March 14, 2007

"I haven't written about the U.S. Attorney's story because I'm having a hard time figuring out just how big a deal it is."

That -- from Orin Kerr -- resonates with me:
Parts of it are obviously very troubling: I was very disturbed to learn of the Domenici calls, for example...

At the same time, several parts of the story seem overblown. U.S. Attorneys are political appointees who serve at the pleasure of the President, and the press seems to overlook that in a lot of its reporting....

So in the end I don't quite know where I come out based on what we know. Without knowing where I come out, I don't feel I have much helpful to add. I realize that this may mean I am missing a big story.
The sheer intensity of the effort to make this the big story of the week is bringing out the resistance in me.

233 comments:

1 – 200 of 233   Newer›   Newest»
The Exalted said...

i'm sure you would have resisted watergate also -- woodward was trying so hard to make it a big story!

DCWilly said...

The issue is ONCE AGAIN, that an admininstration official -- this time -- Alberto Gonzalez LIED UNDER OATH when he told Congress that the U.S. Attorneys were fired for performance reasons. Then, their peformance evaluations come out and say that they were performing at or above expectations, and we learn that it was wholly political.

So, yes, it is the president's pregrogative to replace political appointees. But it is not an executive branch officials prerogrative to LIE UNDER OATH.

Why don't people get that? Or, is the answer here (the analogue to the Libby response) it's okay to lie UNDER OATH because they were political appointees anyway?

MadisonMan said...

Gonzales was not under oath when he told Congress about the reasons for being fired. That's my understanding, at least. Congress is (rightly) po'ed about being lied to (again) by administration officials, but no laws were broken.

Ann Althouse said...

Exalted: Because Watergate was big, something else is big. That's not reasoning.

DCWilly: "Performance" is too broadly variable a concept for that to work out into an obvious lie the way you seem to think. Keep working at it. And we're talking about political employees.

Amlohdi said...

Comin' down the mountain
One of many children
Everybody has
Their own opinion
Everybody has
Their own opinion
Holding it back
It hurts so bad
Jumping out of my flesh
And i said.... cash in!

Cash in now honey
Cash in now
Cash in now baby
Cash in now honey
Cash in Miss Smith
Cash in now baby!
Oh, oh oh, oh oh oh

I was comin down the mountain
Met a child she had pin eyes
We had the same opinion
Had the same opinion
She was holding it back
It hurts do bad
Jumping out of her flesh
And i said...
You better cash in

Cash in now honey
Cash in now
Cash in now baby
Cash in now honey
Cash in Miss Smith
Cash in now baby!
Oh, oh oh, oh oh...

Doyle said...

Sure, Ann. It's the intensity of the effort to get you to write about it that makes you resist.

It has nothing to do with the fact that it exposes even more plainly how brazenly dishonest and corrupt your beloved Bush administration is.

DCWilly said...

Ann: This is where your inattention to the story undermines your point. Two Republican Senators and staunch White House allies (including Jon Kyl) said that Gonzalez's statement about their performance plainly tarnished the reputations of the fired U.S. Attorneys by umistakeably implying that they were doing their jobs badly. So, you can parse the meaning of performance all you want, the point was clear -- even to Republicans.

Doyle said...

The "performance issue" in the eyes of the White House was failure to adequately prosecute bogus voter fraud claims (against Democrats, of course) for which there was no evidence. Or, in some cases, for prosecuting Republicans too aggressively. Cummins' performance problem, it seems, was simply not being Karl Rove's opposition research guy.

Ask yourself: Do you want US Attorneys to fear for their jobs if they don't prosecute members of one party more aggressively than members of another party?

It's not a trick question, you hack.

Simon said...

That tends to be my reaction, too. It isn't a big story, unless U.S. Attorneys are not actually political apppointees who serve at the pleasure of the President. I had thought that they were.

What's the allegation here - that more Democrats are being investigated than Republicans? Even if that were true (and the theory it is rests on flawed data), that doesn't ipso facto demonstrate political bias. And even if there were political bias, it seems to me that much alone isn't inherently problematic either, as long as the investigations are in fact legitimate. The real potential difficulties, it seems to me, are either (a) if there are politically-motivated failures to investigate actual crimes, or (b) if there are politically-motivated investigations that are in fact totally without merit. But if the pressure is purely a matter of how to prioritize various legitimate investigations, I don't see that as any more inherently problematic (and possibly, in view of Michael Brown etc., less so) than patronage in general.

I can't escape the nagging feeling that this story is little more than another tiresome propaganda effort to paint the Bush administration as out of control, unprecedented and drunk on unchecked power. But it hasn't been shown that this behavior is unprecedented, and it's plainly false that this represents unchecked power (a U.S. Attorney can investigate and bring charges, but by definition, that power is checked by the Courts).

DCwilly - and maybe he speaks for everyone pushing this story, I don't know - is trying to pivot to what Gonzales told Congress. Well, in that case, this story is no more about the U.S. Attorneys than the Scooter Libby trial is about weapons of masss destruction, Joe Wilson and the road to war. The Libbygate trial was about perjury, not the contexxt in which he perjured himself. Likewise: If the story here is that Gonzales lied to Congress, then Gonzalesgate is about perjury, too, not the context in which that perjury took place. Still, if liberals want to go out of their way to take down Alberto Gonzales, I'm not only not going to stand in your way - more than that, please, allow me to hold the door for you. The more holes you riddle him with now, the less danger there is of his nomination to the Supreme Court being floated again.

hdhouse said...

Let's look at this from a non-partisan angle please. That certain politicos would find the atmosphere acceptable so that they would make a telephone to a US Attorney over a matter that prudence would have dictated that no call should ever be made is troubling enough.

Sen. Schumer, in his wisdom, opined that it isn't the ones who were fired that should trouble us, it is the ones who stayed on the job who should make us wonder what is going on.

Mostly, if there is even a smell of direction from the white house and NOT from the president but an underling as seems to be the case, it is troubling on a number of levels, not the least of which is that a potential prosecution, civil or criminal, could be the result of either pressure or a phone call by person with an interest other than justice.

When that wierd judge in Alabama brought the ten commandments into the courthouse, I opined that a defendant shouldn't be facing both the law and God in the same courtroom and the general idea holds true here. The law is one thing and hopefully some on this board hold it sacred. Political or otherwise connected prosecution is quite another.

Doyle said...

this story is little more than another tiresome propaganda effort to paint the Bush administration as out of control, unprecedented and drunk on unchecked power

It's not a painting as much as a photograph.

Simon said...

MadisonMan - I din't realize that he might not even have been under oath. Well, in that case, his behavior was at most unethical rather than illegal (I'm willing to assume for sake of argument, dubitante, that AnonymousLiberal is correct, and that the emails prove that Gonzales really did mislead Congress). The teapot in which this tempest is raging just keeps getting smaller.

Doyle said...

Republicans do not care about lying under oath unless it pertains to oral sex.

MadisonMan said...

The more holes you riddle him with now, the less danger there is of his nomination to the Supreme Court being floated again.

(laughing)

I think the most headscratching firing is Carol Lam's in San Diego. She took down a US Congressman for taking bribes. Isn't that an excellent use of the office? Keeping Congressmen/women looking over the shoulders 'cause someone's watching? And then, as she gins up to take on another Congressman and the CIA, she's axed. Well, that smells like an old fish to me.

But Gonzales has the full confidence of the President. I hear that and actually hear "You're doing a heckuva job, 'berto!" He'll leave after the 5:30 news on Friday.

Christy said...

Frankly I was suprised when Bush came into office that he didn't do a major overhaul of Clinton appointees, and not just AGs. Am I remembering right? I figured Bush didn't want to flex too much mandate muscle after the contested vote.

Firing them was fine. The method was not.

Simon said...

Doyle, lest you make the same mistake as Freder did on the subject of war crimes, let me make this clear for you: I don't like Alberto Gonzales all that much, and there is at least a whiff of impropriety (if not actual malfeisance) here. And this involves the executive branch at least disrespecting the legislative branch, a struggle in which I am in all cases predisposed to favor the latter. You should be looking to get me on your side on this issue instead of being snarky, because I am certainly open to being persuaded not only to hold the door opeen for the lynch mob, but to join it on the way through. Start making serious reality-based arguments.

BrianOfAtlanta said...

I, also, was stunned by the way this story has eaten Memeorandum. Good grief, another administration official has misled congress and anyone is surprised?

It's Scooter Libby all over again. There's no crime, but the administration flunkies try to cover it up anyway. Geniuses, all of them.

Doyle said...

I guess my argument is that conspiring to purge US attorneys for political reasons and then lying about it to Congress is bad.

I hope that's persuasive and reality-based enough for you, but I'm not going to beg. John Cornyn is even up in arms about this, for Chrissakes.

Simon said...

Doyle said...
"Republicans do not care about lying under oath unless it pertains to oral sex."

I do. I don't care how or why Clinton perjured himself, any more than I care how or why Libby perjured himself. Clinton should never have been asked those questions, but he was; he should never have answered them, but he did. He perjured himself and should have been impeached. Libby should never have been asked those questions, but he was; he should never have answered them, but he did. He, too, perjured himself and should have been prosecuted, and if he's found guilty after due process of law, he should go to jail. The issue of whether Bush should pardon him is entirely external to the actual criminal act, and personally, I'm inclined to say that he shouldn't be.

JohnAnnArbor said...

bogus voter fraud claims (against Democrats, of course)

Because those claims are ALWAYS bogus, right, Doyle?

Either they're political appointees or they're not. The people making these charges would be a lot more believable if they'd objected to Clinton canning all of them back in '93.

Simon said...

Doyle, John Cornyn's as much of an idiot as Arlen Specter, he just has somewhat more agreeable politics. I don't care what he's up in arms about. Now, OTOH, if (by treating this as an institutional slight) Congressional Republicanss are finally rediscovering their sense of institutional loyalty and putting it (as it should be) ahead of party loyalty, then that is without qualification a good thing.

Doyle said...

Hey John,

1. Yes those are always bogus, or at least were bogus in the eyes of Republican-appointed US Attorneys.

2. It's not a first term, and there's now no confirmation process thanks to the PATRIOT Act renewal. Read.

Simon said...

MadisonMan:
"I think the most headscratching firing is Carol Lam's in San Diego. She took down a US Congressman for taking bribes. Isn't that an excellent use of the office? Keeping Congressmen/women looking over the shoulders 'cause someone's watching."

Yes, IMO, very much so.

monkeyboy said...

FWIW Patterico has the emails here.

MadisonMan said...

The people making these charges would be a lot more believable if they'd objected to Clinton canning all of them back in '93.

Well, Presidents always can them when they come into office. The ones that were fired were Bush appointees that replaced Clinton appointees in 2001.

The correspondence shows that these USAttys were fired for political expediency. Sure, the President can do that. He just never has before, to this extent, in the middle of a term. And the fired attorneys all had great track records. Do you think it's a good idea for something like this to happen?

Timothy K. Morris said...

hdhouse commented:

"Let's look at this from a non-partisan angle please."

Why? It's clearly a partisan issue in the purest form. I'm sorry. As a politicial appointee myself (assistant prosecutor, ironically) I don't see how you can view this whole thing as anything other than a tempest in a teapot. The guy who appoints you doesn't like the way you part your hair and shows you the door, you knew that could happen when you took the job. US Attorneys routinely tender their resignations when the administration that appointed them leaves office, even if the incoming president is of the same party. Some (probably most) are accepted, some aren't. One one comments on this.

The role of a political appointee, especially in the executive branch, is to be a surrogate for the person who appointed them. When I stand up in court and argue a case, I make the arguments the Prosecuting Attorney wants to make, to the best of my ability, even if I don't agree with them. If my disagreement becomes a matter of ethical disagreement, I eithe ask to be relieved of the task or I resign. It's that simple. If I were to stand up in court and argue or do something that is correct, permissible, legal, etc, but the Prosecuting Attorney has told me not to do, or to do something else, I would fully exprect to lose my job. And I wouldn't say a damn word about it.

As far as I can tell, US Attorney is a niffty job, and I can understand why someone would be unhappy to lose the appointment, but for God's sake, that's part of the job.

Doyle said...

As far as I can tell, US Attorney is a niffty job

Probably one made less nifty by badgering phone calls from senators asking you to get moving on certain cases or it's your ass. And not just for the attorneys, for everyone living in their jurisdiction.

LAR said...

