Rockets' Red Glare

This week’s Heads in Review is a bit briefer than usual because… well, it’s a beautiful day.  The subjects of the day were Hamdan v. Rumsfeld and the Administration-endorsed charges of treason against the New York Times. The panels were loaded with Republicans and Republicans-posing-as-journalists, and I didn’t want to spend too much time transcribing G.O.P. talking points.

Meet the Press Tim Russert took a much undeserved vacation to frolic with Chris Matthews on Martha’s Vineyard. Andrea Mitchell ably filled the vacancy that is Tim.

Mitchell hosted Sens. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Mitch McConnell (R-KY).  McConnell was fast out of the gate, crying that the Hamdan ruling exposed American soldiers to the threat of being charged with war crimes. (The thought of the Administration being charged with such crimes never crossed his mind, honest. I mean, why would it?) 

Schumer said the Hamdan decision stopped a presidential power grab but, never fear, as the Congress will give Bush all the authority he needs.

Mitchell ran a clip of the Miserable Failure stating that the New York Times’ disclosure of Bush’s bank spying program was disgraceful. Schumer thought the leaks from the Administration should be investigated; however, Bush was overstating the case because the information in the Times report was broad public knowledge. McConnell seconded Bush’s condemnnation and called the leaks "abominable." Schumer also pointed out the Administration’s double standard in failing to hold responsible those involved in the Plame leaks.

Mitchell quoted McConnell’s 2003 assertions that reconstruction in Iraq would be a breeze compared to Afghanistan, and that Iraq had the potential to be the "jewel of the Middle East."  McConnell acknowledged his overenthusiasm, but claimed we are fighting "them" in Bagdhad so we don’t have to fight them in America.

Mitchell also raised Schumer Ned Lamont’s challenge to Holy Joe Lieberman, and asked Schumer if he would support the Democratic nominee in Connecticut no matter what.  Schumer dodged the question, repeatedly asserting he expected Holy Joe to win the primary. Unsurprisingly, Mitch the Bitch threw his endorsement to Lieberman, contrasting Joe’s support of Bush with the purported cut-’n'-run position of the Democratic Party. (That should make a good campaign commercial  … for Lamont.)

In the usual MTP fair and balanced roundtable, three rightwingers (Bill Bennett, Bill Safliar and John Harwood of the Wall Street Journal) met with one reporter (Dana Priest).  Bennett, the Hindenburg of the sabbath gasbags, lied that NYT banking story had undermined the war on terror.  Bill Safliar supported his employer, comparing the insane Peter King (R-NY) to the insane King George III. Harwood mentioned Bush’s September 24, 2001 Rose Garden speech when he disclosed his plan to obtain international banking records to track terrorists.

The highlight of roundtable (which can be seen here, at Eschaton) involved Dana Priest’s response to Bennett’s assertion that she and the New York Times reporters should be jailed for publishing classified information.  Priest stated that publishing classified information is legal, except in certain narrow circumstances. Deflating the gasbag with a single prick, Priest added that some people wanted to make casino gambling illegal, but that doesn’t make it illegal.

Bennett tried to justify his position by stating that opinion polls supported Bush (as vs. the media), perhaps forgetting his oft-displayed disdain for opinion polls when Bill Clinton was President. Bennett advocated subpoenaing reporters and imprisoning them for refusing to disclose their sources, but then complained about the prosecution of the AIPAC operatives who provided classified information to Israel.

Fox News Sunday had three Bill Bennetts for the price of one. The ostensible moderator, Chris Wallace, was the worst offender, asking such nuanced questions as "what kind of trial do these terrorists deserve?" "are al-Qaeda terrorists entitled to rights in our justice system?" and "is [Rep. Nancy] Pelosi right, are terrorists entitled to the full guarantees of our justice system?" At no point did anyone propose that the accusation of terrorist connections doesn’t establish that the accused is, in fact, a terrorist. (According to Wallace logic, anyone not wearing a military uniform is a terrorist because al-Qaeda doesn’t have uniforms.)

On the Hamdan decision, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) claimed that he had previously urged the Bush Administration to get Congress’s rubber stamp for his (Bush’s) extralegal programs, so they would withstand Constitutional scrutiny. Sen. Jack Reed (D-NV) raised the quaint suggestion that America should respect the rule of law so that we could insist upon application of the rule of law to protect our troops. Reed also suggested the holding in Hamdan would apply to all of Bush’s extralegal activities, including illegal phone taps and secret prisons.

In the Fox News All-Schmuck panel, Brit Hume’s sour puss puckered at the thought that the Geneva Convention requirement of humane treatment would apply to anyone Bush labelled a terrorist. Hume also asserted, in light of the Hamdan decision, that "any reasonable person" would be disturbed about what the Supreme Court might do next. The Ass Kristol launched a sneering attack on Justice John Paul Stevens, urging the Republican moderate to retire as "a liberal hero" and suggesting Stevens should find alternative employment as counsel for the New York Times. (Kristol also suggested Stevens should be replaced a female justice, a conviction which will be forgotten long before the next Supreme Court vacancy.)

Hume pointed out the importance of the Senate Democrats’ rejection of the radical fanatic Robert Bork; had Bork been on the Court instead of Justice Kennedy, Bush’s illegal powergrabs would have been declared the law of the land.

On This Week With George Stephanopolous, "Maverick" John McCain (R-AZ) again revealed himself as Bush-lite. Hamdan allows us to go forward, and Congress can give Bush what he wants. McCain interpreted Hamdan narrowly, stating that its holding couldn’t be applied to Bush’s domestic spying programs. He also said that the NYT shouldn’t have disclosed the bank records progams, but we should go after the leakers first.

McCain is sure a compromise can be reached with the House Republicans on immigration. He opposes the Democrats’ minimum wage legislation, stating that the proposed law doesn’t protect small business. (And he complained about his own generous salary.)

The token Democratic guest, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), gave a lackluster performance. She did acknowledge that Bush exceeded his Aricle 1 authority. DiFi stated she wished "in a way" that the NYT hadn’t published the banking records article, however, that it wasn’t for her to say what the press should do. Feinstein claims that Bush first briefed the Senate Intelligence Committee about the program only after it was clear the NYT was going to publish. Despite this (belated) briefing Feinstein couldn’t say how the SWIFT progam operated.

The This Week roundtable featured a former Republican Senator and ABC employee (Fred Thompson), balanced out by two Republican reporters (Cokie Roberts and Joe Klein).  Klein suggested that Dems could successfully use the Hamdan story by running a commercial featuring that man of principle, John McCain. The rest of the roundtable was more of the same. George Stephanopolous ended the program by wishing Bush a happy birthday, and claiming that Bush had told him he (Bush) was able to maintain a heartrate of 140 over an hour and 40 minutes worth of exercise.

Late Edition With Wolf Blitzer had John Roberts (the former CBS newsman; not the former Federalist Society member) filing in for Wolf the Beard. The guests were Larry Griffin, NASA Administrator (re: the Space Shuttle launch), Shimon Peres and Saeb Erakat (re: Israel and Palestine) and music legend Tony Orlando (who opposes a timetable for U.S. withdrawal in Iraq). No news was made.

Happy Fourth of July to everyone.  Annoy Bush, exercise your Constitutional rights.