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View Diary: Once again, nobody for Attorney General. (180 comments)

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  •  Ordinarily, that's not so bad. (29+ / 0-)

    It's less than desirable, of course, for an Attorney General in particular. But it's a fact of life.

    But this may be the first time an "administration" has put itself so squarely in this position, when anybody and everybody who could possibly be named to the job must put himself at odds with the basic foundations of our country in order to be sufficiently in tune with the president he or she seeks to serve.

    It's unbelievable.

    •  And even if each bad nominee (12+ / 0-)

      were rejected by the Senate, they have Keisler safely installed as "Acting" AG to carry on just as nefariously.

      Let the great world spin for ever down the ringing grooves of change. - Tennyson

      by bumblebums on Mon Oct 29, 2007 at 11:06:42 AM PDT

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      •  Yes they would. (21+ / 0-)

        This is not about being able to do better. We cannot do better. The root cause of the problem lies elsewhere.

        But should we confirm an Attorney General just for the sake of appearances?

        Why?

        And what appearance should we be giving by doing so? Is there any point in giving such an appearance if it isn't so?

        Aren't we better served by admitting what's going on, and at least being honest about this one thing?

        •  I can't see anyone in the Senate (4+ / 0-)

          knocking over that kabuki dance. Feingold is the only one I can think of who could provide that level of reality check, and the serious people don't listen to him.

          Let the great world spin for ever down the ringing grooves of change. - Tennyson

          by bumblebums on Mon Oct 29, 2007 at 11:11:23 AM PDT

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          •  Dodd's already done it, as has Sanders... (6+ / 0-)

            My guess is that the likes of Kerry, Kennedy, and (hopefully) Durbin will, too.  I'm curious as to the other IL senator's position.

            If I were treading water in the prez race, and if I were a former prez of Harvard Law Review, I just might make an issue of Mukasey.  I sure as hell wouldn't let Dodd beat me to the punch on it, and, if he did, I'd quickly join him.

            Going back to the original question, I really don't expect to see any Goopers ultimately vote nay.  I worry about Biden and DiFi, who threw in the towel on Scalito from the start.  I'd love to be proven wrong, but I still expect Mukasey to ultimately get confirmed.

            Some men see things as they are and ask why. I see things that never were and ask why not?

            by RFK Lives on Mon Oct 29, 2007 at 11:25:30 AM PDT

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          •  How is Sheldon Whitehouse going to live (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            farleftcoast, greenearth, lurks a lot

            with himself if he supports this (or any other) Bush nominee?

            Will he delude himself?  Will he rationalize it away in his own mind, and try to avoid a HAL-style mental breakdown?

            Certainly he knows better.  He knew what question to ask, so he definitely knows better.

            "They blamed it on the Islamic fanatics, at the time. [...] That was when they suspended the Constitution. They said it would be temporary."-Handmaid's Tale

            by JLFinch on Mon Oct 29, 2007 at 12:13:09 PM PDT

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        •  Rule of Law vs. Rule by Fear. (7+ / 0-)

          Indeed, confirm no one. Ever. Until the nominee acknowledges fundamental Rule of Law.

          This president took an oath to protect the constitution and to defend the country from enemies foreign and domestic.

          The Constitution comes first in the oath for a reason.

          And if we lose 3,000 people EVERY YEAR to maintain our form of government, so be it. We lost almost 500,000 in WW II, so we can survive a little terrorism.

          As with the Greeks, death before giving in to fear.
          Much less to fear of this fantasy "Islamofascism," which simply does not exist.

          Dixie Chicks and Amy Winehouse. Imus and Lenny Bruce. Overcome evil with good.

          by vets74 on Mon Oct 29, 2007 at 11:59:14 AM PDT

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      •  And frankly... (9+ / 0-)

        ...in this game of 'chicken' (confirm Mukasey or get stuck with Keisler), I say our senators should hold fast: we've nothing to lose by forcing Bush to not have a named AG.  Nothing at all.

        Read my SF novel for free. (-7.13/-7.33)

        by Shadan7 on Mon Oct 29, 2007 at 11:10:14 AM PDT

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        •  Agreed (4+ / 0-)

          Nothing to lose, whatsoever.  Why in the world would they go along with this?  An Attorney General who can't even come out and say the President is subject to the same laws as the rest of us?!?

          What is to be gained by compromise on this?!?

          And what would be lost?

