According to this “travels in Ireland” page, the word blarney (derived from a Lord Blarney) refers to distracting or deceiving people with a “good but untrue” story.

Speaking of blarney … Dan Froomkin wrote yesterday,

As far as the White House public-relations machine is concerned, here is all you need to know about the firing of eight U.S. attorneys last year: The Justice Department made some mistakes in how it communicated that those prosecutors were let go for appropriate reasons. And, oh yes, there is no evidence that White House political guru Karl Rove ever advocated the firing of all 93 U.S. attorneys previously appointed by President Bush.

But from the very beginning of this scandal, the central question has been and remains: Was there a plot hatched in the White House to purge prosecutors who were seen as demonstrating insufficient partisanship in their criminal investigations?

Everything else is deception or distraction.

In other words — blarney.

The key question, that the White House continues to duck: Did Rove approve of — or perhps even conceive of — the idea of firing select attorneys? And if so, on what grounds? The latest e-mails certainly indicate that he was involved very early on.

Right now, Washington is engaged in feverish speculation about whether Gonzales is in his last days, or even moments, as attorney general. But as I wrote in my Wednesday column, Gonzales is a diversion.

There’s rampant speculation that Gonzales will lose his job over this scandal. But let’s not lose sight of the fact that Gonzales was only following orders. He’s a piss-poor attorney general, but until recently he’s been an effective political operative for Karl Rove and George Bush, and that is the job they hired him to do.

That’s why it isn’t terribly surprising that Republicans in Washington want Gonzales to go away. They probably realize that the longer Gonzales stays, the more time people will have to connect dots. But Nico at Think Progress says President Bush doesn’t yet understand this.

President Bush is the main force holding up the resignation of Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, GOP sources say tonight. CBS News reports:

    Republicans close to the White House tell CBS News chief White House correspondent Jim Axelrod that President Bush is in “his usual posture: pugnacious, that no one is going to tell him who to fire.” But sources also said Gonzales’ firing is just a matter of time.

    The White House is bracing for a weekend of criticism and more calls for Gonzales to go. One source tells CBS News he’s never seen the administration in such deep denial, and Republicans are growing increasingly restless for the president to take action.

Froomkin writes that if “the story” becomes centered on Alberto Gonzales and whether he will keep his job, media could lose sight of the real perpetrator. “Keep your eye on Karl Rove, people,” he said.

As was said yesterday, the real reason the U.S. attorney firings are a scandal is that prosecutors were purged because they refused to use their offices for partisan political purposes. They were either prosecuting Republicans too vigorously or not prosecuting Democrats vigorously enough. The purged attorneys failed to understand that evidence didn’t matter; only politics.

17 thoughts on “Blarney

  1. prosecutors were purged because they refused to use their offices for partisan political purposes

    I think it’s necessary to specify which ‘purposes’ those were. They refused to investigate Democratic candidates on false pretenses to fool voters into voting against Democrats guilty of nothing.

    Or something similar and more concise. The term ‘partisan political purposes’ is so overbroad that it has all the punch of the crime of jaywalking to many.

    And you’re doing great reminding people that Dirty Tricks Rove is behind it all and has a long record of cheating voters out of the truth, well before Bush’s term as President began. And it’s never right to put traffic barriers in the road of democracy, forcing citizens down detours of dishonesty to the dead ends of tyranny.

  2. I think it’s necessary to specify which ‘purposes’ those were. They refused to investigate Democratic candidates on false pretenses to fool voters into voting against Democrats guilty of nothing.

    Froomkin’s column does that nicely. There’s too much detail to put into a couple of sentences.

  3. Last night on The Lehrer Newshours, David Brooks rolled his eyes and sighed that Democrats look at Karl Rove as “the great white whale” and that keeps them from focusing on the real issues.

    First, of course, I laughed heartily at the comparison of Fat Karl to a white whale. Then I realized that Brooks confirmed that the Democrats need to focus on Rove. The typical right-wing noise machine tactic is now transparent: If they say X isn’t the issue, then you know you gotta go after X.

  4. The bigger issue is the obstruction of justice when the Justice Dept Office of Professional Responsibility had their probe of “abuse of Patriot Act authorities” thwarted when they denied the clearance to proceed.

    The letter from Senators Kennedy Durbin Feingold and Schumer opened with the accusation that Gonzo asks Bush to block the investigation because he (Gonzo) was a target.

    There are four questions asked of Gonzo in the letter. The third one is:

    “Did you inform Pres. Bush that you were at target of the OPR investigation?”

