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August 27, 2007

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And to top it all off, he gives no reason for his resignation. Not even a "I've become a distraction" or "More time with family" or "I don't recall..."

What a contemptible man.

yeah, see yeah, screwy.

i can't wait to see the atrocity that follows, though. any bets on Hinderacker, Althouse, Coulter?

John Yoo?

I do wonder what prompted this. I speculated elsewhere that someone sat him down and told him he might face real jail-time for his misdeeds.

Made his announcement, and then he walked away without taking a question...

Not that he would hae answered any honestly anyway.

Great snip from Cohen.

It's a good question, Ugh. But resigning doesn't end the threat of jail time, and it gives him less control over the situation.

It is hard to imagine who Bush could appoint that would be loyal enough to protect him but could still get through the Senate. I'm still betting on a recess appointment, though there's always the possibility of Democratic spinelessness brought on by a few presidential speeches decrying the way the traitorous Democrats are endangering the American people (and helping child pornographers) by politicizing the confirmation process and leaving the Justice Department without a leader.

I think the White House correctly did the calculus that Gonzales being raked over the coals as sitting AG hurt their cause, and made it impossible to defend him through their minions in the media, but now, if he is up there stammering before Leahy's Committee, the FOX News & Co. can play the "the guy resigned already, what do the Democrats want?" and start to swing him over to sympathetic character.

As opposed to just merely pathetic.

There is talk at Greenwald's that there may be no new AG but that Bush would use the rule that allows an "acting AG" for 210 days after an unexpected vacancy occurs and renewed each time after a new nomination fails. This way he would have just to nominate someone even the spineless would not confirm when the time limit approaches (he would have to do it only twice). At the same time he could blame the Dems for blocking his "honorable and qualified" candidates thus endangering national security.
Maybe he will propose Miers once again (after the SCOTUS nomination flopped).
The current bet is on Chertoff though.

But resigning doesn't end the threat of jail time, and it gives him less control over the situation.

True, I should have completed the thought. It likely stalls, if not stops, a lot of the investigations that may uncover even more serious misdeeds (even though I'm sure the Dems are claiming that they will continue, it certainly stops the media coverage). That, or perhaps someone he trusts or looks up to more than Bush got through to him. It certainly seems from the reportage that the WH was caught by surprise by this (though who knows these days).

Greenwald speculates they may use the "acting" provisions to run out the clock. Clement can be acting AG for 210, a clock that gets re-set depending on how the nomination process goes. Does two 210 day periods from 9/17 (the date AG AG's resignation is effective), get us to the end of Bush's term? Not quite, but pretty close.

Per Wikipedia, Ted Olson's 67 years-old, he may be willing to step in as AG as a finale to his career for the last 16 months of Bush's term.

Hilzoy appropriately notes that Gonzalez had become a blunt but effective barrier for the WH to cower behind, to such an extent that his exit now is a bit startling.

He had long since passed the point where his continued presence was aggravating problems at Justice and the WH. Justice was in the crapper and will remain there for the foreseeable future.Bush thumbed his nose at the Congress and the public, content to benefit from the AG's ability to inhibit prosecutions, prevent inquiry into the political firings, and to continue his facilitation of the wiretap/torture/rendition/habeas corpus mess.

His exit will unblock lots of unpleasantness for Bush/Cheney. Hmmmmm

Goodbye and good riddance.

Amen.

TPM is now reporting that the groundwork is being set for a recess appointment, despite the supposed deal with Reid.

Clement t is.

TPM's headline says that Bush names Clement. but the story that headline links to (and which my above links to) says nothing about Clement. oh well.

Ugh: TPM is now reporting that the groundwork is being set for a recess appointment, despite the supposed deal with Reid.

Figures.

Hartmut: There is talk at Greenwald's that there may be no new AG but that Bush would use the rule that allows an "acting AG" for 210 days after an unexpected vacancy occurs and renewed each time after a new nomination fails.

