Dover Bitch

Wednesday, May 30, 2007


Every now and then, I come across a sentence or paragraph that is so excellent I want to remember it forever. I'm going to keep this post as a permanent repository of such linguistic triumphs.

  • "The manifest absurdity of it is too obvious to require explanation." -- Judge Melvin Welles, on the $65 million lawsuit over a pair of lost pants

  • "Maybe we should pass a law that every new book, movie, play, etc. must include the words 'Islamofascism delenda est,' preferably as an acrostic." -- Roy Edroso, on the Right's agony over the lack of pro-GWOT literature

  • "Needless to say, the memo is authentic." -- Glenn Greenwald, after a litany of right-wing bloggers' claims to the contrary

  • "On second thought, if you put [Jonah] Goldberg out in a meadow with a bell around his neck it would probably not alter his level of contentment." -- Roy Edroso

  • "This is the last I shall write of Lady Atlas, leaving her to languish in the obscurity in which I discovered her. Deprived of the attention she craves and the traffic I sent, she faces a future of irreversible diminishment until only a noisy dot will remain. I could have made her a star, but now she'll be reduced to playing custom auto shows and competing with Edy Williams on the red carpet. It's sad it had to come to this, but I have fancier fish to fry, and it's time to toss her back into eternal sea that swallows all." -- James Wolcott

  • "This document is totally non-redactable and non-segregable and cannot even be meaningfully described." -- Assistant U.S. Attorney General Thomas Bondy on why a document that allegedly proves the government has been spying on Americans should, in his opinion (not mine), remain top secret


  • What a strange notion

    When DB was in high school, one of my favorite history teachers used to show Fred Friendly Seminars from time to time. If you've never seen them, they were excellent. Friendly would assemble a panel of important figures from a wide spectrum of America's institutions and present them with incredibly well-thought out hypothetical scenarios.

    I remember how impressed I was to see and hear Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia on those panels. He was quite an effective communicator and his answers to these difficult questions always seemed well reasoned and well grounded.

    I'm not sure exactly when I lost respect for Scalia and his intellect, but it is long gone. Had I not watched those seminars, I would have no idea why anybody takes his arguments seriously. Still, I find myself surprised to hear or read praise for his logic. Perhaps it is a form of respect among Constitutional scholars that DB will just never appreciate.

    Today, Andrew Koppelman takes on Scalia's poor application of the line between Church and State. Koppelman clearly identifies how sloppy the practical results of Scalia's interpretation are.

    But in the post, we find this:

    Justice Scalia’s logic is powerful. He reasons as follows: The Free Exercise Clause singles out religion as such for special benefit. Therefore, it is not possible to coherently read the Establishment Clause as prohibiting the singling out of religion as such for special benefit. “What a strange notion, that a Constitution which itself gives ‘religion in general’ preferential treatment (I refer to the Free Exercise Clause) forbids endorsement of religion in general.”

    No. That's not powerful logic. It is nonsense. The First Amendment gives us all the freedom to write, but it doesn't imply that we have to write. It doesn't imply that the government should tell us what to read, either. Freedom of the press means that the government stays out of the way in both production of ideas and consumption. Obviously, there is nothing in the Constitution expressly prohibiting the government from endorsing certain types of writing, certainly not from engaging in writing itself.

    But the Establishment Clause exists. The Framers could have simply added "freedom of religion" to their enumeration. They didn't. That may be "strange," but it is not insignificant.

    Nature is full of strange and wonderful phenomena that have been successfully exploited by living beings and systems from the dawn of time. Scalia is eager to endorse the idea that all of nature's successful oddities are the deliberate result of a creator.

    What a strange notion, that such a person would find it incomprehensible that our nation's foundational legal document, drafted by a convention of great thinkers and ratified by the states, could contain a novel approach to protecting our most basic freedoms.

    Stranger still is the notion that a Supreme Court justice would encounter such a novelty in the Constitution and then proceed to issue opinions as if it didn't exist.

    UPDATE: How's this for a coincidence? Lou Dobbs just had author Peter Irons on to talk about the separation of Church and State. The last thing Irons said to Dobbs was in reference to Fred Friendly's seminars.

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    Tuesday, May 29, 2007

    A managed withdrawal

    A quick post about an example of flawed logic on behalf of Bush supporters that DB feels like highlighting (one of a zillion.)

    Last night on PBS’s NewsHour, New York Times columnist David Brooks argued that Congress acted “reasonably responsibly” in removing timelines from the Iraq supplemental.

    Brooks incoherently argued, “The country wants to get out of Iraq, but they don’t want to get out precipitously. They want a managed withdrawal. The majority just isn’t there. So the majority in the Congress had to accede to those two realities.”

    It’s unclear what point Brooks is trying to make. He either doesn’t understand what the American public wants or he doesn’t understand the timetable legislation.

    Brooks’ own paper conducted a poll recently that found “sixty-three percent say the United States should set a date for withdrawing troops from Iraq sometime in 2008.” The bill that the Senate and House passed with bipartisan majorities — and Bush vetoed on the fourth anniversary of Mission Accomplished — set a goal for the phased withdrawal to be completed by April 2008.

    In addition to the problems Think Progress noted above, there are two that bother DB, one a logical contradiction, the second a propaganda issue:

    First, there will be and can be no "managed withdrawal" in a sense that is exclusive of a precipitous or quick exit from Iraq. Philip Carter wrote an excellent piece about the logistics last week for Slate. In short, if we get out before Iraq becomes completely stable (don't hold your breath), then the egress will have to be executed very quickly. Otherwise, it will be disastrous. The idea that there can be a prolonged exit is lacking any basis in reality. Quite frankly, the idea that this administration can "manage" anything is lacking a significant basis in reality, which is one of the reasons I've been afraid that it may be less costly to wait for another administration to do it.

    Second, Bush and his supporters have been screeching about "micromanagement" ever since the Democrats took control of Congress. Now they are, in effect, embracing it.

    "We can't have 535 members of Congress micromanaging the war," said Senator John Cornyn.

    But millions of Americans dictating the speed of the operation is better? America saying simply "get us out of Iraq" is being rejected by Bush. America's reservations about the logistics of the exit are being touted as reasons for staying. Which sounds more like micromanagement to you?

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    Gingrich and Carter

    CNN is talking about Newt Gingrich's latest comments in The New Yorker:

    The appointment of a war czar four years after the invasion of Iraq has struck some as a late and insufficient response to the crisis, and has been a reminder that the Administration, ever since its halting response to Hurricane Katrina, has been judged harshly on questions of competence. Newt Gingrich is one of those who fear that Republicans have been branded with the label of incompetence. He says that the Bush Administration has become a Republican version of the Jimmy Carter Presidency, when nothing seemed to go right. "It's just gotten steadily worse," he said. "There was some point during the Iranian hostage crisis, the gasoline rationing, the malaise speech, the sweater, the rabbit"—Gingrich was referring to Carter's suggestion that Americans wear sweaters rather than turn up their thermostats, and to the "attack" on Carter by what cartoonists quickly portrayed as a "killer rabbit" during a fishing trip—"that there was a morning where the average American went, 'You know, this really worries me.' " He added, "You hire Presidents, at a minimum, to run the country well enough that you don't have to think about it, and, at a maximum, to draw the country together to meet great challenges you can't avoid thinking about." Gingrich continued, "When you have the collapse of the Republican Party, you have an immediate turn toward the Democrats, not because the Democrats are offering anything better, but on a 'not them' basis. And if you end up in a 2008 campaign between 'them' and 'not them,' 'not them' is going to win."


    Not since Watergate, Gingrich said, has the Republican Party been in such desperate shape. "Let me be clear: twenty-eight-per-cent approval of the President, losing every closely contested Senate seat except one, every one that involved an incumbent—that's a collapse. I mean, look at the Northeast. You can't be a governing national party and write off entire regions." For this disarray he blames not only Iraq and Hurricane Katrina but also Karl Rove's "maniacally dumb" strategy in 2004, which left Bush with no political capital. "All he proved was that the anti-Kerry vote was bigger than the anti-Bush vote," Gingrich said. He continued, "The Bush people deliberately could not bring themselves to wage a campaign of choice"—of ideology, of suggesting that Kerry was "to the left of Ted Kennedy"—and chose instead to attack Kerry's war record.

    Let me begin by saying I couldn't care less about Gingrich's perspective on anything.

    What I do find interesting is that CNN chose to air Jimmy Carter's recent comments about Bush while reporting on Gingrich:

    JIMMY CARTER, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think, as far as the adverse impact on our nation around the world, this administration has been the worst in -- worst in history.

    It's no surprise to hear Gingrich disparaging Carter, of course, and only marginally surprising to hear him rip the Bush Administration. Check that, it's not surprising at all. Especially in light of the fact that he is simultaneously claiming that a smart GOP candidate will distance himself from Bush, as French President Nicolas Sarkozy distanced himself from Jacques Chirac.

    But I'm devoting some blog space to this story for one reason: To highlight the difference between Gingrich's and Carter's comments. Carter was complaining about the damage Bush has done to America and the world. Gingrich is "really worried" about Bush's effect on the GOP. For Gingrich, the victims of Iraq and Katrina are the potential Republican members of the electoral college.

