Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Scapegoat Musical Chairs

It must be tough being a Bush administration official now that we have a Congress again. After six years of rubber stamping the Bush agenda, facilitating an Executive Branch power grab and turning a blind eye to illegal action, I think we’re all a little stunned to see Congress act as a separate branch of government, but while the American people are comforted by the restoration of Congressional oversight, the Bush administration is like a deer caught in the headlights, stunned and unable to deal with the spotlight now shining on their smash and grab operation.

Alberto Gonzales looks like he might be quick on his feet, with his low center of gravity and relative youth, but apparently looks can be deceiving as Gonzo has suddenly found himself without a seat in the current White House game of scapegoat musical chairs. Even Bush’s attempt to pull the chair out from underneath poor Harriet Miers unexpectedly failed to secure Gonzales a seat in the game. Harriet’s survival though is likely less a function of her brilliant “strategery” than an indication that she’s simply got a little luck on her side. Bumble around long enough and you’re bound to bounce off of trouble eventually, kind of like a pinball that falls down the hole at just the right angle and is unexpectedly hurled back into the field of play. Don’t you love it when that happens?

It appears that Gonzales has hit the Justice Department “trifecta”, with the FBI’s abuse of the Patriot Act, the advice he gave to Bush while he was White House Council to shut down the probe into the illegal NSA wiretapping that, we now know, was focusing on HIM, and now his role in the firing of US Attorneys that refused to abuse their positions to do the Bush administration’s political bidding. With reports that the White House is floating names of possible replacements for Gonzo, it appears that his prize will be a quick kick to the curb. Bush better hope that Gonzales’s loyalty extends past the gates of the White House, but all indications are that they do. Lifelong yes-men of Gonzales’s caliber are rare, but they do exist, just look at Pat Buchanan. Ten years from now we can expect to see Pat and Al on Hardball still hocking their shticks, the former continuing to exalt Nixon and the latter lavishing praise on Bush Jr., while Chris Matthews sits in his chair nodding like a dashboard bobblehead doll on an off-road trip. I can hardly wait.

With all of my frustration at the lack of political will on the part of the Democrats to push for impeachment of President Bush, I can still see the value in having them in control of Congress. I have little faith that the Bush presidency will be ended early, but at least we will have investigations leading to, at the very least, public exposure of just how corrupt and dangerous this administration is. It is now being reported that John Conyers and Linda Sanchez appear set to issue subpoenas tomorrow for Karl Rove, Harriet Miers and others regarding the firing of the US Prosecutors. Let the investigations begin! It’s a start anyway.


Anonymous david said...

Well, politics is a game like chess. The Democrats can't just yell "Impeach!" without sounding partisan. That's why it was very exciting to see the first Republicans mention the "I" word.

That Attorney scandal may be the watershed. The shocker may be the reason US Attorney Carol Lam was deep sixed. That these attorney's weren't willing to tolerate corruption and bribery if committed Republicans and weren't about to harass Democrats if the evidence needed to convict was thin should be considered good qualities. (It also leads one to asks what have all those good Bushie US Attorneys been up to --or not up to.)

This is beginning to look like Watergate Redux. The problem with looters like Bush & Cheney is that they don't realize that some public servants actually take their vow to serve the public seriously. Those are the loose cannons that'll sink this ship.

And FoxNews? Instead of covering this, they seem fixated on a YouTube mashup. Hillary 1984, a parody of an Apple Super Bowl ad, is making even Ann Coulter happy. I'm not sure why. Is this just a desperate need to talk about something else? The mashup is clever, but it's just an ad. It's not proof that Hillary is Big Sister; nor does it mean Democrats are Totalitarians. All it means is that there are some hip, creative and cool kids who are fans of Obama. But we knew that. Didn't we?

10:29 AM  
Anonymous Dale H said...


Here's some insight into the potential damage the 'good bushies' may have inflicted:

NY Times
March 9, 2007
Department of Injustice

"Donald Shields and John Cragan, two professors of communication, have compiled a database of investigations and/or indictments of candidates and elected officials by U.S. attorneys since the Bush administration came to power. Of the 375 cases they identified, 10 involved independents, 67 involved Republicans, and 298 involved Democrats. The main source of this partisan tilt was a huge disparity in investigations of local politicians, in which Democrats were seven times as likely as Republicans to face Justice Department scrutiny."

I suppose we could wait to see the acquittals VS convictions to make a final judgment, but the disparity doesn't pass the 'smell test'.

Come to think of it, one would need a Hazmat suit to safely wade through the detritious of this Administration's crime scenes.

11:04 AM  
Anonymous david said...

