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Archive for the ‘hubris’ Category

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Clipped from Atlantic Online, this story references Alberto Gonzales’ sinister involvement in the March 2004 warrantless eavesdropping program even after the program was declared unlawful by then AG John Ashcroft, himself no constitutional bargain.The whole article is worth the time to read as it outlines the hubris of the Bush administration as they flaunt the law and the constitution for their own gain.

The bonus is that this administration has a mere 606 days left to spread its brand of authority. Of course, what I fear most, given the recent saber rattling at Iran, including sending a large Navy task force to the Persian Gulf to intimidate the Iranians into giving up their nuclear program. As Bush readies for one more military incursion in the Middle East we must ask how much more war can we take before we lose all that makes America the envy of the world? We are rapidly sliding down the path to isolation from the rest of the world, and to what purpose? The mythical enemy is not Osama Bin Laden, although I have no doubts that he is a really bad guy, rather, the enemy, as Pogo (the comic strip character central to the old Walt Kelly daily strip) once remarked “is us!”

clipped from www.theatlantic.com

E very day that Attorney General Alberto Gonzales is allowed to remain in office is corrosive to constitutional governance and an invitation to further politicization of the Justice Department.

That is the main lesson of former Deputy Attorney General James Comey’s astonishing revelations on May 15 about Gonzales’s sinister involvement in a March 2004 effort to continue a then-secret warrantless eavesdropping program after it had been declared unlawful by then-Attorney General John Ashcroft and his subordinates.
Meanwhile, the May 14 resignation of Paul McNulty, Comey’s successor as deputy attorney general, further depleted the ranks of principled professionals in the demoralized department, which Gonzales has been filling with inexperienced political hacks. In the words of Arlen Specter, the Senate Judiciary Committee’s senior Republican, as long as Gonzales is in charge, “it’s embarrassing for a professional to work for the Department of Justice.”

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Seed Newsvine

No wonder Bush stands so steadfastly behind his AG. The guy just can’t say no to his boss.

Paul Rothstein, a professor at Georgetown Law School said:This intertwining of the political with the running of the Justice Department has gone on in other administrations, both Republican and Democrat. But I think it’s being carried to a fine art by this president. They leave no stone unturned to politicize where they think the law will permit it. And they push the line very far.

The Bush administration, under the political influence of Karl Rove (the man who understands ethical behavior much in the same way that Chuck Colson, special counsel to Richard Nixon during the Watergate years, did; If you must run over your grandmother to get what you want, then go ahead and leave her for dead) will stoop to any depths to get what it wants. Having an old friend, one that is likely not to challenge the legality of anything you intend to do is, it seems to me, important, even necessary, in order to accomplish your goals.
The hubris of this White House is stunning. There has never been, and with any degree of luck, there will never be again, a president as arrogant and as stupid as this one is. Arrogance and ignorance is a potent mixture for evil.

The Yahoo.com article said:Former Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy, too, had obvious close ties to President John F. Kennedy, his brother. But critics say Gonzales’ relationship with Bush rivals that between former Attorney General John Mitchell and his former law partner, President Nixon.

Mitchell left the Justice Department in 1972 to run Nixon’s re-election campaign. He served 19 months in prison after conviction on conspiracy, perjury and obstruction of justice charges for his role in the Watergate break-in of Democratic headquarters.

Reacting to Watergate abuses, Carter administration Attorney General Griffin Bell instituted reforms to help maintain the department’s independence. Among the changes: a ban on lawmakers and the White House directly contacting prosecutors about specific investigations.

That ban was violated last year when New Mexico GOP Sen. Pete Domenici (news, bio, voting record) and Rep. Heather Wilson (news, bio, voting record) called former U.S. attorney David Iglesias in Albuquerque to ask about the status of public corruption cases. Iglesias later said they wanted to know whether he was going to indict Democrats before the looming election. The incident is cited by Democrats who argue the U.S. attorney firings were politically motivated.

No one has accused Gonzales, personally, of breaking the law to put Bush’s stamp on the Justice Department. The attorney general maintains he is working to not only fix mistakes that his aides made in hiring and firing prosecutors, but also to secure the public’s confidence in the beleaguered department.

Whether he can salvage his own reputation remains to be seen.

Philip Heymann, a Harvard law professor who worked at the Justice Department under several Democratic presidents, said the White House is using the law “almost exclusively as a form of protection and a form of armor, if you can get the Justice Department to say it’s fine.”

“I think they wanted a loyal attorney general, not somebody who would say ‘no’ when they very badly wanted them to say ‘yes,'” Heymann said. “And now they’ve got that.”

clipped from news.yahoo.com
WASHINGTON – Attorney General Alberto Gonzales says his long friendship with
President Bush
makes it easier to say “no” to him on sticky legal issues. His critics, however, say Gonzales is far more likely to say “yes” — leaving the Justice Department vulnerable to a politically determined White House.
Probably not since Watergate has an attorney general been so closely bound to the White House’s bidding. In pushing counterterror programs that courts found unconstitutional and in stacking the ranks of federal prosecutors with Republican loyalists, Gonzales has put Bush’s stamp on an institution that is supposed to operate largely free of the White House and beyond the reach of politics.
Gonzales, facing a no-confidence vote in the Senate, is resisting lawmakers’ demands to resign and says he will remain as attorney general until he no longer has the president’s support. The White House is steadfastly backing its man.

