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March 14, 2007

Patronage, Politicization and Policy

Patronage, Politicization and Policy

Click to Listen to the Show (24 MB MP3)

The White House acknowledged on Sunday that presidential adviser Karl Rove served as a conduit for complaints to the Justice Department about federal prosecutors who were later fired for what critics charge were partisan political reasons.

Ron Hutcheson, Marisa Taylor and Margaret Talev, White House says Rove relayed complaints about prosecutors, McClatchy Newspapers, March 11, 2007

The House Judiciary Committee is looking this week into the dismissal of eight federal prosecutors for varying allegedly political motivations. Some failed, evidently, to prosecute Democrats aggressively enough; some failed to soft-pedal investigations of Republicans. Some were let go early so a new cohort of Republicans could add “US attorney” to their resumes before the end of the Bush presidency.

That a White House might have exerted political influence on a federal agency doesn’t seem like earth-shattering news. Federal agencies are headed by executive appointees, and it makes sense that each new administration brings in its own. Janet Reno fired 93 US attorneys in 1992. Patronage is, after all, among the oldest professions, and America votes to see policies enacted.

But the Bush Department of Justice fired its own appointees — Republicans — allegedly because they failed to prosecute Democrats aggressively enough. Which makes the DOJ look like a political arm of the Republican Party, and not a federal agency. This is not the first time this has happened. What we’ve learned about Justice this week can be seen consistently over Bush’s two terms: federal agencies are valuable less as a reserve of professional expertise, and more as a means to advance the White House’s chosen policies.

Think of the White House’s impatience with the CIA or the State Department, or the struggle between the Pentagon military and civilian leadership. In 2002, the president dismissed his own EPA’s findings on global warming as a “report put out by the bureaucrats.” “Experts,” then — analysts, diplomats, scientists and now prosecutors — have become bureaucrats. Experts can exercise judgment and have to be listened to; bureaucrats are replaceable and capable only of hampering sound policy.

We’d like to look at the US attorney firings as part of a larger pattern, a nineteenth-century way of looking at the federal government as a political machine. Are the US attorney dismissals an isolated event? Has this White House politicized federal agencies any more than any other in recent memory? Prior to the dismissals, Kyle Sampson in the DOJ mailed to Harriet Miers in the White House a list of attorneys that either “exhibited loyalty to the President” or “chafed against Administration initiatives.” Is the role of an employee of the executive branch simply to “serve at the pleasure of the President,” or to show judgment?

Paul Kiel

Blogger, TPM Muckraker

Wayne Slater

Senior political reporter, Dallas Morning News

Author, The Architect: Karl Rove and the Master Plan for Absolute Power and Bush’s Brain: How Karl Rove Made George W. Bush Presidential

Ron Suskind

Journalist

Former national affairs writer, The Wall Street Journal

Author, The One Percent Doctrine and The Price of Loyalty

John Nichols

Blogger, The Online Beat

Washington correspondent, The Nation

Associate editor, The Capital Times (Madison, WI)

Author, The Genius of Impeachment: The Founders’ Cure for Royalism

Author, Dick: The Man Who Is President

Co-author, It’s the Media, Stupid

Extra Credit Reading

Paul Kiel, Today’s Must-Read, TPM Muckraker, March 13, 2007: “In other words, Sampson, Gonzales’ chief of staff, unbeknownst to other Justice Department officials, kept all this to himself. A rogue operator within the Justice Department, right under Gonzales’ chin!”

Josh Marshall, March 9, 2007, Talking Points Memo, March 9, 2007: “The two cases we know about are ones in which the US Attorney refused to play along and paid the price. So what about the ones who did play along?”

John Nichols, Gonzalez’s Big Mistake, The Notion, March 13, 2007: “If, in fact, Gonzales or Rove acted with the approval of President Bush or Vice President Cheney, then the issue at hand becomes a constitutional matter of the highest order — or, to be more precise, of the high crimes and misdemeanors order.”

Dan Eggen and Paul Kane, Gonzales: ‘Mistakes Were Made’, The Washington Post, March 14, 2007: “”I acknowledge that mistakes were made here. I accept that responsibility,” Gonzales said. He said he did not know the details of the plan to fire the prosecutors, but he defended the dismissals: “I stand by the decision, and I think it was a right decision.”

Paul Krugman, Department of Injustice, The New York Times (behind the Times Select firewall), March 9, 2007: “In fact, it’s becoming clear that the politicization of the Justice Department was a key component of the Bush administration’s attempt to create a permanent Republican lock on power.”

Christy Hardin Smith, The Rule of Karl Must End, Firedoglake, March 14, 2007: ” What needs to be made crystal clear to everyone is that the Rule of Karl is at an end, at long last . . . And that, henceforth, this sort of hack behavior will not be tolerated ever again. The only reason this has come to a head as it has at this point is because the Republican-controlled Congress was voted out in November — because of their long-term rubber stamping pact with Rove, no meaningful oversight on this issue has been done for six long years.”

10:05

Every president does nominate their own United States attorneys, the logic being that they should have people enforcing administration priorities. So when Clinton came into office, he replaced all 93 United States attorneys, when Bush came into office, [President George W. Bush's] father, he replaced the United States attorneys. It’s just a matter of course. What’s abnormal is to it in the middle of an administration. That has never been done before, particularly en masse like this, and for no reason.

Paul Kiel

19:00

What Karl [Rove] understood on the day after the election was that the Bush administration had lost the ability to contain the kind of subpoena power and investigations that Congress would undoubtedly begin to do in the final two [years]. He couldn’t really control that. But some of the areas which he could control, and the White House could deal with, would be in making sure that law enforcement, the US attorneys around the country a) were less inclined to pursue the kind of scandals that might embarass the party before 2008, and b) would be the kind of people who, unlike the New Mexico US attorney, might be a little more receptive to going after democrats.

