Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Scooter’s partial pardon... and so begins the “Pardon Tsunami”

(Double-posted on Kos) --

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I’ve been saying this for years. There is a fundamental conundrum facing the criminal gang that stands behind the monstrous thing that the neocon movement has become. A gang that has hijacked Conservatism while sincere conservative and libertarian Americans cover their eyes and ears and refuse to see what has happened to their movement.

What is the conundrum? It is the problem of ensuring loyalty among thieves.

Think about it. In an administration as corrupt as this one, how can the scores --the hundreds and possibly thousands -- of complicit and/or outright-corrupt Bushite officials and cronies count on avoiding accountability for their part in an ongoing Great Kleptocratic Raid? Especially since a large part of their mission, for the last seven years (make that thirteen) has been to harass and hamper and intimidate the loyal and skilled professionals who make up the civil service, the intelligence agencies, the Justice establishment and the U.S. Officer Corps?

What can they be thinking? That the United States of America will suddenly abandon its 230 year commitment to accountability and the cleansing power of openness? That those professionals will stay cowed and intimidated forever? Even after the other party retakes the Executive Branch and clears away the no-accounts and Bob jones University weirdos who have been stuffed into the upper echelons of every cabinet agency?

There are various theories to explain how they think they can escape ever being held accountable:

Possibility 1 - they actually have talked themselves into thinking that tomorrow simply won’t come! That the party never ends. As evidence for this, witness how the Cheney-ites are STILL pushing bold new interpretations of presidential power, pushing it toward truly imperial levels...

...even though they may soon face a president who they would NOT want to see so empowered!

Possibility 2 - they have solid reason to expect that the party will never end. They are robbing like mad and pushing extreme presidential empowerment because they know something that we (the rest of us) don’t. A surefire way to ensure that their lock on power stays permanent.

Possibility 3 - even if the nation finally does shrug off both Great Raid and its sheltering Culture War... even if America acts to open up its systems again and restore accountable government... these awful people expect it not to matter to them personally...

...for the simple reason that President Bush has promised to issue as many pardons as it will take, to ensure that no crony ever goes to jail.

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Certainly, the Scooter pardon is compatible with any of these theories, but especially Possibility #3.

(An aside: "If there's a leak out of my administration, I want to know who it is," Bush told reporters at an impromptu news conference during a fund-raising stop in Chicago, Illinois. "If the person has violated law, that person will be taken care of." I guess he meant what he said then.).
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Let there be no mistake. The looming Pardon Tsunami is one of the key problems this nation faces, right now. Because the prospect of a pardon festival is almost certainly helping to maintain discipline among the second and third and fourth layer Bushite apparachniks.

But there is another side to the coin. This prospect also offers an opportunity for the Democrats... and all decent Americans... if only some careful thought would go into formulating a counter-strategy.

For example, Democrats might act to create a "truth & reconciliation" process, by which lower level Bushites could come before a committee and blab what they know about the Great Raid, in exchange for guaranteed immunity...

...thus getting a surefire ticket to safety BEFORE Bush starts the Pardon Tsunami for real, just after the elections, around Christmas 2008. (And thus not having to depend on promises issued by notorious liars.)

Am I suggesting competing pardon-fests? Sure! Oh, I know it doesn't suit the thirst that some liberals nurse, for revenge. But the TRUTH is the best revenge.

More important - since Bush's power to pardon is Constitutionally preserved, the only way to neutralize it may be to COMPETE with it.

And Congress CAN compete, by offering immunity to all whistle blowers now.

After all, a bird in the hand (immunity now) is better than two in the ... well... bush.

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For more on how I predicted the Pardon Tsunami... and a whole range of ideas what to do about it, see:
http://www.davidbrin.com/suggestions.html

42 comments:

Stefan Jones said...

I go with Possibility One.

Do you remember the utterly bizarre "reality based community" rant delivered to Ron Suskind by an unnamed White House aide?

I think these people think they can actually control reality. They think that by juggling the talking points just so that they can perpetually Fool All of the People All of the Time.

Of course, they can't.

This time around, we need to hang them.

And kick in the rhetorical gonads of any apologist who tries to defend them, or make some false equivalence with Clinton.

Kenn Olbermann is pissed. But not beyond words. Oh no.

Stefan Jones said...

