About That Political Capital, Mr. President

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Couldn't we spend it some other way? Getting in a fist-fight trying to make Alberto Gonzales your new AG seems like a waste of power.

The guy has a rap sheet a mile long among leftists and the Demos are still exceedingly good at the old Senate ream-a-roo. Maybe you think you can bind Hispanics to the GOP with the move, but Condi and Colin did not exactly act as vote magnets among African-Americans.

Just promise that long about April, you'll pull the plug if Alberto is still flailing, k?

NEXT: A Dog Named Sue

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  1. That’s a fine political strategy. Nominate people your political enemies approve of.

  2. On THIS board it is Eric, as this board almost uniformly pulled AGAINST Dubya. So in their opinion Janet Reno would be good.

  3. This is a pretty clueless couple of paragraphs. Not only is Gonzalez a brilliant political choice for AG, it also keeps his affirmative-action-loving, abortion-approving ass off the Supreme COurt.

  4. I think the Dems are too punch drunk now to put up a good fight.

  5. Not that we here could ever be united, but what if we were for an Arab Attorney General?
    That would bumfuzzle those pesky Senate DemocRATS, eh?
    Name some names.

  6. Well, Jeff,

    whether “the Demos are still exceedingly good at the old Senate ream-a-roo” remains to be seen, doesn’t it?

    And, are you so sure that they want to spend political capital on filibustering Alberto Gonzales, him of all people? Someone ought to remind you, occasionally, that the spending of political capital is going to happen on a two-way street.

  7. Guy seems kind of mixed to me. He seems to think that whole Magna Carta . . . the King is not above the law thing is obsolete and optional.

    On the other hand, he’s not a fire-breathing whacko when it comes to abortion and a few other things, which is why the Base doesn’t want him on the Supreme Court.

    Abortions for some! Unreviewable executive power for others!

  8. Joe L.:

    “So in their opinion Janet Reno would be good.”

    That doesn’t work. Not many here have anything but disdain for Reno.

    Larry:

    “Not only is Gonzalez a brilliant political choice for AG…”

    Even if true, “political brilliance” is not the same as brilliant for liberty. Gonzalez seems to be the opposite.

  9. I wonder if he finds the Bill of Rights as ‘quaint’ as the Geneva Convention.

  10. Are we all gonna start getting tortured now? Cause I have this aversion to having chemical lights shoved up my ass.

  11. You’ll get over it. (That’s an order.)

  12. Torture me softly,

    Well, as long as you don’t smoke dope or anything. But if you do, and you get caught, well…I’d suggest taking the old republican adage about rape to heart…if it’s inevitable….just sit back (or in the case of allowed/endorsed prison rape) stop fighting when they hold you down and enjoy it…

    I’m sure Mr. Gonzales would agree that a guard ignoring prison rape is not in any way guilty of “cruel and unusual” punishment. Even if he put you there specifically to be raped.

  13. Joe L,

    So anyone who dislikes Asscrack has to like Auntie Jen? You mean that seriously?

    You’ve been watching too much Crossfire.

    Believe it or not, we don’t have to like the authoritarian shitheads of *either* party. Especially when the agendas of Ashcroft, Hatch, and Shelby have so much in common with those of Reno, Schumer, Nadler, and Feinstein. Shit, the USA Patriot Act was made up largely of stuff that Janet Reno tried but failed to railroad through in the 1996 Counter-Terrorism bill.

  14. Er, the “rap sheet” link doesn’t have a rap sheet for Gonzales.

  15. “The man who double crosses me and leaves me alive..heh, heh, he knows nothing about Tuco.”

    Gonzales will be confirmed relatively easily with minor bumps in the road.

  16. BTW, did you all know that Lee Van Cleef was in Good/Bad/Ugly and Escape from New York?

  17. I looked into the Geneva Convention’s a little bit when the memo first came to light, and “quaint” seems about right. It seems to assume a clash of large regular armies with formal organization and diplomatic channels between nations. Prisoners are to be supplied with food, soap, and—here’s where it gets quaint—tobacco.

    The camp in Guantanamo seems more like a modern American high-security prison than a POW camp as conceived by the Conventions. Then again, the people we’re fighting hide among civilians, kill civilians, and take hostages, all of which are grave breaches of the Conventions. It’s a different kind of war, and the 50-year-old law for the last war is kinds hard to apply clearly.