Wayne Slater

24:50

That’s the concept. You act in these ways. You do what you can. You show, essentially, a strong perception of power, whether you house it or not, by making examples of certain individuals. And others will know: boy, I’m not going to do certain things that I might have otherwise done.

Ron Suskind

31:40

John Dilulio, who talked to me for one of the Esquire pieces — he’s the guy who ran the faith-based program, he was the first guy to leave the white building and speak real truth — and what he says early on — this is 2002 — he say’s there’s no precedent in any modern administration for this. There’s no policy apparatus. They don’t produce white papers; it’s kids on big wheels. He says, I’m in meetings where they get Medicare and Medicaid mixed up. And in this vacuum, rushes in the political arm.

Ron Suskind

34:15

We have had times in our past when a lot of positions in the government were filled by political hacks and for political reasons. What’s different in this administration, and what I think is significant, is so many positions are filled by ideaologues. And that’s where you get really dangerous. A political hack often knows enough not to make a stupid mistake. But an ideaologue believes that he can just go ahead and do what he thinks best, and that ultimately everything is going to turn out right.

John Nichols

45:05

Ideaology is about a kind of absolutism. We’re done asking questions, we’ve made our decisions, and now it’s a matter of the hows, not the whys. It’s a matter of execution, if you will.

Ron Suskind

Related Content


  • http://nowcough.blogspot.com barthjg

    I’m struck by the absence of principled leadership…where are the Elliot Richardson types who would stand up not to a president but a CORRUPT president and White House? The Justice Department is now an extension of Gonzales-as-personal-attorney for the president. First, the checks and balances disappear with Congress and then independent federal agencies that are supposed to respect the law nstead answer to men. When partisans and not statesmen run government, this is what you get. That is, until grand juries get fired up.

  • Nick

    Brendan writes:

    “We’d like to look at the US attorney firings as part of a larger pattern, a nineteenth-century way of looking at the federal government as a political machine.”

    Yeah…with me, that strikes a chord. This Bush era reminds me strongly of The Gilded Age dominated by the Robber Barons. But Bush and crew can’t even live up to those morally tawdry standards!

  • Sutter

    The intro and Barthjg’s comment point out that DOJ is really in a special place here. Far more than any other agency, DOJ is charged with watching the watchmen — policing the administration of which it is a part. This is what led to the independent counsel statute, which of course had its own problems. But when DOJ has to police the administration, we have to rely on the presence of the Richardsons (and Coxes and Ruckelshauses) of the world. When the culture of an administration doesn’t make room for that sort of whistle-blower, however (what if Bork had resisted as well?) , an important check on power goes out the window.

    This affair has really made me think hard about the prospect of having an Attorney General that is elected independent of the President. That’s the model that many (probably most, by far) states have employed. I suppose we would have to split some of DOJ’s more political functions out and keep them within the administration proper, and of course there would need to be some Constitutional tinkering as well — no small order. But is that what we need to ensure accountability?

  • Lumière

    When I became the treasure of a performing arts group I found they hadn’t filed informational returns required by federal law.

    I called Senator John Chafee’s (deceased) office and asked what could be done about the IRS’s trying to cancel our tax-exempt status. I was told that there is nothing that can be done because of the constitutional separation of powers

    I reported this to the Board of Directors and they said: BS!

    I was sent back to find the senatorial office operative for dealing with the IRS. He was ex-military (military service is a preference item for being hired by the IRS). He called so and so, who knew so and so, who knew the ex-airborne IRS agent handling our account.

    We soon got a letter saying our case was closed.

    I have another story involving a criminal case: a US district attorney contacting the IRS to put the kibosh on a tax shelter, which was completely unrelated to the criminal case.

    Violations of the constitution go on all the time – don’t get too sanctimonious – hypocrisy is the lubricant of society !

  • loki

    What happend to Pete Domenici in New Mexico?

    What about the chiquita funding terrorists?

  • Lumière

    chiquita: to protect employees they funded left & right

    Sometimes you have to do bad to do good?

    So far I’m hearing how power works – is that the problem?

  • PaulK

    Tampering with justice is a criminal act.

    Taking over a justice system to go after hundreds of your political opponents is a violation of the concept of fair elections.

    I can understand. Now that the criminal acts have been committed, the victims improperly punished and maybe a few congressional elections stolen, the supporters of the guilty want to cry “no harm no foul”. No harm to whom? To the nation?

    The remedy for criminal conspiracies is jail time. In the case of high elected officials, the remedy is a day of standing trial before the United States Senate.

  • Lumière

    Conjecture about Rove – how do we know that Chris asks – here we go!

    Too late, we already got the thought out on the radio !

    Good thought sutter:

    ////….the prospect of having an Attorney General that is elected independent of the President.\\\

  • Lumière

    Chris is good !

  • Lumière

    haven’t heard the crime part yet – so far no case was tampered with

  • Lumière

    This is about power – I know how power works :

    I’m here to hear about crime !

    Show me the crime !

  • Potter

    Where is Hannah Arendt when we need her? Aren’t these actors totalitarians? Wouldn’t we be ( are we?) on the way to such a state- one party rule without checks and accountability?

  • Potter

    Right w/o a Democratic congress non of this would be coming out. It’s like the dam is bursting. Thank goodness!

  • Lumière

    These people are fixated on Rove !

    Bring on Darrell Hammond !