US Attorneys of course serve at the pleasure of the president, but the thing that is troubling about this story is that it appears that what pleases the president is the willingness of the US Attorneys to use the power of their office for purely political reasons. For some political appointees that would almost certainly be an appropriate measure; for US Attorneys it perhaps should not be.

Simon said...

MadisonMan said...
"The correspondence shows that these USAttys were fired for political expediency. Sure, the President can do that. He just never has before, to this extent, in the middle of a term"

D'you mean this President never has before, or no President ever has before? If the latter, while it'd be unfair to ask you to prove a negative, but I'd be interested to know what stands behind this assertion.

Fritz said...

There is no controversy, only BDS. I have read all the documents and have yet to find a smoking gun. These US attorneys that complain about being asked to leave after they have served a 4 year appointment are babies. Step number 3 is so true.

STEP 3:

Prepare to Withstand Political Upheaval: U.S. Attorneys desiring to save their jobs (aided by their allies in the political arena as well as the Justice Department community) , likely will make efforts to preserve themselves in office. We should expect these efforts to be strenuous.

Simon said...

Tim:
"The role of a political appointee, especially in the executive branch, is to be a surrogate for the person who appointed them. "

That's precisely the import of the unitary executive theory, as I understand it: the executive power is vested in a President, and although the President may delegate authority to appointees who act for him (or her), ultimately all executive branch actors either act for the President, within the constraints of Constitutional and statutory law, or they act ultra vires.

Doyle said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
AlphaLiberal said...

Oh for Pete's sake, Ann!

You make it sound as if this story is getting tremendous play because it's being pushed. It's an outrageous story, the emails demonstrate that the firings were political, partisan and electoral.

This is an egregious abuse of power that, with Bush's direct involvement, has turned out to be worse than many of us thought when we first learned of it.

No-one disputes that Presidents have the right to fire political appointees. (duh!) But it is wrong to use the federal governments prosecuation pwers for partisan purposes! This is getting more like an authoritarian state all the time where opposition to The Leader is criminalized!

They had a priority list of who to keep, based on loyalty to Bush.

And all you can do is criticize the critics?

Where's your moral compass? In the shop?

Al Maviva said...

Doyle - "conspiring to purge U.S. attorneys for political purposes" - did you really write that? Yeah, it's got your byline, and those words appear above. Amazing.

You have said some dumb things, but "conspiring" to fire political appointees for "political purposes" is now wrong? Why don't you go read Myers v. United States. Then get back to me.

MadisonMan said...

Well, I've been wrong before, but I don't believe a sitting President has canned this many of his own USAttys before. And always remember: these are attorneys that had good performance reviews. It appears their only black mark was pursuing wrongdoing of the (R) variety to the detriment of the (D) variety.

This scandal feels, to me, just like Foley's. Republicans with heads in the sand are denying that anything untoward happened, but the public sees it for the corruption that it is.

Fritz said...

alphaLib,
Please give me details rather than empty charges. Are you outraged that Congressman Waxman wishes to speak with US Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald?

Doyle said...

Why don't you read the rest of my sentence, Al, and get back to me.

AlphaLiberal said...

The inability of the right wing to criticize their leader even when such clear wrongdoing and corruption of the legal system is plain to see demonostrates that they place loyalty to party and Bush over loyalty to country.

When Clinton lied about his affair, Democrats denounced him. Republicans show no independence and react in habitual fashion by dnying wrongdoing, and making false comparisons, to Clinton, of course.

It's real difficult to respect that.

Fritz said...

Mad Man,
You are wrong. Bubba canned 93 in March of 1993. Only Chertoff was saved by Senator Bradley.

Alpha,
Give me details?

Doyle said...

I don't know, AL, I've been pretty satisfied with the number of Republicans in Congress who have denounced this. Maybe my expectations have been ratcheted down to a minimum, but still...

The problem is that the White House and its little henchman of an AG still have the executive branch, and exposing the full extent of its abuses and lies would take a dozen Waxmans. Maybe we could clone him, if it wouldn't be so visually horrifying.

AlphaLiberal said...

Fritz, no, I'm not outraged that Waxman wants to investigate what happened with the Libby investigation. It's a public matter.

Were you outraged when Congress wanted to hear from Ken Starr in the Great Oral Sex Scandal? Yeah, right.

As far as providing information to you, it's not my job to spoon feed you the news. It's my job (and yours) to be informed before speaking and I've been reading up on this all week.

Some resources:
Generally, you can find coverage and the email dump at:
http://www.tpmmuckraker.com/
More ongoing coverage at:
http://www.talkingpointsmemo.com/

There's also testimony from the (Republican) NM and WA USAs about how they were pressured to bring indictments against Dmeocrats for electoral purposes, how Domenici and others complained to Bush, Rove et al about this and how they were dumped weeks later.

Then there's the matter with Carol Lam who busted the Dukester, who was indicting top political appointees at the CIA and was investigating top Repubiocan Congressman Jerry Lewis.

Reminds me of something we were taught as kids:
"None are so blind as those who will not see."

vnjagvet said...

Here's the story as I see it:

Chuck Schumer, one of the more political of politicians, is "shocked" that politics entered into the resignations of politically appointed US Attorneys who are now to be replaced by other politcal appointees.

Schumer's shock is as remarkable as the classic shock Inspector Reynaud expressed at the gambling at Rick's place in Casablanca.

Beyond a Reasonable Doubt said...

US Attorneys serve at the pleasure of the President, but they are NOT your typical political appointee.

In Berger v. United States, the Supreme Court said: "The United States Attorney is the representative not of an ordinary party to a controversy, but of a sovereignty whose obligation to govern impartially is as compellig as its obligation to govern at all; and whose interest, therefore, in a criminal prosecution is not that it shall win a case, but that justice shall be done. As such, he is in a peculiar and very definite sense the servant of the law, the twofold aim of which is that guilt shall not escape or innocence suffer. He may prosecute with earnestness and vigor-- indeed, he should do so. But, while he may strike hard blows, he is not at liberty to strike foul ones. It is as much his duty to refrain from improper methods calculated to produce a wrongful conviction as it is to use every legitimate means to bring about a just one."

The job of a prosecutor is not to say how high when they are told to jump-it was entirely improper for the White House and Republicans in Congress to try to prod the US Attorneys into filing indictments against Democrats before the election. Unlike cabinet positions, the role of a US Attorney is supposed to be an apolitical one.

Furthermore, lying to Congress about the reasons for the firing, only makes this a bigger story. There is no possible minimization here by claiming that there was a good faith belief in WMDs, intelligence may have been cherry-picked BUT..., or anything of that nature. High ranking members of this administration intentionally lied to Congress about this matter. And that is certainly worthy of being a major news story, even if you don't care that the Bush White House was attempting to subvert the role of a US Attorney into being a political hack.

AlphaLiberal said...

My last comment o this is that I resent the willingness on the part of Republicans to subvert the rule of law and do damage to our nation's institutions.

As they seem intent on turning this nation into a Banana Republic, they should be dubbed hereafter "Banana Republicans."

AlphaLiberal said...

MadisonMan
"Gonzales was not under oath when he told Congress about the reasons for being fired."

I doubt that very highly. The Republicans refused to swear in certain Admin officials which led to a fight over one. Gonzalez, I believe.

You're going to have to back that up with a link.

Paul Zrimsek said...

"Erik Njorl, you are charged... that you did conspire to do things not normally considered illegal."

MadisonMan said...

Fritz, yes, Clinton cleaned house of the 41 appointees at the beginning of his administration. Presidents do that. President Bush did it in '01 as well. I expect this.

I don't expect the President to axe his own successful US Attys simply because they convict too many Congressmen from the President's own party.

MadisonMan said...

You're going to have to back that up with a link.

I base my assertion on the lack of an indictment, or even a call for an indictment. If Gonzales had been under oath, don't you think that maybe Rep. Waxman (for example) would be agitating for charges to be filed? His silence speaks volumes. My impression was that the lie was during conversations with members of the Senate.

Y.G. Brown said...

I agree with Ann 100% here. The manner in which the White House fired these US Attorneys and lied to Congress about the reasons is only earning scorn from the likes of Arlen Specter, John Cornyn, and Lindsey Graham, and John Ensign (R-PA, R-TX, R-SC, and R-NV respectively) because they are pushing the story for partisan gain.

It is much braver and more politically relevant to post stories about Al Gore and "An Inconvenient Truth" on both Althouse and Instapundit, because no one is trying to push that story for partisan gain. It is a purely non-partisan issue.

Kudos to Ann for her bravery. Those of you who disagree are clearly partisan hacks.

Wade_Garrett said...

Professor Althouse,

How is this nort a big story? I used to work at a U.S. Attorney's office, so perhaps I was more clued into it than most, but we talked about this over the dinner table back in December.

U.S. Attorneys were fired for running ethics investigations against Republicans. Others were fired for refusing to launch ethics investigations against Democrats. And they can be fired (and replaced by unqualified Republican hacks) without the usual civil service protections because of an obscure provision of - wait for it - the Patriot Act! How is this NOT bad for our country?

I'd be a lot more resistant to these stories out of the liberal blogosphere if they weren't, well, dead-on-balls accurate so often.

Wade_Garrett said...

This is taken verbatim from Attorney General Gonzalez's January 18th testimony:

SHELDON WHITEHOUSE: Do you think that whether a witness is sworn or not makes a difference in what their obligations are when they're the witness before a congressional hearing?

ALBERTO GONZALES: Well, it certainly wouldn't matter to me in terms of the answer that I would provide.

[Later in the hearing]

RUSS FEINGOLD: Why did you decide to seek FISA Court authorization in the Spring of 2005, and not earlier? Did this relate in any way to the administration learning that the New York Times was looking into the program?

ALBERTO GONZALES: (pause) No. Um, not at all.

RUSS FEINGOLD: Why didn't you seek the authorization earlier?

ALBERTO GONZALES: Senator, we certainly would not have been prepared to be in a position to make any kind of application. I must tell you, and I want to go back and think about this in terms of, I'm fairly certain, but again I'm under oath so I want to be careful how I say this.

reality check said...

Ann,

Can you even be bothered to read Talking Points Memo?

Josh Marshall and his gang are pretty much the folks that broke this story, and his site has a wealth of stories that carefully explain why this story is important.

Regarding Watergate, you would not have been blogging it, you would have said it was a third rate burglary.

Jeralyn Merritt, an actual lawyer, reminds us that all US Attorney appointments are political, but once in office they are expected to be non-partisan.

Yet all indications are that the Administration expected them to act in a partisan, politicized manner to the extent that the fired attorneys balked.

The paragraph in bold is one that even a law professor should be able to understand.

The Administration should have decided in 2004, following Bush's re-election, which U.S. Attorneys it wanted to replace. In 2005, all U.S. Attorneys were subject to replacement. In fact, all of them are expected to submit their letters of resignation and either be retained or have their resignation letters accepted.

In 2007, there should be no replacements, except for any U.S. Attorneys who proved to be unqualified. The fact that the Bush Administration is trashing the reputations of U.S. Attorneys it once endorsed for the job, in a non-election year raises considerable questions.

U.S. Attorneys serve at the pleasure of the President. There is no reason to replace them in a non-election year, except for malfeasance. If it turns out that the fired U.S. Attorneys did nothing wrong, but were replaced anyway in a non-election year, then the Bush Administration has overstepped its bounds.

I'm no fan of Republican U.S. Attorneys who got their job because they carried water for Bush in 2004 and had the blessing of their District's Senators. That's the way the job is assigned.

But, firing them because they didn't bring the cases the Administration wanted them to bring, or because they brought cases against Republicans or didn't bring cases against Democrats is beyond the pale.

Once appointed, the U.S. Attorney is not supposed to be a political hack. He or she, like every prosecutor, is supposed to make decisions to ensure that justice is done. If you're skeptical the U.S. Attorney can switch horses so fast, you have a right to be.


Ann, I know you have reality shows to blog and this law stuff and reality is just a big old drearie bore, but the TPM and TL sites will not take you much time.

For some reason, lots of lip-flopping, fence-sitting, half-in, half-out, half-assed, non-voting-so-they-can-bitch-no-matter-who-wins moderates are looking for your wisdom on this matter.

And the money-grubbing, greenhouse-gassing, seal-clubbing, oil-drilling, bible-thumping, missile-firing,
right-to-lifin, lethal-injection hypocrites reichtards are looking for you to deny it.

Those of us in the USA-loving, nature-hiking, forward-thinking, science-doing, Sushi-Eating, Volvo-Driving, New York Times-Reading, Body-Piercing, Hollywood-Loving, Left-Wing Freak Show just want to laugh at your hypocrisy.

