Polispeak: March 2007: Archives

March 29, 2007

The President's Prevaricators genre: Polispeak & Snapshot Thoughts & Tongue-In-Cheek

The daunting ailment that has plagued those in the service of the White House continued to take its toll on the President's minions. Today, members of a congressional investigative committee continued their efforts to find the source of the ailment as it seems to be highly contagious. The most recent strains seem to be far more pervasive yet determining its origin continues to remain elusive. Senator Chuck Schumer closed his questioning by offering the hypothesis that the ailment was a virulent form of blatant lying. The New York Times offered the following report:

WASHINGTON, March 29 — The former chief of staff to Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales testified today that contrary to Mr. Gonzales’s earlier assertions, the attorney general was involved in discussions to fire United States attorneys.

“I don’t think the attorney general’s statement that he was not involved in any discussions about U.S. attorney removals is accurate," the former Gonzales aide, D. Kyle Sampson, said under questioning at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing.

“I don’t think it’s accurate," Mr. Sampson repeated under questioning by Senator Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, the panel’s ranking Republican. “I think he’s recently clarified it. But I remember discussing with him this process of asking certain U.S. attorneys to resign, and I believe that he was present at the meeting on Nov. 27."

Senator Charles E. Schumer, Democrat of New York, pursued a line of questioning similar to Mr. Specter’s, and with similar results. Mr. Schumer recalled Mr. Gonzales’s statement of March 13 that he “never saw documents" related to the impending dismissals and “we never had a discussion about where things stood."

“Was that statement accurate?" Mr. Schumer asked.

“I don’t think it’s entirely accurate, what he said," Mr. Sampson replied. He went on to say that he did not know if the attorney general had seen dismissal-related documents, but that he was sure Mr. Gonzales was involved in discussions about the firings early on.

As for the Nov. 27 meeting, Mr. Sampson said he did not recall it clearly.

“But," Mr. Schumer persisted, “your recollection is, he did speak at the meeting?"

“Yes," Mr. Sampson said.

“O.K.," Mr. Schumer said. “Now that in itself says a whole lot."

Many within the media stepped in to immediately offer the public a layman's interpretation of the symptoms as well as analysis of the ongoing implications if a cure for the ailment could not be administered soon. The White House continued to downplay the seriousness of the ailment as it sought to allay the growing fears within the American public that the disease might soon decimate the bulk of their elected officials. A growing number of pundits continued to suggest that the President is in denial as to the severity of the ailment and what it might do to the Republican Party.

Democrats and a few Republicans have said the handling of the dismissals suggested that the Bush administration may have intended, for partisan purposes, to slow or jump-start certain cases under the purview of some of the eight United States attorneys.

That sort of interference, Mr. Sampson testified, would indeed fall into the category of “improper reasons" for removal. He then added that “to my knowledge, nothing of the sort occurred here."

“I believe the department’s response was badly mishandled," he said. “It was mishandled through an unfortunate combination of poor judgments, poor word choices, and poor communication and preparation for the department’s testimony before Congress."

Justice Department officials had acknowledged on Wednesday that they provided incorrect information to Congress in a letter drafted by Mr. Sampson and approved by the White House counsel. The letter, dated Feb. 23, said that "the department is not aware" of the president’s adviser Karl Rove "playing any role" in the decision to appoint his former deputy, J. Timothy Griffin, as interim United States attorney in Arkansas, Mr. Cummins’s former position.

The letter was written weeks after Mr. Sampson wrote in other messages that Mr. Griffin’s appointment was "important to Harriet, Karl, etc.," referring to Mr. Rove and Harriet E. Miers, the White House counsel at the time.

Thought Theater will continue to follow the latest developments. In the meantime, NBC hopes that this weekend's episode of Saturday Night Live will bring some much needed levity to the growing epidemic. The network released the following print preview of what viewers might expect.

The President's Prevaricators

Daniel DiRito | March 29, 2007 | 6:43 PM | link | Comments (0)
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March 23, 2007

The Daily Show: W's Reasonable Proposals? genre: Polispeak & Tongue-In-Cheek

Reasonable Proposal

Showdown At Justice

Daniel DiRito | March 23, 2007 | 1:00 PM | link | Comments (1)
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March 22, 2007

The White House Goes On The Offensive genre: Polispeak & Snapshot Thoughts & Tongue-In-Cheek

In a signal that the White House is, at the moment, holding steadfast to its support of Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, they sent the AG out to meet with a number of US Attorneys. Gonzales sought to capitalize on the exposure by reaffirming the numerous issues that he continues to pursue on behalf of all Americans. I don't know about anyone else but I've always been suspicious of the guy that seems to go out of his way to tell you he's "got your back covered".

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From The Associated Press:

Under fire in the Justice Department's botched dismissals of eight U.S. attorneys, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales is trying to leave the furor behind him - literally.

The embattled attorney general is reaching beyond Washington over the next week to try to soothe his remaining prosecutors and show the public he's still working hard to curb crime. He'll also talk with local media in dozens of cities Friday about keeping kids safe from sexual predators.

"There's a lot of work that needs to be done around our country," Gonzales said.