    Tough luck, Newt. That's what happens when the guiding principle of your party is to prove that government is ineffective.

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    Sunday, May 27, 2007

    Happy Memorial Day

    Apologies... DB went away for the weekend and didn't say goodbye or even post a poem. In the meantime, I see another exceptional piece about the importance of hate crimes legislation at Ornicus. (Thanks for the link, Dave.)

    Here's a poem for Memorial Day. This is one of DB's favorites:

    For the Union Dead
    by Robert Lowell

    Relinquunt Omnia Servare Rem Publicam.

    The old South Boston Aquarium stands
    in a Sahara of snow now. Its broken windows are boarded.
    The bronze weathervane cod has lost half its scales.
    The airy tanks are dry.

    Once my nose crawled like a snail on the glass;
    my hand tingled
    to burst the bubbles
    drifting from the noses of the cowed, compliant fish.

    My hand draws back. I often sigh still
    for the dark downward and vegetating kingdom
    of the fish and reptile. One morning last March,
    I pressed against the new barbed and galvanized

    fence on the Boston Common. Behind their cage,
    yellow dinosaur steamshovels were grunting
    as they cropped up tons of mush and grass
    to gouge their underworld garage.

    Parking spaces luxuriate like civic
    sandpiles in the heart of Boston.
    A girdle of orange, Puritan-pumpkin colored girders
    braces the tingling Statehouse,

    shaking over the excavations, as it faces Colonel Shaw
    and his bell-cheeked Negro infantry
    on St. Gaudens' shaking Civil War relief,
    propped by a plank splint against the garage's earthquake.

    Two months after marching through Boston,
    half the regiment was dead;
    at the dedication,
    William James could almost hear the bronze Negroes breathe.

    Their monument sticks like a fishbone
    in the city's throat.
    Its Colonel is as lean
    as a compass-needle.

    He has an angry wrenlike vigilance,
    a greyhound's gently tautness;
    he seems to wince at pleasure,
    and suffocate for privacy.

    He is out of bounds now. He rejoices in man's lovely,
    peculiar power to choose life and die--
    when he leads his black soldiers to death,
    he cannot bend his back.

    On a thousand small town New England greens,
    the old white churches hold their air
    of sparse, sincere rebellion; frayed flags
    quilt the graveyards of the Grand Army of the Republic.

    The stone statues of the abstract Union Soldier
    grow slimmer and younger each year--
    wasp-waisted, they doze over muskets
    and muse through their sideburns . . .

    Shaw's father wanted no monument
    except the ditch,
    where his son's body was thrown
    and lost with his "niggers."

    The ditch is nearer.
    There are no statues for the last war here;
    on Boylston Street, a commercial photograph
    shows Hiroshima boiling

    over a Mosler Safe, the "Rock of Ages"
    that survived the blast. Space is nearer.
    When I crouch to my television set,
    the drained faces of Negro school-children rise like balloons.

    Colonel Shaw
    is riding on his bubble,
    he waits
    for the blessèd break.

    The Aquarium is gone. Everywhere,
    giant finned cars nose forward like fish;
    a savage servility
    slides by on grease.

    The ancient owls' nest must have burned.
    Hastily, all alone,
    a glistening armadillo left the scene,
    rose-flecked, head down, tail down,

    and then a baby rabbit jumped out,
    short-eared, to our surprise.
    So soft!- a handful of intangible ash
    with fixed, ignited eyes.

    Too pretty, dreamlike mimicry!
    O falling fire and piercing cry
    and panic, and a weak mailed fist
    clenched ignorant against the sky!

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    Thursday, May 24, 2007

    Webb's Iran proposal also a victim

    While we all shake our heads at the abysmal manner in which the Democratic Congress has abdicated its obligations and clear mandate from the American people with regards to Iraq and the supplemental spending bill, let's not take our eyes of yet another significant capitulation.

    Sen. Jim Webb introduced an amendment to the Iraq supplemental bill in March that would have required the president to seek congressional approval before using military force in Iran. DB wrote about this yesterday, if you want more details.

    Today, DB has learned that Webb's amendment, which according to the Senate's web site, has a status of "read twice and referred to the Committee on Foreign Relations" is essentially a dead letter. It was determined to be "not germane" to the bill to which it was intended to be attached, namely the Iraq supplemental.

    So Congress isn't simply giving Bush a blank check for Iraq. They've completely punted on Iran as well.

    Joe Biden had this to say to Condoleezza Rice back in January:

    Secondly, I also want to make it clear, as chairman of the committee, that I feel very strongly that the authorization of the use of force in the provision that the Senator [Webb] read from it explicitly denies you the authority to go into Iran. Let me say that again: explicitly denies you the authority to go into Iran. We will fight that out if the President moves but I just want the record to show, and I would like to have a legal response from the State Department that if they think they have authority to pursue networks or anything else across the boarder into Iran and Iraq [Syria] that will generate a Constitutional confrontation here in the Senate, I predict to you. At least I will attempt to make it a confrontation.

    But we already know Bush thinks he has the authority. He offered our military to Tony Blair when the British sailors were captured by Iran in March. He's authorized covert operations in Iran right now. There are indications that he is developing a plan for a full-scale military conflict.

    What is Biden waiting for? A letter from Rice spelling it out?

    UPDATE: Yikes! Just read this post by Steve Clemons. Seriously, read it.

    UPDATE II: So much for "germane."

    The measure also adds $17 billion Bush did not request, including funds for military and veterans health and hurricane recovery, and increases the federal minimum wage.


    It includes $6 billion for hurricane recovery plus funds for drought relief for farms, health insurance for poor children, the war in Afghanistan, mine-resistant military vehicles, readiness of U.S. military forces still in the United States, homeland defense and military and veterans' health care.

    The bill also increases the federal minimum wage for the first time in a decade, from $5.15 to $7.25 over two years.

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    Wednesday, May 23, 2007

    Why is the Senate avoiding the Iran issue?

    Via ThinkProgress, DB sees that there is the semblance of a pulse in the Senate with regards to Iran:

    Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and Sens. Carl Levin (D-MI), Jay Rockefeller (D-WV), and Joe Biden (D-DE) write President Bush: “Congress needs to have greater confidence that the Administration is not mismanaging Iran policy as it has mismanaged its Iraq policy.”

    Swell. But what about this amendment, S. 759, introduced by Sen. Webb on March 5, to be added to the Iraq supplemental bill?

    Specifically, the amendment requires that the President seek congressional authorization prior to commencing any broad military action in Iran and it allows the following exceptions: First, military operations or activities that would directly repel an attack launched from within the territory of Iran. Second, those activities that would directly thwart an imminent attack that would be launched from Iran. Third, military operations or activities that would be in hot pursuit of forces engaged outside the territory of Iran who thereafter would enter Iran. And finally, those intelligence collection activities that have been properly noticed to the appropriate committees of Congress.

    Here's the amendment's current status:

    Latest Major Action: 3/5/2007 Referred to Senate committee. Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Foreign Relations.

    Do they need to read it again? If so, here it is:


    (a) Prohibition- Notwithstanding any other provision of law, no funds appropriated or otherwise made available by any Act, including any Act enacted after the date of the enactment of this Act, may be obligated or expended for military operations or activities within or above the territory of Iran, or within the territorial waters of Iran, except pursuant to a specific authorization of Congress enacted in a statute enacted after the date of the enactment of this Act.

    (b) Exceptions- The prohibition in subsection (a) shall not apply with respect to military operations or activities as follows:

    (1) Military operations or activities to directly repel an attack launched from within the territory of Iran.

    (2) Military operations or activities to directly thwart an imminent attack to be launched from within the territory of Iran.

    (3) Military operations or activities in hot pursuit of forces engaged outside the territory of Iran who thereafter enter into Iran.

    (4) Military operations or activities connected with the intelligence or intelligence-related activities of the United States Government.

    (c) Report- Not later than 24 hours after determining to utilize funds referred to in subsection (a) for purposes of a military operation described in subsection (b), the President shall submit to the appropriate committees of Congress a report on the determination, including a justification for the determination.

    (d) Appropriate Committees of Congress Defined- In this section, the term `appropriate committees of Congress' means--

    (1) the Committees on Armed Services and Foreign Relations and the Select Committee on Intelligence of the Senate; and

    (2) the Committees on Armed Services and Foreign Affairs and the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence of the House of Representatives.

    What's the hold up? Bush has already been trying to use force in Iran. Why is Congress waiting until it's too late to assert their authority here?

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    Insane Texas persecution watch

    During the Monica Goodling testimony today, the Democratic Senator from Tennessee, Stephen I. Cohen, spent part of his time asking Goodling about the large number of people working in the Bush administration who graduated from her Alma Matter, Regent University.

    REP. STEPHEN I. COHEN, D-TENN.: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

    Ms. Goodling, I've read your vitae and it says that you grew up and you mostly went -- you went to public schools. Is that K through 12?

    GOODLING: Yes.

    COHEN: And it says you went to Christian universities in part because of the value they placed on service.

    What was the other part, that you chose Christian universities?

    GOODLING: I chose them because I had a faith system, and in some cases -- I went to American University for my first year of law school. And then I transferred.