  • Yark

    these 8 attorneys are Merely a smoking gun – - HERE’S A SMOKING GUN WITH RED HOT BARREL!!! QUIT NEGLECTING THIS:

    GUAM — BUSH REMOVES FEDERAL PROSECUTOR INVESTIGATING ABRAMOFF: In 2002, Abramoff was the target of a grand jury investigation in Guam. On November 18, 2002, U.S. Atty. Frederick A. Black issued a grand jury subpoena issued seeking records involving a highly unusual contract between Abramoff and the Superior Court in Guam. Apparently, Superior Court officials in Guam paid Abramoff over $324,000 — funneled through a Laguna Beach attorney Howard Hills — to lobby against a bill in Congress that gave the Guam Supreme Court authority over the Superior Court. The Los Angeles Times reported this August that the day after Black issued the subpeona, “President Bush removed the supervising federal prosecutor [Black] and the inquiry ended soon after.” Black had “served as acting U.S. attorney for Guam and the Northern Mariana islands since 1991.” He was replaced by Leonardo Rapadas, the man that the Guam Republican Party recommended to Karl Rove be given the job. [Los Angeles Times, 8/7/05]

  • loki

    Bring back Janet Reno-she was independant of Clinton!

  • Lumière

    Was there a crime there involving Rove?

  • Lumière

    Ideology is the perversion of an ideal !!!

    This guy has it right – they are incompetent.

  • Lumière

    Tuba music – loved that show !

  • Yark

    No, Lumiere, no crime – - Bush is perfectly within his rights to snatch a federal prosecutor off his job as soon as he sees a danger of his cronies NOT LEGAL acts being exposed – - and he’s perfectly within his rights to solicit Rove’s advice.

    The fact theyr

    ‘re scum should have Nothing to do woth it….

  • Lumière

    Yark -

    this was about power: they have it and are using it and people don’t like it.

    Will Pelosi get her jet? How will she decorate it?

    lol

  • http://imtalkinghere.typepad.com Katewyn

    Lumiere’s repeated cries for crime strike me as a sorry commentary on these times. There are many utterly unethical and deeply damaging actions which are not technically illegal. If legality is the essential standard, we are lost.

  • lammypie4

    Just at the end, one of the guests characterized the bxxx admin as “lucky” because 9/11 happened on their watch (and gave them overwhelming power and mind control and etc.). PEOPLE, WHEN will someone do a reality show on the perpetration by the US government of 9/11. I just read a story this week that BBC is being sued for reporting that building 7 fell (even though it was NOT hit by a plane) FIVE MINUTES BEFORE IT ACTUALLY FELL, as in, the feeder knew it was going to fall/was in on the crime. 9/11 wasn’t luck, it was a monumental criminal conspiracy by this administration. I can’t begin to tell you how many websites out there prove this. Would that at least one mainstream outlet — you???? — picked this up and ran with it.

  • Lumière

    Katewyn

    You missed the point about absolutism & ideologues.

    Former Mayor Buddy Cianci of Providence is in jail now.

    His crime?

    He made Providence a renaissance city – to do so required looking the other way – looking the other way is crime under the RICCO statute.

    Proportionality? Fairness?

    I’ll ask you: should one do bad to achieve good?

  • rc21

    Reno and the Clinton admin fired 93 The Bush admin fired 8. You tell me who is more corrupt?

    The truth is neither.Both were within their rights to bring in whoever they wanted. The big difference is the media will try and turn this into a negative story in its hatred of Bush and republicans. Where on the other hand if the story involves a Dem as in the Reno years,it is percieved as no big deal.

  • Sutter

    The difference is that Clinton/Reno fired Reagan/Bush appointees, and did it during his very first months in office as a matter of house-cleaning, whereas Bush/Gonzalez did it selectively, to Bush’s own appointees, for apparently political reasons.

  • Lumière

    ////I was sent back to find the senatorial office operative for dealing with the IRS. He was ex-military (military service is a preference item for being hired by the IRS). He called so and so, who knew so and so, who knew the ex-airborne IRS agent handling our account.

    We soon got a letter saying our case was closed.\\\

    Ten years ago a crime was committed, yet the performing-arts group performs to this day.

    I ask once more:

    should one do bad to achieve good?

  • 1st/14th

    Three Words “Janet Freaking Reno”. Or in this new “digital age” where information moves at the “speed of light” are uncomfortable precedents discarded like yesterdays copy of USA Today?

    After all, I seem to recall the case of former US Attorney Jay Stephens who was days away from filing charges against form House Ways and Means Chairman Dan Rostenkowski and how the impending indictment was put off a year and a half.

  • herbert browne

    Lumiere’s right… where’s the Crime? We may expect civility, and an appreciation of the Spirit of the Law- but when unprincipled, uncaring people achieve power (by whatever “legal”- or unchallenged- means available), don’t we deserve what we get? When celebrity trumps morality, and politics trumps science, and the Letter of the Law trumps the Spirit, then we have a plethora of sycophants, and obeisance and abject fawning before flatulent (albeit well-dressed) clowns, and arguments like Gonzales’ defense of curtailing “habeas corpus” (who reasons that, just because it can be suspended in a couple of extreme situations, where does it explicitly state that it’s in effect the Rest of the time?). Where’s the Crime? If Bush’s foreign policy gets 3 million people killed, well, so what? Most of them aren’t Americans, are they?.. and that’s only, maybe, 1% of a life per U.S. citizen, and that’s not enough to actually Kill anyone- I mean, some small women could cut their hair and lose 1% of themselves, by weight- and where’s the real harm in That? And, anyway, who DOESN’T lie about this & that to get what they want, sometimes? I mean, nobody’s perfect- and mistakes are excusable, most of the time, because, if you sort of average it all out, why, we all make mistakes that should be excusable… otherwise the courts are all crowded and don’t work right, and we need Justice, or else the Ship of State won’t have an even keel, and we’ll be forced to make a sea anchor out of someone’s Sacred Cow- and it might be Yours- and you wouldn’t want THAT, now, would you? No- I can see that you wouldn’t… ^..^

  • hurley

    You hit the ground running with this show. Gonzalez a strange combination of bootlicker and thug, always out for the main chance no matter how many laws and people he has to trample in the process. He’s been enabling, to borrow a dread term, Bush’s worst, most pitiless and vindictive instincts all the way back to Texas and those not quite notorious enough memos on death-penalty cases. You should rope, hogtie, and drag his recent troubles into the discussion on the banality of evil. An Eichmann for our times? No, but there are similarities…

    Also, I could hardly believe my ears at Chris’s mention of impeachment, even if he was only repeating the title of John Nicholls’ book. Interesting too how the word hovered in the air from there on out, never to be repeated. I’ll admit to a bit of premonitory schadenfreude at the prospect of Bush & co. going down in shame and defeat, but that’s not why I keep raising the topic of impeachment. To paraphrase, It’s the Constitution, stupid! What will it take to shatter the taboo surrounding what is after all a perfectly legal, not to say inspired, means of returning the US to a country of laws, not men (and women)?