I wondered how Bush/Cheney would get around the need to appoint an attorney general: I was thinking of direct means such as blackmailing the Democrats in Congress to accept another Bush-crony as nominee. I hadn't realized they don't even have to do that, but can appoint an "acting AG" because they can claim this is an unexpected vacancy.

Over at Slacktivist: Liar's paradox: "If Attorney General Alberto Gonzales says he resigns, can we believe him?"

I'm surprised I haven't heard Lieberman rumors yet. Have people finally gotten tired of proposing him for every possible administration vacancy?

I just watched Bush on CSPAN announce Clement as acting AG. My prediction is that he lets Clement sit for as long as possible (over 200 days), make a big show of how uncooperative the Dems are with his appointments, then make a recess appointment next time around.

BTW, if you don't know who Clement is, he has been one of the most vocal proponents for broad executive wartime powers.

Ugh, is Olson really enough of a Bushite that he'd want to end his career that way?

When Karl Rove quit, AG AG wasn't really needed anymore as a firewall between Congressional Oversight and the White House. With the exception of Cheney, the high value targets are gone.

At this point, I think uncovering what happened to all the money Congress sent to Iraq would pay more -- in terms of heightening disgust with the war and its proponents, giving the Democrats an opportunity to look like they are "doing something" about it, and perhaps also providing the best path to Cheney.

But maybe such investigations would ensnare Democrats* as well as associates of the Administration.

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If it costs us a Dianne Feinstein, that's addition by subtraction. The twofer becomes a threefor!

"Goodbye and good riddance."

I don't know. What are the rules about a guy sitting in a jail cell serving as a Supreme Court Justice?

Acting doesn't necessarily imply next nominee. Is Clement enough of a politician to be a good choice?

I'm quite impressed with those who recommended Scalia, Thomas or Roberts. That is out-of-the-box thinking.

Appoint Chertoff to Justice and Gonzales to Homeland Security? If you're going to rearrange deck chairs, you might as well get into the spirit of it.

Maybe Latino groups should demand that Bush help restore their ethnic pride by nominating David Iglesias.

Model 62: When Karl Rove quit, AG AG wasn't really needed anymore as a firewall between Congressional Oversight and the White House. With the exception of Cheney, the high value targets are gone.

No, they're still alive, kicking, and available for investigation and prosecution. Rumsfeld, Rove, and Gonzales should all be in the dock.

How about Jenna, or her fiance? They need a wedding present of some sort. A recess appointment of one of them as AG would be just the thing. And Henry Hager, at least, has the qualifications:

Hager, who has been a White House aide and worked on Bush's re-election campaign, is the son of John and Maggie Hager of Richmond, Va. His father is chairman of the Republican Party in Virginia, former assistant secretary of the Education Department's office of special education, former lieutenant governor of Virginia and former director of Virginia's Office of Commonwealth Preparedness.

KCinDC - I don't know. If he could be seen as restoring integrity and independence to DOJ, then he might take it (ignoring if Bush would even let him), tho who knows. Bringing in a "respected elder statesman" to finish out a short appointment for a lame duck President seems to be discussed alot (e.g., right now for IRS Commissioner).

Is James Baker a lawyer?

"When Karl Rove quit, AG AG wasn't really needed anymore as a firewall between Congressional Oversight and the White House. With the exception of Cheney, the high value targets are gone."

Not if the purpose of investigation is to actually find out what happened.

If the respected elder stateman is a good friend of Poppy's, Ugh, then I'd think Dubya would view that as a humiliation. So Baker's probably out.

But Olson would make it tricky for people wanting to confront him about curtailments of civil liberties in the name of fighting terrorism.

You're right on that, Baker was the only other one I could think of, though I'm sure there are likely others. I'm not sure even some Bush-loving hack would want the job right now.

But look for Chertoff, Wiki says he was unanimously confirmed to DHS head, which I'm sure will be pounded into our heads if he gets nominated (along with his experience as an assistant US Atty and Circuit Court judge).

Not if the purpose of investigation is to actually find out what happened.

Katherine (and Jesurgislac, too): Well, sure. Finding out what happened would be positive, and should be done because it's the right thing to do.

