Archive for the ‘Alabama’s Congressmen’ category

O.K., So No-One’s Perfect

May 24, 2007

Just after lionizing Artur Davis, I read this:

Do they [four of Alabama’s Republican congressional representatives] think its OK to charge “unconscionable” prices for gas?  We have all seen it happen in a crisis of some sort.  It happened after Katrina, even up to north Alabama.  Gas prices went through the roof overnight.

The Federal Price Gouging Protection Act passed the House of Representatives on a vote of 284 to 141.  The bill bans sellers from charging prices that are “unconscionably excessive,” or take “unfair advantage” of consumers. 

The bill would give the FTC “the explicit authority to investigate and punish those who artificially inflate the price of energy,” and require offenders to pay triple damages or up to $3 million for charging “unconscionable prices.”Some Republicans said the bill sets vague definitions of what price would qualify as “unconscionable” and would be tough to enforce. . . .

Democrats Bud Cramer and Artur Davis voted for the bill as did Republican Robert Aderholt.

Sigh. No doubt this law is extremely vague, and therefore invites arbitrary enforcement. But in addition, as this article explained when Alabama AG Troy King declared war on price gougers after Katrina (the results being one of his greatest hits; his ignorance extends to economics, too), price gouging laws are counter-productive and even immoral.

They do make for good stump speeches, though.

Artur Davis Rocks

May 24, 2007

He did an outstanding job questioning Monica Goodling yesterday, getting her to admit that her old boss- AG Alberto Gonzalez – lied to congress and tried to influence her testimony.

Here’s my transcript of the testimony (from here, and here), which picks up with Goodling describing a meeting with AbuGonz in which she was offering her resignation:

GOODLING: I had decided that I couldn’t continue working on his staff because of the circumstances. I felt that I was somewhat paralyzed. I just felt like I — I was distraught. And I felt that I wanted to make a transfer. So I went back to ask him if it would be possible for me to transfer out of his office. He said that he would need to think about that. And I think he was, you know, trying to, you know, just trying to chat. I was on his staff. But he then proceeded to say, “Let me tell you what I can remember.” And he kind of — he laid out for me his general recollection of…

DAVIS: Recollection of what, Ms. Goodling?

GOODLING: Of some of the process.

DAVIS: Some of the process regarding what?

GOODLING: Some of the process regarding the replacement of the U.S. attorneys. And he — he just — he laid out a little bit of it, and then he asked me if he thought — if I had any reaction to his iteration.

DAVIS: Do you think, Ms. Goodling, the attorney general was trying to shape your recollection?

GOODLING: No, I think we was just asking if I . . .

DAVIS: But it made you uncomfortable?

GOODLING: [Long pause] I just did not know if it was a conversation we should be having, and so I just just didn’t say anything.

DAVIS: [Quoting AbuGonz’s prior congressional testimony that] “I [AbuGonz] have not gone back and spoken to others in the department in order to protect the integrity of this investigation.”

DAVIS: Is that testimony sworn under oath by [AG AbuGonz] fully accurate?

GOODLING: [Long pause] I don’t know what period he’s referencing.

DAVIS: Did you know you might be a fact witness at that point Ms. Goodling?

GOODLING: Yes.

DAVIS: Had there been substantial news coverage, Ms. Goodling, about the eventuality of you being a fact witness?

GOODLING: Yes.

DAVIS: Do you believe the AG knew you were going to to be a fact witness?

GOODLING: I think he knew it was likely at that point.

Ooooh, snap!

AbuGonz had testified before Congress that once the firings became an issue, he did not talk about them with other members of the office, so that, in his own words, he could “protect the integrity of this investigation.”

Keeping witnesses separated from each other is, of course, a major key to getting truthful testimony. It ensures that everyone speaks from their own recollection, rather than tailoring the statements so as to agree with each other. That’s why cops immediately separate thugs after they arrest them, and why the only witness allowed in a courtroom during a trial is the one who is testifying.

Davis was sceptical that AbuGonz had kept his mouth shut about the investigation, suspecting he had, in fact, discussed a story with other witnesses. When Goodling took the stand, a less adept interrogator would have immediately asserted his scepticism and started asking Goodling whether AbuGonz’s statement was true, giving her all kinds of room to hem and haw and duck and dodge. Davis, though, kept the statement in his pocket until he had absolutely committed Goodling to the fact of the conversation, even getting her to admit that she felt like the conversation was improper. Then, BAM, there it was: “Your boss is a liar and unless you want to recant everything you just said, you have to agree.”

The pause after that punch was Goodling trying to catch her breath as she realized she had just been forced to admit her ex-boss perjured himself. Sure, she tried to help him by saying he might have been talking about a different time period, but AbuGonz spoke in absolutes, he didn’t mention a time period. And then Davis put her down for the count with some quick jabs establishing that, yeah, when AbuGonz spoke to her, he knew she was going to testify.