Jon Rogers is on a roll, too:

Our representatives -- and to a great degree we as a culture -- are completely buffaloed by shamelessness. You reveal a man's corrupt, or lying, or incompetent, and what does he do? He resigns. He attempts to escape attention, often to aid in his escape of legal pursuit. Public shame has up to now been the silver bullet of American political life. But people who are willing to just do the wrong thing and wait you out, to be publicly guilty ... dammmnnnn.

We are faced with utterly shameless men. Cheney and the rest are looking our representatives right in the eye and saying "You don't have the balls to take down a government. You don't have the sheer testicular fortitude to call us lying sonuvabitches when we lie, to stop us from kicking the rule of law and the Constitution in the ass. You just don't. What's beyond that abyss -- what that would do to our government and our identity as a nation -- terrifies you too much. So get the fuck out of our way."


Read the whole thing.

David Brin said...

A timely bit from Russ Daggett:

A recent Newsweek poll has Bush's approval at an all-time low for his presidency:  26%.  That is supported by an ARG poll and a CBS News poll both of which have Bush at 27%; and a FOX News poll at 31%

(FOX News generally has Bush about 5 percentage points higher than all the other polls – this is an all-time low for Bush in the FOX poll). 

As Newsweek reports:
 
[T]he 26 percent rating puts Bush lower than Jimmy Carter, who sunk to his nadir of 28 percent in a Gallup poll in June 1979. In fact, the only president in the last 35 years to score lower than Bush is Richard Nixon. Nixon’s approval rating tumbled to 23 percent in January 1974, seven months before his resignation over the botched Watergate break-in.

The war in Iraq continues to drag Bush down. A record 73 percent of Americans disapprove of the job Bush has done handling Iraq. Despite “the surge” in U.S. forces into Baghdad and Iraq’s western Anbar province, a record-low 23 percent of Americans approve of the president’s actions in Iraq, down 5 points since the end of March. 

But the White House cannot pin his rating on the war alone. Bush scores record or near record lows on every major issue: from the economy (34 percent approve, 60 percent disapprove) to health care (28 percent approve, 61 percent disapprove) to immigration (23 percent approve, 63 percent disapprove).

And—in the worst news, perhaps, for the crowded field of Republicans hoping to succeed Bush in 2008—50 percent of Americans disapprove of the president’s handling of terrorism and homeland security. Only 43 percent approve, on an issue that has been the GOP’s trump card in national elections since 9/11. ...
 
Bush still has plenty of time to beat out Nixon’s 23% (yesterday’s commutation of Scooter Libby’s prison sentence might even nudge him across the line).

Cheney has long had a distain for public opinion (as well as democracy, the rule of law and governmental transparency) and his poll numbers have shown it (he has languished below 20% approval for years).  Along with that contempt for the electorate has comes a certain freedom. 


Freedom to attack Iran, perhaps?

With the Officer Corps (at last) simmering with citizenshop-based resistance and the civil service almost in revolt, there are limits to what even a president can order. But a spasm airstrike is well within his power, especially given the high likelihood that the Air Force -- or at least parts of it -- is still Bush Country.

Rob said...

OK, I'm not willing to be as cynical as you are about this. Or as cynical as Stefan.

I'll go with Possibility One to a certain point, since I think the Administration is filled with True Believers who don't think opinion polls are worthwhile, since (in the opinion of the TB's, pollsters and press reporters are the Enemy.)

I don't know what Cheney is thinking, claiming that the office of the Vice President isn't part of the Executive Branch. But it's the final straw, in my opinion.

I love the idea of an immunity fest, by the way. Since the Congress and the President are (finally) at odds again, why not? Divided government produces the most interesting compromises.

Finally, I think there *is* ample comparison to make between Clinton's time and today's convictees, if only as a comment on what the American people have decided: We'll let an official obstruct things if the things aren't germane or we think he's being witch-hunted.

That sort of permission, in the hands of a kleptocrat, especially a true-believing kleptocrat who thinks the press is on a witch-hunt and who doesn't believe in the polls, might be enough for a more damaging kind of bold dishonesty.

IOW, did the relatively consequence-free pardon of Marc Rich embolden the Bush Administration to this?

DemetriosX said...

Not pertinent to the current discussion, but here is another data point on the desecularization of the military from the

http://www.navytimes.com/news/2007/05/navy_conversion_070513w/

Woozle said...

Some relevant issue wiki pages:

Religious control of the US military
Libby bail-out

Comments, additional links, etc. are welcome as always.

Don Quijote said...

