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Let’s see. It’s Friday afternoon, after the close for the evening news feed. Time for the latest bad-news-please-bury from the Department of Justice. Today’s headline: Acting Associate Attorney General William Mercer, the Department’s number three, submits his resignation. CNN reports:
The Justice Department’s Acting Associate Attorney General withdrew his name from nomination to be confirmed to the third-highest ranking job, saying he believed he would not be confirmed because of the ongoing battle over access to Justice Department documents related to the firing of U.S. attorneys last year.
William Mercer has served in an Acting capacity in the position since last September, but his nomination has been delayed by the Senate Judiciary Committee.
But alas, the nation will not be deprived of Mr. Mercer’s considerable talents. He will return to his hidden sinecure, as U.S. Attorney in Montana. That’s certainly going to be welcome news to the federal judges in Montana, who’ve been quite outspoken in their criticism of Mr. Mercer’s capabilities and performance in office. They want him gone, and they’ve said so.
Now what exactly prompts Mercer’s withdrawal of his name? Senate Judiciary Chair Patrick Leahy says he understands perfectly. Mercer was slated to testify under oath before his committee, and by withdrawing the nomination, he believes he can avoid having to give evidence. So, this is withdrawal of nomination as an act of obstruction of the pending investigation. Says Leahy, “The White House has found many ways to keep sunlight from reaching some of the darker corners of the Bush Justice Department, but this is a new one.”
More from Scott Horton:
Six Questions — October 18, 2014, 8:00 pm
Nathaniel Raymond on CIA interrogation techniques.
On a Friday evening in January, a thousand people at the annual California Native Plant Society conference in San Jose settled down to a banquet and a keynote speech delivered by an environmental historian named Jared Farmer. His chosen topic was the eucalyptus tree and its role in California’s ecology and history. The address did not go well. Eucalyptus is not a native plant but a Victorian import from Australia. In the eyes of those gathered at the San Jose DoubleTree, it qualified as “invasive,” “exotic,” “alien” — all dirty words to this crowd, who were therefore convinced that the tree was dangerously combustible, unfriendly to birds, and excessively greedy in competing for water with honest native species.
In his speech, Farmer dutifully highlighted these ugly attributes, but also quoted a few more positive remarks made by others over the years. This was a reckless move. A reference to the tree as “indigenously Californian” elicited an abusive roar, as did an observation that without the aromatic import, the state would be like a “home without its mother.” Thereafter, the mild-mannered speaker was continually interrupted by boos, groans, and exasperated gasps. Only when he mentioned the longhorn beetle, a species imported (illegally) from Australia during the 1990s with the specific aim of killing the eucalyptus, did he earn a resounding cheer.
Percentage of Britons who cannot name the city that provides the setting for the musical Chicago:
An Australian entrepreneur was selling oysters raised in tanks laced with Viagra.
A tourism company in Australia announced a service that will allow users to take the “world’s biggest selfies,” and a Texas man accidentally killed himself while trying to pose for a selfie with a handgun.
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“Shelby is waiting for something. He himself does not know what it is. When it comes he will either go back into the world from which he came, or sink out of sight in the morass of alcoholism or despair that has engulfed other vagrants.”