Archive for the ‘Alberto Gonzales’ category

Attorney General Mukasey

November 6, 2007

The Senate appears poised to approve the nomination of Michael Mukasey for the cabinet position of Attorney General.  The question of water boarding has been finessed with the impression that Mukasey would be inclined to swallow our two top Chicken Hawks’ rationale for why they need this un-American torture technique.  This is probably a meaningless issue except when Bush and Cheney are prosecuted for crimes against humanity they will claim a legal opinion to justify some of their acts.  The reason this is meaningless is that the issue ultimately is decided by the supreme court should the Senate and House fail to legislate an end to this procedure.

Mukesey appears to be a no nonsense person who will be able to tell the difference between a Karl Rove initiative and a non-partisan administration of justice.  There is not much time left in the Bush debacle so I would not look for any flashy initiatives.  A steady non-partisan hand will be just fine.

There is one issue, however, that may prove contentious.  Robert Gates and other sane minds are moving the Administration closer to closing Guantanamo detention center.  Since the Government has little or no case against most all the prisoners, they all will likely be moved to US soil (buying time) and would then become eligible to use the US Courts.  How hard Mulkasey plays this game could determine whether these people continue to be treated unfairly or whether he quietly enables their release and extradition.  (By now it must be clear that insurgents are like the ocean, you detain or kill some of them and like magic, more will just keep on coming).

Water Bed or Boarding?

November 1, 2007

George and Dick are worried.  The Democrats asked a simple question to Attorney General nominee, Michael Mukasey and he gave an indefinite answer.  He could not bring himself to say that water boarding was a form of torture.  He said if it was torture than it would be illegal but since he did not have proper security clearances, he did not know.  It is simply amazing that the Senate and Mukasey could not work out an example and he could say, “if that is what they are doing, then that is wrong”.

As things stand now, if Mukasey is approved by the Senate, George and Dick just need to keep Mukasey in the dark and they can keep boarding.  But with rising alarm at the Judge’s equivocation, the Senate may not approve him and that has George and Dick playing the fear and national security theme again. 

The Administration is built like a house of cards. 

1. The invasion of Iraq was an illegal act under International Law.

2. The Iraq War was justified in the US on false pretenses.

3. The Iraq War has been terribly mismanaged costing Americans a lot of severely wounded and dead soldiers, and cost all of us (and our grand children) a lot of money.

4. Bush and Cheney have authorized spying on Americans, have violated the Geneva Convention, have gone against the Constitutional protections of Due Process and Habeas Corpus.

5. Bush and Cheney have never had any plan to get out of Iraq and do not have one now.

6. Alberto Gonzales used the Attorney General’s office as if it were the Republican National Committee.

7. And now we have an Attorney General nominee who can not describe a degree of water boarding that would be considered torture.

This is a sorry state of affairs and the 2008 Presidential candidates need to distance themselves from this type of behavior. 

Enron, MCI/Worldcom, Adelphia, and Bush/Cheney

October 4, 2007

Dick Cheney is a former CEO of Haliburton and George Bush fancys himself a CEO too.  These two Chicken Harks now can claim that they have acted like Lay, Ebbers, and Rigas.  The New York Times reported today that Bush and Cheney consistently tried to hide their American values (and law) excursions behind fabricated legal opinions just as Lay, Ebbers and Rigas told investors everything was alright (my auditor told me so).

The use of legal opinions obtained from persons recently appointed by the home team stikes immediately at the heart of the problem.  The Justice Department opinions are supposed to be fair, independant, and correct.  These opinions shield the Administration from claims of criminal activity as well as assure the American public that the Government is on the up and up.  It seems that Bush and Cheney had a different idea.

The NYT reports that early in the term the White House got opinions favorable to their views on torture and rendition.  Then there was a change in personnel and Jack Goldsmith entered the Justice Department and convinced his two bosses that earlier opinions were flawed.  Following Goldsmith’s departure and the appointment of Alberto Gonzales as Attorney General, it was “Katie bar the door”.  Cheney and his pit bull David Addington jumped all over the Justice Department until the revised opinions were revised again (once more aligned with White House thinking).

For Lay, Ebbers, and Rigas it was stock appreciation and very generous personal compensation.  For Cheney and Bush, you simply must scratch your head and ask why?

A critical aspect of choosing the 2008 Presidential candidates is to ensure we do not nominate anyone predisposed to act along the lines of the ends justify the means.  Bush and Cheney have not only brought disgrace to the good American name, they have done so with hopelessly failed foreign policies.  Had Lay, Ebbers, and Rigas just taken a little, they probably would be still free men.  Will justice prevail for Bush and Cheney?  Will the next President resist this type of abuse of power?

