PDHblog This is a place for members of Progressive Democrats of Hawai‘i to express their thoughts, hopes and exasperations about political happenings.

December 26, 2006

Pelosi & Conyers– Too Good?

Filed under: Impeach,National Politics — BobSchacht @ 6:30 pm

I’ve been traveling on the mainland for the holidays; I hope you have had a splendid time, as I have.

But the world continues, uninterrupted by such niceties. Today I ran across a fascinating piece by Rob Kall, AKA robkallopednews on DailyKos (Tue Dec 26, 2006 at 11:54:53 AM PST), originally posted at www.OpEdNews.com, with the title

Pelosi and Conyers– Smarter than Impeachment.

The author agrees with Pelosi & Conyers decision to take impeachment “off the table,” predicting that with the new Congress, multiple investigations will immediately commence, and that Cheney will be forced to resign first, whereupon the investigations will then proceed to lock onto President Bush. At that time, the article predicts, a dozen or so Republicans, nervous about an electoral disaster in 2008, will march over to Bush’s office and urge him to resign, for the good of the Party.

The article is well written, and highly recommended. But it leaves out some very important things. The author seems to have forgotten that it was not Congressional subpoenas that brought Nixon down in Watergate, but rather subpoenas from the office of Special Prosecutor Archibald Cox. The article says nothing whatsoever about the role of the special prosecutor, either in the Watergate scandal or at present.
Cox was fired by Nixon during the infamous “Saturday Night Massacre,” stirring up a storm of public protest that forced Nixon to appoint another special prosecutor, Leon Jaworski, who immediately proceeded to invoke Cox’s subpoenas, forced a quick Supreme Court review that judged against Nixon, which forced Nixon to turn over the infamous White House tapes, leading to the “smoking gun” and quickly forcing Nixon’s resignation under the threat of impeachment, only 16 weeks after Archie Cox’s original appointment.

This blog already has more than 300 comments, all of which fail to mention the role of the special prosecutors in these cases. But it represents still another indicator that things could start moving very fast in January.

Bob Schacht

December 20, 2006

the party for no one?

Filed under: HI Politics — frosty @ 4:22 pm

these days, it’s clear whose interests the republicans represent at our capitol: those with money, influence, and power.  these are the people who benefit from illegal wars, lax environmental policies/enforcement, and top bracket tax cuts, just to name a few.  and while i wouldn’t say the republicans represent the religious right, they certainly pretend to (in order to keep control).  now, can you tell me who the democrats represent?  the average response is the working man.  the middle and lower classes.  at least, they used to.

political commentary following the november midterms was more or less consistent: the democrats didn’t win, the republicans lost.  with no clear plan or message, the democratic party cleaned up in the elections and was given back control of congress for the first time in 12 years.  those same commentators also said the number one issue was the war in iraq.  while i’m starting to believe democrats are the sharpest knives in the drawer, it seems pretty clear to me that they won because people are sick of the war and want out of iraq.

now, little more than a month after their startling victory the party of the common person still has no clear plan or vision for iraq.  in fact, there are those amongst the party leadership that seem to think SENDING MORE TROOPS IS A GRAND IDEA!  reid has said he’s not apposed to the idea and (as far as in know) pelosi hasn’t publicly claimed a position.  i wish this was a sign that i have wandered into some alternate reality, but alas, i cannot feign surprise.  as has become sadly typical for the democratic members of congress they seem to be flailing wildly with no plan, no party cohesion, and no hope of making any real changes.

mere days after the election, speaker-to-be pelosi politely stepped any discussion for impeachment right out in front of the bus.  since then, while congressmen and women do their christmas shopping, progressives (i prefer to call them liberals, but whatever) across the country have been organizing for showdown on the issue of impeachment, despite the democratic party’s apparent unwillingness to even discuss the issue.

and don’t even get me started on the issue of INCREASING the size of the US military….

i am disappointed and disgusted (though not remotely surprised) with the democratic party.  unfortunately, they are continue to be the lesser of two evils and i’m forced to swallow hard every time i’m asked of which party am i a member.  let’s face it, the days of party politics (at least the good parts) are gone forever.  just about the only way to tell the difference between republicans and democrats these days is to ask to see their party membership card.

