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March 22, 2007

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You be as careful as you like. In combination with the Diebold problems, Ken Blackwell in Ohio, felon "lists", re-redistricting in Texas, etc I have concluded that it is fair to say that the Republican Party is dedicated to subverting and corrupting the electoral process by any means necessary and possible.

It would be absurd to say this is limited to Karl Rove and three of his close associates, or two dozen Republicans plus the Ohio leadership, or that specific Republicans must be named and proven complicit before a general accusation might be made. Some are absurdly just and fair. OTOH, it could be most useful, in the interest of fair elections, to hold this position as a default. That way we could have been expecting and looking for this kind of activity in 2003-06, instead of after the fact and after whatever damage may already been done. I, for one, am not surprised and shocked.

For the record, I certainly do not consider all and every Republican corrupt under these standards. Some have day jobs.

Born">http://digbysblog.blogspot.com/2007/03/i-was-born-yesterday-by-digby-i-know.html">Born Yesterday

"I now realize that I honestly did not think that even this criminal administration would go so far as to allow Karl Rove to have a hand in the Justice department and I never considered that US Attorney's were doing his bidding.

Why I was so naive, I do not know. Tom Delay, after all, is still free. I guess I still thought that there were certain limits, even for this administration." ...digby

I haven't been so naive since the Nixon administration.

Fixed Link

It looks like they may have been wanting to have Griffin appoint as a USA for a while.

See the handwritten note on p. 26 (DAG000000226) of this pdf.

"Originally recommended by Rep. ----- for WDAK" [emphasis added]

questions? what are the chances the administration will take this to the supremes? and what are the chances the subpoenas will actually be served?

I can't help but think that it is important to point out the "ethics" of the people Hilzoy supports:

In a July 8, 2004, news release, Hoyer railed against GOP leaders for extending a 15-minute vote to 38 minutes in order to defeat a spending amendment offered by former Rep. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.).

"House Republican leaders proved once again today that they will stop at virtually nothing to win a vote, even if that means running roughshod over the most basic principles of democracy such as letting members vote their conscience and calling the vote after the allotted time has elapsed," Hoyer said.

"They ought to be ashamed of themselves, but when it comes to holding votes open and twisting the arms of their own members they clearly have no shame,'' he went on. "These back-alley tactics have no place in the greatest deliberative body in the world. They might be the lifeblood of the tin-horn dictator, but not a world leader. It's an embarrassment."

Does this make him a liar?

Asked Wednesday night whether Democrats would keep to the time limit, Hoyer paused, then pointed out that many votes can run a few minutes longer for various reasons. Pressed further by a reporter who pointed out that Democrats themselves had often criticized Republicans on this very point, Hoyer said, "It won't be open three hours. How about that?"

"How about 30 minutes?" the reporter asked.

"I won't guarantee it," Hoyer replied.

Or are they all liars?

On their first day in the majority in January, Democrats amended the House rules to mandate that a vote "shall not be held open for the sole purpose of reversing the outcome of such vote."

Or were many of the posters at Obsidian Wings just suckers?

I'm going with YES on both.

I'm trying to figure out what relevance bril's comment above has to hilzoy's post. Can anyone shed any light on it for me?

I'm trying to figure out what relevance bril's comment above has to hilzoy's post.

i'd bet that everything bril has ever written here can be summarized by "But Mmmmmmommmmmmyyyyyyyy!!! Why don't you punish the liiiiiiiibbbbbbrrrrrlzzzzz??!!!!! Wahhhh!!!"

bril if you're going to steal posts from QandO you should at least give them credit.

I guess I missed where Hoyer said the vote might be held open in order to reverse the result.

I guess I missed where anything actually happened at all as yet.

Oh well, the Democrats are all liars, and many of the ObWi posters are suckers. Thanks, bril, for that information.

I'm not sure where Bril sees the lying there (it seems to be lacking any information whether the vote was actually held open, much less why it was or how long it was), and as usual he gives no links. When searching around, I did find this, as long as we're talking about liars:

Back in 1987, Republicans went ballistic when then-Speaker Wright held a vote open for a then-record extra 15 minutes. Dick Cheney, at the time a Wyoming representative, termed the move "the most arrogant, heavy-handed abuse of power I've ever seen in the 10 years that I've been here."
But presumably Cheney would now recognize that whatever abuse of power he witnessed then is dwarfed by what happened in succeeding years, when Republicans made it standard operating procedure to hold votes open for hours of arm-twisting and blackmail.

John Yoo is everywhere these days, his take on the U.S. Atty firings here.