End of Era

August 28, 2007

“End of era of trying to extend executive power” cites the Wall Street Journal in today’s front page story on Attorney General Gonzales’ resignation.  This headline raises lots of questions like “why does the executive need more power” and “is this a good thing or not”.  It also makes me think how lucky most of us are that it was George W Bush who orchestrated the power grab (with no doubt critical help from Co-president Dick Cheney).

This Administration was elected with a lot of financial contributions.  In other words, George W Bush was the President of the very very rich.  To be sure he received the votes of a lot of ordinary people too with the largest block of the ordinary vote coming from evangelicals and fundamentalists who in turn were following the wishes of their power seeking leaders.  To be sure, Bush and Cheney are not the President of the Americans needing health care or better educational opportunities to work their way up the economic ladder.  Bush and Cheney do not care about the new comers to our Country nor to those who look to narrow the difference between the very rich and the very poor.

The cluster of voters who did elect George W Bush was an unstable combination and if Bush were to get reelected he would need to improve his chances during the first term.  And if he were not to be reelected, he would need to reward his main money backers handsomely in the first term.  From that motivation came the need to seize more power.  (Interestingly, the job of grabbing power was made easier by the Republican controlled Congress and the fact that most all Congressmen/women were hopelessly compromised with their own campaign contribution obligations and were themselves in desperate need to arrange repayment.)

When I say we are lucky I say it with respect to all those who have lost a loved one in the needless and foolish Iraq War.  We are lucky because we have not been tempted to follow a tyrant (in Greek sense), or as we might say today, a benevolent dictator.  The Bush/Cheney Administration has been so inept and clumsy that anyone with a pulse and/or a sense of history sees immediately the virtue of the balance of powers.

1. The Country is less safe today than in the 2000.

  • US Armed Forces are over extended.
  • Military equipment is worn out and needs significant replacement.
  • The world now knows we can bomb like hell but we can not occupy.
  • Al Qaeda has metastasized from a small area in Afghanistan to multiple countries in the Southeast Asia, Middle East and Africa.

2. The Country has wasted 5 years on Iraq.

  • The US has spent 3700 lives and $ 700 billion.
  • The Russians have been provoked into resuming their cold war posture
  • The Chinese threats of unconstrained manufactuing productivity and power over our national debt (the US Treasury fully participating) have gone unaddress and will need to be dealt with soon.
  • Global warming and our immoral role in it has been side lined.
  • Energy independence with a dramatic reduction in green house gases has been ignored and as a result delayed needlessly. 

3. The Country’s infrastructure (social and physical) are decaying.

  • Social security was declared soon to be dead and no fix has been implemented.
  • Health care was restricted to those who can afford it.
  • The fires of religious intolerance were fanned
  • The Nation’s bridges and highways desperately need repair.
  • The national air transportation system is in shambles with an incompetent and enormously inconvenient TSA,  over worked air traffic controllers, and questionable safe landing/take offs at major airports.

Just imagine if someone else had grab for power in 2000.  And imagine that that person was an effective exectutive and appointed skilled and qualified people to key government agencies.  Think about a President who drew together Americans and helped find compromises to the many difficult issues that divide the country.  Consider a President who ruled in foreign policy with diplomacy and clear consistent communications and did not resort to force.  If this type of person grabbed power, we probably would not care and it would not be till sometime in the future when another Bush/Cheney type emerged before we found out the weaknesses of too strong an executive.

So good bye Alberto and hurrah for the end (for now) to power grabbing.  Attention 2008 Presidential candidates – you need to reassure Americans that you will respect the traditional American values (privacy, due process, habaes corpus, and the Geneva Convention) and most importantly the independent roles of the three branches of Government. 

Post Alberto

August 27, 2007

With today’s announcement that Alberto Gonzales, US Attorney General, is resigning his post effective September 17, 2007, there is a sigh of relief but also a realization that Alberto was a character player and not the author of the play.

Without a doubt Gonzales is a walking endorsement for the American dream.  He is an example where hard work and focus can lead to a life transformation and career successes.  Alberto served George Bush faithfully and his hard work was ultimately rewarded with the Attorney General appointment.  This rags to riches story, however, is ending one step short of a Supreme Court appointment and we should all be thankful of that.