    GOODLING: And I enjoyed studying with people that shares a similar belief system that I did. It didn't mean that there wasn't a lot of diversity of discussion, because in some cases I actually found the debate at Regent was much more vigorous than it was at American University my first year of law school. But I enjoyed being surrounded by people that had the same belief system.

    COHEN: The mission of the law school you attended, Regent, is to bring to bear upon legal education and the legal profession the will of almighty God, our creator. What is the will of almighty God, our creator, on the legal profession?

    GOODLING: I'm not sure that I could define that question for you.

    COHEN: Did you ask people who applied for jobs as AUSAs anything about their religion?

    GOODLING: No, I certainly did not.

    COHEN: Ever had religion discussions come up?

    GOODLING: Not to the best of my recollection.

    COHEN: Is there a type of student, a type of person that you thought embodied that philosophy of Regent University that you sought out as AUSAs?

    GOODLING: In most cases the people at Regent are good people trying to do the right thing who wanted to make a difference in the world. If the question is if I was looking for people like that, the answer is yes. I wasn't necessarily looking for people who shared a particular faith system. I don't have any recollection that that entered into my mind at any point. But certainly there are a lot of people who applied to work for this president because they share his same faith system and they did apply for jobs.

    COHEN: Are there a lot of -- an inordinate number of people from Regent University Law School that were hired by the Department of Justice while you were there?

    GOODLING: I think we have a lot more people from Harvard and Yale.

    COHEN: That's refreshing.

    Is it a fact -- are you are of the fact that in your graduating class 50 to 60 percent of the students failed the bar the first time?

    GOODLING: I'm not -- I don't remember the statistics, but I know it wasn't good. I was happy I passed the first time.

    COHEN: Thank you. That was good.

    Of course you can see what a serious attack that was on Christianity, can't you? Isn't it obvious that Cohen was practically begging somebody to commit an act of violence against Christians?

    REP. LOUIE GOHMERT, R-TEXAS: And I would also point out, when we bring up God and Christianity and question somebody's belief for attending a religious college, that Harvard itself -- if we want to refer to them -- Psalm 8 is on Emerson Hall that houses the Philosophy Department.

    GOHMERT: What is man that thou art mindful of him? -- talking to God, from Psalm 8.

    The Latin phrase meant truth for Christ and the church, and that was the official motto of Harvard in 1692.

    And the rules and precepts of Harvard in 1646 said, Let every student be plainly instructed and earnestly pressed to consider well the main end of his studies is to know God and Jesus Christ, which is eternal life, and therefore to lay Christ at the bottom as the only foundation.

    It is part of the foundation.

    And I would also submit to my colleagues that the hate crime bill passed out of this committee and taken to the floor and passed recently leaves an opening. If someone here seems to indicate there's something wrong about being a Christian and someone is induced to commit violence against that Christian, then the person on this committee could possibly be charged under the hate crime bill as the principle for having committed the act of violence.

    And I would just encourage my colleagues to consider well your comments and your votes in this committee. I yield back.

    You've been warned, Cohen.

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    Monday, May 21, 2007

    Natural Born Liars (redux)

    Last week, DB was awed by the reflexive nature of Andrew Card's lying:

    COMEY: I took the call. And Mr. Card was very upset and demanded that I come to the White House immediately.

    I responded that, after the conduct I had just witnessed, I would not meet with him without a witness present.

    He replied, "What conduct? We were just there to wish him well."

    And I said again, "After what I just witnessed, I will not meet with you without a witness. And I intend that witness to be the solicitor general of the United States."

    Marvelous. Imagine the audacity of delivering a complete lie to a former New York criminal prosecutor, at that moment Acting Attorney General... Imagine calling him in anger over an incident and then denying the incident even occurred... Imagine denying the incident even though Comey himself had personally witnessed it only moments earlier... Imagine handing him this bogus account of their encounter in response to Comey's insistence that an objective third party be present at a future meetings.

    Think how naturally one must lie to even try to pull that one off.

    Now we learn that it gets even worse. Digby catches this item in Newsweek about the morning after:

    Comey didn't tell the Senate panel that the bad feelings were stoked even more the next morning when White House officials explained the hospital visit by saying Gonzales and Card were unaware that Comey was acting A.G. (and therefore the only person authorized to sign off on the surveillance program), according to a former senior DOJ official who requested anonymity talking about internal matters. Top DOJ officials were furious, the source said. Just days earlier, Justice's chief spokesman had publicly said Comey would serve as "head of the Justice Department" while Ashcroft was ill. Justice officials had also faxed over a document to the White House informing officials of this. When a Gonzales aide claimed the counsel's office could find no record of it, DOJ officials dug out a receipt showing the fax had been received. "People were disgusted as much as livid," said the DOJ official. "It was just the dishonesty of it." A Gonzales aide at the time (who asked not to be ID'd talking about internal matters) said there was a "miscommunication" and "genuine confusion" over who was in charge.

    Fantastic. The administration is a cadre of congenital liars. They couldn't tell the truth if they tried. And they never do.

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    Sunday, May 20, 2007

    Shame on you, Lou Dobbs

    Even though DB has never felt as badly scooped as I do right now with the blog-o-sphere abuzz with talk about Lou Dobbs' and Laura Flanders, here is the post I began and then set aside last week. (The only thing worse for this blogger than feeling like a particular post has zero effect on the topic is realizing that it may be too late to even have any effect on the conversation in general).

    The thing that bothers DB about Lou Dobbs, more than anything, is the way he uses language to dehumanize the millions of hard-working people and families who are in this country without documentation. But beyond that, it is also the way he simultaneously shifts the entire burden of culpability onto the people with the least amount of power in the nation.

    I wrote last year about the hypocrisy of the deport-them-all position. In a nation which has all but ignored its own laws, with a representative government and large segment of employers who have synergistically conspired to offer a tacit invitation to workers to enter the country illegally, the idea that the blame lies with people who have accepted those invitations and have done little or nothing other than fulfill their end of the bargain by working hard and raising families in pursuit of the American Dream is ridiculous.

    Dobbs insists on calling them "illegal aliens," rather than "undocumented workers." He doesn't refer to our nation's employers as "illegal employers." He doesn't refer to our executive, who has deliberately decided not to enforce the laws against those employers as an "illegal president." He doesn't refer to representatives who have deliberately decided not to seriously fund an effort to stop people from crossing the border as an "illegal congress."

    It has been decades now that the American government, ultimately accountable to the American people, in tandem with wealthy American employers, have waved their hands in invitation to hard-working people from South of the border. And yet, despite the fact that he knows this and reports on this, though Dobbs' use of language, the blame is shifted entirely to the workers, who hold the least power in the entire equation and who are the most susceptible to victimization and hate crimes (in fact, not just theory) by an intolerant audience whose emotions are manipulated by this language, despite Dobbs' attempts to distance himself from those elements.

    In short, if the American employers and the American government (and by extension, the American people) don't care enough about our immigration laws to have enforced them to any sort of standard that indicates we take them seriously, why should people who come here to simply work and raise a family be charged with the high crime of being disrespectful of the rule of law?

    In addition to his use of language, Dobbs also uses dubious sources for his statistics and "facts." Dave Neiwert has done a remarkable job of documenting Dobbs' recent transgressions. The silver lining in being completely scooped by a superior blogger is that I don't need to waste time rehashing how horrible his encounters with Mark Potok and Laura Flanders were. But I have a little bit more to add, anyway.

    As incredible as the exchange with Flanders was, what took it to a level of absurdity for DB was the fact that it shortly followed this report from Casey Wian:

    WIAN: Surveys of practicing Catholics also reveal discord. A recent Pew Research Center poll asked Catholics if they would quote, "support allowing undocumented immigrants who have been in the United States for several years to gain legal working status and the possibility of citizenship in the future." Sixty six percent favored the idea, 32 percent were opposed.


    WIAN (on camera): But a year ago, the Pew Center asked a different question of non-Hispanic Catholics, using the word "illegal immigrants" instead of "undocumented immigrants." Only about a quarter of the group favored allowing illegal immigrants already in the United States to stay permanently, Lou.

    DOBBS: And I believe that same poll and also and certainly the Zogby poll revealed that just about two thirds of all Catholics believed in strict border security and a very tough immigration law that should, should congress actually begin contemplating it.

    WIAN: Absolutely.

    Anybody with a brain would understand that language matters and that using the term "illegal aliens" would have a negative impact on the results of the poll, so it's no stretch to imagine that Dobbs would get that, too. But he even reported it and he did so only moments before berating Flanders for suggesting that he stop using language like that. His argument with her was a remarkable example of bullying (particularly in light of the fact that he apparently followed her off the set to say "How dare you!"). That it followed Wian's report made it a masterpiece of cognitive dissonance.

    I'd also point out that the impetus for this conversation was the reported abuses by the Los Angeles police at the May 1 immigration rally. Dobbs devoted the absolute minimum of attention he possibly could to that story for a week. Despite having a reporter based in Los Angeles (Wian), Dobbs had no report on the incident. Perhaps it was too late to get into that day's broadcast, but look at the rest of the week: May 2, just five sentences in passing; May 3, seven sentences in passing; May 4, six sentences in passing. Finally, a report from Wian about it on Monday, May 7, which was incorporated into Dobbs' larger, ongoing reporting about the Catholic Church's involvement in the immigration movement, easily done because Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa joined Cardinal Roger Mahony at a "Catholic mass of reconciliation" that Sunday.

