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Wednesday, March 28, 2007


posted by on March 28 at 8:01 AM

The Alberto Gonzales scandal is shocking, and it gets people like me in a fevered partisan pitch about Bush’s fascism and his Stalinist purges and the end of Constitutional rule.

But you don’t have to be Dennis Kucinich to feel outraged or … hurt.

My dad is long retired. I called him on Monday to wish him a happy birthday. What he wanted to talk about though, was the Attorney General.

You see: My dad worked at the DOJ for over 30 years. Sometimes I forget he worked there because he finished up his career at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. But his heyday was definitely at the DOJ in the Solicitor General’s Office. (I’m proud of my old dad. He argued in the U.S. Supreme Court 13 times, representing the feds, getting a government salary while arguing against some corporate gun who was probably making equivelant pay just for that day’s big gig. I got to see my dad argue in the Supreme Court twice.)

“What do you think of this Gonzales stuff?” dad asked me.
Spacing out on the significance of the question coming from my dad, I leapt off into some riff from dailykos probably about contempt of Congress.

“I worked there,” my dad said, interrupting me quietly.
“Yeah,” I said. “Yeah, I know that.”
“I worked at the DOJ,” he said. “Isn’t this a disgrace?”
I stopped with the rave, and said, “Yeah. It’s a disgrace.”
We started talking about something else.

Thanks for ruining my dad’s birthday, Alberto Gonzales. For that alone—you should resign.

RSS icon Comments


Thanks for this post, Josh. The good news is that this scandal is front-page news, for several weeks running now, and that even right-wingers and Washington insiders are worked up against Gonzales. This isn't just the MoveOn crowd railing against him, it's all people who care about the health of the country. I think we should be feel fortunate that our country still has some vestige of an immune system.

Posted by Gabriel | March 28, 2007 8:21 AM

oh gawd, our beacon of cap hill progressiveness is reverting to thumb-sucking again. i'd love to stay and deconstruct religiousness of birthdays and change jo-jo's nappies, but it will ruin my day. can't someone get this guy a job at value village?

Posted by keenan | March 28, 2007 8:32 AM

I get the feeling, Josh. My dad worked for a senior US Senator during the Kennedy and Johnson administrations; one of the most painful things these past six years has been not just seeing what's happened, but knowing what a letdown it is to a generation of guys like him that worked their asses off trying to build a better government for this country.

Posted by Trey | March 28, 2007 8:33 AM

And to make our day even better....

I have not found anything that Hillary or Obama plan to do to reverse (not just stop) the ongoing abuse of executive power. It appears that the mainstream Dems running for office are "sickened" by what Bush has done but they are more than happy to keep the power Bush gave the office for themselves when/if they get elected.

It did not help that I am reading some wonderful stuff on the Roman Counsul Sulla and his charming abuse of executive authority around 90 BCE. (You know the proscriptions of enemies or himself/state that were lists of people posted who the state declared open season on for anyone to kill. And the state would pay 2 talents for proof of their death)

This historians advise? Just sit back and enjoy the final collapse of the republic....

Posted by Andrew | March 28, 2007 8:48 AM

Great post Josh.

I go off on rants too, but your dad summed it up perfectly. Sadly.

Posted by SDA in SEA | March 28, 2007 9:15 AM

Yep. 60 years after Sulla Augustus Caesar ruled and about 50 years after Augustus there was Caligula. In this age of instantaneous communication, I figure we have about 10 more years.

Posted by amazonmidwife | March 28, 2007 9:20 AM

I feel bad for your dad, Josh. Thanks for the moving post.

Posted by EXTC | March 28, 2007 9:21 AM


But I want to know how much money we can make on the GOP's coming postscriptions. I am sure the Stranger staff will be worth a nice little penny. HA HA HA.... just kidding...

Posted by Andrew | March 28, 2007 9:22 AM

A guy from TPM is on KUOW right now.

Posted by Redshirt | March 28, 2007 9:46 AM

Don't show your dad this clip...It's of the MSM jagoffs on the Chris Matthews show from a few days ago. They spend the whole time talking about what a loser issue this is for the democrats, and that the American people don't actually want Congress to go after the Rove(??!!).

Complete bullshit. Salon featured it a day or two ago, and new blogger Glenn Greenwald wrote a great piece on it:

Posted by Matthew | March 28, 2007 10:01 AM

"Bush’s fascism and his Stalinist purges"

Happy Birthday to your dad, Josh, but aren't you, uh, mixing your metaphors here?

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky | March 28, 2007 12:03 PM


"Everyone believes in his heart that the law can be, ought to be, and, on the whole, will be impartially administered. The totalitarian idea that there is no such thing as law, there is only power, has never taken root."

The mixing here is apt.

With his signing statements, claims of a "unitary executive" and denial of both judiciary and legislative oversight, Bush is most assuredly a "power not law" leader -- a trait shared historically by fascist and Stalinist leaders.

(Bonus points for anyone who can source the quote above.)

Posted by golob | March 28, 2007 1:13 PM

I feel for your, dad, Josh. He comes from a great generation. I remember my dad's pain and embarassment at Watergate and Nixon - my dad's man -was revealed as a liar.

These days nothing "they" do is the least bit shocking.

Posted by Orson | March 28, 2007 1:44 PM

The funny thing is that my dad was at the DOJ during the Nixon run. And in fact, worked directly under Robert Bork in the SG's office when Bork did Nixon's bidding in the Saturday Night Massacre—agreeing to fire Archibald Cox.
Despite all that Watergate craziness, though, my dad felt he was doing good work at the DOJ in the early 70s. The holdover crowd from LBJ and Ramsey Clark were, according to my dad, still running the show. It wasn't until Reagan came in and Ed Meese started holding morning prayer meetings that my dad fled.

Posted by Josh Feit | March 28, 2007 1:54 PM

Nixon's DOJ ruined plenty of Birthdays

After he became president in January 1969, Nixon appointed Mitchell attorney general. Mitchell remained in office from 1969 until he resigned in 1972 to manage President Nixon's successful reelection campaign. As attorney general, Mitchell believed that the government's need for "law and order" justified restrictions on civil liberties. He advocated the use of wiretaps in national security cases without obtaining a court order and the right of police to employ the preventive detention of criminal suspects. He brought conspiracy charges against critics of the Vietnam War, and demonstrated a reluctance to involve the Justice Department in civil rights issues. "The Department of Justice is a law enforcement agency," he told reporters. "It is not the place to carry on a program aimed at curing the ills of society."

Posted by Kush | March 28, 2007 5:35 PM

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