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April 19, 2007

Feingold questions Gonzales


Senator Russ Feingold, originally uploaded by Lindsay Beyerstein.

This picture was taken last year at Cardozo Law School in New York City where Russ Feingold swore he would investigate Alberto Gonzales when the Democrats won a majority in Congress.

The big day has finally arrived. Here is the transcript of Feingold cross-examining Gonzales.

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If I had any sense at all that Gonzales took his duties seriously when he was Gov. Bush's AG in Texas and actually reviewed capitol sentences before simply showing Dubya where to sign, I might have a touch of sympathy for him. As it is, he's just a guy who wears a suit to lynchings.

Make that capital. Damned English orthography.

While I am no Gonzalez fan, I do find this situation interesting in the current PC climate. I will say this, if Gonzalez were black and a DEM, there would be cries of racisim from NY to CA. But AG the AG is a Latino, and a man, so it is OK to call for his resignation and/or firing.

It is just interesting to me. But not surprising. We protect blacks like they are sacred cows and God forbid we say ANYTHING at all about them, even as an analogy or joke, even if it is accurate. It is always racist. But the most powerful Latino in the country is slammed and ripped and insulted daily and if he cried racism, he would be crucified even more. If he were a DEM, Fat Al and Jesse Jackass would be at his side crying racism.

So you're saying that Republicans don't stick up for their own?

Seriously, though, nobody's charging racism because there's no obvious racial angle in the Gonzales case.

Nobody is making racially charged allegations against Gonzales.

He's getting plenty of support from his fellow Republicans, but their defenses don't touch on ethnicity either. Even Gonzales's supporters aren't alleging that he's being investigated because of his race. They call it a vast political conspiracy. He's being investigated because he presided of the US atty purge and because he mislead the public about why he fired the lawyers.

I suppose the difference between Democrats and Republicans is that Democrats who are minorities tend to come from civil rights organizations or have civil rights backgrounds: Sharpton, Jackson, Rangel. Obama is a big exception, and indeed nobody charges racism when he's attacked, unless the attack is explicitly racial ("Obama isn't really black"). Black (and Hispanic) Republicans tend to be like Obama in that they lack any obvious civil rights credentials, so the only attack on Powell or Rice or Thomas that will be called racist is an attack that explicitly involves racial language, such as Harry Belafonte's "House slave" epithet.

Alon, well put. I tend to agree. Gonzalez had no civil rights cred, similar to Obama. So I definitely see your point.

Lindsay: No I am not saying Republicans do not stick up for their own. I am merely saying that when a Republican minority is criticized, charges of outrage and racism are never expressed the way they are when Democrat minorities are criticized, even if the criticism is purely political and action based and has no racial overtone. Example: Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. (Dem-IL) is guilty of blatant neoptism and extreme patronage. If a white critic says this, he is slammed as being a racist. But attacks against a Latino Republican are justified and not a cause for charges of racism. No NAACP or LULAC outrage over AG criticism.

I just find it interesting, that's all. I agree that AG deserves critcism. But he holds the highest political office of any Latino in the US. If he were a black DEM, and the criticism were EXACTLY the same, there would be outcries of racism and Al and Jesse would be all over it.

B-Money, I never heard a spurious argument. First off, I believe Latino refers, not to race, but to a shared culture and language used south of the border. Second, the highest ranking black woman in the administration is Condolezza Rice, and it is doubtful even Jackson or Sharpton would insulate her from criticisim, given her association with the Iraq war and foreign policy debacles dictated from the White House. Arguments over public policy do not necessarliy signal racism even if the agent of that policy happens to belong to a certain racial or ethnic group. Get real.

Swamp, great point on Condoleeza. Al and Jesse would never support her, even if Imus had called her a "nappy headed hoe".

As for Latino, it is used interchangably with Hispanic to identify race. Trust, I know, as I am Mexican. Sometimes forms use Latino for race, sometimes they use Hispanic. I know I have used both and so have many people I know.

My point is merely to spark conversation on the issue. Getting real is what I am doing. I am exploring another side to this issue and your insult is unnecessary.