    There was no relenting in Dobbs' coverage of his perceived damage to America by "illegal aliens," but practically no effort to describe the abuses to these demonstrators that were making headlines everywhere else.

    And it is also important to note, as many have, that this was hardly the first time that Dobbs has been challenged on his use of language in describing undocumented workers. The way he treated Flanders, however, was extraordinary.

    Consider also this exchange seven months ago in his hour-long special "Broken Borders:"

    After repeating the word "illegal" 13 times in the program's introduction alone, he eventually reached this moment in the town hall-formatted special:

    DOBBS: We're also here with Sheriff Rick Flores from Webb County, Texas. Sheriff, we've heard discussions about ordinances, local law enforcement, local communities taking up what the federal government won't do. Give us, if you will, your perspective as an important law enforcement officer in this state on the border.

    RICK FLORES, SHERIFF, WEBB COUNTY: I can tell you, Lou, that Mexican people have been crossing the border since we've had a border with Mexico.

    We've never had problems with Mexicans. Mexicans are not terrorists. It's the other than the Mexicans. The other people that are using Mexico as a jumping board to come into the United States who we are worried about and our Mexican border is very porous.

    Now, in terms of -- and I do agree with Rosa that these are undocumented people. I don't like the word Mexican or illegal aliens.

    DOBBS: You don't like the word Mexican?

    FLORES: I don't like illegal aliens. Mexican is OK. Undocumented Mexicans, but see, there's a lot of people coming in through the Mexican border that are OTMs and those are the people that we're concerned about. And that's the reason why Congressman McCaul decided to investigate the Texas border sheriffs and the work that we were doing because of the violence that was escalating along the border and the potential for terrorist cells to make their way through Mexico to come into the United States. This deal about immigration, it just came post-9/11. Nobody had ever complained about illegal immigrants here.

    DOBBS: I think you're exactly right.

    FLORES: It was post-9/11.

    DOBBS: I think you're right.

    Dobbs thinks Flores is exactly right? Could anybody believe that? Perhaps it was because there was an audience, perhaps, as I'm inclined to believe, it's because he was not only hearing it from a man, but a sheriff, but in any event, there was no finger-pointing and Dobbs didn't try to talk over him and call him "obfuscatory."

    Whatever his motivation for not just taking the comment in stride, but for actually completely agreeing with it, there was no indication in Dobbs' subsequent behavior that he took any of those comments to heart. That special aired over a weekend. The following week, on Lou Dobbs Tonight, the words "illegal aliens," "illegal immigration" or in the country "illegally" were spoken 96 times.

    The word "undocumented" appeared just three times: Twice in viewer mail, mocking the term, and once by a member of a Catholic charity Lou brought on to lambaste for being in favor of impoverished "anchor babies" qualifying to receive food stamps as citizens of the United States.

    Here we are, seven months later, and Dobbs still feeds a racist audience false statistics and provides cover for those who would dehumanize millions of hardworking people and advocate the destruction of their families by either deportation or the base tactic of simply starving them out of the country by eliminating their sources of income.

    It is simply shameful. Shame on you, Lou Dobbs.

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    Timing is all

    This has been an exceptionally bad week for DB as far as timing goes.

    I should have known better than to think for a second that Marty Lederman wasn't going to write a much better response to Doug Kmiec than I ever could have. But the salt in the wound was the fact that I stopped working on a different post about Lou Dobbs in order to address the Comey testimony and allowed another blogger to scoop me on that subject, too. The shards of broken glass in the salt on the wound is that, again, I was not only scooped, but it was by another sensational blogger who saw my point and raised me by a sum I could not hope to match.

    I still have a few things to say about it, and I refuse to resign from blogging just because my absence would apparently not have any impact on anything, if the last week of online discourse is any indication.

    So I'll be back with my post about Dobbs later. In the meantime, get out the world's smallest violin for me. And read Dave Neiwert's interview with Mark Potok and his follow-up post about Dobbs' incredible exchange with Laura Flanders.

    UPDATE: Flanders chatted on FDL this morning about the episode with Dobbs, which is now on Crooks & Liars.

    So now, in addition to the shards of glass and salt in my wound, there are now hungry rats. How are those tiny violins coming?

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    Kmiec responds to Lederman

    Marty Lederman did a superior job of responding to Doug Kmiec, so DB should probably just sit back and wait for his response to Kmiec's response.

    But I'll just chime in with a couple things. First, Kmiec writes with considerably more respect for Lederman and his readers than he does for the readers of the Washington Post (and therefore, the public at large). Had his op-ed been written with a similar tone, it would have elicited a less abrasive response from some bloggers, myself not least.

    However, Kmiec is still unpersuasive. In fact, he doesn't really address the substance of Lederman's points. I'll wisely let Marty deal with all that. But I will note that he didn't address the things that bothered me (not that I have any reason to believe he read my post), namely that the comparison of the threat of resignations was compared to the Saturday Night Massacre, not the actual break-in at Watergate.

    My other complaint, which had nothing to do with the legal aspects that Lederman addressed, was that Kmiec began his piece by stating that Nixon's demise was somehow different, as it the result of playing politics. But then he ended his op-ed by implying that Bush is also playing politics (and to that end, should be doing it better).

    My only response to the substance of Kmiec's reply that will likely be addressed by Lederman is in regards to this paragraph:

    Instrumentally, were it not a close question for Mr. Comey as well, I do not understand how, after meeting with the President, he could modify the surveillance program to eliminate his stated legal objection. Were the "exclusivity" language in FISA as absolute as Marty's reference to the criminal liability under section 1809 implies, mere tinkering with a program that, until recently, was not operating with a FISA warrant or some other as yet publicly unidentified approval or order of the FISA court, would not be capable of obviating the legitimate statutory concerns.

    It still doesn't. This is precisely the point that Lederman and so many other bloggers were making: What on earth could they have been doing that didn't sit well with this DOJ?

    The fact that this program was eventually made acceptable to Comey, Ashcroft & Co. does nothing to legitimize the view that some minimal violation of FISA was appropriate. As Bruce Fein has warned, let's not make Comey and Ashcroft into heroes just for demonstrating that they do, indeed, have some limits.

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    Friday, May 18, 2007

    Natural Born Liars

    It's going to take DB a while to fully digest James Comey's testimony, but I don't want to ever forget this moment:

    SCHUMER: What happened after Mr. Gonzales and Card left? Did you have any contact with them in the next little while?

    COMEY: While I was talking to Director Mueller, an agent came up to us and said that I had an urgent call in the command center, which was right next door. They had Attorney General Ashcroft in a hallway by himself and there was an empty room next door that was the command center.

    And he said it was Mr. Card wanting to speak to me.

    COMEY: I took the call. And Mr. Card was very upset and demanded that I come to the White House immediately.

    I responded that, after the conduct I had just witnessed, I would not meet with him without a witness present.

    He replied, "What conduct? We were just there to wish him well."

    And I said again, "After what I just witnessed, I will not meet with you without a witness. And I intend that witness to be the solicitor general of the United States."

    Stunning. Comey might have added, "After that comment, I will not meet with you without a witness."

    It's been obvious for sometime that this is an administration filled with complete liars. But there might not be a better example of somebody lying so reflexively.

    I mean, forget about the call to Ashcroft's wife. Forget about her anxious call to Ashcroft's Chief of Staff. Forget about the ensuing call to Comey. Forget about the timing of the visit. Forget about Ashcroft's condition and that he wasn't taking phone calls or visitors. Forget about the fact that they brought the envelope with them and explained what was in it. Forget about the fact that Gonzales and Card walked out of the room immediately following their rejection. Forget about the fact that there were other people in the room watching the entire episode.

    Forget all the reasons that story is a blatant lie and just think about the fact that Card was saying this to Comey. Comey witnessed the entire thing. It reminds me of this scene in Repo Man:

    OLY: The Rodriguez Brothers are suing us for malicious damage, medical expenses and harassment, for a car they own.

    BUD: The Rodriguez Brothers are... You believe the Rodriguez Brothers? They're a couple of scumbags!

    OLY: I know, but we need to sit down and get our stories straight.

    BUD: You're taking their word over mine!


    Did Card really think for a second that Comey would buy that insane idea? He couldn't be trying to imply to Comey that it was going to be a "you have your story, we have ours" situation because he was simultaneously trying to shake Comey from the notion that he needed to have a witness present. And to that end, could he have possibly offered a less effective reply?

    The first thing out of his mouth was an obvious lie to a person who clearly knew the truth.

    As Digby often writes, "they lie as easily as they breathe."

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    Clarifying Kmiec

    After publishing my last post on Doug Kmiec's lacking op-ed, DB called it a night. Waking up, refreshed, it now occurs to me that Kmiec did in fact mean what I thought he meant by this:

    Bush administration officials are often portrayed as seeking a revival of diminished executive authority. At this point, it simply would be useful if they understood it and did not engage in futile and ethically dubious maneuvers or contemplate resigning every time there is an honest disagreement over the scope of presidential power or its sub-assignment.