Possibility 3 - even if the nation finally does shrug off both Great Raid and its sheltering Culture War... even if America acts to open up its systems again and restore accountable government... these awful people expect it not to matter to them personally...

I'll go with possibility 3.

After all Nixon lead a horrible life after he left office disgraced, he had no friends, no respect, no money, no roof over his head and no idea where his next meal was going to come before he died a lonely and miserable death. NOT!

And how are all those fine people who got caught in Iran-Contra doing? you know the ones who don't have their own national radio show...

Unless the Democrats impeach Shrub and company, this scandal and this entire administration will be shoved down the memory hole and in 2012 the republican party will be back running another "Shrub" under the Reagan banner, and the press will help them shove the Shrub mis-administration down the memory hole.

Great Raid I Like it.. and its sheltering Culture War...

The culture war is a feature of the Great Raid, while the idiots are arguing and shouting as to whether or not someone they have never met and likely will never meet should be allowed to have an abortion or to marry someone of the same gender, the raiders are cracking the safe and walking out with it's contents.

Blake Stacey said...

The Yorkshire Ranter:

We've just seen half Yorkshire and the Severn Valley under water, with all kinds of funky logistics problems, like arranging for the Royal Engineers to boat over the right folk to look after a marooned supergrid substation and not have a real Wexelblat fuckup, or shifting super-hefty pumps from London to Doncaster when the railway and the M1 are shut for a possible dam burst. At the same time — as if some horrid bugger chucked it in a scenario-planning exercise — a terrorist wave.

And all in and among a prime-ministerial transition, while departments are dying, multiplying by mitosis, merging, and generally carrying out all the sexual manoeuvres bureaucratic entities can do.

Damn, it's good to have a real civil service.

Zechariah said...

I still say the Pardon Tsunami won't happen. I predict that President Bush will have issued fewer pardons over the course of his presidency than Bill Clinton did over his (456), and that he will issue fewer pardons during the last month of his presidency than Clinton did over the last month of his.

I will grant that there will be more controversial pardons, but not more pardons overall. By example, Bush Sr. pardoned Weinberger and other individuals associated with the Iran-Contra affair, but Issued far fewer pardons than Clinton (whose most controversial pardon was, I think, Marc Rich). If that is what you meant by a "pardon tsunami", I retract the comment.

Onion Volcano said...

Comedian Patton Oswalt was on NPR's Fresh Air yesterday. He described how jokes about Bush fail to elicit a response, even outrage from loyalists.

He describes the conservative audience as worn out. They can't defend, and they don't have the energy for anger.

Doug S. said...

Crazy idea:

A President probably can't pardon himself. However, Bush could probably pardon Cheney shortly before his term ends, and then resign and make Cheney President for exactly one day, long enough for Cheney to pardon him.

David Brin said...

Again, do see:
http://www.davidbrin.com/suggestions.html

Among my other suggestions for dealing with the Pardon Tsunami, there's one suggesting that Congress make its own "signing statement" by passing a law "defining" what a pardon is.

For example, they could legislate that a pardon only applies to criminal acts that a person cops to, describes in detail and admits were criminal.

The Roberts court would probably crush this, but at EXTREME political cost in public opinion. Which is the point behind many of my Pardon suggestions. Half of them are aimed at setting things up so that the pardon surge will snuff out the last sparks of populism in the neocon movement, exposing it as an aristocratic coup and raid.

As for Bush resigning for Cheney? I actually quite expect it to happen. So Cheney can spite us beyond the grave with his face on presidential-series coins and stamps.

At least when Nixon gets a coins, I will be able to say "China" to myself, over and over, and swallow the pill. But W?

Woody Allen had it right, in SLEEPER, only with the wrong president.

Markbnj said...

Hi Dr. Brin.

I agree with your ONE answer.

Believe it or not, a Truth and Reconciliation commission, where in return for admitting guilt,they will serve not more then one year in prison. (would be less then most sentences, and MUCH cheaper in the long run,

BUT for that, they will need to COME CLEAN before C-SPAN, with fully televised hearings, made mandatory on all the major networks.

Just like during the watergate hearings...

And then president Pelosi can grant THEM all clemency, from one year, to ONE month in jail....

Excuse me. I just must have woken up from a dream... {I just read the second part of your post...Agreed)

But the worst part is the feear that CHENEY will become PRESIDENt for evenfive minutes.

AUGH... it's a nightmare, not a dream
Mark Brown in NJ

David Brin said...

