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March 11, 2007

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And here I thought if I left the country for two weeks things would be all better when I got back. Bummer.

"It is not, and should never be, standard practice for them to turn the full punitive powers of the Federal government on their opponents."

I feel so nostalgic for 1974.

Federal Prosecutors should have exceptionally high ethical and professional standards. We in this "scandal" should one be demonstrated, are not merely talking about a dozen high Bush administration officials but dozens, perhaps hundreds of Republicans who violated their oaths, used their offices for a partisan purpose, and very likely broke the law. The individual prosecutors should not be allowed to claim political or career as an excuse for abusing their powers. Supposedly among the best educated, trained, and most honorable Republicans. Whatever sampling errors might occur in forming a general rule here should be favorable to the larger group.

Yet here we are. For the record, I am certainly not saying that all, each and every single Republican is corrupt, conscienceless, and unethical. I don't believe that to be true. Not every single one.

I feel so nostalgic for 1974.

The true measure of the Bush Administration is that Nixon is starting to look pretty dang good right about now...

"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."

Would it have been so hard for them to have compiled a database of investigations and/or indictments of candidates and elected officals by U.S. attorneys since the Clinton administration came into power? And gone on to look at the subsequent conviction rate?

They seem not to have taken seriously the hypothesis that Democrats are just systematically more corrupt than Republicans. And because they didn't, they seem not to have collected any of the data which would be needed to disprove that alternate explaination for the disparity in investigations.

A real mistake, I must say, if you're trying to convince anybody besides Democrats that there's a problem here. And a glaring omission from even a disinterested standpoint. It's just flat out bad social science here, folks.

BTW, I should say before the screaming starts that I'm quite open to the possiblity that the Bush administration is using US attorneys to mount a corrupt attack on the Democratic party. But this study is a pretty good example of how NOT to go about proving it.

Brett: They seem not to have taken seriously the hypothesis that Democrats are just systematically more corrupt than Republicans

If that hypothesis were true, their database should show, steadily, since January 2001, a consistent and unfluctuating difference between Democratic and Republican politicans. Actually, given that in 2001 no Republican politicians had yet been prosecuted for accepting bribes from Jack Abramoff, and the 37 must include all of the Republicans implicated in the Abramoff scandal, in 2001 the difference ought to have been even greater than the total difference today in 2007.

But, if the greater number of Democratic politicians investigated is due to political bias on the part of the Bush administration, the figures for 2001 ought to have been just about level, but we ought to see an increase as the Bush administration begins to make its political influence on federal attorneys felt.

67, not 37. :-(

The idea that prosecutors IRS auditors -- who have the power to decide whose life gets to be made hell on earth by being subjected to an investigation, and whose does not –

Sorry. Couldn’t resist.

Snark aside, yeah, Tricky Dick would feel right at home in this administration.

You're not making a lot of sense. Assume, for the sake of argument, that the Clinton administration was artifically suppressing investigations of Democratic politicians. The changeover of attorneys when a new President takes office isn't instantaneous, and there is bound to be a good deal of lag before the new policies take full effect even after the changeover is complete.

So, we would expect a delay of some significant duration, followed by the ratio gradually ramping up to a new equilibrium. Not a steady equilibrium, of course, since one at least presumes that being in the minority gives one less opportunity for corruption.

But, of course, that transition period is a rather poor source of data concerning Clinton era prosecutorial policies. And you really need conviction rates to determine if the choice of targets is politically biased, (And to distinguish between going after innocent Democrats, from not going after guilty Republicans, two versions of the alternate hypothesis.)

No, I must maintain that they failed to collect data which was obviously needed to prove their case. Presumable because they didn't think any alternate explaination deserved to even be debunked. Bad science.

Each and every US Attorney is a political appointee. The fact that the provision allowing the appointments without Senate approval is the real scandal here. For all the purported illegal acts of the administration,this series of firings were perfectly legal.
What bothers me most about this is that the Senate,and I mean none of the Democrats in this case,read a piece of legislation closely enough to have noticed the last minute addition. None of the staffs,none of the aides,nobody.
How many other bills are being voted on by both sides with provisions so damaging to the role of the Senate,the supposedly more deliberative body.
The US Attorneys are admonished perhaps to be above the political fray,but that's a seldom achieved ideal. The nature of the job is to cut deals,even in the midst of prosecutions. They have budget and performance criteria on which they are judged.

And, remember, I AM open to the possiblity that they're right. I just think they went about proving their case in a bad way.

Brett, I think you're wrong to be thinking in terms of Bush and Clinton. I think it's Ashcroft and Gonzales.

I don't like John Ashcroft. But he did demonstrate, more than once, that he was an honest Attorney General: he recused himself from the Plame investigation, for example. If we assume that, under Ashcroft, federal attorneys were immune from political interference, but not under Alberto Gonzales, then the database beginning from January 2001 makes sense: Ashcroft's term as Attorney General provides a baseline for the relative numbers of Democratic and Republican politicians being investigated, prosecuted, and convicted - and should then show a difference after Alberto Gonzales was appointed.

Makes sense if they were trying to compare Ashcroft to Gonzales. (And I agree that Gonzales comes off rather poorly in such a comparison.) Of course, that's not what they said they were trying to compare. In fact, they say,

"The current Bush Republican Administration appears to be the first to have engaged in political profiling."

My question, quite simply, is how can they make that case if they didn't collect data on other administrations?

They can't. They didn't collect the data necessary to prove that this is political profiling rather than a result of differential corruption, and they didn't collect the data to prove that the Bush administration is different in this regard.

You can't make a statement about A compared to B if you only look at B. It's as simple as that.

And, BTW, 8 to 1? Good lord, if it were 2 to 1, I might be more inclined to buy the theory that it was just an excess of Democratic corruption. But 8 to 1? Ought to be pathetically simple to prove that it's political bias, once they stop assuming a priori that any difference has to be "profiling", and actually try to round up proof.

Brett: "The current Bush Republican Administration appears to be the first to have engaged in political profiling."

But that would be perfectly true whether or not they were assuming that the corruption began with Ashcroft or with Gonzales.

My question, quite simply, is how can they make that case if they didn't collect data on other administrations?

Well, is it your contention that under the Clinton, Bush Sr, Reagan, and Carter administrations federal attorneys were leaned on to investigate along party lines/fired when they didn't cooperate? If that is your contention, this all happened long enough ago that there should be a fair number of those federal attorneys now able to come forward and say "Hey, we wanted to prosecute corrupt Democratic politicians, but Clinton made clear what would happen to an attorney who tried!"

It does make sense to look at data from previous administrations, too. But if (as I suspect) their hypothesis is that the rot began when Gonzales was appointed, data going back only to the beginning of Ashcroft's appointment as Attorney General should suffice.