But if they ever got underway, these investigations were always going to be political investigations, first. That's why the opposition would undertake them. That's how the opposition serves its interests. With the targets resigned, the politics are more difficult ("Why bother -- the guy's already resigned," "The new guy should be given a chance to show what he can do without the cloud of someone else's misdeeds hanging over him," "Look, this proves the Democrats only want to throw mud," etc).

Turning our attention to finding out what happened to Iraq reconstruction is still a political winner. And it can also serve the truth.

I think his lasting legacy will be the legitimization of torture. I came up with Ten Reasons why he won't be missed.

Is James Baker a lawyer?

Is the Pope Catholic?

Baker Botts LLP

Finding out what happened will be politically beneficial for the Democrats. Sure, the Republicans could make the arguments, but if the Dems were smart they wouldn't listen. Unfortunately, however...

i think Nifong's available

Looks like they've got someone good for DHS:

Asked about his relationship to Bush, Johnson told the New York Times recently that “there’s a lot of devotion to George Bush the person.” Johnson, who “is probably the only person to have spanked” the president’s dog, Barney, “keeps a George Bush doll on his desk.”

But if they ever got underway, these investigations were always going to be political investigations, first.

That would doubtless under normal circumstances be true. However, give the publicly-available evidence of criminal actions on the part of Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Gonzales, and Rove, these would be criminal investigations carried out by the only branch of government able to do so, since both the Department of Justice and the White House are implicated in the crimes to be investigated.

The crimes it appears Gonzales either committed or was complicit in have not disappeared because Gonzales has resigned. If the next Attorney General is not politically independent of the White House and the public corruption in the Department of Justice, the "new guy" won't be able to "show what he can do" because the first thing he needs to do is investigate his predecessor's misdeeds. If he won't, "the cloud of someone else's misdeeds" will be hanging over him - indeed, will become the cloud of his own misdeeds.

There's no two ways about it. Either the next Attorney General is willing to appoint an independent investigation to find out what happened in the US Attorneys scandal, or he is implicated in that scandal. He might escape being tarnished by the other scandals of the Bush administration - but he can't escape this one.

Erick at Bizarro World thinks the announcement was delayed until today because even worse news will come out later in the week that needs a cushion of a three-day weekend. Take it with a "only nixon could go to china" type of way.

Jesurgislac: From your lips to God's ear.

You have more faith in our system than I do. I think the administration will be able to stall it out through next year's election, then clean up any messes with pardons, just as previous criminal GOP administrations have done (Bush Pere).

Erick at Bizarro World thinks the announcement was delayed until today because even worse news will come out later in the week

it's nice that he gave such a long list of credible sources for his statement!

it's nice that he gave such a long list of credible sources for his statement!

Hey, when an uber right-wing hack like him says "watch out for bad news coming down the pike that will reflect poorly on my hack-mates," I sit up and listen? Usually over there its "no one on my side of the could possibly have done anything wrong," at least until the guilty plea comes down.

I wonder if he thinks the Larry Craig story is breaking now as a further bit of distraction from whatever the big thing is.

The most memorable thing about the resignation of this POS is his boss's eulogy: "It's sad that we live in a time when a talented and honorable person like Alberto Gonzales is impeded from doing important work because his good name was dragged through the mud for political reasons."

Talented!? Honorable!? "important work"!? Gonzo is the most disgraceful, incompetent hack ever to occupy the office of AG in this country, an ass-clown whose slimy, lying and utterly pathetic testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee made me think of him as a kind of Hispanic Stepin Fetchit for Bush.

It is absolutely infuriating, though hardly surprising, that his idiot boss and mentor could mouth such platitudes about such a compliant, unprincipled and hollow fool. I absolutely can't wait for this Presidency to be over with.

Model 62: You have more faith in our system than I do.

Oh, I have no faith at all in your system. I merely point out that when investigating people against whom there is solid evidence of having committed crimes, this is a criminal investigation. A political investigation is when you are investigating someone for political reasons, not because they have confessed to multiple felonies (Bush), are deeply implicated in war profiteering (Cheney), are deeply implicated in torturing prisoners of war (Rumsfeld) and kidnapping civilians (Rumsfeld), or have been corrupting the Department of Justice for partisan political purposes (Gonzales).

