2014 chutzpah award-winners: National and Iowa edition

The year’s not even half over, but I doubt any public figure will surpass the brazen chutzpah former Vice President Dick Cheney displayed in television appearances on two consecutive days this week. Cheney asserted that former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton should be “held accountable” for the terror attack in Benghazi, and that President Barack Obama has abused executive power. Look who’s talking! The guy who never faced any consequences for his central role in leading the country into war on false pretenses. The Iraq war killed nearly 4,500 U.S. military personnel in the theater, contributed to hundreds of veteran suicides in the past decade, and left thousands of Americans with life-altering physical injuries or PTSD (not to mention the hundreds of thousands of Iraqi casualties).  I don’t know why anyone would listen to anything Cheney has to say about anything, particularly about being held accountable.

A remarkable example of home-grown chutzpah came from Jerry Rhoads, who recently filed for bankruptcy protection for himself and two Iowa nursing homes he owns. One of the homes is on the federal government’s list of most troubled care facilities, according to Clark Kauffman’s piece in the Sunday Des Moines Register. But to hear Rhoads tell it, he’s an innocent victim of over-zealous inspectors:

“I don’t think I’m the bad guy,” Rhoads said Wednesday [May 14]. “I believe this is criminal, the way we have been treated. They have fined us over $100,000, and we lost another $1 million because of the hold they placed on new Medicaid admissions.” […]

“We’re not bad people, but the state has treated us like criminals.”

No, if the state were treating you like criminals, you’d be facing criminal charges and not just civil fines for substandard care that may have led to several deaths. After the jump I’ve posted some of the shocking details from Kauffman’s article.

Iowa has some outstanding nursing homes and skilled care facilities, but I would still recommend keeping a close eye on any loved ones receiving long-term care, given our state’s weak enforcement of violations and limited capacity for inspections.  

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A lot of Republicans owe Pelosi an apology

In May a chorus of Republicans inside and outside Congress made hay out of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s claim that the Central Intelligence Agency had not revealed its waterboarding policy during a 2002 briefing. Many demanded an investigation into the allegations. Minority leader John Boehner said of Pelosi,

“She made this claim and it’s her responsibility to either put forward evidence that they did in fact lie to her, which would be a crime, or she needs to retract her statements and apologize.”

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich was among the Republican talking heads who demanded Pelosi’s resignation. According to Gingrich’s, Pelosi’s assertion was “stunning” and “dishonest.”

Representative Steve “10 Worst” King (IA-05) accused Pelosi of “actively undermining our national security” and called for suspending the speaker’s security clearance:

Speaker Pelosi has accused the CIA of committing a federal crime – lying to Congress. The CIA and other American defense and intelligence agencies cannot trust Nancy Pelosi with our national secrets, let alone our national security, until this matter is resolved. If true, there has been a serious violation of federal law. If false, American national security requires a new Speaker of the House. The severity of Speaker Pelosi’s accusations leaves no middle ground, and her security clearance should be suspended pending investigation.

Now we have learned that

The Central Intelligence Agency withheld information about a secret counterterrorism program from Congress for eight years on direct orders from former Vice President Dick Cheney, the agency’s director, Leon E. Panetta, has told the Senate and House intelligence committees, two people with direct knowledge of the matter said Saturday. […]

Mr. Panetta, who ended the program when he first learned of its existence from subordinates on June 23, briefed the two intelligence committees about it in separate closed sessions the next day.

So not only was Congress misled, CIA staff did not even inform Panetta about the program until four months after he was sworn in. Charles Lemos is absolutely right that it’s time for a special prosecutor to investigate this matter.

Republicans who trashed Pelosi in May and June owe her an apology, but like Rude Pundit, I’m not holding my breath. They’ve always been easygoing about Bush administration law-breaking while throwing fits about Democrats who criticized it.

