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January 01, 2009

Comments

Amen, hilzoy: I know that the phrase "banality of evil" can be (and in the blogosphere often has been) overused - but once in a while, an example shows up in the public discourse which proves Hannah Arendt right yet again. Maybe the "evil" doesn't quite measure up to the scale she was referring to - but Alberto Gonzales certainly meets the threshold for "banal".

More thoughts on Gonzo (DISCLAIMER: rare self-promotion alert!) HERE .

It looks like Maher Arar had problems in Canada by Canadians. I don't see the Alberto Gonzales connection. Did I miss something?

Probably you're just pointing out that Maher is a real victim and Gonzales is not. Forgive me for being so slow..

d3dave: Maher Arar was detained by our government, and sent to Syria, where he was tortured. Katherine, who used to blog here, wrote a lot about his case. You can find out more by clicking the 'Maher Arar' category here, and starting from the bottom.

d'd'd'dave, Maher Arar was detained at JFK airport and then deported by U.S. officials from JFK airport to Jordan, and then from Jordan to Syria. While it was before Gonzales' tenure as Attorney General, Arar had a wee bit more than "problems in Canada by Canadians".

I do hope that you all here hold to your high standards in the next 4-8 years. Sh*t is happening and some of it is going to require an ugly response. It is not going to be pretty.

This is not to stick up for admin officials singled out here (they suck) – I’m just noting that these guys are (at least somewhat) hated personally for policy decisions. I hope that standard holds. I expect it to hold. I expect to see as much personal animus directed against Obama and his administration when you all disagree with his policies.

There are ugly policy decisions to come.

Paul Krugman is looking for a word to describe Alberto Gonzales' misunderstanding of the term "casualty."

OCSteve I expect to see as much personal animus directed against Obama and his administration when you all disagree with his policies.

Mere policy differences won't do it. If he ever does things like approve torture, start stupid wars etc., I'm pretty sure we will.

I have never seen evidence that his personality so much as exists, unless a kind of dim amiability and eagerness to please can be considered a personality.

Not at all unlike Richard Rich from "A Man for All Seasons." Right down to the perjury.

Of course, there was no one to play the Thomas More role in the Bush administration. Or in Congress. Or in the media.

Cw: Mere policy differences won't do it. If he ever does things like approve torture, start stupid wars etc., I'm pretty sure we will.

Fine. 2009 predications:

Obama is not going to do much at all about torture. He’ll go through some motions, give it some lip service. Gitmo will not close. Extraordinary Rendition will continue to happen.

FISA will stand as it is.

He’ll roll back some executive decrees. A lot of what Bush did will stand.

He will not significantly draw down troop strength in Iraq beyond what Bush already planned. He will surge troops in Afghanistan.

The war on drugs will continue on its stupid way.

He won’t do squat for LGBT folks. Not a damned thing.


He gave you a blank canvas to paint what you wanted to see – to get elected. Now that he is the man, his decisions will be forced by reality. He will not be in control – he will be responding to events. He will make Bush-like decisions. He may be a great president, or not. But he will be responding to events – not directing them.

Feel free to bookmark this and tell me how wrong I was one year from now.

I’m just noting that these guys are (at least somewhat) hated personally for policy decisions.

There are policy decisions, and then there are policy decisions.

Lowering the top marginal tax rate, for example, is not the same as enabling and justifying torture and the suspension of habeas.

To the degree that folks are personally hated, which is probably less than you appear to believe, it's less because of a difference in policy per se, and more because of their willingness to throw the rule of law overboard in the interest of aggrandizing their own power.

In some cases, it's because they are manifestly criminals.

There are ugly policy decisions to come.

There have always, always, always been ugly policy decisions to make. Seldom, perhaps never in this country, have the decision makers so consistently and eagerly opted for the low road.

Things have been worse. In my own lifetime, things have been worse. Rarely, if ever, could the same be said of those in power.

Thanks -

Fine. 2009 predications

All plausible. I think he'll do more than you predict, but I won't be shocked if he doesn't.

And if what you predict comes to pass, I personally will be all over his @ss.

