Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Pelosi's Next Big Problem

From my "Capital Games" column at www.thenation.com....

Having unsuccessfully supported Representative Jack Murtha for the No. 2 slot in the House of Representatives, Speaker-to-be Nancy Pelosi moves on to her next hard decision: whether to name Representative Alcee Hastings as chairman of the House intelligence committee.

This is tough call for Pelosi. The current senior Democrat on the committee is Representative Jane Harman from California, and Pelosi wants her out. There has long been bad blood between Harman and Pelosi, who preceded Harman as the top Democrat on the panel. Pelosi, according to several Capitol Hill sources, has been upset with Harman's performance on the committee and has faulted Harman for not sufficiently confronting the Republicans and the White House. Next in line for the Democrats on the committee is Hastings. But he, too, poses a problem. In the late 1980s, Hastings, then a federal judge, was impeached by the Democratic-controlled House on bribery and perjury charges and removed from office by the Democratic-led Senate. He was later elected to the House and subsequently joined the intelligence committee.

Can Pelosi pick a fellow impeached and convicted on corruption charges to run a committee handling the most sensitive secrets of the government? But can she bypass Hastings, an African-American, and alienate the Congressional Black Caucus? Should she choose the third-ranking Democrat, Representative Silvestre Reyes of Texas. That would upset the CBC but win plaudits from the Hispanic Caucus. To duck the whole knotty issue, should she simply let Harman have the job for a short spell?

In a closer to perfect world than this one, the answer would be obvious: do none of above and name Representative Rush Holt, a New Jersey Democrat on the committee, to lead the panel. (More on Holt in a moment.) But since the House is far from perfect, this is not likely to happen.

Hastings has come a long way since being impeached by the House Democrats. He is currently the senior Democrat on the intelligence panel's subcommittee on terrorism and homeland security. He also serves ably as a Democratic whip. But now that he is close to taking over the intelligence committee, his past has become an item of renewed controversy. Prior to the congressional elections, conservatives and Republicans started raising the obvious question about Hastings: Should a person kicked off the federal bench for conspiring to receive a $150,000 bribe be placed in charge of the intelligence committee? The attack on Hastings was part of the GOP's campaign to frighten voters into not electing Democrats. (Charlie Rangel will be in charge of the tax-writing committee!) But it was a justifiable query; the Republicans had a point. History is not on the side of Hastings or his present-day supporters.

On August 3, 1988, the House voted to impeach Hastings by a vote of 413 to 4. The floor manager of the impeachment resolution was Representative John Conyers, a CBC stalwart to this day, who declared that there was "damning evidence" that Hastings had plotted with another lawyer to obtain a payoff in exchange for reducing the sentences of an undercover FBI agent posing as a convicted racketeer. Five years earlier, Hastings, appointed to the bench by President Jimmy Carter, had been acquitted of these charges by a Miami jury. But Conyers maintained that Hastings had lied at his trial. (A post-trial investigation conducted for the U.S. Court of Appeals had concluded that Hastings had sought the bribe and then faked evidence and testified falsely.)

During the impeachment, Conyers declared, "I looked for any scintilla of racism. I could not find any." He noted that "race should never insulate a person from the consequences of unlawful conduct." No House members defended Hastings during the impeachment proceedings. When the Senate tried Hastings in October 1989, Conyers, who was part of the House prosecution team, told the senators, "We argue that he must be removed from office so that he does not teach others that justice may be sold." The Senate voted 69 to 26 to oust Hastings from office. He became the sixth judge in U.S. history to be removed from the bench by the Senate. In an act of revenge, retribution, or redemption, Hastings three years later ran for a House seat and won.

Hastings has been scandal-free since he entered Congress. House Democratic staffers praise his leadership of the terrorism and homeland security subcommittee. "He's been a hardworking member of the committee," one Democratic aide notes. "For years, no one has raised any issues about him being on the committee." Still, how can Pelosi name to a sensitive position a man once denounced by his fellow Democrats as corrupt? Were he to become chairman, all his actions and statements would be tainted by his past. As the newly empowered Democrats challenge President Bush on such matters as the Iraq war and the so-called war on terrorism, the chairmen of the House and Senate intelligence committees will assume lead roles in the various debates. (Senator Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia is slated to become head of the Senate intelligence committee.) Hastings' past will hobble him as a spokesman for the Democrats on national security.

