Mukasey Pulls Ball Away, Conyers Goes Flying

The central metaphor of the Charlie Brown cartoons was the recurring “joke” of Lucy pulling the ball away before Charlie Brown could finally kick it. Charlie would go flying and Lucy would get a cheap laugh out of it.

I feel that.

That’s about frustration. That’s about justice. When you put your trust in someone like Lucy, justice is not going come easy.

In the Bush era, there are quite a few Lucy characters, but the most recent ripping of the football away from the kick of justice cast Michael Mukasey in the role of Lucy. Charlie Brown is played by House Judiciary Committee chair, John Conyers. You have a feeling that Conyers has been trying to kick that ball for a long time.

You can sense his frustration building up. First Pelosi pulled the ball of impeachment from him then Karl Rove gets away, so far, with ignoring a subpoena.

There’s a bit of Moby Dick in all this too.

Maybe the plight of Buffalo Bills fans during their stretch of Super Bowl futility during the 90’s can get you there too.

Mukasey’s maddening announcement that though “we”–the Charlie Browns of the world wanting to kick the ass of the Bush Administration–had the goods on members of Justice Department who participated in illegal hiring practices that disqualified any applicants that even smelled the slightest bit liberal, he was not going to prosecute. To add insult to injury, he even threw in a mind blowing parsing of words that will go down in history as one of the great grievances against language and justice ever.

Here’s what Mukasey told the American Bar Association:

Where there is evidence of criminal wrongdoing, we vigorously investigate it, and where there is enough evidence to charge someone with a crime, we vigorously prosecute. But not every wrong, or even every violation of the law, is a crime.

Here’s what the dictionary says about the word crime:

1. an action or an instance of negligence that is deemed injurious to the public welfare or morals or to the interests of the state and that is legally prohibited.
2. criminal activity and those engaged in it: to fight crime.
3. the habitual or frequent commission of crimes: a life of crime.
4. any offense, serious wrongdoing, or sin.
5. a foolish, senseless, or shameful act: It’s a crime to let that beautiful garden go to ruin.

Since I am still flailing through space and time waiting to hit the ground, I will turn it over to Amanda at Pandagon for her reaction:

Identifying something as a crime is not as simple as determining whether or not a law was broken. You have to examine the person who did the wrong and decide if they fit the description “criminal”, in what case, no matter what they do, it’s probably a crime. Does the person in question wear a 3-piece suit? Or do they have really big pants? Do they eat dinner with you and your friends, or do they sit in the car next to you in traffic eating a Big Mac? These may seem like silly questions to you, but to big important attorney generals, they make the difference between criminal and not-criminal. And that, of course, is the difference between crime and not-crime.

And here’s Conyers reaction:

I am distressed that Attorney General Mukasey has been so quick to determine that no criminal offense has been committed in connection with the illegal hiring practices at the Department of Justice.

It is not enough for Mr. Mukasey to assert that things are different under his watch. The Department of Justice cannot reestablish its credibility so long as it persists in a strategy designed to avoid revealing all the facts that have so compromised the integrity of the Department of Justice and to prevent real accountability for misconduct by former DOJ officials.

There’s no way this will be forgotten. John Conyers, God willing, will still be there in five months when there’s a new Attorney General. Then we’ll tee up the football again, and instead of being Lucy, this time Mukasey and his predecessor Alberto Gonzales will be the ball. Who Lucy is we don’t know yet, but let’s just say there’s at least some chance that Conyers will get a couple of good kicks in before it’s all said and done.

6 thoughts on “Mukasey Pulls Ball Away, Conyers Goes Flying”

  1. I read the same thing, and had much the same thoughts. Being the lawyer that I am, I was stopped by the next part of his speech that you didn’t quote. Something along the lines of what the bad people did didn’t violate a criminal statute, rather they violated a civil statute. I’m now going to look into it. I’ll report back if there’s anything of interest.

  2. Every time Mukasey fails to do his duty with respect to any wrongdoing involving a Republican operative, Conyers should forward a FORMAL request to the DoJ that Mukasey himself be investigated – for conspiracy to obstruct justice. Message: just being the AG doesn’t put you above the law.

    I would start with the case of Harriet Miers, in whose case a judge has already ruled that she had neither law nor precedent to back her refusal to appear before the HJC. Where is Mukasey’s legal counter-argument for not arresting her?

    Mukasey swore an oath to defend the Constitution, not his Repuke buddies. It’s time he was forced to take that seriously.

  3. When the gig is up, they are all going to retire fat and happy from the big business/big oil profits lining their portfolios.

    It’s like they are just trying to hold up until 2009, when they can all just slip out of town.

  4. No one will be forced to take anything seriously until we’re all too dead to do so. Some bad apples might serve some time, but in the interest of magical, feel-good healing, we’ll be told we have to move on and wait until the next gang of thugs occupies 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.

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