    "Seeking a revival of diminished executive authority" reads, of course, like Kmiec is arguing that Bush wants to return to some period in which the president was relatively weak.

    I decided last night this was a typo of sorts because it is just so ridiculous. After sleeping, I realize that this is, if not a typo, then just an extrememly poorly-phrased sentence. I think Kmiec means this:

    Bush administration officials are often portrayed as seeking [to revive a currently] diminished executive authority.

    Note, of course, that even this correction doesn't lend any aid to his overall argument, since (as I wrote last night) he begins his column by claiming Comey, Ashcroft & Co.'s threats to resign aren't like the Saturday Night Massacre because Nixon's situation involved politics. But then, Kmiec ends his column by conceding that Bush is playing politics (and should be doing a better job, at that).

    On a related note, I see that Marty Lederman also wrote about Kmiec (and, naturally, did a much finer job than I). Marty was also confused by this paragraph, including the second, completely ambiguous sentence:

    At this point, it simply would be useful if they understood it and did not engage in futile and ethically dubious maneuvers or contemplate resigning every time there is an honest disagreement over the scope of presidential power or its sub-assignment.

    Marty, as I did, takes issue with "every time." But he also took this sentence to mean that Kmiec was calling Comey and Ashcroft's actions "futile and ethically dubious maneuvers" and that they didn't understand executive power.

    I thought, and still think, he meant that Gonzales and Card were engaging in these futile and ethically dubious maneuvers, while Comey and Ashcroft's contributions were frivolous threats of resignation. I'm not sure whom he was indicting with the charge of lack of understanding. Probably all of them.

    In any event, a truly awful op-ed.

    UPDATE: I'm not sure why there's no Haloscan comment link for this post. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that I saved it briefly before publishing. I've never done that before. In any event, please use this link for any comments.

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    Kmiec on Comey, pure nonsense

    Liz Cheney was apparently not available to obfuscate on behalf of the administration, so the Washington Post today features an op-ed, "Testimony in a Teacup," by Douglas W. Kmiec.

    The writer, a professor of constitutional law at Pepperdine University, was assistant attorney general and head of the Office of Legal Counsel to Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush.

    He's certainly got the credentials, but his case is quite unpersuasive. In his defense, it is easy to be distracted by the spectacular views at Pepperdine.

    James Comey's Senate testimony on Tuesday was staggeringly histrionic. It has, as Sen. Arlen Specter suggested, the dramatic flair of the Saturday Night Massacre. Presidential emissaries seeking the signature of a critically ill man only to be headed off at the hospital room door by a Jimmy Stewart-like hero defending the law over the pursuit of power. Frank Capra, call your office.

    There are several problems with this scene. First, the comparison to Watergate is wholly inapt. Watergate involved a real crime -- breaking and entering, with a phenomenally stupid coverup that also fit the definition of criminal obstruction. And the underlying motivation for Richard Nixon's demise was raw politics. Comey's tale lacks crime and this venal political intrigue.

    Breaking and entering is a "real crime," unlike something that was so egregious even people who were OK with violating FISA couldn't sign off on it. No political intrigue? If this story lacks political intrigue (Why would Kmiec use the word "venal" to describe the Saturday Night Massacre?), I would hate to be around when such a story pops up.

    Also, Kmiec is following in Lindsay Graham's footsteps by implying that Nixon was simply trying to cover up the break-in. You may remember Graham trying to impeach the credibility of John Dean at the Censure hearings:

    Senator Graham. Did he cover up a crime that he knew to be a crime?

    Mr. Dean. He covered it up for--

    Chairman Specter. Senator Graham, let him answer the question.

    Mr. Dean. He covered it up for national security reasons.

    Senator Graham. Give me a break.

    Mr. Dean. I am serious.

    Senator Graham. He covered it up to save his hide.

    Mr. Dean. No, sir. You are showing you don't know that subject very well.

    Senator Graham. What is the national security reason to allow a President to break into a political opponent's office?

    Mr. Dean. The cover-up didn't really concern itself with--

    Senator Graham. What enemy are we fighting when you break into the other side's office?

    Mr. Dean. Senator, if you will let me answer, I will give you some information you might be able to use.

    Senator Graham. Yes, please.

    Mr. Dean. He covered it up not because of what had happened at the Watergate, where I think he would have cut the reelection Committee loose. He kept them covered up because of what had happened while they were at the White House, which was the break-in into Daniel Ellsberg's psychiatrist's office. And that, he believed, was a national security activity."

    And nobody resigned over the break-in. It was because of the way Nixon abused the DOJ in order to get the results he wanted, rather than the results he was getting. Sound familiar?

    A few paragraphs later, Kmiec writes:

    Even if OLC attorneys had been unanimous that the president lacked the legal authority to conduct the kind of military intelligence-gathering that every other wartime president has pursued, that would hardly warrant the conclusion that the president had "broken the law."

    I'm sorry, but every other wartime president has not pursued the ability to collect digital information on limitless amounts of American citizens (if that's even the upper boundary of their scheme). Plus, the majority of wartime presidents served prior to the enactment of FISA. No others have deliberately violated it, as far as we know. And it's hard to imagine any president, past or future, offering as bogus a justification for doing so as Bush's suggestion that the AUMF somehow repealed FISA.

    Comey might not have been willing to say that Bush broke the law (despite his alleged "histrionics"), but what conclusion can you draw otherwise? FISA explicitly stated that the president could not wiretap domestically without a warrant. If the DOJ says he also lacked any constitutional authority to get around that, then he broke the law.

    Kmiec goes on and on like this. Towards the end he writes that "Comey was equally mistaken to think that withholding his signature had to be the final act -- when that is necessarily the president's call."

    How could anybody conclude that Comey's problems with the entire scenario stemmed from an idea that he had the final say? Absurd.

    Finally, Kmiec writes this:

    Bush administration officials are often portrayed as seeking a revival of diminished executive authority. At this point, it simply would be useful if they understood it and did not engage in futile and ethically dubious maneuvers or contemplate resigning every time there is an honest disagreement over the scope of presidential power or its sub-assignment.

    When has this administration ever -- EVER -- been portrayed as seeking to revive diminished authority?? That has to be simply a mistake by Kmiec. Nobody could make that argument outside the Bizzaro Universe.

    But assume he was trying to say the opposite, that the Bush administration seeks to restore what they believe is a proper, more expansive authority. Doesn't the fact that this entire episode stems from that objective validate the idea Kmiec is trying to shoot down? The Bush administration could have gone to a completely compliant Congress and asked for more authority at any time. They actually turned down Sen. DeWine 's offer to expand their authority. They chose instead to exercise authority not granted by Congress just because they wanted to prove they had the political muscle to do it.

    "And the underlying motivation for Richard Nixon's demise was raw politics," Kmiec wrote up top, differentiating Nixon from Bush. Now he concludes his column by suggesting that the Bush administration does have political aims in all of this? (Again, if you assume he's not writing from Bizzaro Universe.)

    And what made the Saturday Night Massacre -- and this episode -- so intriguing is that people don't resign "every time" there is a disagreement. That's the kind of argument a teenager would make. As Glenn Greenwald put it in this excellent radio show yesterday, "the entire top level of the law enforcement apparatus of our country was going to resign in protest" over this.

    If that's happening every time there's a disagreement in this administration, we're in even worse shape with Bush at the helm than anybody could even imagine. It's bad enough that it even happened once.

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    Thursday, May 17, 2007

    Bush: The enemy lurks

    In ducking the question about James Comey's testimony, the president not only used the blanket of fear to shield himself, he also said things that appear to be outright falsehoods.

    Q: There’s been some very dramatic testimony before the Senate this week from one of your former top Justice Department officials who describes a scene that some Senators called stunning, about a time when the warrantless wiretap program was being reviewed. Sir, did you send your then chief of staff and White House counsel to the bedside of John Ashcroft while he was ill to get him to approve that program, and do you believe that kind of conduct from White House officials is appropriate?

    BUSH: Kelly, there’s a lot of speculation about what happened and what didn’t happen. I’m not going to talk about it. It’s a very sensitive program. I will tell you that one, the program was necessary to protect the American people and it’s still necessary, because there’s still an enemy that wants to do us harm, and therefore I have an obligation to put in place programs that honor the civil liberties of the American people — a program that was, in this case, constantly reviewed, and briefed to the United States Congress. And the program, as I say, is an essential part of protecting this country, and so there will be all kinds of talk about it. As i say, I’m not going to move the issue forward by talking about something as highly classified subject. I will tell you, however, that the program was necessary.

    Q: Was it on your order, sir?

    BUSH: As I said, the program is a necessary program that was constantly reviewed and constantly briefed to the Congress. It’s an important part of protecting the United States, and it’s still an important part of our protection, because there’s still an enemy that would like to attack us, no matter how calm it may seem in America, an enemy lurks and they would like to strike. They would like to do harm to the American people, because they have an agenda. They want to impose an ideology. They want us to retreat from the world. They want to find safe haven, and these just aren’t empty words. These are the words of al Qaeda themselves, and so we will put in place programs to protect the American people that honor the civil liberties of our people and programs that we constantly brief to Congress.