Under House rules, seniority--which usually dictates which legislator becomes chair of a committee--does not apply to the intelligence committee. Pelosi is not obligated to hand the gavel to Hastings should she bounce Harman from the top Democratic spot on the committee. But Pelosi, according to several senior House Democratic staffers, has already promised Hastings the position. And the Congressional Black Caucus has indicated it would be quite displeased if Pelosi shoved him aside. The CBC was angry at Pelosi last June for forcing Representative William Jefferson, who's under investigation for accepting bribes, to quit the powerful Ways and Means Committee.

Pelosi has not named Hastings yet. Some Hill Democrats have floated the option of giving the job to Reyes. Such talk is partly motivated by racial considerations: trade a Hispanic for a black, and it's a wash. Meanwhile, Harman, according to a senior Democratic consultant, has made an offer to Pelosi: let me remain the top Democrat on the panel, and I'll only chair the committee for two years. Granting Harman this wish would relieve Pelosi--at least, temporarily--of making a decision about Hastings. But House Democratic staffers say that Pelosi's antipathy for Harman is so pronounced that no one expects her to take this easy way out. "Other members, too, are not enamored of Harman," says an aide to a Democrat on the intelligence committee. "She has not been nearly aggressive enough in pushing back on the Republicans--though she has improved a bit on this in recent months."

Which brings us to Rush Holt. He is a former Princeton University physicist and past intelligence analyst at the State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research. He specialized in nuclear matters. He knows much about the intelligence bureaucracy and about weapons proliferation and loose nukes, critical national security priorities. First elected in 1998, Holt has not been shy about confronting the administration and the intelligence agencies. He voted against granting George W. Bush the authority to invade Iraq. He has challenged the administration's policies on the detention and questioning of suspected terrorists, arguing the White House has not been mindful enough of civil liberties. He also was one of the few Democrats to charge on to the House floor to oppose the Republicans when they sought to intervene in the Terri Schiavo affair. The Courier News of Bridgewater, New Jersey, endorsed Holt's reelection this year and noted, "Holt offers the kind of intelligence, reasonable and decisive voice that has been all too lacking inside the Beltway during the partisan wars of recent years. But Holt's value in Congress goes beyond that; he has developed a reputation as a thinking man's congressman, a scientist by trade who provides more thoughtful analysis on issues than most lawmakers." Holt calls for beginning a gradual withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq. He has warned the administration not to hype the intelligence on Iran's nuclear weapon program, noting the "intelligence on Iran is poor, contradictory, or both."

Tapping Holt, the seventh-ranking of the committee's nine Democrats, would be an unconventional move. The CBC would be agitated--even though its members are already claiming three major chairmanships: Conyers at the judiciary committee, Rangel at the tax-writing committee, and Representative Bennie Thompson at the homeland security committee. The Hispanic caucus could be peeved, too. Other House Democrats might be uneasy about such a sharp slap at the seniority principle (though younger members would be heartened). But this would be a chance for Pelosi to send a signal: the Democrats do regard national security seriously and are willing to put aside political concerns to do the right thing. She would be saying, merit matters most when it comes to protecting the United States. Yet if she sticks with Hastings, she is going to have to defend the quasi-indefensible. It will appear--rightly or wrongly--that she cannot shake free of racial politics and institutional imperatives. She ought to instead adopt a radical stance and give this most important job to the most qualified person.

TIME-OUT FOR TURKEY. I'm taking a few days off from blogging to eat and sleep--that is, if the little ones allow the latter. I'll only blog if I encounter an uncontrollable urge (and my wife doesn't break my fingers). Otherwise, I'll return to the field of honor in a few days. Meanwhile, be truly thankful this week. Let's remember that for all the problems griped about here and elsewhere in the blogosphere, we're fortunate enough to be able to gripe about them among a virtual crowd of friends and strangers.