He will, no doubt, not lose a moment's sleep. I'll do my best. Can't do more than that.

Thanks -

Gonzales continues his streak of unrelieved dimness:

I am portrayed as the one who is evil in formulating policies that people disagree with.

No one has ever portrayed him as formulating a goddamned thing. Enabling, yes. Rationalizing, check. Closing his eyes to everything going on around him, no doubt. But anything as active as creating or defining a policy of his own? No way. He'd be one of those good men who allow evil to triumph by doing nothing, if only he were good. Or a man.

Lowering the top marginal tax rate, for example, is not the same as enabling and justifying torture and the suspension of habeas.

Of course not. Let’s see what Obama does to roll that back. I’ve made my predictions and I’ll stand by them or happily admit I was wrong. Is not rolling it back worthy of an equal level of hatred? We’ll see…

To the degree that folks are personally hated, which is probably less than you appear to believe…

The comments section here is filled with hate whenever these names come up, and this is about the most civil place in the left blog-o-sphere. It’s a lot worse elsewhere. Not to pick on hilzoy, but as it is the main post here:

I tend to loathe the likes of Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld…

That's what makes him so uniquely despicable…

I have never seen evidence that his personality so much as exist…

I just don't think there's enough to him.

I think the word 'disgust' is apt.

This is not a post about policy differences. It is personal. That’s fine – I mostly agree with her. But let’s not pretend it is objective or strictly about policy…

russell: I'll do my best. Can't do more than that.

Can’t ask any more of you. Peace and happy New Year.

OCSteve,

I have to say, it is a little bit creepy how conservatives like you are obsessed with feelings. I mean, aren't you guys supposed to be tough and focused on facts and policies? Don't you find it a bit unseemly? A bit unmanly? To be honest, I'm embarrassed on your behalf.

The truth is that lots of people take politics personally and that doesn't really matter. Some people are really into the politics of nuclear power, some people are really into microlending. What matters isn't people's motivations or depth of feeling but the quality of their arguments.

Abu G is a victim of his own lack of morals and principles and his craven worship of power.

Back in the summer of '45, an American Army sergeant said 'all of the Nazis must have gotten back on their rocketships and returned to Mars, if you listen to everybody in Germany'.

In the same way, many members of the Bush administration will pull a 'who, me?' line for the next decade or so.

Remember, Gonzales is a Bush administration appointee. The null hypothesis is that he's lying.

OCSSteve-- torture, violation of the Constitution, and poorly conducted unnecessary wars justified on false pretenses provoke strong emotion from every democrat (small "d").

This isn't really a cause for genuine surprise.

Expanding on Jay's point, in the words of Hannah Arendt:

Except for an extraordinary diligence in looking out for his personal advancement, he had no motives at all. And this diligence in itself was in no way criminal; he certainly would never have murdered his superior in order to inherit his post. He merely, to put the matter colloquially, never realized what he was doing....He was not stupid. It was sheer thoughtlessness--something by no means identical with stupidity--that predisposed him to become one of the greatest criminals of that period.

Ironically, there's actually fairly good reason to think that this was an inapt description of Eichmann himself - that Arendt, seduced by the power of her own construct, managed to overlook both his ideological commitments and the extent of his personal initiative. But the banality of evil - for this is what she was describing - has stuck with us precisely because it captures something essential. And reading your post about Gonzales, Hilzoy, I could not escape the thought that this was precisely what you were describing.

I honestly don't think Gonzales is enough of an agent to have done either. I just don't think there's enough to him. And that's scary. Moreover, he doesn't seem to have a problem with this. Throughout the WSJ interview he portrays himself as uninvolved in what happened there while he was Attorney General.

Doesn't this presume that he's being honest in the interview?

I mean, aren't you guys supposed to be tough and focused on facts and policies? Don't you find it a bit unseemly? A bit unmanly? To be honest, I'm embarrassed on your behalf.

Turb – I’m not sure what “manly” means these days. Being unseemly has never bothered me, and I’ve embarrassed myself enough over the years that it doesn’t bother me should you feel embarrassed on my behalf.