December 18, 2006

Don’t we have more important things to do?

Filed under: HI Politics,Impeach — BobSchacht @ 2:58 pm

One of the things I hear from some of our friends is that Democrats have more important things to do in Congress than getting “embroiled” in impeachment proceedings. John Nichols, author of an important new book on impeachment, provided some answers in an interview, part of which is copied here from “Brattlerouser’s” interview with Nichols:

Brattlerouser: OK, now about the Democrats. What is it that’s gotten into their minds that makes them think that they can’t take this issue on because they think it will hurt their chances to win the White House in 2008? You also saw the same rationale leading up to the mid-term elections this year. Why is it that they actually believe in this faulty reasoning?

Nichols: Back in the Nixon years during the Watergate impeachment the House of Representatives (which was controlled by the Democrats) raised the minimum wage, passed groundbreaking environmental laws, they passed housing laws, they got rid of a corrupt Vice President, Spiro Agnew, they drew down the Vietnam War, and they ultimately got rid of a very corrupt President. That’s a pretty good track record for a couple years. I would say if this Congress can do just that, just what was done during Watergate, I’ll be fully satisfied. So, I see no reason to fear that things are not going to get done just because people are focused on impeachment. I would remind you that impeachment is the conclusion of an accountability process and Watergate didn’t start as an impeachment process. It started as an inquiry investigation of Nixon and ultimately lead to a relatively short discussion of impeachment. The House Judiciary Committee acted relatively quickly on the issue once you got to that point and I think it’s appropriate that we might be in a similar situation that in the early months of 2007 we may see a lot of investigations and inquiries and if they are aggressive enough to get to the right place, I think you’ll start to hear a lot of Americans say, “Boy we got to do something about this.” A few members of Congress will start to talk about it impeachment and we may get to something. I’m not saying for sure that we will, but it doesn’t seem to me that in any way it destabilizes the Congress or prevents it from doing other things.

Brattlerouser: This is one of the common things I hear people say, “There’s more important things that needs to get done first, pass minimum wage laws, protect the environment, universal health care, tax cuts for the middle class, etc., etc.

Nichols: Of course [that’s all] important but frankly if I had to choose between ending the war in Iraq and impeaching Bush, I’d end the war in Iraq! If I had to choose between a national health care plan that showed every child in this country had top line health care and every elderly person could get all the prescription medications they needed to get by, I might have to make that practical choice. But that’s not the choice we face and I would hope that I wouldn’t have to make those choices because in the end, if we don’t maintain the basic infrastructure of the Republic we don’t maintain the rule of law than the likelihood that this American experiment will survive in any kind of functional form is narrow or slim. So I think that our first duty is to defend the Republic. It’s much like if you have a home and you say, “You know I think I want to paint my house blue and I want to put some really cool decorations in front of it.” But your wife says, “Yeah, but the furnace is broken down and a lot of windows are cracked.” So while painting is a nice idea and putting nice Christmas decorations is a nice idea, the basic infrastructure of the house is falling apart. We should do something about that first. I think we got a point where the basic infrastructure of our Republic is really threatened and if we don’t address the core issues, the lack of the checks & balances at the federal level, the excessive power in the Executive Branch, all of the other things we do, the minor other progressive actions we do, are likely to be undermined and very hard to enact in the long term and even if we do get them enacted it will be very hard to. So I have very little patience with the suggestion that impeachment is a barrier to political or practical progress for the country. I think it’s the exact opposite. I think impeachment is the door we step through to a much more vibrant and engaged democracy. If we remove this President, if we even get close to remove this President, the energy that would go into that, the excitement that would be associated with that, the vibrant public discourse that will rise from that is very likely to have a much broader and much healthier impact on the whole of democracy than anything else we do. Look at how young people respond to impeachment. It polls much better among young people and people of color and low-income folks. I think for logical reasons these are people who often have the rule of law applied to them rather unfairly and they ask, “Well why shouldn’t it apply to the President fairly and appropriately?” So one of the things I think we re-engage a lot of people with politics is by saying, “Yes. The rules are real and they apply even to the President and you as a citizen have the right to challenge the most powerful man in the world.” When you get that idea planted in their head, then the idea of going out and working for a national health care plan seems not nearly as daunting.