  • Lumière

    Hurley

    are you intent on seeing Chaney as president?

    HB -

    With the exception of the guy foaming at the mouth b/c he knows what Rove is thinking ( Chris was laughing at that guy) the consensus was these people are incompetent ideologues.

    But if hating them gets you out of bed in the morning, good for you.

    That is why we have laws and elections, so haters don’t create chaos.

  • rc21

    One of the people fired was a guy from Maryland. The reason ? He was being to aggressive in his prosecution of Democrats.

    How many remember that Clinton fired the attorney from his home district with a man that was allied to the Clinton admin. A pretty good idea with the White water investigations coming up.

    Once again this is a Democrat driven scheme that is being driven by the Democrat friendly media. Jist like the Plame affair.

  • Lumière

    I’m not willing to take sides – in fact, it might be beneficial to get rid of the two-party system and have people run on the merit of their ideas.

  • enhabit

    not a perfect comparison but i am reminded of Henry VIII’s court. although our own king george is no match for henry’s intellect..just look what happened to henry! here was a man of culture and intelligence..a real rennaisance man. his country’s brush with civil war presented urgent necessity to consolidate his power..kick out foreign influence (the vatican) and stifle opposition…patronage was the norm because the crown was badly in need of cash….sounding familiar yet? he surrounded himself with men (and women for that matter) of ambition, skill…and guile. they found and exploited the king’s weaknesses and voila…bigtime mess! the period immediately following the king’s death can only be described as nasty.

    cheyney dressed up as Cardinal Wolsey would make a priceless cartoon.

    i borrow from myself on another ROS thread….

    i keep quoting Nietzsche but he’s just too close

    -Extreme positions are not succeeded by moderate ones, but by contrary extreme positions.

    and from J. Bronowski

    -We must not perish by the distance between people and government, between people and power…that distance can only be…closed, if knowledge sits in the homes and heads of people with no ambition to control others, and not up in the isolated seats of power.

  • enhabit

    i almost forget to mention…Henry got entangled in quite an elective wartime mess and had a major insugency to fight as well. draining the country’s coffers…inspiring creative means of financing..one of the reasons for sacking all those papist monastaries. religion..and he was deeply religious from a certain point of view..became a political convenience and methopd of control..

    have i put this on familiar ground? not perfect i think but quite interesting. it would take a MAJOR intellect..ironically (history can be better than fiction) the product of henry and anne boleyn…and a WOMAN after all that fuss about a male heir..arguably britain’s finest monarch…to set the country back on course.

    the world (and i hope, the country as well) will not accept anything less than elizabeth I in the white house next time..we have a lot to answer for.

  • Lumière

    Good stuff but, much of history is the result of inevitable forces, not necessarily the will of one man.

  • enhabit

    i don’t think that george is anything but a paper tiger. he is the affable front man for a pile of operators lurking in the wings.

  • enhabit

    and as for elizabeth..well she was quite the navigator..intelligent and intuitive. rarely has a leader so defined an entire age.

  • enhabit

    the point that i was attempting to make..maybe not very well..is be wary of the handlers, they are difficult to account for..even in a democracy. they feed the ego and feed on the weaknesses.

    -the nixon administration

    -howard hughes

    -elvis

    -tiberius

    -richard III

    -the reagan administration

    history is lousy with them.

    a caller made an excellent point on “on point”…if these attorneys were unacceptable..what are the others doing that is?

  • sana

    The firing of the US Attorneys without Congressional hearings or approval seems consistent with Gonzales’ well-known support for the concept of the unitarian presidency.

    Has anyone in Congress proposed changing this aspect of the renewed Patriot Act?

  • enhabit

    tried to look up “unitarian presidency patriot act” with amusing results. could you enlighten me?

    didn’t know that P-A-T-R-I-O-T was an acronym

    Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism

    capitol hill & k street and their acronyms! it would be funny if it wasn’t so threatening.

  • sana

    As I understand it, the renewed Patriot Act gave the President the power to replace US attorneys without Congressional approval. Previously, that power was excerised with Congressional approval. Thus the new version in the Patriot Act replaces some of the Congressional authority with Presidential authority, which is consistent with the Constitutional theory that I was calling ‘the unitarian presidency’.

    Maybe I am misrememnbering the phrase. It was a dominant theme in Gonzales’ confirmation hearings.

  • enhabit

    transferring discretionary power from one branch to another? tsk. tsk. shouldn’t this require a constitutional amendment? and not an act of congress?

    “emergency war powers” come into play i suppose…funny how that might tempt one to keep a conflict going. but that’s cynical..couldn’t happen here.

  • enhabit

    perhaps some of the questions that should be at the heart of all this are these:

    what is really going on here? why do we need to be so scared? are we being kept scared? what is with all this continuous political manipulation that we have learned to expect?

    why is it so important for parties to be in control that they seem all too willing to stretch integrity to its breaking point? what motivates them? is there tons of money to be made from all this somehow? or do they really care so much that they are falling over themselves to help.

    perhaps an answer can be found in the 7000 ton elephant sitting in the corner..ie. the enormity of the military industrial complex. as with the emergency war powers act, it needs a reason to exist. if there isn’t one will one created? we are talking big money here folks..more that $300 billion per year for the DOD and my children and theirs will be presented with the bill..and for what?

    people kill for considerably less.