It goes back to one of my first (the first?) posts. Rhetoric. Even if I have disowned these guys (and I have), there is some reflexive defense for “my side”. If you get my dander up with inflammatory remarks your actual point will be lost on me.

Hilzoy, Katherine, and Nell never changed my mind with their over the top inflammatory writing. They did it with their calm, factual, and irrefutable writing. Russell does it because he is always even keeled. Donald Johnson (with some famous rants to his credit) changed my thinking in the last I/P thread due mainly to his thoughtful comments.

Flame away if that feels good. Just don’t expect me to take the time to consider your words seriously if it reads like poo flinging to me.

To expand on my question: I see no reason to believe take anything Gonzales says at face value. It's not like he's got any particular incentive to tell the truth.

@ OCSteve:

This is not a post about policy differences. It is personal. That’s fine – I mostly agree with [hilzoy]. But let’s not pretend it is objective or strictly about policy…

Not to pile on, OCSteve, but I think you are missing a couple of significant points here.

First, as has been pointed out upthread, the "policy differences" ex-AG Gonzales enabled were not simple issues of fiscal policy or political favoritism, or whatever: but serious fundamental human-rights abuses, up to and including condoning torture: of which I believe the waving-away-of-protections-against engaged in by the Bush Administration will go down as one this nation's most serious black marks in history. So maybe just a little more outrage (including the otherwise unwarranted personal venom) can/should be expected. As against, say, a Congressman on the take.

Secondly - "policy differences"? Where do think these "policies" come from? Do you imagine that directives are just "found"? - on Post-It notes inside colored eggs on the White House lawn, perhaps? No: they are devised (and approved and/or enabled) by government officials - individuals - who, despite disavowals to the contrary, a la Alberto Gonzales, DO have, occasionally, to bear the responsibility for their actions. AND the criticism thereof.

However, FWIW, I'll concede a bit of your point: when I posted my dKos diary, I was trying to generate some sort of discussion on the issue: what I (and the front-pager who upstaged me) got was mainly obscenity-laden bile. Understandable. Disappointing, but understandable.

I think Gonzales is an evil, worthless little man, but I can't find it in myself to hate him. He's clearly such a moron that it would be like hating Elmer Fudd.

Hrm. I think when an administration crosses certain lines, there's a tendency to let it get personal and emotional. Tax cuts in 2001? Disagree, but it's intellectual. Tax cuts in 2009? Allow torture? Muzzle scientists or change their reports? That provokes a more visceral reaction...

I have never seen any evidence that torture or secrecy were his ideas

i have never seen any evidence that anything was ever his idea

i think hilzoy's judgment is right on.

he is the poster child for this administration's total lack of intellectual rigor, thoughtfulness or curiosity.

Josh, I don't see where Hilzoy assumes Gonzales is being honest about anything. The point there is that he is portraying himself as uninvolved, and that he somehow views that as being an acceptable thing. That's an additional negative about him ("Moreover..."), not being presented as evidence that he was uninvolved.

He gave you a blank canvas to paint what you wanted to see – to get elected.

Wait, weren't you just recently blasting everyone here, and in fact most Democrats, for claiming that Obama was the new messiah, and him for leading them to believe exactly that? Now you're saying he was a blank canvas? Make up your mind!

It goes back to one of my first (the first?) posts. Rhetoric. Even if I have disowned these guys (and I have), there is some reflexive defense for “my side”. If you get my dander up with inflammatory remarks your actual point will be lost on me.

You do understand that the problem here lies with you, and not with the language or arguments, right? An argument is either right or wrong on its merits, not on whether the individual at its heart gets called naughty names.

OC,
In Japan, the first X of the year is called the hatsu-, such as hatsumode (first visit in the year to a temple) and hatsuyume (first dream of the New Year, which is supposed to foretell the year). As such, this is probably the hatsu-OCpileon and I would be remiss in not joining in :^)

I understand the desire to be concerned about the expression of really powerful emotions, but you are the guy who argued that Tamm ought to 'burn'. Now, I'm sure that you felt (and continue to feel) completely justified in demanding the kind of punishment that you believe is appropriate, but I think we can define this as 'hate'.