If you’re not already impressed, imagine how Alabama’s representative on the Senate Judiciary Committee would have questioned Goodling and you’ll realize how truly stupendously Davis just cross examined her.

UPDATE: I’m not the only one impressed with Artur Davis. Orin Kerr writes on the Volokh Conspiracy:

Based on the parts I’ve seen, the best questioner in the Monica Goodling procedings so far has been Artur Davis, a former AUSA. He’s good. One other comitttee member gave up her time to Davis, which is a smart move.

Then there’s this play-by-play:

3:12: Rep. Artur Davis asks Goodling specific questions about whether she believes various statements by Attorney General Alberto Gonzales about the firings were incorrect. He gets her to admit, multiple times, that the Attorney General’s statements were inaccurate. Sometimes the simplest questions are best.

3:14: Oooh, Rep. Davis is definitely making inroads. John Dowd objects and asks to see the AG testimony being referenced. Rep. Davis slaps Dowd: “As I recall, you are not a participant in these proceedings.”

Rep. Lungren (R-CA), clearly disturbed by the points that Davis is scoring, protests through a point of order. The Chair — Sheila Jackson Lee, filling in for John Conyers — overrules the point of order.

3:15: Rep. Lungren appeals the ruling of the chair. He is smacked down. . . .

3:25: Goodling is testifying about the circumstances of her departure from the DOJ. This could get very interesting…

3:28: Goodling testifies about a conversation she had with Attorney General Gonzales, concerning their recollections about U.S. Attorneygate, that may have been “inappropriate.” She wasn’t sure that “this was a conversation we should be having.”

3:29: She has been poised and calm throughout the day. But is Monica Goodling, worn down by hours of testifying, starting to crack? Is her voice trembling? Is she about to sell the AG down the river?

3:32: All the Dems keep yielding their time to Davis. ‘Cause they know this guy is GOOD — professional, precise, prepared. And he’s scoring some serious points in his questioning of La Goodling.

3:38: Congressman Artur Davis will be played by Terrence Howard in the made-for-TV movie about the U.S. Attorney firings scandal.

And what about Monica Goodling? Mira Sorvino might be too old; but Kate Bosworth might be too young.

3:43: Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN), a freshman legislator, should have ceded his time to Davis. But now he’s trying to act all tough and macho, getting snippy with the witness, so he can look as “cool” as Davis. Give it up, Keith; you are no Artur Davis.

Would You Want Mike Nifong Running The US Dept. Of Justice?

April 20, 2007

After the AbuGonz hearing yesterday, I think it is obvious – if it was not already– that he has treated DOJ as nothing but a tool for the advancement of his own party. Even Jeff Sessions has jumped ship:

Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL), a member of the Judiciary Committee that questioned Attorney General Alberto Gonzales today, calls the hearing “a sad day” that should lead to Gonzales meeting with President Bush to consider the possibility of stepping down from the helm of the Justice Department.

“He had problems explaining how this happened,” Sessions told Robert Siegel about the day-long hearing. “He did some good things, and some were troubling.”

Sessions, a former U.S. attorney, also agreed with the idea that the scandal has damaged the standing of the Justice Department.

Of course politics will always play a role in prosecutions, but – as the Duke rape case showed us all – that is a BAD thing. It’s something that responsible, professional, reasonable, ethical people try to contain. AbuGonz, on the other hand, embraced it and increased it.

And of course the US Attorneys are basically at will employees, but that the reason for the firing might have been legal does not mean the reason for the firing was good. Sure it would be legal, but does anyone seriously want to argue that it is anything other than really bad policy to fire a US Attorney because that US Attorney refused to act like Mike Nifong?

Yesterday, Roy Moore, Today, Lee P.

April 19, 2007

Both are people with whom I rarely find myself in agreement.  Yesterday I gave props to everyone’s favorite theocrat, today’s it’s a tip of the hat to good ‘ol Lee.

I’m with him almost all the way here:

Did you know that Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions is short and hangs out with “no lipped white boys?” That observation was made last year by liberal blogger Wonkette, and one Alabama Democratic Party blogger (echoing Trent at SackSessions.com) now cites it as evidence that Sessions is “not held in high regard” as a Senator.

The reason I’m bringing this up and wasting precious Blogger-bytes by linking to the ADP web site is this:

This particular ADP blogger seems to view a person’s physical characteristics (including those that are directly linked to his race) as valid and appropriate considerations in judging his fitness to serve in Congress. While that line of thought runs deeply through the long history of the Alabama Democratic Party, I had been under the impression that today’s crop of Democrats were a bit more progressive. Apparently, I was mistaken.

I – unlike Lee – care little for Beauregard, considering him an idiot. But even I cringed when I read that post about Sessions.

First, Lee is correct that this is petty, juvenile, and completely useless. Poking fun at someone because of their physical attributes is just wrong. Sessions is a tool, but he did not have any say in how short or tall he was going to be. And it goes without saying that his height has nothing to do with whether or not he’s a good senator.

