Polispeak: April 2007: Archives

April 26, 2007

The Premiere of LOST IN DC genre: Just Jihad & Polispeak & Snapshot Thoughts

Now that David Broder has explained to me how Alberto Gonzales and Harry Reid are both "springtime exhibitions of ineptitude" I have suddenly found myself with a better understanding of the Bush administration. Had I only realized sooner that a war cannot be lost if it never ends, I could have felt the relief that comes with unmitigated denial. Thank you, Mr. Broder, for providing this tasty morsel of enlightenment.

If only I had known earlier that I could cease listening to the Democrats suggest that we are losing the war in Iraq, I would have been able to come to grips with the length of the war, the cost of the war, the deaths that have resulted from the war...all the while knowing full well that we will eventually win this war. I owe my newfound clarity to Mr. Broder and for that I am eternally grateful...especially given the fact that this war may well take an eternity to win. Such symmetry is rarely found. Unfortunately, I must lack the wherewithal to see the obvious.

Here's a Washington political riddle where you fill in the blanks: As Alberto Gonzales is to the Republicans, Blank Blank is to the Democrats -- a continuing embarrassment thanks to his amateurish performance.

If you answered "Harry Reid," give yourself an A. And join the long list of senators of both parties who are ready for these two springtime exhibitions of ineptitude to end.

President Bush's highly developed tolerance for egregious incompetence in his administration may have met its supreme test in Attorney General Gonzales, who at various times has taken complete responsibility for the firing of eight U.S. attorneys and professed complete ignorance of the reasons for their dismissal. This demonstration of serial obfuscation so impressed the president that he rushed out to declare that Gonzales had "increased my confidence in his ability to do the job."

As if that were not mind-boggling enough, consider the mental gyrations performed by Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) as he rationalized the recent comment from his majority leader, Harry Reid, the leading light of Searchlight, Nev., that the war in Iraq "is lost."

[...] Reid's verbal wanderings on the war in Iraq are consequential -- not just for his party and the Senate but for the more important question of what happens to U.S. policy in that violent country and to the men and women whose lives are at stake.

Given the way the Constitution divides warmaking power between the president, as commander in chief, and Congress, as sole source of funds to support the armed services, it is essential that at some point Reid and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi be able to negotiate with the White House to determine the course America will follow until a new president takes office.

To say that Reid has sent conflicting signals about his readiness for such discussions is an understatement. It has been impossible for his own members, let alone the White House, to sort out for more than 24 hours at a time what ground Reid is prepared to defend.

Instead of reinforcing the important proposition -- defined by the Iraq Study Group-- that a military strategy for Iraq is necessary but not sufficient to solve the myriad political problems of that country, Reid has mistakenly argued that the military effort is lost but a diplomatic-political strategy can still succeed.

The Democrats deserve better, and the country needs more, than Harry Reid has offered as Senate majority leader.

I wish I had Broder's critical thinking skills. When Harry Reid said that the war in Iraq is lost, I mistakenly thought he was arguing that the manner and methods employed in Iraq to this point are a failure and that more of the same would only serve to support a losing proposition. Knowing that most Democrats and numerous other opponents of the Bush administration's prosecution of the war have long argued that we must find a political solution to the conflict led me to believe that Reid was simply stating the obvious...but Mr. Broder, with his vast breadth of objective reasoning saw through Mr. Reid's remarks.

Broder suggests that Reid's incoherent posturing will make it impossible to negotiate with the President...a man Broder apparently knows to be reasonable, rational, and amenable to considering alternative approaches to the war in Iraq. Senator Reid, in his shortsightedness, has seemingly precluded the possibility of a meaningful dialogue focused upon crafting a revised strategy that will be mutually satisfactory.

Again, my shallow observations had led me to conclude that the President's recently announced and enacted military surge was in fact a preemptive signal that he intended to continue seeking a military solution...and that he wasn't amenable to an open dialogue focused on a far different approach.