However, there seems to be a serious power asymmetry involved, and taking Tamm as representative of the people you hate, your targets seem to be those out of power while those of the people who get upset with here are those in power. I'm not saying that this justifies those feelings, but when confronted with people in power doing bad acts, I always get a vibe of 'sh*t happens, what do you expect' from you and others who are lined up on the other side. This is not to argue for some us versus y'all construct, cause there are enough points where we agree on things, but when people here express the strong feelings that you seem to have problems with, you may wish to consider that the power asymmetry is a factor.

Out of curiousity, OCSteve, how many times over the years were you easily convinced to believe absolutely ridiculous and slanderous things about Democrats and liberals on the basis of arguments that amounted to little more than name-calling or the kind of rhetoric you claim to decry here?

Is not rolling it back worthy of an equal level of hatred?

Nope. Not even very close. YMMV. The best way to not have a mess is to not make a mess in the first place.

2009 predications

Your predictions mostly involve not being able to fix Bush's messes. Are you suggesting we should be as unhappy with the man who can't fix things as we should be with the man who created these messes in the first place?

If some of your predictions come to pass, I'll be unhappy, but not as unhappy as I am with the creator. Only if Obama creates his own messes will my anger rise back to its current level. All any of us can hope is that this doesn't come to pass. I'm not sure how well the US could survive another 8 years of this.

But he will be responding to events – not directing them.

This may be true: time and circumstances will tell. That Bush has put the US into this weakened position is not a good thing.

"What is it that I did that is so fundamentally wrong, that deserves this kind of response to my service?"

I'm still on holiday, in denial about the awfulness all around, so forgive me:

It was impossible to read this without thinking of the Simpsons episode where gangster Fat Tony hires Bart as a bartender after being given a sub-par cocktail: "What have I done, to deserve this flat and tasteless beverage?"

KCinDC: If the options are portraying himself as being uninvolved and owning up to being a war criminal, wouldn't you expect Gonzales to choose the former? (Not everyone's comfortable taking the Cheney "go f%^* yourself" route.)

hilzoy seems to be reacting to the interview as if Gonzales were a good-faith actor (with respect to the interview itself, not in general); that's the only way her penultimate paragraph makes any sense to me. (If Gonzales doesn't actually view the interview in good faith, then he's not "admit[ting] publicly to being such a passive nothing of a person", he's just saying what he thinks will go over best.) I'm just not convinced that that's a worthwhile assumption.

There are ugly policy decisions to come.

No doubt, thanks to the wreckage left by the vastly incompetent administration you supported.

OCSteve, are you paid to defend the most ridiculously incompetent members of the Bush administration? Or is it a hobby?

There are ugly policy decisions to come.

No doubt, thanks to the wreckage left by the vastly incompetent administration you supported.

OCSteve, are you paid to defend the most ridiculously incompetent members of the Bush administration? Or is it a hobby?

We are approaching the time for summing up and passing judgement on the Bush administration. I think that it is important to maintain a twofold perspective: the Bush administration comp-ared to previous administrations and the Bush administration compared to a reasonable standard of what sort of policies and behaviors are socially exceptable, ethical, legal, and in line with our cultural norms.

My assessment, from both persepctivies, is that Bush himself and large numbers of his top administrators must be, for the health of our political life, condemned as people who engaged in practices which were unethical, anti-democratic and frequently illegal. That being the case it seems very resonalbe to me to examine, as hilzoy has done, the pathology of a personality that congtributed to the unethical, anti-democratic and illegal behavior. And I see nothing wrong with condemning the person for the abhorrrent behavior.

It's important to do that so that we can hold ourselves to a reasonable standard of political behavior.

It is not a situation wherein people of good will can disagree about policy. On the contrary, far too many of the policies and actions of the Bush administration are the sorts of behavior about which people of good will can only agree --to condemn. There is no way for a person of good will and good faith to justify the torture or the politiciing of the justice department, as just two examples.

