Gonzales resigns

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Hat Tip: by Todd J. Gilman, Dallas Morning News

WASHINGTON – Al Gonzales was a corporate lawyer with little political experience when Texas’ newly elected governor stopped by his office to size him up. They hit it off instantly, the scion of a political dynasty and the son of migrant workers.

Mr. Gonzales became counsel to the governor, and for the last dozen years, hitched his career to that of his patron.

But the ride has ended. Mr. Gonzales announced his resignation Monday morning after more than two years as the nation’s first Hispanic attorney general. He submitted the resignation to the president last Friday, and the president accepted Sunday during a meeting at his ranch in Crawford, Texas.

“It has been one of my greatest privileges to lead the Department of Justice,” Gonzales said, announcing his resignation effective Sept. 17 in a terse statement. He took no questions and gave no reason for stepping down.

The announcement ends a months-long battle with Republican and Democratic critics who said Mr. Gonzales should be forced out over the handling of FBI terrorism investigations and the firing of U.S. attorneys.

It’s sad that we live in a time when a talented and honorable person like Alberto Gonzales is impeded from doing important work because his good name was dragged through the mud for political reasons,” President Bush said Monday in Waco, portraying Mr. Gonzales as the victim of “months of unfair treatment.”

Mr. Bush called him “a man of integrity, decency and principle,” and touted among Mr. Gonzales’ accomplishments some of the same legislation and policies that have most angered civil liberties groups, including the Patriot Act and the law allowing accused terrorists to stand trial by military commission.

Solicitor General Paul Clement will be acting attorney general until a replacement is found and confirmed by the Senate, Bush said.

Homeland Security chief Michael Chertoff was among those mentioned as possible successors, though a senior administration official said the matter had not been raised with Chertoff. Bush leaves Washington next Monday for Australia, and Gonzales’ replacement might not be named by then, the official said.

When Mr. Gonzales moved to the White House, he became the legal architect of some of the administration’s most controversial policies – on torture, domestic snooping, detention of terror suspects – and a central player in fights over reshaping the judiciary to the president’s liking.

It was a mutually beneficial relationship, until the uproar over the bungled, politically charged firings of U.S. attorneys.

“They just bonded. Al is a very, very fine lawyer. He has a way of being direct and thorough and was just a great counselor, a great consigliere,” said Houston attorney Pat Oxford, a longtime friend of the president who was with him that day in Houston, when Mr. Gonzales’ career turned and Mr. Bush became his sole client. “It’s worked perfectly, until this moment.”

The Harvard-trained lawyer from Humble, Texas, loyally protected George W. Bush’s secrets and pushed the Bush agenda through five assignments, endearing himself with utter discretion on such matters as the governor’s youthful brushes with the law, and with valued legal advice on such knotty topics as death row clemency requests..

Mr. Gonzales worked for Mr. Bush as counsel to the governor, Texas secretary of state, justice on the state supreme court, White House counsel and, finally, U.S. attorney general – a cabinet post, the nation’s top law enforcement official, an achievement far beyond the dreams of his immigrant parents.

It was a meteoric rise, and a spectacular fall.

Critics say Mr. Gonzales can blame himself for the bungled firings, providing Congress with contradictory and misleading explanations and opening the administration to allegations of cronyism, politically-motivated interference and plain bad judgment.

“Embodying the American dream is not sufficient reason to serve as attorney general,” Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid of Nevada said recently. “The attorney general of the United States is the people’s lawyer, not the president’s lawyer.”

Now, it’s back to private life for Mr. Gonzales. Mr. Oxford said in a recent interview that, “Any law firm in America would be honored to have Al Gonzales. … His career is still on the upward trajectory.”

The departure lets the president shed a major political albatross, but also costs him a longtime confidant. And it marks the near-purge of Mr. Bush’s Texas inner circle. Political guru Karl Rove’s last day at the White House is later this week. Adviser Dan Bartlett and White House counsel Harriet Miers, a former Dallas councilwoman, quit earlier this year.

It’s not clear why, after months of demands for his firing, Mr. Gonzales finally succumbed.

Texas Sen. John Cornyn, speaking Monday morning on Fox News, called it a “sad day” and blamed a “hyperpartisan atmosphere” in Washington for the attorney general’s ouster.

“I think he was probably just worn down by the criticism,” said Mr. Cornyn who, like Mr. Gonzales, had served as a justice on the Texas Supreme Court. “I guess Al Gonzales had had enough.”

Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., said Mr. Gonzales had turned the Justice Department into “a political arm of the White House,” and had “suffered a severe crisis of leadership that allowed our justice system to be corrupted by political influence.”

House Judiciary Chairman John Conyers Jr., D-Mich., emphasized the “cloud of suspicion” that continues to hang over the attorney general.

Accusing him of manipulating the nation’s justice system for partisan political gains, Mr. Conyers indicated that Congress will keep pressing the administration for more details about political motives behind the firing of U.S. attorneys. “The continued stonewalling of the White House in the U.S. Attorney scandal has deprived the American people of the truth. If the power of the prosecutor has been misused in the name of partisanship, we deserve a full airing of the facts,” Mr. Conyers said.

Matthew Orwig, a Dallas lawyer who served President Bush for more than five years as chief federal prosecutor in East Texas, said Mr. Gonzales still has plenty of friends in Texas and will be welcomed home “with open arms” – and, probably, a decent private sector job.

But “whether he’s at the height of his marketability – that’s been somewhat devalued. Even his friends will have to say that his term was not successful,” said Mr. Orwig, who stepped down three months ago as U.S. Attorney and is now managing partner at Sonnenschein Nath & Rosenthal’s Dallas office.

“To a person, every one of the US attorneys who was asked to leave has more talent and integrity than the people who wanted them to leave, and I still don’t think there’s any plausible explanation of a good reason for the administration to ask them to leave,” Mr. Orwig said. “…At the beginning of his term people were concerned that Al Gonzales didn’t have the experience or talent to be attorney general, and by the end of his term people were concerned that Al just didn’t have the character. Why he held on, I don’t know.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report

Karl Rove resigns

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 Karl Rove is 2 4-letter words

Hat Tip :By John D. McKinnnon, Wall Street Journal

Karl Rove, President Bush’s longtime political adviser, is resigning as White House deputy chief of staff effective Aug. 31, and returning to Texas, marking a turning point for the Bush presidency.

Mr. Rove’s departure removes one of the White House’s most polarizing figures, and perhaps signals the effective end of the lame duck administration’s role in shaping major domestic policy decisions. Mr. Rove revealed his plans in an interview with Paul Gigot, editor of The Wall Street Journal’s editorial page. (See related commentary.)

Mr. Rove also said he expects the president’s approval rating to rise again, and that conditions in Iraq will improve as the U.S. military surge continues. He said he expects Democrats to be divided this fall in the battle over warrantless wiretapping, while the budget battle — and a series of presidential vetoes — should help Republicans gain an edge on spending restraint and taxes.

Mr. Rove established himself as the political genius behind the rise of George W. Bush and the brief period of united Republican rule. But he did it largely through highly divisive policies and campaign tactics, such as the attacks on Democratic rival John Kerry the 2004 campaign. That strategy appears to have backfired, as seen in the Republican loss of Congress in 2006, and Mr. Bush’s low poll numbers.

Mr. Rove has advised Mr. Bush for more than a decade, working with him closely since Mr. Bush first announced he was running for governor of Texas in 1993 and serving as chief strategist in his presidential campaign in 2000. Before joining the White House, he was president of Karl Rove & Co., the Austin, Texas-based public affairs firm he founded. Mr. Rove first became involved in Republican politics in the 1970s.

Mr. Bush was expected to make a statement Monday with his aide at the White House, before they fly to Texas to Mr. Bush’s Crawford ranch retreat.

“Obviously it’s a big loss to us,” White House deputy press secretary Dana Perino said. “He’s a great colleague, a good friend, and a brilliant mind. He will be greatly missed, but we know he wouldn’t be going if he wasn’t sure this was the right time to be giving more to his family, his wife Darby and their son. He will continue to be one of the president’s greatest friends

Mr. Rove, who has held a senior post in the White House since President Bush took office in January 2001, told Mr. Gigot he first floated the idea of leaving a year ago. But he delayed his departure as, first, Democrats took Congress, and then as the White House tackled debates on immigration and Iraq, he said. He said he decided to leave after White House Chief of Staff Joshua Bolten told senior aides that if they stayed past Labor Day they would be obliged to remain through the end of the president’s term in January 2009.

“I just think it’s time,” Mr. Rove said in the interview. “There’s always something that can keep you here, and as much as I’d like to be here, I’ve got to do this for the sake of my family.” Mr. Rove and his wife have a home in Ingram, Texas, and a son who attends college in nearby San Antonio.

