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CyberAlert -- 01/15/2001 -- Ashcroft's "Agenda of Robert Lee"

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Ashcroft's "Agenda of Robert Lee"; Unsuited for AG Because He Opposed Current Laws; Clift Unable to Accept Bush as Legitimate

1) On Dateline Tom Brokaw put the burden on Bush for how his picks will make it hard to show how he's a "uniter not a divider." Brokaw highlighted how Ashcroft "is a divisive gesture within the African-American community" because he supposedly "said he's got to speak out on behalf of the agenda of Robert E. Lee." Clinton's popularity proves "the country likes what he's been doing."

2) Ashcroft's critics say he is "too conservative," ABC's John Yang stressed Sunday night. But Yang couldn't bring himself to label any of his opponents as liberal. Instead he referred to "former Democratic colleagues in the Senate," "civil rights advocates" and "more than a dozen groups."

3) "Chief Foe as Chief Defender? Ashcroft Critical of Laws, Decisions He Would Enforce." Saturday's Washington Post gave front page play to a new liberal ploy to undermine Ashcroft. The Post warned that Ashcroft's views "put him at odds with current law, government practice, prevailing court opinions and members of the Republican-appointed majority on the Supreme Court."

4) Interior nominee Gale Norton is even worse than Ashcroft, Time's Margaret Carlson claimed on Saturday's Capital Gang on CNN: "John Ashcroft may damage the Constitution; she's going to do a lot of damage to the planet."

5) Eleanor Clift, just like Bill Clinton, can't accept George W. Bush as the legitimate President. On the McLaughlin Group she insisted Bush was "named" President by the Supreme Court.

6) The media enabled Clinton's big comeback by blaming Republicans for the 1995 government shut down, CBS reporter Rita Braver inadvertently conceded. She repeated the myth about how Republicans were responsible for "budget cuts in social programs."


Correction: Item #6 in the January 12 CyberAlert stated: "Another ABC News reporter, the same one whose biased reporting against another Bush nominee was detailed in item #2 above today, just happens to be the sister of the former neighbor who probably betrayed Chavez, FNC's Brit Hume revealed Thursday night." Actually, the reporter, Terry Moran, is the brother of the former neighbor.

1

George W. Bush's cabinet picks will make it difficult for him to demonstrate how he's a "uniter not a divider" since, despite losing the popular vote, he "is making it clear he will follow a conservative agenda, Tom Brokaw warned in a Sunday night Dateline interview with the President-elect. Brokaw highlighted how "some people are saying" the Ashcroft pick "is a divisive gesture within the African-American community" because of speaking at "a university with racist policies" and since Ashcroft supposedly "said he's got to speak out on behalf of the agenda of Robert E. Lee."

Huh? When did Ashcroft ever say anything like that? And if Robert E. Lee were alive today wouldn't his agenda be to oppose the party of the President which led the "War of Northern Aggression" and to favor the party of Southern slave holders, the Democratic Party?

When Bush suggested he might try to cancel some of Clinton's "land grab" executive orders, Brokaw countered: "President Clinton is going out of office with an approval rating of 64 percent. Higher than Ronald Reagan or any other outgoing President in modern memory. That says the country likes what he's been doing."

Bottom line of the interview: Instead of portraying a hostile Washington DC with liberal interest groups out to undermine Bush's agenda, Brokaw put the blame on Bush for how some of his nominees have come under fire.

Here's a transcript I took down of the first few minutes of the January 14 Dateline interview taped at Bush's ranch in Crawford, Texas:

Brokaw began with an admonition: "From the moment he takes the oath of office George W. Bush might have a difficult time proving, as he likes to say, that he's a uniter not a divider."
Brokaw to Bush: "The fact is you did get fewer popular votes and you had a razor thin electoral college victory. Is that going to in some fashion cause you to pull back a little bit on the promises that you made."
Bush: "No, not at all."

Brokaw rued: "The President-elect is making it clear he will follow a conservative agenda and he's preparing for confirmation battles that could be as divisive and partisan as the election itself."

Brokaw to Bush: "Already people are saying: Look, your nomination of John Ashcroft as the Attorney General is a divisive gesture within the African-American community. Here's a man who enthusiastically embraced an honorary degree from a university with racist policies, Bob Jones. And a man who said he's got to speak out on behalf of the agenda of Robert E. Lee."
Bush: "There are a lot of voices of special interests in Washington that are loud. He's going to be confirmed in my judgment and he's going to be a very good Attorney General. He has got a record of inclusiveness as an Attorney General and as a Governor and as a Senator in the state of Missouri."

Brokaw to Bush: "Also igniting a firestorm, Interior Secretary designate Gale Norton, an attorney and corporate lobbyist, she has angered many environmentalists for her stands on issues such as oil drilling in the Arctic Wildlife Refuge."
Bush: "I've already been told by some folks up there that this is a litmus test issue for them. And I read the other day on Miss Norton, or somebody said, she can't be confirmed. After all, she believes we ought to be drilling for oil and gas in he Arctic Wildlife Refuge. And I said why would that disqualify her? After all that's the position I took."

