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What Annoys Me Today

  • The fact that Alberto Gonzales is still Attorney General flies in the face of everything I thought I knew about the ways of power in America. On Morning Edition today Ari Shapiro, in the kind of story I typically find useless because it’s all strategery and no substance, asked why AG is still AG, in spite of his enduring ineffectiveness, assertions of incompetence, and calls for his firing. His primary conclusion was that the eternal general remains AG because his dismissal would result in a substantial shift of power to the Senate, engendering confirmation hearings in which the would need to choose a moderate to placate a divided Congress—someone, for example, who doesn’t advocate torture. (Whether the George Bush even knows anyone like that at this point in his presidency is an open question. He certainly doesn’t have anyone like that on staff.) On a personal level AG’s dismissal would deprive GWB of a longtime partner and friend. It baffles me, however, that the President truly believes that his trust is the only trust that matters—even in the face of the fact that not even the of the President’s bestest friends (e.g., Jeff Sessions) in Congress believe that trust is wise. What gets me is that I’m unsure unsure whether George Bush’s loyalty represents an anomaly in American politics or the norm. If the latter, then I have some significant rethinking to do.
  • The not-so-thin layer of cat hair and dust that I discovered under the bed, rendered almost invisible by the carpet, is really disgusting. It covers the floor down there like an oil slick on water. I admit I have been a poorer housekeeper since we moved into this apartment than in our last, but there I could see the dust accumulating on the hardwood; I could see the dust bunnies gathering and multiplying and then blowing across the room when I walked by; because I saw, I acted. Here—until today, that is—it’s been out of sight, out of mind, but now that I’ve seen, I can’t stop thinking about it.


I’m with you on AG still being the AG. I listened to the whole freaking senate question session a couple weeks ago and left thinking, “Yeesh, this guy is for sure gone now.” Lo and behold, the Bush administration continues to give the American people the middle finger by playing to uber loyalty rather than common sense or dignity.

Which is what’s so bizarre about it: the answer to the question, “what’s so valuable about AG that he must stay put?,” seems to be 1) he just is, and 2) his presence is better than his absence.

Also freaky is that in general, I find that every time the Bush administration acts out of some calculation about what will happen in the future, it’s choices are laughably absurd (e.g., Iraq). They don’t have a lick of common sense about how real people think. On this front, however, I’m forced to wonder whether, in light of the administration’s desire to keep power from the Congress, keeping AG where he is is actually a smart idea?

I read something somewhere to that effect: However crazy it is to hold on to Gonzalez, the alternative for Bush is much worse. Can you imagine what AG senate confirmation hearings would be like now?

He’ll stay unless something pops up that can outrage the sensibilities of Joe Sixpack. This current scandal is just a wee bit too complicated.

You know, it’s really not that complicated. Surely Joe Sixpack can imagine what it means to be fired, even though you do your job well, because your boss wants to employ his girlfriend?

Or is it as simple as the fact that, since that’s the way American business works all the time, Mr. Sixpack doesn’t see anything wrong with it? “Them’s the breaks, man. What can you do about it?”

Um, I think you’re confusing AG with Wolfie.

Only in point of fact, but not in point of intent: they did want to replace the attorneys with GOP shills, including at least one lawyer who’d worked for Karl Rove. That’s as good as a girlfriend, n’est-ce pas?

(Excepting, of course, the benefits of having a girlfriend over not having one at all, which may or may not be offset by the benefits of having a lawyer at your side. Having a girlfriend who’s a lawyer would obviously be superior in all counts.)

Joe Sixpack’s hypothesized indifference would be caused primarily by the fact that he has no idea what a US attorney or attorney general is.

O ye of no faith, I don’t see how knowing the particular is involved is relevant. Knowing that there’s a basic unfairness, even illegality at issue should be enough—goodness knows it’s been enough in dozens of other scandals…

It’s not knowing the significance of the positions held that keeps this issue from being taken more seriously than it is. If you don’t have a clue what the US Justice department actually does, then this scandal is going to sound more or less like Whitewater to your ears: A shady mess of political quid pro quo involving some lawyer type people. And who the hell ever feels sorry for lawyers?

Because of this, the issue doesn’t come across for what it is: a perversion of justice for the sake of political gain.

If you hadn’t said “who the hell ever feels sorry for lawyers,” you’d be wrong. Damn u!

Because I’ve foresworn all gilt!

Wow. I mean, wow:

Gonzales would take credit for all this fine work [the praise that House Republicans heaped upon him], were he not busy constructing a fantasy Justice Department that more or less runs itself. In addition to laying all the blame for the U.S. attorney firings on the same magical pixies who reside in Kyle Sampson’s filing drawer (aka the “senior leadership of the department”), Gonzales also notes, several times Thursday, that the department “is built to withstand the departures of U.S. attorneys and even attorneys general,” and that the “success of this office doesn’t live or die with a U.S. attorney.” That’s why losing eight of these U.S. attorneys was no big deal. Time and again, he reiterates that it’s the career prosecutors at Justice who really run the show. (There is a divine moment of stunned silence when he insists, toward the end of the hearing, that “it would be almost impossible to make a political decision in the Justice Department. ... If that happened we would read about it in the paper.”) His point: The department isn’t actually supervised from above, or indeed from anyplace, but is wholly run by the career attorneys who are not political appointees. It’s a strange strategy, in light of what we now know about the fate of some of these career lawyers. But as an explanation for why there was no wrongdoing here—the career attorneys would never tolerate it—it almost sounds plausible….

Robert Wexler, D-Fla., finally loses his temper and starts hollering: “You did not select Iglesias for the list.” (No). “Did Sampson select him?” (No). “Did Comey?” (No.) “Did McNulty?” (No.) Did the president? (No.) “Did the vice president? (No).” Then Steve Cohen, D-Tenn., follows up with one of the best queries of the day: “If you don’t know who put Iglesias on the list, how do you know the president or the vice president didn’t?”

“The magical pixies who reside in Kyle Sampson’s filing drawer” was a nice touch.