The Peter Principle says that everyone gets promoted until they reach their level of incompetence and suggests that most people’s last job is a job they can not do well.  With Gonzales, it is hard to say when his jobs got too big for him.  One might argue that as President Bush’s legal counsel, he should have advised against the Executive Branch seeking and assuming extrodinary powers.  He should have advised that rendition, extreme interrogation, spying on Americans, and denying both the protections of Habeas Corpus and the Geneva Convention were legally unjustified and as policy extremely unwise.  But he didn’t.

As Attorney General, Gonzales continued his practice of complete loyalty to Bush and allowed his Justice Department to become “politicized”.  No matter what he might say about the right or wrong of the political wishes, he missed entirely the need for the Department of Justice to be everyone’s Department (not just the President’s).  In essense Gonzales, despite his intelligence, hard work, and perseverence, was over his head when it came to seeing the larger picture of our key American institutions and values, and their role in our type of democracy. 

But it is plain wrong to blame Alberto for Guantanimo, rendition, Abu Ghraib, and NSA spying.  He was simply a tool in bringing these disgraces to life.  Bush, Cheney, and the neoconservative mind set built on an ideological set of beliefs (ends justify means) are the prime movers for the destructive path the US has pursued for 7 years. 

Today is was Gonzales, next maybe it should be Cheney. 

Why did they do it?

August 9, 2007

The Democratically controled Congress recently passed a new “spy on Americans too” piece of legislation.  This spying is without warrent or any independent review (Alberto Gonzales is neither independent nor competent to review a grocery list).  The major question is why did they do it?

The question is not about intercepting telephone calls to suspected “bad guys” living overseas.  The two questions are (1) why no warrant (even after the fact) and (2) why is it so broad that it covers all sorts of communications and also between Americans? 

You might say this legislation is needed to fight terrorists in a new age of electronic communications.  And for sure where telephones might have been written into the law before, many other devices should be included now.  But as Americans, we should insist on two things

1. There must be some truly independent approval or review process for simply checks and balances reasons.

2. There must be a reasonably short “sunset” on how long the intercepted communications can be retained.  Practically too much stored information is difficult and probably impossible to retrieve, and despite all good intentions, governments (and especially highly political ones like the current Bush/Cheney Administration) simply can not be trusted to not share this information with other branches of the government for totally other purposes.

So now the question, why did the Democrats cave?

1. They have no party vision or political set of principles upon which they stand.

2. They were afraid to provide any political advantage to the White House by blocking legislation and then have to answer to the American people when an attack inevitably does take place.

3. The bill has a six month life time (will have to be reauthorized) so they figured there could not be much damage.

4. Many Americans figure that since they do not have anything to hide, what’s wrong with the government listening.  Unfortunately this is too simplistic and assumes a government and all its officials with only the purest of intentions.  Bush/Cheney are only steps away from full fascist intentions.  The balance could easily tip further given any type of disturbance.

My belief is that this new legislation will last only six months because the word will soon be out that a provision of this bill allows the government to intercept and euthanize carrier pigeons suspected of carrying terrorist messages.  The US National Association of Carrier Pigeons (NAOCA) has begun to make its members aware of the dangers awaiting their members pigeons.  The sister organization of racing pigeons (NAORP) is also concerned that government over reach could disrupt their planned Lebanon to New York race later this year.  Keep watching the news to see if more develops.

Free Libby

July 3, 2007

Here is a big “no surprise” news report.  Scooter Libby’s sentence has been commuted.  George Bush announced President Dick Cheney’s decision yesterday following his summit with Vladimir Putin.  Dick waited until the evening cleaning crews were in the White House to make the announcement in an attempt to keep the news media off guard and unprepared for the evening talk shows.  The decision came as no surprise to anyone with an ounce of sensibility and who saw the Bush/Cheney Administration for what it is.

1. The Bush/Cheney crowd is about “the ends justify the means” and Scooter’s transgression stemmed from the cover up plan hatched by Cheney and Rove (in little George’s presence).  In their minds the outing of Valerie Plane’s CIA covert status broke no rules or laws, and in politics, all is fair.  So if Joseph Wilson upset the White House, it was fair game to get even with Wilson by attacking his wife.  (Makes you proud to be an American).

2. The Bush Administration has lacked any sensitivity to the idea of “tone at the top” and how the way they perform their jobs can influence so many others. 