  • herbert browne

    RE “Thus the new version in the Patriot Act replaces some of the Congressional authority with Presidential authority, which is consistent with the Constitutional theory that I was calling ‘the unitarian presidency’..”

    There was a discussion of this, around the time of Chief Justice Roberts’ confirmation; and the opinion of some scholars was that both the new justices were friendly to the Unitarian Pres concept (quite the reflection of an “elected royalty”- ie “the Pres can do no wrong”).

    Re “so haters don’t create chaos”… well, Lumiere, I don’t hate any of these clowns… and THEY certainly don’t hate anyone (they’re loving being in power, right?)… One could, maybe, hate the sheeplike demeanor of our Society, as it emotionally hunkers down on “de banks o’ de Nile” to consume its daily repast- but, human nature?.. what’s to hate? I guess hate will have to be reserved for the service to the Ineffectual ideologue, who can’t get a rise out of his audience… and ultimately, that hate may morph into self-loathing- so we’re all safe, I guess, from the dangers of the uncontrolled conflagration among the self-satisfied. (I remember wondering, once, if the self-immolating monks in VietNam went out with the thought “What is the nature of my imperfection?” uppermost in their minds… ^..^

  • enhabit

    btw some argue that when one includes all defense peripherals our defense budget is more than half a trillion! i doubt that human nature is uncorruptable when awash in such funding.

    anybody know what dubai’s tax laws are like? how about extradition? good riddance anyway haliburton! we weren’t expecting to see any of that money again anyway. how does cheney get away with all this? clinton’s sins were bad enough but they don’t even begin to compare with the massive scale of layers of excrement coming out of this administration.

    good to rant every now and then, thanx for the use of the stoa

  • Lumière

    ///…What is the nature of my imperfection?…\\

    Toga wasn’t flameretardant, imo

  • hurley

    Lumière: Ditto to herbertbrowne, more or less. I’m not a “hater” — the word raises more questions than it answers. But I’d like to see some measure of accountability. Again, it’s the Constitution, etc…the pride of the republic upon which the republic is founded, or so we’re supposed to believe. Less lip-service, more observance. As for Cheney as President, sure, why not? It would cast the grotesque absurdity of this phase in the political culture of the US in a kind of lurid Day-Glo we’d never forget. But then you never know. In any case, I doubt the title of the office would diminish his power in any significant way.

    No heat, no light.

  • enhabit

    draw him out of his lair and into the cold light of scrutiny eh?

  • Lumière

    Ok hurley, www honor, I have to take you at your word – ditto HB.

    There were some good insights on the show.

    When I tell people the administration is incompetent, many people answer: Chaney is a smart guy. Now I know, the link between incompetence and smart is that they are ideologues, which makes their actions incompetent.

    When Mark Shields says that a crime was committed in going to war, David Brooks looks at him and says: what was the crime?

    Mark’s response: he gets that deer-in-the-headlights look

    If there was a crime and he knew what it was, he should tell us.

    If there is no crime, why all the hyperbole?

    I’m not here to defined the administration. I figured out they were incompetent before the last presidential election. Apparently, it took the rest of the country two years to come to the same conclusion.

    I want the unemotional facts – if there was a crime, I want to know what it was.

    If people say there was a crime and there wasn’t, isn’t that an unethical and immoral thing to do? Falsely accuse?

    This administration is a mirror to those people….

    Ps enhabit – my motto: Confrontation leads to insight

  • GodzillaVsBambi

    Posing these types of questions is itself a form of politicization. Democrats and Republicans do it to each other all the time. There is nothing new under the sun. In the introduction of this topic it says: “Is the role of an employee of the executive branch simply to “serve at the pleasure of the President or to show judgment”? In this context the word “judgment” is loaded with presumptuousness and condescension. The way the question is phrased implies that ‘judgment’, contrasted with the word ‘or’, is the only way to present them: as in “opposition to one another”. To suggest that the two are “not synonymous” serves only to feed into the ongoing stereotypes of a biased left wing agenda.

    BramGolah@gmail.com

  • enhabit

    what bias?..the bush administration is a certifiable disaster!

  • GodzillaVsBambi

    enhabit,

    Michael Scheuer (x CIA and head of the unit that went after Bin Laden) and the author of Imperial Hubris: Why the West is Losing the War on Terror, was on FoxNews/Bill O’reilly tonight and he said “Most of the country doesn’t understand the danger it faces”. Echoing Scheuer, the BIAS I speak of is an intellectual dishonesty; rebellion for the sake of rebellion and uneducated abuse of freedom. I resent those who spit in the face of liberal democracy and the rule of law – and I resent the indiscretion of those who indulge in Historical revisionism. But I do not resent those who truly do not understand what goes on in the Middle East and why America does what it does militarily. I will not attempt to persuade those who have dulled their capacity to learn by adopting an abusive attitude. The only thing I can do is ‘inform’ – and then let people make up their own minds.

  • herbert browne

    Re juxtaposition of “pleasure”& “judgement”- I would agree, GvsB… it’s a slam on the Pres, as worded. What it implies (despite the poor wording) is “independent judgement”- which would be something akin to serving “a country of Laws, not Men”- and that would have been fine.