    This is dead serious stuff. The dump of emails about the US attorneys that has lead to Gonzo’s tenuous status shakes the whole regime, because who can they possibly replace him with, Jeb? BTW, the above letter has an answer demand date of March 20th. Now that we know the plan is to run out the clock, I hope Senatorial spine is firmly in place.

    Dershowitz has an interesting piece in HuffPo about breaking up the DoJ into two pieces, one with a “minister of Justice” to manage the political wing, and the AG to enforce the rule of law. It is here. Not a bad idea.

  5. Aside from the OPR angle, maybe someone should also investigate whether the replacements for the removed US Attys. are “buying” their placements. A February 16, 2007 article by San Francisco Chronicle reporter Demian Bulwa notes that the replacement for SF US Atty, Kevin Ryan, has donated money to the Republican Party while he served as a federal prosecutor. The story indicates that the replacement US Atty. is Scott Schools who was a general counsel for a Justice Dept. executive office. Schools a Univ. of Texas Law School grad., has been a federal prosecutor since 1997 and since 1999, has given $8,850 to the Republican Party including $2,850 to George W. Bush. How much money have the other US Atty. replacements given?

  6. someone should also investigate whether the replacements for the removed US Attys. are “buying” their placements.

    Does anyone have a list of their names?

  7. Dead on Lisa. I saw the same discussion. “This is old news;” “Fitzgerald should never has prosecuted Libby;” “who knows if she was really covert.” Whatever they say, presume the opposite as more likely true.

  8. Maybe Rove is the prize, but I’d be more than happy to see Gonzales have to hit the bricks. He could go back to Texas and start a franchise exploiting chicanos.. Green Card’s Я Us. What does a parasite do when they’ve been deprived of their host?

  9. I don’t have a list of the names of the replacement US Attys, however, the same SF Chronicle article (their website is did provide the name for Carol’s Lam replacement in San Diego (remember, Sampson wrote in his email that one had to be quick). Reportedly, most of the recent US Atty replacements are not from the States in which they are appointed, and many of them appear to be coming from inside the Justice Dept or legislative staffs. A look at the names and biographies of all recent US Atty replacements, may suggest just how “political” their appointments are. I’m sure looking at the local online newspapers in those States where recent appointees have been named may prove illuminating. Incidentally, a recent Utah US Atty replacement is purportedly the Arlen Specter staff member that inserted the provision in the Patriot Act allowing the change to the manner in which US Attys are to appointed. This same individual is reportedly the person that Gonzalez’s former Chief of Staff, Kyle Sampson, was competing against to obtain the Utah US Atty position. I’m sure this is all coincidental but you do realize that Rove and Sampson are Utah Mormons and this may explain their interest (Rove was supposedly fighting for Sampson to get it,but Hatch wanted Specter’s aide).

  10. Gonzo’s important, at least in this: his replacement will need confirmation. It won’t be so easy this time to slide in a buddy / ex-roomate / lapdog / trained monkey. And can you imagine the trouble a REAL AG could cause right now?

    Guess I was wrong about when W would do his first openly drunk presser (I said early March), but I doubt it’s far off now.

  11. Names — I’ve been googling around, and the only replacement name that ever comes up in news stories is Timothy Griffin. It’s easy to find out what donations people have made to candidates and parties, but not without their names.

    If anyone finds any more names of replacements, please let me know.

  12. Even if Gonzo is forced out – a good thing, for many reasons – we’re still stuck with Bush toadies as replacement US Attorneys.

  13. Karen Hewitt replaced Carol Lam as interim US Atty in SD of Calif. Hewitt, however, was an assistant US Atty in Lam’s office before Lam’s removal. Scott Schools replaced Kevin Ryan in ND of Calif.

    Brett Tolman is the former Arlen Specter aide who is the new US Atty in Utah. Former US Atty in Utah, Paul Warner, acknowledged to Utah press that Kyle Sampson (Gonzalez’s former chief of staff) wanted his job.

    It is a start, perhaps others can come up names of others.

  14. A March 14, 2007 article in the McLatchy Newspapers (Wash.) which can be viewed online at indicates that William Moschella the principal assistant deputy attorney general drafted the change to the Patriot Act allowing the Attorney General to appoint US Attorneys. The article also reveals that 16 US Attorneys have been appointed since the March 2006 change. Perhaps these 16 attorneys as well as the interims put in place since the 8 US Attys were removed should be examined. It appears that the US Atty in Utah may have been rewarded with the position after inserting the provision in the Patriot Act while a staff member for Arlen Specter. Were such appointments made as rewards for similar conduct, monetary contributions, loyalty affirmations to Party goals, etc.? Hopefully, Sen. Schumer (D-NY) will make good on the promise to closely scrutinize these appointments.

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