A complete noinsequitur.

I get a lot of invitations from good people, to link via the social net sites. If I know them and respect them, I do try to accept... even though it is a time-consuming chore and I have never once seen even a scintilla of benefit from these awful "six degrees of Kevin Bacon, friends-of-friends sites.

In fact, I generally see them as frivolous. The interfaces are anti-intuitive and nealy always silly. Never has the linkage stuff helped me to achieve even a trivial life goal. Like eating one salted peanut.

But netlog takes the cake. I sincerely spent quite some time trying to figure it out. I could not even find my inviter's invitation to link, nor could I perceive anything but a maelstrom of ways to waste time.

Seriously, if these social nets... and Second Life avatar worlds and lobotomized texting and vapid MSpace are what people consider "cool web aps" today, then it's clear why aliens haven't contacted us yet!

Dig it. Every single one of these apps is based upon an assumption, held by the operators all the way down to the programmers, that the customers are shallow idiots, simply uninterested in exchanging anything remotely like discourse or useful collaboration or anything more complicated than flirting and "FOTFLMAO"...

TISSS....

Doug S. said...

The idea behind social networking sites is that you use them to find people, not to communicate with them. That's what email, forums, blogs, and AIM are for. Myspace is more like an online dating site than anything you would probably care about.

Enterik said...

The Bush Amdinistration is a scuttled ship in irons with a few live cannons and no whaleboats.

Unless someone can point to a mechanism for prospective pardons, is not a pardon a penalty for a crime or a punishment associated with a crime? One wonders how the resident will grant such in the absense of even an indictment?

If the Democrats surfeit themselves with hearings that produce numerous embarassments but few indictments, who can Bush pardon?

If a Democrat-lead Congress asks the next Democratic Amdinistration for certain documents and they comply, which of those subsequently indicted does Bush have the power to pardon?

I suspect the Bush Administration, and careerist Republicans in general, are hoping the atmosphere will be one of low tolreance for partisan witch-hunts post-2008 election (and they'll do their best to foment such a zeitgeist). They are smug in the belief that sooner or later, probably just one democratic mismanaged presidental term, there will be a GOP executive and a rash of pardons, just like George HW Bush pardoned Iran-Contra convictions.

Enterik said...

Markbnj, non-executive non-legislative Cheney has already been President for two hours and we sat by and watched as Bush invoked the 25th ammendment for nothing more serious than an afternoon nap.

The 25th ammendment was meant for serious incapacitations such as Woodrow Wilson's stroke, the vice-presidential vacancy after Kennedy's assassination and the Reagan assassination attempt.

The last of these shows the precarious control over the strings of power. Then Secretary of State Alexander "Nuclear Warning Shot" Haig declared himself de facto president skipping over the vice president, Speaker of the House and President pro tempore of the Senate.

(of course this is a relatively minor detail if one cleaves to the Bush-Hinckley coup d'etat hypothesis)

Rick said...

John Varley has a quote in his site http://www.varley.net/ today that really resonates with the ongoing discussions here:

America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves.

Abraham Lincoln

Is this what is happening now?

Sam Taylor said...

Dr. Brin,

Considering the totalitarian and militaristic bent to the characters involved, it has always struck me that Scenario 3--a power grab to remain in office permanently--has a very solid chance of occurring. They could move forward, with the option of pardoning everyone as a back-up plan.

I'm not a conspiracy theorist--I believe it is most likely the Cronies choose to fade away rather than grab for he golden ring.

But part of me is worried. Very, very worried.

Kellyu said...

Before you can have a "Pardon Tsunami" you have to have a "Prosecution Tsunami" and a "Conviction Tsunami". Close to 0% likelihood of that. Hence if this makes possibility #3 implausible, as it does, then I think it defaults to possibility #2 becoming the most likely, all ending in making you-know-who king for life, and served very enthusiastically by his Bob Jones University weirdos and Christian Dominionist lackies who are all chomping at the bit to implement Old Testament Law on US citizens. The US began with a king named George followed by a president named George. The US could end with a president named George who later became its king. We end up where we began. From tyranny to tyranny, with a brief democratic interlude.

Markbnj said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Markbnj said...

..revised to include MORE stuff...
Enterik said...

Markbnj, non-executive non-legislative Cheney has already been President for two hours and we sat by and watched as Bush invoked the 25th ammendment for nothing more serious than an afternoon nap.