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Yet another thread on Obama cabinet appointments (updated)

The more I think about it, the more I think Hillary Clinton should stay in the Senate. However, most analysts are speculating she will accept Barack Obama’s offer to become Secretary of State. Here’s a roundup of recent coverage on the appointment.

Tom Harkin thinks Hillary will be secretary of state, and he likes the idea:

Harkin said he was confident that former President Bill Clinton would not pose conflicts, as he’s agreed to make public the donors to his foundation and clear his travel schedule and speeches with the Obama administration, should his wife become secretary of state.

“If he’s willing to do whatever the Obama team and the president wants – and he should understand it, he’s a former president – that would be fine,” Harkin said.

He also said Obama naming her would be a demonstration of unity to the world. Sen. Clinton and Obama waged an intense, six-month campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination this year.

“I think it would send a good signal to the world if Hillary Clinton were secretary of state,” Harkin said. “The signal it sends to the world is we can have big fights politically here in the United States and yet after the election’s over, we pull together.”

Where does that leave Bill Richardson? I hope he ends up in the cabinet. UPDATE: ragbrai08 has heard rumblings Richardson might become Secretary of the Interior, which would be a decent fit for him.

Kia Franklin of the Drum Major Institute wrote an interesting piece on Eric Holder, the likely attorney general, and where he stands on civil justice issues.

John Crabtree of the Center for Rural Affairs blog offers “A Different View of [Tom] Vilsack,” the front-runner to run the U.S. Department of Agriculture:

It is difficult, if not impossible, to predict when, where and from whom leadership will emerge. The book on Tom Vilsack is not complete, and perhaps that is a good thing. He does not get a perfect score on my litmus tests. But, when I disagree with him in the future I will continue to engage him, just as I always have, whether he is a private citizen or the Secretary of Agriculture. And he will engage me, just as he always has.

I hope that, at the end of the day, our next Secretary of Agriculture is the kind of leader that can help create a future for rural America with thriving family farms and ranches and vibrant rural communities. I believe Governor Vilsack can provide that leadership. Perhaps he just might get the chance.

James L. of Swing State Project is concerned that Obama might choose either Representative Stephanie Herseth-Sandlin or Representative Collin Peterson for the USDA job. Both are from Republican-leaning districts that would be hard for a different Democrat to hold.

Obama supposedly was leaning toward offering the Commerce Department position to uber-fundraiser Penny Pritzker, but she withdrew her name from consideration.

Haven’t heard much about a possible secretary of transportation. Obama supports greater investment in core infrastructure as well as high-speed rail and public mass transit, so I am hopeful he will put someone with vision in charge of this department. The highway bill comes up for reauthorization in 2009 and is sure to be one of the major battlegrounds in Congress.

Still no word on a Treasury Secretary. Matt Stoller remembered another reason why Larry Summers is wrong for the job.

Most people seem to think Robert Gates will stay on as Defense Secretary. I don’t see why Obama can’t appoint a Democrat for that position. We have plenty of qualified people in our party. Keeping the Republicans in charge of defense supports their propaganda that the GOP is best for defending the country.

The Mayor of Miami, Manny Diaz, is being considered either for Transportation or for Housing and Urban Development. Representative Jim Clyburn of South Carolina is not interested in the HUD appointment.

Share your opinions or predictions in the comments.

UPDATE: Why does Obama want to reinforce Republican stereotypes about how they’re the only ones who can handle national security? Now General Jim Jones, a supporter of the Iraq War and John McCain, is tipped to run the National Security Agency. That is just crazy. Put some Democrats in charge, please. It’s not as if we don’t have people who could do this job well. I would not be surprised if Jones undermines Obama in this position.

UPDATE 2: The New York Times says Hillary Clinton will take the Secretary of State job.

Several news outlets are saying Timothy Geithner, about whom I know nothing, will be Obama’s Treasury Secretary nominee. Geithner is president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

NBC News says Bill Richardson will be Commerce Secretary. I don’t like him nearly so much for that job as I would like him for Secretary of State, Transportation, or Interior. Richardson’s a corporate Democrat, judging from his record in the 1990s. He ran the whip to get NAFTA through the House during Bill Clinton’s first term.