    Re “incompetence” of this administration: I don’t see that at all. They’ve shown great competence, in the pursuit of their basic agenda items: a war with Iraq; opening of Federal lands in the Intermountain West to unfettered oil & gas development; continued promulgation of the PATRIOT Act- and the continued shift of power away from Congress & towards the Administration; tax cuts for wealthy people; avoidance of regulatory burdens on energy production & distribution industries (eg Clean Air, Kyoto, CAFE standards, etc); increased “defense” spending- including keeping the Iraq War out of the “official” budget for 3 years; successfully demonizing legal & political opposition (eg WE’RE ALL POTENTIAL ENEMY COMBATANTS, IF THAT SERVES THEIR PURPOSE); maintaining the fiction of a “war” on Terrorism (gotta have an “ism” around to generate fear & loathing); putting a second right wing on the Supreme Court (funny bird, that); continually overriding scientific viewpoints in Federal agencies with ideological-based policies (EPA, FDA NIH, USFS, BLM, even CIA, maybe); and maintaining a growing National Debt, while decrying Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, VAA, etc spending- for starters. No… this is a Very Competent Administration… in so many ways…

    PS- Brendan, was my post of 2/27(@3:57PM) any influence on this story?.. or did we both come here, informed by different sources? Anyway, I was most happy to see/hear it here, at all… thanks. ^..^

  • herbert browne

    Re: “When Mark Shields says that a crime was committed in going to war, David Brooks looks at him and says: what was the crime?

    “I want the unemotional facts – if there was a crime, I want to know what it was..”-

    The crime was “Going to War”. ^..^

  • CAMinRI

    The crime, regarding the Iraq war push and the USA purge, is lying to Congress while under oath. The potential undiscovered crimes are easily imagined. If 7 USAs were fired for not politicizing their offices enough to suit the admin then what about the other 86 USAs? Does this purge indicate that some or all of the others did pursue indictments or investigations for purely political reasons? How does a politicized USA office influence an election? Unless Congress exercises it’s Constitutional oversight responsibility, which it did not under Republican majority, then all sorts of nasty little things can occur. The Executive was correctly seen, by the Framers, as the most dangerous and most important branch of government to control and restrain.

  • Sinologist

    Regarding the punishment of one person as an example to all: the Chinese have a saying, “sha ji gei hou kan.” “Kill a chicken and let the monkeys see it.”

    The more I think about it, the more the American state is taking on the accoutrements of the communist Chinese regime under Mao. The degree of state control, the muzzling of dissent, the cooptation of the media, the crippled justice system, the militarization of society… perhaps we are in the early stages. Ironic, as China embraces some forms of capitalism. But those who expect democratic freedoms to flourish are likely to be disappointed.

    Food for thought. Superb show March 14th. Keep it up!

    Sinologist

  • GodzillaVsBambi

    herbert browne Says: Re juxtaposition of “pleasure”& “judgement”- I would agree, GvsB… it’s a slam on the Pres, as worded. What it implies (despite the poor wording) is “independent judgement”- which would be something akin to serving “a country of Laws, not Men”- and that would have been fine.

    I would love to agree with that, but I can’t. Why not? Because on September Eleventh two-thousand and one all the laws we know – especially those that apply to the Geneva Convention, etc – were circumvented in one fell swoop by a few suicidal Muslims. It is obvious to me that the 911 attack was so far out of the box, that the response to it also needed to be just as shocking, to equalize the severity of the act. Therefore, when the enemy (as an example to contrast we can say the “old style enemy” like the Soviet Union during the Cold War) does not go by any known rules or laws, by flying planes into buildings, and while doing so creates a mostly new kind of battlefield, then the victim will fall prey to the aggressor unless he adapts to the new situation.

    President Bush has become the embodiment of evil to those who chastise him because they have not realized this sudden necessity to adapt. The fact that so many ‘still’ don’t realize it means, actually, that they were successful – or, as “successful” as possible in protecting us. This need to adapt is much bigger than George Bush or any one of us. We are still a nation of laws and I don’t see any reason why that will ever change. But when it comes to the terrorists, “law” has very little value. The formulation is simple: if no American adaptation to “lawless” and unconventional attack of 911, then no survival.

    I think it is the responsibility of those who in their spare time concern themselves with such matters make an effort to see through the propaganda. If one does not understand why this is so it will cause all kinds of headaches. Propaganda is a shield from reality – or, say, a commercial manifestation that projects or protects the desired image of a given culture. One can choose to be protected by it, or not. The only difference is that we have that choice, while others don’t.

  • enhabit

    this country has created the “danger that we are in” by its ineptitude in the region…this pre-dates our current leadership. but do you remember when bush called the war on terror a “crusade”? do you have any idea what that word does to middle eastern blood? he was either deliberately provocative or utterly ignorant. in either case..dangerous. the very fact that we must put our faith in these people makes me want this group out of there.

    my propaganda radar is working just fine thank you.

  • rc21

    sinoligst, You make a rather strange comparison, China and the US. Communist China muzzles dissent. We embrace and protect it. Please give me the name of one American currently in prison for speaking out against the war?

    Cooptation of the media Thats a good one Almost every major news outlet has gone out of their way to demonize Bush and the war. Many media outlets have turned from bias to outright lies in their effort to attack Bush and the war.

    The justice system has been crippled for decades,yet it is still 100% better than Chinas,as you well know.

    Militarization of society. Please explain this. Most of the nations population does not serve in the military and never will. We have an all volunteer force. The constitution demands we have an army to protect our nation. How much we spend is up to the congress and senate. Bush can ask for whatever he wants but it is the house and senate that ultimately decides.

    I love these type of posts. Such convoluted logic never ceases to amaze me.

  • rc21

    GvB I saw The segment with Mike Scheuer. He seems to be one of the few that really understands what is happening. It’s to bad he seems to be ignored by the masses.

    I fear it will take another disaster like 9/11 to make people come around. But as I read many of the posts on this site and forums like moveon and daily Kos I’m sure another attack will be the fault of the USA and the Bush admin in particular.