If we decide that we can't be too hard on people like Gonzales, we shouldn't condemn him or hate him or analyze the character defects that led to his disgusting behavior, then we are minimizing how far outside the norm his behavior was. Which means that behavior that should be outside the norm will become normal. Does anyone want the policizing of the justice department to be "just politics" or just a disagreement about policy? If not, them jump on the bandwagon and join the condemnation of the cretin who defiled his office.


So overt expressions fo contempt for the individuals involved is healthy and necessary if we want to keep our democracy.


OCSteve: I try not to think about Rumsfeld and Cheney much, but when I do, I don't think 'hatred' is too far off what I feel. It really was largely Andy's having asked that no one politicized his death that prevented me from sitting outside Rumsfeld's house dressed in black with a sign listing the number of people dead in Iraq, or doing something similarly melodramatic.

I do not hate Gonzales.

But to reiterate what was said above: these are people with whom I don't just have policy differences. They trashed my country and its good name.

Predictions for 2009: Obama will close Gitmo. He will not do extraordinary renditions. The law on FISA will be amended to bring clarity, but it will not be as much as I would like, and probably not in 2009. Obama will withdraw combat troops from Iraq within 16 months, give or take depending on whether things go wrong, and how much resistance he gets from the military. (He will not oppose the military over the difference between 16 and 18 months, for instance.) I have no idea how soon Bush would have pulled them out, so I don't know whether I differ with you here.

Obama will surge troops into Afghanistan. He will be the usual on drug policy, which is to say lousy. He will not do much on LGBT issues, since he will probably see health care, climate change, and the stimulus as higher priorities.

He will not, however, make "Bush-like decisions". He will not completely circumvent the policy-making apparatus that ensures that objections to things the President wants to do at least get considered. He will not politicize intelligence. He will not start wars based on lies. If he goes to war, he will not let his Secretary of Defense cut the military's estimate of how many troops they need by more than half. He will not fail to ask basic questions like "have we actually planned for the occupation?" His Treasury Secretary will never write a book revealing that he was completely out of the loop on economic policy.

Most importantly, whether I agree or disagree with things he does, I do not expect to look back at the end of 2009 (or 2010, or 2011) and think: what has this man done to my country?

I bookmarked yours. You can bookmark mine. ;)

And OCSteve didn't defend any Bush administration members. He specifically stated that he wasn't defending them. I took his comment as being (in my opinion) and unduely cynical case of low expectations for all politicians: he seems to think that an emotionally charged personal condemnation fo Gonzales is unpersuasive because in the end Obama will be disappointing, too.


I disagree with every element of that but I don't see any of it as a defense of Gonzales.

Josh, I'll leave it to Hilzoy to explain herself if she feels the need, but I think you're putting an awful lot of weight on the difference between "admit" and "say" there. If he had self-respect he would be taking the Cheney route rather than painting himself as a nothing.

He will not do much on LGBT issues

I agree with that, but I still expect him to be a huge improvement over Bush or even Clinton by not doing anything to make the situation worse and not standing in the way of making it better. We won't see him signing anything like DOMA (not that I expect anything like that to be reaching his desk in the first place).

KCinDC: "I still expect him to be a huge improvement over Bush or even Clinton by not doing anything to make the situation worse and not standing in the way of making it better."

True enough. Basically, I think that even if Obama succeeds in none of the things he seems to be planning, that fact (applied more generally), plus dedication to basic competence, will be an enormous improvement.

"...[Cheney] actually believed that those things were right..."

The implication that Cheney was motivated by principle is troubling and unfounded.

All kinds of alarms should go off whenever a public official tries to identify the unrestrained expansion of his or her power with the public interest and doing what's "right." Cheney's overarching goal was to act with impunity in every area of federal responsibility. As his assistant David Addington once said: "We're going to push and push and push until some larger force makes us stop."

As it turned out, the only "larger force" was the election of 2008.

Gonzales was one of many lawyers in the administration who saw their job in two dimensions: 1) find out what the client wants to do; and, 2) devise some rationale for doing it under "color of law."