I have not said that the criticism of AG has been racist. My point, which has gone unaddressed, it that if AG were a black Democrat, Al and Jesse and the NAACP and the all the black caucuses and groups would be out en masse to decry the racist criticism of such their man. Remember, AG is the FIRST minority AG in US history. (Reno does not count because women are the majority!) IF HE WERE BLACK AND A DEMOCRAT, even if the criticism were EXACTLY the same, things would be different.

B-Money, insult not intended. I still do not see the terms *Latino* and *Hispanic* used as descriptors of *race*. There is diversity within this group. Ask any Cuban, or Dominican, or Brazilian.

In case you miss the point about the current Senate hearings with regards to the AG terminations, the Dems are trying to protect the voting franchise of minorities, the ones targeted by Bush/Rove for alleged voter fraud. The alleged voter fraud investigations are NOT criminal probes but a political strategy to insure conservative victories in future elections by disenfranchising minority voters. This what makes Gonzo-Gate look more like Watergate. If you are looking at this issue in terms of abreactions to I-Mess epithets, you have completely missed the point.

BTW, B-Money, I think Lindsay would take exception to "women are the majority!" Pls. choose your words and arguments with more care.

Ahem.

Women ARE a majority when it comes to overall population of the sexes. So I do not need to be more careful. I merely stated a fact.

Ok, for the cheap seats: I AM NOT A GONZALEZ SUPPORTER AND AGREE THAT HE HAS BEEN A POOR AG AND THAT HIS ACTIONS NEED TO BE REVIEWED AND HE NEEDS TO BE REMOVED IF HE ACTED INAPPROPRIATELY. Ok, we all got it now.

Go back and re-read what I posted. If I am not clear in my post, let me know and I will clarify.

B-Money, majority in numbers has not conferred commensurate political and economic power. Consider the recent Partial Birth Abortion Ruling of the Supreme Court. On this case, women lost a great deal.

AHEM!

Sorry, Sven, I didn't realize these were links. Taking a dinner break; will return later.

Okay, first, women are a political minority. There are a lot of specific results from political science that apply to political minorities but not necessarily demographic ones - for example, the number of political minorities elected to legislatures that use single-member districts versus the number elected to ones that use proportional representation.

And second, there are a few civil rights organizations that do defend black or Hispanic Republicans. If I'm not mistaken, La Raza backed Gonzales's nomination. It happens a lot less than it does to black/Hispanic Democrats with civil rights credentials, granted. It's mostly an issue of partisanship; black groups stick with the Democrats, just like the religious right sticks with the Republicans. In both cases, the partisanship leads to loss of influence and political effectiveness. And in both cases, the movement's leaders do everything within their power to throttle parallel movements that support the other party (think Dobson and the Evangelical left). Hispanic groups are slightly less partisan, but it's ultimately going to be a question of which faction will get to dictate Republican immigration policy. If the pro-immigration faction of Giuliani and McCain wins out, the Republicans could even win a majority of the Hispanic vote. If instead the anti-immigration faction of Tancredo and Hunter, or even the moderate faction of Bush and Romney, gains the upper hand, then they can forget about it.

B-Money said: "I am merely saying that when a Republican minority is criticized, charges of outrage and racism are never expressed the way they are when Democrat minorities are criticized."

Rush Limbaugh said: “So you have the first Hispanic-American attorney general -- a minority -- under fire by white liberal racists in the Senate.”

One theory shot down. Thanks, Sven.

My point, which has gone unaddressed, it that if AG were a black Democrat, Al and Jesse and the NAACP and the all the black caucuses and groups would be out en masse to decry the racist criticism of such their man.

Your point has gone unaddressed for several reasons:

1. It is pure speculation.
2. It would be hard for Al and Jesse to decry "racist criticism" given that the criticism has had zero to do with race.
3. It has nothing to do with the subject at hand.
4. Al and Jesse have not defended Rice, Powell, Clarence Thomas or Obama with any sort of mass demonstrations when they were under fire - so not only is what you are saying pure speculation, it is baseless speculation. (Obama is a black democrat right?)