Fortunately, after reading Mr. Broder, I realized that it is in fact the Democrats and those opposed to the Bush administration's prosecution of this war who are pursuing strategies that are inflexible and arbitrary. I stand corrected.

If this country is to ever exit the island of illusions that has become the hallmark of the Bush administration, the last thing we'll need is to enlist more men like David Broder...men who forego intellectual honesty in favor of far fetched fabrication.

In the meantime, I think Mr. Broder would be an ideal candidate to make a cameo appearance in the recently launched television series...LOST IN DC. The following graphic is a preview of what the viewer can expect.


Lost In DC

Daniel DiRito | April 26, 2007 | 1:48 PM | link | Comments (0)
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April 23, 2007

Alberto Gonzales: When Will The Canary Sing? genre: Polispeak & Snapshot Thoughts & Tongue-In-Cheek

Singing Canary
Despite the widely held belief that last weeks testimony by Attorney General Alberto Gonzales before the Senate Judiciary Committee was an embarrassing disaster, the President continues to be his most loyal supporter. In fact, the President stated that the Attorney General "answered every question he could possibly answer, honestly answer". The New York Times has an update on the President's position with regard to his embattled Attorney General.

WASHINGTON, April 23 — President Bush said Monday that the Congressional testimony of Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales last week, roundly panned by members of both parties, in a way had “increased my confidence in his ability to do the job."

Mr. Bush has repeatedly asserted his confidence in Mr. Gonzales, a longtime adviser, as criticism has mounted over the dismissals of eight United States attorneys.

But his statement on Monday was his first direct comment about Mr. Gonzales since the attorney general appeared before the committee, and it was at considerable odds with an overwhelmingly critical assessment of his testimony by members of both parties. It indicated that Mr. Bush, at least for now, has concluded his attorney general can weather the challenge to his leadership at the Justice Department, barring any evidence of wrongdoing.

That challenge had seemed all the more daunting as of Sunday, when Senator Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, the ranking Republican on the committee whom both sides view as a barometer of support for Mr. Gonzales, appeared on “Fox News Sunday" and said, “The attorney general’s testimony was very, very damaging to his own credibility," and that his continued tenure was “bad for the Department of Justice."

One senior Republican Congressional aide at work in Washington on Monday, who requested anonymity to speak candidly, called Mr. Bush’s statement that his confidence in Mr. Gonzales had grown after his testimony “curious"; another senior Republican aide asked, “Was he watching the same hearing as everyone else?"

“I will stay as long as I can be effective, and I can be effective," Mr. Gonzales said in response to questions about his plans.

Mr. Gonzales said he needed to spend time on his priorities, like combating terrorism, drug abuse and the danger to children from the Internet.

So I guess we can conclude that the Attorney General and the President will continue to ride the same horse they've ridden since 9/11 and at virtually each and every bump in the road. If the 2006 midterm elections were a barometer on the voting public's acceptance of this familiar rhetoric, one would think they might craft a new message.

“If the attorney general’s hearing performance increased the president’s confidence in his ability to lead the Justice Department, then he’s setting the bar fairly low," said Senator Patrick J. Leahy, Democrat of Vermont and chairman of the Judiciary Committee, in a statement on Monday.

"The attorney general broke no law, did no wrongdoing," Mr. Bush said. "And some senators didn’t like his explanation, but he answered as honestly as he could. This is an honest, honorable man, in whom I have confidence."

And, if Mr. Gonzales were to step down, officials argued, it would wrongly lead the public to conclude that he had done something wrong.

They sure wouldn't want the public to think that anyone in the Bush administration would do anything wrong...and more importantly they wouldn't want to admit as much. Actually, my own preference is that Gonzales remains Attorney General. I think from a strategic perspective, he does the Democrats more good remaining in office and there is little reason to believe that his replacement would be any better. I've come to expect the status quo for the duration of the President's time in office. That being the case, every misstep should be a welcome benefit for the opposition.