Gonzales' travels also will include stops to highlight what aides call the Justice Department's a long-planned ad campaign on safeguarding kids from sex abuse. Friday's media blitz, with Gonzales participating in about 40 short interviews with local TV and radio reporters, is also dedicated to that campaign. Aides said he will refuse to talk about the firings during the five-minute segments except to briefly reiterate what he said before and again on Thursday: that none of the firings were improper.

"There's a lot of work that need to be done around our country," Gonzales said in St. Louis. "I'm staying focused on that."

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This current issue with the allegedly questionable firing of eight US Attorneys is not unlike many of the other situations that leave one circumspect about the propensity of the Bush administration to stretch the parameters of propriety in its efforts to push its agenda.

I decided to have a little fun with the "got you back covered" metaphor...and nothing seemed to capture my sentiment better than the following Snapshot Thought.

Alberto Gonzales - Protecting Our Kids

Daniel DiRito | March 22, 2007 | 8:39 PM | link | Comments (3)
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March 21, 2007

George W. Bush - In Search Of The Holy Grail? genre: Polispeak & Snapshot Thoughts & Tongue-In-Cheek

In the wake of another scandal, President Bush has once again embarked upon a familiar path. He has drawn a line in the sand and challenged his detractors to force his hand. Despite the likelihood that his Attorney General (and no doubt others) is headed for dismissal or what will be characterized as his unfortunate resignation, the President's penchant for loyalty over substance is clouding his already questionable judgment skills in much the same manner as with the Rumsfeld departure. Frankly, he may be facing this dilemma because of the weight he places upon loyalty...regardless of propriety.

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From The New York Times:

“Once executive privilege is asserted," Justice Anthony M. Kennedy wrote for the majority in a 2004 Supreme Court decision, “coequal branches of the government are set on a collision course."

And the White House and Congress seemed headed for just such a confrontation yesterday.

Democratic lawmakers are demanding public testimony under oath from White House aides about their role in the dismissals of eight United States attorneys, threatening to issue subpoenas.

The new White House counsel, Fred F. Fielding, offered a compromise yesterday. He said the White House would make several aides — including Karl Rove, the president’s chief political strategist, and Harriet E. Miers, Mr. Fielding’s predecessor as counsel — available to the House and Senate Judiciary Committees for informal private interviews. But the interviews would not be public or under oath, and no transcripts would be prepared.

As they continued with their public and private negotiations, both sides were mindful that Mr. Fielding possesses a powerful but dangerous weapon, the invocation of executive privilege, which is the constitutional equivalent of a declaration of war. In a letter to the two committees, he only alluded to it, in a reference to “the constitutional prerogatives of the presidency."

From CNN:

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- House Democrats voted Wednesday to give their leaders the authority to force White House officials to testify on the firings of U.S. attorneys.

The House Judiciary subcommittee vote was to authorize subpoenas. It does not mean that subpoenas will be issued; only that they could be if the four White House officials Democrats want to question do not voluntarily testify under oath.

But the act puts congressional Democrats on a collision course with President Bush. He said Tuesday that the four -- top political adviser Karl Rove, former White House counsel Harriet Miers, and their two deputies -- could be interviewed in the matter, but no oath could be administered and no transcript would be taken.

White House spokesman Tony Snow said later Wednesday that the administration's offer for interviews would be pulled if subpoenas were issued.

"The moment subpoenas are issued it means they have rejected the offer," Snow said.

[...] The Senate Judiciary Committee is set to vote on the authorization of subpoenas Thursday.

The committees are considering issuing subpoenas to force Rove, Miers and their two deputies to reveal what they knew about the reasons behind the firings of at least seven U.S. attorneys.

Bush said sworn testimony by White House officials would breach executive privilege -- the right of the president to have confidential communications with his staff -- and vowed Congress would face a legal fight if subpoenas are issued.

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At some point, it is no longer possible to give this President the benefit of the doubt. Time and again he finds himself...by virtue of the actions of his appointees...in difficult straits. In my opinion, each time this happens, his credibility and his believability diminish and the polls seem to suggest that a large majority of Americans concur. Many have sought to portray President Bush as a man of limited intellectual capacity.

One could argue either side of that debate but more important is the fact that he remains fixated upon conducting his affairs as he sees fit...even if those actions blur the lines of authority...or even more concerning...breach the intent of the constitution. Unfortunately, for a man of his ilk...when confronted by such assertions...he simply believes his interpretation of his authority and that document far exceeds the worthiness of all others. Such is the conundrum we face until his second term expires. Here's hoping time flies!

In Search Of The Holy Grail

Daniel DiRito | March 21, 2007 | 12:20 PM | link | Comments (1)
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The Daily Show On US Attorney Firings genre: Polispeak & Tongue-In-Cheek & Video-Philes

Daniel DiRito | March 21, 2007 | 9:42 AM | link | Comments (1)
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March 19, 2007

Iraq War: Happy Fourth Anniversary! genre: Just Jihad & Polispeak & Snapshot Thoughts

Love Is In The Air

Daniel DiRito | March 19, 2007 | 2:51 PM | link | Comments (0)
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Justice Is Served? genre: Polispeak & Snapshot Thoughts & Tongue-In-Cheek

The White House Presents

Daniel DiRito | March 19, 2007 | 1:22 PM | link | Comments (2)
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