    One thing we learned from the Comey testimony, was that John Ashcroft was signing off on this program regularly without having seriously reviewed it. Here's how a "TPM Reader" puts it:

    What to make of this long narrative?

    Simply this. The warantless wiretap surveillance program stank. For two and a half years, Ashcroft signed off on the program every forty-five days without any real knowledge of what it entailed. In his defense, the advisors who were supposed to review such things on his behalf were denied access; to his everlasting shame, he did not press hard enough to have that corrected.

    When Comey came on board, he insisted on being granted access, and had Goldsmith review the program. What they found was so repugnant to any notion of constitutional liberties that even Ashcroft, once briefed, was willing to resign rather than sign off again.

    As far as informing Congress, that's a joke. Sen. Rockefeller even wrote a letter to Vice President Cheney (PDF) complaining that he didn't have enough information to evaluate the program.

    Yesterday, I posted some excerpts from the hearings on Sen. Feingold's censure motion. I posted a response by Bruce Fein, but I ended it after he talked about "bad faith." Here is his full response to Sen. Specter:

    Mr. Fein. Let me make a couple of observations about bad faith or secrecy. One, we don't have the information, if it exists, indicating what advice President Bush received just before he commenced the warrantless surveillance program. You don't know, I don't know, and he is resisting giving that information to you that could dispel any uncertainty on such a critical matter. That still is secret.

    Second, with regard to informing a handful of Members of Congress, that is not all Members of Congress. And, of course, as you pointed out, we don't want the President to do things that would risk the national security of the United States and to inform in such detail that intelligence sources and methods could be disclosed.

    But if you are going to have accountability, you have to have accountability to the Congress of the United States, not just one or two Members, and accountability that at least indicates the nature of the program in sufficient detail to enable an assessment of its legality and wisdom. If you don't know how many people are being spied on in the United States, you don't know what the results of that are. How can you make an assessment as to its reasonableness?

    The purpose of informing is not just to have informing for its own sake. It is to have the operation of checks and balances at work, and it has to be done in a framework then that enables a collective judgment of Congress to be brought on the legality, the success of the program. It is still so secret, in my judgment, that it is still impossible for Congress to make that assessment at present.

    I think that Fein sums it up perfectly. President Bush (and Vice President Cheney) acted on bad faith and the president is still deceiving the American people. That he is doing it while simultaneously trying to scare us into succumbing to his will is spectacularly rotten.

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    Wednesday, May 16, 2007

    Bad faith

    At the March 31, 2006, Senate Judiciary Committee hearings, examining Sen. Russ Feingold's motion to censure the president for his illegal wiretapping program, Chairman Arlen Specter made the question of "bad faith" on the part of the president the central issue in his opposition to censure.

    Chairman Specter. I was looking for the comments on bad faith or good faith, and finally we heard it from you, Mr. Schmidt, that there is no evidence of bad faith. It seems to me that before a censure resolution can get anywhere, can rise to the level above being frivolous, there has to be an issue of bad faith. Senator Feingold's resolution doesn't say a word about bad faith.

    Don't you think, Mr. Dean, that that is an indispensable prerequisite, a sine qua non, to censure the President? I note that your 2004 book, Worse than Watergate, called for the impeachment of President Bush. So you were pretty tough on him long before this surveillance program was noted.

    But to come back to good faith and bad faith, don't you think there has to be some issue of bad faith?

    Mr. Dean. In Worse than Watergate, I didn't call for impeachment. I laid out a case that could be made for impeachment. I do make a distinction.

    As far as Senator Feingold's resolution, when I read those ``whereas'' clauses, it seems to me that there is evidence of bad faith. First of all, there is certainly a prime facie case that--

    Chairman Specter. Mr. Dean, do you think that Senator Feingold would shy away from those two magic words, ``bad faith,'' when they are so much easier to define than the ``whereas'' clause? I recollect his 25-minute speech on the floor. I wanted to ask him about bad faith and didn't get a chance to.

    Mr. Dean. I don't recall bad faith as being a prerequisite to censure.

    Chairman Specter. Well, it is not a matter of recollection.

    Mr. Dean. It is conduct.

    Chairman Specter. Don't you think that it takes bad faith to censure a President?

    Mr. Dean. I think in gathering my thoughts to come back here, I thought, you know, had a censure resolution been issued about some of Nixon's conduct long before it erupted to the degree and the problem that came, it would have been a godsend.

    Chairman Specter. Well, then the Congress was at fault in not giving him a warning signal.

    Mr. Dean. It would have helped.

    In light of James Comey's testimony yesterday, is there any way on earth that Specter can still claim the president acted in "good faith?"

    Consider this response from Bruce Fein (emphasis mine):

    Mr. Fein. Let me make a couple of observations about bad faith or secrecy. One, we don't have the information, if it exists, indicating what advice President Bush received just before he commenced the warrantless surveillance program. You don't know, I don't know, and he is resisting giving that information to you that could dispel any uncertainty on such a critical matter. That still is secret.

    We sure know now. The entire leadership of the DOJ was prepared to resign over it. Can there be any doubt at this point that the president acted in bad faith?

    Finally, Sen. Feingold responded to the "bad faith" argument:

    Sen. Feingold: Now, Mr. Chairman, before I ask my first question, I want to get to this question of--you didn't help me draft this thing, but if you want the words ``bad faith'' in there, let's put them right in, because that is exactly what we have here.

    The whole record here makes me believe, with regret, that the President has acted in bad faith both with regard to not revealing this program to the appropriate Members of Congress, the full committees that were entitled to it, but more importantly by making misleading statements throughout America suggesting that this program did not exist--I understand if he didn't talk about--and then after the fact dismissing the possibility that he may have done something wrong here, that he may have broken the law. So call it bad faith, call it aggravating factors.

    Well, Sen. Specter?

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    Tuesday, May 15, 2007

    Chief Justice Marshall (redux)

    Via FDL, I see that Eric Boehlert has taken the Washington Post to task for their uneven coverage of the blog-o-sphere.

    DB would like to take the opportunity once more to restate my nomination for Josh Marshall as Chief Justice of the Internet.

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    Monday, May 14, 2007

    Dead to me

    The choice between Lou Dobbs and Tucker Carlson is excruciating.

    3:00 p.m. PT is now officially music hour in DB HQ.

    Please feel free to offer some suggestions.

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    Sunday, May 13, 2007

    Happy Mother's Day

    Mother, Summer, I
    by Philip Larkin

    My mother, who hates thunder storms,
    Holds up each summer day and shakes
    It out suspiciously, lest swarms
    Of grape-dark clouds are lurking there;
    But when the August weather breaks
    And rains begin, and brittle frost
    Sharpens the bird-abandoned air,
    Her worried summer look is lost,

    And I her son, though summer-born
    And summer-loving, none the less
    Am easier when the leaves are gone
    Too often summer days appear
    Emblems of perfect happiness
    I can't confront: I must await
    A time less bold, less rich, less clear:
    An autumn more appropriate.


    Wednesday, May 09, 2007

    Try to remember a day in September...

    DB wrote on Friday that the Republicans know this war is over, that they want General Petraeus to allow them to exit gracefully, that they will use his report in September to do so and that in the meantime, they will follow Nixon's lead in labelling the Democrats as the "party of defeat" or "surrender," even though they themselves are certain that "victory" could not be achieved.

    Since Friday, DB has been too busy to post anything here, not even a poem or two to appease the insatiable Dover Bitch readership.

    But let's take a quick look at what has happened in the past five days:

    On Tuesday, the Washington Post, in a piece called "September Could Be Key Deadline in War," featured these quotes:

    "Many of my Republican colleagues have been promised they will get a straight story on the surge by September," said Sen. Gordon Smith (R-Ore.). "I won't be the only Republican, or one of two Republicans, demanding a change in our disposition of troops in Iraq at that point. That is very clear to me."


    The fixation with September is all the more striking because funding bills that cleared the House and Senate this spring were looking well into 2008 to mandate significant changes. The Senate-passed bill set March 2008 as a goal for withdrawing U.S. combat troops, while the House envisioned combat troops being withdrawn by the end of August 2008. In the ensuing weeks, however, news from Iraq has shown little improvement, while public opinion has continued to harden against the war.

    House Minority Leader John A. Boehner (R-Ohio), who has taken a hard line in Bush's favor, said Sunday, "By the time we get to September, October, members are going to want to know how well this is working, and if it isn't, what's Plan B."

    This is the same Boehner who said this a week ago:

    “House Republicans will oppose any bill that includes provisions that undermine our troops and their mission, whether it's benchmarks for failure, arbitrary readiness standards or a timetable for American surrender."

    Rep. Ted Poe (R-TX), who captivated DB with his party-of-surrender poetry on the floor of Congress last week, followed that performance by quoting a KKK Grand Wizard. Bravo!

    And today, we have the coup de grace, via Tim Russert:

    In a sign of the growing fissure between the White House and its congressional allies over the war, NBC News reports tonight that 11 Republican members of Congress pleaded yesterday with President Bush and his senior aides to change course in Iraq.

    The group of Republicans was led by Reps. Mark Kirk (R-IL) and Charlie Dent (R-PA), and the meeting included Defense Secretary Robert Gates, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Karl Rove, and Tony Snow. One member of Congress called the discussion the “most unvarnished conversation they’ve ever had with the president,” and NBC’s Tim Russert said it “may have been a defining pivotal moment” in the Iraq debate.