... was I sleeping? When did THAT happen? augh! why did that NOT go mainstream media again..

Dr. Brin, do you think your status/stature could allow you to bring up NSPD51 to the media?

it's almost two months now, and I STILL haven't seen ONE (mainstream) newspaper article about it yet...

Sam Taylor said...

...snip...it has always struck me that Scenario 3--a power grab to remain in office permanently--has a very solid chance of occurring.

>>Mark Sez:

Gee, you mean the situation where Bush decides that his twins become the next PRES and VP, despite being under 35??

OR the "hey, postponing the 2008 elections for four years", and Don Rumsfeld will be the next VP???

SIGH

>>>End mark comments

They could move forward, with the option of pardoning everyone as a back-up plan.

I'm not a conspiracy theorist--I believe it is most likely the Cronies choose to fade away rather than grab for he golden ring.

>>mark sez:

and I recall saying to someone in 2002, that the war in iraq was coming, was immoral, and we'd need at least 500,000 people to win it successfully...

and I think that right now there is NO way (despite what Almost ALL of the candidates say) that we can ACTUALLY safely withdraw from IRAQ.

I also hereby predict that we (AMERIKA) will:

* have our democracy removed in 2008.
* will have a draft established if Bushki DOES (actually) leave office
* will require all HS graduates (3 year notice) so 15yr olds would be affected, but 16yr olds would be exempt from service)
mandatory three year US service starting at 18, no exemptions, either military or "peace-corp" alternative service.
* We WILL be in IRAQ in 2027 (and 2037 too!)
*We will eventually call this OUR hundred years war...
* we will be stuck in this mess for ages and ages.

Jon said...

I suggest that people check out Greg palast's "Armed Madhouse" if they want to know what the GOP plots for the near future. Short version: What they've done in the past, voter caging (to throw them off the rolls) and letting broken voting machines stay in poor, impoverished, minority areas where they will fail to record a vote for president.

Jon said...

Bush wasn't taking a nap while Cheney was president, he was getting a colonoscopy. wikipedia:Acting President Dick Cheney.

What would Cheney do with 2 hours as president? Maybe Cheney said he needed the time to write Bush a carte-blanche. It would be just about par if VP Evil screwed over President Idiot during his literal reaming while figuratively doing everyone else.

Jon F. said...

Sorry, that last rude post was a different Jon: Jon F

Rob said...

Back to the topic at hand.

CNN reports that so far at least, Dubya is way behind in granting clemencies and pardons in general. The record takers were Truman and Johnson, with Eisenhower a close second.

So far, Bush has left evidence mostly of ignoring the pardoning power in the normal course of doing business, with only 13 pardons after six years, and four commutations, including Libby.

If there is going to be a Pardon Tsunami, I will expect it to approach those numbers *or* to consist substantially only of Bushite cronies.

Remember, this is the president who did not not not bail out Ken Lay. (Who in my opinion is simply not dead. Now, where did I put that tinfoil hat?)

Joel said...

I'm told the proper spelling is "Apparatchik". Made it difficult to look up...now that I know what it means, it makes sense the way you used it.

Jumper said...

Speaking of retirement, what does Rumsfeld do these days? A journalist friend has a bet he's still working at the Pentagon.

Tacitus2 said...

The whole Scooter-Valerie Plame thing did not get me too excited. There was more than a little media hype and politicing going on there. I mean, are ALL CIA agents babes?
But still, the man was convicted.
The correct thing to do, politically and morally, would be to have a closed door meeting with GW, after which Scooter tells us he has refused a pardon and will do the time (or some of it, as these things usually go.) With our troops under fire in Iraq I figger a middle aged politico could do a spell in Club Fed for the good of country and party.
Indirect evidence against David's scheming power grab scenario. Real Machiavellis would never be as politically tone deaf as the current administration.
Tacitus2

Tony Fisk said...

Well, we now *know* that oil is why Oz went into Iraq. What about you lot?

Stefan Jones said...

"What about you lot?"

Something about mushroom clouds, or their hating our freedoms, or mobile labs or something.

Operation Making It Up As We Go Along.

Joseph Ryan said...

I want to ask you a question. A question that has not be asked before:

Are you a proponent of the 911 Truth Movement.

Enterik said...

Previously Rob offered,"So far, Bush has left evidence mostly of ignoring the pardoning power in the normal course of doing business, with only 13 pardons after six years, and four commutations, including Libby."