  • Alberto, please get me an opinion on why it would be ok to use aggressive means to interogate those terrorists (or any suspected terrorist).  George’s request and the tough talk of the Chicken Hawk’s lead directly to Abu Ghraib.
  • Remember hearing “Abu Ghraib does not represent America’s intent”, rather it is the result of a few “bad apples”.  With essentially no one of rank held accountable, it is clear that Abu Ghraib was ok with the Administration.
  • With no WMD found in Iraq following the toppling of Sadaam Hussein, no one lost their job in this Administration.  The White House simply switched its justification for the unprovoked invasion of Iraq.  It is simply clear that they felt they needed no justification or approval to send our Country into war.
  • Following Iraqi mass looting of stores, museums, and sadly ammunition dumps, no one was held accountable.  “Stuff happens” and we do not care about Iraqis themselves was the unmistakeable message from George and Dick.
  • With the dismissal of the Iraqi sitting government and ministry experts along with the entire military, Iraq became a sucking vacuum into which flowed all sorts of insurgents.  No one was held responsible for this fiasco.

What is one to think if the people who are suppose to be the highest authority in the country, act without any regard for accountability and responsibility.  The rule of law is an inconvenience to this Administration.

The Libby case is not fully closed.  We should fully expect following the 2008 election, a complete pardon for Libby.  And if you are worried about the $250,000 fine, don’t.  It will be covered by help from his friends.  And for pocket change, you can be sure that with or without a bar membership, he will be earning high 6 figure income for some years to come.

We can only hope that America has a short memory and will not remember have lasting memories that the way Bush/Cheney run things is the proper way.  We must hope that the next Administration is center based and returns America to the values and principles that have made this a great country.

With regards to Bush and Cheney, history will record that they followed ideological and politically based “ends” using any “means” that seemed to work.  Ironically, history will also point out that Bush and Cheney were the most incompetent and failed leaders of all time. 

More of the Same

June 19, 2007

The news today brings home the important lesson that when you are in a hole, the best advice is to stop digging.  Instead the Bush Administration thinks that if they dig faster, they can come out the other side and no one will know the difference.  Here are three cases in point.

1. The news papers (based on Government information) reported today “a major offensive” against al Qaeda backed insurgents in Baquba.  The papers reported that the offense involved a force of 2000 US troops.  The implication is that now that all of the “surge” troops are in country, the real fighting begins. 

You simply must question these Government reports since 2000 is a relative small number and this amount could have been redeployed with or without the surge.  There should be no uncertainty that this operation will be successful as defined by the Government (and in terms of casualties the military strength of the US forces should make the outcome not in doubt).  But just like a sand castle by the sea, once the US troops move on to the next target, the insurgents will move back.  Without political peace within Iraq and with its neighbors, this war will continue.

2. With much “I am full of myself” bravado, George Bush announced that he was releasing all previously frozen funds for a Palestinian Provisional Government lead by Mahmoud Abbas who now sits over a questionable government in the West Bank.  If we run the video back a bit, we will remember the call for democracy and free elections.  The Abbas Government followed Washington’s directions and guess what.  In elections deemed widely as free and fair, the Hamas faction gained the majority of the parliment.  At this point Israel cried foul and the Washington Chicken Hawk’s bowed and followed suit.  Money heading for the Palestinians was frozen and the new freely elected Palestinian Authority were isolated from the rest of the world.  It should be no surprise that the Palestinian situation has deteriorated into the second mess Bush has created.

It would also be helpful to recall the major reason that Hamas was elected.  The ruling Fatah party was siphoning off as much money as it could thereby denying the Palestinian poor the simplest of things.  Hamas may have been a bad choice but when it came to caring for the poor, they were heads and shoulders above Fatah.  Do you want to make any predictions about the fate of this new Fatah lead government?

3. A new Senate report on the potential illegal use of Republican National Committee email accounts by high ranking Bush Administration officials once again brought the spot light on this sudden disappearance of thousands of emails.  The report comments that with the number of emails involved and the high rank of those using these accounts, there has to be suspicion that these Government officials were using these accounts to circumvent a Federal law that regulates the protection of White House “official” emails.

It would appear that the Bush Team learn something from the Nixon years.  It is better to destroy evidence, then claim it never existed.  We shall see.  In any case this represent a third mess, the “I don’t need to follow the rule of law” mess.  This mess is broader and covers everything from the US Attorney firings to the illegal NSA surveillance, to Presidential signings that change the meaning of Congressional Bills.

All of these events stem from an Administration that

1. Feels they are above the common law.

2. Their way is the right way (maybe even blessed from above) and no one should question it.

3. If necessary they are free to obfuscate, mislead, and if really necessary, lie in order to protect their authority to operate.

4. They should gain maximum political value from what ever they do in the name of protecting the country even if their measure do not succeed.

