Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Archive for June 18th, 2007

Bush breaks everything he touches

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Looks like he’s pretty much ruined the Department of Justice:

The investigations into the Bush administration’s decision to fire nine U.S. attorneys have exposed how the administration has eroded the firewall between partisan politics and the Justice Department and compromised the independence of the nation’s top law enforcement agency.

As early as 2002, administration policymakers, Republican legislators and GOP party officials began injecting politics into criminal investigations and civil and voting rights enforcement and applying political litmus tests to judges and career lawyers at the Justice Department.

A McClatchy Newspapers analysis of thousands of Justice Department documents, congressional testimony and interviews with current and former Justice Department officials reveals that the administration:

  • Issued a series of directives to dismantle the traditional boundaries between White House political operatives and the Justice Department, permitting a larger circle of aides to discuss pending criminal and civil investigations.
  • Ignored the advice of top Justice Department lawyers and crafted national security policies that pushed or breached the limits of the law. In one case involving secret spying, at least 10 top department officials — including then-Attorney General John Ashcroft and the head of the FBI — were prepared to resign in protest.
  • Allowed political adviser Karl Rove and the White House Office of Political Affairs to become conduits for complaints about politically sensitive prosecutions. Elected officials and even lobbyists took their frustrations about individual cases or prosecutors to Rove, or to the attorney general and his aides.
  • Replaced some independent-minded U.S. attorneys and career Justice Department lawyers with young lawyers who had little trial experience but belonged to the conservative Federalist Society or the Republican National Lawyers Association.
  • These changes began years before Alberto Gonzales became attorney general in February 2005, in the ask-no-questions atmosphere that followed the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. They occurred with the cooperation of a Republican-led Congress and reverberated from the distant Pacific territory of Guam to the Deep South to Western states that could be battlegrounds in next year’s presidential election.

    White House officials deny that the administration has allowed partisan politics to taint the Justice Department. They’ve also defended last year’s firings by emphasizing a president’s right to change his appointees and blaming the prosecutors for failing to carry out President Bush’s policies.

    White House spokesman Tony Fratto said the congressional investigation proves only that the firings could have been “handled better” and that “it’s clear that the attorney general did nothing wrong.”

    The administration maintains that it’s a coincidence that most of the fired U.S. attorneys served in battleground election states, were investigating Republicans or had irritated local Republicans with their refusals to prosecute Democrats.

    Administration officials note that the Justice Department has prosecuted high-profile Republicans, including lobbyist Jack Abramoff and ex-Rep. Randy “Duke” Cunningham on corruption charges, and I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, Vice President Dick Cheney’s former chief of staff, for lying and obstructing an investigation.

    Yet many of the nation’s legal experts, including Republicans with long government service, see a troubling change in the administration of justice.

    “We have a Justice Department that has substantially been turned into a political arm of the White House,” said Bruce Fein, a constitutional lawyer and a Justice Department official in the Reagan administration, who’s become one of the conservative movement’s fiercest critics of the president.

    “To elicit confidence in the legitimacy of law enforcement, you have to at least create the appearance to the public that prosecutorial decisions and high-level personnel decisions do not pivot on political affiliation,” Fein said. “Irrespective of whether there’s actual partisanship in these decisions, the fear among the public is that this is occurring. It creates a chilling effect on the entire political discourse of the country.”

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Written by LeisureGuy

    18 June 2007 at 7:47 pm

    New-screen-door excitement

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    Today the new screen door for the sliding glass door onto the balcony arrived! Much excitement and, on the part of Megs, not a little suspicion. The guy who delivered it has the last name “Ham,” and has a brother named “Michael Ham.” I asked that the door be billed to his brother. 🙂

    Written by LeisureGuy

    18 June 2007 at 2:13 pm

    Posted in Daily life

    Support all our troops

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    Written by LeisureGuy

    18 June 2007 at 2:11 pm

    Onion marinade in action

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    So I’m trying it. Processed half of a large onion to a pulp, which seemed dry, so I added juice of a lemon, about a Tbsp of hot sesame chili oil, and a Tbsp of my homemade garlic chili paste. I have two thick pork chops sitting covered in the result and will broil them.

