A Thursday News-Brain Dump

Carla Axtman

I would love to blog every day. Unfortunately, there aren't enough hours in the day to do it and so far, human cloning isn't happening. Hence, all this newsy stuff gets stored in my brain until I make the time to turn them into pixels. So here's today's brain dump:

I've been pretty tough on Congressman Kurt Schrader when he's done stuff I don't like. Therefore it's incumbent upon me to offer him kudos when he does something good. Last week, Schrader shrugged off the pressure from the National Rifle Association and the crazy right wing elements of his district, voting no on the contempt vote against Attorney General Eric Holder. Well done, Congressman.

Two ballot initiatives meant to change the Oregon Constitution to make it more difficult to access abortion services have failed to gather enough signatures. Initiative Petition 22 was a “personhood”amendment for fertilized eggs. It would have outlawed birth control, in vitro fertilization and abortion even in the case of rape and incest. Initiative Petition 25 would have prohibiedt access to medically necessary abortion coverage for low-income women, with no exception for the health of the woman. (Thank you, Oregon. You're awesome)

A couple of days ago, there was a bomb scare at the Oregon Capitol. Apparently, it was a legitimate enough threat to usher the Governor out of the building. But everybody else who works there were told that they had to stay--or if they felt the need to leave, they'd have to use their vacation time. Now I wasn't there and I don't know how legit this threat really was, but it seems to me that if it was a big enough deal to get the Guv out, it's a big enough deal to get everybody out. Seems ridiculous to ask people to stay in the building under those circumstances.

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    Regarding the Holder contempt charge: Let's be really clear about what happened:

    ATF was selling weapons to Mexican Drug Cartels (without the knowledge of the Mexican government) in an attempt to track where the guns were going. A border patrol agent was killed with two of those guns. ATF then appears to have engaged in a coverup about what happened, and at least 1 person at the DoJ denied under sworn testimony to congress that "gunwalking" had occurred. The agency had to retract that claim only after a whistleblower, John Dodson, came forward.

    Issa has cited Holder for contempt because he is refusing to say whom at DoJ knew that "gunwalking" was happening at the time this false testimony was given.

    Although I agree with Congressman Schrader that Issa should also subpoena folks from the Bush DOJ to answer questions about the program, such testimony is not relevent to the question "Did the DoJ knowingly lie to congress when it gave false testimony to on this matter in 2011?"

    Had this happened under the Bush administration, I suspect that you would be among the first in line to demand accountability from the administration.

    What is the reason (other than partisanship) for giving the current administration a free pass on the matter?

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      Sal, I suggest you read the recent Fortune piece based on six months of investigation. To sum up:

      "A Fortune investigation reveals that the ATF never intentionally allowed guns to fall into the hands of Mexican drug cartels. How the world came to believe just the opposite is a tale of rivalry, murder, and political bloodlust."

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        Evan - Basically, the article asserts that there was a lack of oversight and control on the part of the agency, and that the guns never should have gone where they did.

        I find that narrative to very plausible.

        Nevertheless, it does not change the fact that mistakes were made that resulted in a border patrol agent being killed in the line of duty by these guns.

        Surely you are not suggesting that a congressional inquiry into what happened is inappropriate, are you?

        More to the point, do you believe that Congress have the right to know who knew about the program's existence at the time the DoJ gave false testimony to congress?

        Would you have a different opinion if the occupant of the White House was a Republican rather than a Democrat?

        I see this as essentially analogous to what happened in Iran-Contra. I do not believe that Congress was wrong to hold Reagan administration officials in contempt of congress, nor do I believe that it was inappropriate that criminal sanctions were levied against Reagan officials like Elliott Abrams who went to jail for lying to Congress.

        BTW - I think that Issa is a hack. But that doesn't mean that he is not entitled to the answers he is seeking.

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          Mistakes were made that everyone involved says happened, and have made no attempt to cover up.

          The Fortune article that Evan linked to says MUCH more than "there was a lack of oversight and control on the part of the agency, and that the guns never should have gone where they did."

          It says that Issa is deliberately whipping people up by asserting things that are demonstrably false.

          The DOJ has turned over all of the material relevant to Fast & Furious that Issa and Grassley asked for. And when Grassley asserted that the DOJ lied and sent supporting evidence, it turns out that what Grassley sent actually had nothing to do with Fast & Furious, but a completely different case.

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            Again, what Congress is trying to determine is whether or not people in a position of power knew what had actually happened at the time they sent someone to congress who gave false testimony.

            The fact that Darrell Issa is a jerk, or that the NRA hates the ATF, or that the whistleblower was a malcontent, or that right wingers hate Obama, is immaterial to the question of whether or not the agency lied to congress about what was happening.

            This is not like Monica Lewinsky. This is an investigation into an event in which the ATF lost track of thousands of weapons that they had placed in the hands of drug dealers as part of a sting operation, and two of those weapons were used to kill a federal agent.

            In other words, it's exactly the sort of thing that Congress is supposed to investigate. When a member of the administration misleads congress about the nature of the program, it is a pretty big f...ing deal.

            If this involved a Republican administration, my guess is that you and an overwhelming majority of Blue Oregon readers would agree with me.

            Why should the DOJ under President Obama be held to a lower standard than a Republican administration?

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              Wrong, Sal, what Congress is doing is going on a fishing expedition to find anything they can that might hurt the President and to shut down the DOJ's effort to stop voter suppression in Fl and other GOP controlled states. The real issue is political and electoral.