Gonzales makes me wonder if the Attorney General should actually be a political appointee. (Of course, the Democrats could have and should have filibustered the nomination).

Ought to be pathetically simple to prove that it's political bias, once they stop assuming a priori that any difference has to be "profiling", and actually try to round up proof.

Well, you do seem yourself to be assuming a priori that the difference has to be way more Democratic corruption and Clinton's actively protecting corrupt local Democratic politicians from prosecution.

But I do see your point about it being useful to include data in the database back to March 1993. I don't know why they didn't do that, but I wouldn't trust a news report to make clear scientific methodology - that kind of thing is frequently either not reported accurately because the reporter didn't understand it, or not reported at all because the newspaper thinks their reader won't understand it. There may be a good methodological reason why their database begins in 2001, and without a link to the scientists' own account of why they picked the boundaries they did, I wouldn't assume it was wrong.

It would suffice to prove that there was something wrong with Gonzales, which I am not inclined to dispute. But, I repeat, that was not their thesis. I'm simply observing that they didn't collect the data needed to prove the thesis they actually advanced.

FWIW, I agree with Brett on this one. If those numbers exist, I'd like to see them. Just think, if the historical numbers show what most of us suspect they show, what a conclusive case they would make.

So we have a country of regional and global geopolitical significance, flouting international norms, replacing the rule of law in matters of personal concern to the ruling cabal with purely personal allegiance, thoroughly corrupt, operating in deep secrecy to hide details of official activity from internal and external critics, in possession of nuclear weapons and unwilling to support multilateral efforts at nonproliferation beyond a minimum of lip service, with a recent history of violent warmaking and active hostility to measures aimed at protecting civilians, rebuilding infrastructure, or even simply finding out what the costs of conflict have been.

When will Charles be calling for war against the Washington junta?

Brett, if their thesis was that the Bush administration was the first to engage in political profiling, then data comparing Gonzales with Ashcroft would still work to prove that the Bush administration did.

But, as cw says, I don't disagree that more information on patterns of prosecution under previous attorney generals would also be useful. Though if the data showed reasonable equality from 2001 onwards (which would include, as you pointed out, legacy data from the Clinton administration), and took a spike upwards under Gonzales, I'd say that proves enough.

The study is an indicator, but proves nothing by itself. I agree with Brett that information on the outcomes of these cases are relevant, and I would welcome a similar study for the previous few administrations.

However, investigations by themselves can be an intrusive, intensive form of harassment, so I think the 8:1 ratio tells us something.

But I find far more persuasive what professionals in the justice system have understood for decades about the U.S. Attorney position: Sure, it's a political appointment, but there is a long tradition that appointees fill out the entire term of the administration that appointed them except for cases of real malfeasance or truly inadequate performance.

I would welcome information on any U.S. attorneys who have been relieved of their duties for whatever reason, over the course of the last six administrations. Placed in that context, I think the events of 2006 will speak for themselves.

It's very rare but I side with Mr.Bellmore here. My personal hypothesis would be that Democrats are not inherently more corrupt but on a general base more likely to be forced to pay for it, i.e. I'd suspect that (on the federal level) Democrats would have moderately higher conviction rates but far below those we have here. Should be easy to check.
What could also be interesting is the relation of investigations to actual convictions. Without looking at the data I would suspect that investigations under the current Bush have increased more than the convictions, hinting at an abuse of the system for harassment.
Concerning Ascroft vs. Gonzales, IMO the former is a loony but true to his convictions but the latter would fit in perfectly with any authoritarian/totalitarian system independent of political shade.

Nell I would welcome information on any U.S. attorneys who have been relieved of their duties for whatever reason, over the course of the last six administrations.

There's a list on wikipedia, which doesn't exactly seem to bear you out, though I haven't clicked on any of the names. Going back 40 years to Lyndon Johnson, there's been 15 Attorneys General, and the shortest period of tenure is Elliot L. Richardson (Nixon: May 25, 1973 - October 20, 1973). Most of them seem to have held the post for two or three years. Most Presidents seem to have had at least two, including Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter. (Nixon had four.) Clinton is the only one who appointed an attorney general in 1993 and she stayed in the post for 8 years: Janet Reno is an exception, not a rule.

With regard to Elliot L. Richardson: It shows my ignorance of recent American history. I had never heard of the Saturday Night Massacre. Wow, those were days. How Bush has learned from Nixon.

These prosecutors forgot that all the organs of the State, including the office of People's Attorney, are tasked with protecting and promoting the unique role of the Party as the Vanguard of the Revolution.

Sailing the seas depends on the Helmsman. Doubtless Comrade Rove correctly detected a lack of committment to the Party and the Helmsman in Comrades Lam, McKay Iglesias, et al, as evidenced by their failure to complete work norms.

They was fired for failing to show in their work correct orientation towards the greater struggle, and the correct role of legal cadres within that struggle.

Y'all got a problem with that?

Jes: Nell is interested in a tally of fired/replaced US Attorneys, I think, not Attorneys General. USAs are sort of regional legal deputies. AsG are the lone Alberto Gonzaleses at the top.

Model62: My bad: I misunderstood. Still, I'm not sorry to have happened to look up the Saturday Night Massacre story...

I feel so nostalgic for 1974.

The true measure of the Bush Administration is that Nixon is starting to look pretty dang good right about now...

Disagree wildly. When we have tanks on the streets of Washington, round-ups of tens of thousands of people who are then held in RFK Stadium, FBI agents systematically assassinating black militants, proven wiretapping and break-ins on political enemies of the Administration, including Democratic National Committee headquarters and Howard Dean, massive secret bombing of Iran and Syria by B-52s for months, as well as secret invasions of these countries by thousands of U.S. troops, massacres of hundreds of Iraqi women and children at a time, and American war protestors being randomly shot down in groups at protests by the National Guard, on more than one college campus at a time, get back to me about this.

Kids.

OCSteve: "Snark aside, yeah, Tricky Dick would feel right at home in this administration."

Much better.

Katherine: "Gonzales makes me wonder if the Attorney General should actually be a political appointee."

Not exactly a new question in the republic, and not starting with Bobby Kennedy. Previously "solved" at various times by various customs and constraints, as well as, relatively recently, until even more relatively recently, by the "independent counsel" law that Congress let lapse during the Clinton era, after bi-partisan dissatisfaction. I thought that was the wrong response then, and I haven't changed my mind.

On the other hand, I'd advise looking back closely at the events of the Andrew Johnson Administration before further discussing making any member of the Cabinet not-a-political appointee, whatever that means, exactly.

"I had never heard of the Saturday Night Massacre."

Goodness. (Not faulting you; there's no reason you should be expert in the affairs of a foreign country over thirty years ago; but it should leave you lots of fascinating stuff to learn about Watergate, and investigating an evil President and his law-breaking henchmen, as well as how the U.S. finally got out of a lost war.)