Surely that is a typo as the true tally is 113!

Clearly, that is nowhere near the number of petitions granted for pardon, commutation and Remission of Fine by Ford(409), Reagan(406) or Clinton(459).

But I feel that this Libby commutation rises to George HW Bush level of cronyism. Perhaps, this partial relief is both a carrot and a stick for Libby. A tangible display of executive loyalty towards his minion(s) but he better stay on the straight and narrow until the end of the term or the conviction will stand, otherwise a pardon will be forthcoming as a reward for his reciprocal loyalty, an implicit quid pro quo if you will...

Zechariah said...

A rechargeable battery that plugs into your USB port.

http://www.thinkgeek.com/homeoffice/gear/8e82/

I thought it was clever, anyway.

Genius said...

does the presidential pardon actually serve any purpose?
It's not so bad in the context of the common welth if the queen or the governor general can pardon someone because those peopel dont have power - but to give the power to pardon to the most powerful person in your country????
That seem to be just asking for trouble.

Anonymous said...

Here's what's wrong with all of those predictions that you will never get the votes for impeachment.
You can't say that unless you know what would come out of the investigation and trial that would go along with impeachment. Impeachment can be brought with a simple majority, which the Democrats have without any help from the Republicans. An impeachment investigation would have discovery powers that the president would be defenseless to stop. All kinds of stuff could come out. All kinds of people could be implicated and be worried about criminal charges that could come even after 2008 based on the record established in the impeachment investigation and trial.
Spare me the bullshit prophecy about how a vote would or wouldn't go after a real investigation. How in the world do you know what smoking guns would emerge? How do you know how the Republicans would vote in the face of smoking gun evidence? Imagine what vulnerable Republican candidates facing re-election in 2008 or 2010 would think about the posibility that they would be held accountable for thwarting a deserved impeachment that had been proved with smoking gun evidence.
Moreover, even if you didn't get the Republican votes in the Senate, there is great benefit merely from getting the facts out. If Bush were proven guilty and then only got off because of a partisan vote by Republican senators this would be a great measure of accountability even if not the fully deserved measure of accountability.

Zechariah said...

does the presidential pardon actually serve any purpose?

Yes. For one it is part of the system of checks and balances that our government is based on. The Judicial branch may convict a man, but the Executive branch can pardon him.

For another it demonstrates that the government can be merciful.

ErnieG said...

Anonymous
An impeachment trial is not a criminal investigation. It is a trial to determine if a high government officer has failed to carry out his responsibilities,duties, and oath.
that he is following his oath of office.

There is no punishment, it is a removal of the privilege of ever holding office again.

A high crime or misdemeanor is not a felony or misdemeanor in the regular sense. The high part is that we the people expect a higher standard not just in obeying the constitution but that the spirit of it is adhered to.

By his own written statements Decider George has convicted himself.

Specifically his signing statements appended to laws sent to him by Congress. The constitution says there are three actions the President can take PERIOD.
They are:
1) Send the bill/law back to Congress, along with a request for clarification or statement it is an illegal (unconstitutional) law.
2) Sign it and most importantly
FAITHFULLY EXECUTE IT!
3) At the end of a session of Congress (less than ten days until adjournment) he may take no action. This is commonly called a 'pocket veto', ie he leaves the law in his pocket.

A signing statement is a statement that he is putting conditions on FAITHFULLY EXECUTING the law. He is stating that he cannot or will not faithfully execute it.


So if Congress ever discovers some testicular fortitude it has a ready made impeachable offense.

Enterik said...

genius queried, "does the presidential pardon actually serve any purpose"?

Yes, to heal a nation wounded by war.

Washington pardoned the symbolic prisoners of the Whiskey Rebellion.

Buchanan pardoned Brigham Young for his role in the Utah War (you can decide to whom the 'his' is referring :-).

Andrew Johnson pardoned Confederate soldiers after the Civil War.

Warren Harding pardoned Debs' conviction under the Espionage Act.

Marcus Garvey sentence was commuted by Calvin Coolidge.

Jimmy Carter pardoned Vietnam Draft resisters.

In my opinion, the worst "presidential" pardon ever offered as a way to heal the nation, unqualified worst pardon ever, far worse than Marc Rich, the one that is most corrosive, is Ford's blanket pardon for crimes Nixon MIGHT have committed as President. If that serves as a precedent for Bush to prospectively pardon his entire administration is American democracy dead? If they press the precedent, we are all well and truely screwed, even if the Democrats manage to prevail in the short term.