Brokaw: "As President, Mr. Bush says, he's going to take a hard look at some of President Clinton's recent executive orders that put almost 60 million acres of public lands off limits to development."
Bush: "I've been very strong in my opposition to what the President did on some of the so-called Western land grabs."
Brokaw: "Are you going to try to reverse those?"
Bush: "I am reviewing every executive order as well as every regulation and, as a matter of fact, next week I'm going to be briefed as to what's doable, what's not doable, what is, what can be delayed, what can't be delayed. I'm going to review all of them."
Brokaw countered: "President Clinton is going out of office with an approval rating of 64 percent. Higher than Ronald Reagan or any other outgoing President in modern memory. That says the country likes what he's been doing."
Bush: "Well, maybe so. But he's not going to be the President on January the 20th. I am."

Brokaw: "Although some of the President-elect's actions in the transition have brought controversy, nothing compares to the election that brought him to this threshold of power."
Brokaw to Bush: "The U.S. Civil Rights Commission has said that what happened in Florida is a disaster. After all that the country's been through do you think that there ought to be major election reforms, not only in Florida but across the country?"

Later, Brokaw teased Bush: "Do you think if you have Justice Scalia to the White House for dinner people will say, 'aha, that's the deal'?"

Mr. Bush, welcome to Washington where you'll be greeted by media hostility for anything conservative.

2

Just like Tom Brokaw, ABC's John Yang had no problem identifying John Ashcroft as being "too conservative," but somehow couldn't bring himself to label any of his opponents as liberal. In a one-sided World News Tonight piece on Sunday night Yang relayed the case against Ashcroft, but referred only to "former Democratic colleagues in the Senate" and "civil rights advocates."

Yang opened his January 14 story: "Two days before his confirmation hearings John Ashcroft is drawing fire from former Democratic colleagues in the Senate."
Barbara Boxer on This Week: "This is a man from the extreme, he divides people by his views."
Yang: "And from civil rights advocates."
Ralph Neas, People for the American Way at a press conference: "He has not demonstrated a sufficient commitment to equal justice under the law."
Yang: "Critics of the Attorney General designate continue to say he's too conservative -- opposing gun control, affirmative action and abortion rights. More than a dozen groups are now opposing Ashcroft, from the NAACP to the National Abortion Rights Action League which begins airing radio ads in seven states tomorrow."
Radio ad audio clip: "The United States Attorney General should uphold our freedoms, not undermine our rights."
Yang: "In this week's hearings Democrats plan tough questions about why Ashcroft blocked a black judge from the federal bench. The judge, Ronnie White, is scheduled to testify against Ashcroft."

Yang's story went on to report how Judiciary Committee Chairman Pat Leahy conceded Ashcroft probably will be confirmed and that in a NBC interview Bush defended how Ashcroft will enforce the laws.

3

If you are a conservative who once opposed laws that passed you can't be Attorney General. But since the media have never before raised the issue as a conflict for liberals who opposed laws which were enacted, apparently this is only a concern when it comes to conservatives. Saturday's Washington Post gave front page play to the latest liberal ploy to undermine the Ashcroft nomination.

"Chief Foe as Chief Defender? Ashcroft Critical of Laws, Decisions He Would Enforce," read the January 13 headline over the lengthy piece by two of the Post's most veteran reporters, Robert G. Kaiser and Walter Pincus.

The Post reporters warned: "Most relevant to his nomination are his views on a wide range of legal and constitutional issues, which were clearly expressed in a series of hearings Ashcroft held as chairman of a Senate Judiciary subcommittee. Those views put him at odds with current law, government practice, prevailing court opinions and members of the Republican-appointed majority on the Supreme Court. He described one decision supported by three Republican appointees on the Court as 'illegitimate.'"

Here's an excerpt of the Post story:

During six years as a U.S. Senator, John D. Ashcroft of Missouri frequently voted and spoke against laws, regulations, practices and court decisions that he would be responsible for enforcing if he is confirmed as the next U.S. Attorney General.

From gun control to affirmative action, from Roe v. Wade to FBI eavesdropping on e-mail sent to criminal suspects, from drug treatment programs to executive orders protecting gay federal employees, Ashcroft as Attorney General would have to uphold positions he has criticized or even denounced.

"I believe it wrongheaded," Ashcroft said of the 1994 ban on assault weapons, for example. "It...has severely restricted the rights of law-abiding citizens to participate in many activities involving guns." The Supreme Court decision that allowed states to impose restrictions on protesters outside abortion clinics, he said on another occasion, "weakened the First Amendment's speech guarantees."

While many Senators confine themselves to several subjects of special interest, Ashcroft's one term in the Senate produced a rich record of forceful positions on crime and drugs, foreign policy, defense policy, education and more. He once proposed tax cuts totaling nearly $5 trillion over 10 years and the abolition of the departments of Housing and Urban Development, Energy and Commerce.

Most relevant to his nomination are his views on a wide range of legal and constitutional issues, which were clearly expressed in a series of hearings Ashcroft held as chairman of a Senate Judiciary subcommittee. Those views put him at odds with current law, government practice, prevailing court opinions and members of the Republican-appointed majority on the Supreme Court. He described one decision supported by three Republican appointees on the Court as "illegitimate."

