have been fooled into it by the right wing noise machine and it is time we did something about that.

clammyc: I agree and that is a point I was going to make earlier—though I don’t have any basis to back it up and you know how much I like to have mounds of support. But I find it hard to believe that—like you said, someone after six or seven months is saying, you know what; this wasn’t the right decision for me. Even if they did, that certainly is a topic for discussion another day, something that we can talk about in great detail some other time. But I think the point is, you’re right, this is being spun into something that is much more dangerous than we are actually being told. We’ll move on to the next topic, which is Rove and the lost emails, unless we’ve got a caller on the line?

TheKK: No callers yet, but we are interested in hearing your opinions on these topics, if you would like to call in, our number is (718) 508-9410 and clammy, do you want to go ahead and give the chat feature again?

clammyc: That is epluribusradio and that is through AOL instant messenger. We had some great callers last week and we would hope to have some more callers this week as well. Moving on to Karl Rove’s lost emails, where do you even begin on this one. I think there is a lot to talk about—David I will let you start off on this.

Thereisnospoon: Well, I mean, there is nothing anyone could say about this that would top the daily show segment from two nights ago. They had one of their fake correspondents on to discuss how five million emails get deleted and they were just joking about all the different steps it would take to accidentally delete five million emails. I mean it is so preposterous that it defies belief. As a number of people have pointed out, you have to go through about six or seven step- eight very intentional steps to delete emails in such a way that they are not retrievable and if that has in fact been done and they are not lying to us that they cant get those emails—and I personally believe that those emails are retrievable, but if they are not and they have taken the full steps to scrub all of them, it is massive obstruction of justice. These things were being requested during the Libby trial, Fitzgerald requested emails off of at least one if not 2 of those servers and it is blatant disregard for the Hatch Act and—it’s criminal. It is literally criminal. And if they were scrubbed it is a conspiracy to obstruct justice on a level that has not been seen even in the Nixon administration and it is, quite frankly, impeachable for every single one of these people.

clammyc: Well, maybe it was just a whole bunch of spam emails for Viagra.

TheKK: Maybe that is all that they were deleting. I mean, he has a right…

clammyc: a couple of stock tips here and there. I will look at it from a different angle. The time period that this covers is late 2004-2005 and that is a period where we are now finding out so many things were going on in this administration that Karl Rove had his hands in. Just to name a few, you’ve got Tim Griffin, who, for those who don’t know, he is the individual who is replacing Bud Cummings, the US Attorney in Arkansas. Tim Griffin was one of Karl Rove’s top deputies; he was high up in the Republican National Committee. He was involved in what was called the “caging scheme”? right around election time where they would essentially disenfranchise minority voters in lower income areas and districts who also happened to be serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. This was in emails and mailings that would come back as returned. They had targeted these people. There are email trails leading back to Griffin and certainly it is quite conceivable that Karl Rove, through the RNC website, through the RNC email servers, had some kind of a hand in this. What else was going on then? The RNC hired a consulting firm to do voter registration in six states. It was also found out that these states were some of the hotly contested states and democratic registrations were found shredded. This is incontrovertible evidence that voter registration was found shredded in the same states. Who knows what kind of emails went back and forth. Could have also had to do with Ohio—the state was predicted to be a problem nearly a year before the election, certainly we know about the election machine issues, certainly we know about the recount issues. It could have had something to do with that. Why don’t we continue? Jeff Gannon, the male prostitute and non-reporter who was signed into and out of the White House on a number of occasions. Not signed into and out of the White House on a large number of occasions as well. How did he get this unfettered access? How did he get a prime spot in the White House Press Room? Did it have anything to do with the Swift Boat Veterans? Two people who are highly connected to the swift boaters, one the chief finance guy, and two the chief accuser, the only connection they had to each other was Karl Rove. They didn’t know each other before this campaign came out. Was there any connection there? Where the RNC servers used to connect these two people? What about Jack Abramoff? Certainly the investigation was going on at that time. We know that one of Karl Rove’s top aids was forced to resign because she was linked to Abramoff. It goes on and on and on. Just right off the top of my head I named about nine different scandals. Some of them just sleazy, many of them quite illegal, all of them having to do with Karl Rove. I think that there is a lot here and I wouldn’t be surprised if Fitzgerald reopens his investigation because of it.