  18. Remember, it’s a different kind of war, so we need a different kind of liberty.

  19. Every 4 years the opposition party tries to torpedo a handful of cabinet nominees. Within that handful, one or two are targeted for their genuinely egregious stances, but the rest are targeted simply to send a message. The indiscriminate targeting of reasonable and unreasonable nominees actually distracts people from the genuine flaws of one or two of the targets, and also allows a bunch of bad but not targeted nominees to sail right through.

    I hope that the Democrats find a target more worthy than Gonzales. (Not that I’m a fan of his, but all things considered Bush could appoint much worse.) I fear that they won’t.

  20. I understand the Justice Department is investigating certain crimes that may have been committed by members of the Administration appointed by Bush.

    Will Mr. Gonzales recuse himself from these investigations in advance of his confirmation?

  21. Yeah, how dare people invoke the Geneva Conventions for terrorists?

    …or the Bill of Rights for child molesters! Why some of the drunk drivers out there aren’t even legal residents!

  22. Er, the “rap sheet” link doesn’t have a rap sheet for Gonzales.

    Yeah, what’s up with that? It’s just some feminist bitching about right-wing judges. I thought we liked strict constructionism around here. I have a long list of gripes with the Republican Party, but their judges aren’t near the top of the list. I wish the Supreme Court was all Scalias and Thomases.

  23. I’m holding out for advances in genetic engineering that allow the First Amendment/Privacy Rights jurisprudence of William O. Douglas to be fused with the Federalism/Economic Rights jurisprudence of Clarence Thomas.

  24. “Not that we here could ever be united, but what if we were for an Arab Attorney General?
    That would bumfuzzle those pesky Senate DemocRATS, eh?
    Name some names.”

    Ralph Nader.

  25. Regarding “acting as vote magnets” – Jeez, haven’t you guys learned anything yet? When Democrats nominate or appoint a minority person, it’s because that minority person is the most possibly qualified person for the position, and their nomination/appointment shows the Democrats’ sincere commitment to representing all Americans. When the Republicans do it, it’s because they’re cynically looking for an Uncle Tom to conceal their true racist natures. Come on, get it right. I expect you to be able to recite the party line the time this issue next comes up.

  26. I think all appointees to the Cabinet and Supreme Court should at all times be cloaked, masked and have their voices electronically disguised so that their ethnicity and gender won’t be an issue. (Think of an androgynous Darth Vader with a voice like that of HAL 9000.)

  27. That “quaint” remark should be evaluated in its originial context:

    http://msnbc.msn.com/id/4999148/site/newsweek/

    The overall argument of the memo is that the Geneva agreement applied to regular armed forces and not non-state actors. The exact quotation is: “In my judgement, this new paradigm renders obsolete Geneva’s strict limitations on questioning of enemy prisoners and renders quaint some of its provisions requiring that captured enemy be afforded such things as commisary privileges, scrip (i.e., advances of monthly pay), athletic uniforms, and scientific instruments.” Also from the memo: “In the treatment of detainees, the U.S. will continue to be constrained by (i) its commitment to treat the detainees humanely and, to the extend appropriate and consistent with military necessity, in a manner consistent with the principles of GPW, (ii) its applicable treaty obligations, (iii) minimum standards of treatment universally recognized by the nations of the world, and (iv) applicable military regulations regarding the treatment of detainees.”

  28. “Treat detainees humanely.” But what about Abu Ghraib!!!

    I just wanted to beat joe, thoreau et al to the punch.

  29. Snake-

    If you keep on pre-emptively posting I’ll have to sue you for violating my 500 year copyright on pre-emptive posts 😉

  30. “The overall argument of the memo is that the Geneva agreement applied to regular armed forces and not non-state actors.”

    What would you think of a memo if the overall arugment was that the Bill of Rights applied to citizens and not to illegal aliens?

  31. Ken Shultz asks:

    “What would you think of a memo if the overall arugment was that the Bill of Rights applied to citizens and not to illegal aliens?”

    Well, if it was just talking about the part of the Bill of Rights that said we have to give them cigarettes, I wouldn’t mind so much. If it was talking about, say, the Eighth Amendment, that would be a different matter.