In the interview, Mr. Rove said he expects Democrats to give the 2008 presidential nomination to Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, whom he described as “a tough, tenacious, fatally flawed candidate.” He also said Republicans have “a very good chance” to hold onto the White House in next year’s elections.

Senate subpeona’s Karl Rove

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Hat tip: by Klaus Marre, the Hill 

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) Thursday issued a subpoena for top White House adviser Karl Rove to compel him to testify about the firing of several U.S. attorneys.

“The evidence shows that senior White House political operatives were focused on the political impact of federal prosecutions and whether federal prosecutors were doing enough to bring partisan voter fraud and corruption cases,” Leahy said. “It is obvious that the reasons given for the firings of these prosecutors were contrived as part of a cover-up and that the stonewalling by the White House is part and parcel of that same effort.”

Leahy issued the subpoenas, one to Rove and one to White House aide Scott Jennings, after consulting with Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.), the committee’s ranking member.

“The Bush-Cheney White House continues to place great strains on our constitutional system of checks and balances,” Leahy added. “Not since the darkest days of the Nixon administration have we seen efforts to corrupt federal law enforcement for partisan political gain and such efforts to avoid accountability.”

The move is a further escalation of the constitutional battle between Congress and the White House over whether Bush administration officials must provide testimony and documents to legislative branch investigators.

Leahy said he is not taking this step lightly and only decided to proceed after “[exhausting] every avenue seeking the voluntary cooperation of Karl Rove and J. Scott Jennings.”

The Judiciary Committee chairman concluded that the investigation has “reached a point where the accumulated evidence shows that political considerations factored into the unprecedented firing of at least nine United States attorneys last year.”

In a letter to Rove, Leahy gives the White House official a week to appear before the panel and testify under oath.

“I hope that the White House takes this opportunity to reconsider its blanket claim of executive privilege, especially in light of the testimony that the President was not involved in the dismissals of these U.S. Attorneys,” Leahy said in his letter. “I am left to ask what the White House is so intent on hiding that it cannot even identify the documents, the dates, the authors and recipients that they claim are privileged.”

House Judiciary Committee finds a pair and issues contempt of congress charges against Bolton and Miers

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The House Judiciary Committee found a pair, manned up, and issued contempt of congress charges for the White House Chief of Staff Josh Bolton and former White House Counsel Harriet Miers.   Wow.  The Republicans actually called this move unnecessary and unprecedented with straight faces.   Incredible.  

Let me get this straight, y’all can call President Clinton’s secretary to testify in front of Congress about some hat pin he gave Monica Lewinsky but Bush’s White House Chief of Staff and Counsel cannot testify before Congress about the selective firing of U.S. Attorney’s who refused to comply with orders to investigate and indict Democrats on spurious claims of vote fraud to save GOP members of Congress in last year’s election.   Hmmm.

Playing the “White Girl role”

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Emily Bazelon and Dahlia Lithwick brilliantly deconstruct the testimony of Monica Goodling, a former attorney and assistant to Deputy Attorney General Paul McNulty in the Justice Department contretemps that has engulfed the Agency in the swirl of scandal over the political firing of 8 U.S. Attorneys.  They “go there” and call Goodling out and bust her chops for playing, what blackfolks term as the helpless, “white girl role.”

Women of color in particular, and black women especially, find this feminine B.S. infuriating.  White men, especially Republicans, fall for it every time.   Democratic Congresswomen Maxine Waters and Linda Sanchez cut to the quick with their questioning of Goodling last week as the above clip of Linda demonstrates. 

Bazelon and Lithwick elaborate in their Salon piece, “Monica Goodling and the “girl” card: Nobody seems to want to go there, so we will.”

“Let’s pretend for a moment that the world divides into two types of women: the soft, shy, girly kind who live to serve and the brash, aggressive feminists who live to emasculate. Not our paradigm, but one that’s more alive than dead.”

“When she was White House liaison in Alberto Gonzales’ Justice Department, Monica Goodling, 33, had the power to hire and fire seasoned government lawyers who had taken the bar when she was still carrying around a plastic Hello Kitty purse. Goodling, in fact, described herself as a “type-A woman” who blocked the promotion of another type-A woman basically because the office couldn’t tolerate infighting between two strong women. (“I’m not just partisan! I’m sexist, too!”) That move sounds pretty grown-up and steely. Yet in her testimony this weekbefore the House judiciary committee, Goodling turned herself back into a little girl, and it’s worth pointing out that the tactic worked brilliantly.”