Bush has traded in a fair chunk of what is perceived as his values-based authenticity for some good old fashioned quid pro quo-based security> However, Bushs' pardons have generally been for convicted crimes for which the sentence has been served, apparently upright and supportive of the 'conservative' meme of moral rectitude. Yet the cynical side of me says that cultivated image was for electoral purposes and that the facade will be cast aside sometime between November 2, 2008 and December 31, 2008.

Were Bush to abandon this last shred of professed decency he would undoubtedly damage decades of conservative image production. But he would also prevent the truely debillitating damage done by massive indictments across the board. With the damage limited to the politically minimal 'Congressional hearing hearsay', the offenders could wait out the storm and return at some later date to take advantage of the precedents set during their tenure.

Having fully realized the pernicious nature of Ford's pardoning Nixon, I formally withdraw my previously stated objection to the pardon tsunami scenario

David Brin said...

Enterik illustrates one of my chief points about the Democrats' utter failure to THINK DEEP about the present state of culture and political war that has torn down America's position of leadership in the world. The issue of how to deal with presidential pardons is just one example where the Dems show no sign of careful pondering, whatsoever.

Whether or not a "pardon tsunami" has been promised to the hundreds of neocon apparatchiks who were appointed to bully and harrass and repress the civil service for the last 6+ years - and to the kleptocrats who benefited from this long stretch of corrupt, crony-based government - the Democrats (and their sincere moderate, conservative and libertarian allies) need to act as if that tsunami is coming!

The need to do this because:

1) by offering "truth and reconciliation" immunity deals, in exchange for full, whistle-blowing disclosure, they can pre-empt those pardons and start a counter-tsunami of revelation that the country badly needs.

(Those who today are ranting for impeachment have no sense of political scale or jiu jitsu. Their "sumo" frontal attack strategy will play right into the culture warrios' trap. But by concentrating on whistle-blowers now, they may get their wish later.)

2. Starting to discuss the Pardon Tsunami now can only be a win-win political tactic. It is called "preparing the bruise." Punching a weak spot repeatedly, BEFORE any major blow has been struck.

Let the loony radio jocks like Limbaugh deny and ridicule the notion. If the pardons do come, THEY will take a huge hit to their remaining credibility.

And if they don't come, the Dems can take credit for preventing it.

Anyway, the very image of such a looming pardon festival will resonate with the public's rising distrust of these monsters. It paints another color on the canvas.

And, yes, Clinto was a dolt to have pardoned Marc Rich. Still, given that the entire span of the Clinton administration was all about reducing secrecy, and the entire theme of the Bush administration has been to hugely increase secrecy, while evading all accountability, there is a simple answer...

...that whatever the Marc Rich thing was about - it was an isolated thing. It was not part of a massive and coordinated and treasonous Great Kleptocratic Raid.

For two decades we have had to listen to Clinton-haters holding up this or that isolated crumb of stinky cheese and screeching "SEE! This proves that they are all corrupt and horrible!"

But that was totally Orwellinan... like claiming that a man who volunteered for TWO tours on a swift boat in Vietnam could be anything other than a hero - at one level or another - even if there was a little cheesiness and hype in the story.

They have had FOURTEEN YEARS to find something signiicatnt about the Clintons, using every resource of the federal government plus a billion dollars of private funds. Given that not one Clintonite was ever even indicted for anything having to do with the performance of public office, I say a very steep burden of proof falls upon anybody who tries to say that the Marc Rich pardon was granted for any reason other than the one given by Clinton himself.

That dog won't hunt.

Anonymous said...

How's this for truth and reconciliation?

Congress passes a bill that no one who gives full disclosure may be sentenced to jail or prison time for any of the offenses they admit having commited, but that they shall not be protected from being convicted of a Felony.

Of course, it only works if we ban pre-emptive pardons.

Shazam McShotgunstein said...

The authority to pardon or commute is an entirely separate issue from conspiracy to obstruct justice. If there is any kind of understanding or intent to use a pardon to buy silence regarding a common plan or to insulate wrongdoing, such as is described in David's post, it could constitute conspiracy to obstruct justice, regardless of the authority to pardon in itself. Offering rounds of immunity to low-level insiders is not just a way to get at the truth, it is a way to investigate and prosecute anyone involved in a common plan behind the pardons or commutations.