Greenhouse Eats Offal for Breakfast

I was at a loss for words about Arlen “Never Know Whether He’s Haggis or Scrapple” Specter’s loss on Tuesday. In the Village, our tragic figures never have the glory of Shakespeare or the Greeks, but rather only the tawdriness of Hollywood, and the whole thing really just made me sad–sad about the state of our politics.

Luckily, Linda Greenhouse has said most of what I would have said and more. You really ought to read the whole thing–so I’m just going to quote the last few lines.

Having spent four years in Albany covering the New York Legislature early in my journalism career, I don’t regard myself as naïve about politicians, their foibles or their inevitable compromises. What I mean to convey by these reflections on Senator Specter’s trajectory is not surprise so much as sadness — sadness because he knew better.

Specter knew better–and even admitted as much, which is more than most of his colleagues do. But the ideology of Specter-for-Specter nevertheless always won out.

36 replies
  1. tjbs says:

    Specter brings up expectorate in my mind.

    Start with the single bullet cover-up,
    move to ensconcing thomas as the brightest legal mind in the country over Professor Hill,
    Then move to the subversion of the constitution in regards to the replacement of the 11 US attorneys without Senate confirmation. Then he’s a political turncoat for getting reelected and that about summarizes arlin’s gift to us as a duel citizen.

  2. JasonLeopold says:

    Want to make sure you saw this story by Gerts:

    House panel OKs probe of Gitmo lawyers

    The House Armed Services Committee approved legislation Wednesday that would require the Pentagon’s inspector general to conduct an investigation into whether defense attorneys for detainees at the detention facility at U.S. Naval Base Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, acted improperly.

    The measure is part of a $760 billion defense authorization bill approved by the panel that will fund the military, Energy Department, nuclear weapons programs, the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and military relief operations in Haiti.

    The detainee measure was sponsored by Rep. Jeff Miller, Florida Republican, and directs the Pentagon inspector general to investigate whether attorneys may have acted improperly or violated laws related to detainee operations at the Cuban prison.

  3. JasonLeopold says:

    also from the same story:

    Rep. Howard P. “Buck” McKeon, California Republican and ranking member of the committee, said that based on information the committee received on the John Adams Project he is “very concerned that the departments detainee operations have been – and may continue to be – compromised.:

    “Of greater concern is that the John Adams Project may have put military and U.S. government personnel at risk,” Mr. McKeon said. “Its for these reasons that we believe its vital for the departments inspector general to fully investigate the conduct and practices of certain defense lawyers and report to Congress in a timely manner.”

    • PJEvans says:

      We’re not supposed to notice that we don’t actually have civil rights any more; they just tolerate us (and our ideas) as long as we can’t actually do anything to them. When we become inconvenient, the hammer will come down.

      • tjbs says:

        as long as we can’t actually do anything to them.

        Isn’t it ironic that we know the names of the eleven lost souls and where they lived compared to the executives on

        board who were there to push and party, and apparently they abandoned ship without concern of the left behind ?

        Shouldn’t they be being interviewed by TV news?

        Sorry for the O/T

    • bobschacht says:

      …the John Adams Project may have put military and U.S. government personnel at risk…

      Yeah, like maybe at risk for prosecution for war crimes?
      The trouble is that there is not enough risk for these kinds of crimes. In the present environment, there’s no risk at all for breaking the law– as long as you’ve got official sanction for your actions. This is yet another example of segregating the “benefits” of a crime from the risk of getting caught, indicted and incarcerated. This is the consequence of “looking forward, not backward.”

      Bob in AZ

  4. Rayne says:

    I’m racking my brains for an example of a Specter-like character in literature. Clearly not a hero in the sense that Campbell wrote about, or perhaps he could have been had he not ignored and thrust away the call to his dharma. He’s clearly no antihero, and he’s no Byronic hero either.

    Whatever he is, I have a nagging, gnawing feeling that karma isn’t done with him for failing. She’s punished him a lot already, but it wasn’t enough to persuade him to rethink his situation let alone become conscious of his calling. I feel for his family.

    • bobschacht says:

      I feel for his family.

      He has some attractive daughters. One of them was standing at his right hand while he made his concession speech, and she had a beautiful smile, which she flashed frequently, despite the sad (for Specter) situation. I wonder if she was glad that the campaign was over.

      Bob in AZ

    • scribe says:

      He’s not a real defense lawyer. Rather, he’s an ex-prosecutor who worked the defense side when he left public service and will slip back into the prosecutorial role just as easily now that a job’s opened up.