  32. thoreau:

    “If you keep on pre-emptively posting I’ll have to sue you for violating my 500 year copyright on pre-emptive posts”

    I was going to opine that the one of the things crippling creativity in the pre-emptive post field in this nation is that the government is granting 500 year copyrights. But then it occurred to me: Why in the Hell would thoreau want 500 year copyright protection anyway???… Unless he’s invented a…TIME MACHINE!! He wants to make pre-emptive posts on blogs up to 500 years in the future and he wants protection for them in his temporal travels AND he intends to beam this blog and its posters into the future with him…

    Ok, that’s a good start for a Scifi/Cyfi story. Take it guys…(Hollywood, just email me concerning movie rights)

  33. What would you think of a memo if the overall arugment was that the Bill of Rights applied to citizens and not to illegal aliens?

    I would think that the memo was, as a matter of U.S. law, mistaken.

  34. Isn’t the suggestion that non-signatory combatants aren’t entitled to the protection of the UN Convention Against Torture much like the suggestion that non-citizens aren’t protected by the Bill of Rights?

    The Bill of Rights contains some exceptions for the military, but, otherwise, it’s written to limit the actions of the government specifically, is it not? The Convention Against Torture does much the same thing; it applies to the nation who signs. There’s no provision stating that enemy combatants from non-signatories aren’t covered by the UN Convention Against Torture.

    I’m glad Rumsfeld, according to the Schlesinger Report, saw the error of his decision and went back to life under the UN Convention. (E-mail me if you’d like a copy of the Report.) I’m glad the courts decided that detainees are entitled to a fair trial. But I hope the guy who dressed up the windows in the torture chamber gets grilled by the Senate before they give him the keys to the car.

  35. Isn’t the suggestion that non-signatory combatants aren’t entitled to the protection of the UN Convention Against Torture much like the suggestion that non-citizens aren’t protected by the Bill of Rights?

    I’d say “no”, but the point is moot: Gonzales said in his memo that the non-signatory combatants WERE protected:

    “In sum, the obligations under the Torture Convention apply to the interrogation of unlawful combatant detainees, but the Torture Convention prohibits torture only as defined in the U.S. Understanding, and prohibits “cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment and punishment” only to the extent of the U.S. Reservation relating to the U.S. Convention”.

    The “Understanding” he refers to is this: the United States ratified UNCAT under the condition that “torture” be understood to mean the use of extreme physical pain, mind-altering substances, and death threats, or the threat to use any of those techniques on another person.

    So (to sum up): it’s perfectly reasonable to conclude that it is legal under the UNCAT for the USA to make prisoners uncomfortable and/or to inflict mild or moderate pain on them, so long as the pain does not become excessive, cause profound personality disruptions, or involve death threats. That doesn’t make it moral, of course, but it’s not a lawyer’s job to give moral advice — it’s his job to give legal advice.

    Look at it this way: let’s say a CEO asked his lawyer if it would be legal to market a new line of T-shirts with the slogan “Niggers and Faggots Should Die” on it. The lawyer says “yes, it’s completely legal”. The CEO then proceeds to make those shirts. Would you blame the lawyer for the t-shirts? Maybe you would, but that doesn’t seem reasonable to me. The fact is that it is legal to make t-shirts like that — and legal, at least under the UNCAT, for Americans to make people suffer as long as we don’t make them suffer too much.

  36. Ken Shultz writes:

    “Isn’t the suggestion that non-signatory combatants aren’t entitled to the protection of the UN Convention Against Torture much like the suggestion that non-citizens aren’t protected by the Bill of Rights?”

    That’s a much better analogy, but who’s talking about the UN Convention Against Torture? The Gonzales memo doesn’t address it, except in noting that the US would be “constrained by… its applicable treaty obligations.”

    As I see it, the definition of “prisoner of war” in Article 4 of the Geneva Convention relative to the Treatment of Prisoners of War (http://www.unhchr.ch/html/menu3/b/91.htm) doesn’t apply to the Taliban. That doesn’t mean that it is right to keep them in legal limbo forever, and it certainly doesn’t mean it is okay to torture them, but it does convince me that Gonzales’ analysis was correct. I’m not saying the guy’s right for the job — if he’s a Patriot Act supporter, that’s a big strike against him (but then Bush wouldn’t appoint anyone who wasn’t) — but I am saying that the “quaint” comment has been misinterpreted and blown out of proportion.

  37. DB, Gonzales does specifically mention the UNCAT in the second memo. But you’re correct that he agrees that we are bound by treaty obligations.

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