Show us wrong.

Fritz said...

Alpha,
So Waxman can intrude upon a US attorney's investigations? Cafeteria constitutionalist you are. You are attaching other's actions outside the Bush Administration's efforts; these people were on the removal list months before the phone calls outside the Administration. You will have to do better. None were dumped, these are not permanent jobs.

MadisonMan said...

ALBERTO GONZALES: Well, it certainly wouldn't matter to me in terms of the answer that I would provide.

[Later in the hearing]


The transcriber seems to have omitted the -ugh- after the a and before the t in Later. So we know Gonzales is a liar (like we didn't know that before?) but does he lie under oath? If Congress knows him to be a liar, how can he do his job?

Richard Dolan said...

This is a real dog-bites-man story that is getting a lot of play for partisan reasons. US Attys are and always have been political appointees; the term of the appointment is 4 years but like every other political appointee in the Executive Branch they serve at the pleasure of the President; and the position is high-profile and much sought-after. Just as they are appointed by politicians with political considerations (among others) in mind, the same factors are in play when their term is up (or even when it isn't) and they are sometimes removed or replaced for political reasons. Those reasons often include the desire by the senators who usually control these appointments to name a protege or someone to whom a political favor is owed. As with district judges, the long-standing tradition (followed for many years in Dem and Rep administrations alike) is that a nominee for the US Atty position is "recommended" to the President by the senator(s) of the President's party in the state at issue. And senators, being familiar with the political calendar, know that they have to act before their power to control the appointment may end because of an upcoming Presidential election. When there is no Senator of the President's party in a given state, the President has a freer hand to pick (or replace) whomever he wants and to "consult" with whomever he wishes. The underlying political factors don't change.

In some states -- NY is one of them -- there is an implicit understanding, often (as here) going back decades, that when a new President takes office, the incumbent US Attys are allowed to serve out whatever time remains on their 4 year term. But that was basically a deal struck at the senatorial level -- Javits/Buckley/Moyhihan were the key movers here -- since the senators are usually the most important players in making these appointments.

The idea that US Attys are appointed (or continued in office) without consideration of political factors is just ridiculous. Politicians -- Dems and Reps alike -- are not idiots, and there isn't a politician alive who doesn't have a few skeletons that he/she would dearly like to remain in whatever closet they are hidden. All of that comes into play when a US Atty is selected; and not a single one is ever appointed who doesn't have friends in high places somewhere.
None of that is to say that candidates for the US Atty position implicitly strike a corrupt deal to get the appointment -- "appoint me and I'll protect you and go after your enemies." It doesn't happen that way, either with them or with candidates for a SCOTUS opening. Despite the innuendos, there is no reason to believe it happened that way in 1993, when Clinton installed a long-standing Friend of Bill as US Atty for Arkansas to replace a not-so-friendly Republican appointment. But it's just foolish to say that politics in a more general sense isn't (or shouldn't be) important -- the kinds of cases the Admin wants to focus on, the types of investigations it will give priority to, etc. From the news reports (how accurate I don't know), that sort of thing was in play here. Of the eight US Attys that were replaced, the Admin was unhappy that some of them didn't push voter fraud investigations; at least one disagreed with Admin views on the death penalty; others had made enemies (the most recent American Lawyer says that Ryan, the dismissed US Atty in ND Cal, was the beneficiary of "an almost visceral dislike ... on the part of many former AUSAs") for other reasons; and in still other cases, there was apparently just a desire to give the job to a political protege. On all matters of prosecutorial policy and priorities, it should be obvious that the President (usually through the AG) gets to call the shots. An appointee who wants to pursue his own policies and priorities can and should be replaced.

What you are seeing is that system play out as it has done for decades. It's getting a lot of attention by columnists, reporters and commenters here who are more than happy to jab the Bush Admin and the Republicans when an opportunity presents. The criticism has gotten dressed up a bit with claims that a senator or other politico pushing to replace one or two of these US Attys had specific gripes about the incumbents in mind, and (say it aint so!) some of those gripes related to how the incumbents handled politically significant investigations (voter fraud being most frequently mentioned). I've seen that sort of thing most pointedly aimed at Sen. Domenici (R-NM), for example, in the current kerfuffle. But that, too, is par for the course. The truth is that politicians and those they appoint (including US Attys) often stay in touch; politicians (particularly senators) are not shy about making their concerns known, one way or another; and, like it or not, US Attys have to develop a thick skin if they are going to do their jobs. And all of that occurs in a system where it is routine for US Attys to grant a hearing to the attys for a target as to why the US Atty should exercise his discretion and decline to pursue a particular charge. Often the attys making that pitch are close associates of the US Atty from his/her prior life.

Where a line gets crossed is when a politician tries to pressure a US Atty to pursue a target or an investigation of a particular individual for reasons of political advantage. But even that gets tricky. Dem politicians, for example, tend to pound the drums for prosecutions of Enron and "corporate" crime; Reps get more worked up about welfare/voter fraud, immigration violations and street/drug crimes. Part of that reflects different priorities, part political calculation. I don't have a problem with that even though it clearly involves an element of pressuring a US Atty to pursue a particular investigation. Domenici's call to the US Atty in NM sounds like it was that kind of exercise -- he was apparently pressing the US Atty to pursue voter fraud allegations.

It would be nice if someone would take the time to parse out these issues and address them in a serious way. Instead, what one sees is the usual, very tired and tiresome exchange of insults and barbs, the only object of which is to score cheap partisan points.

Bruce Hayden said...

Reading the WaPo article of 3/12, the following emerges:

- Margaret Chiara in Grand Rapids, Mich.: poor performance

- Bud Cummins in Little Rock: poor performance

- Carol S. Lam in San Diego: poor performance

- David C. Iglesias in Albuquerque: failure to pursue allegations of voter fraud as requested by his management

- Kevin V. Ryan in San Francisco: widespread management and moral problems in his office.

I didn't find anything on the other three. The political thing seems to revolve around Iglesias in New Mexico who was apparently fired partially at the suggestion of Sen. Pete V. Domenici because Iglesias wasn't apparently zealous enough prosecuting voter fraud cases there.

Of course, the liberal trolls here have, as usual, assummed their conclusions that there wasn't voter fraud to be investigated. But there were whiffs of it in both the 2000 and 2004 elections in NM, and, indeed, the general consensus just north of there in CO is that political corruption is has been well entrenched in NM for decades.

reality check said...

Except Attorney Hayden, if you actually researched the issue, you would find all those poor performance folks have got very high reviews. And some, before the firing had personal recommendations for them given by Gonzo.

Jebus Bruce, the poor performance nonsense was debunked last week.

Ann Althouse said...

Actually, it would take me a lot of time to figure out what I think on this story, and there's too much static! I'm certainly not going to get up to speed on it by reading partisan blogs. So, yeah: I can't be bothered reading TPM and Talk Left.

vnjagvet said...

Reality Check's post is a fairly well stated summation of the case against the administration's handling of the US Attorney situation.

Ann was not arguing the case in favor of the administration. She merely observed that the case against the administration is not a strong one, and that the whole affair is not a big deal.

Why should that be labled a conservative position? I think it is more neutral than that.

hdhouse said...

vnjagvet said...
Here's the story as I see it:Chuck Schumer, one of the more political of politicians, is "shocked" that politics entered into the resignations of politically appointed US Attorneys.."

What is troubling about this typical yet incredible post is that "they resigned"....NO IDIOT. They were fired.

The president generally asks for resignations of everyone appointed at the beginning of a new term. it is a matter of course.

THIS IS MIDSTREAM. IT IS LOADED WITH POLITICAL DIRECTIVES AND THEY WERE FIRED AND PROBABLY BECAUSE THEY DIDN'T DO WHAT ROVE ET AL WANTED.

Stop. Please God make these dingbats stop.

Wade_Garrett said...

Exactly. Many of these attorneys who got "poor performance" reviews received them shortly after receiving very positive performance reviews. Somebody got to their boss in the meantime.

Additionally, though U.S. Attorneys are appointed by the President, AUSAs have Civil Service protection.

Wade_Garrett said...

Except that TPM has had the story right for four months . . . what's wrong with it?

MadisonMan said...

- Carol S. Lam in San Diego: poor performance

Those are the stated reasons for the firings, yes, yet there is there anything in their job evaluations to support it? And how is it poor performance if she's convicted a sitting Congressman of bribery, and is pursuing another Congressman and the office of the director of the CIA?

Fritz said...

Wade,
GIVE ME PROOF, I'm tired of Machiavellian speculation.

Mad Man,
No longer worth reading your uniformed posts.

Reality,
Why does the President, with Constitutional authority have to follow TalkLeft's made-up standards?

reality check said...

Made up standards? You mean like not threaten US Attorneys with firing if they don't bring cases against the opposing party?

Did you read Beyond A Reasonable Doubt's terrific comment up above?

Do you live in the United States? Are you proud of "checks and balances" or is that just more liberal crap to allow the bad guys to roam free?

Bruce Hayden said...

Reading all the liberals here in high dungeon makes it clear how politically motivated this whole thing is. But I think that the game was given away by the squeals about Iglesias in New Mexico being fired because he wasn't zealous enough prosecuting Democratic voter fraud there.

Of course the Republicans want this investigated. After all, a lot of them still believe that was why NM slipped into the Gore column in 2000. And of course, the Democrats don't want their dirty laundry exposed (and prosecuted).

New Mexico is esp. crucial to both sides as it is a swing state that could go either way right now. Prosecuting and shutting down Democrat machine voter fraud there might just be enough to push the state more solidly into the Red column.

So, yes, it is power politics at its dirtiest. On both sides.

Wade_Garrett said...

What proof do you want? What more proof do you need? If conservatives refuse to believe that Scooter Libby was guilty, then no amount of proof is going to convince them that any of their precious heroes ever made a boo-boo.

reality check said...

It's amusing you won't read a partisan site like TPM or TL, even though Josh Marshall's politics ARE EXACTLY the same as those you claim to have, but you will read non-partisan sites like the Volokh conspiracy and the Instapundit.

reality check said...

I agree with Fritz that we should demand proof. And that with proof, this is very serious indeed, and without proof, well, we are innocent until proven guilty.

Fritz do you agree that Gonzales should find a special or independent prosecutor to look into this?

Doyle said...

there's too much static!

God she is such a joke.

Naked Lunch said...

I love mob flicks and maybe it's just me, but Pete Domenici roaming the halls of Congress in slippers and buffalo plaid pajamas hanging up on a phone conversation saying 'really? thats a shame' is reminiscent of one Vincent "The Chin" Gigante wandering around Greenwich Village in slippers and a tattered bathrobe while under surveillance from the FBI. Scorsese has to be licking his chops...

Bruce Hayden said...

MadisonMan

None of us have seen the actual performance reviews of the various U.S. Attys. involved. I got my information from the Washington Post, not known for their unyielding support of this Administration. Maybe we will see that she got her bad performance reviews based on her choice of who to prosecute and who not to.

But I doubt it, without more actual evidence - if the AG had been fudging the appraisal process to support the firings, all eight, and not just those three, would likely have had bad reviews.

Of course, we shall see as things progress and more comes out. I am just not ready to jump out and condemn the DoJ job appraisal system before I see more hard evidence.

Simon said...

MadisonMan said...
"This scandal feels, to me, just like Foley's. Republicans with heads in the sand are denying that anything untoward happened, but the public sees it for the corruption that it is.

I think that's absolutely... I mean, you've hit the nail totally on the head. Foleygate is the key to seeing what's happening (and what's about to happen) here, the nub of the whole issue - to this extent:

The political valence of the Foley scandal was entirely disconnected from what actually did or didn't happen. That scandal punched above its weight because it didn't punch for for itself, but for a generally-felt presupposition that the public had developed about Congress. It became a focal point for, a demonstration of, a face on a previously diffuse public disgust at Congressional lethargy and corruption.

Foley became a shorthand for how public felt generally about the recent Republican-controlled Congresses.

Similarly, with Katrina: the political valence of what the federal government did and didn't do was entirely disconnected from what it actually did, didn't, should or should not have done. That scandal, too, punched above its weight because it became a focal point for, a demonstration of, a face on, a heckuva soundbite of a generally-felt presupposition that the public had developed about the Bush administration: the incompetance, the cronyism, the complete incapacity to communicate (alluded to, correctly IMO, upthread by BrianOfAtlanta).