“Look past Goodling’s long, silky blond hair, which may or may not have been a distraction. She’s entitled to have pretty hair. Look past her trembling hand as she swore her oath and the tremulous voice as she described her “family” at Justice. What really shot Goodling into the stratosphere of baby-doll girls were her own whispered words: “At heart,” she testified, “I am a fairly quiet girl, who tries to do the right thing and tries to treat people kindly along the way.” [Late-breaking discovery, courtesy of a sharp reader: Goodling used the word girl in the written rather than spoken version of her testimony.] The idea, of course, was to scrub away her past image as ruthless, power-mad, and zealously Christian. But—as professor Sandy Levinson noted almost immediately over at Balkinization—it was in calling herself a “girl” that the 33-year-old did herself a great favor. It was a signal to the committee that she was no Kyle Sampson. Or Anita Hill.”

“To be sure, plenty of twenty- and thirty- and eightysomethings refer to themselves and their friends as girls. Particularly when there are mojitos around. But they don’t often do so before the U.S. Congress. The same Goodling who once wanted to be powerful, so powerful that she refused to relinquish her power to hire and fire assistant U.S. attorneys even when she changed jobs at the Justice Department, painted herself as helpful and empathetic and out of the loop. She testified that the biggest and most important part of her job was hooking up employees with tickets for sporting events. The little matter of firing assistant U.S. attorneys was a minor extracurricular. She testified that she went to a Christian school because of her devotion to “service.” One half expected her to leap up out of the witness chair and start offering canapés to the assembled members of Congress.”

“And at the heart of Goodling’s ingénue performance? The astonishing claim that while she broke the law, she “didn’t mean to.” This is the stuff of preschoolers, not cum laude graduates of law school.”

SHAFT

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sung to the same tune as the Shaft Theme by Issac Hayes

Who’s the stupid dick that’s thinks he’s slick?
Al! yo’ ass is ‘bout to get the SHAFT! (Ya damn right!)

Who is the man that would risk his neck tellin’ falsehoods to shield the ignorant patrician in the White House? Al! yo’ ass is ‘bout to get the SHAFT! (Can you dig it?)

Who’s the cat that cops out in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee when there’s danger all about? Al! yo’ ass is ‘bout to get the SHAFT! (Right On!)

The Senators say this cat Al is a stupid mother . . .
“Shut your mouth!” Yo’ ass is ’bout to get the SHAFT! (Then we can dig it!)

He’s a complicated man, but no one understands him but his main man (Dubya)
Resign befo’ ya get the SHAFT!
Alberto Gonzales

And I am Telling You….

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Alberto Gonzales on the Hot Seat

 Sung to the tune of And I am Telling You (Dreamgirls)

And I am telling you
I’m not going. 
Dubya’s the best gringo I’ll ever know.
There’s no way I can ever go,
No, no, no, no way,
No, no, no, no way I’m livin’ without him.
I’m not leavin’ the Administration.
I don’t want to be free.
I’m stayin’,
I’m stayin’,
And he, and he, my President loves me.
Ooh, my President loves me.

And I am telling you
I’m not going,
Even though the rough times are showing.
There’s just no way,
There’s no way.
We’re part of the same place (Texas).
We’re part of the same time.
We both share the same blood (I know its a stretch, work with me).
We both have the same (mediocre) mind.
And time and time we have so much to share (hopefully not in somebody’s penitentiary),

No, no, no,
No, no, no,
I’m not wakin’ up tomorrow mornin’
And findin’ that my limo driver is not there.
Darling, there’s no way,
No, no, no, no way I’m livin’ without him.
I’m not leavin’ the Administration.
You see, there’s just no way,
There’s no way.

Throw down some damn subpeonas,
Yell, scream and shout.
You can say what you want,
Executive Privilege will bail my ass out.
Stop all legislation,
Push, strike, and kill.
I’m not tellin’ y’all nothin’ bout no U.S. Attorneys,
There’s no way I will.

And I am telling you
I’m not going. 
Dubya’s the best gringo I’ll ever know.
There’s no way I can ever, ever go,
No, no, no, no way,
No, no, no, no way I’m livin’ without him.
Oh, I’m not leavin’ the Administration,
I’m not livin’ without him.
I don’t wanna be free.
I’m stayin’,
I’m stayin’,
And he, and he, 
My President loves me.
Oh, my President loves me,
Yes, ah, ooh, ooh, love me,
Ooh, ooh, ooh, he loves me,
Loves me,
Loves me,
Loves me,
Loves me. 
My President loves me.