After a lengthy break with largely, um, light-hearted posting (and a foray into patting myself on the back) I am back with the program. Back in the now.
My brain has been bouncing through three things over the past week or so. In reverse chronological order:
First, Alberto Gonzales referred to himself in a WSJ interview as “…one of the many casualties in the war on terror,” and then asks, “What is it that I did that is so fundamentally wrong, that deserves this kind of response to my service?”
Let me help you out.
- You were responsible for the politicization of the Department of Justice, firing U.S. Attorneys if they didn’t pursue “voter fraud” cases to the degree and timing you preferred, and hiring sycophantic graduates of third-tier law schools into supposedly non-partisan career positions at the Department. Remember Monica Goodling? All that is bad enough, but in so doing you forced out veteran, competent attorneys at DOJ, making the United States arguably less safe.
- You lied to Congress about warrantless wiretapping.
- You approved torture.
Now, any of those things, by themselves, is enough to warrant the contempt of anyone with the slightest sliver of moral outrage at their disposal. But for Gonzales – who thought his loyalty should be to the President who was shredding our laws and Constitution instead of to that Constitution and, well, US – to play the victim card is despicable. You want a victim of the “War on Terror”? Talk to Jose Padilla.
Or, as Hilzoy suggests, Maher Arar.
I have three words for Gonzales.
Go. Fuck. Yourself.
Next, there’s the most entertainingly corrupt politician in recent memory, Rod Blagojevich. By appointing former Illinois Attorney General (and gubernatorial opponent) Roland Burris to take Barack Obama’s vacated Senate seat, he made the last days of 2008 highly entertaining.
Blagojevich is nothing if not crafty. He appointed a black man, then played the race card, and watched as both Burris and former Obama opponent Bobby Rush played it too. From ABC:
“Let me just remind you that there presently is no African-American in the U.S. Senate,” Rush said at the Blagojevich press conference yesterday. “I will ask you to not hang and lynch the appointee as you try to castigate the appointer. I don’t think that anyone — any U.S. senator who’s sitting in the Senate right now — wants to go on record to deny one African-American for being seated in the U.S. Senate.”
This morning on CBS, Rush upped the ante, comparing the prospect of the U.S. Senate refusing to seat Burris to Orval Faubus, George Wallace and Bull Connor blocking the progress of integration and civil rights.
“I’m sure that the U.S. Senate doesn’t want to see themselves in the same position,” Rush said.
Well, they don’t, and they won’t. Fortunately, the Senate Democratic caucus was unanimous in saying they wouldn’t seat a Blagojevich appointment before they knew said appointment might be a black man. So Rush, and Burris, just sound pathetic.
More troubling, to me, is this tidbit about Burris from his time as Illinois AG:
While state attorney general in 1992, Burris aggressively sought the death penalty for Rolando Cruz, who twice was convicted of raping and murdering a 10-year-old girl in the Chicago suburb of Naperville. The crime took place in 1983.
But by 1992, another man had confessed to the crime, and Burris’ own deputy attorney general was pleading with Burris to drop the case, then on appeal before the Illinois Supreme Court.
Burris refused. He was running for governor.
“Anybody who understood this case wouldn’t have voted for Burris,” Rob Warden, executive director of the Center on Wrongful Convictions, told ProPublica. Indeed, Burris lost that race, and two other attempts to become governor.
Burris’ role in the Cruz case was “indefensible and in defiance of common sense and common decency,” Warden said. “There was obvious evidence that [Cruz] was innocent.”
Deputy attorney general Mary Brigid Kenney agreed and eventually resigned rather than continue to prosecute Cruz.
And let’s not even get into the burial monument Burris has constructed in his honor. Click through, if you have the stomach for it.
Finally, is there an announcer in all of sports worse than Dick Stockton? I used to cringe when he was the lead announcer for NBA on CBS; I can report to you with relief that whatever skills he lacks with respect to basketball are more than absent in his ability to call a football game. It always seems to me that he’s watching another, somewhat similar event transpire and telling us about that nearby, parallel universe game, but not the one in front of him.
The guy’s gotta have pictures of some people, because I can’t believe that in a country of over 300 million (add in another 30 million for Canada – I hear they speak English too) there isn’t someone who can look down at a football field or basketball court and tell me what’s going on better than Dick Stockton can.
If not, it may be yet another sign that the apocalypse is upon us.