Brattlerouser: Dan DeWalt’s got a great comment to that. When people say, “Oh, there’s more important things to do than to pursue impeachment,” DeWalt responds, “You mean to tell me the Democrats can’t walk and chew gum at the same time?”

Nichols: Well I think that’s exactly my line! I think that’s right! Anything that needs to be passed will be passed. The amazing thing is that I think it’s very possible that at the same time we’re doing impeachment we can also be discussing whether we should continue funding the Iraq war. I oppose continuing to fund the Iraq war and I think we shouldn’t but just enough to bring the entire troops home. But I can’t believe for a second that this Congress would say, “Oh, we’re so busy with impeachment that we can’t fund the war.” If they did, I’d say fantastic. If impeachment is making the so busy that they can’t maintain the war in Iraq, so be it. The fact that impeachment has made it too busy re-new the PATRIOT ACT, I’m all for that too. And if impeachment makes it too busy to make another tax cut for the rich, then I’m with them on that too. So maybe it is time to make them take on this issue.

Finally, one more thing. Before Nixon resigned, his VEEP, Spiro Agnew had to quit, and Gerald Ford was named to be VEEP. Then Nixon’s house of cards collapsed, and Nixon had to quit or he would have been impeached and removed from office. Do you recall who got elected in the next Presidential election? A Democrat! (Jimmy Carter). Do you remember who Ford beat in the Republican primary? Ronald Reagan! Why? Wikipedia opines that it was “lingering anti-Republican sentiment,” apparently due to Watergate:

Democratic nominee and former Georgia governor Jimmy Carter campaigned as an outsider and reformer; he gained support from voters dismayed by the Watergate scandal. Carter led consistently in the polls, and Ford was never able to shake voter dissatisfaction following Watergate and the Nixon pardon.

In other words, the threat of the impeachment of Nixon by a Democratic Congress actually strengthened the Democrat’s hands in the next presidential election.

So the answer, I think, is “No,” we don’t have anything more important to do, and besides, we can still do all those other important things, too, and it will help us, not hurt us, if we do it in a persistent, fair-minded way.

The Republican effort to lynch Clinton by means of impeachment failed because it was a transparently partisan vendetta constructed on issues of personal life rather than matters of state. If we use the watergate model, we can do it, and it won’t take long.

From the appointment of Archie Cox as Special prosecutor in May, 1973 to Nixon’s resignation in August, 1974 was only 16 months, and then they had no Internet. Nixon had just been elected in a landslide, but that didn’t help him.

Patrick Fitzgerald was appointed as Special Prosecutor on December 30, 2003, and has been working quietly, mostly out of the headlines. But that will change in January when the trial of Scooter Libby begins. We will hear a lot about the Vice President during his trial.

  • Will Cheney follow Agnew as one of the few Vice Presidents ever to resign while in office?
  • Will he be impeached?
  • Will he be removed from office?

I think at least one of the above is likely.

Bob Schacht

December 17, 2006

Constitutional Showdown Looms Over Domestic Spying?

Filed under: National Politics — BobSchacht @ 10:17 pm

Matthew Gerbasi, Impeachment Working Group National Coordinator for Progressive Democrats of America, wrote to bring our attention to an article on Truthout.org, which is the first place to turn for a good summary of the latest news:

Showdown Looms Over Domestic Spying
Federal agents continue to eavesdrop on Americans’ electronic communications without warrants a year after President Bush confirmed the practice, and experts say a new Congress’ efforts to limit the program could trigger a constitutional showdown.
http://www.truthout.org/docs_2006/121706Y.shtml

This is just one of the indicators I see that things are going to heat up very quickly once the new congress starts in session in January. Remember, it is also the same time that Scooter Libby’s trial for lying to Special Prosecutor Fitzgerald will also be starting, and you will be hearing VEEP Cheney’s name a lot during that trial. On top of all that, towards the end of January is the usual time for the President to give his State of the Union address. Not to mention that he’s supposed to present his bold new plan for Iraq in January. Expect to see last year’s Christmas stale fruitcake in a brightly colored new box with lots of ribbons and colorful decorations.
And while all of this is going on, remember Pelosi’s 100 hour Program for the new Congress? 100 hours is about two and a half weeks of full time work. So expect to see a furious pace of Democratic legislative activity at the same time.
So I expect that the last two weeks of January will see an intense blizzard of political activity.