    Russert described the conversation:

    [O]ne said “My district is prepared for defeat. We need candor, we need honesty, Mr. President.” The president responded, “I don’t want to pass this off to another president. I don’t want to pass this off, particularly, to a Democratic president,” underscoring he understood how serious the situation was.

    Brian, the Republican congressman then went on to say, “The word about the war and its progress cannot come from the White House or even you, Mr. President. There is no longer any credibility. It has to come from Gen. Petraeus.” The meeting lasted an hour and 15 minutes and was, in the words of one, “remarkable for the bluntness and no-holds-barred honesty in the message delivered by all these Republican congressmen.”

    So there you have it.

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    Friday, May 04, 2007

    Nothing is over until Bush decides it is

    Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor? Hell no!

    MICHAEL GOODWIN, NEW YORK DAILY NEWS: I think, Lou, you said the magic words there. Petraeus' September deadline is the real deadline. And I think that what Congress is doing now is just trying to -- it's really about Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign more than anything else.

    LOU DOBBS: How is she doing?

    GOODWIN: Well, so-so. And I think that is the problem for her.

    DOBBS: But she's leading.

    GOODWIN: But that's why she's trying to separate herself from the others. And she is still trying to get over her initial Iraq vote. I don't think this will accomplish that.

    ED ROLLINS, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: And first of all, I mean, our troops are still there fighting. Your report earlier of the great burden that's going on in our Army and someone like Harry Reid basically saying, we've lost the war already. Who have we lost the war to?

    We may have not objectively won, but the Democrats' strategy of drop our guns and run is not going to work. And we've got three or four more months to try and make this thing work. If it doesn't work at that time, it will have bipartisan support.

    We may have not objectively won... Nice one, Ed.

    This is why it is so important for the GOP to prop up Gen. Patraeus and mention his name in every interview. They know this war is over. They just want to wait until they hear a grim report in September, so they can say that they are looking for an exit because General Patraeus says it's time to redeploy. If they leave when Harry Reid says it's over, they can't call him a surrender monkey.

    It is practically certain that Congress will call for an end to this in September. Every casualty from now until then will be because of politics.

    But then, I'm afraid, it will get even uglier. Assuming he hasn't started anything with Iran by then, with a majority of Congress calling for withdrawal, Bush will have to start redeploying. It is important to realize that extracting ourselves from Iraq will be a complicated and dangerous operation.

    Consider the incompetence of this administration for a moment. Now imagine this Commander in Chief presiding over that redeployment. It has the potential to be a disaster. And, as Pat Buchanan has been saying all week, they will blame every problem and death on the "party of defeat."

    I'm not suggesting that they will deliberately make the exit a disaster. I will not enter "Republican Strategist" Ed Rogers' dwelling:

    The clumsy politics that the Kerry campaign is playing on terrorism should be offensive to all Americans. And the media should blow the whistle on them. I think -- in my heart of hearts, I think that they're hoping for an attack, so that they can say, I told you so.

    (I must say it makes me quite apprehensive to hear people with such a pathological lack of empathy and who are the embodiment of solipsism making comments like that.)

    But, no, I will not go there. I will only go as far as asking how much this administration, which hasn't given a crap about the troops throughout the entire war, will care about them at this dangerous juncture?

    I almost think it would be safer to leave the troops in Iraq until somebody with competence and a fully-functioning moral compass takes office, if that happens.

    What a horrible mess we are in.

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    Debates: The morning after

    Over at FDL, scarecrow writes the post I wish I wrote last night but I was too tired after breaking it all down. Here's a sample, but read the whole thing:

    They do not see a nation angry at them about the war nor shamed by a government that sanctions torture. With their Reaganesqe optimism, they do not see families struggling with health care costs, job security, retirement security, and college tuition. They don’t seem to worry whether the government is doing enough to protect us from unsafe working conditions, unsafe products, unsafe foods and drugs. They apparently don’t see global warming as a national security or economic threat. American democracy is not threatened; the Constitution is not under siege, and Americans don’t hate the Bush regime for what it has done to our liberties (Paul excepted). Attacks on the rights of women, gays, and immigrants and anyone who looks like the “enemy” are non-issues.

    The collective denial shown by these men was even more surprising because one of the first questions asked concerned the fact that about only 22 percent of the American people think the country is on the right track, but you’d never know it from listening to these men. And because they seem so completely disconnected from what the American people believe, there is no possibility that any of these men could successfully address the nation’s concerns. Last night, the Republican Party declared itself to be in denial and irrelevant except as an out of touch opposition party with no ideas left for any of the hard questions of governnance.

    I missed spelled Giuliani a bunch of times last night, so that's been corrected.

    Ron Paul has now dropped to 30% positive, 30% negative now in that MSNBC poll, with 53,972 votes in. He's still the only candidate without more unfavorable ratings than favorable ones, but he now trails Romney by one point in the positive ratings. It must be his "optimism."

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    Debates: Other thoughts

    First of all, thanks to the International Herald Tribune for the debate transcript I've been using.

    Here's some final thoughts on the debate, in no particular order:

  • Tommy Thompson's answer that employers should be allowed to fire gays was not only a low point for DB (of many), it actually seemed to bring the debate to a brief pause. There really seemed to be an uncomfortable pause after he answered. In any event, he offered a weak retraction after the debate.

    [UPDATE: Thompson offers a full retraction and expands on his answer to the question about racism.

    Good for Thompson. DB still finds there to be a lack of any serious discussion about race among the GOP hopefuls and party in general.]

  • Mitt Romney's attack on Patrick Fitzgerald was pathetic.

    I can tell you that I think it was outrageous for the prosecutor, knowing that Scooter Libby was not the source of the leak, to go ahead and begin interviewing him, gathering information, setting up a case against him. I think it was prosecutorial indiscretion.

    Memo to Mitt: Libby lied multiple times to investigators before Fitzgerald was even appointed. This lame answer from Romney shouldn't come as a surprise since Barbara Comstock is one of his advisers.

    Romney apparently wanted to look presidential and probably succeeded enough to convince some people he could play one on TV for four years. There's nothing else there. He's probably wondering right now why Duane Wade really wants to be in Charles Barkley's "Five."

  • When John McCain said he'd follow Bin Laden "to the gates of hell," DB shuddered. Not because of McCain's insane forcefulness. I just felt a tremor in the force when all the writers at The Corner slid off their seats at the same time.

  • The questions were better than the ones asked at the Democratic debate. But ducked the good ones that were submitted. Chris Matthews' question about Bill Clinton is exactly why I can't stand him.

  • For the most part, this was a chance for 10 men to talk about how much they love Ronald Reagan and hate abortion.

  • Ron Paul won't win the nomination, and I probably wouldn't vote for him in a general election, but he was the one candidate who said things I was happy to hear.

  • Jim Gilmore actually seemed reasonable in many ways, but didn't say anything extremely memorable or revolutionary.

  • Rudy Giuliani did not do well. I think he's doomed.

  • Duncan Hunter and Tom Tancredo are fighting for the same turf. Hunter wins that battle.

  • Mike Huckabee and Sam Brownback are also vying for the same votes. But not DB's, so I can't say who will come out on top.

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  • Debates: Immigration

    There were no really no surprises in the debate for immigration issues. Duncan Hunter and Tom Tancredo dueled for the Lou Dobbs vote.


    REP. HUNTER: You know, it's a way to win, but we need to win the right way. And you know, about a hundred miles south of here is the -- in my town of San Diego we built the border fence. When we built that fence, we had a border out of control, and we built that fence. And it's a double fence, it's not that little straggly fence you see on CNN with everybody getting over it.

    He built a fence, Tom. Can you top that?

    REP. TANCREDO: I would say pardon [Scooter Libby], but right after or before you pardon Ramos and Compean, two people who are presently serving in -- prison time for actually doing their job on the border.

    Zing! Hunter?

    REP. HUNTER: You know, we won World War II, World War I and the Cold War with a major industrial base. We're losing our industrial base through bad trade policy right now. China is cheating on trade. I would enforce trade laws. That's something that the president is not doing.

    China! Tom?

    MR. VANDEHEI: Congressman Tancredo, David Kim from here in California wants to know, beside yourself, who do you think should be the Republican nominee for president of the United States, and why?

    REP. TANCREDO: ...I am telling you this; that there are issues that I believe have not been addressed tonight, not in full, and I believe that they do separate us, and I certainly believe the issue of immigration and immigration reform and what's going to happen to this country unless we deal with this forthrightly.

    No more platitudes. No more obfuscating with using words like, "Well, I am not for amnesty but I'm for letting them stay." That kind of stuff has got to be taken away from the political debate, as far as I'm concerned, so people can understand exactly who is where on this incredibly important issue.

    And when they see that, I think, frankly, I'm --

    MR. MATTHEWS: Okay, time.

    Oh! Sorry, Tancredo. Hunter wins the Lou Dobbs portion of the debate.

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    Debates: Health care, stem cells and science

    It's hard to believe this was a presidential debate in the 21st Century.

