Sometimes the questions are complicated and the answers are simple

In So Much for the Unitary Executive a reporter at Snowjob’s press briefing and Marty Lederman noted that Snow declared that, “This is a decision that was made at the U.S. Department of Justice.”, but the president himself said, “I’m sorry this, frankly, has bubbled to the surface the way it has, for the U.S. attorneys involved. I really am. These are — I put them in there in the first place; they’re decent people. They serve at our pleasure.” OK so the president claims executive privilege while at the same time claiming that the DOJ side stepped the president.

“MR. SNOW: The President has no recollection of this ever being raised with him. . . .

Q Just to follow, did you say, again for the record, that the President has no recollection of ever being asked about any of this?

MR. SNOW: Yes, the removal — yes, that is correct.

Attorney’s that serve at the president’s pleasure are dismissed not by the president but by the DOJ without his knowledge or approval?

That’s why it’s almost certainly not true. It’s virtually inconceivable that the President did not sign off on the removals (even if he was not intimately involved in the discussions that led up to the final choices). The President, in his briefing, undermined Snow’s subsequent claim:

“These U.S. attorneys serve at the pleasure of the President. I named them all. And the Justice Department made recommendations, which the White House accepted, that eight of the 93 would no longer serve.”

If there was no back and forth between the Whitehouse (Miers, Rove, Bush) and the DOJ then there should be no executive privilege to protect. This is putting aside invoking or hiding behind executive privilege in a situation that has nothing to do with national security. Then there is the audacious claim by Bush that he has offered Congress unprecedented cooperation by handing over hundreds of pages of documents. Well if you think that leaving out a month of those important communications is being completely cooperative then I have a bridge in Brooklyn I’d like to sell you. If you think that allowing Harriet Miers and Karl Rove to testify, but only in private and not under oath is being open and honest then I have a shiny new air craft carrier to go with your new bridge. In a letter to Fred Fielding (Presidential Counsel) Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) writes with incredible understatement,

Some of us have heard that your letter is a “take it or leave it” offer and that you have characterized it as your best and final offer. We cannot accept the limitations and conditions you
seek to impose on the Committee’s investigation in your March 20 letter.

Your proposal would unacceptably constrain our ability to investigate; it would deny us access to relevant information; it would interfere with our ability to learn the truth by pre-selecting only certain documents or witnesses; and it would unduly limit the scope of the investigation by prejudging its outcome.

Moreover, you insist that the interviews with White House staffbe in the nature of off-therecord, private conversations. There have been a number of such informal briefings already and they have all proved unsatisfactory and provided less than the whole truth. (emphasis mine)

It simple, the rule of law matters or it doesn’t. It doesn’t seem to matter to Bush or Republicans.

So much for religion solving all our problems, Religion and good behaviour

So that’s what the British would say, isn’t it? In the United States, where more than 85 per cent of people describe themselves as religious believers, the answer would surely be very different, as it would be in Iran or Mexico. But then I remembered an article that was published a couple of years ago in the Journal of Religion and Society entitled Cross-National Correlations of Quantifiable Societal Health with Popular Religiosity and Secularism in the Prosperous Democracies: A First Look, in which Gregory Paul set out to test the assertion that religion makes people behave better.

If that is true, then the United States should be heaven on earth, whereas Britain would be overrun with crime, sexual misbehaviour and the like. Paul examined the data from 18 developed countries and found just the opposite.

“In general, higher rates of belief in and worship of a creator correlate with higher rates of homicide, juvenile and early adult mortality, (venereal disease), teen pregnancy and abortion,” while “none of the strongly secularized, pro-evolution democracies is experiencing high levels of measurable dysfunction.”

[ ]…Even within the United States, Paul reported, “the strongly theistic, anti-evolution South and Midwest” have “markedly worse homicide, mortality, sexually transmitted disease, youth pregnancy, marital and related problems than the Northeast, where societal conditions, secularization and acceptance of evolution approach European norms.”

As the most religious country of the 18 surveyed, the United States also comes in with the highest rates for teenage pregnancy and for gonorrhea and syphilis.

I have mixed feelings about religion. many people I know many who believe in some ultimate power or creator if you will, but are not dogmatic or religious in the traditional sense.To just casual observation it would seem that it is certainly possible to have such beliefs, reconcile those beliefs with leading a more rationalist based life and still be a very moral person. Perhaps it is the adherence to very extreme dogma and the intellectual intransigence that comes with that fundamentalist view that leads to problems within both Christianity and Islam.

Better late then never, Intel-Dump’s take on the anniversary of Bush’s invasion, Leaving the cupboard bare

It is difficult to overstate the strategic significance of what Col. Hardy is saying. This is the U.S. military which once stood sentinel over Western Europe and South Korea, staring across those fortified borders at millions of enemy troops on the other side. It was a force designed to fight “the big one” — capable of mobilizing and fielding a force of considerable size. Now, four years into the Iraq war, a war for which more than 160,000 troops have been deployed at any given time, the cupboard is bare. No active-duty or reserve brigade has gone untapped; many have deployed more than once. It is not at all uncommon to meet active and reserve soldiers who have deployed two or three times. And in the Marine Corps, with its shorter deployment cycle, you will find many who have been downrange four times.

Sorry, Republicans cannot treat the military like grist for the mill and then claim to care about them.

“Sometimes the questions are complicated and the answers are simple.” – Dr. Seuss quote