A flavor (not sure if you need a subscription):

Those who toss more fuel onto the fire threaten the nation's unifying force in law enforcement and well-run government -- the president's core constitutional prerogative to fire his subordinates.

i have this new kool blog,,,please everyone visit it...www.slickblog.wordpress.com
please please please comment on any articles im trying to get it up and running

And a dig at Fitz as well:

Patrick Fitzgerald's pursuit of Scooter Libby shows us what happens when a prosecutor reports to no higher authority. He single-mindedly persecuted Mr. Libby, at great taxpayer expense, without any sense of the damage caused to the workings of our government in wartime -- and over a confused sequence of misstatements later characterized all too easily as "lies" about a crime that Mr. Fitzgerald found had not happened anyway.

Hilzoy, good post. I had exactly the same thought when I first started reading about about Griffin's appointment.

One minor quibble, though. You write:

The provision allowing the AG to bypass Senate confirmation was slipped into the Patriot Act in December of 2005. At that time, I don't recall anyone thinking that the Republicans were going to lose control of the Senate -- the fact that they did turned on such later events as George Allen's macaca moment. I think it was the entire confirmation process that they wanted to avoid: the public questioning, the spotlight, possibly the need to give sworn testimony.

While I agree that the White House likely did not anticipate losing the Senate back in Dec. 2005, I'm not sure that's relevant. Traditionally, U.S. attorneys are selected in consultation with home-state senators. Even if the Republicans had retained control of the Senate, the White House still would have had a hard time getting Griffin appointed absent this provision. Senators Pryor and Lincoln would have been able to block him. That's why the administration went to the trouble of giving Griffin a job as one of Cummins deputies well before he was officially tapped to replace Cummins. They wanted to improve his chances of being viewed as acceptable.

"John Yoo is everywhere these days, his take on the U.S. Atty firings here."

Heard him on the radio the other day bringing up the probably standard defense on NPR and thought, here's a guy who was in the administration designing some of the worst legal policies, but is no longer in it. Can he be brought to testify on the underlying principle of the unitary exec? God he's contemptible, but he is slick, still it would be good to get it on record since he's already out there trying to influence the public. Torture this, a-hole.

anyone catch Bolton on the Daily Show Monday? gack, what an loon. he was just brimming with Power Of The Executive juice.

"[ ]'s pursuit of [ ] shows us what happens when a prosecutor reports to no higher authority. He single-mindedly persecuted [ ] at great taxpayer expense, without any sense of the damage caused to the workings of our government in wartime -- and over a confused sequence of misstatements later characterized all too easily as "lies" about a crime that [ ] found had not happened anyway."

IIJM, or does this quote from John Yoo sound like some kind of flashback from the Ken Starr Era? Add some different names in the blanks, and it reads like the sort of complaint many Democrats made over the slavering witch-hunts against Bill Clinton: and which most Republicans dismissed - typically in the name of "good government", and "proper oversight".

And btw, who is John Yoo trying to impress with the Unitary Executive Absolutism routine? Does he really think the notion of the US President as unaccountable quasi-monarch is going to have a shelf-life one minute after GW Bush leaves office (If not sooner)?

Jay C, maybe he's hoping for a post in the Giuliani administration (or maybe McCain, judging by the stormtrooperesque videos on his site). If Bush were the only authoritarian in the Republican Party he wouldn't have been able to go as far as he has.

IIJM, or does this quote from John Yoo sound like some kind of flashback from the Ken Starr Era?

That's exactly what I was thinking when I posted it.

And btw, who is John Yoo trying to impress with the Unitary Executive Absolutism routine?

As KC noted, he'd fit right in in the administration of McCain or especially "America's Mayor" - but he made it quite clear in class one day that he's got his eyes on a SCOTUS spot. Hard to believe after the torture memo, but who knows what may happen in the next 15-20 years (and how memories will fade). "First Asian-American Supreme Court Justice John Yoo."

Jay C.,

"And btw, who is John Yoo trying to impress with the Unitary Executive Absolutism routine? Does he really think the notion of the US President as unaccountable quasi-monarch is going to have a shelf-life one minute after GW Bush leaves office (If not sooner)?"

Since these concepts were present among key staffers in both the Nixon and Reagan White Houses, I don't think it's reasonable to assume that the doctrine will die on January 21, 2009.

dtm:
I didn't mean to suggest that the "Unitary Executive" doctrine would sunset itself out of existence with the Bush 43 Administration; only that one would presume (i.e. fervently hope and work for) that the next President may not be as wedded to the notions of the President-as-divine-right-ruler as the present gang. Or, the issue may have been resolved by the courts by then (but I doubt it).
AFAICT, the hallmark of the G.W. Bush Adminstration has been a consistent push for the expansion of unaccountable. unreviewable Presidential power, laws and customs be damned, with all the abuses perpetrated to take advantage of the timing. By the time the relevant suits, investigations or legislation take effect, Bush's term will be over, and any constraints thus enacted will be problem for the next President.