I doubt if anything will actually happen to any of them. But investigations of their crimes are criminal, not political.

But investigations of their crimes are criminal, not political.

When the US Congress does the criminal investigation, the investigation is both political and criminal*, with politics in the privileged position.

Our system is designed around the assumption that all men are created equally greedy, self-serving, and vain; and our governing institutions are arranged to steer those impulses into achieving the greater good (such as digging out the truth behind implications of grave wrong-doing by the leadership). Our system won't get to the criminal truth unless political needs are met while doing so.

This morning I read that Democratic Party leaders insist the investigation into the the fired US Attorneys will go forward. We'll see how far it gets.


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*Not to mention farcical!

Our system also seems to depend on people having a capacity to feel shame, and I think that's the loophole this administration has discovered. Well, not discovered, but as with many other things (signing statements, recess appointments, etc.), used to an extent far out of proportion to previous administrations' use of it.

Once you've lost any ability to feel shame, it's amazing what you can get away with. Gonzales would have been gone months ago if he'd had it.

Not being a legal or government expert, I would like to know what law(s), if any, may have been broken in the USA firings. And I mean the firings themselves, not the subsequent (most likely) perjury. I ask this not to defend Gonzalez, but because it is key to the question of on-going investigation being political versus criminal, recognizing that they can be both in different proportions.

My take on the situation is that an almost entirely political investigation may be worthwhile, simply because what Gonzalez did (or ineptly allowed someone else to do) was plainly wrong if not illegal. Pointing out wrongdoing in public forums helps to sharpen the consciences of those not inclined to be conscientious on their own. It also helps to make the electorate aware of the kind of people they've handed power to and how those people abused that power.

We don't have laws telling people not to put beans up their noses. Maybe we don't care if people do put beans up their noses, but, even if we did, we might not make laws against nasal legume insertion if we didn't expect anyone to do such things. I guess once people did shockingly engage in such things, we would make laws against them.

I think there is some level of trust built into our system for those who reach high positions of power. We, at least to some degree, think they will behave morally, ethically and in a way that doesn't purposely damage our institutions. Thus, the beans-up-the-nose analogy. Unfortunately, it seems Gonzalez may have a head full of beans at this point.

Has anyone else had a song running through their head intermittently, refreshed every time they see the title of this thread in the sidebar?

Yeah, and I find it annoying.

Here you go, KC.

Fun as AG's resignation may be, I can't help but feel Digby's observation weighing heavily upon the scene: conservatism never fails, it is only failed. Anyone want to take bets on how long it'll take the ravening right to declare AG's failures a direct result of his liberalism?

Not being a legal or government expert, I would like to know what law(s), if any, may have been broken in the USA firings.

Obstruction of justice - if evidence ever comes out that criminal investigations of Republicans were discontinued, and investigations of Democrats were bogus and/or timed to coincide with elections.

Interfering with elections.

A plentitude of Hatch Act violations.

Then there are charges which might have arisen from the short-circuited investigations themselves, particularly into Duke Cunningham's various doings.

How about Clarence Uncle Thomas?

Hey, what about election law violations in Washington state, New Mexico, Wisconsin, Missouri, etc.?

If Al Gonzales has to take the fall for pressing the need for investigations and prosecutions, for criminently, don't ever ever complain about Ohio or Florida ever again.

Oh yeah, I love that "Uncle Thomas" dig, too. Ferchrissake, Clarence Thomas was a Civil Rights lawyer before he was appointed to the Supreme Court.

"Ferchrissake, Clarence Thomas was a Civil Rights lawyer before he was appointed to the Supreme Court."

Clarence Thomas hasn't spent a day of his life working on a civil rights case, for a civil rights organization, or as a civil rights advocate, in point of fact.