December 16, 2006

Ten Reasons to Impeach Bush and Cheney

Filed under: Impeach,National Politics — BobSchacht @ 10:28 pm

Here’s a list of the Ten Reasons proposed by Bob Fertik’s Democrats.com that are listed at http://www.democrats.com/peoplesemailnetwork/88?ad=d0

The list here has been formated for use as a flyer in connection with the petition to impeach Bush and Cheney that you can put on a clipboard to carry around at events. It is written in Microsoft Word format.
Aloha,

Bob Schacht

December 15, 2006

Who’s on trial? Scooter Libby, or Dick Cheney?

Filed under: Impeach,National Politics — BobSchacht @ 1:29 pm

Don’t forget the trial of Scooter Libby, coming to a news channel near you, in January. Although it hasn’t been making the front page news for a long while, there are no sleeping dogs over at Firedoglake, where the bloodhounds are always following the scent.

Today, Christy Hardin Smith wrote a nice update under the heading On With The Show…

So far, the run-up to the trial seems sunny and peaceful, but it is unlikely to stay that way for long. One of the key issues is whether or not VEEP Cheney will be called as a witness. Fitzpatric is being coy about this, but my money is on the table that he WILL be called.

And why does this have anything to do with impeachment? Because, IMHO, the one who is really on the dock may not be Scooter Libby, but VEEP the creep.

*Update:* Blogger “emptywheel” over on DailyKos is also merrily reviewing his Fitzmas presents today, too, covering much the same ground as Christy Hardin Smith, but with his own take on the consequences. Perhaps the biggest news that both make note of is that “Fitzgerald wants to submit all of Libby’s grand jury testimony into evidence.” This covers a lot! As emptywheel paraphrases Libby’s Team Defense (in a somewhat free-spirited translation of the legaleze),

I said some really incriminating things to the grand jury. And I provided a whole lot of evidence that my motive for lying was to protect Dick. We need to know if you’re going to publish this now, so we can respond accordingly.

Wheeeeee! This looks like it could be fun!

More seriously, keep an eye on this, folks.

Have a Merry Fitzmas,
Bob

December 13, 2006

Impeachment Committee meeting

Filed under: Impeach,National Politics — BobSchacht @ 9:21 pm

The Progressive Democrats of Hawaii (PDH) Impeachment Action Committee, which is also the Hawaii Congressional District 01 Impeachment Committee of AfterDowningStreet.org, met on Sunday, December 10, Human Rights Day, at 2 PM at the Dillingham Sizzler Restaurant. Six people attended, half from CD01, and half from CD02.

We discussed honoring our friends who disagree with pressing forward with impeachment too quickly because while they might agree that impeachment is morally right, they also fear that it is tactically wrong and might jeopardize the prospects for maintaining Democratic majorities in the House and Senate in 2008. Some of those present had this concern, but we mostly agreed that if impeachment is morally right, then it will help Democrats, rather than hurt them, in 2008.

We also discussed the fact that there is ‘room’ for an impeachment committee for CD-02 if people from the neighbor islands such as Maui want to put one together. However, those from CD-02 who were at the meeting had no interest in setting such a committe up themselves. Rather, they will continue to work with us.

Next, we discussed the petition that ImpeachforChange coalition is suggesting, which offers 10 reasons for impeachment. However, the printed Petition form they provide offers only a 4-point, 4 word rationale that our group found inadequate. There was interest in developing an intermediate type of petition that offers perhaps 4 reasons in less cryptic form, and it was agreed to work on one.

One reason for the interest in the petition was the upcoming talk by Ann Wright on Tuesday, December 19 (with an appearance by Lt. Ehren Watada) at Church of the Crossroads, 7pm. We decided to “table” at that event (Pat Blair & Shannon Wood), and wanted the revised petition as well as other “literature” for that event.