These subjects all fall within the purview of the Attorney General. They include judicial activism, privacy on the Internet, desecration of the American flag, a citizen's right to bear arms, the right to abortion and the setting aside of some federal procurement contracts for racial minorities.

Now, with his confirmation hearing three days away, Ashcroft is working to convince Senators that he will impartially enforce the nation's laws as head of the Department of Justice, whose 125,000 employees include the FBI and an army of prosecutors and civil attorneys....

Suspend Excerpt

Kaiser and Pincus proceeded to detail how Ashcroft is out of step with the law on "affirmative action," "civil rights," judicial activism" and "gun control" -- all areas where Ashcroft espoused traditional conservative views. Then they arrived at "electronic surveillance." They wrote:

In March 1998, Ashcroft chaired a subcommittee hearing that he introduced as one designed to "balance the debate by adding the privacy interests of all U.S. citizens to the discussion." In his opening statement, he said: "The FBI has argued that mandatory access to privacy codes would make it easier for law enforcement to do its job. Of course it would -- as it would be 'easier' for law enforcement to simply repeal the Fourth Amendment," which bans "unreasonable searches and seizures."

Ashcroft foresaw a negative economic impact if the FBI had broad intercept capabilities on Internet traffic. "Without the protection from privacy," he said, "the Internet is doomed to the status of an international party line or an international broadcast device that will never become a useful means of education, commerce, communications or entertainment."

He also acknowledged that law enforcement officials "have legitimate and important concerns....We must work to provide law enforcement with the necessary amount of access, but we must do so in a manner consistent with our constitutional freedoms."

END Excerpt

With that the article ended, but it showed Ashcroft can't win as in the electronic surveillance area he took a position more commonly associated with liberals: more concerned about protecting citizens against government intrusion than giving law enforcement a useful tool, yet the Post still used it as an example of being out of tune with the law.

By this logic anyone with a view on any issue that does not explicitly match current law is unqualified. Funny how this line of argument never arose before with a liberal nominees. Didn't Janet Reno's opposition to the Independent Counsel law make her unfit for Attorney General?

To read the whole Post story, go to:
http://washingtonpost.com/ac2/wp-dyn/A54993-2001Jan12?GXHC_gx_session_id_FutureTenseContentServer
=b55dcb6196ebec36&language=printer

4

Gale Norton is even worse than Ashcroft, Time's Margaret Carlson claimed on Saturday's Capital Gang on CNN:
"In fact, you know, John Ashcroft may damage the Constitution; she's going to do a lot of damage to the planet if she gets a chance. She is so anti-environment, pro-multiple use. She defended the Lead Paint Association. She had this, formed an organization with a sweet environmental name, but it was backed by the Chlorine Chemical Council, the Coal Council, the Chemical Manufacturers Council and it was to be against the environmentalists."

5

Eleanor Clift, just like Bill Clinton, can't accept George W. Bush as the legitimate President. Check out how on this past weekend's McLaughlin Group the Newsweek contributor/reporter insisted Bush was "named" President by the Supreme Court:

Clift: "Bush did not campaign as a conservative. He campaigned as a centrist and there were more progressive votes cast in that election. He has a responsibility because of the unique way he was named to his office to respond-"
Columnist Tony Blankley: "Named?"
Clift: "Named by the Supreme Court. Named-"
Blankley: "He won the electoral vote count. It's the constitutional process."
Clift: "Named. Named. Excuse me, I want to finish also about the cabinet."
Blankley: "Not named."
Clift: "Named."

She later got in a shot against Ashcroft: "I think he would be a terrible example as an Attorney General."

6

The media enabled Clinton's big comeback by blaming Republicans for the 1995 government shut down, CBS reporter Rita Braver inadvertently conceded in a CBS News Sunday Morning review of the Clinton years in which she again reflected the media bias in repeating the myth about how Republicans were responsible for "budget cuts in social programs." Of course, as any but the laziest or most liberally biased reporter would know, they proposed cutting nothing.

Catching up with Braver's January 14 story as she got to the 1994 GOP takeover of Congress, Braver recalled:
"Covering the White House in those years I wondered whether Mr. Clinton could revive his presidency or whether his first term would be his last. But I learned why Bill Clinton likes to call himself the 'Comeback Kid.' In 1995 there was a major turning point when the President refused to accept Republican budget cuts in social programs. Washington was deadlocked. The whole government shut down. Republicans took the heat."
Judith Lichtman, National Partnership for Children and Families: "It's not only of great political significance, but I also think it was a great political, psychological and sociological importance because once he did that they realized the real limitations of where they could take their agenda."
Braver: "Mr. Clinton also figured out how to co-opt Republican issues. He signed onto welfare reform, he came out for a balanced budget, he cut government regulations. The economy took off and he was re-elected in a landslide...."

Yes, "Republicans took the heat" thanks to a compliant media which treated Clinton's spin as factual. And which regulations exactly did Clinton ever "cut"? -- Brent Baker


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