          "You can't teach an old dogma new tricks." Dorothy Parker

          by AnnCetera on Mon Oct 29, 2007 at 12:22:24 PM PDT

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        •  I thought otherwise (4+ / 0-)

          I thought that Mukasey would be significantly better than Keisler.  If that were true, it would make sense to confirm Mukasey.

          At this point, I have difficulty concluding that Mukasey would be better.  I think the country and the rule of law would be better served by rejecting Mukasey and any nominee for Attorney General or indeed, any position in the executive branch who cannot clearly and unequivocally state and mean that the President is not above the law and is bound by  duly enacted statutes that are not unconstitutional and that the judicial branch (and not the executive) has the final word on what is constitutional.

      •  The argument is about avoiding complicity (12+ / 0-)

        The Bush Justice Department will do what it pleases, unless and until impeachment is put back on the table.  Thus it hardly matters whether we have Mukasey or Keisler in terms of the practical effects.

        But as we've all bemoaned the collaborationist spirit of too many Congressional Dems with the Preznit's war and his depredations upon constitutional rights, we have to look at the Senate's role in this.  Should the Senate sanction and approve an AG nominee who has all but announced in advance his intention to violate his oath of office?  

        Kagro's argument is persuasive.  If Mukasey is the best Bush will nominate, he should be rejected and investigated independently.  Save the time that could be spent vetting crime family lieutenants and spend it on enforcing those damn subpoenas.

        Don't expect to live in a democracy if you're not prepared to be an active citizen.

        by Dallasdoc on Mon Oct 29, 2007 at 11:21:19 AM PDT

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      •  Quite simple, really (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        farleftcoast, Simplify, greenearth

        If you approve a nominee who has made the statements that Mukasey has made, then you implicitly condone them (or at least indicate they are not sufficiently abhorrent to our Constitution as to disqualify him).

        Thus, even if Keisler is worse, he is still better because Congress is not approving him after he has advanced such a repugnant argument.

        If congress "condones" this argument, it automatically becomes more acceptable; and that is one more nail in the Coffin of the Constitution.

        10 years ago I would have bet 95% of our Senators understood such a simple thing, but now I am not so sure.  Dodd and Feingold yes; the rest of the lot is a crapshoot.

    •  thanks (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      farleftcoast, greenearth, vets74

      that's what I meant but you were much more eloquent!

      A contractor government cannot be fixed....Naomi Klein

      by lisastar on Mon Oct 29, 2007 at 11:44:16 AM PDT

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    •  Part of the problem (5+ / 0-)

      Part of the problem is that Democrats have not been effective in making the broader case, many leading Democrats "bored with process" have not bothered to at all, and most have not seemed to see the need or advantage to use the many conservatives and republicans who have spoken out on this issue. Some more strongly than many leading Democrats:

      Earlier example.

      Here's one from stauch conservative Bruce Fein, which is chilling: Get past the first paragraph or so, and it is an amazing piece in its implications, by a staunch republican; both for what this administration has done, and, unintentionally (since Fein expected and rooted for just the opposite) with respect to how Democrats in Congress have been almost as responsible.

      Another critical example concerns the "answer" pointed out by Yale Law Professor Jeb Rubenfeld:

      AT his confirmation hearings last week, Michael B. Mukasey, President Bush’s nominee for attorney general, was asked whether the president is required to obey federal statutes. Judge Mukasey replied, "That would have to depend on whether what goes outside the statute nonetheless lies within the authority of the president to defend the country.

      There is a fundamental reason for this, and it is because the core argument has also not been effectively addressed. It kind of goes to the heart of our Constitution, and most of these federal abuse of power questions, as well, so it is not an abstract point.

      This piece covers it, as well as the key related points. The central point that has not been effectively conveyed, regarding this illogical (and decidely anti American) breakdown of the first three Articles of the Constitution which we are seeing under Far Right wing rule is towards the end of the piece, and I will post it separately as a comment in reply to this one.  

      How can one get democrats to focus on fixing the engine, or the foundation, instead of always arguing about the roof?

      by Ivan Carter on Mon Oct 29, 2007 at 11:51:02 AM PDT

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      •  As noted, the core Constitutional breakdown (4+ / 0-)

        From this piece, as noted:

        The Constitution, under the same Article II that [is cited]as possible authority for the idea that [FISA or any other law] can somehow be "trumped" at the Executive’s unilateral discretion,  anoints our Executive as commander in chief of the armed forces, "when called into the actual Service of the United States." Nothing more. Article II, Section 2.  