We also talked about holding a large “town hall meeting” about impeachment, with some well-known speakers such as Ann Wright, who is a member of the Citizens Impeachment Commission, aiming at public education about the process of impeachment. There is plenty of recent history that is very relevant– not just the impeachment of Bill Clinton, which was voted down by the Senate, but also the near-impeachment of Richard Nixon during the Watergate hearings that led to his resignation before he could be impeached, and the Iran-Contra investigations, which led to a number of indictments leading into Ronald Reagan’s White House.

We plan to meet next on January 13, 2 PM, at the Dillingham Sizzler’s, to work on the plans for this town hall meeting.

Bob Schacht

December 11, 2006

Editorial on Peak oil, and tomorrow’s chance to show up for renewable energy

Filed under: HI Politics — Laurie @ 10:03 pm

http://starbulletin.com/2006/12/10/editorial/special3.html

So anyway…tomorrow afternoon, Life of the Land’s stand against Heco’s proposed fossil fuel burning plant is happening, and we can help by showing up. Henry Curtis and Kat Brady’s info follows. -Laurie

ACTION ALERT

Should  Hawai`i  Invest  In  The  Past  OR  The  Future?

This is the burning question that will be asked next week by the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) as our fossil-fuel lovin’ buddies at HECO have their proposal for a new fossil fuel belching power plant reviewed in a Contested Case Hearing.

Life of the Land is the only public interest group in this docket (case). Our case is simple and straightforward:

  • Global Warming is Real
  • Burning fossil fuel is the largest contributor to global warming
  • It is morally indefensible to build a fossil fuel power plant in light of all the scientific evidence
  • Hawai`i has every resource known to mankind to be energy self-reliant
  • We present an array of technologies that are viable in Hawai`i TODAY

WHERE IS THE HEARING?

The hearing will take place in the PUC hearing room in the basement of the

KEKUANAOA BUILDING

(where you get state id cards)

465 South King Street

(on the corner of Punchbowl & King across from the public library)

WHEN IS THE CASE BEING HEARD?

The hearing will be the week of December 11-15. It starts on Monday, December 11th at 9 AM and goes through the entire day to 5 PM each day. LOL’s witnesses could go on late Tuesday, December 12th and Wednesday, December 13th and possibly Thursday, December 14th. This all depends on how long it takes HECO’s 12 witnesses on the stand. The Consumer Advocate goes next and they only have one witness. Then LOL goes and we have 12 witnesses.

This is hearing is more judicial-like than other agency contested case hearings. HECO’s witnesses will testify and then be cross-examined by LOL (the Consumer Advocate decided not to cross examine any HECO witnesses). Then the Consumer Advocate’s sole witness goes on. (HECO is not going to cross-examine this witness.) Next LOL’s witnesses will testify and then be subject to cross-examination.

WHAT YOU CAN DO:

  • Show the PUC your support for a Clean Energy Future for Hawai`i by attending the hearing
  • Go to LOL’s website and read the case – www.lifeofthelandhawaii.org and click on ‘Proposed HECO Power Plant’ to learn about the case
  • Write letters to the editor calling for a clean and renewable energy future for Hawai`i NOW
  • Ask 5 of your family and friends to do the same

Don’t saddle our keiki with yesterday’s technology –

Create a future they can look forward to !

Testimonies, Exhibits:

http://www.lifeofthelandhawaii.org/Proposed-2009-plant/index.html

December 10, 2006

President Bush has thrown down the gauntlet

Filed under: Impeach — BobSchacht @ 9:22 pm

In March, 2006, Elizabeth Holtzman repeated a point made by Al Gore in January:

President Bush has thrown down the gauntlet to the people of the United States, the Congress, and the Courts. He said, I am above the law, and we have to pick up that challenge because otherwise what is the democracy that we’re handing to our children?

This is a tidbit from the forum held by Harper’s Magazine, with panelists Representative John Conyers Jr., John Dean, Former Congresswoman Elizabeth Holtzman, Lewis Lapham, and Michael Ratner, and moderated by Sam Seder.

At that time, Rep. Conyers argued,

Well, that’s why we have House Resolution 635 that calls for a select committee to investigate those questions. We’ve got a mountain of evidence. None of this is secret material. It’s not classified. But it does not refute or meet the questions that you have raised—because we don’t have subpoena power to get the people in front of us, under oath, to help confirm, deny, or exculpate the charges that are piling up so high here today.