Since I doubt little will change between now and January of 2009, I thought I might as well have a little fun at the Attorney General's expense. It was evident from the hearings that Gonzales wasn't going to sing...so I've taken the liberty to suggest some more fitting tunes for his next performance.

Attorney General Walking

Alberto Gonzales Walking?

Daniel DiRito | April 23, 2007 | 8:30 PM | link | Comments (0)
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April 14, 2007

The White House Announces Project Purge genre: Polispeak & Snapshot Thoughts & Tongue-In-Cheek

One of the most interesting things about this President is the fact that he frequently asserts that he is the unequivocal decider. When I hear someone use that terminology, my first assumption is that they must run an awfully tight ship...keeping underlings on short leases while dictating countless guidelines and directives. The other thing I assume is that this type of person would no doubt have a track record of success to bolster such a bold leadership style. Then I realize I'm talking about George W. Bush, and I say nah, not the case.

In keeping with the long string of contradictory examples, we learned this week that a number of key administration employees may have lost, erased, deleted, or otherwise expunged an estimated 5,000,000 emails...emails that conveniently may have shed light upon who was involved in making the decision to fire eight U.S. Attorneys and whether or not the dismissals were nothing more than partisan politics. Today, the Los Angeles Times provides some further insight.

From the LA Times:

WASHINGTON — Karl Rove and other White House employees were cautioned in employee manuals, memos and briefings to carefully save any e-mails that might discuss official matters even if those messages came from private e-mail accounts, the White House disclosed Friday.

Despite these cautions, e-mails from Rove and others discussing official business may have been deleted and are now missing.

White House officials spent much of Friday reiterating that the missing e-mails were the result of an innocent mistake. About 50 aides in the executive office of the Bush administration have used e-mail accounts provided by the Republican National Committee to keep campaign-related communication separate from their official White House business.

However, some of those RNC accounts were used to discuss official matters, including the firing of eight federal prosecutors, which has triggered investigations on Capitol Hill. Democrats contend that politics was improperly inserted into Justice Department decision-making about which attorneys should leave.

White House employee manuals distributed in early 2001 made it clear that any e-mails containing discussion of official matters should be preserved.

The instructions dwell on the importance of separating political from official acts. But they also explain that all e-mail sent "to your official account is automatically archived as if it were a presidential record." The manual adds: "If you happen to receive an e-mail on a personal account which otherwise qualifies as a presidential record, it is your duty to insure that it is saved as such by printing it out and saving it or by forwarding it to your White House e-mail account," the manual said.


OK, so at some point we're left with a limited number of conclusions when evaluating this President and his administration. On the one hand, they repeatedly ask the American public to trust their judgment and support the actions they have taken...including the war in Iraq and countless other issues. Notwithstanding, at the very same time we are asked again and again to excuse the mistakes and misdeeds of those who serve under this President. Perhaps I'm mistaken, but the odds that competence and carelessness (I'll reserve the right to amend the latter to corruption at some future point) can exist under the same roof and consistently serve the best interests of the nation are minute.

I grow increasingly frustrated with the demands to trust this administration when the actions they undertake are so often followed up with the proverbial woops; we seem to have made a mistake. Look, I realize none of us are perfect and we all fall short from time to time...but when those that lead virtually demand blind trust without accountability, something is gravely wrong.

With that in mind, I offer the following visual to summarize my impressions of this current situation and my ever increasing skepticism that this administration is competent to lead...let alone to demand carte blanche authority. I don't think I can drink any more of that kool-aid.

Don't Drink The Kool-Aid

Daniel DiRito | April 14, 2007 | 3:06 PM | link | Comments (8)
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April 4, 2007

Ground Control To Captain George genre: Polispeak & Snapshot Thoughts & Tongue-In-Cheek

President Bush, in typical fashion, made a number of recess appointments of individuals previously rejected by the Senate. Granted, he has the authority to make such appointments but its further evidence of the President's propensity to ignore the opinions of others as he grows even more isolated and insolent. Today's actions mirror his intransigence with regard to the war in Iraq and his refusal to reconsider the merits of repetitive strategies that have proven unsuccessful during over four years of seemingly unwavering conflict. The New York Times reports the following:

WASHINGTON, April 4 — President Bush used Congress’s Easter break today to defy Democratic lawmakers and appoint three officials who have already drawn heavy criticism on Capitol Hill.