"Our power, our rules, our way, in our term"

Anything else is irrelevant.

FDL is reporting that the DoJ is trying to get Abramoff's sentence reduced. Nice work.

DOJ helping Abramoff

Well, if Abramoff is cooperating, I'd expect to see his sentence reduced. Of course, I'd also expect to see some more Republican members of Congress indicted. I'm not holding my breath.

Guess firing those USAttys worked insofar as the number of new prosecutions against Republicans seems to be down. Not that we were running out of scandals....

Anonymous Liberal: Even if the Republicans had retained control of the Senate, the White House still would have had a hard time getting Griffin appointed absent this provision [Patriot Act Sec 502]. Senators Pryor and Lincoln would have been able to block him.

Excellent point, AL.

I put a lot of stock in the 'pour encourager les autres' effect of the mass firing, as well.

Doesn't it just say everything that a nutcase like Ashcroft now appears to have been, by the regime's standards, a pinnacle of probity? And Comey... how deep a pit would we be in without Comey?

"First Asian-American Supreme Court Justice John Yoo."

Memories will not fade enough for this.

CharleyCarp- I wouldn't be so sure, Bork almost made it, the Republicans are much stronger these days, and what he did was a lot more memorable.

Cleek, Did you catch the Daily Show last night? John Stewart did a good job of showing Bolton for what he was! I thoroughly enjoyed it, after having suffered through watching Bolton's Monday night condescending attitude! ;-)

Frank, if you mean the Saturday Night Massacre as the "memorable" thing Bork did, I'm not sure how that ranks substantively with Yoo writing legalistic justifications for torture.

Nor do I think the GOP is stronger now than it was in the mid-80s. Surveys show that self-identification as a Republican has plummeted, for example. Even if you take Party self-identification more as a reflection of "wanting to be with the winners" than as a true statement of personal political philosophy (and therefore, as something that changes with the Zeitgeist) even that speaks to a widely held perception that the GOP is no longer a "winner."

Also, Yoo is a Bush protege. I think anyone associated with Bush will be radioactive for many years to come.

Jay C.,

"only that one would presume (i.e. fervently hope and work for) that the next President may not be as wedded to the notions of the President-as-divine-right-ruler as the present gang."

Likely not. On the other hand, sooner or later another President will come along for whom such a concept is convenient, and Yoo may be willing to sign on then.

CaseyL,

"I think anyone associated with Bush will be radioactive for many years to come."

I doubt it. If the Iran-Contra crew was not radioactive (and recall Abrams, Poindexter and Negroponte have served in the current Administration), Yoo is unlikely to be.

Did you catch the Daily Show last night? John Stewart did a good job of showing Bolton for what he was!

yeah, just caught that (DVR - always a day behind). it was really nice to see them do that, since many of their political guests get away with worse. i guess the difference was in telling Stewart he was wrong, instead of just lying outright.

Dantheman, Iran-Contra happened during the tenure of a (still inexplicably to me) popular President - one who did not preside over the most disastrous foreign policy ever, nor over the most incompetent/corrupt/brutish Administration since I-don't-know-when.

Reagan left office still popular.

Bush won't. 70% of the country just wants him gone. There's no reservoir of good will for him, or for anyone in his Administration.

CaseyL- I hope you are right. What worries me is all the billions that the Republicans got away with stealing this time. If you thought there were a lot of shady think tanks and dubious press organs before now, wait until we see what they buy now that they have real money backing them up.

If Gonzales goes down, Gitmo might go with him, since his departure would strengthen Gates and Rice, who want to shut it down. Not sure I believe that would be enough to get the Decider to admit error.

Randall and other soldiers like him who sent in absentee ballots, when challenged, would lose their vote.

A quotation of Greg Palast isn't credible evidence of this supposed conspiracy to throw out ballots merely as of a Republican challenge. This seems quite unbelievable to anyone who remembers that when the Democrats wanted to throw out 25,000 ballots in Florida in 2000 (Palast doesn't mention THAT, of course), they had to file a lawsuit and try to prove their case in court. Where was the Republican lawsuit over absentee ballots in Florida in 2004? What was the outcome?

John Doe (sad to have such a name, everywhere you go on the internet people must think you're using a false name to avoid taking any responsibility for your posts),

the story about republicans invalidating military votes seemed strange to me too. The military as a whole was strongly pro-republican and pro Bush. Did they have reason to think these particular soldiers were going to vote against them? Otherwise it just doesn't make sense.