Dear me! And so it comes to this. A constitutional crisis over petty partisan politics. (And I'm not taking a Republican talking point.)

Bush has clearly been wounded. And he's thrashing about like a coyote in a trap. The crime? Firing eight US attorneys to hid some GOP dirty tricks and double-dealing. Is that a crime?

You bet it is. And Bush knows it too. He's already seen the courts send some former friends away to the slammer. This man, who thought nothing of the death & destruction his trumped up war in Iraq would cause, is suddenly running scared.

He's pulled a card from Nixon's old marked deck. He will not allow Rove or Miers to testify. And Gonzales only if it's behind closed doors, not under oath, and no transcript is taken. (In other words, "You didn't see anything!")

Snow is snapping "Zip it!" to the press and Rove is telling a reporter how she should do her job. And even Chris Matthews is finding it hard not to smell something 'fishy'.

Remember: what sank Nixon was not the silly dirty tricks of an election. No, it was the coverup. It was his abuse of power, his compromising the CIA, the FBI, and his cabinet to keep things hush-hush. His impeachment grounds were obstruction of justice and contempt of Congress.

"Executive privilege"? It became a code word for "stonewalling". And it's hard to see how Bush can weasel out of this now. Congress can narrow the terms of inquiry. But executive privilege is not a "Get Out of Jail Free" card. Rove and Miers can also plead the Fifth. Bush take the Fifth? Fuggedaboutit.

5:00 PM  
Blogger jae said...

I was half-listening to NPR today on the way home from work when I caught a blurb about how the reforms of contributions the democrats promised are out the window now that they have what they wanted. I am almost sure there was a bit in the story about a fundraiser for Pelosi that had a ridiculous amount per plate and was geared directly to Lobbyists!
A search on Google turned up nada. If anyone can find this - just to make sure I wasn't hallucinating - please send me the link: jaesea@optonline.net
I think it was on Marketplace...
On a lighter note, Stewart was *hilarious* last night. Tonite he had Bolton on and the look on Jon's face when Bolton told him he was "WRONG" about the Plame outing was priceless. He sat up really straight and just said "OhhKayy". He's just too f**king cute.

9:29 PM  
Anonymous david said...

I'm sorry. I can find nothing. Doesn't NPR have streaming? I suspect you missed some pertinent detail, such as when or who or why.

6:18 AM  
Anonymous Dale H said...

Snow Job, then and now. If this doesn't illustrate the Repugs' inability to distinguish what is good for both goose and gander, then nothing does. C'mon drm, jump in and dazzle us with reasons why anyone involved in this mess shouldn't testify on the record and under oath. Hell, take the 'show trial' out of it and hold the hearings in private, ON THE RECORD
AND UNDER OATH! Rethugs: Dumb as stumps. Sorry, stumps.


Tony Snow Flip-Flops On Executive Privilege

President Bush said yesterday he would “absolutely” fight to prevent Karl Rove and other senior officials from testifying under oath about the U.S. Attorney purge. Tony Snow explained the position to National Review’s Byron York:

I asked whether the president was perhaps overly confrontational at this stage of the game. “I don’t think it’s confrontational,” Snow said. “We feel pretty comfortable with the constitutional argument.” …

The White House, Snow said, is determined to avoid “hearings or the trappings of hearings” when White House officials talk to Congress. “They’re looking for hands up, cameras on,” Snow said of Democrats. “They’re talking about a show trial.”

How times have changed. As Glenn Greenwald first noted, Snow had a much different view of executive privilege in 1998, when President Clinton was using it to resist having his aides testify in the midst of the Monica Lewinsky saga. On 3/29/98, Snow published an op-ed titled, “Executive Privilege is a Dodge”:

Evidently, Mr. Clinton wants to shield virtually any communications that take place within the White House compound on the theory that all such talk contributes in some way, shape or form to the continuing success and harmony of an administration. Taken to its logical extreme, that position would make it impossible for citizens to hold a chief executive accountable for anything. He would have a constitutional right to cover up.

Chances are that the courts will hurl such a claim out, but it will take time.

One gets the impression that Team Clinton values its survival more than most people want justice and thus will delay without qualm. But as the clock ticks, the public’s faith in Mr. Clinton will ebb away for a simple reason: Most of us want no part of a president who is cynical enough to use the majesty of his office to evade the one thing he is sworn to uphold — the rule of law.