Thereisnospoon: Well, he should reopen his investigation because of it—it is new information of exactly the nature that he said might lead to such a reopening, through Fitzgerald is so apolitical that he might see such a move as political in itself. Honestly, Karl Rove has had his hand in so many different ones of these sleazy scandals and the nine that you name barely scratch the surface. There are literally 200 or 300 scandals—maybe not from these specific period there but that he has had his hand in at one time or another. But more important to me is the principle of the thing—in terms of Karl Rove being in a policy position in the White House and in a political position within the RNC and basically advising himself and anyone else that anything that is dirty go through RNC or GWB43 or whatever else not to mention servers that are not directly related to the White House. IF you are going to do that the you have to make those emails available because you are serving in dual roles as policy and political Machiavelli. The fact that five million of these emails can disappear or that you can claim they disappeared through incompetence or intent is nothing short of subversion of the very principles of democracy. And as you said there are so many things that are going on there, but I am not even interested in finding out the political sleazy details of what he was doing—I am interested in the fact that this is a highly criminal offense to even suggest that any of these things are now missing.

clammyc: I obviously echo those sentiments. The one other point is that if anything going through those servers were national security issues, and we knew certainly that he was involved in a number of things that touch on national security. You now have very highly sensitive information going through public email servers that it is quite simple to hack into at a time when people are being rounded up essentially indiscriminately and rights are being taken away, all in the name of protecting us and fighting the war on terror. Let’s move on to the next topic. Alberto Gonzales and his upcoming testimony. I know, David, that you wanted to talk about this and that you had a couple of things you wanted to touch on yesterday when we spoke so I will let you kick this one off as well.

Thereisnospoon: The interesting thing about Gonzales’s testimony coming up tomorrow morning is, as everyone knows, he released it in written form to the public, through the media. And what is so painful about this, depending on your political point of view or even for both people, what is so painful or so funny at the same time tomorrow is the statement that he is going to read his testimony that he has already released in response to questions.

TheKK: His carefully prepared testimony.

Thereisnospoon: Yes. But really, you have to picture this for a second. Here is a man who spent the last week, week and a half, doing nothing but trying to keep his story straight for when he goes into testimony. He performed so badly in being prepped to lie, even though he is ostensibly telling the truth that he feels compelled to release written testimony, in advance, that he is going to simply read off when he is questioned. Now, because of the Virginia Tech shooting, there are two extra days now to look at that testimony and pick through it and pick it apart by the senators. But it is so laughable on so many different levels that you now have multiple conservatives who are coming out, from former chief of staffs of former administrations to Bob Barr, who headed up the Clinton impeachment fiasco, to a number of other conservatives who have come out and publicly asked for Gonzales’ firing. Even the conservatives are disgusted by this at this point. You have the top lawyer of the United States walking in to talk about why he fired people and he is so scared he had to prep this for two weeks and read off written testimony for the entire time.

clammyc: I hear we have a caller

TheKK: we have a caller. 713 you are live.

Ava Home: Yes, hi, this is Ava Home. From Texas

clammyc: Hi, how are ya?

Ava Home: Fine, fine. I hear you are talking about Mr. Gonzales.

clammyc: Our resident expert on US Attorney issues from ePluribus Media.

Thereisnospoon: And from Texas

Ava Home: Well, I’m here in Alvin, Texas and when I get to listen to you guys it is all on dial up. There is just nothing out here. But I wanted to say, you know Gonzales was asked, Leahy asked him to put it in writing. The testimony, it was requested in writing

clammyc: That is an interesting point. Probably to have another way to catch him up.

Ava Home: I have no idea when he was to turn that transcript in, but you cant blame them with the document dump being so, well, weird, that they wanted written in stone. I don’t blame them a bit.

TheKK: Was this an agreement they reached before when they were trying to hash out which terms under which he was going to testify?

Ava Home: That part I don’t know. I know they were going to verbally do it, there was a request for it. This came later. You know, when it started coming out that he needed all this time to prep for it and he had to cancel his vacation, that is when they asked. They sent a letter and asked for him to do it in a written form. They wanted a transcript.

TheKK: Now is this unusual? Is there any other precedent with this sort of deal being struck where they are going to preemptively release their own testimony and essentially show up to read it out loud? Are you aware of any other cases?

Ava Home: No, I’m not, but if you think about it, doesn’t this make sense? Because when they question him, they are going to question him from the transcript. They have the transcript as a reference to read ahead of time. Like they do with legislature, bills. They want to see what they are getting into. So, I don’t know if this has ever been done before but in my mind I’m sure it has been.

Thereisnospoon: Interesting. My impression was that Gonzales was not going to go beyond his written testimony when questioned. But perhaps I am mistaken about that?

