Congress

Call That Bluff, Congress

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Bush comes out with a blood-curdling threat to Congress: if they don't confirm Michael Mukasey for attorney general, why then the U.S. will just have to go to bed without any attorney general at all for the remainder of his term. Can justice survive? Will chaos reign? Why don't we find out?

Jacob Sullum's latest on the Mukasey confirmation hearings and some hints as to why he's so important to Bush: his willingness to presume the president can act above and beyond the law.

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  1. It’s like he’s seven years old. An immature seven years old.

    OTOH, this could be a decent strategy for the inevitable Ron Paul presidency. Just don’t nominate a cabinet secretary or any political leadership appointees for agancies you want to hogtie.

  2. “If they don’t confirm Michael Mukasey for attorney general, why then the U.S. will just have to go to bed without any attorney general at all for the remainder of his term.”

    If we don’t have an attorney general, who will take over the responsibilities of shilling for torture?

  3. Can we not nominate someone for DEA head too? Please?

    This reminds me of the Newt/Clinton 1994(?) budget showdown. OH NOES THE GUB’MENT WILL SHUT DOWN–and it did, and no one cared. That was beautiful. But they realized it was making all of them look useless so the compromised.

  4. FUCK YEAH!

  5. This is the Presidential equivalent of “If you don’t play the way I wanna, I’m taking my ball and going home.”

  6. Lamar – there are plenty in the administration and in the pundi-sphere to do that. Sadly.

    “blood-curdling threat ”

    how about making it a promise, instead? 🙂

  7. I know it’s kind of late in the term for this, but isn’t Bush Constitutionally Obligated to nominate someone, and therefore make this an impeachable offense.

    I know it’s not like the Constitution has ever stopped him before, and this sure as hell isn’t his first impeachable offense, but I’m just sayin’

  8. I know it’s kind of late in the term for this, but isn’t Bush Constitutionally Obligated to nominate someone, and therefore make this an impeachable offense.

    What we need is an AG who will presume the president can act outside the law, so that he can not nominate and AG…. oh wait

  9. What we need is an AG who will presume the president can act outside the law

    Where would we find an AG who would be willing to act outside the law?

    *Cough, cough, Gonzales, cough, Ashcroft, cough, cough*

  10. I second DangerMan. We can only hope his successor will continue the practice. Given just about everything AGs have done with the job since before Waco, I’d say leaving the office unfilled serves this country best.

  11. Warren – RUBY RIDGE!!!

  12. I thought cabinet positions were pretty much discretionary. I don’t think he’s obligated to appoint anybody. I mean, if you can just create cabinet positions out of thin air (see Carter, Secretary of Energy) it seems you should be allowed to dissolve them.

  13. I thought cabinet positions were pretty much discretionary.

    Or open to corporate sponsorships and / or naming rights.

  14. *Cough, cough, Gonzales, cough, Ashcroft, cough, cough*

    *Ahem*, Reno’s available.

  15. This reminds me of the Newt/Clinton 1994(?) budget showdown. OH NOES THE GUB’MENT WILL SHUT DOWN–and it did, and no one cared.

    That’s not what I remember. A lot of people cared. So much so that Newt and the GOP caved. And thus, the “Republican Revolution” came to a screeching halt.

  16. That’s not what I remember. A lot of people cared.

    My memory’s not so good–I was under the influence a lot back then–but I rememeber the media screaming that people cared, in order to pressure Newt. But on the ground, everyone I talked to was either unconcerned or actually gleeful. That why the GOP cave-in was doubly frustrating, because they seemed to be reacting to manufactured concerns.

  17. Given his track record with appointments to the office, the mere fact that GWB wants this guy to be the AG is sufficient reason to oppose his confirmation as far as I am concerned.

  18. I want that Attorney General from 24 who ordered Logan arrested.

    Otherwise, I want a high school vice principal for AG. Bush wouldn’t be able to get away with shit.

  19. VM,
    How involved was the AG in Ruby Ridge. Who was the AG during Ruby Ridge?

    thoreau,
    In my high school the VP went all gestapo on the students, but took his marching orders from the principal. I’ve never heard of a VP holding a principle or school board’s feet to the fire.

  20. Yes, Warren, but that’s because the principal and school board are (allegedly) grown-ups.

    A high school VP would be the only grown-up in the Bush White House, so he’d have the power to crack down on shenanigans.

  21. Hi Warren!

    the FBI and Marshall Service were there, and Barr was AG. so AG Barr was ultimately responsible.

    Even though most hier know that story, it’s amazing how often one hears “Ruby Ridge and Waco” and how they’re connected to the Clintons.

  22. “I’ve never heard of a VP holding a principle or school board’s feet to the fire.”

    But have you heard of a VP waterboarding the school board? Cuz that’s the relevant form of torture here.

  23. In my high school the VP went all gestapo on the students, but took his marching orders from the principal.

    In the Navy, it’s the XO who’s the asshole and the CO is the good guy. People fall for it.

  24. I thought cabinet positions were pretty much discretionary.

    Or open to corporate sponsorships and / or naming rights.

    Lady and Gentlemen, I present the Fritos / Keebler Attorney General — now with more zesty, cheesy obfuscation.

  25. prole – as in idiocracy (how the one secretary kept dropping a Brawndo spot). 🙂

  26. …cabinet positions… open to corporate sponsorships and / or naming rights.