Katrina became a shorthand for how public felt generally about the Bush administration.

And now the U.S. Attorneys scandal. Like Foley and Katrina, the political valence of this "scandal" comes not from its facts, but the way it fits perfectly into the conventional narrative of the Bush administration: obsessed with power and partisanship, the incompetance, the cronyism, the complete incapacity to communicate. It simply isn't relevant to debate it on the merits, because the truth of the matter will be lost in the din. Like the Libby jurors, the public are going to react to this information just as they did with Foley and Katrina: in terms of their existing presuppositions about the Bush administration. The goal for the democrats is to make "the U.S. attorneys scandal" a shorthand for how public feels generally about the Bush administration, and to capitalize on it electorally.

MM, you nailed it.


Ann Althouse said...
"Actually, it would take me a lot of time to figure out what I think on this story, and there's too much static! I'm certainly not going to get up to speed on it by reading partisan blogs. So, yeah: I can't be bothered reading TPM and Talk Left."

And even if so inclined, nobody should look to a partisan source for details of a partisan story. I don't even trust TPM to accurately reproduce factual materials, let alone the inevitable spin. Link to the original emails - all of them - reproduced by a credible source who we can trust not to have altered, omitted or otherwise distorted the factual record, or don't waste pixels. You might as well cite Kevin Barrett's website for an argument about the tensile strength of steel.

Fritz said...

This reminds me of Judge Ronnie White during the Ashcroft AG hearings. The fact he agreed to appear at a political show trial, indicated why it was a good thing he doesn't sit on a Federal Appellate Court. Same for these US Attorneys, they are feeding this political story and don't deserve to be US Attorneys.

David said...

Sure brings back memories of Hillary, Webster Hubbell/Rose Law Firm, Jay Stephens vs Rostenkowski, and Janet Reno. How quickly the left forgets.

vnjagvet said...

hdhouse has dubbed me an idiot for stating that the politically appointed US Attorneys resigned.

I believe, although I cannot be sure, that the form in which they left their positions was resignation.

I believe they were asked to submit their resignations and they did.

Of course, had these individuals chosen not to resign, they would have been fired, and they knew that. Nonetheless, my statement was accurate as stated.

kchiker said...

"too much static!!"

=

"The Republicans are all saying different things and I need to wait until a bandwagon consensus is reached on this issue. But Al Gore is fat!!!"

Freder Frederson said...

And even if so inclined, nobody should look to a partisan source for details of a partisan story. I don't even trust TPM to accurately reproduce factual materials, let alone the inevitable spin. Link to the original emails - all of them - reproduced by a credible source who we can trust not to have altered, omitted or otherwise distorted the factual record, or don't waste pixels.

Are you serious? You are so ready to jump on the rightwing smear and ridicule campaign bandwagon when it starts rolling: "Hillary is faking a southern accent"; "Kerry called the troops stupid"; "Obama is a lightweight" (at least you didn't stoop to the Madrassa smear); "The global warming alarmists are publishing fake pictures of stranded polar bears". And you just love partisan sites and constantly cite and link to them with approval.

Revenant said...

The issue is ONCE AGAIN, that an admininstration official -- this time -- Alberto Gonzalez LIED UNDER OATH when he told Congress that the U.S. Attorneys were fired for performance reasons.

Assuming, for the sake of argument, that that is true... I just don't care.

Lying in court, like Clinton did and Libby probably did, bothers me. Our court system depends upon honest testimony, in theory at least.

But lying to Congress -- an organization composed entirely of liars who regularly lie both to the American people and to each other? About whether eight people appointed for entirely political reasons were fired for entirely political reasons?

Nope. I just don't care. It may be illegal, but it ranks somewhere between "jaywalking" and "driving 66 in a 65 zone" in my book.

Revenant said...

"Link to the original emails - all of them - reproduced by a credible source who we can trust not to have altered, omitted or otherwise distorted the factual record, or don't waste pixels."

Are you serious? You are so ready to jump on the rightwing smear and ridicule campaign bandwagon when it starts rolling: "Hillary is faking a southern accent"; "Kerry called the troops stupid"; "Obama is a lightweight"

Um, Freder -- people DID link to the original sources showing (a) Hillary faking a bad Southern accent and (b) Kerry insulting the troops. That's why we know for a fact that they did it.

I'm not sure how you would link to proof that Obama's a lightweight, though, since the *reason* he's considered a lightweight is the *lack* of proof that he's accomplished anything significant so far in his political life.

Freder Frederson said...

Similarly, with Katrina: the political valence of what the federal government did and didn't do was entirely disconnected from what it actually did, didn't, should or should not have done. That scandal, too, punched above its weight

Ahh, that's it pretend that the Katrina response wasn't a complete and abject failure of both planning and execution by the federal government. Nope, it just got bad press. You sir, obviously know nothing about what the federal government's responsibilities are in such a disaster nor did you live through Katrina. So I suggest you not speak about things you know nothing about.

Freder Frederson said...

But lying to Congress -- an organization composed entirely of liars who regularly lie both to the American people and to each other? About whether eight people appointed for entirely political reasons were fired for entirely political reasons?

So apparently you don't care much for the constitution or our form of government.

Naked Lunch said...

Um, Freder -- people DID link to the original sources showing (a) Hillary faking a bad Southern accent and (b) Kerry insulting the troops. That's why we know for a fact that they did it.

This is what constitutes a "scandal" in the right blogosphere. It's amazing our lazy and hapless media picks up on this Drudge induced nonsense. It takes literally one hour to debunk, and by that time they're on to the next manufactured non-scandal.

Cream City said...

Closer to home, we can hope that Gerard Randall -- and Dale Schultz -- are reading Althouse and now realize why he ought to have resigned four years ago from her Board of Regents, a similarly a political appointment.

Also close to home, much becomes clear about our U.S. attorney Biskupic's behavior in recent years -- especially with several mentions by the White House that he was on the hit list, too, for not filing fed charges against Gwen Moore's son, et al.

hdhouse said...

vnjagvet said..."hdhouse has dubbed me an idiot for stating that the politically appointed US Attorneys resigned."

they were fired. i dubbed you an idiot for the rest of what you said.

Palladian said...

This is so boring!

Simon said...

Freder Frederson said...
"Are you serious? You are so ready to jump on the rightwing smear and ridicule campaign bandwagon when it starts rolling: 'Hillary is faking a southern accent'"

I don't seem to recall saying anything about Hillary's affectation of a Southern accent, here or elsewhere. Was that a smear job? I thought Ann linked to a video of her actually doing it, but I didn't care enough to click through.

"'Kerry called the troops stupid'; 'Obama is a lightweight' (at least you didn't stoop to the Madrassa smear); 'The global warming alarmists are publishing fake pictures of stranded polar bears.' "

On Kerry calling (or not calling) the troops stupid - he said what he said. Was it a botched joke? Who cares? On polar bears - I think the charge was that global warming alarmists were using the polar bear pictures as a red herring, not that the pictures were faked. As to Obama, I think there are a lot of reasons to think ill of Obama, and I've written about them frequently. So I saw no reason to talk about the madrassa story, for much the same reason that I see no reason to go to TGI Fridays when there's a Ruby Tuesdays right next door. There are so, so many good reasons not to take Obama seriously, who has time to worry about where he went to school?


"And you just love partisan sites and constantly cite and link to them with approval."

I'll respond to that in the context of specific comparable examples, not as a general assertion.

Simon said...

revenant said...
"lying to Congress -- an organization composed entirely of liars who regularly lie both to the American people and to each other? About whether eight people appointed for entirely political reasons were fired for entirely political reasons? Nope. I just don't care. It may be illegal, but it ranks somewhere between "jaywalking" and "driving 66 in a 65 zone" in my book."

I disagree. If Gonzales was under oath (and MM has suggested he may not have been), and if he's found to have lied, that's still perjury, so far as I'm aware, and no less serious than any other kind of perjury. It's no more relevant that Congress is a disreputable bunch than that Clinton should never have been asked about his affairs. So far as I know, Congress is considered to be (suppress those snickers) "a competent tribunal" within the meaning of 18 U.S.C. § 1621 (see 2 U.S.C. § 191 et seq), which makes lying under oath perjury. And even if it isn't, at a very minimum, I can't imagine it doesn't qualify as contempt of Congress.

All the foregoing being true, for Gonzales' sake, if he was actually under oath, he'd better have a damn good explanation, otherwise he's at risk of warming a jail cell with Scooter.

Sydney Carton said...

Yawn. This story is so boring. Assuming the President was nefarious and fired all of these people personally merely because of their politics, he's within his power to do so and in fact the country was run for over 100 years on the "spoils system," so this is hardly a threat to the rule of law or the Constitution. In fact, that these positions are still political appointments tells me that there's really no threat to the republic if the President fires all of them for partisan purposes, like Clinton did.

At best, Gonzales was mistaken when he talked to Congress. I don't care if he's fired - Bush can then bring back Ashcroft, who was much better. But still, if Gonzales quitting is all that happens, I'd consider it a good thing. Maybe then the AG would actually prosecute companies hiring illegal aliens, etc.

As for the so-called "scandal," there is none because Bush has complete authority to fire these attorneys for any reason whatsoever. The Dems in Congress can throw a hissy fit, but at the end of the day they've got nothing.

dax said...

Was is baffling is the attention this administration is placing on a NON-ISSUE.
The contiued effort to placate the pitchfork and torch carrying Liberals is amazing!!
Ignore them and their petty little non-issues and they will go away.
Oh yeah, I forgot that NEW TONE IN WASHINGTON stuff.
How's that working out, W???

michael a litscher said...

MadisonMan: This scandal feels, to me, just like Foley's. Republicans with heads in the sand are denying that anything untoward happened, but the public sees it for the corruption that it is.

Did Foley (R) get re-elected? Did Gerry Studds (D)?

Are leftists outraged at Bush (R) for firing 8 US Attorneys? Were leftists outraged when Clinton (D) fired fire 93 US Attorneys?

Your selective outrage is showing, and reenforces my belief that if it wasn't for double-standards, leftists wouldn't have any standards at all.

Doyle said...

That's right michael, keep taking it to the "leftists," you kook.

vnjagvet said...

It's all political, hd, and your namecalling will not change that in any way.

I suggest holding your breath until you turn blue. That will help the CO2 emissions as well.

Get Doyle, and Reality to join you and you may get more results in the greenhouse gas department.

AlphaLiberal said...

Someone asks...
"Are leftists outraged at Bush (R) for firing 8 US Attorneys? Were leftists outraged when Clinton (D) fired fire 93 US Attorneys?"
Yes on the first. Any American should be outraged and many editorial pages around the country today are calling for Gonzalez to move on.

NO to the second. Both Bush and Clinton replaced all USA's as is not unusual. They also replaced cabinet officials, for the same reason.

Bush has fired people in the middle of a term. That is a very different thing and it is unprecedented.

Unless someone can show us another President who has fired USAs in the middle of a term? Please post a link.

And, again, these people were fired for not pressing indictments against Democrats or for not hyping (false) GOP charges of voter fraud. An outrageous political abuse of the legal system. If you love America, you hate that sh*t.

MadisonMan said...

michael litscher -- see my comment of 10:01, I don't feel like typing it again. (41 refers to GHWBush).

Here is an interesting webchat with Stuart Gerson, who worked in the Bush I administration.

AlphaLiberal said...

"Or, is the answer here (the analogue to the Libby response) it's okay to lie UNDER OATH because they were political appointees anyway?"
It's much simpler than that.

It's okay for Republicans to lie under oath. Democrats, however, should be impeached for same.

AlphaLiberal said...

Was is baffling is the attention this administration is placing on a NON-ISSUE.

Simply stunning blindness when your own party engages wrongdoing.

Did you fall asleep during High School civics?

MadisonMan said...

And michael, I meant to add: it is the tone-deafness of the Republican Party and its apologists that makes this recall Foley in my mind. Subsequent elections are a red herring -- I'm just interested in how the Republican Party is reacting.

I've stated many times that the Democratic Party is blind to imagery. Think Dukakis in a tank or Kerry windsurfing, or all white bloggers meeting Clinton. I find that maddening. The Republican Party lately seems to be blind to obvious cronyism and corruption. If I were someone intent on getting Republicans elected, I would find that shortcoming just as maddening.

Revenant said...

So apparently you don't care much for the constitution or our form of government.

So apparently you're high.