This is what the Nazi lawyers did -- the same ones who were convicted by U.S. prosecutors at Nuremberg. (And I do not mean to suggest that there's any moral equivalence between Gonzales and the Nazi lawyers, though I'm convinced that lawyers in the Bush DoJ committed criminal acts under the Nuremberg Principles in creating their justifications for torture.)

OCSteve: If you get my dander up with inflammatory remarks your actual point will be lost on me.

Right back at you, OCS. When the likes of Dick and Dubya and Rove and Gonzo spend years insinuating (and occasionally declaring) that I'm unpatriotic for denouncing their policies, I take it personally. Their "point" is lost on me.

I know the Christian attitude is, "hate the war crime, love the war criminal." All I can say to that is, "praise Jesus, I am not a Christian." The mental agility required to separate a public person from his public acts is, happily, beyond me. What a man does is all a man is, from my Gump-like perspective.

So I, at least, frankly confess to "hatred" for hateful acts, and I also confess to something very like hatred for the authors of them. I know this makes me morally inferior to, for instance, the fine "conservatives" for whom Barack the Magic Negro is merely playful parody, but I can live with that.

--TP

He will make Bush-like decisions. He may be a great president

Dude.

Seriously.

Like I know we all have hangovers, but seriously?

You used "bush-like" and "great" in such close proximity without a negative.

You DO realize that, right?

OCSteve:

OK, at the risk of piling on, I thought you broke with the Bush Administration precisely because you came to believe that believing the President is not bound by any laws so long as he used the magic words "national security," authorizing unlimited detention and torture, warrantless surveillance, claiming the right to invade any country at will etc. are not simply policy differences, but things contrary to our Constitution, laws, values and democracy.

You're still a conservative. You are skeptical about Obama. You have a wide range of policy disputes with him. All to the good. Democratic conservatism is a necessary element in any democratic body politic, all to tragically rare in this day and age. I hope people at this blog do not treat your policy differences with Obama as being out of line (as some, unfortunately, have).

But please, don't say our feud with the Bush Administration is simply over policy differences. Your own posts in the past have led me to believe that you understand well that is not the case.

I think it's a good thing to compare Gonzo (not the revered Muppet) with Addington. Gonzo is a pure tool who seems to have no real mind of his own but is remote controlled by others and unable to do anything (pf importance) by himself. Addington on the other hand seems to be a real agent of his master and fully in agreement with him anticipating his wishes and acting on them. Remove Gonzo's handlers and he will be nothing. Remove Chain-Eye and Addington will take care that the shop keeps running until a new Dark Lord takes over. Gonzo has less personality than Grima Wormtongue (who at least rebels in the end), Addington could successfully apply for the Mouth of Sauron position.*

*per analogiam that would make Bush Ar-Pharazon the Golden, last king of Numenor (nerd alert!)

It was impossible to read this without thinking of the Simpsons episode where gangster Fat Tony hires Bart as a bartender after being given a sub-par cocktail: "What have I done, to deserve this flat and tasteless beverage?"

I was reminded more of the scene in The Godfather where Michael Corleone meets with Solozzo and McCluskey in the restaurant. Michael asks for guarantees that no more attempts will be made on his father's life, to which Solozzo replies, "What guarantees can I give you? I'm the hunted one!"

OCSteve, you know I would never pile on you, don't you? ;) Anyway. two things. The first is that my hope is that your prediction for 2009 is as accurate as the prediction you gave for the general election after McCain named Palin.

Secondly, although some people on both sides have perfected the art of hating, over the last several years I think any objective study would find the level of hatred to be higher on the right than the left.

My prediction for 2009. A massive stimulous package will be passed with the main target being getting all the potholes in the Chicago area filled. If that happens I will be completely satisfied with the adminsitration.

OCSteve: This is not a post about policy differences. It is personal. That’s fine – I mostly agree with her. But let’s not pretend it is objective or strictly about policy…

Why do you care? How far do you still feel that Bush and Cheney and Rumsfeld are "your side"? If so, why? What about them still appeals to you and makes you feel they don't merit hatred and contempt?