      He’s filling the slot that was formerly occupied by Rahm’s Holder-minder, who Holder fired when he found out the minder had been going to Rahm in the back-channel to spike (among other things) civilian trials for terror suspects. Seeing as how this guy’s got Public Integrity experience, one might hope that he would turn the laser eyes of the DoJ in the direction of … Rahm.

      • fatster says:

        Be still my heart! I’m gonna be tripping on your “one might hope” scenario for awhile. It’s very heartening.

  5. scribe says:

    Speak for yourself on being left without words for Specter’s loss, EW. I was not, nor did I need a column’s worth to express myself.

    “Good riddance, Senator Single Bullet Theory.” pretty much did it for me.

    And, I’m inclined to agree with one of the commenters upthread, who noted “I don’t think karma’s done with him yet.”

    There’s a lot of paying to be done for burying (or helping bury) as much as he did.

    And please don’t impugn scrapple by using it to rename Ol’ Haggis. I like scrapple and don’t want to have a mental image of Ol’ Haggis popping up when I sit down for a plateful.

    • fatster says:

      There are quite a few people around these parts who are very good with words. You are one of them. Please help me out with creating an appropriate political epitaph. I’ll go first.

      “He was an ambitious man who sought to ride a magic bullet into a promising future.”

      • scribe says:

        There ain’t enough granite in the quarry to make a headstone big enough to hold all the nasty things that can be said about Arlen.

    • skdadl says:

      Well, if there’s any impugnin’ goin’ on, it had better not be of the haggis either. ;-)

      Even further OT but related to one of EW’s earlier posts: I guess most of you knew that your congressman John Hall was this John Hall, but I sure didn’t until my blogboss pogge, who is an adept on this turf, told me yesterday. What can I say? Wow.

      • scribe says:

        I don’t care about the good name of haggis. I’m narrowing my focus to scrapple; you can defend haggis if that’s your thing.

        As to John Hall, the Repugs tried to use his album covers against him back in the 06 election. Didn’t work. Nice thing about him is, after making a good pile in the music biz, he worked his way up in politics as an active citizen from like the local school board to Congress. He looks to be a good one.

      • Petrocelli says:

        As much as I lurves to poke fun at Haggis/Offal, I wanted to come and ask Marcy and all of you to call Levin, Biden and everyone you can think of, to get Toyota to hire Union Employees for the NUMMI venture with Tesla.

  6. MadDog says:

    OT – The ACLU must of just got around today to making this stuff available:

    DOJ-OIG FOIA Documents Released 5/14/2010

    On May 14, 2010, as part of the ACLU’s DOJ OIG FOIA, the government released 236 pages of summaries of interviews conducted by the OIG in preparing its report, A Review of the FBI’s Involvement in and Observations of Detainee Interrogations in Guantanamo Bay, Afghanistan, and Iraq…

    The link has 55 separate PDFs for our reading pleasure.

    • skdadl says:

      I liked that report. It is one of my favourite reports, second only maybe to the SASC report. I use it whenever I can to go after CSIS and DFAIT, who behaved very badly at GTMO compared to the FBI. I’m no apologist for the FBI and they were very bad for a time in other cases — Arar’s, eg — but they knew something was wrong at GTMO and a number of them sent up alerts very early on. Our guys just sleep-walked through their visits to Khadr, passed on their intel to the U.S. gov, did nothing for Omar, and wrote clueless memos.

    • fatster says:

      Well, no need to wonder what to do this weekend, then. We’ll just settle in and read 55 PDFs.

    • JasonLeopold says:

      Can’t tell if these are “fresh” docs. Some of them, particularly the interview notes, look familiar. Perhaps it may just be the language that is similar to other docs. There’s a bunch where they talk about the use of dogs. Those are the ones I felt I had read before.

  7. Citizen92 says:

    Pardon my French but Specter can suck it.

    I have not forgiven the man since “someone” on his staff (Brett Tollman) “slipped in” a provision into the Patriot Act renewal in 2006 that allowed DOJ to appoint acting interim US Attorneys indefinitely. Which presumably would have paved the way for the likes of Tim Griffin, etc.

    Tollman was rewarded with the US Attorney – Utah slot.
    Gonzalez’ butt boy Sampson (who also wanted that job) got the shaft.
    And the wheels began to come off at DOJ.

    [Mon Dieu, what French!]

    • BoxTurtle says:

      ‘Twas once a faux Democrat Haggis…

      Who swapped parties hoping to snag us.
      But despite all his friends,
      he came to an end
      No longer can he back stab us.

      Boxturtle (Well, you try to rhyme haggis!)

      • Hmmm says:

        Yes, I’m so sorry I didn’t realize what an abomination of a rhyming scheme problem I’d left for folks there… outstanding job, BT! Particularly considering the poverty of the material I’d left you to work with!

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