The fact that Congress is composed of liars and I don't care if people lie to THEM in no way implies that I dislike either the Constitution (which neither requires no forbids lying in or to the legislative branch -- the Founding Fathers having been much smarter than you) or representative democracy (which, like all forms of politics, as been known for centuries to reward lying to the public).

Revenant said...

This is what constitutes a "scandal" in the right blogosphere.

Er, no. The fact that Kerry hates the military and the people in it has been known ever since he returned from Vietnam and -- GASP! -- lied to Congress (shocking!) in order to slander them. That he still likes to insult the troops isn't "scandalous", just more of the same.

And the Hillary thing was *funny*, not scandalous -- it isn't news that Hillary's a big phony, but it is unusual for her to do such a hamfisted job of it.

AlphaLiberal said...

This a Repubclian talking point going up in flames:

From: "Bush I Assistant AG, Stuart Gerson, in today's WaPo online chat ..."
"It is customary for a President to replace U.S. Attorneys at the beginning of a term. Ronald Reagan replaced every sitting U.S. Attorney when he appointed his first Attorney General. President Clinton, acting through me as Acting AG, did the same thing, even with few permanent candidates in mind."

Okay, now condemn Reagan! Or DROP IT!

Hat tip to TPM.

Revenant said...

If Gonzales was under oath (and MM has suggested he may not have been), and if he's found to have lied, that's still perjury, so far as I'm aware, and no less serious than any other kind of perjury.

Well, you're entitled to your opinion. My view is that juries base their verdicts on the testimony they hear. Congress doesn't base its voting on the testimony it hears; it bases its voting on political ideology, how much money lobbyists throw at it, what favors are owed, what screws the other party best or benefits their own, and what polls well.

So even if, legally speaking, lying to Congress is the same as lying in court (and I've no idea if it is or not), to me that just means that the perjury laws need to be changed to make lying to Congress legal. It doesn't make me care that people lied to Congress. If we locked up everybody who lied to Congress there wouldn't be anyone IN Congress, because the Congressmen themselves would be serving several hundred consecutive sentences for perjury. ;)

Fritz said...

Reality,
Why do we need to criminalize this non-issue? There is no crime nor any ethical issue. We rid ourselves of the Independent Counsel, why during Republican Administrations are Democrats always trying to bring this witch hunt back?

hdhouse said...

let's just face it. nothing rises to the level of serious let alone a scandal with these darling zealots.

heck, the president could lie his ass off, get us into a couple wars and be brain dead and their response would be "well...clinton cheated on his wife".

everyone relax.Cisco and Pancho have it completely under control.

Simon said...

Revenant - my point's only to whether it IS perjury, not whether it should be.

As to your second point, about arresting Congresscritters for lying, you're forgetting the speech and debate clause. ;)

Fritz said...

Simon,
The reason BDS works so well, Republicans don't defend Bush. The Washington media is so liberal that unless they fight back, these memes stick. Look what happened when strong leadership came to the rescue, Mitch McConnell single handily defeated the Iraq retreat of Democrats.

Seven Machos said...

I cannot fathom how zealous partisans can get so overly excited about every political non-scandal of the week.

I also love how lying is now a terrible, terrible crime.

Freder Frederson said...

The fact that Congress is composed of liars and I don't care if people lie to THEM in no way implies that I dislike either the Constitution (which neither requires no forbids lying in or to the legislative branch -- the Founding Fathers having been much smarter than you) or representative democracy (which, like all forms of politics, as been known for centuries to reward lying to the public).

Well, no what you are implying is that you have no problem with the administration lying to Congress about the discharge of its official duties. Rather different than whether or not Al Gore claims he invented the internet.

How is the Congress supposed to practice oversight over the administration--which is most certainly one of its constitutional roles--if the administration is free to lie to the Congress about what it is doing or can ignore the mandates of Congress.

Obviously, you do not believe in the checks and balances enshrined in the Constitution.

Seven Machos said...

Why are far leftists upset that the firings were political. Of course they were political. This is politics. U.S. attorneys are political appointees. Clinton, Carter, Johnson, and Roosevelt did the same thing. In your state, your state officials do the same thing.

What's wrong with you people that yo can't understand this?

Mindsteps said...

The whole U.S. Attorney flap adds further support to the significant flaws in our legal system. Our legal system continues to churn out decisions that are influenced by politics, money, and power, rather than the rule of law. My experience has suggested that the higher the court, the greater the influence by non-legal forces. Just look at the behavior of our top legal officer, the attorney general, over the years.....Are they models of professionalism and a committment to the rule of law?

John Mitchell, Janet Reno, Alberto Gonzalez.....of course they all took their cues from their respective superior, the president. As such, the behavior of each of these attorney generals' are reflective of the directives, attitudes, or philosophies emanating from their bosses.

During the Libby trial we heard a favorite conservative talking point defending this administration - "Don't criminalize politics"......To me, the Bush-Gonzalez U.S. Attorney purge only serves to further undermine the public's trust in it's dysfunctional legal system and leads me to make the following populist talking point: Don't politicize the legal system.

Doyle said...

to me that just means that the perjury laws need to be changed to make lying to Congress legal.

I respect Revenant's frankness.

Simon said...

Fritz, I just can't imagine why I can't work up much enthusiasm to defend Bush.

I'll give him the defense the administration's due, but I'm not going to go above and beyond the call of duty. The fact is that this administration's mucked up A LOT, and betrayed its supporters A LOT. Maybe they should have thought of the need for defenders before they screwed up over Iraq and Katrina, before they pushed through (or at least acceded to)massive new entitlement spending, BCRA, NCLB, Miers, and so forth.

Seven Machos said...

Mindsteps - That's all very high-minded and good-sounding. But it is also incredibly vacuous. Who determines the rule of law you speak so highly of, and on what basis, and using what principles?

Politics is the messy and frustrating thing that happens when people decide what the rules should be. That's it, man. That's what politics is, particularly in a representative democracy. Rule of law emanates and can only emanate from an ugly, often pathetic mess.

MadisonMan said...

Don't politicize the legal system.

I can go along with that. Don't fire prosecutors for going after members of your own party. Don't fire prosecutors for not going after members of the the other party.

How about De-politicize the legal system.

Jon Swift said...

I just wish Martha Mitchell would stop calling me late at night when I'm trying to sleep!

Invisible Man said...

Oh, great Seven Machos with more of the "everybody does it defense". Again, just because they are political appointees that doesn't make their positions political. Their job is not to be judicial Ken Mehlman's but to be enforcers of our Constitution and Laws. If they aren't doing their job as enforcers of our laws, fine give them the boot, but their primary goal shouldn't be fealty to Bush and his party. And the evidence is painting a picture that they didn't bow enough for their Republican masters, therefore were fired.

The Exalted said...

Seven Machos said...

they are officers of the court, not political hacks.

hard to understand, i know.

Seven Machos said...

Invisible Man: Let's consider your argument.

1. Everybody does it.

2. You don't care when people you like do it.

3. You complain and whine when people you don't like do it.

What conclusions can we draw from this reasoning?

1. You are a blatant hypocrite.

2. The thing people are doing isn't the issue. It's the people doing the thing.

I remind everyone that Bush is going to be president for two more years.

Mindsteps said...

seven machos said: "Rule of law emanates and can only emanate from an ugly, often pathetic mess."

I do not believe I understand your point. Are you referring to the law of the jungle, or natural law, or the laws of natural selection? I am no lawyer, however I suspect that our legal system is informed by a relatively sophisticated, although imperfect, set of concepts, theories, principles, procedures, precedents, guidelines, etc. that have evolved over hundreds of years. Obviously, our laws and legal system are vulnerable to the vicissitudes of human reflex, impulse and emotion. However, I thought that at least one point of our legal system was to move away from arbitrariness, randomness, and the influences of power and money in the creation, interpretation, and enforcement of laws and towards a more consistent, comprehensible, reasoned, predictable, and operational system accessible to all.

Fritz said...

Simon,
If you believe that Medicare Part D was not going to happen, you are in deep delusion. Bush created a drug benefit that is delivered through the private sector. Think of how liberals would have crafted such a program?

NCLB is a measuring tool and is giving us great data on how bad things are. The economy & democracy are the consumers of education, this program exposes the challenges facing education. It will pay for itself a million times over in the coming decades.

Katrina? I have yet to read a single sentence of evidence that the Federal response was a problem. Brownie did a heck of a job, inconvenienced people on a bridge is political but not reality. One flees on coming hurricanes for a reason.

Iraq is not settled. While there are millions of unprovable hypotheticals out there, Rumsfeld correctly increased force strength with Iraqis. I am proud that President Bush did not make the mistake and put more troops in to cave to political pressure. Our impatience that it has taken longer than we like, should not dictate policies that might not work. We have the political dynamics in place, thus the surge of troops will have the chance to work.

Meirs; agree but he quickly listened to our thoughtful principled arguments and we have the great Alito.

Listen, the Six Sigma 20/20 hindsite cafiteria constitutionalists consider every minor error as scandalous.

Simon said...

Concerned Former UW Law Student said...
"Why would you talk about USAs getting fired? ... It's not like this is a law blog."

Well...No. It's not like this is a law blog. This isn't a law blog. It's a blog, written by a law professor, but that doesn't make it a blawg, and IIRC, its author has explicitly disclaimed any intention of it being so.

Seven Machos said...

Exalted: prosecutors are representatives of the executive branch. Separation of powers and all that.

Good try, though.

Mindsteps: Legislators can and should make the law. When there is no legislative law, the proper role of the judge is to rule based on the expectations of people in society, as if there was a law. This is called common law.

Seven Machos said...

Concerned Former UW Law Student: This is no law blog. They are out there, though. Seek them, instead of making uninformed comments.

Al Maviva said...

Yeah House, I'm the stupid one here.

Ever think maybe the firings maybe didn't have a whole lot to do with the cited reasons, and that maybe select Congress critters may have been threatening to whack the WH in other ways? Did you ever ask yourself why Dennis Hastert was outraged with the WH over the Willie Jefferson investigation (when days later a bunch of Republican congress scandals broke)? Did you ever think that just possibly Chuck Schumer really doesn't care about U.S. attorneys being fired, but is grinding this axe to get the WH to ease up on other issues? Why would he possibly care about a corrupt democrat?

It has nothing to do with US attorneys and everything to do with power seeking in a hundred other arenas.

For example, you think most of the Congresscritters care about military medical treatment? If so, why haven't they been on the barricades for the last 30 years? Point is, they don't care, but it's a good photogenic issue that they can use as a stepping stone to more power. They keep bashing DOD on this, until they get some other concession out of the WH in some other area that they actually care about. That's how it works.

The point is, if some senator is railing on about some issue that isn't one of his normal pets, it's just a bit of opportunism to achieve some other goal. They have their pet projects they are trying to advance, and this latest pseudo scandal is just another way of advancing some other set of projects. Cornyn and Deputy Dawg Graham get to distance themselves from the WH (should help with re-election), Ted Kennedy gets to bash on the WH for expedited removal of illegal aliens (that's a whole lot of lost overtime for union guards at immigration detention facilities in Mass.) and the Dems generally get something that sounds worse than the annexation of the Sudeten, about which they can bash Bush. It's a win-win for Congress.

Do you honestly think any of them care about a handful of US attorneys - political appointees - being fired for any reason? Yeah, if it actually stopped the Duke Cunningham investigation, or Plame-a-palooza, they'd be pissed. But the current outrage is mock mince pie.

Causation in Washington almost never runs in a straight line. C'mon, show some of your fabled nuance and brilliance here and absorb that fact.

Doyle said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Eli Blake said...

Here is where it bothers me. Some investigation may have gotten 'shelved' for political reasons.

I live in the district of a Congressman, Rick Renzi (a Republican) who was being investigated for corruption by one of the fired attorneys, Paul Charlton (who received 'excellent' performance ratings by the way up to the day he was fired.)

Charlton was not originally on the list, and according to a story in an issue this week of the print edition Arizona Republic, was added to the list at the behest of 'some members of Congress.' Likely including Rick Renzi and his mentor, Jon Kyl.

And since he's been gone? Nothing on the Renzi investigation. Not a thing. Nada.

Freder Frederson said...

I have yet to read a single sentence of evidence that the Federal response was a problem.

Well then you are either willfully ignorant or simply lying, just like the President was when he said "nobody anticipated the breach of the levees."

Come on down to New Orleans and I will show you exactly how, where, when and why Federal response was a problem. If you get down here quick (in the next week or two) you can even watch as they remove the pumps the Corps installed for last year's hurricane season that they knew (before they were installed) would not work if they were called upon.