Posted by David Corn at November 21, 2006 04:23 PM


David B. Benson said...

I hope she does the honorable thing and appoints Representative Holt.

Too many lawyers on the hill as it is...

O'Reilly said...

"Tapping Holt... would be a chance for Pelosi to send a signal: the Democrats do regard national security seriously and are willing to put aside political concerns to do the right thing. She would be saying, merit matters most when it comes to protecting the United States.

Holt is sharp as a tack.

He is Pelosi's way out of a choice between a Harmen and Hastings, both of whom have history which clearly makes them poor choices.

Pelosi had better have acceptable deals for the losers and thier caucus'

I wonder if the idea came up around the watercooler at The Nation or whether Mr David Corn hatched this one on his own.

O'Reilly said...

When I scroll down to get the comments button, I still see that awful "photo" of Billary. Can't wait for David's next post. Ha ha.

O'Reilly said...

UCLA Taser man

It appears that our happy go lucky UCLA taser man has a history.

The UCLA police officer videotaped last week using a Taser gun on a student also shot a homeless man at a campus study hall room three years ago and was earlier recommended for dismissal in connection with an alleged assault on fraternity row, authorities said…. In May 1990, he was accused of using his nightstick to choke someone who was hanging out on a Saturday in front of a UCLA fraternity.

UCLA also has a policy that okays the use of tasers against passive demonstrators. Silence at Dkos has more.


O'Reilly said...

Several Democratic lawmakers asked the Bush administration on Monday to replace its new family-planning chief because he has worked for a health provider that opposes the use of birth control. [...]

"We are concerned that Dr. Keroack has promoted policies — including the refusal to distribute contraception even to married women — that directly conflict with the mission of the federal program," the letter said. MORE

O'Reilly said...

Pelosi Announces Democratic Forum on Iraq

Speaker-designate Nancy Pelosi announced today that House Democrats will hold a forum to discuss the war in Iraq on Tuesday, Dec. 5. Dr. Zbigniew Brzezinski, Ambassador Richard Holbrooke, and Maj. Gen. John Batiste will join current and new members of the Democratic Caucus in discussing options for a way forward in Iraq. http://www.newsunfiltered.com/archives/2006/11/pelosi_announce_2.html

O'Reilly said...


capt said...

The danger of a 'dignified' exit from Iraq

Things are always complicated. In the Washington Post, for instance, James Mann, author of Rise of the Vulcans, recently suggested that it was far "too simplistic" to claim "the appointment of Robert M Gates to replace Donald Rumsfeld [represents] the triumph of Bush the father's administration over Bush the son's".

Still, I prefer the analysis of Washington Post reporter (and author of Fiasco) Thomas Ricks. When asked by the Post's media columnist Howard Kurtz whether a Newsweek headline, "Father knows best", was just "an easy, cheap Oedipal way for the press to characterize what's going on", Ricks replied: "Well, just because it's easy and cheap doesn't mean it's wrong."

At a moment when every version of the dramatic arrival of James A Baker III as co-head of the Iraq Study Group (ISG) and Robert Gates as US defense secretary on the scene - and the scuttling of Rumsfeld's Titanic - is at least suspect, it's still worth considering the bare bones of what can be seen and known - and then asking what we have.


*****end of clip*****

Tom (http://www.tomdispatch.com/) is always interesting.


Gerald said...

This issue will not leave us

O'Reilly said...

“Wisdom and love have nothing to do with each other. Wisdom is staying alive, survival. You’re wise if you don’t stick your finger in the light plug. Love — you’ll stick your finger in anything.” -Robert Altman

Gerald said...

Advocating war is easier when you and your family are not endangered by it. I've reached a Rangel-like breaking point with my TV pundit colleagues who championed the Iraq war and now say we can't leave even if we went there for the wrong reasons. For every one of them, I have a simple question: Why aren't you in Iraq? Or why did you avoid combat in your generation's war? The one unifying characteristic that all of us men in make-up on political chat shows share is fear of combat. Every one of us has done everything we can to avoid combat or even being fitted for a military uniform. Just like George Bush, Bill Clinton, and Dick Cheney, we are all combat cowards. It takes a very special kind of combat coward to advocate combat for others. It's the kind of thing that can get you as angry as Charlie Rangel.