Andy's having asked that no one politicized his death ... prevented me from sitting outside Rumsfeld's house dressed in black with a sign listing the number of people dead in Iraq, or doing something similarly melodramatic

This doesn't follow at all, and IMO attributes far more to Andrew's request than I believe he intended.

Andy had every right to request that no one politicize his death by making it the focus of such protest. However, I doubt very much he would have been so presumptuous as to seek to forestall protests based on the (much more numerous and unsought) Iraqi deaths, injuries, dislocation, and despair-inducing devastation.

I agree with you, Nell, but Hilzoy and Andy were close personal friends, and I certainly support Hilzoy's right to interpret Andy's request as she believes Andy would have wanted it interpreted.

Nell: I just thought he wouldn't like it. Especially not the alternate version, in which I sit with a sign saying: You killed my f*cking friend, you murderous bastard. Possibly the existence of that version, which was in fact the dominant one, made all the others seem suspect.

For the record: every so often when someone gets mad, I say something like: look, target your anger appropriately. Don't take it out on the wrong people. One might be tempted to infer from that that I do not in fact get angry at all. That would be a mistake. It takes a bit, but it happens.

Possibly the existence of that version, which was in fact the dominant one, made all the others seem suspect.

Fair enough, and thanks for clarifying.

The others shouldn't be suspect, though. Particularly not if time grinds on without any accountability for the authors of the crimes against humanity (war of aggression and torture) and devastating fecklessness in execution).

OCSSteve-- torture, violation of the Constitution, and poorly conducted unnecessary wars justified on false pretenses provoke strong emotion from every democrat (small "d").

I will not comment on Obama until he's actually been in office for a couple of months. That said, I share OCSteve's doubts to a certain extent, because I've known a few baby-boomer democrats who would go to ridiculous lengths to defend Kennedy and to this day regard him as some sort of redeemer, even though the crimes committed during his administration are grave, numerous and undisputed.

"He became vice president well before George Bush picked him," Wilkerson said of Cheney. "And he began to manipulate things from that point on, knowing that he was going to be able to convince this guy to pick him, knowing that he was then going to be able to wade into the vacuums that existed around George Bush -- personality vacuum, character vacuum, details vacuum, experience vacuum."

The quote above is from an AP article I found on TPM. Wilkerson really lets it rip--he repeatedly compares Bush to Pailn which is, in my opinion, both apt and one of the meanest things a person could say about a politician.

ANyway, my point? We are entering the post mortum stage. There will be a concerted effort, probably led by Cheney (Bush being on vacation now and for the rest of his life) to do what ost mconservatives and Republicans have been doing for eight years: minimize, ignore, rationalize, rewrite, and move goalposts; in short, use every intellectually dishonest tool available to make it look like the disaster of the Bush Presidency was not so bad, not their fault, or the Democrats are worse. Anything to avoid taking responsibility!

What is more useful than a pliable laywer?

What do you do if you are a dim lawyer who powerful people find a useful tool because of your J.D? You take your promotions and your pay and you don't ask questions.

It all comes naturally when not asking questions is your stock in trade. That Gonzales may not know that his stupidity is the key to his success doesn't change things one bit. It is also the key to his downfall. How about that.

He was stupid, therefore he was useful. The same goes for Bush. He's not as stupid as Gonzo, but he's stupid enough.

Shorter Gonzales

Everone used to like me and I had a driver and secret service and now they don't return my phone calls and people say I'm bad. I didn't do nothing. Waaah!!

"Obama will withdraw combat troops from Iraq within 16 months, give or take depending on whether things go wrong, and how much resistance he gets from the military."

My cynical prediction: some number of thousands of U.S. troops, probably over 5,000, and under 20,000, will magically switch from being "combat troops" to being "advisors," while doing what they've been doing.

Vietnam in reverse.

Along with pulling out a significant amount of troops, of course, who will largely, along with the usual rotations, go to Afghanistan.

"Gitmo will not close."

It's not all that far off, so I'll bet a shiny nickel you're wrong.

Along with pulling out a significant amount of troops, of course, who will largely, along with the usual rotations, go to Afghanistan.

Vietnam in overdrive.

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