The Administration

Cheney's Absolute Power-grab

Lord Acton said it best: "Power tends to corrupt; absolute power corrupts absolutely." We have been bombarded this week with Washington Post stories describing just that when it comes to Dick Cheney.

The "power ranger" insists on redefining the executive branch (or the legislative branch) and pursues policies from the vantage point of a modern dictator, with little regard for the law. What he has done has not only had severe negative consequences for all manner of foreign and domestic policy. It has redefined government, at least for the moment.

Some would suggest that he deserves impeachment for his acts. At the very least it is time for a full-scale congressional investigation of his attempt at absolute power. And the Democrats should call for it, now.

Distorting Light

Vice President Cheney is not the only one. In fact, rare is the official, particularly the elected one, who embraces unfettered media access to the way he or she conducts the public's business. Not so rare is the official who holds the media and its reporters in contempt.

It's not hard to understand. Having one's foot held to the fire by brilliant reporting like the current Washington Post series on Cheney or the Walter Reed exposés is an altogether unpleasant experience, and the knee-jerk reaction to such stories is to blame the messengers, meaning the media, for such exceptional journalism. 

The Untouchable

That is one creative legal argument Vice President Cheney advances, arguing he does not have to comply with the order requiring members of the executive branch, the Bush administration, to account for the way they handle classified material.

Why? Because the vice president of the United States, under the Constitution, is president of the Senate and casts tie-breaking votes.

Since the Constitution also specifies that only Congress can determine how it operates, Cheney is not bound by the executive order.

In effect, he is claiming that he is eligible for both executive and legislative privilege. Hybrid privilege, as it were. 

CIA Skeletons, The Mortal Sins of Dick Cheney, The Nobility Of Al Gore

Soon, CIA Director Michael Hayden will release documents that describe major misdeeds of the CIA in darker days, after General Antonio Taguba went public in The New Yorker with charges of an Abu Ghraib cover-up.

A great and noble debate will begin in America. Revelations about past and current misdeeds will bring into focus what went wrong in the Iraq war, and why opponents of these policies are voices of American patriotism.

In a recent show Tucker Carlson and a “pundit” ridiculed and demeaned Al Gore. Rather than discussing the profound points he was making in his new book The Assault on Reason, they engaged in cheap ad hominem attacks on Gore as “over the top” and “rage-filled.”


Devil’s Island

I have been to Guantanamo Bay a lot since they brought the first prisoners, uh, “detainees.”After an outcry from reporters the military decided it was better to let us in rather than face questioning over what they were hiding.

So they came up with a tightly controlled tour of the facility. Journalists call it “The Dog and Pony Show.”

I mean TIGHTLY controlled. We had to sign restrictive agreements about what we could say and show. And we weren’t really allowed to see much anyway that departed from the propaganda that these detainees were being “treated in humane fashion”

Well, all that did was fuel more relentless questions about what they were hiding.

L’Affaire Plame seemingly never to scoot away

Pardon me, but did Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) actually think that Chris Matthews’s question about a pardon for I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby at the AFSCME conference on Tuesday was the last one she would get? You get the feeling that L’Affaire Plame, four years old this July, is one of those sagas that simply cannot die.

President Bush has made clear to me that he doesn’t want to pardon Libby, or he would have done so right away. No, I am not channeling the president but I reach this conclusion for four reasons: Bush has shown during the immigration debate he is certainly not worried about keeping the conservative GOP base happy; a pardon is an acknowledgment of guilt and inserts Bush into a mess he had no part of; Libby is not a Bush aide but a Cheney aide and Bush has clearly distanced himself from Cheney and his associates at this point in his presidency; and Bush needs another political problem like he needs Cheney to shoot him in the face.

Alberto Gonzales Has Got To Go — So You Say

Not much doubt about where you side when it comes to the Attorney General's competence. Last Friday, we posted our Quick Poll! question asking: "Is it OK for Alberto Gonzales to stay as Attorney General?" And answers came there plenty — 78% of which said "no" with only 22% saying "yes."

Our new question is: "Who would a Bloomberg presidential run hurt more? Democrats or Republicans" Go to the Quick Poll here on our home page and vote.

Give George Bush Lifetime Secret Service Protection

I just became aware that George Bush's Secret Service protection is only guaranteed for 10 years after he leaves office. The last president grandfathered in for lifetime Secret Service was Bill Clinton.

Folks, whatever we think of George Bush, this is simply wrong. Obviously he would be a potential target, as would any American president going forward after Sept. 11, for the rest of his life.

My hope and advice to Democratic leaders is to offer a proposal to reinstate lifetime Secret Service protection for all future presidents, or at a minimum provide it for George Bush. Go to Republican leaders, make it bipartisan, and pass it. 

Giving George Bush Credit on Immigration Reform

It's time for congressional Democrats and other national Democratic leaders to give George Bush credit on the issue of immigration reform. It is not only the right thing to do — it could help break the cycle of hyper-partisan "gotcha" politics that seems once again to have enveloped Washington now that the Democrats have taken control of both houses after the 2006 election.

My oldest son used to watch me on television defending the Clinton White House from attacks by telling me, "Dad, you have to give something up once in a while." The same advice should apply to the Democrats on Bush's stance on the immigration bill. Democrats would be wise to show the public that it can support President Bush when he has moved to the center and give him credit when he is showing the courage of standing up to his right-wing base. The end result might be not only to encourage future bipartisan approaches by the president, but also to demonstrate that Democrats are willing to stand up to their own rabid base of Bush-haters-no-matter-what. 

A Good Listener

If I am to believe Bob Novak, and he remains quite believable, then President Bush is about to go on a veto rampage and drive the new Democratic leadership in Congress crazy. This is actually an attempt to cut spending and help the Republican Party reclaim the mantle of fiscal responsibility, but we can all brace ourselves for what it will do to further poison the partisan atmosphere in Washington.

According to Novak, Bush has asked House Republicans to join him in sustaining vetoes of at least eight spending bills the House is trying to pass this summer. The White House has received assurances from 147 Republicans they will vote with him when he vetoes appropriations for Homeland Security; Energy-Water and Interior; Labor, Health and Human Services and Dducation; Transportation and Housing and Urban Development; Commerce, Justice and Science; Agriculture and Rural Development; State and Foreign Operations; and Defense. Bush, upon the advice of House Republicans, will not be vetoing the military construction appropriations bill since it contains funding for veterans, Novak wrote.