In case you didn't notice, by the way, the man Nixon finally got to fire Special Prosecutor Archibald Cox was Associate Attorney General (the third-ranking Department of Justice official) Robert H. Bork, who was later the darling jurist of the Reagan era, and who famously was not confirmed to be on the Supreme Court, another of the Great Grievances ever since of conservatives in the U.S.

The only subsequent White House Press Secretary who has ever come remotely as close to being a worm as Ron Ziegler, though, was Ari Fleischer; Tony Snow is a lot more professional (and competent), I'd have to grant. No "that statement is no longer operative" from him.

And one thing I'll grant to Cheney is that he's lots brighter than Spiro Agnew ever was. More dangerous, probably, but, then, Agnew never had any real power; he was just an attack dog -- closer to having Rush Limbaugh as Veep, but with the job of only giving speeches attacking liberals and the nattering nabobs of negativity in the press.

Sorry, Bork was Solicitor General; momentary mindo to confuse him with Associate AG.

Bush would've been better off pulling a Clinton and firing them all right after he was elected. Such an act would have killed his "uniter, not a divider" rhetoric at the time, but at least it would've been better than this.

"Bush would've been better off pulling a Clinton and firing them all right after he was elected."

?

The 8 U.S. attorneys he's fired were ones he (like all other U.S. Attorneys) appointed; he couldn't fire them right after he was elected, because he hadn't appointed them yet.

I'm probably misunderstanding you in some simple way.

What do you mean by "pulling a Clinton," incidentally, Charles? Are you saying that Bill Clinton did something unusual as regards U.S. Attorneys when he was first elected? If so, what? Or what?

I'm comparing the system in European countries where prosecutors are independent positions more like judges. South Africa too, I think.

The combination of not politically independent federal prosecutors, and the lack of restriction on the classification power, means that if the administration doesn't want to uphold the rule of law, the only real remedy is impeachment. Which is also not feasible without a huge majority in Congress.

I don't know. I wish I lived in a country with a different structured government, these days. I don't think ours works so well anymore.

Can you name one that does, Katherine? (No snark intended. I am genuinely curious, as the roster of governments worldwide does not fill this observer with confidence.)

"I'm comparing the system in European countries where prosecutors are independent positions more like judges. South Africa too, I think."

So you're saying you don't just want to someone better insulate the A-G from political considerations (certainly a legitimate notion, with a number of possibilities, both new and old), you want to switch to an entirely different form of justice system and government. Well, okay, but I'm not sure that leaves us much to discuss until you put forth your suggested new Constitutional changes. :-)

Of course, traditionally U.S. Attorneys are supposed to have a degree of independence, never clearly defined or outlined, but helped by the tradition that one couldn't be nominated and confirmed without the ok, if not being the direct nominee, of the senior Senator of the state, as well as, of course, the provision that was eliminated via the Patriot Act, which started this whole mishegos, which was that any temporary appointments would be made by a federal judge, until a new nominee was put forward to be confirmed by the Senate.

It was this whole trick of elminating that, and allowing the President to nominate "temporary" U.S. Attorneys indefinitely -- i.e., "permanently" (until the end of the President's term) -- without Senate confirmation, that got us into this; the system didn't seem to be extraordinarily distorted prior to that, so I'm unclear why it's intolerable to go back to the pre-Patriot Act status quo ante.

The Napoleanic approach to justice systems is hardly lacking for problems, itself, after all. If you thought (as I and many did) that Ken Starr was out of control, just wait until you create a system with hundreds of Ken Starrs that can be appointed by Republicans, who can't be removed by a Democratic President. This will be a great improvement?

I'm not talking about the Patriot Act provisions. I'm talking about the government committing well documented war crimes and the political appointees from the Eastern District of Virginia who was assigned to investigate failing to bring a single indictment, the Office of Legal Counsel utterly betraying its obligations, etc. etc.

I suppose there's no system of gov't that's actually immune to corruption by the party in power and the party out of power not giving a damn. But I don't think ours is all it's cracked up to be.

I will not dispute that, Katherine. I am personally inclined towards breaking the U.S. into 4-5 smaller republics, each of which can determine its own structure. If nothing else, such a breakup would reduce the hyperpower problem. But I suspect that suggestion wouldn't go over well.

"Can you name one that [have a government that works well] does, Katherine?"

Iceland has always seemed interesting. Of course, the situation of a tiny country, with an ethnically homogenous people, is quite different from that of one that is neither.

But also Finland. Estonia seems to be doing very well in recent years. Neither do many people seem to be fleeing from Switzerland, nor Sweden, nor the other Scandanavian countries.

But relatively speaking, I don't think either the U.S., or much of Europe, is really all that dysfunctional, compared to either much of the rest of the world, or historically (neither is Australia or New Zealand collapsing; to be more controversial, one could make a good case for the considerable increases of well-being China has been bringing to its population for the past thirty years, despite a lack of political freedom).

So I'd ask "works well" compared to what?

"Brett, if their thesis was that the Bush administration was the first to engage in political profiling, then data comparing Gonzales with Ashcroft would still work to prove that the Bush administration did."

Nope. Fails on two points.

First, without looking at other administrations, they can't establish that Bush was the first.

Second, without assuming a priori that Democrats and Republicans are equally corrupt, the differential they found does not establish political profiling.

It's, of course, a question of longstanding disagreement between the left and right, whether the existance of differential impact, divorced from any other evidence, is proof of discrimination. I fall firmly on the right side of that divide.

The 8 to 1 ratio is a lot higher than I find plausible, but I don't think my intuitions trump evidence. Now, if the conviction rate for Democrats turns out to be substantially lower than for Republicans, THAT would cinch it in my mind.

"But I don't think ours is all it's cracked up to be."

What is?

G'kar: "I am personally inclined towards breaking the U.S. into 4-5 smaller republics, each of which can determine its own structure. If nothing else, such a breakup would reduce the hyperpower problem. But I suspect that suggestion wouldn't go over well."

I'd say that if that was a good idea, we should have just skipped the Civil War, and gone directly to that; it would have saved a great deal of trouble to get to the same result.

It certainly would have made for a different 20th Century, though.

Separation of powers doesn't work so well when the legislature would just as soon abdicate. I think I'd rather a parliamentary system.

Thanks, Gary. Again, I would be grateful for a pointer to information about any U.S. Attorneys who have been removed from their jobs.

Charles is just passing along the ignorant smear that is the official spin on this corruption of the justice system.

Every new administration appoints new U.S. Attorneys. They are political appointees. Until this regime, those USA's were left in place (absent individual and rare cases of malfeasance or dereliction) for the duration of the administration's term.