In the spirit of fair play I will also show you where State and local response was a problem.

Wade_Garrett said...

simon and Seven Machos - She's more than happy to put that "Legal Scholarship as Performance Art" quotation on her banner, despite the fact that it concerns little of either.

AlphaLiberal said...

Wow. You guys all keep parroting the same line over and over again. You don't bother to address the debunking your line gets OVER and OVER again!

Why are far leftists upset that the firings were political. Of course they were political. This is politics. U.S. attorneys are political appointees. Clinton, Carter, Johnson, and Roosevelt did the same thing.

("far leftists?" Beg, borrow or steal a clue.)

AGAIN, George Bush is the only President in history to fire US Attorneys in the middle of a term.

Changing who serves in the beginning of a term is not an issue, which is why we didn't say anything when Bush did it in 2001.

(And this is simply brilliant: "The thing people are doing isn't the issue. It's the people doing the thing.")

Seven Machos said...

"I Love the Sasquatch."

Get some perspective. On the sun and the moon.

On being bored watching movies.

I had this notion that I could watch a movie, a real movie...

I think somebody was traumatized as a young child by Porky Pig.

Do sociopaths care what people think?

"Still, my goal is to ski over to Switzerland today and I am told that this morning, Switzerland is closed."

"There is a coke-y aspect to comedy. It is a very heady drug. It's like a dessert drug."


I can go on if you'd like.

Freder Frederson said...

Brownie did a heck of a job, inconvenienced people on a bridge is political but not reality.

People needlessly died because of Brownie's "heck of a job". For you to believe and pretend he did do so is so callous and wrong as to be shocking.

Seven Machos said...

1. Alpha Liberal -- Yes. Clearly, all the conservatives are spouting the same facts. You, on the other hand, in your overflowing brilliance, are the first one to make the dazzling points you made above.

2. George Bush is the only President in history to fire US Attorneys in the middle of a term. I would bet you several million dollars that an eighth grader with a subscription to the Google could prove this statement false.

3. This is splitting the finest of hairs. It's okay to fire all the attorneys at some point but it's not okay to fire a few at some other time? Ridiculous. Absurd. Good luck getting people excited about this one.

Seven Machos said...

Fred -- The federal government is not responsible for preventing hurricanes.

Simon said...

Fritz, Bush "quickly listened to our thoughtful principled arguments" in much the same way that the teller "quickly listen[s]" to the "thoughtful principled argument[]" of the guy in the mask holding the gun.

The Miers nomination collapsed because it never seriously existed: it was a highly speculative sugar coma idea that disintegrated on contact with reality. The nomination was withdrawn because it became apparent that the choice was between getting kericked or getting borked. Wisely, the President chose to display all the spine that his long record of vetoing legislation antithetical to the Constitution or to conservative principles that he claims to buy into might suggest.

The best possible reading of the Miers nomination was cowardice followed by outright surrender; that it worked out in the end buys Bush nothing. He didn't nominate Alito because he listened to the arguments mounted by legal conservatives; indeed, I frankly doubt he even understood them. He nominated Alito because Alito was the guy that the people attacking the Miers nomination wanted, and so kowtowing was the best way to put out the fire.

I have to say this: after the Alito nomination, I never thought I would be as angry about the Miers nomination as I was at the time. But I've got to tell you, reading Jan Crawford Greenburg's book, and finding out what was actually going on... I'm more angry at them than ever.

As to NCLB, I'll stipulate for sake of argument that it's providing useful data. Now tell me - in terms that presuppose that I'm a legal conservative - where the Federal government gets the constitutional authority to displace the States' freedom to structure integral operations in areas of traditional governmental functions. If the federal government doesn't have the power to do something, it is absolutely irrelevant how "great" the "data" it "giv[es] us," or how many "million times over" it'll "pay for itself." The Constitutional question is a threshold question before the normative question can be reached; "[t]he United States is entirely a creature of the Constitution. Its power and authority have no other source. It can only act in accordance with all the limitations imposed by the Constitution." Reid v. Covert, 354 U.S. 1,5 (1957). The Independent Counsel may have been a great idea, for all I care, but it was still unconstitutional. For all I know, NCLB or BCRA may be great ideas as far as policy is concerned, but if they're ultra vires, the normative analysis doesn't even get out of the gate, so far as I'm concerned.

And you can't seriously think that "it was going to happen and the liberals would have done it worse" is an argument that's going to get you very far. Reagan said "The nine most terrifying words in the English language are, 'I'm from the government and I'm here to help,'" not "regulation's inevitable, so bend over and hold on tight." Medicare Part D is bad policy, and if a bad policy is a bad idea whose time has come, I'd rather it was the other party implementing it, since at least that way we can credibly say "we told you so" when it becomes apparent how much of a mistake it was. To say "it's antithetical to my views, but since it's going to pass and be popular, we may as well pass it and take the credit" is simply absurd: it means you either don't believe in your own views, and think it'll actually work out just fine, or you're willing to do something you believe is deeply injurious to America in search of political advantage. Neither is appealing to me.

MadisonMan said...

I would bet you several million dollars that an eighth grader with a subscription to the Google could prove this statement false.

It's curious that no one has stated Wait! Warren G. Harding fired all the Attorneys just before he left office! If an 8th-grader with a google account can do this, why can't anyone here?

I'm sure some have been fired. I am sure that corrupt and inept US Attorneys have rightfully been axed by Presidents. If you think seven have been shown the door in the middle of a President's term -- solely for political reasons -- however, you have more reading to do.

Seven Machos said...

Here's a conspiratorial view of the Miers nomination: the administration knew that its second nominee would face a huge uphill battle in the Senate. So, put forth Miers, with the understanding and expectation (including by Miers herself) that she would get rightfully pilloried.

Predictably, the pillory was based on lack of qualifications. That was what the Democrats and many Republicans coalesced around. Hence, when the name was withdrawn and the infinitely qualified Samuel Alito was nominated, no one could complain and all ammunition was spent.

Alito was the judge the administration always wanted.

Simon said...

Wade_Garrett said...
"[Althouse is] more than happy to put that 'Legal Scholarship as Performance Art' quotation on her banner, despite the fact that [her blog] concerns little of either."

1. You're assuming Balkin was referring to her blog.

2. Have you read her legal scholarship? If not, how do you know it doesn't merit Balkin's appellation?

Fritz said...

Freder,
That pump story is old. CBS
did the same story in August of 06, new system with bugs. Would you have preferred that the Corp wait to design this new system for 2 or 3 years? The AP story is about a memo written in May of 06 as the pumps were being installed. So what?

The President meant that we were unaware that the levees had breached upon first information after the storm had passed. It was a Bushism that was later clarified. Katrina was the largest mobilization of manpower in US history. Like the Coast Guard commander said, I can't move my resources to help people inconvenienced on dry land.

Freder Frederson said...

Fred -- The federal government is not responsible for preventing hurricanes.

No, but they are responsible for providing and maintaining storm barriers before, and emergency services and reconstruction after, hurricanes. And they have failed miserably at all three aspects before and after Katrina (and Rita for that matter).

The Jerk said...

3. This is splitting the finest of hairs. It's okay to fire all the attorneys at some point but it's not okay to fire a few at some other time? Ridiculous. Absurd. Good luck getting people excited about this one.

Not really. The reason these firings are questionable is that they are consistent with a desire to interfere with specific ongoing investigations for political reasons.

Firing everyone all at once when a President first takes office is not consistent with such a desire.

The Jerk said...

1. You're assuming Balkin was referring to her blog.

No. He's assuming only that Prof. Althouse put the quote on the banner. Which is on the blog.

Freder Frederson said...

The President meant that we were unaware that the levees had breached upon first information after the storm had passed. It was a Bushism that was later clarified.

That someone later tried to take back his incredibly ignorant statement is no surprise. But I watched the interview. It wasn't a Bushism. He meant exactly what he said.

Would you have preferred that the Corp wait to design this new system for 2 or 3 years? The AP story is about a memo written in May of 06 as the pumps were being installed. So what?

What exactly is the purpose of installing pumps that you know will not work? What I would have preferred is that the pumps not be installed until they would actually function. Do you have any idea how much it costs to install these pumps and now remove them? These are huge pumps that are installed by crane.

Like the Coast Guard commander said, I can't move my resources to help people inconvenienced on dry land.

Actually, the military could and should have been there much earlier than they were.

Fritz said...

Simon,
The Hart-Rudman US threat report after terrorism, education is the biggest threat to our republic. I think that makes it a federal issue.

If Dem's designed a new entitlement that can't be changed is stupid. Since the Part D is so popular and cheaper than first indicated, why can't the rest of Medicare be structured through a private delivery system? Why do you think Dem's are so angry with the program and did everything they could last year to try to prevent seniors from adopting it?

Fritz said...

Feder,
Yes, they knew about the bugs and they worked around it, how American. Again, you are letting a falsehood linger to make your political trope exist. The story isn't true.

Revenant said...

Well, no what you are implying is that you have no problem with the administration lying to Congress about the discharge of its official duties.

Unless the duties in question are ones in which Congress has a Constitutional role -- and the firing of Presidential appointees is clearly not such a case -- then I see nothing wrong with the President responding to Congress' attempts to seize power it has no Constitutional right to by lying to them.

Constitutionally speaking, here's the appropriate conversation:

John Q. Pudwhacker (D-IL): Mister attorney general, did you fire these men for political reasons?

Attorney General: You called me here to ask me that? Fuck off, I've got work to do.

Revenant said...

they are officers of the court, not political hacks.

They're both. You don't land the job without being a bought and paid for loyal member of the President's team.

hard to understand, i know.

Apparently.

Simon said...

Eli Blake said...
"Here is where it bothers me. Some investigation may have gotten 'shelved' for political reasons."

I'd tend to agree with that, per my 8:44 AM comment above. It's a concern if legit investigations have been shelved or illegitimate investigations carried out, for any reasons, including political reasons. It's less of a concern if some legit investigations have been prioritized over others, for any reasons, including political reasons.

Simon said...

The Jerk said...
"[Is he assuming Balkin was referring to her blog?] No. He's assuming only that Prof. Althouse put the quote on the banner. Which is on the blog."

Wade criticized her blog as not a legal blog by saying that she's happy enough to put that quote at the top of it. Which means that he thinks the quote is about the blog. Otherwise, what's his point?

Freder Frederson said...

Yes, they knew about the bugs and they worked around it, how American. Again, you are letting a falsehood linger to make your political trope exist. The story isn't true.

Wrong, the pumps have to be removed and overhauled. They didn't "work around it." They simply installed defective pumps and prayed it wouldn't rain.

Wade_Garrett said...

The quotation is in reference to her blog.

If it wasn't about her blog, but she put it on the BANNER of her blog anyway, then what would that say about her? For instance a basketball coach of mine once called a play of mine "awesome," so does that mean I can put "'Awesome' - Tim Lennon" on the banner of my blog?

Freder Frederson said...

Unless the duties in question are ones in which Congress has a Constitutional role -- and the firing of Presidential appointees is clearly not such a case -- then I see nothing wrong with the President responding to Congress' attempts to seize power it has no Constitutional right to by lying to them.

Except that Congress has an advice and consent role in the appointment of U.S. Attorneys. So overtly politically motivated firings of them are the business of Congress.

Fritz said...

Freder,
I read the AP story. The memo they refer to was written in May of 06. Using old information in real time does not make it fact. The Corp commander said the same thing in the CBS story in August 06 that they would work. Working with the manufacture to improve them aka overhaul does not prove that they wouldn't have worked. The memo can't prove what the Corp did months later. Your BDS is getting the best of you.

The Exalted said...

Revenant said...
they are officers of the court, not political hacks.

They're both.


"political appointee" and "hack" are not the same thing, and for you to say that all us attorneys are hacks because they were appointed is absurd.

here, i'll spell out what you're saying: its fine to bring prosecutions for partisan purposes.

if you believe that, you're an utter moron. and unamerican.

MadisonMan said...

Except that Congress has an advice and consent role in the appointment of U.S. Attorneys.

Had a role. The USA "PATRIOT" act made that role unnecessary. Inserted into the act, by the way, by someone who is now a US Attorney!

ASX said...

I suppose someone has already said it in the preceding 152 comments, but, Wow, saying "the effort to make it a big deal is bringing out my resistance" is about as close and frank an admission as we'll ever get that Ann doesn't draw conclusions on the basis of rational analysis. That's simply a stunning admission on her part.