Funny. But now that you mention it, I somewhat regret being the only anonymous person here. I must stick out like a sore thumb among people whose real names are "hilzoy" and "cleek" and "ugh" and "anarch" and "heyhey."

OTOH, Nixon left office unpopular, and lots of his people did well. Remember that Bork didn't make SCOTUS, but he did make the Federal bench.

Meaning to add onto the previous post:

The careers of the Nixon crew were helped by relentless right-wing media propaganda, as were the careers of the Reagan crew. The careers of the Bush II crew will be, as well. Never underestimate the power of a decade of flat-out lying.

Also, the right-wing foundation system will help these people. Instead of having to get honest jobs, they'll stay on, essentially still in the political system. They could ride out eight years of a Democratic presidency, all the time getting frequent media appearances.

Sweet, if you can get it.

I must stick out like a sore thumb among people whose real names are "hilzoy" and "cleek" and "ugh" and "anarch" and "heyhey."

Well, you do, because the name suggests you lack the imagination to think up something unique. Snarking about the fact that most of us have pseudonyms doesn't really change that.

I must stick out like a sore thumb among people whose real names are "hilzoy" and "cleek" and "ugh" and "anarch" and "heyhey."

well, that, and the constant pointless antagonism.

It's not a big deal, but I think "John Doe" as a handle is more like the popular "anon", "Anonymous", and "" than like "cleek" or "Anarch". It did take me a while to accept "Ugh", though, both because it seemed like a one-use handle for a disgusted comment (perhaps its origin?) and because it's not uncommon for me to start comments with the exclamation "ugh" and I have to watch out for that here now.

People who have valid email addresses or websites at least give the sense they're somebody in particular.

That's true, John Doe 4;14pm, but that wouldn't apply to the earlier John Doe. I wouldn't normally bother noticing whether a "John Doe" had an address or not.

Here's another angle on the scandal, one that I'd thought about y'day as I was contemplating they why of them firing John McKay in Seattle. You see, the current Dem gov is not secure on her seat and may not be by 2008 (despite all the Repub screw ups on the national level, she has made a few of her own here--and a razor thin victory of 196 votes creates uncertainty). So if McKay was not doing the bidding of the Repubs by investigating, threatening to charge or charging Dems for bogus voter issues, then the Repubs needed to find someone who would. This might help skew the 2008 election their way. Now the McClatchy papers have confirmed this appears to be the rationale behind a number of US Atty replacements, not just in Seattle:


"Last April, while the Justice Department and the White House were planning the firings, Rove gave a speech in Washington to the Republican National Lawyers Association. He ticked off 11 states that he said could be pivotal in 2008. Bush has appointed new U.S. attorneys in nine of them since 2005: Florida, Colorado, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, Arkansas, Michigan, Nevada and New Mexico. U.S. attorneys in the latter four were among those fired.
Rove thanked the audience for “all that you are doing in those hot spots around the country to ensure that the integrity of the ballot is protected.” He added, “A lot in American politics is up for grabs.”...
One audience member asked Rove whether he’d “thought about using the bully pulpit of the White House to talk about election reform and an election integrity agenda that would put the Democrats back on the defensive.”
“Yes, it’s an interesting idea,” Rove responded."


Rove

It did take me a while to accept "Ugh", though, both because it seemed like a one-use handle for a disgusted comment (perhaps its origin?)

Good guess.

because it's not uncommon for me to start comments with the exclamation "ugh" and I have to watch out for that here now.

That happened at Drum's place once (before the comments became unreadable), made the mistake of thinking someone was referring to me - didn't hold it against the person (my fault for posting as an exasperation).

Well, you do, because the name suggests you lack the imagination to think up something unique. Snarking about the fact that most of us have pseudonyms doesn't really change that.

Um, that wasn't the point that J was making. He/she/it was snarking about the fact that I'm "using a false name to avoid taking any responsibility for your posts" -- but it's ridiculous to accuse only me of that, on a website where maybe 1% of the people use anything that resembles a real name (and even those could be pseudonyms).

Looks like Gonzo is toast. Stick a fork in him.

Documents Show Gonzales Approved Firings
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By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
Published: March 23, 2007
Filed at 10:31 p.m. ET

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Attorney General Alberto Gonzales approved plans to fire several U.S. attorneys in a November meeting, according to documents released Friday that contradict earlier claims that he was not closely involved in the dismissals. The Nov. 27 meeting, in which the attorney general and at least five top Justice Department officials participated, focused on a five-step plan for carrying out the firings of the prosecutors, Justice Department officials said late Friday.