Gerald said...

Get out of Iraq Now!!!

Gerald said...

The Idiot Emperor

Gerald said...

Since Bush failed, the media which surrounds him should have done the job and pointed it out to us. Particularly since he failed. They were skeptical of him. They raised their eyebrows. Some even said quagmire. But they didn't attack the myths, the lies and the ignorance.

There are real threats in the world. But they need real solutions. Our guide to real solutions, is real history. Otherwise, we are led by panic and fear into stupidity.

Gerald said...

Our military men and women will never leave Iraq

Gerald said...

A Message from the Grave

O'Reilly said...

Bush Pardons Turkey (pic)

Gerald said...

My message is this: you have allowed the military to deteriorate with some very badly chosen decisions, and you will have to rebuild it. Life is unfair. You made your mistakes. Now fix them.

But: always remember that our great weapon is not the power of our shock and awe bombing, or our preemptive wars. It is the great truth of the power of our ideas. We must always be militarily strong, but the force of our ideas is always more powerful than the reckless use of force.

Remember: sometimes it takes more courage to champion the cause of peace than to bang the drums of war, and always America is strongest when we align ourselves with the highest aspirations of those who's hearts and minds should be joined with ours.

For the last six years, for the first time since 1948, the United States of America has been totally absent from leadership in the search for Middle East peace. Totally absent from the courage and vision to dare to offer a generation of young people throughout the Middle East a true hope for a better life. Those who have taken such reckless risks for war, have not even initiated the smallest steps for peace.

This is unprecedented. This is wrong. We must never surrender diplomacy to those who wish us ill. We must never surrender the streets to the suicide bombers and those who pray on anguish, humiliation and poverty. We must always offer a better way and take the same risks for peace, we take for war.

Remember: we negotiated with our enemies from strength, and offered the world the hope of a nuclear test ban treaty and the freedom from fear of nuclear extermination. We built the Alliance for Progress to promote opportunity throughout our hemisphere. We championed the Peace Corps to create goodwill and hope throughout our world. We worked through the problems of the United Nations and made it work for our country, and our values.

We created the NATO alliance for security. We valued the Nuremberg rules and the Geneva Convention. We trusted the Organization of American States. We understood that international institutions and international agreements serve our interests and form a major bedrock of global security.

Gerald said...

The Idiot Will Nuke Iran

Remember Nazi America is the only nation to use nuclear weapons; not Iran or any other nation has used nuclear weapons against another nation. Nazi America is evil, vile, wicked, and demonic in her deeds.

Saladin said...

Is harman competing with pelosi for AIPAC attention? What a choice to make, just like the choices we are usually presented with when choosing the "lesser of the evils!"
DEN, the only thing in life I am even remotely negative about is politics. How can I say anything positive about these lying crooks if I see nothing positive? The only thing they have accomplished is to divide this country while they rape and pillage, both sides have done and will continue to do it until the people rise up and make them stop. I will wait and see if we are a "lot" better off now than before, but I won't be holding my breath. We peasants need more than a few crumbs this time.

Gerald said...

Hitler Bush Is Victorious

Gerald said...

The Democrats are in for a dog fight

Gerald said...

Amen, Brother!

O'Reilly said...

Hit list

Major political attacks in Lebanon during the last two years:

· February 14 2005 Former prime minister Rafik Hariri, killed in a bombing.

· June 2 2005 Anti-Syrian journalist Samir Kassir, killed by a car bomb.

· June 21 2005 Anti-Syrian politician George Hawi, killed by a car bomb.

· July 12 2005 Deputy prime minister and defence minister Elias Murr, survives car bombing in Beirut.

· September 25 2005 Prominent television anchorwoman May Chidiac of the leading anti-Syrian TV station LBC, loses an arm and a leg from a car bomb.

· December 12 2005 Prominent anti-Syrian newspaper editor and parliamentarian Gibran Tueni killed by a car bomb.

· November 21 2006 Prominent Christian politician Pierre Gemayel, shot dead by gunmen in a Beirut suburb.