    That would be great. They’d have to wear small logo patches on their suits, like tennis players. Press conferences would have the corporate logo on the podium. “The Hooked on Phonics Education Secretary would like to announce…” “This DEA briefing is being brought to you by Coors, the official beer of the DEA.”

  27. Hooray! Now we’ll all get tax refunds for the AG’s pro-rated salary!

    [Pulls up a chair and prepares to wait.]

  28. Secretary of State: I’m Secretary of State, brought to you by Carl’s Jr.

  29. Come on, You guys know the deal! It’s Bush’s plan to install him as a recess appointment if he’s not confirmed.

  30. Here’s the applicable provision of Article II:

    and he shall nominate, and by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, shall appoint Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls, Judges of the supreme Court, and all other Officers of the United States, whose Appointments are not herein otherwise provided for, and which shall be established by Law

    I suppose Bush is required to forward a nomination and can’t leave the office vacant, nice as that would be. He’s just posturing, anyway.

    Since the Recess Appointments clause has already been de facto modified/nullified, he could probably just wait until the Senate adjourns for the holidays and do recess appointments all the way to the end of his term. He’s not running again, what does he care?

  31. The amount of anger and smear leveled at Janet Reno for Ruby Ridge is amazing. Not only had she not taken office, Bill Clinton hadn’t even been elected (as noted above, William P. Barr was Attorney General at the time – a Bush appointee).

  32. ChrisO, its easy enough to say he is required to nominate someone. A lawyer’s next question is “what happens if he doesn’t”?

    As a practical matter there’s no remedy. A court can’t order him to nominate anyone in particular, so there really isn’t anything anyone can do.

    I’ve always been amused by the fact that the government has a list of “essential” and “non-essential” offices and personnel that they can pull our during a “budget shutdown.”

    Out here in the real world, no business has such a list. Well, they do, I guess. The “essential” staff is called “employees”. The non-essential ones are called “the rest of the world.”

  33. “That would guarantee that America would have no attorney general during this time of war.”

    Once again Bush states his favorite delusion that Oceania America is in a state of war. A war without end, meaning he has never had to take off the War President uniform he loves so much.

  34. RC Dean: ChrisO, its easy enough to say he is required to nominate someone. A lawyer’s next question is “what happens if he doesn’t”?

    As a practical matter there’s no remedy. A court can’t order him to nominate anyone in particular, so there really isn’t anything anyone can do.

    The courts wouldn’t get involved anyway. They’d undoubtedly find it to be a “Political Question.” And that doctrine is probably wise, as much as it appears to be a cop-out. Courts lose their authority when they wade too far into political waters.

    Congress is the only body that could do something about it, and obviously the Democrats won’t impeach the best thing they have going for them as they head into next year’s elections. Anyway, Congress can always impeach the President for any reason they see fit, so long as they have enough votes.

  35. The Poulan/WeedEater Agriculture Secretary
    The Postmaster General – brought to you by FedEx
    The monster.com Secretary of Health and Human Services
    The Merck Surgeon General

  36. Of course, the Dems have just rolled over (what else is new?) and the nomination will move to the full Senate.

  37. The amount of anger and smear leveled at Janet Reno for Ruby Ridge is amazing. …(as noted above, William P. Barr was Attorney General at the time – a Bush appointee).

    I remember reading an interesting article in Spy Magazine right around the time Ruby Ridge took place. It was about the ATF and a rather ugly racial scandal that took place at one of their retreats. Many ATF agents were hired for their skills at findin’ moonshiners in the dry South. The article went over the problems they’d had trying to change the culture. One of the problems was racism, and at the aforementioned retreat, a group had “lynched” an effigy of a black man, or something like that. This caused a minor scandal.

    After reading that, I’d always wondered if Ruby Ridge was the agency way of “proving” it didn’t have racial problems, since it was going after white supremacists.

  38. Please do take that course. Then we can get rid of your sorry behind for failing to uphold the duties of your office. Pompous jack***…

  39. The Secretary of Commerce – brought to you by the friendly folks at the New York Stock Exchange.

  40. …cabinet positions… open to corporate sponsorships and / or naming rights.

    That would be great. They’d have to wear small logo patches on their suits, like tennis players. Press conferences would have the corporate logo on the podium. “The Hooked on Phonics Education Secretary would like to announce…” “This DEA briefing is being brought to you by Coors, the official beer of the DEA.”

    bp,

    Think bigger….NASCAR style. Suits with logos all over them. Press briefings filled with thanks to corporate sponsors. Air Force One painted like a stock car. A big logo on the White House lawn. And burnouts in front of the capitol building after the presidential inauguration.

  41. MattL – see, that’s why I never went into marketing…

  42. Spisiarch on the 1994 shutdown:

    “But on the ground, everyone I talked to was either unconcerned or actually gleeful.”

    For some reason, politicians are more likely to trust public opinion polls (which showed that people were upset and that they blamed Congress rather than Clinton) than “everyone X has talked to.” People do tend to associate with people of similar political beliefs (not necessarily deliberately, of course).

  43. Spisiarch is a typo for Episiarch of course.

  44. Yeah, “nobody cared” so much that Gingrich was forced to cave.

    During the shutdown, Ann Landers ran a letter from somebody who had worked for the Peace Corps, describing what a wonderful experience it was and all the good work he had done. Ann followed up with a reply lauding the Peace Corps, and giving an 800 number to learn more.

    Because I was curious, I called the number – and got an answering machine message telling me that, because of the government shutdown, the Peace Corps was closed.

    I know those columns are chosen weeks in advance, but…ha ha!

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