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Skimming the internet, I am impressed with a number of “don’t let the door hit you on the way out” farewells from around the country. Here are my picks: the best of the best “farewells to Fredo.”
Best Short Video
In the blogosphere, our closest competitor in getting out news on the U.S. attorneys scandal has consistently been Talkingpointsmemo.com. And not surprisingly, they developed the best video farewell. It’s the ten best television minutes involving Alberto Gonzales. It’s something to watch when, at some distant point, you start to think “He couldn’t have been that bad.” After watching this, you’ll remember: yes, he was that bad. Watch the video here.
Best Fredo Memorial Pop Quiz
To Paul Slansky at Huffington Post.
1) In a 2002 memo, what words did Alberto Gonzales use to describe sections of the Geneva Conventions prohibiting torture?
a) “Cute” and “outdated.”
b) “Endearing” and “archaic.”
c) “Quaint” and “obsolete.”
2) True or false? Four days after Alberto Gonzales gave one of the most disastrous performances in the history of testimony before the Senate judiciary committee, replete with evasions and prevarications, George W. Bush announced that his confidence in him had “dropped precipitately.”
Who said what about Alberto Gonzales?
3) Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-NE)
4) Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY)
5) Rep. David Obey (D-WI)
a) “He tells the half truth, the partial truth and everything but the truth.”
b) “He has lost the moral authority to lead.”
c) “He’s one sneaky, lying S.O.B., to put it bluntly.”
6) Two of these statements were made by Alberto Gonzales in 2006. Which one was uttered this year?
a) When it comes to torture, “It’s difficult to decide what is appropriate and what is allowed under law.”
b) The Constitution provides “no express grant” of habeas corpus, but merely a “prohibition against taking it away.”
c) Though Al Qaeda operatives must assume that their phone calls are being tapped, a New York Times report confirming the practice was so harmful to U.S. security that the paper might be prosecuted for publishing it because “if they’re not reminded about it all the time in newspapers and in stories, they sometimes forget.”
7) What was Alberto Gonzales not suspected of lying to the Senate judiciary committee about in 2007?
a) George W. Bush’s warrantless spying program and his efforts to bully bed-ridden John Ashcroft into signing off on it.
b) The politically motivated firings of eight U.S. attorneys.
c) His cavalier recommendations to then-Texas governor George W. Bush against clemency for every death row inmate regardless of any extenuating circumstances, of which there were many, and his helping to get Bush out of jury duty in 1996 in order to keep his drunk-driving arrests secret.
8) Of which previous attorney general who resigned in disgrace did the Washington Post write, “[He] leaves a smudge wherever he goes”?
a) Nixon’s Richard Kleindienst
b) Reagan’s Ed Meese
c) Nixon’s John Mitchell
9) What did Washington Post reporter Dana Milbank say was the reason Gonzales quit?
a) “He wanted to leave while Jon Stewart was on vacation.”
b) “His departure while Congress is not in session allows Bush to name anyone he wants as attorney general in a recess appointment with no Senate approval required.”
c) “He wanted to spend more time spying on his own family.”
Get the answers here. No peeking!
Best Explanation of Timing of Departure Announcement
To Henry Farrell at Crooked Timber (also best blog whose name is based on a maxim by the greatest philosopher of all time):
So, was Gonzales’ resignation yesterday specifically timed to happen just as the Daily Show started a two week hiatus? Inquiring (and very disappointed) minds would like to know. Not even to mention the revelations about Larry Craig’s bathroom misdemeanours. It’s very suspicious that the court judgment should have been handed down on August 8 – but that Roll Call should only have published the details yesterday. I seem to recall that the last time the Daily Show went on holiday, there was a similar outbreak of political scandals (the Libby case judgment etc). As they say, developing …
Best College Press Release
Universities around the country often put out press releases on current news topics with quotes from their faculty who want to get picked up by reporters. It’s usually pretty blasé stuff along the lines of “on one hand this . . . on the other hand that.” But hats off to the Hoosiers from Indiana University at Bloomington, deep in what is arguably the reddest state outside of Dixie, whose press release is one of the most striking I’ve ever seen. Some excerpts:
Alberto Gonzales was ready to bend the law. Craig Bradley, Robert A. Lucas Professor of Law: “Alberto Gonzales was President Bush’s toady, ready to bend the law whenever it suited the administration’s political agenda. His actions in the U.S. Attorney firings and in his efforts to get a hospitalized Attorney General Ashcroft to approve illegal surveillance are cases in point. He was, in this respect, a typical official of the Bush administration.” Bradley previously served as an attorney in the Criminal Appellate Section of the U.S. Department of Justice (1970-72) and assistant U.S. attorney in Washington, D.C. (1972-75) before clerking for former Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist (1975-76). He later served as a senior trial attorney for the U.S. Department of Justice (1976-78).
Gonzales’ resignation suggests that there is still an interest in protecting privacy in the U.S. Fred H. Cate, distinguished professor and director, Center for Applied Cybersecurity Research: “Although always a controversial attorney general, two issues seemed to turn the tide firmly against Alberto Gonzalez: His lack of candor about the firing of federal prosecutors and his blind eye toward unnecessary and illegal surveillance. His resignation suggests that there is still some public and political interest in protecting privacy in this country.”
Gonzales’ resignation is good for the country. Dawn Johnsen, professor of law and Ira C. Batman faculty fellow: “Alberto Gonzales’ resignation is good for the country and good for the rule of law. But it should mark just the beginning of an essential period of repair and change. We now have the opportunity to move forward — to take major steps toward repairing tremendous damage to the credibility and standing of the Department of Justice and of our nation. The president and the Senate, now more than ever, must select an attorney general who is a person of great integrity with sufficient independence to tell the president ‘No’ when his policy proposals are unlawful, and who will respect the separation of powers and the authority of the courts and Congress and will not seek merely to maximize presidential power at all costs. A person who will work to change the Bush administration’s culture of excessive secrecy and recognize the value to our democracy of openness in government, which allows ‘We the People’ to self-govern.”
More from Scott Horton:
Conversation — August 5, 2016, 12:08 pm
Sidney Blumenthal on the origins of the Republican Party, the fallout from Clinton’s emails, and his new biography of Abraham Lincoln
Conversation — March 30, 2016, 3:44 pm
Joseph Hickman discusses his new book, The Burn Pits, which tells the story of thousands of U.S. soldiers who, after returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, have developed rare cancers and respiratory diseases.
Chances that a Soviet woman’s first pregnancy will end in abortion:
Peaceful fungus-farming ants are sometimes protected against nomadic raider ants by sedentary invader ants.
In San Antonio, a 150-pound pet tortoise knocked over a lamp, igniting a mattress fire that spread to a neighbor’s home.
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"It is an interesting and somewhat macabre parlor game to play at a large gathering of one’s acquaintances: to speculate who in a showdown would go Nazi. By now, I think I know. I have gone through the experience many times—in Germany, in Austria, and in France. I have come to know the types: the born Nazis, the Nazis whom democracy itself has created, the certain-to-be fellow-travelers. And I also know those who never, under any conceivable circumstances, would become Nazis."