Snow shouldn’t feel “pretty comfortable with the constitutional argument” because it’s pretty clear there isn’t one. The leading case on executive privilege is United States v. Nixon, where the Supreme Court found that executive privilege is sharply limited:

The President’s need for complete candor and objectivity from advisers calls for great deference from the courts. However, when the privilege depends solely on the broad, undifferentiated claim of public interest in the confidentiality of such conversations, a confrontation with other values arises. Absent a claim of need to protect military, diplomatic, or sensitive national security secrets, we find it difficult to accept the argument that even the very important interest in confidentiality of Presidential communications is significantly diminished by production of such material for in camera inspection with all the protection that a district court will be obliged to provide."

7:49 AM  
Anonymous david said...

Well, it's now a constitutional crisis, subpoenas have been issued, and op/ed pieces agree: Bush is hiding something.

Bets are being taken on when --not if-- Gonzales will resign. And there's a parade of Republicans from past administrations demanding Bush Jr step up to the plate, play ball, and stop sulking in the dugout.

10:37 AM  
Anonymous david said...

With all the excitement, I can't believe things here are so quiet. I was delighted with this brain teaser:

Bush claims he can't recall any conversations about the firing of USAttorneys. He also invokes executive privilege to protect his staff from discussing the conversations he can't recall.

CNN's Ed Henry asked Tony Snow how the White House can claim executive privilege over conversations and advice it claims never took place. All Tony Snow could answer was, "That's an intriguing question."

12:50 PM  
Anonymous Dale H. said...

Let's go drm, step up to the plate and display some non-partisan objectivity. Either take this post apart or concede that you're a 'lawyer' with a client who needs a plea bargain.

URL: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/17723982/

"Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said Congress had a right and a duty to find out why the U.S. attorneys were fired but that the White House was trying to hide the truth.

“I don’t know why they are so desperate to keep all this behind closed doors, not to have people under oath, not to have transcripts,” he said Wednesday in an interview with MSNBC’s Norah O’Donnell.

Leahy drew a parallel with the investigation of the leak of the identity of CIA officer Valerie Plame.

In public comments, the White House denied that Rove and other aides had any involvement, but “we found out from the trial” of I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, “when people were under oath, they had a lot to do with it,” Leahy said.

“If you’re in public and under oath, you tend to get a lot more accurate,” he said."

No freakin' kidding!!

Fired U.S. Attorneys led the Nation in Convictions. No Wonder the Bush Administration was Worried!

Submitted by BuzzFlash on Wed, 03/21/2007 - 1:12pm. Analysis

"Every day, the explanations for the firings of the eight U.S. attorneys are becoming less about competence and more about corruption. Some new statistics show that the prosecutors were in fact leading the nation in output:

Six ranked in the top third of all U.S. attorneys for prosecutions, filing a combined 106,188 last year alone
Five ranked in the top third for convictions, achieving 98,939
Three were among the top five in the number of immigration prosecutions (including Carol Lam, whose firing was attributed to immigration by Karl Rove)
Now these were some busy folks. It is almost a wonder that the fired U.S. attorneys had the time to take the phone calls notifying them of their dismissals.

If these U.S. attorneys were deemed expendable after leading the nation in prosecutorial output, what have the underperformers been doing to keep their jobs? If prosecutions and convictions don’t matter, what does?

Apparently less is more when it comes to following the law for this anti-Constitution administration. Especially when the investigations are hitting a little too close to home."

7:02 PM  
Anonymous david said...

I don't think we'll be hearing from drm until the smoke clears. The comments over at ThinkProgress have become positively shrill from the Republican side. One would think they were channelling Inhofe.

Yes, it's looking like the real reasons were to shut down investigations into GOP corruption. The few emails to surface from the infamous 18 Day Gap all reveal struggling to come up with justifications for their deeds.

And I strongly suspect the stench of scandal will improve news ratings and suddenly those talking dead will ask a few more embarrassing questions. Such as, "What did he know and when did he know it?"

7:31 PM  
Anonymous Dale H said...

I'm sure that you are right about drm though I suspect he's awaiting an epiphany
wherein he realizes that if the Dems were responsible for all of the governmental
miscues over the last six years, then he would be mustering the very same
arguments, against Dems, that the rest of us make about wingnuts on this blog.
However, such a self examination would surely result in the explosion of his head!

F. Scott Fitzgerald said: "The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposing ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function. ..."
A reasonable inference might follow that the ability to hold all shades of the
political spectrum to the same standards of honesty, ethical behavior, competence and legal culpability/accountability are also the markers for both a first rate intelligence and for intellectual honesty.

Which is why you will rarely, if ever, see the words first rate and honesty in the same sentence with the word Republican.

Instead, Google up "anti-intellectual", "creation science", "junk science", hell, ANY pejorative about the intellect, and you will find a preponderance of references to Republicans. Damned, liberal Google algorithms!

9:06 PM  

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