Of course, it’s perfectly o.k. to make fun of Sessions for his views, ideas, and beliefs. He chose those, and has no qualms about putting them into the public square. So if you want to say Sessions is a moron because he thinks Saddam’s belief that he won the Gulf War justified the Iraq invasion, fine. But let’s not make fun of him because he’s short.

Second, as a blogger with whom I often agree points out, this is bad political strategy:

Now the anti-Sessions/pro-any-Dem crowd have taken to mocking Sessions’ physical attributes and making racially stereotypical comments (kudos to Lee).

I was meeting a friend for a quick bite when I spied the diminutive Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Munchkinland) dining with a group of no lipped whiteboys that looked to include his press guy and other staffers and/or lobbyists.

In our double standard society that is perfectly acceptable.  Yes, it was a regurgitation of a Wonkette piece (for those of you who don’t know, Wonkette is a sharp, crude political blog), but it was obviously not posted with any recriminations for it’s content.  Just imagine if the politician in question had been a black man and the person said something offensive like, “with a group of fat lipped black boys.”  There would be hell to pay and we all know which two “reverends” would be on the airwaves.

But such is the nature of political parties.  People check their own minds at the door when they join up.

Stuff like the short-Sessions post, while they get a chuckle from those of us who have already decided that Sessions is a goob, are going to make the undecided voters think the anti-Sessions crowd is a bunch of hypocritical partisan nutcases. That won’t serve our purpose. There is a rational case for Sacking Sessions. So let’s make it and leave the name-calling behind.

Disney World More Dangerous Than Iraq

April 6, 2007

In the world of Spencer “allowing gay marriage would be worse than losing Iraq” Bachus, anyway:

Same-sex couples who want to exchange vows in front of Cinderella’s Castle now have the chance.

The Walt Disney Co. had limited its Fairy Tale Wedding program to couples with valid marriage licenses, but it is now making ceremonies at its parks available to gay couples as well.

“We believe this change is consistent with Disney’s long-standing policy of welcoming every guest in an inclusive environment,” Disney Parks and Resorts spokesman Donn Walker said Friday. “We want everyone who comes to celebrate a special occasion at Disney to feel welcome and respected.”

What dastardly villains! Making people feel loved and respected! That’s outrageous.

Oh, and I guess that Southern Baptist boycott really got Disney’s attention, huh?

Spencer Bachus Is A Complete Moron

April 4, 2007

My congressional representative, speaking yesterday in Shelby County

Bachus also condemned homosexual marriage as the worst threat to the nation. “We could lose Iraq and survive; we lost Vietnam and survived, but if we lose this battle over gay marriage, we are doomed,” he said.

Hey Spency, how about you get your head out of your a** and join the real world? My God, if we’re doomed, it’s because our country is run by people who believe this kind of ridiculously stupid crap. That statement is patently idiotic, and the lunacy is only highlighted when considered in light of what people who have actually studied the issue have to say:

Seventeen years after recognizing same-sex relationships in Scandinavia there are higher marriage rates for heterosexuals, lower divorce rates, lower rates for out-of-wedlock births, lower STD rates, more stable and durable gay relationships, more monogamy among gay couples, and so far no slippery slope to polygamy, incestuous marriages, or “man-on-dog” unions.

Geez. After the last election, there was a lot of questioning about how the Republican party managed to lose their majorities in congress. I can not speak for anyone else, but the big reason I did not vote Republican, and do not see myself voting Republican any time in the near future, is absurd statements like this beauty from Bachus.

Iraq? Whatever. Never should have gone over there, but now that we’ve screwed up the country, maybe we ought to remain long enough to put it back together. But I really don’t have strong ideas one way or the other.

No, it’s what Digby recently called the “Faith Based Straight Jacket” that really bothers me. These are the canonical conservative ideas; ideas that are true no matter what the facts, reason, or the law might say. Here’s how they made me vote in the last election. In this case, Bachus attacks the gays. But whether it’s a belief that gay people are going to destroy American, or that there is no such thing as global warming (not that it is too expensive to fix it, or that we can’t fix it, but that it does not exist), or that there were WMD’s in Iraq, or that activist judges are trying to make America a communist Gomorah, or that intelligent design is science, I could never vote for a person who is willing to assert as an undeniable truth of the highest importance a proposition that has no support in either abstract logic or empirical observations. 

In other words, if you as an individual think gay marriage is going to cause the country to collapse, that’s fine. But don’t try to make your personal belief the basis of public policy unless you can point to some reason OUTSIDE YOUR OWN HEAD that supports your position.

Bachus’ statement is nothing but demagoguery; an appeal made purely to the basest kinds of emotions. And if the Republican party ever wants to succeed again, they’d do well to replace their emotional appeals to ignorance with solid reasoning about legitimate problems.    

Alabama’s Congressmen And Iraq

March 22, 2007

Bud Cramer wants to impose a deadline for defeat.

And Robert Aderholt is a troop-killer.

Peas in a pod, really. The bloggers, not our Representatives.