There’s only one way to find out. Start a select committee like Sam Irving did, in which we ask these very same questions of the people that know the answers. And then, under oath, we will get to the truth.

[He’s referring, I believe, to Sen. Sam Ervin, one of the star performers in the Watergate hearings.] Conyers is speaking with a different tone, now.

Holtzman also spoke about the role of the current special prosecutor, Patrick Fitzgerald. At the time of this forum last March, the White House had withheld records from Fitzgerald (I think they said that they “lost” them.) She suggested that this could wind up as Obstruction of Justice. This points out that discussions about impeachment of Bush and Cheney are already referring to a special prosecutor who is already on the job.
Of course, this was before the elections. Holtzman strongly made the point that none of this will happen unless the public demands it:

But the critical thing for us to remember is that the only presidential impeachment process that has withstood the test of time and the scrutiny of history, and has been respected for its fairness and the integrity of the process and the result, was the impeachment that was conducted of Richard Millhouse Nixon by the House Judiciary Committee. That impeachment process did not start in the Congress. It started because the people of the United States said enough is enough.

So, when are we going to rise up and say enough is enough?!?!?

The website at Harper’s Magazine provides an MP3 audio of the 90 minute forum, and a partial transcript. Highly recommended, even if it is a bit dated.
Bob Schacht

December 9, 2006

Impeachment: Morally Right but Politically Wrong?

Filed under: Impeach — BobSchacht @ 11:34 pm

On 12/9/2006, dani_lfrisco@hotmail.com wrote to PD-H to recommend a dialogue on Tompaine.com titled,

Impeachment: Morally Right vs. Politically Wrong, by Jennifer Van Bergen | David Corn

Referring to our open invitation to the first meeting of the PD-H Impeachment Action Group at the Dillingham Sizzler Restaurant at 2 PM on Sunday, dani_lfrisco went on to comment,

My Friends, Thank you for the invitation to meet and discuss our \’next step\’ toward impeachment. I have a prior comittment and will not be there BUT… After reading the articles I\’ve connected herewith, I am almost leaning cautiously toward David Corn\’s opinion that this might jeopardize the next election.

Thank you for your thoughts!
I think it depends on how impeachment is approached.

We DO have to play every hand right as we\’re dealing with cheaters regrouping as we speak. (Don\’t think I\’m copping out on finding recompense for the evils inflicted on U.S.) The American people stated clearly in the last election that WE are SICK TO DEATH OF THIS AND WANT IMPEACHMENT. We might be blinded by anger and could trip ourselves up with this.

That’s right. If we approach it as a kind of mass leftist hysterical rage at Bush, then of course David Corn might have a point. But we don’t have to do it that way.

I think impeachment should be framed as Defending the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and the rule of law. Then we come across not as vengeful rabid leftists, but as patriots defending core values of Democracy. And I think that will help us, not hurt us, in 2008. The public is aware of the President’s misdeeds, and that’s one of the reasons his personal ratings are at historic lows.

It\’s almost as though he\’s (Corn) saying Democrats can\’t chew gum and walk at the same time. Just listen to all his cautionary citations. There Is an awful big mess to clean up; the repugnicans are leaving behind a purposefully rigged budget crisis for dem\’s. to wrangle with and I\’m not sure dem\’s can look like heros AND get rid of the creeps AND come out smelling like roses after only two years…..

You see, there’s the problem. If we ignore impeachment and focus on trying to clean up the big mess, we’ll find ourselves in a briar patch, and spend two years thrashing around trying to clean things up. I don’t know if we have enough unity to do a convincing job of that.

In our favor, though, I don\’t think Rep. John Conyers just became DUMB…he still has his integrity but is not showing his hand at the moment. Don\’t everybody freak out; investigations WILL come (the evidence is already in!!) that will lead to the \’right\’ place. I am encouraged by Rep. Cynthia McKinney\’s introduction of HR 1106 which ARE Articles of Impeachment. If only we could mobilize the country to deluge Congress about this! I will be following the lead that PDH and PDA go with but just wanted to throw in my 2 cents. Thanks!

I think you’re right about this. And Rep. McKinney is now being vilified in the mainstream press. She deserves our support!

Thanks for your thoughts– and please stay in touch!
Bob Schacht

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