        The idea that the Executive, whose powers are expressly limited by the Constitution, can nevertheless do whatever it deems appropriate in the name of national security, other provisions of the Constitution or legislation notwithstanding, and propounded by such right wing radicals as John Yoo of Berkeley, and Christopher Yoo (no relation) of UPenn, and adhered to by an extremely small group of far right zealots yet adopted by the current administration, has nevertheless been promulgated by much of the rest of the media as if simply "one of two equal sides" of some seemingly reasonable debate.

        But the idea is tautological, and is one that, in essence, simply does not support our Constitution’s most basic premise, but is too twisted to simply acknowledge this outright. There is no cohesive and logical rationale as to how this theory can apply to "some" types of Executive behavior or decision making, and not to others:

        It depends upon the assumption that the Executive‘s discretion is absolute -- since it is the Executive which under this theory has the sole authority to make that decision as to what is appropriate in the name of "national security." If it is not absolute (i.e, "well, the President ‘only‘ has this power when something ‘clearly’ relates to National Security, and is ‘clearly‘ reasonable), there is no way to fashion a "check" upon it, other than the check that, lo and behold, already, and specifically, exists in the Constitution itself, under Article I, Section 1;  which is, namely, that "All legislative Powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States." Article I, Section I.  

        That is, if the Executive decides what is national security related, and can unilaterally circumvent the will of Congress, then Article I and Article II’s separation of powers -- the main reason for the Constitution’s creation in the first place -- is essentially rendered meaningless at the Executive’s discretion.

        In fact, the President’s express duties, are laid out in that very same Article II, Section II, and include, far from breaking them, the "duty to see that the laws be faithfully executed."

        [This might also be a good time to re-consider the very first of Article II’s four Sections. "I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States." How does an Executive branch defend the Constitution when it is under attack by that very same Executive branch?]

        Similarly, the argument that this "legislative powers issue" does not apply because the President has "determined" that he is taking action as commander in chief of our armed forces, yields the same result.

        The idea that this applies in war time is similarly flawed. As Republican Rep. Heather Wilson, in a press release,  put it,  "Our Constitution with divided powers operates in war and in peace." There is nothing in the Constitution to suggest that its most basic purpose is suspended in war time, let alone a "war time" -- unless one is taking a page right out of Orwell’s "1984" -- that, similar to the so called "war on terror," is likely to exist in perpetuity.  

        The commander of our navy listens to his commander: who tells him when the battle is over, when the battle begins, and what the rules are. The commander in chief’s commander, are the people of the United States.  They are actually the decider, in a democracy.

        As Rep. Wilson put it "When the Congress authorizes the President to used force against an enemy, we are not relinquishing our powers under the Constitution, we are exercising them." (Yet not so ironically, this is the President who apparently only half jokingly stated, just before taking office, "If this were a dictatorship, it'd be a heck of a lot easier, just so long as I'm the dictator.")

        The current Executive’s radical argument, and trumpeted as "reasonable" by ignorant or head in the sand, media figures, turns this upside down on its head, even with respect to ideas that don’t even directly relate to specifically commandeering our actual armed forces when called into service. That there are a few radical right wing scholars who nevertheless make this argument, and who clearly do not have the same view of our Constitution as our founding fathers did, or even of the idea of a limited government of checks and balances upon which our system of democracy relies, does not change the logic.

        This point is being missed because it seems obvious that counterintelligence is related to national security. But there is no reason for the President, rather than the people of the United States, to be making that determination as to what powers are ascribable to government in the name of national security thereof.  Moreover, if the President decided that all citizens of Arabic origins were a threat, and put them all in jail, or even if all people who were born on Tuesdays and Thursdays were a threat, and put them in jail, this cockamamie theory being propounded as legitimate, put into practice by our current far right wing government, and danced around by a compliant and half asleep national media, would apply just as equally as it does to the seemingly more reasonable idea that "spying" is a legitimate intelligence pursuit and that it is the Executive, rather than the people‘s prerogative of what actions, and how to take them, be put into place; preexisting law, Congressional mandate, or the Bill of Rights be damned.

        How can one get democrats to focus on fixing the engine, or the foundation, instead of always arguing about the roof?

        by Ivan Carter on Mon Oct 29, 2007 at 11:59:23 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

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