There, Gonzales signed off on the plan, which was crafted by his chief of staff, Kyle Sampson. Sampson resigned last week amid a political firestorm surrounding the firings.

The five-step plan involved notifying Republican home-state senators of the impending dismissals, preparing for potential political upheaval and naming replacements and submitting them to the Senate for confirmation.

The documents indicated that the hour-long morning discussion, held in the attorney general's conference room, was the only time Gonzales met with top aides who decided which prosecutors to fire and how to do it.

Justice spokeswoman Tasia Scolinos said it was not immediately clear whether Gonzales gave his final approval to begin the firings at that meeting. Scolinos also said Gonzales was not involved in the process of selecting which prosecutors would be asked to resign.

On March 13, in explaining the firings, Gonzales told reporters he was aware that some of the dismissals were being discussed but was not involved in them.

''I knew my chief of staff was involved in the process of determining who were the weak performers -- where were the districts around the country where we could do better for the people in that district, and that's what I knew,'' Gonzales said last week. ''But that is in essence what I knew about the process; was not involved in seeing any memos, was not involved in any discussions about what was going on. That's basically what I knew as the attorney general.''

Later, he added: ''I accept responsibility for everything that happens here within this department. But when you have 110,000 people working in the department, obviously there are going to be decisions that I'm not aware of in real time. Many decisions are delegated.''

The documents were released Friday night, a few hours after Sampson agreed to testify at a Senate inquiry next week into the firings of eight U.S. attorneys last year.

Asked to explain the difference between Gonzales' comments and his schedule, Justice spokesman Brian Roehrkasse largely sidestepped the question by saying the attorney general had relied on Sampson to draw up the plans on the firings.

''The attorney general has made clear that he charged Mr. Sampson with directing a plan to replace U.S. attorneys where for one reason or another the department believed that we could do better,'' Roehrkasse said. ''He was not, however, involved at the levels of selecting the particular U.S. attorneys who would be replaced.''

Gonzales this week directed the Justice Department's Office of Professional Responsibility to investigate the circumstances of the firings, officials said. The department's inspector general also will participate in that investigation.

Nonetheless Democrats pounced late Friday.

''If the facts bear out that Attorney General Gonzales knew much more about the plan than he has previously admitted, then he can no longer serve as Attorney General,'' said Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York, who is heading the Senate's investigation into the firings.

Added House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers:

''This puts the Attorney General front and center in these matters, contrary to information that had previously been provided to the public and Congress.''

Presidential spokesman Trey Bohn referred questions to the Justice Department, saying White House officials had not seen the documents.

The developments were not what Republicans, skittish about new revelations, had hoped.

Earlier Friday, a staunch White House ally, Sen. John Cornyn, summoned White House counsel Fred Fielding to Capitol Hill and told him he wanted ''no surprises.''

''I told him, 'Everything you can release, please release. We need to know what the facts are,''' Cornyn said.

Sampson will appear Thursday at a hearing of the Senate Judiciary Committee, his attorney said. His appearance will mark the first congressional testimony by a Justice Department aide since the release of thousands of documents that show the firings were orchestrated, in part, by the White House.

Sampson ''looks forward to answering the committee's questions,'' wrote his attorney, Brad Berenson, in a two-paragraph letter to Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., and the panel's top Republican, Sen. Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania.

''We trust that his decision to do so will satisfy the need of the Congress to obtain information from him concerning the requested resignations of the United States attorneys,'' Berenson wrote.

E-mails between the White House and the Justice Department, dating back to the weeks immediately after the 2004 presidential election, show Sampson was heavily engaged in deciding how many prosecutors would be replaced, and which ones. The Bush administration maintains the dismissals of the eight political appointees were proper.

Democrats, however, question whether the eight were selected because they were not seen as, in Sampson's words, ''loyal Bushies.''

''He was right at the center of things,'' Schumer said earlier of Sampson. ''He has said publicly that what others have said is not how it happened. ... He contradicts DOJ.''

Schumer said he hoped Sampson would provide more detail about who initiated the firings and whether they were politically motivated.

------

Associated Press writer Laurie Kellman contributed to this report.

John Doe, actually the point I was making was that it didn't at first sight make sense for republicans to try to invalidate military votes, when the military was so strongly pro-Bush.

Sure, I was snarking a bit on the side. However, your argument that it isn't fair to give anybody any candy unless you give it to *everybody* is misguided and certainly not something that a Republican should get away with. That's like saying we shouldn't invade one evil dictatorship unless we invade them all.

And it's ridiculous for you of all people to accuse somebody else's actions of being ridiculous.

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