I may be wrong about this, but it is what I understood about USAs long before this scandal, and what the forced-out USAs believed as well. Read or view their testimony: they were gobsmacked when the call came telling them they were gone.

If anyone has counter-examples, please present them.

I mean, the mechanism did exist to prevent Gonzales and Ashcroft from being confirmed--the solution may simply be that "the President gets the cabinet he wants" rule cannot apply to the Attorney General; that should be more like a Supreme Court confirmation.

I still haven't got over the El-Masri decision, I think.

"Separation of powers doesn't work so well when the legislature would just as soon abdicate. I think I'd rather a parliamentary system."

How would that work better when the legislature (parliament) would just as soon advocate?

If people are willing, as a dominant group, to not live up to their responsibilities, I'm quite doubtful that restructuring will alone provide a solution.

I'm inclined to think political culture is ultimately more important, because with a will to change, much can be done to change structure (if necessary, in a revolutionary way, a thought much countenanced by our founding fathers), but if the polity or political leadership are overwhelmingly dispirited or apathetic or cowed, the structure really doesn't matter much.

I'm inclined to always be a bit suspicious of possible their-grass-is-greener syndrome, as a rule, as well. I really can't say that I've observed the splendid parliamentary system of, say, Italy, or Israel, to be a distinct inherent improvement over our system, though YMMV.

"How would that work better when the legislature (parliament) would just as soon advocate?"

Whoops: "abdicate," not "advocate," of course.

Yes, "Clinton fired everyone, too!" is a RW talking point that needs to be shot down.

When a new Administration starts, all the political appointees from the previous Administration are fired. It's standard procedure, so the new Administration can install its own political appointees. There's nothing stopping the new Administration from simply reapppointing any or all of the old group, and there's nothing stopping the new Administration from replacing them all, either.

What's different about this is that all of the USA's were already Bush's political appointees; and that all seem to have been fired because they were insufficiently sensitive to the campaign needs of Republican candidates, or for uncovering too much Republican corruption, or to make room for Bush-Rove cronies.

Neatly, if deceptively, dismissed, Gary. There is no small difference between the U.S. breaking up over slavery and the Confederacy continuing slavery for many more decades and a breakup of a United States where people have very different dreams and desires for what they would like their country to be.

The biggest flaw in the ointment, as I see it, is that the major schism in the U.S. today is between the country and the cities (see here, although it is for the 2000 election), so there are major practical flaws with the idea because it is difficult to break up into smaller nations along logical geographic lines without recreating the city-country schism in miniature in each new nation.

Conversely, the mere act of having to determine new government systems for each nation might at least allow some of the new states to begin again with power devolved to the lowest level. Power would accrete upwards over time, but we might get another century or so of limited federal government before that time came.

It won't happen without bloodshed, sadly, but I'm not certain that day will not arrive eventually nonetheless as the federal government grows stronger. Sooner or later, the federal government will make a decision people are willing to fight over, and it is difficult to predict what might happen when that day arrives.

Structual reform that would put members of Congress more closely in touch with the wishes of those they represent: public financing (or any other change to campaign financing that removes the built-in instinct of members to pay more attention to PACs than to constituents).

First, without looking at other administrations, they can't establish that Bush was the first.

oh who cares... is what BushCo is doing right, or not ?

Ah, but the question that remains to be seen, cleek, is whether this is a systemic problem that requires a structural fix, or merely yet another problem brought on by an overreaching administration that can be solved by throwing them out. If the latter, it is relatively minor. If the former, we have a much bigger problem.

Nell,

Short of banning private contributions to those running for office, I'd submit that private groups will always be able to get the attention of our elected representatives.

Further, how does public financing deal with people outside the two major parties? Do we make the Republican and Democratic parties de facto elements of our government?

G'Kar, similar data for the 2006 elections would show something quite different. A boatload of rural areas in my state increased their Dem performance dramatically.

The facts of deaths and injuries from the Iraq and Afghan wars have something to do with this.

Having been born and raised in a rural area, having lived in a succession of cities for twenty years, and having returned home, the rural/urban divide is not exactly news to me. It's a culture war that will be best solved by conversation and communication, not the model of recent history promoted by all right-wing Republicans and some clueless urban liberal Dems: ressentiment, stereotyping, and fantasies of secession.

"I mean, the mechanism did exist to prevent Gonzales and Ashcroft from being confirmed--the solution may simply be that 'the President gets the cabinet he wants' rule cannot apply to the Attorney General; that should be more like a Supreme Court confirmation."

The difference being, of course, that SCOTUS is a lifetime appointment, and the A-G isn't. Also, of course, the A-G is supposed to have a degree of independence. This is neither a new idea, nor does it require restructuring of our government, since it's simply long been the traditional view that the A-G is the chief law enforcement officer of the U.S., not the President's personal attorney/advocate (that's the job of the White House counsel); this was, of course, brought up at Gonzales' confirmation hearings, and he duly affirmed (gave lip service) to the principle.

The solution to an Executive officer who has engaged in malfeasance, or derilection, or disregard for Congress and the law, is, of course, impeachment. I don't at all see why we need to come up with a new Constitution for a cure, and neither am I remotely optimistic that the Law Of Unintended Consequences would help bring us to some great improvement, given how quite equally troubled by corruption and politicization parliamentary systems are. If you'd like to argue the case that, say, Britain, France, Italy, Germany, and parliamentary systems in general, have grossly less corruption or malfeasance or politicization, than we do, I'll listen with interest, to be sure. But deep skepticism will also take a seat with me, because I've yet to notice this to date, and I do pay some attention.

As it happens, Britain is currently going through the honours-for-money scandal, which has been ongoing for years, which is contributing to the ongoing let's-completely-reform-the-House-of-Lords with more, or nothing but, elections, reform movement, just as Britain has been moving to make their justice system less parliamentary, and more like ours.

In both situations: the structure of parliament (Lords), and the justice system, the British are moving to be less traditionally parliamentary, and more American; perhaps you should explain to them how and why they're moving in the wrong direction.

Similarly, Israel moved to having an independently elected P.M. -- away from the strict parliamentary structure -- although in traditional Israeli fashion they've since somewhat been going back and forth.

Grass-is-greener syndrome is usually endemic, which is part of why I'm always skeptical of it.

But I'm particularly dubious about the virtues of the Napoleanic justice system as somehow less politicized, and generally superior, though every system has some points.

@G'Kar: Public financing would probably deal with parties other than the two major ones the same way the rest of our electoral mechanisms do: By setting performance standards difficult (but not impossible) to meet.

The structural obstacles to the success of third parties exist from top to bottom in our system of government. At a very low level, e.g., all local Boards of Election of which I'm aware are divided among representatives of the two major parties, and no others. Few if any states provide for anything else.

