Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Alberto Gonzales Must Go

The idea of the Justice Department being under the direction and control of the executive is enough cause for concern. After all, Janet Reno refused to conduct an in-house investigation into the Clinton’s variety of alleged misdeeds, never mind the infamous Saturday Night Massacre perpetrated by Nixon trying to shut down the investigation into his own ethical lapses.

However, time and time again, Alberto Gonzales has refused to treat his responsibilities and duties at the Justice Department with the a-partisan caution and neutrality that such a highly visible positions requires. Mr. Gonzales no longer is an employee of the West Wing. Rather, he is a cabinet secretary, not a partisan shrill. Time and time again, the political ideology of the Bush administration has come before Justice, and before the law.

Gonzales was entitled to fire the U.S. Attorneys who worked for his department, even for partisan reasons. He was not entitled to act as a shield for the Bush Administration, and lie to the American people and to Congress. He was not entitled to injure the good names of hard-working career attorneys and prosecutors in the press, who were not, in fact, “underperforming,” but whose only misdoing was simply not attacking the Bush Administration’s political opponents with enough zeal. He was not entitled to allow the FBI to abuse national security letters, and betray the trust of the American people.

Alberto Gonzales in unfit to lead a Department called Justice. He has demonstrated himself, time after time, unable to seperate his partisan loyalties towards from his oath to defend the constitution. Its time for Mr. Gonzales to step down.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Georgia on My Mind...

I consider myself fairly rigid on the issue of church and state separation, but I can’t bring myself to condemn the recent decision by a Georgia public school to allow a Bible literature class. Provided the class is taught correctly, and there is absolutely no endorsement or encouragement of any sort of religion dogma, then I cannot bring myself to oppose teaching an important part of the Western cannon to public school students. In college, I took exactly the sort of course that the legislature is proposing, and I will say that English Literature and the Bible – a comparative literature course that examined both Biblical stories and important Western secular literature that incorporated the themes – was one of the most interesting classes that I took, and it certainly made a lasting impression. The truth is that the Bible is a significant part of Western Culture and Western history, and I wish I had been taught more of it as a young student. No, it’s not a cornerstone for American Law. It is however, a crucial part of understanding the Western experience. Let there be light.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Libby Lament

Scooter Libby: But a sacrifical lamb on the alter of the Bush Administration's sins.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Too Bad I Already Used That Title About the Nation's First Black President With its Second...

This link may not remain stable, but it seems that this photo is a huge faux pas for the Clinton campaign. A picture of a cheery Obama with the nations’ 42nd President gives him both credibility and implicit, tacit approval. Granted, Obama also looks incredibly young and youthful compared with Clinton (who himself was relatively youthful upon assuming the office), but that may not necessarily be a negative.

One Nation, Under God

This is why I have trouble taking The Nation seriously, anymore. As I believe one of the New Republic blogs noted, there already is a Department of Peace. It’s called the State Department. The Nation is precisely the kind of leftish New Age rubbish that the Democratic party doesn’t need to be associated with, implicitly or formally. Kucinich may think he’s doing the country a service, but he’s actually more a running joke than Ralph Nader ever was. At least Nader cut his teeth as an influential consumer advocate before running for President. At least Nader emerged as a critic of the two-party system (not that I agree with him on those points. At all.). Kucinich? Why, he was one of the the worst mayors in American history

Department of Historical Errors By Senators and/or Congressmen

“How much time did we have to win World War II? Did we ever think about just fighting the Germans and not engaging the Japanese?” Senator Lindsey Graham, (R-SC)

I hate to be a historical stickler, but yes, yes did just think about engaging the Japanese and not the Germans. After Pearl Harbor, Congress declared war only on the Japanese, followed by Germany declaring war on us.

In other news, I’m not sure why Congressman Murtha was being particularly cordially towards Mr. Cheney on Meet the Press today, even when pressed for a response.

Bill Richardson And the Comets

Perhaps David Brooks has a point. In the clash-of-the-titans battle that is emerging between the Goliath Hillary and the righteous David, Obama, other candidates are being laid by the wayside. Edwards is the only other candidate getting much serious mention, and Villack has already withdrawn.