    Tom Tancredo, Sam Brownback and Mike Huckabee all raised their hands to say they don't believe in evolution. That's simply a deal-breaker for DB.

    This was all former Secretary of Health and Human Services Tommy Thompson had to say about his plan to modernize health care for America:

    I would transform the health care system a lot different than the president's talking about.

    Sign me up.

    John McCain, who wants a $3000 tax cut for health care, was the only one firmly supporting federal funding for stem cells. There were some others of various levels of support. Mitt Romney had the most interesting answer:

    Altered Nuclear Transfer creates embryo-like cells that can be used for stem cell research. In my view, that's the most promising source. I have a deep concern about curing disease. I have a wife that has a serious disease that could be affected by stem cell research and others, but I will not create new embryos through cloning or through embryo farming because that would be creating life for the purpose of destroying it.

    As far as health care goes, we learned that Mitt loves his plan and hates Hillary Clinton's. What exactly is Romney's plan? Who knows?

    Rudy Giuliani hates Clinton's plan, too. His solution? Fix health care with optimism.

    We're a country that has the greatest health-care system in the world.

    It's flawed. It needs to be fixed, but we should fix it from our strengths. We shouldn't turn it into socialized medicine. Those are the things that Ronald Reagan taught us. You lead from optimism.

    UPDATE: Oh yeah, cloning is bad.

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    Matthews on 'pro-choice'

    During the post-debate banter, Chris Matthews said:

    Should a person have a right to end a pregnancy? And what would be the conditions that would require them to be allowed to do it or not.

    These are tough questions of philosophy, of metaphysics, of deep religion and belief about human life. They are not open to a clever one-liner that gets you out of trouble. Rudy Giuliani is pro-choice. I don't like the phrase "pro-choice." It sounds too frivolous.

    Is that right? Or is it only frivolous when it's applied to Republicans?

    DEAN: This administration continually wants to insert themselves into the family's business, the Terri Shiavio case, that's the family's business, not the government's business... all these abortion cases, that's the family's personal business. That's not the government's business and we'd like to keep the government out of the people's private and personal lives.

    MATTHEWS: So the Democrats are the pro-choice party, period.

    DEAN: Well, the government...

    MATTHEWS: The Democrats, your party, is the pro-choice party.

    DEAN: No, my party respects everybody's views, but my party firmly believes that the government should stay out of the people's personal lives.

    MATTHEWS: But, you're the pro-choice party, are you not? You sound like you're against them for being pro-life. Are you pro-choice?

    DEAN: I'm not against people for being pro-life. I actually was the first chairman who met for a long time with pro-life Democrats.

    MATTHEWS: This is a complicated thing for people. The people believe the Republican party, because of its record, supports the pro-life position. Does your party support the pro-choice position?

    DEAN: The position we support is, a woman and a family has the right to make up their own mind about their health care without government interference.

    MATTHEWS: That's pro-choice.

    DEAN: A woman and a family have the right to make up their own minds about their health care without government interference. That's our position.

    MATTHEWS: Why do you hesitate at the phrase "pro-choice?"

    DEAN: Because I think it's often misused. If you're "pro-choice" it implies that you're not also pro-life. That's not true. There are plenty of pro-life Democrats. We respect them, but we believe the government...

    MATTHEWS: Do you believe in abortion rights?

    DEAN: I believe the government should stay out of the personal lives of families and women. They should stay out of our lives. That's what I believe.

    MATTHEWS: I find it interesting that you have hesitated to say what the party has always stood for, which is the pro-choice position.

    DEAN: The party believes that government does not belong in personal decisions.

    MATTHEWS: OK. I'm learning things here about the hesitancy I didn't know about before. We'll be right back with Howard Dean.

    DEAN: You know what you're learning...

    MATTHEWS: Now, you're getting hesitant on the war and hesitant on abortion rights. It's very hard to get clarity from your party.

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    Debates: Reagan

    The name "Reagan" was mentioned 30 times, sometimes referring to Nancy, in attendance.

    Giuliani said the name five times, with McCain and Romney coming in tied for second with four mentions.

    The most ridiculous mentions?

    MR. GIULIANI: It really depends on what our intelligence says. I mean, the reality is, the use of military force against Iran would be very dangerous. It would be very provocative. The only thing worse would be Iran being a nuclear power. It's the worst nightmare of the Cold War, isn't it, the nuclear weapons in hands of an irrational person, an irrational force. Ahmadinejad is clearly irrational. He has to understand it's not an option. He cannot have nuclear weapons. And he has to look at an American president, and he has to see Ronald Reagan. Remember the -- they looked in Ronald Reagan's eyes, and two minutes they released the hostages.


    UPDATE: Think Progress also notes that George W. Bush's name was uttered only once, and barely that.

    Also, by their count, the candidates mentioned former President Reagan 19 times. DB had included "Nancy Reagan" and also moderator Chris Matthews' mentions in the 30 total. Giuliani still wins with five.

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    Debates: Iraq

    There were no surprises with regards to Iraq. John McCain was the most forceful in his support, trying also to distance himself from Bush's administration of the war. Interestingly, he was the only person on DB's "surrender" and "defeat" checklist. He even said them back to back:

    My friends, when the majority leader of the United States Senate says we've lost the war, the men and women that are serving in Iraq reject that notion. And if we lost, then who won? Did al Qaeda win? When on the floor of House of Representatives -- they cheer. They cheer when they passed a withdrawal motion -- that is, a certain date for surrender, what were they cheering? Surrender? Defeat?

    Ron Paul, absolutely against the war. Everybody else, supportive.

    The interesting comments on Iraq came from Tommy Thompson:

    MR. MATTHEWS: Governor Thompson, if you're commander in chief and you want to win this war in Iraq, what do you need to do to win it?

    MR. THOMPSON: First, you have to support the troops. There's an undying bond in America that any time an American soldier is in harm's way, we have to protect him.

    Beyond that, there are three things that I've laid out. Number one, I believe the al-Maliki government should be required to vote as to whether or not they want America in their country. If they vote yes, it gives us a legitimacy for being there. If they vote no, we should get out.

    Secondly, there are 18 territories in Iraq, just like we have 50 states in America. I would require those territories to elect governments, just like we do in our states.

    And if you do so, the Shi'ites will elect Shi'ites, Sunnis will elect Sunnis, Kurds will elect Kurds, and you won't have this internecine civil war.

    Third, I would split the oil reserves -- one-third to the federal government, one-third to the state government, and one-third to every man, woman and child. If every man, woman and child is getting part of the oil proceeds, they're going to have a vested interest in their country. They'll be purchasing goods, they will be investing in small businesses, and they'll be building the country on democratic grounds in Iraq.

    It's nice to see he's been thinking about things, but what is he talking about? It's pretty clear already the Iraqis want us out. And that means it's too late to organize 18 elections. He's out-Bidened Joe Biden!

    The sad truth about Iraq is that our military didn't lose. Our politicians lost. And now they want the troops to pull out a miracle.

    Mitt Romney was the only candidate to mention Afghanistan:

    But I will go to work not only to win the war on terror as it relates to Iraq and Afghanistan, but on a global basis, not only with a strong military -- we need at least 100,000 more troops, more military spending -- but at the same time we have to strengthen our economy and make sure that somebody who's been in the private sector all his life can protect American jobs and finally strengthen the American family.

    Not much of a discussion on Afghanistan, was it?

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    Debates: Iran

    Duncan Hunter wins the Chris Matthews award for most eager to fight Mahmoud Amahdinejad in a dark alley.

    Without a doubt, Hunter was the most adamant about the immediate need to act against Iran militarily.

    MR. VANDEHEI: Congressman Hunter, Maggie from Highland Park, Illinois, wants to know if you consider yourself a compassionate conservative, like President Bush.

    REP. HUNTER: Answer: yes. And let me take the rest of my time on Iran. You know, right now -- (laughter) -- right now Iran is moving equipment into Iraq that is being used to kill Americans. Iran has crossed the line, and the United States has absolute license at this point to take whatever actions are necessary to stop those deadly instruments from being moved across the line, being used in explosives, roadside bombs, inside Iraq.

    And lastly, you know, we should not get to the edge of the cliff on this enrichment of uranium and plutonium to be used for nuclear weapon in Iran. The United States needs to move very quickly.

    John McCain, who, like the other nine candidates, never mentioned anything about attempting to collect loose nukes around the globe, stated that his "greatest fear is the Iranians acquire a nuclear weapon and give it to a terrorist organization. And there is a real threat of them doing that."

    But McCain added that there "are lots of additional efforts that can be made and must be made before we consider that option. There's lots of things we can do. That is the ultimately final option, and I don't think we need to exercise it at this time."

    Tom Tancredo awkwardly answered a question about aiding Israel in an attack on Iran:

    REP. TANCREDO: I say that, look, when we -- if you look at this issue and stand back for just a second and say there are two kinds of Irans that we are going to have to deal with here, one headed by a gentleman who believes that he is going to be responsible for the coming of the 12th imam, and the guy with a bomb, that should put us in the position of saying that anything we can do to stop that is imperative.

    And if Israel is put in that position, and if we need to be involved in order to protect both ourselves and the Israelis, then of course we respond in the appropriate fashion.

    There were a few scattered mentions of Iran elsewhere in the debate.

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