The Bush Administration has been a complete failure in foreign policy and a social divider on domestic policy.  They have shunned all over sight and avoided any responsibility or accountability for their actions.  The only questions left is whether they can make it to January 2009, and whether any or all the 2008 Presidential candidates will call the Bush Administration on these messes.

New Poll Numbers

June 15, 2007

This week NBC/WSJ reported a new poll where the President’s rating fell to an all time low with 29 % approval.  Congress, however, polled even lower at 23%.  What does this say?

1. The President’s rating is so low because of Iraq and his failed policies there and the perception that Alberto Gonzales has not been truthful about the firing of 8 US Attorneys.  When a bi-partisan group of Senators express no confidence and the President strongly asserts the opposite, people make a choice and the man with “no political capital” loses.

2. Congress’s low rating is likely the result of three factors.

  1. Carry over from the past Congresses.  The highly partisan and nuanced rhetoric of past years has made most Americans feel that their Congressional representation is not working for them.  They see too many ethics issues and paint the entire group with the same brush.
  2. Handling of the Iraq War.  There is a range of thinking on Iraq but the direction of a majority of Americans is the same, withdraw.  Congress has tried to be all things to all people with “in your face deadlines for funding” to “funding with non-binding milestones”.  Americans have concluded that there is no more certainty that the war will end then when they elected this Congress in 2006.
  3. Campaign Financing.  Over shadowing all this is recognition that Congressmen spend far too much time on raising campaign financing and decide their position on too many issues based largely on securing funding for the next election.  The space for a Congressman to vote his conscience or even the plurality of his district is simply not there.  Small but well organized special interest groups drive funding to the candidate that speaks their message.  For example, pro-choice or pro-guns can over rule a sensible policy on Iraq.

With 16 months to go until the next Presidential election, we stand a good chance of wearing out the American public’s tolerance for politicians who speak out of both sides of their mouths.  The polls also indicate that a generic Democratic Party candidate will beat a generic Republican Party person, but if you name a specific Democrat versus a specific Republican, then the results can reverse.  This tells me that the race is still wide open and the public is still deciding who will be best for their interests.

1. Republicans, move your campaigns to the center or face losing again.  There is no way to satisfy the Bible carriers, the Pro-lifers, the NRA, the neoconservatives, big oil, the Israeli Lobby, and the long time Republicans concerned about the Iraq War.  It is time to focus on America’s social infrastructure.

2. Democrats, keep your campaign in the center and not shift to the right or left.  You must campaign on “inclusion” and “sensibly rebuilding America’s social infrastructure”.  State proudly what you are for and that there is room in the tent for all.

3. Both Democrats and Republicans, disavow the 421’s and agree on a package of ethics reforms that truly introduce transparency into how campaigns are financed and where government money is spent.  It is only when the voters begin to understand the size of the temptation to corrupt that campaign financing presents will they support candidates that are willing to work to limit this influence.

Kick Me

June 12, 2007

Do you remember ever seeing someone walking around with a sign on their back saying “kick me”?  If you like George Bush, don’t look now because he is wearing the “kick me” sign.

Admittedly George is in a tough spot.  If he ask for Alberto Gonzales’s resignation and has to go through the Attorney General selection process again, the Senate will certainly approve only someone who will respect human rights and the US Constitution.  With someone like that it is goodbye to Guantanamo and welcome back to due process and habeas corpus.

You might think that a new Attorney General is not that big a deal but it really is a thread that could unravel the entire ball of intentional mistruths that this Administration is built upon.  Why even the arch schemer, Dick in an undisclosed location Cheney, will be caught up and exposed for the radical he has been.  Alberto first concocted the twisted logic that provided the false appearance of justification for Guantanamo, enhanced interrogation (that lead to Abu Ghraib), rendition, and NSA spying on private citizens.  The threat of terrorists is a serious matter, but these guys believe in throwing the baby out with the bath water.

The irony is that all these facts are already known.  So the longer George holds onto Alberto, he waves to everyone and says look at me.  Please “kick me”.

For the 2008 Presidential candidates there are several who are lining up asking to wear the “kick me” sign next.  Rudy, John, and Mitt all endorse one or more of the human and civil rights transgressions of this Administrations.  Hillary, Barack, John and Bill all reject these Bush tactics.  Undeclared candidate Fred Thompson is not on record but would be expected to avoid direct endorsement of these measures.  Michael Bloomberg also undeclared is a center thinking Republican who has stood for human and civil rights in the past, and is a far smarter business man to have ever undertaken these Constitutional excursions.