In any other year, a candidate like Richardson would be exciting, especially to middle-of the-roaders like myself. Brooks points out that Richardson:

A.) Was Energy Secretary
B.) Was a two term western Governor, reelected with 69% of the vote
C.) Has 14 years of experience in Congress
D.) Worked for the State Department
E.) Was the U.N. Ambassador
F.) Is not a Senator (And since 1961, no Senator has ever won the Presidency)

Now some of the charges Brooks slyly levels against Richardson’s opponents are just silly: Richard, he writes, “was in college in the late 1960s, but he was listening to the Beach Boys, not Janis Joplin. He was playing baseball in the Cape Cod League, not going to Woodstock. He idolized Humphrey, not McCarthy.”

But Brooks has a point: that people who are active in Democratic politics have already fallen into a Hillary-Obama dichotomy, whereby their battle to lock up major fundraisers and take each other down a peg leads to ignoring other candidates. In 2004, Dean was little but a long shot, buried under the Kerrys and the Clarks, until he experienced a spectacular emergence and followed by an ever more spectacular burnout. Could 2008 be similar? Richardson has a compelling resume, and a compelling political history and clearly has the talent, the energy, the drive and the skills to be a President. Does he have the same sort of rhetorical flair that Obama has? No. Does he have the same level of name recognition that Hillary Clinton has? Absolutely not. Should that discount him as a serious candidate worthy of a vote? The answer is certainly no.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Dressed for Succession

Norman Ornstein, a resident scholar at a conservative think tank, offers an interesting piece on Constitutional succession.

Ornstein argues that the order of succession should be changed (its fixed by statue law, not by the constitution) to remove the Legislative officers from the line, since its unconstitutional for officers to serve two branches simultaneously, since it creates a conflict of interest during impeachment trials, since the constitutional implies that executive branch officers should be next in order, and since the opposition party could come to power and thus thwart the voter’s will until the next election. Finally, he argues that the Pro Tempore is a bad choice, because it’s often an older Senator, unable to assume the duties of the Presidency.

The first of Ornstein’s charges is the most off-base: Yes, it’s constitutionally forbidden to serve both branches, but if the legislative leadership needed to assume the Presidency, this dilemma is easily resolved by having that legislator resign their leadership office. If they declined, succession could move to the next officer.

Second, when he writes, “The Constitution says Congress can create a line of succession from among "Officers" of the United States, clearly meaning executive branch officials,” the problem remains that the Cabinet itself is not a constitutionally mandated institution, rather it’s a jury-rigged development. If one wants to play the original intent game, “executive-branch officials” did not and do not exist in the body of the constitution. How can Ornstein claim that the framers intended “officers” to indicate Cabinet officials, when the cabinet is not even constitutionally enshrined?

The most potent of Ornstein’s argument is that it creates a Congressional conflict-of-interest, whereby Congressional leaders have a stake in impeachment trials when they stand to assume the Presidency. “When Andrew Johnson was impeached by the House and tried in the Senate,” Ornstein writes, “he escaped removal from office by one vote -- and among those who voted against him was the Senate president pro tempore, Benjamin Wade of Ohio, who would have succeeded Johnson had he been ousted.” Indeed, this situation also occurred during the Watergate Crisis, where Nixon had no Vice President after Agnew’s resignation, and Speaker of the House Carl Albert potentially stood to assume the office. Luckily Albert was a principled statesman, who emphatically decided that if the need arose for him to assume the office, he would do so only in a acting capacity until a Republican President could be confirmed by the Senate. But the point remains that impeachment could be used as a partisan tool to bring the opposition to power, with the current line of succession.

In any case, the article is well worth a read, and raises some serious issues.

Friday, March 02, 2007

The Nation's First Black President Vs. Its Second?

Two things from the Washington Post (racist article via the New Republic):

Are African-Americans Democratic pawns?

And why do Asian-Americans hate them?

Sunday, February 11, 2007

A House Divided?

I know. I Know I was on the Obama-as-Lincoln bandwagon very early, but perhaps Mr. Obama is cockily underestimating people’s grasp of history, by consciously associating himself with Lincoln.

“The son of a Kenyan father and a white Kansas mother, Obama used his address to portray himself as the multi-racial face of a new generation - a Lincoln-esque healer of a divided nation. It was well-received, by a largely sympathetic crowd”

Lincoln’s election actually tore the nation apart before the man even go to take the oath of office, and it was only the most destructive, divisive war in American history which ensured our survival as a unified nation, at the expense of another 100 years of racial backwardness.

In other news, Slate is running a truly hilarious feature called the “Obama Messiah Watch,” where they keep a running tab of gowing media reports about Obama, and compile evidence that he may indeed be the second coming of Christ. We’re up to Part Four: Obama discovers Jazz in Jr. High.