  • enhabit

    this liberal media conspiracy is tired and empty. the new york times et al is pretty conservative really. liberalism and the left wing died long ago. angela davis was left wing and radical (and highly intelligent) no one on the cultural radar is anything like that today. bobby kennedy became a liberal..he’s gone and nobody has taken his place either. we are overall, a conservative nation. alternative lifestyles..once a force of nature…now refer largely to the gay community

    as far as militarization is concerned, we maintain a massive military as i have mentioned here before. this predates the bush administration..president eisenhower (republican and military) warned of its influence in a speech to the nation long ago when threats of a MILITARY nature were ramping up in strategic nukes. gwb has ramped up the overall military budget to @ half a trillion dollars, this is unprecedented..you must admit that this a heady brew..addictive..with few people in the military industrial complex coming out and saying that the threats to this country are best countered by non-military means..if at all.

    and you’re right china’s government sucks

    btw george bush doesn’t need any help on the demonizing thing..he is obviously incompetant..especially to the fair and balanced among us

    islamic terrorists want us out of there and they want to take the credit for it. let us be the mature ones here and do just that..while keeping the diplomatic pressure up on the region. spend some of that half trillion on schools and health care and alternative sources of energy…get out from under that oil monkey

    perspective: us oil consumption (20.73 million bbl/day-2004 est.)

    https://www.cia.gov/cia/publications/factbook/print/us.html

    global oil consumption – 80.1 million bbl/day (2003 est.)

    https://www.cia.gov/cia/publications/factbook/print/xx.html

    us population @ 298,444,215

    https://www.cia.gov/cia/publications/factbook/print/us.htmlwith

    global population @ 6,525,170,264 (July 2006 est.)

    https://www.cia.gov/cia/publications/factbook/print/xx.html

    that’s @ 4.5% of the world’s population burning 25% of its oil. why oh why are we so misunderstood?…we mean well…why oh why do we need such a big military? nobody understands us!

    average price of gasoline in canada 102.6 cents a litre..home of one of the world’s largest oil reserves (tar sands) @ 180 billion bbls barrels, second only to saudi arabia’s 264 billion bbls.

    http://www.energy.gov.on.ca/index.cfm?fuseaction=oilandgas.gasreport

    http://www.rense.com/general37/petrol.htm

    in us dollars thats 87.30206 cents a liter or @ $3.30 a gallon

    average price of gasoline in usa..$2.38

    http://www.eia.doe.gov/oil_gas/petroleum/data_publications/wrgp/mogas_home_page.html

    my sources fair and balanced enough? maybe my math is wrong..definitely possible.

    how do you account for this disparity? canada’s next door…imo we are behaving like armed addicts with our gluttenous consumer habits and the bills are coming due.

  • Tom B

    If Republicans don’t like big government, perhaps its destruction by ‘The Termites’ inside government is the Administration Dream. Emasculating the legitimacy of goernment from the inside is a lot easier than weakening it from without. As a homeowner, I simply find myself thinking, ‘Don’t worry about the rabid dogs running the neighborhood; I just hope the house doesn’ have termites!’ Does this all have anything to do with the efforts of the Karl Roves, Tom DeLays, and Dick Cheneys to politicize everything they touch? The answer is floating in the wind…. And then I think of revolutionaries’ classic methodology: encourage repression, criminality, and overreaction by the government so that it discredits itself; radicalize society so that it separates into two separate cultures. All of which makes moderates wonder, who is really ‘the enemy of America’ and who is really ‘trying to overthrow our nation’. The question is ‘who are the revolutionaries trying to overthrow the legitimacy of government?’ Could it be they have infiltrated it? … And then again, maybe it’s just that the brain-dead have stumbled into power…

  • Lumière

    ///…the muzzling of dissent,\\\

    Try google-ing that in China…lol

  • enhabit

    of interest:

    Ex-CIA agent blasts White House. Former CIA covert agent Valerie Plame Wilson

    Valerie Plame said her identity was ‘recklessly abused’.

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/6460227.stm

  • enhabit
  • enhabit

    outstanding contribution Tom B..i’m commiting “revolutionaries’ classic methodology: encourage repression, criminality, and overreaction by the government so that it discredits itself; radicalize society so that it separates into two separate cultures.” to memory..too good!

  • herbert browne

    I ‘second’ enhabit’s salute to Tom B… Ever since Reagan appointed people to lead gov’t agencies to whose existence those appointees were opposed (eg James Watt, Anne Gorsuch, etc), there’s been this periodic internal chipping away at the structure of the Federal gov’t. Lately the focus seems to be on discrediting, or muzzling, scientific contributions within some agencies. The ongoing use of Federal agencies to funnel money to the private sector by any means available (I’m thinking Defense budgets, Farm Bill legislation, and the new drug coverage under Medicare) isn’t a new story- but, considered in the light of the movement to shrink the government to a size “where it can be drowned in a bathtub” (from Grover Norquist, I believe), there are some cross-purposes showing. I don’t remember who suggested it, but we really could use a show on “Defining the ‘National Interest’ (by determining who it serves best)”. A parallel theme might be about “Official Secrets- Who Keeps Them- & Why” (and does the keeping of secrets serve any “National” purpose?)… ^..^

  • herbert browne

    (from GvsB) ..” It is obvious to me that the 911 attack was so far out of the box, that the response to it also needed to be just as shocking, to equalize the severity of the act..”-

    In other words, back to the old laws “might makes Right”; and “an eye for an eye”?

    Re: (ibid) “Therefore, when the enemy (as an example to contrast we can say the “old style enemy” like the Soviet Union during the Cold War) does not go by any known rules or laws, by flying planes into buildings, and while doing so creates a mostly new kind of battlefield, then the victim will fall prey to the aggressor unless he adapts to the new situation..”-

    OK… even though 1. the Laws of Physics still apply; and 2. there have been suicide attacks using planes as far back as the 1940s (& earlier, if one considers Waldo Pepper’s attack on the haybarn… of course, that was during “barnstorming” days… and may have been seen as “within the rules” of the endeavors, in those times), let’s assume “We, the People”, stick by our guns, er, principles, and take our lumps, playing “By the Rules.” Let’s suppose that those who attacked on 9/11/01 continued, unabated, with this “new method of lawless warfare”- and we did… nothing. If they had the same level of success as we continued to provide them with extraordinary targets, and the planes full of people & fuel, EVERY DAY SINCE 9/11, the casualty figure would stand at around 6 million- about half the population of Greater NYC. (By contrast, the “old-style enemy” you mentioned, ie the Soviet Union, lost 20 million in their victorious struggle with Nazi Germany, in a slightly shorter time frame.)