Still no progressives in Obama’s cabinet.

UPDATE 3: My brother, who works in the investment field and is much more of a moderate Democrat than I am, is “sick” about the prospect of Geithner running Treasury. His other comment about Geithner is not printable at this blog.

UPDATE 4: This is from a speech Geithner gave in May 2006:

Credit derivatives have contributed to dramatic changes in the process of credit intermediation, and the benefits of these changes seem compelling. They have made possible substantial improvements in the way credit risk is managed and facilitated a broad distribution of risk outside the banking system. By spreading risk more widely, by making it easier to purchase and sell protection against credit risk and to actively trade credit risk, and by facilitating the participation of a large and very diverse pool of non-bank financial institutions in the business of credit, these changes probably improve the overall efficiency and resiliency of financial markets.

With the advent of credit derivatives, concentrations of credit risk are made easier to mitigate, and diversification made easier to achieve. Credit losses, whether from specific, individual defaults or the more widespread distress that accompanies economic recessions, will be diffused more broadly across institutions with different risk appetite and tolerance, and across geographic borders. Our experience since the introduction of these new instruments-a period that includes a major asset price shock and a global recession-seems to justify the essentially positive judgment we have about the likely benefits of ongoing growth in these markets.

Despite the benefits to financial resilience, the changes in the credit markets that are the subject of your conference have also provoked some concerns and unease, even among those on the frontier of innovation and the most active participants in these markets.

These concerns are based in part on uncertainty-a candid acknowledgment that there is a lot we do not yet know about how these instruments and the increased role of nonbank institutions in these markets will affect how the financial markets are likely to function in conditions of stress.  […]

Let me conclude by reiterating the fundamental view that the wave of innovation underway in credit derivatives offers substantial benefits to both the efficiency and stability of our financial system.

Hmmm, he didn’t seem to have seen any of the current problems coming. Also, he apparently was involved in the bailout negotiations. So it seems like this is a very status quo pick for Obama.

On an even less encouraging note, Obama’s leading candidate to run the CIA is a “Bush-Cheney apologist.”

That’s not exactly “change we can believe in.”

UPDATE 5: Two people on Obama’s short list would both be highly competent and celebrated by progressives: Representative Raul Grijalva for Interior (he heads the House Progressive Caucus) and former Representative David Bonior for Labor (he has close ties to organized labor).

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GOP convention/Hurricane Gustav open thread

Post your thoughts about today’s events. The front page of Barack Obama’s website has a link you can click to find ways to help Hurricane Gustav victims.

John McCain has seized the opportunity to distance himself from George Bush and Dick Cheney. They had been scheduled to address the GOP convention on Monday night, but those speeches have been canceled. Instead, Laura Bush and Cindy McCain will speak briefly on how Americans can help hurricane victims.

Meanwhile, McCain is touring the Gulf cost and talking about turning the Republican convention into a service event. Fits nicely with his slogan about “putting country first,” except when you realize that his visit is likely to distract the local officials trying to manage evacuation and disaster relief efforts.

He obviously doesn’t want people to remember that the day Hurricane Katrina made landfall in 2005, Bush was celebrating McCain’s birthday in Arizona.

This diary by Muzikal203 compares how McCain and Obama have reacted to Gustav and both senators’ records on matters related to Hurricane Katrina.

UPDATE: I’ve been reading some disturbing posts about police tactics in St. Paul:

A concise roundup by mcjoan is here.

Glenn Greenwald has a lot more detail, including footage of Amy Goodman, host of the Democracy Now! radio program, being arrested while covering the protests at the RNC. Greenwald observed on Monday:

Beginning last night, St. Paul was the most militarized I have ever seen an American city be, even more so than Manhattan in the week of 9/11 — with troops of federal, state and local law enforcement agents marching around with riot gear, machine guns, and tear gas cannisters, shouting military chants and marching in military formations. Humvees and law enforcement officers with rifles were posted on various buildings and balconies. Numerous protesters and observers were tear gassed and injured.