Saladin said...

Democrats seek accommodation with Bush administration to continue Iraq occupation
Joe Kay, WSWS

20 November 2006

Over the weekend, leading Democrats pledged their eagerness to work closely with the Bush administration in forging a bipartisan policy to continue the occupation of Iraq, and voiced their support for a substantial increase in the military budget and the recruitment of more Army troops.

The remarks come amidst an intense debate within ruling circles over how to salvage the Iraq occupation and preserve the interests of American imperialism in the Middle East. While several different options are being considered, the possibility of an immediate withdrawal of some or all troops—the position supported by the vast majority of those who voted for Democratic candidates in the elections held less than two weeks ago—has been removed from the table.

Last week, Reid said that one of his top priorities in the Senate will be to provide an additional $75 billion in funding for the military, particularly to rebuild the Army and the Marine Corps, severely depleted by the losses of both manpower and equipment in Iraq and Afghanistan. The invasion and occupation of Iraq has already cost an estimated $350 billion.

The Democrats are clearly pushing the question of troop withdrawal into the distant future, while the immediate task is "stabilization"—that is, a new bloodbath against organizations hostile to the American presence in Iraq. The US military has long been planning major operations against Shiite militias in Baghdad, particularly that controlled by Moqtada al-Sadr.

Democratic Senator Carl Levin, the incoming chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, spoke out against an increase in troop strength during an interview on CNN’s "Late Edition" on Sunday. However, Levin also made clear that his position—that the US should announce it will begin withdrawing US forces from Iraq in four to six months—is not a call for an end to the occupation.

Levin stressed that he was not advocating a specific timetable for the removing "all or even most of our troops" and said that a substantial US military presence would continue indefinitely. "We do not have a complete withdrawal" in any of our proposals, he said. Levin’s hope is that threatening the Iraqi government with a partial withdrawal will serve to pressure the different factions of the ruling strata in Iraq to reach some accommodation with each other.
This is only part of the article.
More and more money for the Military Industrial Complex, can someone PLEASE point out what the fuck is so positive about these left-wing war mongering liars? They are just as beholden to that monster as bushco ever was.

O'Reilly said...

Iraq Fiasco: If I did it, here's how it happened PIC

O'Reilly said...

“There are a few crazies who want to cheer the flag and this yappy little terrier as though he were a real president. Well, he’s not a real president. He’s a thing, a chimera who was put together by the Supreme Court, first time around, and reelected by Diebold ... .”

- Gore Vidal

Saladin said...

Vidal, one of my heroes!

O'Reilly said...

Plea Deal for 'Wobbly Felony' Conviction, 3-Years Probation, May be Reduced to Misdemeanor after One Year of Good Behavior

In an exclusive statement sent to The BRAD BLOG earlier today excoriating the privatization of America's voting system, whistleblower Stephen Heller says, "Diebold has shown they cannot be trusted to run elections in America."

He oughta know.

As we reported last night, Heller pled guilty yesterday in an agreement with Los Angeles prosecutors, after his arrest earlier this year on felony charges related to his release of attorney-client privileged documents he obtained while working as a temporary word-processor at Diebold's law firm, Jones Day.

The agreement, which required him to sign an apology, pay $10,000 in restitution, and not discuss the documents he released, may also allow Heller's felony conviction to be reduced to a misdemeanor charge after one year of "good behavior."


capt said...

New thread.

O'Reilly said...

China sentences Web porn king to life in prison

BEIJING (Reuters) - A Chinese court sentenced the founder of the country's largest pornography Web site to life imprisonment on Wednesday and jailed another eight of the site's organizers, state media reported.

The Taiyuan Intermediate People's Court handed down the sentence to Chen Hui, 28, and ordered the confiscation of 100,000 yuan ($12,500), Xinhua news agency said. The other eight were jailed for terms ranging from 13 months to 10 years.

Chen founded "Pornographic Summer" in 2004 and went on to start three more pornography Web sites, making money by charging registration fees of $25 to $33 to some of the 600,000 members they attracted.

Life imprisonment.

Remember when our bill of rights was upheld by almost every court in the land?