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With the reputation of the United States at stake, President Bush readies himself to pick a successor to Paul Wolfowitz. Traditionally, the US has chosen the President of the World Bank while Europeans have chosen the head of the International Monetary Fund. Now, given the scandal at the World Bank, Europeans are suggesting that this practice cease and that Wolfowitz’ successor be chosen on merit and not nationality (a code for crony of Mr. Bush).Given the falling reputation of the United States across Europe due in part to the mishandled war in Iraq and the bungling choices made at the World Bank, perhaps the White House should listen for a change. Consultation is not, however, the strong suit of the Bush White House as an administration that has grown used to having its own way on just about everything until recently.

Paul Wolfowitz

Photo: © Simone D. McCourtie /World Bank

U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson has said he would help Bush identify a nominee after consulting with other countries. But he made clear it would be an American.

“I see no reason why this should change and I see every reason why it’s important that the World Bank should continue to be run by an American,” Paulson said.

Dutch Development Minister Bert Koenders said the stature of the candidate was more important than nationality.

“The quality of a new candidate is the most important thing. Whatever nationality, American or from another continent, the bank needs a president of the highest quality,” he said.

Henry Paulson makes it absolutely clear that the Bush Administration is not listening to the rest of the world. The fact that he sees no reason to change past policy is an arrogant response in the light of the need for the last Bush choice to resign in disgrace.

I wish I had confidence that Bush will do the right thing in this matter. The fact is that I do not.

clipped from www.reuters.com
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A day after Paul Wolfowitz resigned as World Bank president under an ethics cloud, the United States faced the tough task of healing rifts with Europeans and satisfying calls that his successor be picked on merit, not just nationality.
Wolfowitz’s resignation on Thursday followed pressure by European opponents who said his handling of a high-paying promotion for his companion damaged the institution’s credibility. Bank staff complained the crisis had undermined their mission of fighting poverty in developing countries.
“It is a very delicate issue but we will make clear to the United States that we need someone credible and this time they need to consult more broadly,” said one senior European bank board official. “That was not the case with Mr. Wolfowitz.”
The United States, the bank’s largest shareholder, has named the World Bank chief since the bank’s inception more than 60 years ago.
Many critics have said that practice should be revamped

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It is about time!

It is also clear from the comments of Tony Fratto and Henry Paulson that the Bush White House continues to exist in a state of denial. While it has been the traditional role of the President of the United States to appoint the President of the World Bank, there is a strong movement to reexamine that practice or, at the very least, curtail the cronyism practiced by this White House.

Reuters included the following international reaction to Wolfowitz’ resignation:

BERNICE ROMERO, ADVOCACY DIRECTOR OF OXFAM INTERNATIONAL

“Wolfowitz’s resignation shows that even the office of the president has to play by the rules. The U.S. and other rich countries must now show that they are serious about good governance by allowing the next head of the Bank to be appointed based on merit through an open, accountable process.”

DANIEL MITTLER, GREENPEACE INTERNATIONAL POLITICAL ADVISOR

“Cronyism has led to Wolfowitz’s downfall, but the credentials needed in the next president to clean up the World Bank must not only be personal integrity, but above all expertise in sustainable development.”

Perhaps the time has come for a fair and transparent process for the selection of the next president of the World Bank. Perhaps the rest of the world will not be governed by the hubris of the Bush White House. We in the United States must only suffer 613 more days of this administration. Good Riddance.

Now Bush only has to deal with the scandals at Justice and the Department of Education, and, oh yes, the potential indictment of his closest adviser, Karl Rove.

clipped from www.reuters.com
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – World Bank President Paul Wolfowitz, under fire for arranging a pay and promotion agreement for his companion, who was employed by the bank, announced on Thursday he will resign effective June 30.
WHITE HOUSE SPOKESMAN TONY FRATTO
“Paul Wolfowitz is a good man who is passionate about the plight of poor people in the world. We would have preferred that he stay at the Bank, but the president reluctantly accepts his decision.”
SEN. CHRISTOPHER DODD, DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL HOPEFUL
“Mr. Wolfowitz’s actions have impeded the ability of the World Bank to carry out its critical mission of alleviating global poverty. His resignation will help to restore the integrity and credibility of the World Bank, both of which are central to the bank carrying out its mission.”
U.S. TREASURY SECRETARY HENRY PAULSON
I intend to move quickly to help the President identify a nominee to lead the World Bank going forward.

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Seed Newsvine


Atty. Gen. Alberto Gonzales testified last week that the effort was limited to eight U.S. attorneys fired since June, and other administration officials have said that only a few others were suggested for removal.