It's, of course, a question of longstanding disagreement between the left and right, whether the existance of differential impact, divorced from any other evidence, is proof of discrimination. I fall firmly on the right side of that divide.

Does that mean you think it is proof, or isn't? If the latter, does that mean you simpy reject statistical analysis out of hand as a way of establishing discrimination, or anything else for that matter?

"When a new Administration starts, all the political appointees from the previous Administration are fired. It's standard procedure, so the new Administration can install its own political appointees."

But everyone knows that. That can't be what Charles was referring to: he couldn't that ignorant, surely?

(Of course, this is the guy who complained that AP had updated a story without explaining that it had been updated, and who was thus writing at length about wire services practices without the faintest clue as to what he was talking about as regards one of the most basic facts about the news business in our country in over a hundred years -- that the whole point of a wire service is that they continuously update stories "without notice" of the changes -- so I suppose it isn't completely inconceivable.)

"Neatly, if deceptively, dismissed, Gary."

Huh? How?

As is so often the case, you are taking a tangential point as some sort of disagreement, and it's purely imaginary on your part; I didn't disagree with you about the faintest thing in that comment, let alone "dismiss" something.

Discussion goes in all sorts of directions: it's not always about your points, or disagreeing or agreeing with you, G'Kar. I made an observation that did neither.

"deceptively"

But thanks so much for once again accusing me of being dishonest in casual conversation: it makes engaging in friendly, casual, conversation with you such a pleasure.

Not to mention that it seems to be that accusing me of being "deceptive" is a violation of both the letter, and spirit, of the posting rules.

Out of curiosity, Nell, when you say that all right-wing Republicans have fantasies about ressentiment, stereotypes and secession, do you mean that there are no right-wing Republicans anywhere in the United States who do not possess those three traits, or are you engaging in a touch of stereotyping yourself?

As for public financing, I am aware of the difficulties currently faced by third parties in the United States. I simply am not of the opinion that this is necessarily a good thing.

Oh, the Supreme Court is a lifetime appointment! Wow, I had no idea.

But there are 9 of them, and 1 AG, and there are ways for the executive to make sure certain cases never get to the Supreme Court.


The point is that a two party system, which we will have indefinitely, makes impeachment an almost always empty threat. It takes 40 votes to not confirm an AG who you can expect to abuse power; 27 more than that to remove one from office via impeachment.

You have a point about grass-is-greener syndrome; if the advantage of the parliamentary system is removing an executive who has lost the public's confidence...

But a lot of the things that so disgust me could be changed by statute and could have been stopped in the first place if the Democrats actually cared.

Further to G'Kar: I'm almost as dissatisfied with the structural dominance of the two-party system as you are. If this country's political system were to change in a more parliamentary direction, I'd be one of the first to bolt to a party to the left of the one I'm in now.

I have voted, contributed, and done volunteer work for a third party in the past.

But at the moment I see more promise in boring from within. Currently, my interests align with those of rank-and-file Dems of all ideological stripes in increasing my party's responsiveness to its voters (rather than merely, as in the recent past, to its funders and organizational mobilizers).

Libertarians are, by the very nature of their belief system, at a disadvantage in having a similar kind of effect within either of the major parties.

"Short of banning private contributions to those running for office, I'd submit that private groups will always be able to get the attention of our elected representatives."

I'm sure that banning private contributions wouldn't eliminate that possibility, as well. (Note: this is an agreement with you.)

I do look with favor on the notion of requiring that contributions be done through a blind: that all Congressional and Presidential contributions go into a pool, with no politician being able to determine who contributed specifically to them, or any other politician. (Mind, all contributions to the pool, overall, would still be publically listed.) This would seem to lessen the influence of contributions, would it not?

I'd say that if that was a good idea, we should have just skipped the Civil War, and gone directly to that; it would have saved a great deal of trouble to get to the same result.

Was this not your argument, Gary? I copied and pasted it, so I believe that it is, but perhaps you can explain otherwise. If not, this seems a classic example of a strawman argument: you claim that breaking the U.S. up today would be no different than not having fought the American Civil War in 1861. This is clearly incorrect on the merits and is obviously not the argument I was making. And since a strawman argument is by definitional deceptive, the term seemed apt.

As for the rest of your argument, suffice it to say that perhaps dragging old resentments into a different relationship is unhelpful at best.

"Oh, the Supreme Court is a lifetime appointment! Wow, I had no idea."

Did I say something to earn this sarcasm?

Jeepers, if everyone is in a bad temper, I have plenty of other things to do than try friendly conversation around here.

No, G'Kar, I'm saying that all right-wing Republicans have, through the issues they promote and the political campaigns they've supported, employed ressentiment (what else is the "liberal elite" and culture-war crap about?) No stereotyping involved.

The fantasy of secession is actually more prevalent among urbanites in blue states, reaching a peak in December 2004 that was hard for those of us blue specks in a red sea to endure. But endure we did, and now there's a lot less of that talk.

That seems a good idea, Gary, as it would at once reduce the ability of people to directly influence representatives which would, in turn, reduce the incentive for people to contribute and therefore might place some downward pressure on the amount of money flowing into politics. On the other hand, this would also increase the power of the parties if they were given the ability to apportion the money, and if the money was simply given to candidates according to some predetermined formula, it might be objected to on free speech grounds, as there are many small donors who contribute to a particular candidate because they like that candidate and they might not like the thought of having that ability taken away from them.

Nell,

I concur with your assessment of libertarians. People who merely want government to leave them alone are generally uncomfortable attempting to move into positions of power in that same government. That is no small reason why elective systems tend to decay as they do, whether it is a local PTA board or the federal government of the United States. We would have been better off if the Constitution had come with an expiration date at which time the states would have to start over from ground zero.

"This is clearly incorrect on the merits and is obviously not the argument I was making."

Tangential:">http://www.answers.com/tangential%26r%3D67&usg=__v_rAJVJaFKVXW8zl2EgtylCOums=">Tangential: t, a, n, g, e, n, t, i, a, l. Digressive observation.

Useful concepts to be familiar with.

If you'd like me to not get irritated, or worse, when you accuse me of being "deceptive" or using a "strawman," I'd ask you to try becoming familiar with these concepts, and to quit making such accusations.

It seemed to me that if it were a better idea for the U.S. to instead be several smaller regional countries, that it would have been a better idea to have gone for that without having to have first gone through all the death and destruction of the Civil War. That's the thought that occurred to me when I read your suggestion that such a set-up would be a better idea. You're free to agree or disagree. You're also free to misunderstand and misread me. If or when you read that statement as in some way disagreeing with what you had said, that's what you're doing. I don't even know what the heck it is I'm supposed to have disagreed with, for pete's sake!

How the hell can I be "disagreeing" with you and not know it? Let alone be "deceptive" in the process!?

Sheesh!