The truth is that Ann probably isn't all that conservative, but her FANS are conservative, and that puts her in a bind. That's why she can't comment on hardly any of the issues of the day -- because to do so would be to offend the rabid base that populates her comments.

So all she can offer is an occasional, offhand and flippant remark containing very little substance. You know, in fact, the substancelessness of most of her political observations, if anything, remind me of Atrios.

This isn't always the rule; there are deeply interesting and analytical posts -- occasionally, but then only on topics that will not get her in trouble with her right-wing base.

Freder Frederson said...

Working with the manufacture to improve them aka overhaul does not prove that they wouldn't have worked.

Your love of Bush sure has you snowed. I live in New Orleans. I am working on a masters degree in engineering at the University of New Orleans. The Engineering Building at UNO sits not 150 yards from one of the locations where these pumps are installed. I know a little bit more about this than what you can get on the web. The Corps worked on the pump vibration and problems with the hoses all last summer--through the entire hurricane season--all the time ensuring that if necessary the pumps would work. The work continued through the winter. Apparently now, three months before hurricane season starts again they have given up on fixing the pumps in place and are going to remove them, overhaul them and replace them before the season starts again in June.

reality check said...

Simon,

You may wish to correct the wikipedia entry you authored for Ann. You currently have it saying "moderated a weblog on law, ..." You can correct your article, but you don't have to credit me. Just seeing it portrayed correctly is thanks enough.

Yours for a future in reality,

Reality Check

Mindsteps said...

Seven Machos said...

Here's a conspiratorial view of the Miers nomination: the administration knew that its second nominee would face a huge uphill battle in the Senate. So, put forth Miers, with the understanding and expectation (including by Miers herself) that she would get rightfully pilloried.

Predictably, the pillory was based on lack of qualifications. That was what the Democrats and many Republicans coalesced around.

Except, as I recall, she was pilloried by the ideological and religious right...the dems generally appeared indifferent or even mildly supportive. Is this the 'conspiracy' you are referring to? Wow....it must have been a deeply complex, subtle, and machiavellian conspiracy. For a brief moment, Bush actually alienated his base and did not receive much derision from his political opponents.

ASX said...

Ann Althouse actually said:
Actually, it would take me a lot of time to figure out what I think on this story, and there's too much static! I'm certainly not going to get up to speed on it by reading partisan blogs. So, yeah: I can't be bothered reading TPM and Talk Left.

It would take Ann a long time to figure it out; she admits she has not figured it out. But that didn't stop her from throwing a bone to her rabid base. Ann will probably never figure out what she thinks of this story, but she doesn't have to. She just has to feed her base a steady diet of reassurance and comfort.

Ann hasn't figured it out, but in her comments people say, "I agree with you 100%, Ann!"

Funny how that happens.

Maybe someone could explain to Ann that even if she can't be bothered to read the source for this entire story because of it's partisan edge, she might consider reading it because it provides links to all the reports in the mainstream media, including the WaPo, NYT, and McClatchy stories which have been hugely important.


What does Ann read, anyway? Confederate Yankee? Dan Riehl? Patterico? Ace of Spades? Atlas Shrugs?

Simon said...

Fritz said...
"Simon, [t]he Hart-Rudman US threat report after terrorism, education is the biggest threat to our republic. I think that makes it a federal issue."

If that's what you think, You're a legal liberal - or at least, you have largely signed on to the legal liberal's agenda. You're advancing a theory of the Constitution that, as Barry Goldwater characterized it, holds that "'if a job has to be done to meet the needs of the people, and no one else can do it, then it is a proper function of the federal government.' ... [But this is] the first principle of totalitarianism: that the state is competent to do all things and is limited in what it actually does only by the will of those who control the state." Goldwater, The Conscience of a Conservative (1990), 9-10 (quoting A. Larson, A Republican Looks At His Party (1956)).

And although I'm leary of reference to the debates in the Philadephia Convention,* I can't resist pointing out that the Convention explicitly rejected the proposal "[t]hat the Natl. Legislature ought to possess the Legislative Rights ... to legislate in all cases to which the separate States are incompetent; or in which the harmony of the U.S. may be interrupted by the exercise of individual legislation."

You haven't answered my question, you've simply reformulated your point as to the normative desirability of federal power over education. The question I asked was, "where does the Federal government get the constitutional authority to displace the States' freedom to structure integral operations in areas of traditional governmental functions?" not "why do you think it's a good idea?"

I accept as an incident of our form of government the possibility that you implicitly reject: that a situation can and may arise where no one can act: the states cannot act effectively and the Federal government may have no authority to act. It does not necessarily follow that a need creates a power, and frankly, I would go so far as to say that if it becomes widely accepted that the mere need for someone to act creates, ipso facto, a federal power to act, we have eviscerated the Constitution.

_______
* I'm a legal formalist, an originalist and a textualist: as a general matter, I believe that in most instances, the Constitution's meaning turns on what meaning a reasonable person at the time of ratification would have understood the text to bear - and as I explained here, "while I'm willing to look at Madison's notes as general background, to rest excessive authority on them seems as mistaken to me as is reliance on legislative history in statutory matters .... Even assuming the unvarnished accuracy of Madison's notes, the public that ratified the Constitution were not privy to those notes, or to the debates."

ASX said...

hdhouse said:

Stop. Please God make these dingbats stop.

God, that sums it up. LOL! I know exactly how you feel.

There is so much other stuff that happens to information from the time it enters the brain and the time it is processed into coherent conclusions, and the wingnuts repeatedly demonstrate a complete inability to simply process any information accurately.

It's willful ignorance. There can be no other explanation.

They are only 30% of the population. 25% of the population believes Jesus will return to earth in our lifetime. But that 30% is vocal, and they are in the comments section.

Furthermore, 30% is a frightening large number of people to be totally unable to form coherent and rational judgements about simple facts.

What's even more distressing is that a law professor can find the truth so inscrutable and hard to fathom.

It is because of this widespread cognitive impairment that this nation has gone off the cliff in the last 7 years.

Simon said...

Reality Check (5:14 comment): You're an idiot. The first rule of interpreting a text is read on. What you attempt to cover up with an elipsis is that the wikipedia article (which I didn't author, by the way, I merely edited it) actually says that "Althouse created and has moderated a weblog on law, popular culture and politics under her own name since January 2004." Which is correct, and in no tension with my earlier assertion that this isn't a law blog. At a minimum, it certainly isn't a blawg, and is conceived as an art project.

Simon said...

Wade_Garrett said...
"The quotation is in reference to her blog."

Ipse dixit. Support with link or it's worthless.


"If it wasn't about her blog, but she put it on the BANNER of her blog anyway, then what would that say about her?"

Well, gee, Wade, I'm no rocket scientist, but in the context of the masthead, it would seem to say that Ann Althouse writes a blog, Ann Althouse also writes legal scholarship, and that these notable people have said these complimentary things about Ann Althouse. For a short period, the masthead also quoted David Lat: "GREAT HAIR!" That fits into my porevious chain of reasoning thus: Ann Althouse writes a blog, Ann Althouse also writes legal scholarship, and Ann Althouse has great hair. How does it fit into your theory, a foriori given that posts about hair - great, Althouse's or otherwise - is a far less frequent visitor to these pages than are legal topics?

Simon said...

ASX said...
"The truth is that Ann probably isn't all that conservative, but her FANS are conservative, and that puts her in a bind. That's why she can't comment on hardly any of the issues of the day -- because to do so would be to offend the rabid base that populates her comments."

Projection. Just because you'll leave a blog if the author says things you disagree with doesn't make it true for anyone else. Victims of the vortex really seem to have trouble grasping the very simple concept that the conservative-leaning readers here - certainly those who comment, presumably those who just read - know (as anyone who actually reads what's written here and espoused in various other outlets) that Ann isn't a conservative, and yet still read and still stay. And if the libertarian dustup demonstrates anything, it's that she hardly hesitates to offend when she's got something to say. Your hypothesis doesn't even pass the laugh test.

Simon said...

Wade_Garrett said...
"[Al]though U.S. Attorneys are appointed by the President, AUSAs have Civil Service protection."

Are the firings of any Assistant U.S. Attorneys implicated in this so-called scandal?

Revenant said...

"political appointee" and "hack" are not the same thing

They can be, and in this case they are. Hint: when your continued employment job depends on the political success of your boss' party (as is the case for all US attorneys), odds that you're a hack approach 100%.

and for you to say that all us attorneys are hacks because they were appointed is absurd.

You've got it backwards, dumbass -- I said they were appointed because they were hacks, not that they're hacks because they're appointed.

Revenant said...

Except that Congress has an advice and consent role in the appointment of U.S. Attorneys

Now we just have to wait for you to slowly become aware of the obvious fact that Congress has NO advise and consent role in the *firing* of US Attorneys.

When the President appoints a new US Attorney, the Senate has every right to question that appointment. They have no right to question why the appointee's predecessor was fired, just as the President has no right to demand that Congressmen present themselves to his office and give him honest answers about why they cast a certain vote.

Revenant said...

her FANS are conservative, and that puts her in a bind. That's why she can't comment on hardly any of the issues of the day -- because to do so would be to offend the rabid base that populates her comments.

The fact that this blog's comments section is knee-deep in leftist jackasses who can't wait to insult Ann's latest political opinion demonstrates that people do, in fact, read blogs they disagree with.

Simon said...

Freder Frederson said...
"[The Senate] has an advice and consent role in the appointment of U.S. Attorneys. So overtly politically motivated firings of them are the business of [the Senate]."

Not so - as Al Maviva said, upthread at 9:39 AM, you need to go read Myers v. United States, 272 U.S. 52 (1926). The Senate has a say in who is appointed, but thereafter, the appointee serves at the pleasure of the President.


Freder Frederson said...
"Ahh, that's it pretend that the Katrina response wasn't a complete and abject failure of both planning and execution by the federal government. Nope, it just got bad press."

You miss my point - or at a minimum, our posts are not in any tension. I didn't defend the way Katrina was handled, I said only that valence as a political weapon for critics of the administration "of what the federal government did and didn't do was entirely disconnected from what it actually did, didn't, should or should not have done."


Seven Machos said...
"When there is no [statutory] law, the proper role of the judge is to rule based on the expectations of people in society, as if there was a law. This is called common law."

That's a fairly, um, novel way to describe the common law.

Freder Frederson said...

I'm a legal formalist, an originalist and a textualist: as a general matter, I believe that in most instances, the Constitution's meaning turns on what meaning a reasonable person at the time of ratification would have understood the text to bear

Simon isn't really a legal formalist, he just plays one on the internet.

Freder Frederson said...

I said only that valence as a political weapon for critics of the administration "of what the federal government did and didn't do was entirely disconnected from what it actually did, didn't, should or should not have done."

Again, your ability to bullshit just baffles me. What you seem to be saying is: I'm not saying the government did a good job in the Katrina response but the critics of the Katrina response did so by completely ignoring the wonderful job the government did in responding to Katrina.

Freder Frederson said...

Not so - as Al Maviva said, upthread at 9:39 AM, you need to go read Myers v. United States, 272 U.S. 52 (1926). The Senate has a say in who is appointed, but thereafter, the appointee serves at the pleasure of the President.

Your amateur legal expertise is showing. Firing a U.S. attorney is not the same as firing a Regional EPA Director.

Freder Frederson said...

At a minimum, it certainly isn't a blawg, and is conceived as an art project.

Man, if she is claiming this is art, then she would be better off claiming it is a law blog. Because as art, it is one awful piece of crap.

Palladian said...

"Because as art, it is one awful piece of crap."

If it is, it's mostly because of you and your little friends.

Anyway, as I said before, this topic and this discussion is soooo boring!

Simon said...

Freder Frederson said...
"[Y]our ability to bullshit just baffles me. What you seem to be saying is: I'm not saying the government did a good job in the Katrina response but the critics of the Katrina response did so by completely ignoring the wonderful job the government did in responding to Katrina."

That's not what I'm saying. I didn't criticize the Bush administration's handling of Katrina, and I didn't defend it, either. The point relates to the ease with which critics of the administration were able to turn the government's performance into a weapon, and I suppose the related assertion would be that even if the federal government had done everything that it legally and physically could have done, because that wouldn't have been enough to offset the disaster, critics of the administration would still have been able to score a substantial political point against the administration, because the public were ready to hear that story, just as they were ready to hear a story about a Congressman who could symbolize and focus all their suspicions of Congressional avarice.