    — Pretty good. 8 minutes first side, 7 minutes second side, shut oven door, turned temp to 300 degrees and left for 10 minutes. Done to perfection, and quite tasty. Not onionish.

    Written by LeisureGuy

    18 June 2007 at 10:06 am

    Posted in Food, Recipes

    Wonder whether this works

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    I’m supposed to put drops in my eyes—arrrrrrrrrrrgh! just thinking about it! But I have somewhat dry eyes, and that’s why the doctor recommended it. But I got this tip from Daytipper, and it sounds much easier and less awful:

    Use saline mist to refresh eyes

    Ever notice how your eyes feel dry and tired after traveling or after a long day staring at a computer screen? Purchase a small spray bottle from the trial-size section of your grocery store (normally under $1), disinfect it, and fill it up with saline solution. To refresh your eyes, spray some mist in front of your face and blink. Much better!

    Any thoughts whether this will work? (Do I have any ophthalmologist readers?)

    Written by LeisureGuy

    18 June 2007 at 10:02 am

    Posted in Daily life, Health

    Collapse of the USSR, step by step

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    I blogged this a few days ago, using Kevin Drum’s post as a link, but let me direct you to the complete article. (You can also get the document as a PDF file.) It’s absolutely fascinating, and shows the results when politicians simply ignore a problem (*cough* global warming *cough cough* peak oil *cough* erosion of civil rights *cough* torture by US *cough*)

    Written by LeisureGuy

    18 June 2007 at 8:39 am

    Posted in Government

    Looks like obstruction of justice to me

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    House investigators have learned that the Bush administration’s use of Republican National Committee email accounts is far greater than previously disclosed — 140,216 emails sent or received by Karl Rove alone — and that the RNC has overseen “extensive destruction” of many of the emails, including all email records for 51 White House officials.

    For the last several months, the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee has been “investigating whether White House officials violated the Presidential Records Act” by using email accounts maintained by the RNC and the Bush-Cheney ‘04 campaign for official White House communications. Today’s findings confirm that the accounts were used “for official purposes, such as communicating with federal agencies about federal appointments and policies.” The report adds:

    Given the heavy reliance by White House officials on RNC e-mail accounts, the high rank of the White House officials involved, and the large quantity of missing e-mails, the potential violation of the Presidential Records Act may be extensive.

    Some other key findings:

    – RNC account use far greater than believed: Despite White House spokesperson Dana Perino’s claim that 50 White House officials used RNC email accounts “over the course of the administration,” the committee learned that at least 88 White House officials had RNC e-mail accounts.

    – Bush-Cheney 04 campaign stonewalling: The committee says it may need to “issue compulsory process” to force the cooperation of the Bush-Cheney ‘04 campaign. Despite providing at least eleven White House officials with email accounts, “the campaign has unjustifiably refused” to provide the Committee with even the most basic information about the accounts, including the number of e-mails that have been preserved.

    – Destroyed RNC emails may be preserved by federal agencies. The RNC has preserved only 130 e-mails sent to Karl Rove during Bush’s first term and no e-mails sent by Rove prior to November 2003. “For many other White House officials, the RNC has no e-mails from before the fall of 2006.” Several federal agencies contacted by the committee have indicated they “have preserved official communications that were destroyed by the RNC,” but others have resisted the investigation.

    – Gonzales may have known about RNC account use. According to a deposition from Rove’s former assistant Susan Ralston, in 2001, then-White House counsel Alberto Gonzales “may have known that White House officials were using RNC e-mail accounts for official business, but took no action to preserve these presidential records.” The committee calls for an investigation into Gonzales’ actions on this matter.

    Read the full oversight committee report HERE.

    Written by LeisureGuy

    18 June 2007 at 8:24 am

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