Lindsay Beyerstein wrote this piece at Firedoglake.

Open Left has published several pieces on this, including this post with photos by Matt Stoller.

It is depressing to see such an overreaction to political dissent.

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WOW! Hillary: Rice Convinced Me on Iraq Vote By Saying Cheney Was "Confused" on Authorization Use

CONCORD MONITOR: CONDOLEEZA RICE TOLD HILLARY CLINTON THAT “DICK MIGHT HAVE GOTTEN CONFUSED” ABOUT THE WAR AUTHORIZATION  BEING FOR WAR INSTEAD OF INSPECTORS

When Hillary couldn't MAKE UP HER MIND about IRAQ, she ended up turning to Condoleeza Rice for guidance! Hillary asked if the Authorization would be used to put inspectors back in or take us to war as DICK CHENEY was implying. Rice convinced her to vote for the war with these very words: “Yes, that's what it's intended to do. I think Dick might have gotten confused.”

And Hillary bought it. About Dick Cheney maybe getting confused about the almighty power she was thinking about giving him!

THEN TO TOP IT ALL OFF SHE DOES NOT EVEN READ THE N.I.E., AS BOB GRAHAM DID, WHICH STATED IN THE FOOTNOTES THAT THERE HAD NOT BEEN WMD IN IRAQ SINCE 1995!

Clinton: Rice linked Iraq vote, inspections
Submitted by Monitor Staff on Fri, 2007-12-21 19:47.

Following up on what Ambassador Richard Holbrooke told us earlier this week regarding Hillary Clinton's vote to authorize the use of military force against Iraq, we asked Sen. Clinton today if it was correct that Colin Powell had persuaded her that the resolution could be a vote to avoid war rather than a vote for war.

She replied: “No, it wasn't Colin Powell. it was Condi Rice. Condi Rice told me specifically when I was still weighing all of the evidence, and I had been to the White House one last time — I think, if I'm not mistaken, it was Oct. 8 — and I'd had the whole presentation by the CIA and others and I hadn't asked any questions, I had listened. And I went back to my office, and Condi Rice called me and said, You didn't ask any questions, do you have any questions? I said I only have one: Will you use this authorization to put inspectors back in, so that we can find out whether any of this is true, how much WMD he still has or has reconstituted? She said, Yes, that's what it's intended to do. I think Dick might have gotten confused.”

Monitor: And you had no reason to doubt her?

Clinton: “I did not. Because — certainly I didn't rely on the Bush administration. I did a lot of my own due diligence, I talked to a lot of people in my husband's administration, I talked to Tony Blair, I talked to a lot of sources, and I had the same question: Do you think he still has these kinds of capacities? And the rationale made sense to me. When we got there after the first Gulf War, he was much further advanced in his nuclear program and we knew he had used chemical weapons. When we discovered his nuclear program in '91, the inspectors went in and for seven years dismantled everything that they could find. In '98, he threw the inspectors out, which at least to me raised the possibility that they were getting close to something, and therefore he wanted them out. The Americans and the British bombed every site that he prevented the inspectors from going to that we had a record of, but we had no good intelligence as to what was or wasn't there. And the idea behind any concern about Saddam Hussein was rooted in his personality and his governing philosophy. He was a megalomaniac.

“Putting inspectors back in — which the United Nations voted for, the Security Council was all in favor of — was a way to really put some checks and balances to find out what he really did have. What we know now is that Bush had no intention of letting the inspections run their course. But the argument of putting inspectors back in, backed up by force — because Saddam never did anything that didn't have at least the backup threat of force — was not on its face totally illegitimate. So I was willing to give him the authority to do that, and he misused the authority.”

http://www.yourconcord.com/primaryblog/clinton_rice_lin…

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