The president used recess appointments to install Sam Fox, a major Republican donor from Missouri, to be ambassador to Belgium; Andrew G. Biggs of New York to be deputy commissioner of Social Security, and Susan E. Dudley of Virginia to be administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs at the office of Management and Budget.

Naming the three while Congress is in recess allows Mr. Bush to avoid the Senate confirmation process. The recess appointments allow the three to remain in their posts until the end of 2008, virtually the end of Mr. Bush’s second term.

Mr. Bush’s use of the recess appointment device, which is authorized in the Constitution, was an unmistakable gesture of defiance against the newly empowered Democrats. He has previously used the tactic to install judicial appointees unpopular with Democrats and to seat John R. Bolton as ambassador to the United Nations.


While the recess appointments drew criticism, few were surprised by the President's ongoing efforts to maximize his authority, bolster the independence of the executive branch, and minimize the oversight of congress. One thing is for certain, this President will not likely alter his confrontational style and his belief that he alone is the "decider".

Notwithstanding, I took the opportunity to create the following visual to point out the degree to which George Bush has removed himself from the counsel and advice of others.

Commander In Chief George W

Daniel DiRito | April 4, 2007 | 11:13 PM | link | Comments (0)
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April 2, 2007

For Sale: United States Of America genre: Polispeak & Snapshot Thoughts

At the close of the first quarter of 2007, the money being raised for the 2008 presidential race is shattering previous records and some suggest that following the selection of the two candidates, we may be heading for the first billion dollar presidential campaign race. While I understand the need to fund campaigns, at some point the pursuit of cash will eclipse the importance of ideas and abilities...if it hasn't already done so. In this "land of opportunity", I wonder if we've reached the point at which each opportunity is subject to the amount of money one can amass in order to purchase it. The following is from The Associated Press:

BOSTON - Republican Mitt Romney reported Monday he had raised $23 million for his presidential campaign during the first three months of the year, shaking up the GOP field. Sen. John McCain of Arizona lagged with $12.5 million raised.

Meanwhile, the current leader in Republican presidential surveys, former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, said his donations totaled $15 million — including more than $10 million raised during March alone.

On their own, the Romney, Giuliani and McCain totals blew away past party presidential fundraising standards, but Romney's figure put the former Massachusetts governor in competition with Hillary Rodham Clinton, the Democratic front-runner. The New York senator on Sunday reported raising $26 million between Jan. 1 and March 31.

In the Democratic race, Illinois Sen. Barack Obama (news, bio, voting record) has yet to release his total, touching off speculation of an announcement equivalent to the figure reported by Clinton.

Among the other Democratic candidates, aides to former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards said his $14 million in new contributions included $1 million for the general election.

The prior records for first-quarter fundraising were held by Republican Phil Gramm of Texas and Democrat Al Gore of Tennessee. Gramm raised $8.7 million in 1995, while Gore raised $8.9 million in 1999. Gramm dropped out race before New Hampshire's 1996 primary, while Gore went on to win the 2000 Democratic nomination.


I can't help but find this information disheartening as it continues the trend that winning elected office in the US is simply a function of how much one is willing to pay. Unfortunately, that equation eliminates countless good candidates from ever being considered and also insures that politics will continue to be less and less about public service and more and more about ego and power. Further, it ought to leave the voting public worried about the ever shrinking list of potential candidates from which to choose. The actual difference between the two parties continues to narrow.

In light of my growing pessimism with the entrenchment of cash as king, it seemed appropriate to offer the following visual commentary on the state of politics in the United States.

USA For Sale

Daniel DiRito | April 2, 2007 | 2:33 PM | link | Comments (0)
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