What part of "I. Was. Not. Disagreeing. With. You." is unclear?

(If you think it's irrelevant that we've gone through this precise cycle of you insisting I've disagree with you, when I've made a tangential observation, countless times, for year after year after year now, you're also free to do that, but my own observation is that we've now gone through this dozens of times, and I find it deeply unpleasant for you to continue to make such accusations about my personal honor at me. It's quite possible that it would be for the best for both of us for me to take up not responding to you at all, so as to break the cycle, just as I'd twice stopped commenting on your blog; this repeated pattern does neither of us any good.)

"On the other hand, this would also increase the power of the parties if they were given the ability to apportion the money, and if the money was simply given to candidates according to some predetermined formula"

No, the notion is that people could still donate to whomever they want (with limits or without is a separate question) -- but the fact of who any specific donation is intended for would be unknown, or at least unproven, to the politician (and therefore anyone else), and thus no one could have the benefit of saying "well, I donated $10K to you, so I expect an appointment to discuss my interests."

It's hardly foolproof, but still seems to have virtues, both of retaining much individual freedom and choice, but lessening influence compared to our present system.

The parties apportioning that money would not be part of the system, and neither would predetermined formulas. Just a blind intermediary body (obviously with lots of internal auditing and other safeguards included).

Strange coincidence, Althouse at Instapundit points to Chicago Sun Times article about government corruption.

New Jersey, Illinois and Louisiana are the usual suspects. Of course the Ryan administration in Illinois was Republican, and it was investigated thoroughly. But lookit, the Chicago political scene is almost 100% Democrats, so almost 100% of the corruption in Chicago is among Democrats. So you have the most corrupt states and most corrupt cities being run by Democrats. Is it any wonder that more Democrats are being investigated?

Gary,

You have an impressive talent for eliding blame. Whenever a dispute occurs around you, somehow it is always the fault of the other fellow. I envy that talent.

I will solve your problem, however. As you seem bound and determined to treat me as if I were a specific person you've had dealing with in the past, I'll simply refrain from commenting here at all. Consider: if I am, in fact, the person you think I am, then I am using a pseudonym for a reason and if that pseudonym is affiliated with the real me, it does me no good. If I am not who you believe me to be, then I remain saddled with years of baggage built up between you and whoever you think I am. In either case, it seems imprudent for me to remain, particularly when my presence seems to rile you so thoroughly. So I cede the field to you, sir.

"Does that mean you think it is proof, or isn't? If the latter, does that mean you simpy reject statistical analysis out of hand as a way of establishing discrimination, or anything else for that matter?"

Not proof.

Look, statistical analysis is useful. And I've already said that if, in addition to being investigated/charged at a disproportionate rate, Democrats turn out to be aquitted at a higher rate than Republicans, that would cinch the case for discrimination so far as I was concerned. Is that not an application of statistical analysis?

The problem here is that if Democrats are being investigated/charged at a disproportionate rate, and convicted in a percentage of cases similar to cases involving Republicans, the simplest explaination is that Democrats are just more likely to be corrupt, and ought to be getting investigated/charged more often.

While that's not an explaination for the statistics they collected which you'd expect Democrats to embrace, it's certainly not one social scientists, as such, should consider so implausible that they don't see any need to investigate the possiblity.

That's why I say this was bad science, because they arrived at conclusions when they didn't bother collecting all the data needed to justify their conclusions.

Particularly when they conclude that, not only is the Bush administration engaging in political profiling, but that they're the first. How the heck can you state that with any confidence at all, when you don't bother to check if previous administrations did the same???

"So you have the most corrupt states and most corrupt cities being run by Democrats."

Naturally, you say this, but don't support it with any cites or facts at all.

Why would anyone not just accept it as surely true? It just must be true: it must be!

I regretted the news about Ohio seceding, myself.

G'Kar [on 'blind' contributions]: On the other hand, this would also increase the power of the parties if they were given the ability to apportion the money, and if the money was simply given to candidates according to some predetermined formula, it might be objected to on free speech grounds

I want to support this point of G'Kar's as strongly as is humanly possible.

I follow campaign finance issues closely, yet somehow it had escaped me until this week that some change to the laws has allowed both major parties' campaign committees to set up "independent expenditure" arms: they allow the DCCC and RNCC to take in more overall contributions, but the ads that the "independent" committees pay for cannot be affected, even by the candidates on whose behalf they are produced.

In the 2006 cycle, the first for this new wrinkle, the Republicans spent $20 million more in this way than the Dems, and their ads were egregiously sleazy and fact-free. A number of Republican candidates found to their horror that there was literally nothing they could do to stop the ads.

Despite the fact that the comparable ads run by the Dems' "independent" arm were factually based, though also predominantly negative, I am no more happy about this situation than the disgruntled R candidates.

This is outrageous, and I urge anyone to avoid giving to their party's Congressional or Senate campaign committees until this is reversed. Donors to these committees, for the most part, have no idea of the extent to which they are removing control from their favored candidates.

"In either case, it seems imprudent for me to remain, particularly when my presence seems to rile you so thoroughly."

Oh, please. I have 0 desire to influence you to go away from here; I, of course, think you have much to contribute. (I never would have commented so much in response to your writing if I didn't enjoy and admire and respect it; I have no record of repeatedly commenting on blogs by bloggers I feel otherwise about.)

I certainly desire that you continue to comment here; I refuse to let you blame me for any decision otherwise. I shall certainly not comment in response to you, if that would help (I was hoping that that wouldn't be necessary, but if it is, I'll live with it). But I won't otherwise accept any responsibility for driving you away; I'd be as apt to entirely quit commenting here myself, rather than let you put me in that position.

My understanding is that we were preserving deniability of any other identification of G'Kar; I wasn't aware we were pretending that you were some complete newcomer to this blog and the internet; if that's your preference, I'm certainly willing to cooperate in that, as necessary. I simply hadn't known that that was your preference, and you'd not communicated that preference previously to me, you know.

Feel free to clarify, whether here or in e-mail; I merely thought that keeping you out of trouble with your employers was the point of your current posting name, not some sort of attempt to Start A Whole New Identity. But whatever your preference, I'm surely interested in making things as easy as possible for you, within any bounds of reason, and seek to do nothing more in that regard than fulfill your preferences. If your preference is that "G'Kar" is a wholly fresh slate, well, I don't think you'd be entirely reasonable if you expected people to play "let's pretend" to the point of wiping out their memory, but insofar as you'd prefer that folks act that way in public, fine, I'll certainly do my best (rather than simply not say anything that would in any way put you in danger of being identified by your employers, which is what I had thought was the idea, up to now). If that's the case, I apologize for my previous misunderstanding. But please do let me know what your preferences are, because I can't follow them otherwise, and it wouldn't be reasonable for you to expect me to mind-read from you what your preferences were, or be angry at me for not having done so.