The wider assertion I'm making - and the way it relates to this story - is that the ability of political partisans to weaponize a given story depends far less on the actual facts of the story than it does on the extent to which the story can be made to resonate with the existing preconceptions of the electorate. In the case of Katrina, the existing public perception of the Bush administration's capacity to manage events was already pretty low, and so any story that seemed to confirm that view would punch at a far greater weight than it would have done if the administration was widely regarded as solid and competant.

Put another way, the Federal government could have performed just as badly in Katrina - or, in fact, even worse - and yet it still come out looking better if the public perception of the Bush administration going in had been better. Public perception is an exponent - improving public perception going in would have a far greater effect on public perceptions of the administration's handling of Katrina than improving the actual performance would have had.

Likewise, in this "scandal," Bush could have fired these attorneys without it raising an eyebrown, if doing do could not easily be portrayed in a way that confirms public opinion about the way in which it operates. The valence of the story comes from the fact that the public was ready to hear this story, not from the story itself.

Simon said...

Freder Frederson said...
"Your amateur legal expertise is showing [in citing Myers]. Firing a U.S. attorney is not the same as firing a Regional EPA Director.

What are you blathering about? The titular Myers "was on July 21, 1917, appointed by the President, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, to be a postmaster of the first class at Portland, Or[egon]." Myers, 272 U.S. 52, 106. So yes, Myers is directly applicable, involving as it does a limited-tenure Senate-confirmable officer (as is a U.S. Attorney, see 28 U.S.C. § 541). Where the heck are you getting the reference to "a Regional EPA Director" - you understand that Myers was decided 44 years before the EPA even came into existence, right?

Mortimer Brezny said...

I think the most headscratching firing is Carol Lam's in San Diego. She took down a US Congressman for taking bribes. Isn't that an excellent use of the office? Keeping Congressmen/women looking over the shoulders 'cause someone's watching."

Yes, IMO, very much so.


WRONG, WRONG, WRONG. Carol Lam prosecuted cases herself -- do you know how rare that is? U.S. Attorneys don't prosecute cases themselves, they have the AUSAs do it. And she lost major cases. She lost them. And they were high-profile cases with well-heeled defendants, so the proesecutions sapped the office's budget. And she focused on white collar crime instead of immigration cases, which is a major problem in her jurisdiction. In short, she used the position to promote herself. Carol Lam's firing was the most sensible.

Simon said...

Mort, are you saying that I'm wrong, or MadisonMan (who I was quoting) is wrong? If the former, to clarify, I was only agreeing with his suggestion that "t[aking] down a US Congressman for taking bribes" and "[k]eeping Congressmen/women looking over the shoulders [in case] ... someone's watching" is an "excellent use of the office" of U.S. Attorney." I wasn't trying to endorse what any particular U.S. Attorney has done, and I have no particular knowledge of Carol Lam and her conduct.

It's hard enough to keep track of what D.C. and the Seventh Circuit are doing without having to pay attention to those yahoos out in California too! ;)

Simon said...

Freder Frederson said...
"[A]s art, it is one awful piece of crap."

All art is a matter of taste. Personally, I don't see what's so profoundly special about Jackson Pollock - but of course, I don't spend all day on Pollock's blog talking about how lame he is, how much of a "joke" and a "hack" he is. I just ignore art that I think is "one awful piece of crap."

MadisonMan said...

mortimer, are you saying Carol Lam should not have taken down a sitting Congressman? Or just that she didn't do enough besides that?

Carol Lam was fired for not spending enough time with immigration and too much time on (Republican) political scandal? And the guy in Washington was spending too much time on immigration and not enough on (Democratic) political scandal, apparently. The ones who weren't fired were walking a very thin line indeed.

Seven Machos said...

Okay, I'll bite. What's common law according to the zany far left?

AlphaLiberal said...

Seven Machos:

"2. George Bush is the only President in history to fire US Attorneys in the middle of a term. I would bet you several million dollars that an eighth grader with a subscription to the Google could prove this statement false."

Apparently, you don't rise to that standard. I'm asking you guys if you can disprove that assertion I've seen several places. None of you can deny it.
---------------
The suprising thing is how poorly informed the Bush defenders are. They don't know of the emails ranking US Attorneys by loyalty to the Administration.

They don't know of repeated cases of these USAs being pressured to press charges against Democrats or to open political investigations.

It's a long list. Thing is, if you guys do know this stuff and you say it's okay, mainly because a Republican is doing it, you're betraying the country's ideals in favor of some authoritarian state where the rule of law exists only to persecute political opponents.

But you'll duck this point, or any salient point, to argue over whether or not this was done before. Such little confidence in yourselves!

Ann Althouse said...

Balkin was referring to the blog.

Seven Machos said...

Alpha -- I contend that, in fact, U.S. attorneys have been fired in the middle of a term. You contend that it has never happened. I am not going to research this. The burden is not on me to research it, particularly because I didn't make the assertio. Perhaps you should do the research, if you want to know so badly, and because it's generally considered stupid and poor form to make assertions that you cannot demonstrate to be true.

Your Bush Dereangement Syyndrome is causing you to become unhinged.

Ann Althouse said...

"What does Ann read, anyway? Confederate Yankee? Dan Riehl? Patterico? Ace of Spades? Atlas Shrugs?"

I don't read too many blogs. I mainly read the NYT and the Washington Post. A little BBC.com. TNR. Slate. CNN. For blogs, I read Instapundit, Andrew Sullivan, and Mickey Kaus. I like Television Without Pity. Above the Law. Metafilter. A&L Daily. People I know: Nina, RLC, Jeremy. I'll forever miss Eggagog. I'm not really too interested in politics. I'm more interested in art, psychology, science. Weird stuff. I rely on Memeorandum a lot to keep up with what bloggers say about the news. I go over to Kos every couple days to see what they are trying to make happen. I use Google alerts to get ideas for posts. I'm interested in humor and language and people. You politicos really don't understand.

Seven Machos said...

Conservative cretin!

AlphaLiberal said...

Ann, I specifically asked if anyone had information on previous precedent. And, I also stated that, as well, to see if it could be proven wrong. Knock yourself out.

But that's a red herring anyway because it's not what got people worked up and is not the core corruption. It's a diversion from the real question.

You are silent on the far greater question: firing US Attorneys who won't engage in partisan prosecutions. Are you okay with that? Why so silent and so confused on that issue?

Or will you follow your many fans who remain stubbornly ignorant of the damning emails released, the testimony from the fired USAs and the other facts? (you did seem very uninformed on this largest legal issue in the nation on WPR last Friday)

My bet is that you ignore this angle and stick with the red herring. Which is a shame because you're a law prof, not a history prof. But, by all means, prove me wrong and take on the hard question.

AJD said...

Annie, you are conflating understanding with approval. You think that all of your mindless groupies "understand" your blog but that none of your many critics do. Obviously, you would like to write off all critics as lacking in "understanding." But guess what? We understand -- and find you lame.

Oh, and if you don't approve of this comment, then you obviously don't understand it!

It's an art project!!

Freder Frederson said...

The titular Myers "was on July 21, 1917, appointed by the President, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, to be a postmaster of the first class at Portland, Or[egon]." Myers, 272 U.S. 52, 106. So yes, Myers is directly applicable

Actually, I didn't bother to look up Meyers, but surmised that it was indeed a position equivalent to an EPA Director. Of course my example was directly applicable while any first year law (or at least someone who has finished Constitutional Law) student could explain to you how there is a world of difference between DOJ, U.S. attorneys, and the Post Office, USDA, EPA, or other Federal Agencies that are not tasked with enforcing the nations laws.

Actually, My EPA Director example isn't even directly applicable since the EPA does indeed have law enforcement (even criminal) functions. And if the EPA Regional Director in Dallas were fired at the request of Cheney because Region VII had vigorously pursued a big fine against Halliburton, that would certainly be an abuse of the president's executive authority.

Revenant said...

I contend that, in fact, U.S. attorneys have been fired in the middle of a term. You contend that it has never happened. I am not going to research this.

According to Wikipedia, it has happened at least four times in the past, although the references is to a NYT article you need an account to read. But one of them was sacked by Jimmy Carter -- in the middle of his term -- while investigating a Democratic politician for corruption.

It is usually stupid to claim that ANY political move is "unprecedented" in a 230-year-old democracy. It would be fair, though, to say that sacking attorneys mid-term is highly unusual.

Paco Wové said...

Wow, 188 comments in a little over 12 hours. Imagine all the pressure that was built up; frantic commenters agitated, all worked up, for days -- weeks! and then this ... release.

Revenant said...

You are silent on the far greater question: firing US Attorneys who won't engage in partisan prosecutions.

The evidence is that they were fired for not investigating alleged Democratic corruption fast enough to suit Bush. That only equates to "not engaging in partisan prosecutions" if you assume that the Democrats were innocent of wrongdoing. There's no reason to assume that, as there are a wide range of reasons why the investigations may not have been good enough for Bush -- e.g., the attorneys may have believed the Democrats were guilty, but directed resources to other prosecutions they deemed more important (but which the Bush administration felt were less important).

Freder Frederson said...

Okay, I'll bite. What's common law according to the zany far left?

That wasn't us zany far leftists criticizing your definition of of the common law, that was our resident zany arch-conservative, constitutional formalist and amateur legal scholar, Simon.

But I'll set you straight. The "common law" is a non-codified body of law that relies on the precedents established by courts as its basis for legitimacy, continuity and for society to rely on it as a rational basis for maintaining society. As much as conservatives who hate "judicial activitism" may think otherwise, the common law is literally written by judges. There is very little true "common law" left except perhaps in torts.

Simon said...

Ann Althouse said...
"Balkin was referring to the blog."

Oh. Fair enough.


Freder Frederson said...
"Actually, I didn't bother to look up Meyers..."

It shows.

"[A]ny first year law (or at least someone who has finished Constitutional Law) student could explain to you how there is a world of difference between DOJ, U.S. attorneys, and the Post Office, USDA, EPA, or other Federal Agencies that are not tasked with enforcing the nations laws."

And you think that alleged difference rests on... What? Both Myers and the U.S. Attorneys at issue here are officers of the United States, appointed by the President by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, and serve at the pleasure of the President. For the purposes of dismissal by the President, I don't see what the difference is, and to support your counterintuitive argument to the contrary, you need citations, not ad hominem.

Mortimer Brezny said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mortimer Brezny said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mortimer Brezny said...

mortimer, are you saying Carol Lam should not have taken down a sitting Congressman? Or just that she didn't do enough besides that?

I'm really sick of people playing fourth grader and being unable to draw basic conclusions from well-made presentations of facts. It is rather clear what I said:

1. She shouldn't have tried that case and many other high-profile cases herself.
2. She shouldn't have tried cases that sapped her office's budget at the expense of lower profile cases that matter more in her jurisdiction.
3. She should have focused on cases that mattered in her jurisdiction, rather than were designed to make national headlines.
4. She shouldn't have lost so many major cases.

I am quite clearly saying that Carol Lam was a terrible U.S. Attorney who used the office to promote herself at the expense of actually enforcing the law. I am also quite clearly saying that your defense of her is a crock of bullshit. Are we fucking clear now?

Freder Frederson said...

you need citations, not ad hominem.

Well, you're not going to get any citations because as has been pointed out repeatedly, firing a U.S. Attorney is an extremely rare event, and eight at one time in the middle of their terms completely unprecedented. That is because contrary to what you may believe, a U.S. Attorney is not just another political appointee like a postmaster general in Oregon. DOJ is a unique agency.

AlaskaJack said...

Freder's definition of the common law is correct as far as it goes. But he omitted a critical part of the definition: the common law is said to derive its legitimacy from principles of natural justice, i.e., the natural law.

Simon said...

Freder: so you're conceding that you're down to raw ipse dixit. Your basis for asserting that United States Attorneys are sui generis, and that they enjoy protections that stand directly contrary to not only applicable precedent but the plain text of 28 U.S.C. § 541(c) ("Each United States attorney is subject to removal by the President") is... What? Cite something. A law review article. A case. Something that wasn't written on a left wing blog in the last six years. Your repeated assertion that they're different for purposes of Presidential dismissal -- indeed, I'm not even sure you've contended that, which is the relevant point! Even if they're sui generis operationally speaking, that doesn't make them sui generis for purposes of dismissal -- stands conceded until you back it up with more than the immense persuasive weight that inheres in being an anonymous liberal commenter with an obvious dog in the race you want to judge.

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