Where are Jesse and Al every time somebody attacks Obama? You see them demonstrating out in the streets? I sure don't.

Why would anyone want to address your wholly irrelevant point? There are no racial overtones here at all. Whereas calling some people "nappy headed hos" does have some racial overtones don't you think?

It's mostly an issue of partisanship; black groups stick with the Democrats, just like the religious right sticks with the Republicans.

There's the itty bitty matter of the GOP inheriting Jim Crow electoral strategy, voter supression and dogwhistle racism in formulating the Southern Strategy; trying to knock down the Civil Rights Act; "welfare queen" social policy reform, "reverse discrimination" lawsuits; and, most recently, Alberto Gonzales gutting the Civil Rights Division.

But yeah, other than that it's just about partisanship and blindly sticking with the Democrats.

Basically, B-Money, your real point seems to be that you don't see any leftists uncritically leaping to nonwhite Republicans' defense the way you imagine they would uncritically leap to a nonwhite Democrat's defense. If that's the case, set your mind at ease: your impression about what Democrats would do were mostly bullshit to begin with, so your point is meaningless.

It's nice that you can agree Gonzalez is an incompetent twit. Now it's time to take the step of thinking about what kinds of politics and assumptions helped empower him and the incompetent twits who put him in the AG's office.

Rush Limbaugh said: “So you have the first Hispanic-American attorney general -- a minority -- under fire by white liberal racists in the Senate.”

One theory shot down. Thanks, Sven.

Rush Limbaugh is a Republican partisan hack, not a member of any Hispanic organization. It's natural that when a member of a party in good standing gets attacked, the party's faithful will concoct the wildest, most baseless assertion to tar the attackers. It's something completely different when Steve Gilliard says that when white people criticize Al Sharpton over the Tawana Brawley affair, blacks perceive that as just another form of racism.

There's the itty bitty matter of the GOP inheriting Jim Crow electoral strategy, voter supression and dogwhistle racism in formulating the Southern Strategy; trying to knock down the Civil Rights Act; "welfare queen" social policy reform, "reverse discrimination" lawsuits; and, most recently, Alberto Gonzales gutting the Civil Rights Division.

But yeah, other than that it's just about partisanship and blindly sticking with the Democrats.

Likewise, there's the itty bitter matter of the Democrats supporting abortion on demand, gays in the military, gay adoption, evolution, and pluralism; having a sizable secular faction that wants to completely separate church and state; and trying to crack down on fringe religious sects.

And yet, what C. S. Lewis said about Christians in government makes sense. Christians are the most powerful when they form factions within both parties. The same applies to minorities. The Democratic Party will start taking Al Sharpton seriously the day he can credibly tell the DNC, "If you don't give me police reform, I'll have a lot of people in my community defecting to the Republicans over religious issues. Now I'm a team player, and I understand that the Democrats are better for black people than the Republicans. But a lot of black people are wondering what exactly I'm doing for them, and a lot of them think joining the religious right is a good idea if we can't offer them anything."

Oh dear. I regret that we may have driven B-Money away. Perhaps with more more patience, we may have turned him away from the Dark Side, i.e., by convincing him that AG Gonzales is merely a servant of the Bush/Rove conspiracy to aggrandize the neo-con elite by disenfranchising minority voters, including the Hispanic vote. A pity.

Likewise, there's the itty bitter matter of the Democrats supporting abortion on demand, gays in the military, gay adoption, evolution, and pluralism

You forgot to include that vicious atheist Jimmy Carter, who kicked off his '76 campaign in Lyons with veiled references to the Edict of Septimius Severus.

The most interesting part was Gonzales saying he left the performance evaluations and list-making to Kyle Sampson. Feingold nails him with this.

FEINGOLD: Well, so little to do with the basis for the decision or why it was done, and you made so little effort to understand the reasons behind them, you really had no basis for telling the American people in your USA Today op-ed of March 7th that these U.S. attorneys had lost your confidence, did you?

Now Gonzales comes off as incompetent and a liar.

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