Otherwise, could we try a little less drama, please?

G'Kar: As you seem bound and determined to treat me as if I were a specific person you've had dealing with in the past, I'll simply refrain from commenting here at all.

I find it more effective simply to refrain from commenting/communicating with Gary Farber at all.

cleek: oh who cares... is what BushCo is doing right, or not ?

I'm not sure Brett cares.

I follow campaign finance issues closely, yet somehow it had escaped me until this week that some change to the laws has allowed both major parties' campaign committees to set up "independent expenditure" arms: they allow the DCCC and RNCC to take in more overall contributions, but the ads that the "independent" committees pay for cannot be affected, even by the candidates on whose behalf they are produced.
It's extremely simple: McCain-Feingold placed limits on what the national committees can do. Obviously, and of course, independent groups aren't affected by those limitations: that's not a "change"; that's the First Amendment, and non-totalitarianism.

Everything else is elaboration; it's just that simple. To change this would require yet some other new law as regards campaign restrictions.

"This is outrageous, and I urge anyone to avoid giving to their party's Congressional or Senate campaign committees until this is reversed."

What do you propose, specifically? I'm pretty unclear where you're precisely desiring to draw the line, since I'm presuming you don't want to change the law to allow no one to engage in political advertising in the U.S. unless one of the two national political committees, or a candidate, agrees to that ad.

Advertising in political campaigns that isn't authorized by national committees and candidates isn't exactly a new thing, after all.

Isn't Nell's precise problem that they're NOT actually independent of the national party committees? (Nell, could you clarify?)

I regretted the news about Ohio seceding, myself.

As an Ohioan, what news? Am I now a Canadian, eh? Or are you regretting that Ohio DIDN'T secede? You may have a point...

Gary, you've been critical in the past of people who don't follow the links. I will simply ask you to follow the link. (Unfortunately, as I learned in correspondence with the reporter, Rick Klein, the very informative sidebar graphic that ran with the story in the print edition of the Globe did not make it online.)

I'm intimately familiar with the traditional understanding of independent expenditure organizations in campaign seasons, having worked for more than one. Up until the 2006 cycle, they were usually pre-existing issue-focused organizations, and occasionally manufactured partisan 527s like the 'Swift Boat Veterans for Truth'.

However, this is something new. Some law (I still have not succeeded in finding out which it was, who introduced it, or when it was passed) was passed between 2004 and 2006 to allow the DCCC and RNCC (and, I'm assmuming, the parties' corresponding Senate campaign committees) to set up so-called "independent expenditure" arms that can spend money on behalf of candidates without the candidate having squat to say about it.

Here's a clip from an (otherwise unrelated) Washington Monthly article that gives the flavor of what's going on:

recent changes to campaign finance legislation ... allow political parties to raise more money, as long as parties spend the extra funds without any communication with the candidates. Consequently, last year DCCC chair Rahm Emanuel couldn’t tell the committee how to spend more than half of the millions he’d raised. This was an agonizing restriction for Emanuel (who is described by a friend as “the biggest control freak in Washington”), but ultimately it didn’t matter, because the job fell instead to Lapp, who was able to work around the problem. Channeling his mentor, with whom he has an almost symbiotic relationship, Lapp embraced a take-no-prisoners strategy, using strike teams to do research and rapid response, and essentially running dozens of shadow campaigns from the DCCC’s Washington office. Lapp struck particularly hard in red districts, and at his command last-minute DCCC attack ads flooded competitive races.

In response to Katherine's question, yes: my objection to this is that these "independent expenditure" organizations are in no real way independent of the party committees (unlike, say, the League of Conservation Voters) except in the worst way: they are beyond the control of the candidates on whose behalf they purportedly work.

Sure, I care. My point is, without knowing more, we don't know whether what "BushCo" are doing is right or not. And you shouldn't pretend otherwise. Maybe Democrats are getting prosecuted in disproportionate numbers because there are lots of Democrats who deserve to be prosecuted.

Should be easy to establish, and they didn't bother. Why not?

Brett: My point is, without knowing more, we don't know whether what "BushCo" are doing is right or not.

We know that they're sacking prosecutors who decline to go after Democratic politicians or who want to investigate Republican politicians. Your assertion that this is "business as usual" (aka "Clinton did it too!") is not backed up by any data that you've cited. Your making a big deal of "we don't know if BushCo are the first" isn't particularly important - what does it matter if they're the first administration to do this? Your point that data from other administrations would be useful is valid: your claim that without that data we don't know that the Bush administration is doing anything wrong is nonsense.

Anyway, back to the main topic of the thread:

Congress must pass, ASAP, legislation restoring the pre-2006 method by which U.S. Attorneys are appointed, which requires confirmation by the Senate.

Depending on what the testimony of the five recently subpoenaed DoJ staffers reveals, Gonzales should be impeached. He would surely resign rather than subject the administration to the disclosures that could come out of impeachment hearings.

On the already-many-times-proven principle that in the Bush-Cheney administration, it could always get worse, some hack might be nominated. But, in fact, given the new makeup of the Senate Judiciary Committee, it's likely Bush would have to appoint someone with more commitment to the law than to the regime.

That would make Gonzales available, as a private citizen, for all kinds of testimony under oath.

"Gary, you've been critical in the past of people who don't follow the links. I will simply ask you to follow the link."

I read the article when it appeared, as well as various other articles on the independiture arms of the national committees back during the election, when there were dozens and dozens and dozens of such articles (not to hammer the point; we all miss stuff, including me, and I tend to have more time to read such stuff than most people; just noting that this was not, in fact, obscure, nor remotely new to me, so I don't need to reread Klein's piece a third time, or Kevin Drum, or anything else I've already read).

"...my objection to this is that these 'independent expenditure' organizations are in no real way independent of the party committees"

They aren't, in the sense that the party committees established them, but they are in that thereafter they're allowed no contact. I'm absolutely positively completely open to suggestions as to what should be changed to Make Things Better, which is why I asked what your suggestions might be.

To be clear, I'm inclined to be pessimistic about a lot of campaign reform proposals.

In abstract, I think that one of the absolutely most root evils of our political system is that the power of money has such overwhelming influence, compared to the power of individual votes, and even most, or at least, much, organizing.

In practice, I'm pessimistic about most reform proposals -- not hostile!; just pessimistic! -- because we live in a capitalistic society, and money is immensely fungible; it's very very difficult to get around the fact that -- as demonstrated by the history of campaign reform legislation -- if money is plugged from flowing out one outlet, and into a particular inlet in the political system, it strongly tends to find a way (that is, the possessors of the money, and their lawyers and accountants tend to find a way) back into the political system one way or another.