Ava Home: Why would he not? I mean, the man is surely, he can read from something other than a script.

clammyc: I think that is an excellent point. Like you said before, David, you’ve got the nation’s top law enforcement official who can’t even—he’s got to practice to tell—to presumably—tell the truth in front of Congress. This is quite laughable. When this whole thing first started, I didn’t really know what was there other than, yeah it had never been done before but I guess Bush has got the prerogative to do that. And as you started seeing the change in the Patriot Act that allowed the indefiniteness, the replacements being essentially tied to the Republican party or, as the memo said, loyal Bushies and also seeing some of the people being forced out because they were not prosecuting democrats, were too close to prosecuting Republicans, it started to smell real bad. I think now what we are seeing is something that goes far beyond that, and my initial question was is this just too much politics and not enough to catch on here, but it certainly caught on. You have Gonzales’ emails contradicting his testimony, you’ve got his prior testimony contradicting what he said to the reporters, you’ve got Bush being pulled in here but not being pulled in here. The whole thing is getting to be so much bigger than anybody expected.

Thereisnospoon: Yeah. And what I wanted to emphasize is that Saturnalia—totally carnival aspect—to see the top law enforcement officer in the United States prepping a week and a half to essentially go on the witness stand to describe why he fired eight lawyers. The idea of a government lawyer allowing a defense witness two weeks to prepare testimony and come out and do these things, it so whether Gonzales goes, and I think he is going to go, because the pressure is mounting and it is going to be too much….

Ava Home: Yeah.

Thereisnospoon: But whether or not he goes there needs to be some serious prosecutions because people’s faith in the government is lost when you see things like that.

Ava Home: He is just adding to the drama. By dragging it out like that, don’t you think? Is he educated, is he professional? This is where the doubts all come in.

clammyc: Well, he’s from your state, isn’t he?

Ava Home: You betcha! Oh you betcha! Come to Texas! Bring your gun! Boy it is fun down here, you guys just never know until you’re down here. It is a whole ‘nother…

Thereisnospoon: I was just down there last week.

Ava Home: Oh, you made it out!

Thereisnospoon: I made it out just fine, yeah.

clammyc: We have one point in from the instant message as well, from Cho, also from ePluribus Media pointing out that the replacement for these US attorneys, essentially their main credential was they were part of the Federalist Society or the Republican National Lawyers Association.

Ava Home: But is that anything new, though?

clammyc: It’s just another…

Thereisnospoon: I’m not sure if it is or not.

clammyc: It’s another f-ing thing, you know?

Ava Home: Really, it’s their mojo. And I believe that, what was the guy before Gonzales, the one that covered up the statues?

clammyc: Ashcroft.

Ava Home: Ashcroft stated who he was going to be bringing in who he was going to be bringing in to help run the DOJ, these lawyers from a certain school. They said a lot of this stuff. So it’s not that it is new, it is all just coming and hitting the fan.

Thereisnospoon: But, I mean the thing is for me, I am certain that every administration, to at least a small degree, does a background check on their hires to make sure they are of at least…

Ava Home: Competent?

Thereisnospoon: Well, not only competent but also of some sort of ideological bent. You are not going to have a bunch of people who are adamantly opposed to your own administration’s policies going forward. But, like everything else with this administration, I’m sure they did this politicization by a thousand times more than any previous one. But the cover up is what gets to me, the vast lying conspiracy by the DOJ and the top lawyers in the US. I mean regardless of the actual politicization, it is really the cover-up.

Ava Home: Now, if they get Monica, do you think she will sing?

clammyc: I think they are giving her immunity.

TheKK: I think they just announced they were giving her immunity

Ava Home: Alright!

Thereisnospoon: I think she is such an ideologue that we are not going to see her sing at all. You are talking about someone who came from…

Ava Home: Well, wait a minute. You don’t wear your God on your badge and your lapel and not tell the truth.

clammyc: Well, maybe it was a condition of giving her immunity that she had to do this that or the other.

Ava Home: Didn’t TPM hear they had something written by here? I never found out what happened with that. They had her hand writing.

Thereisnospoon: But we also do need to move on to another topic.

TheKK: Move onto another topic? We need to wrap it up. We have about a minute left. Any last comments you want to make before we wrap it up for the week?

clammyc: I was just going to talk real quick about one last topic but if we don’t have time that is fine. If we are wrapping it up, all I will say is thanks much for listening and hopefully next week, call in. Please, please, please, hassle us! We love to be challenged; we love the discussion and debate. We want to thank Eva Home for calling in.

Ava Home: You’re welcome! Thanks so much for having me.

clammyc: Same time next week, that will be 3pm (PST)/6pm (EST) and we’ll have a full plate of topics as well. Any final comments, Dave?

Thereisnospoon: No, not really, just that these are very exciting times and tune in to watch Gonzales tomorrow—I can’t wait.

TheKK: Alright, on that note we will end it. Get ready to pass the popcorn and we’ll see you next week.

TDE said...

I really enjoy the radio shows and I prefer the new easier to read format, its pretty much the same as I use on my own blog, nice and easy on the eyes.

Keep up the good work!