The Justice Department has missed the 2pm deadline to turn over documents on the U.S. Attorney firings subpoenaed by the House Judiciary Committee. Chairman John Conyers (D-MI) said he was “disappointed” and pledged to “review all available legal options to secure compliance with the subpoena.”
This being Tax Day and all, I feel like I should repeat my occassional plea to make the tax system more complicated. In short, income tax brackets are a bad idea. The flat tax, of course, is a worse idea. What’s needed is not a flat tax, but a curved tax, where rates are a smooth function of adjusted gross income. The total amount you owe could be calculated as the area beneath the curve — an integral of the function. Back in the day, this was impractical because most people can’t do calculus so the idea of a series of “brackets” was implemented as a mathematically tractable alternative. Thanks to computers, however, this is no longer a problem and calculating taxes owed according to a single function would be simple even if the function itself was very complicated.
Lobbyist Kevin Ring, a former aide to Rep. John Doolittle (R-CA), has resigned from his law firm. As Politico reports, Ring “often served as an intermediary between Abramoff’s clients and Doolittle’s office, according to news reports, and has remained close to Doolittle and his wife, Julie, who did consulting work for Abramoff. … Ring’s resignation could foreshadow deepening problems for Doolittle in the Abramoff inquiry.” TPM Muckraker has more.
In his Washington Post op-ed yesterday, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales insisted that “nothing improper occurred” when eight U.S. Attorneys were forced to resign last year. “I know that I did not — and would not — ask for the resignation of any U.S. attorney for an improper reason,” wrote Gonzales. “Furthermore, I have no basis to believe that anyone involved in this process sought the removal of a U.S. attorney for an improper reason.”
The assertion that there was “nothing improper” in the firing of the eight U.S. Attorneys has been a constant refrain from Gonzales and his supporters, even as evidence continues to mount that contradicts their public statements. Here are a few examples:
the goal is to show Congress and the American people that “the department did not remove the U.S. attorneys for improper reasons.” [Justice Department Spokeswoman Tasia Scolinos 3/20/07]
“No United States Attorney was fired for improper reasons.” [Alberto Gonzales 3/22/07]
“There was nothing improper about the decision here.” [Alberto Gonzales 3/23/07]
“I asked for their resignation not for improper reasons.” [Alberto Gonzales 3/26/07]
“Nor, to my knowledge, was any U.S. attorney asked to resign for an improper reason.” [Former Chief of Staff to the Attorney General Kyle Sampson 3/29/07]
Appearing on ABC’s This Week with George Stephanopoulos on Sunday, Sen. Arlen Specter (R-PA), the ranking Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, dismissed the claims in Gonzales’ op-ed. “Those statements are very conclusory,” Specter said. “He’s got a steep hill to climb. He’s going to be successful only if he deals with the facts.” Watch it:
The facts show considerable evidence of “improper” motivations behind the firings.
Just yesterday, the Albuquerque Journal reported that former New Mexico U.S. Attorney David Iglesias “was fired after Sen. Pete Domenici, who had been unhappy with Iglesias for some time, made a personal appeal to the White House.” The main gripe with Iglesias was that he had refused to give in to Domenici’s pressure and bring indictments against Democrats before the 2006 mid-term elections.
Furthermore, just one day after former San Diego U.S. Attorney Carol Lam widened her probe into a Republican bribery scandal, Gonzales’ former Chief of Staff Kyle Sampson warned the White House of “the real problem” they had with her. He then suggested that they should start looking for her replacement.
Sen. Specter is right. Gonzales is going to have a hard time selling his “nothing improper” story unless he produces facts that support his claims. Otherwise, when Gonzales testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee tomorrow, his statements should be read with the utmost skepticism.
The Carpetbagger Report notes: “About a week ago, Slate’s Dahlia Lithwick noted a tidbit that the rest of us missed: TV preacher Pat Robertson’s Regent University boasts that 150 of its graduates, including former top DoJ aide Monica Goodling, are serving in some capacity in the Bush administration. … [S]hortly after Lithwick’s piece was published and the 150 figure quickly drew national attention (and a Paul Krugman column), Regent edited its About Us page — and removed the reference to the 150 Bush-hired alumni.”
“I’m in the private sector and for the first time in my life I’m earning money. You know that’s sort of part of the Jewish tradition and I do not find anything wrong with that,” said former Wisconsin governor and presidential candidate Tommy Thompson while speaking to a group of Jewish activists. He later apologized after the audience reacted negatively, saying that he actually meant it as a compliment. Atrios responds HERE.
Holy shit. I’m just now seeing the magnitude of this disaster. I’m absolutely speechless.
Bob Kuttner has high hopes: “Three times in my political adulthood, we have seen the exhaustion of a conservative ideology and presidency.” He also has concerns: “And twice, the electorate ousted Republicans only to get centrist Democrats, who ran more competent administrations but did little to redress the structure of financial inequality in America.” So far, so good. This particular worry, however, seems way off-base to me:
No liberal can fail to be stirred by Barack Obama. Given the immense damage done by Bush and company, nobody would be better able to redeem the promise of America, both at home and globally. But though he is not yet the front-runner, Obama already has a touch of front-runner disease — being distressingly vague about what he’d actually do. He is trying to be both a progressive and someone beyond conventional categories. Alas, there’s no such thing.
Concern that Obama’s been imprecise about his policy vision is fair game. I think, however, that liberals will be making a huge tactical and strategic error if we simply equate political figures who seek to portray themselves as “beyond conventional categories” as squishy moderates. Being perceieved as beyond conventional categories is, simply put, a useful quality in a politician. Similarly, I know a lot of liberals who are put off by Obama’s complaints about “the smallness of our politics” — viewing them as Broderish complaints about partisaship. The line, however, is perfectly consistent with Kuttnerish complaints about a certain kind of narrow technocracy standing in lieu of forcefully advocating change. And, indeed, it seems to me that if one is hoping to advocate forcefully for change it makes a lot more sense to portray said advocacy as an effort to move beyond the smallness of our politics than as a self-conscious effort to make politics more hard-edged.
What one needs to know as a political pundit is a bit more about the policy substance, not more red meatish rhetoric.
In a speech this morning, President Bush again condemned Congress for failing to give him a blank check for the war in Iraq.
Increasingly desperate, and facing broad public opposition, Bush tried his best to stir up fear with repeated references to September 11 and dark visions of “death and destruction…here in America” if U.S. troops were to withdraw:
They know that the enemies who attacked us on September the 11th, 2001 want to bring further destruction to our country.
One of the lessons of September the 11th is what happens overseas matters to the security of the United States of America.
…to fight the extremists and radicals where they live, so we don’t have to face them where we live.
…they won’t leave us alone — they will follow us to the United States of America.
The consequences of failure in Iraq would be death and destruction in the Middle East and here in America.
We’ll continue to do the hard work necessary to help change the conditions that caused 19 young men to get on airplanes to come and kill thousands of our citizens on September the 11th.
Enemies that could just as easily come here to kill us.
During a press conference today with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), retired Gen. John Johns responded: “You can listen to simplistic statements of the administration, appealing to emotion and fear, or you can take an analytical approach and see the reality of the world. I live in an entirely different world of reality than President Bush, Vice President Cheney and other members of the administration.”