I am not saying that therefore campaign reform is all hopeless, and we should just give up and go home. I am only saying that this fungibility of the influence of money needs to be taken into account, so that no one winds up surprised that it turns out, after a given reform, that there's another way invented for money to influence politicians or voters. I'm not sure that there's any way ultimately around that, absent more radical "reform" than I may wish to contemplate.

Anyway, as regards the specific situation of the national party committees having "independent expenditure" wings, I'm not clear what you want to do about them -- which is why I ask -- and whatever it is, I'm yet further unclear whether it would substantially change anything, so long as people are free to set up actual independent funds/committees to support parties.

What if the RNC and DNC didn't give an "independent expenditure" committee any start in any way, but instead mere former members of the committee, or other supporters of the Republican or Democratic Party (yes, the Republicans have been vastly dirtier, but we're talking theory at the moment) set them up, instead: how would the result be significantly different? How would we not wind up with the same ads, and the same inability of the committees and candidates to affect them? What would be the improvement, precisely?

I don't ask for the sake of argument; I ask because I don't know the answer.

Since it's nice to agree with people, rather than disagree, let me emphatically agree with all of Nell's comment of 5:54 PM.

Gary, if you read the Klein article "when it first appeared", which is all of a week ago, then why did you respond to me at 5:01 above as if I were talking about "independent expenditures" as they existed before this new law allowed the creations of IEs by party organizations, which is completely new?

What I want is to cancel that new law, to return to the status quo ante in which candidates have some influence over ads run by the DCCC and RNCC on their behalf. There is a huge difference between groups that have no participation or assistance from the party committees and fake independent expenditures which are allowed to be created with money donated to the party committees.

As a DCCC donor, I want to know that any Dem candidate who doesn't like the ads run on his or her behalf with my money can call and give Rahm Emanuel hell and get them stopped.

I've got to get in the shower now if I'm going to make it to that 7:30 meeting. Later.

Gary: Just to clarify, and be concise: the crucial difference between the pernicious new law and your hypothetical IE committee set up by party hacks not formally employed by the party committees is the use of money already collected by the party committee.

In your hypothetical, the IE group would need to raise money on its own, without the 'brand' of the party committee. It would not be nearly as successful, particularly once word gets around about the unaccountability of such an organization.

If people want to give through the party, they have a right to expect the party to be accountable to the candidate (and vice versa). If they want to give through an IE, they should be given a clear sense that that's what they're doing.

Ah, but the question that remains to be seen, cleek, is whether this is a systemic problem that requires a...

i will repeat myself: is what Bush is doing right, or not?

Cleek, we have to establish what Bush is doing, before we can determine whether or not it's right. My point all along here has been that they didn't collect the data necessary to determine that.

Maybe they'll remedy that lack, now that it's been pointed out to them?

Naturally, you say this, but don't support it with any cites or facts at all.

Why would anyone not just accept it as surely true? It just must be true: it must be!

Well that brought a smile to my face.

I'll get a magic silver shovel and try to dig up some evidence.

This is a decent piece today that outlines both the general background of U.S. Attorneys, and the specifics regarding these eight; those who haven't been following along, or who aren't familiar with the system, might find it helpful.

DaveC, I'd like to congratulate you on proving that Chicago, Illinois, has a history of corruption; that's certainly a controversial point that all liberals previously contested, but I'll have to surrender to you on that one.

Re: impeaching Gonzales

As Dirty Harry would say: go ahead Democrat punks, make my day!

Seriously, Republicans would like nothing better than this. Can you say political hari-kiri? How do you think Democrat-leaning Hispanic voters would react to such a move?

While the conventional liberal wisdom has been that this past week was very bad for the Administration, as is usual with liberals, they are completely off the mark.

Here are some important things they have entirely missed.

1) There has been a dramatic improvement of the Iraq situation - the surge has succeeded beyond the wildest hopes of the Administration. See Kagan's oped in today's Washington Post:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/03/09/AR2007030901839.html

In addition Iran's meddling has been thwarted and they seem to be beginning to accede to US demands with respect to their nuclear program.

2) There are very promising new peace initiatives in the Middle East - watch for dramatic developments soon.

3) Robert Gates is proving to be a bold and decisive Defense Secretary and military morale has rebounded to its highest levels since 2001.

3) AG Gonzales has gotten a second wind. His purge of US Attorneys has rejuvenated the Justice Department. Contrary to what you read here and in the liberal press, the IG report on comparatively minor shortcomings in the FBI show that the internal controls of the Justice Department are effective.

4) President Bush's trip to Latin America is a rousing diplomatic success. Chavez's attempt to spoil this have backfired spectacularly.

5) Congressional Democrats are in total disarray. Developments in Iraq and the Middle East will make it much much worse. Watch for Steny Hoyer to stage a coup against Pelosi. (He has never forgiven her for trying to dump him from the leadership team and replace him with Murtha.) Also watch for Joe Lieberman to flip the Senate back to the Republicans.

By this time next year things will look very bleak for Democrats. President Bush will have a free hand in appointing his chosen successor to continue his enlightened policies, and have his choice overwhelmingly endorsed by the electorate. And he will go down in history as a great statesman and world leader.

we have to establish what Bush is doing, before we can determine whether or not it's right. My point all along here has been that they didn't collect the data necessary to determine that.

What is Bush doing? Here's something from the LA Times, via Kevin Drum:

McKay, the U.S. attorney in Seattle, found himself in the midst of the contested 2004 governor's race between Republican Dino Rossi and Democrat Chris Gregoire.

While the voting dispute was still in progress, McKay took a phone call from Ed Cassidy, chief of staff for Rep. Doc Hastings (R-Wash.), then the head of the House Ethics Committee.

McKay said Cassidy started to ask about what federal prosecutors were doing in the election dispute, but McKay cut him off, saying that going further could constitute obstruction of justice. Later, when McKay was interviewed by then-White House Counsel Harriet E. Miers and her deputy, William Kelly, for a possible judgeship, he said they criticized him for "mishandling" things during the recount.

He never got the judicial robes, and he lost his job as prosecutor as well.

What does it sound like to you?

"There has been a dramatic improvement of the Iraq situation - the surge has succeeded beyond the wildest hopes of the Administration."

Excellent news!

That means that the drawdown can begin shortly, right?

"While the conventional liberal wisdom has been that this past week was very bad for the Administration, as is usual with liberals, they are completely off the mark."

Good to know! We can only wish for more such weeks, that are equally bad for liberals!

"Here's something from the LA Times, via Kevin Drum"

Or even my comment of 10:04 PM.

Or even my comment of 10:04 PM.

That too.

nabalzbbfr, that all sounds very exciting. Just one question, since you seem to be so plugged in:

Who is Bush's "chosen successor"?

"President Bush's trip to Latin America is a rousing diplomatic success."

Noted without comment.

The comments to this entry are closed.

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