Instead:

From 1974 to 1977, Thomas was Assistant Attorney General of Missouri under then State Attorney General John Danforth. When Danforth was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1976, Thomas left to become an attorney with Monsanto in St. Louis, Missouri. He returned to work for Danforth from 1979 to 1981 as a Legislative Assistant. Both men shared a common bond in that both had studied to be ordained (although Thomas was Catholic and Danforth was ordained Episcopalian). Danforth was to be instrumental in championing Thomas for the Supreme Court.

In 1981, he began his rise through the Reagan administration. From 1981 to 1982, he served as Assistant Secretary of Education for the Office of Civil Rights in the US Department of Education ("DOE"), and as Chairman of the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") from 1982 to 1990.

In 1990, President George H.W. Bush appointed Thomas to the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

Being given a political appointment to run an agency doesn't magically make you something you aren't. Working for the Department of Education didn't make Thomas a "civil rights lawyer." A "civil rights lawyer" practices civil rights cases. See, say, Thurgood Marshall for what a "civil rights lawyer" does and what the words mean.

If Thomas had been hired as a career attorney by the EEOC, and worked on civil rights cases, he'd have been a "civil rights lawyer" while doing so. He never did this. Being given a political appointment to head the agency didn't make him a "civil rights lawyer" any more than Donald Rumsfeld being made Secretary of Defense turned him into an Air Force pilot.

FWIW, when he headed EEOC, he was best remembered for:

[...] Thomas dramatically changed the practice of the EEOC under his leadership. He abandoned the use of timetables and numeric goals, which allowed companies more flexibility in their hiring of minorities. Thomas also ended the use of class action suits that relied on statistical evidence of discriminatory effects. These changes in EEOC practice angered many civil rights groups.
As it happens, every major civil rights organization in the country vigorously, furiously, opposed Clarence Thomas Supreme Court nomination. Heaven forfend anyone should question his devotion to civil rights; far better we make up bogus claims that he "was a Civil Rights lawyer before he was appointed to the Supreme Court."

Why let facts get in the way?

Oh, and lest this be misunderstood: "He abandoned the use of timetables and numeric goals, which allowed companies more flexibility in their hiring of minorities."

That means "more flexibility to hire fewer minorities."

It's not as if there were any problem with companies hiring more minorities, other than that they couldn't get around to it. They didn't need "more flexibility" to hire more minorities. They only needed "more flexibility" to not get fined for not not having hired enough minorities.

Hurrah for this accomplishment in civil rights, whereby fewer minorities were employed, but big corporations made more money and had fewer worries.

Ditto relieving companies of any worries about being sued for mere resulting employment discrimination; after Thomas, they need only worry if actual malicious racism could be proven beyond a reasonable doubt. Who cares if the employment force just happens to be identical in ethnic make-up to the KKK?

Why don't people give more recognition to Clarence Thomas for these civil rights accomplishments? Especially darker-skinned people.

It's a real puzzle.

(DaveC, that's your cue to say 'oops, my bad.'

*crickets*)

I'm wondering why I'd be obligated not to complain about real voting suppression and fraud cases being ignored simply because fake voting fraud cases (which were recognized as bogus by Republican appointees) weren't prosecuted. Fortunately the hideous idea of false balance hasn't yet migrated from journalism to criminal prosecutions.

When the US Congress does the criminal investigation, the investigation is both political and criminal*, with politics in the privileged position.

Whatever. If the courts won't do it, the Congress will have to do. Any port in a storm.

Our system is designed around the assumption that all men are created equally greedy, self-serving, and vain

No, not really. Our system is designed to provide curbs and checks on greed, self-serving, and vanity. Not the same thing, and it's an important difference.

All people are not, in fact, created equal as regards greed, self-serving, and vanity. There's nothing baked into our system of government that impedes folks who are actually acting in pursuit of the public interest.

Has anyone else had a song running through their head intermittently, refreshed every time they see the title of this thread in the sidebar?

Any day that makes Etta run through my head is a good day.

Thanks -

Our system is designed to provide curbs and checks on greed, self-serving, and vanity.

OK, a correction. Maybe not vanity.

Thanks -

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