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              What Issa and Grassley are asserting is that the DOJ lied--and the evidence that Grassley submitted as evidence of a lie had nothing to do with the case in question.

              The DOJ/ATF admitted the operation was botched. There's no cover up there. The DOJ has turned over all of the documentation regarding the program, Sal. Holder himself has said that the ATF agents screwed up and that the tactics they were using were misguided, and they should not be used again.

              Two of the weapons were not used to kill the agent. Two, possibly three of the weapons that were part of the operation were FOUND next to the agent's body.

              I'm all for Congressional oversight of the Obama Administration. Hell, I wish they'd investigate the use of drones on US soil. But the idea that somehow this DOJ is being held to a different standard than Bush is laughable.

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                You are obviously holding them to a different standard now that Obama is President. If the Bushies pulled something like this, you would want congress up their asses with a microscope, and so would Bill, and both of you know it.

                Are you seriously going to deny that?

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                  You're not even running on the facts of the case, Sal. Until you can manage that much--I'm having a tough time taking your judgmental attitude with any real seriousness.

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                    Most of the "facts" from the article -- which I reference, btw -- are immaterial to the question of whether or not the DoJ misled Congress.

                    Call it judgmental if you'd like, but I don't think that most political partisans really understand how sick the rest of the country is of the hypocrisy that allows folks to cast a blind eye to bad behavior from their own side that they would not tolerate if the other side did it.

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                      The facts in the piece are ABSOLUTELY material, Sal. Grassley's evidence that Congress was misled isn't even about that case--it was about something entirely different. Plus, that particular case was done by a guy going rogue on his own. There is no evidence that Congress was misled.

                      I get that you like being the "independent" guy or whatever, and that's fine. But frankly, this situation has nothing to do with independence and everything to do with political BS by Issa & Grassley. Even other GOPers have asked them to back off and stop.

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      I remain unconvinced that this is nothing other than a partisan witch-hunt and, as the AG said, an effort to make him the proxy (I'd say 'scapegoat') for Republicans who despise Obama. The difference between this and any such similar action under the Bush administration is that there would have been clearer suggestions of wrongdoing before Democrats flipped … if they'd flipped at all. Pretty darn tame Democrats during the Bush admin.

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    While you are promoting the tea bagger cause, Sal, remember that the Obama administration did not invent executive privilege. The Supreme Court asserted the right of executive privilege under the Warren Court. In recent history the Clinton administration involved Executive Privilege 14 times. The Bush administration invoked it 6 times. This is the first such action by the Obama administration. And as long as the fanatical tea baggers control Congress I hope it is invoked many more times. They are incapable of responsible governance, and in this case incapable of keeping information confidential upon which the lives of agents and informants depend. The whole agenda here, as shown by the Fortune article is political combat, an agenda which you seem to be buying into wholeheartedly.

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    Here's the real motive behind the Eric Holder targeting: http://t.co/zICosVOp

    And here is the sociopathic history of accuser Darrel Issa: http://www.addictinginfo.org/2012/04/16/gop-head-of-oversight-has-criminal-past/

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      Is it truly not possible to believe that one can simultaneously believe that Issa is a schmuck, and a partisan hack, and nevertheless believe that if the DoJ deliberately misled congress, that they should be held accountable?

      How can anyone demand honesty and accountability from "the other side" when they don't demand it from their own?

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        The people promoting this "scandal" are purveyors of lies who are never held accountable for them.

        In most jobs, people like Rush Limbaugh and Bill O'Reilly and Sean Hannity and Lars Larson would quickly be fired for making things up and passing them off as facts. But in right-wing media world they are stars.

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          Look, thousands of guns went into the hands of mexican cartels and a federal agent was killed with two of them. That's a scandal, no need for quotes.

          The fact that right wing talk media is filled with bloviating gasbags who will exploit this doesn't change the fact that it happened, nor that if the DoJ misled congress, then it needs to be held accountable. Period.

          If you can't agree with that basic principal, then how are you any different from the right wingers?

          It's clear that in politics, the truth no longer matters, the only thing that matters is what side you are on. Small wonder that 58 percent of Americans don't feel well represented by either major party.

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            No Sal. The evidence isn't there that says the agent was killed by those weapons. The weapons were found with the agent's body.

            Is that lousy? Absolutely. But the DOJ and ATF have already copped to it.

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            Sal, you're beating a dead horse. This was a Bush era program. Eric Holder inherited it and has been in the process of closing it down. Issa has admitted he has no evidence against either the AG or the WH that they have violated any laws or lied to Congress. But he wants to go on an unlimited fishing expedition and score political points to activate the base and to intimidate Holder from stopping the voter suppression activities of the GOP. Some of the tea bagger crazies are even looking for something to try to impeach the president, apparently thinking (correctly) he's headed for re-election. Only one way to stop that kind of nonsense. Just say No! From your own rant this is apparently your mistaken idea of promoting the Independent Party.

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        It's the old "fool me once, shame on you, fool me over and over, then I'm an idiot" principle.

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        Sal, is Issa's committee citing Holder for contempt of Congress "holding the DoJ accountable"? I'm seeing its effectiveness at grandstanding, not so much at producing the information. I'm not seeing them take it to the Supreme Court, for instance.

        There is a huge accountability problem in the government but it is bi-partisan and systematic. The real problem is the areas where Obama lied to us -- and on this he did, it wasn't just progressives projecting wishful thinking onto his actual centrist platform -- and has joined Bush in pressing the re-establishment of Nixonian imperial presidency doctrines based on spurious war powers and national security claims.

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