If, as reported in the Chicago Tribune, the number of federal prosecutors suggested for dismissal was closer to 26 than the mere 8 that were fired, did Attorney General Gonzales lie to Congress when he testified under oath that the effort was limited to the 8 that were fired since June?

Why would the Justice Department withhold documents from the public if they were telling the truth on this matter? Does the Bush administration have so little respect for the democratic process that they simply do whatever they see fit?

I would argue that the Bush White House understands executive power as being more or less without limits, subject to little more than fiat which places the administration and all of its power outside the realm of responsibility to the governed. This is the very arrogance that inspired Thomas Jefferson (cribbing extensively from John Locke) to write–“When in the course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.”

When the king acts outside the bounds of civility and against the best interests of the governed it is within the bounds of politics to sever the ties that bind one to the sovereign.

That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

Jefferson begins his list of grievances against George III with the following words: “He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.”

In this scandal ridden White House, George II “has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good. ” His support for AG Gonzales, Karl, Rove, Paul Wolfowitz and Margaret Spellings at the DoED, each a Bush appointee and each deeply mired in scandal that are not in any meaningful way “he most wholesome and necessary for the public good,” smacks of an arrogance that is beyond all reason.

William Shakespeare puts these words in the mouth of Richard III:

Why, I, in this weak piping time of peace,
gave no delight to pass away the time,
Unless to see my shadow in the sun
And descant on mine own deformity:
And therefore, since I cannot prove a lover,
To entertain these fair well-spoken days,
I am determined to prove a villain,
And hate the idle pleasures of these days.

I think they fit in George W. Bush’s mouth as well.

clipped from www.chicagotribune.com
WASHINGTON —
The Justice Department considered dismissing many more U.S. attorneys than officials have previously acknowledged, with at least 26 prosecutors suggested for termination between February 2005 and December 2006, according to sources familiar with documents withheld from the public.
Atty. Gen. Alberto Gonzales testified last week that the effort was limited to eight U.S. attorneys fired since June, and other administration officials have said that only a few others were suggested for removal.
In fact, Gonzales’ former chief of staff, Kyle Sampson, recommended more than two dozen U.S. attorneys for termination, according to lists compiled by him and his colleagues, the sources said.
They amounted to more than a quarter of the nation’s 93 U.S. attorneys. At least 13 of those known to have been targeted are still in their posts.
When shown the lists of firing candidates late Wednesday, Sen. Charles Schumer
said they “show how amok this process was.”

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Clipped from YouTube, this video is a powerful reminder that asking the skeptical questions is the first and only requirement of being human. Without skeptical inquiry we would still be napping flint weapons, living in caves, and wandering about the plains in search of food. Asking skeptical questions, however, is not a remedy for ambition, hubris, or evil. It is not a remedy for those who believe without evidence. It is not a remedy for stupidity. Skepticism is, however, the springboard to human progress and greatness.

clipped from www.youtube.com

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And this is a powerful response to Pale Blue Dot.

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Seed Newsvine

Wolfowitz “did not accept the bank’s policy on conflict of interest and tried to bypass rules that he believed did not apply to him.”

Paul Wolfowitz engaged in nepotism when he assured that his girlfriend, Shaha Riza was promoted and saw to it that she received a hefty pay increase, one far exceeding the standards set by the World Bank. And what does Wolfowitz (with the aid and comfort of George W. Bush) do? He thumbs his nose at the World Bank.

Wolfowitz called the findings “unbalanced and flawed” and argued that the panel had omitted statements and documents that support his position.

The fact that the United States official position is to continue to offer Wolfowitz continuing support is another sign that the Bush White House is simply out of touch with the realities of the US position vis-a-vis the rest of the world. Bush and Wolfowitz seem to believe that they can play at being the playground bully doing whatever they please.

37 country directors on the front line of the bank’s operations said in a letter to the board and to Wolfowitz that the leadership crisis had damaged the bank’s reputation and effectiveness in fighting poverty.

In refusing to accept responsibility, Wolfowitz displays a profound lack of ethical character. This denial is the height of arrogance in the face of resounding criticism of Wolfowitz’s actions.

The Committee said:The Group finds the submission notable for absence of any acceptance by Mr. Wolfowitz himself of responsibility or blame for the events that transpired.

clipped from www.reuters.com
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A World Bank committee found bank President Paul Wolfowitz violated ethics rules in his handling of a promotion and generous pay rise for his companion and his involvement represented a conflict of interest.
Wolfowitz rejected the critical report on Monday and the United States showed no sign of yielding in its steadfast support for the former U.S. deputy defense secretary, saying the findings were no grounds to dismiss him.
“Mr. Wolfowitz’s contract requiring that he adhere to the Code of Conduct for board officials and that he avoid any conflict of interest, real or apparent, were violated,” the panel said of Wolfowitz’s handling of a pay and promotion deal for World Bank Middle East expert Shaha Riza in 2005.
The panel said Wolfowitz believes the blame lies with others and not with him.
It said he did not accept the bank’s policy on conflict of interest and tried to bypass rules that he believed did not apply to him.

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