    Re: (ibid) ..”We are still a nation of laws and I don’t see any reason why that will ever change. But when it comes to the terrorists, “law” has very little value. The formulation is simple: if no American adaptation to “lawless” and unconventional attack of 911, then no survival..”

    Does “adaptation” mean “giving up on our principles”? If so, then “hello, fascism; so long, USA”. The adaptation to “lawless” has been around for centuries: it is called “Law”- & it works. Adaptation to “unconventional attack” is around, too… it’s called “the Pentagon”- and it has Your Best Interests at heart- if you have the money…

    Re: (ibid) ..” Propaganda is a shield from reality – or, say, a commercial manifestation that projects or protects the desired image of a given culture..”-

    I agree… and a corporate-dominated media has a lot to project- and a lot to protect…

    Re: ..”One can choose to be protected by it, or not. The only difference is that we have that choice, while others don’t..”-

    Yes- we still have a choice- & the opportunity- to see other points of view, here, different from the ones promulgated by “traditional” media, despite efforts to discourage ‘looking elsewhere’ (eg the movement for the “cultural purity” of an “english-only” society, the eternal sneers directed at “foreign” news sources, the wave of dismissal of the blogosphere). As an American, though, one has little choice about being “protected” by propaganda… it’s out there… & if you’re out there, too- but don’t feel served by it- tough. Pretend you’re a Canadian, if you don’t wanna take the heat for the policies of your country… ^..^

  • enhabit

    got into a lengthy discussion of the constitution over on the katrina “thread”. iwas challenged (a little unpleasantly but a little heated conflict, however condescending, can help one focus). if you read the constitution like a contract..and it is a contract..it leaves a great deal of constitutional protection open to “persons”…argue all you want. i can not find an explicit convention in the document linking “persons” and “citizens” continuously. they are deliberately distinct imo.

    over there i wrote because i feel strongly about this..

    “our integrity..amongst ourselves and internationaly, depends upon how determined we are to maintain human rights, as defined by our own constitution, among all people placed in our hands..regardless of the circumstance.”

    this is not some game’s rules printed on the back of the box..but a code of behavior and governmental architecture. people are inspired by it..outside this country..they are more than a little disapointed when they take a harder look at us.

    btw my cousin was teaching school in jordan during the iraq invasion..the daughter of a combat veteran..she had to pretend to be canadian

  • Lumière

    enhabit :

    I’m not on that thread b/c the answer is too simple & too emotionally charged

    The ‘law people’ are correct.

    The answer is that the law needs to be changed.

    The rationale is that we need these people – they aren’t here for a free lunch – We the People of the United States are getting a free lunch off their plate.

    GL

  • enhabit

    the fact that they are or are not illegal immigrants is beside the point..never mind the somewhat selective enforcement component (are latinos the only illegal immigrant group @ here?)

    they have legal rights under our constitution to be treated humanely..it may be that “convention” has come to accept a different interpretation. i invite you to read the constitution again..unbeleivably short document for what it is or refer to my sites over there.@ katrina

    march 16 12:30

    the founders were careful with their words..what may appear ambiguous can not have been carelessness or an oversightand..the early stirrings of manifest destiny was certainly in their hearts. contracts are always careful to define terms very specifically, good ones anyway (why people with trial experience tend to write the best ones) ..this document is no exeption…often CLEARLY stretching to include foreigners on american soil (necessary for commerce)

  • Lumière

    ///…if you read the constitution like a contract..and it is a contract…\\\\

    Ok I’ll read, but don’t make the mistake Gonzales made – look at the amendments too.

    The tution is extremely vague to be a contract, in fact it does not have many of the elements required of a binding contract.

    http://www.e-law.bc.ca/art_essential.html

  • Lumière

    I see HB is invoking the Randy Newman protocol:

    We’ll save Australia;

    Don’t wanna hurt no kangaroo.

    We’ll build an all-American amusement park there;

    They’ve got surfing, too.

    http://www.lyricsdepot.com/randy-newman/political-science.html

  • Lumière

    More on the tution…

    It is actually a political document. It has been the supreme court that turned it into law – to make your points, you have to look at the SC’s rulings

    My original quip is about the ability to discuss the situation. There is little ground between the sides, thus one is unable to make any forward headway, end around, or out flank the opposition.

    I give you an example of a battle not to fight.

    I was trespassing on a piece of property to capture an image. I knew the owner, but he wasn’t home. His neighbor comes out and starts yelling at me – I told him who I am and told him things about his neighbor that he probably didn’t know. 100% of the time people here get the fact that I am who I say I am and I am not in a process of harm, but good.

    This guy couldn’t let go – I realized immediately that he was unbalanced and I told him to call the cops. He said he couldn’t call, I ask why, and he says because it isn’t his property.

    I went about my business – later the police called me.

    I told the officer I have been trespassing here on the island for 17 years and I have never had a problem. The officer said that they are aware of my work and that they are watching the other guy closely. He asked me not to go back.

    There are laws & there is reasonableness,

    “Oh, East is East, and West is West, and never the twain shall meet.”.

  • enhabit

    i feel that we are on the same wavelength, perhaps different points of the wave..but the same never-the-less. nice to hear that j-town still has some of old ri’s good points.

  • rc21

    Any post with a little Kipling has some value.