New Civilization News: Justice Texas Style    
 Justice Texas Style12 comments
picture4 Jul 2007 @ 10:50, by Richard Carlson

Habit, laziness, and fear conspire to keep us comfortably within the familiar.

---Poet Jane Hirshfield, whose BA from Princeton was received in its first graduating class to include women

For eight straight years George Bush hasn't displayed the slightest interest in anything we care about.
And now that he's after a job that he can't get appointed to, he's like Columbus discovering America. He's found child care. He's found education.
Poor George. He can't help it - he was born with a silver foot in his mouth.

---Texas Governor Ann Richards, who was defeated for re-election mysteriously by George Bush's son, also named George Bush

We went from being a party of confidence and fiscal restraint and individual liberty to being the party that encouraged intervention in Terry Schiavo's case, the disastrous experience in Iraq, Katrina, and an $8.5 trillion debt. It was hogs feeding at the trough from Jack Abramoff to Karl Rove. I'm just sad and angry.

---Author Christopher Buckley, the son of National Review founder and supreme conservative William F. Buckley, Jr.

Before a television set was in every home, American families used to sit out on the front porch after dinner every evening. They'd call greetings to neighbors and watch the world go by. After that, they might set up a card table in the living room and play a game. Sometimes a game might be saved when somebody had to go to bed, and brought out to be continued the next night. Canasta games might go on for a week.

Among the board games there was Monopoly. I always had mixed feelings about that game. There was an edge to it that seemed to encourage the person who was winning to gloat and ridicule and inflict emotional pain on the others. Losing in Monopoly felt like drowning. And so I probably shouldn't have been surprised when one afternoon in 1965 as we were playing the game, my friend from Tyler, Texas, Tony Andretta, reached around to his desk, opened a drawer, took out a loaded six-shooter, and placed it on the table.

I use Tony's real name because, while it is highly unlikely he still is alive, I would love someone who knew him to discover this article and let me know whatever happened to him. We both were in our first teaching jobs at a school in The Bronx. He taught science and I, hired to teach English, ended up chairing the social studies department. He was a bit older than I was and had fought, he said, in Korea. He'd received a wound to his stomach, which for some reason never could heal and he had to change the dressing all the time. It didn't seem to slow him down much though, and he actively pursued a life of women, brawling, smoking and booze.

We were unlikely friends I guess, but somehow our differences made us curious. He came from an oil family and so this teaching stuff was just for the heck of it. Maybe there was temporary friction with his father, something like that. He'd been married a few times and always seemed on the verge of doing it again. About the gun, he told me later that's how they do things in Texas. He said he always had a gun in his glove compartment, because in Texas if a trooper pulls you over you come out shooting. One time we pretended to be federal inspectors in a Woolworth's pet department, concerned about the condition of the creatures in there. Under threat of being shut down, the manager gave us some lizards Tony wanted for his terrarium.

After a couple of years, we went our separate ways and lost track of each other. Tony lived loud and big, and could back it up. He was the first Texas male I'd ever met. In my experience, Texas women tend to be quite different from the men. Not the loud and big part, but in how liberal and democratic they like to be. I wish a couple of them still were around to comment on the Scooter Libby business.

The Bushes may run a lot of Texas but Texans know they aren't really from there. In fact, Ann Richards in that same famous 1988 speech before the Democratic Convention said, "I am delighted to be here with you this evening because after listening to George Bush all these years, I figured you needed to know what a real Texas accent sounds like." [link] But the George Bushes of the world keep trying to be the real deal, faking bravado at the Alamo until finally a Mexican soldier's bullet takes them down.

Two or 3 articles have appeared the last couple days about the Libby commute to which I'd like to refer you. The first is by William Rivers Pitt, who manages to get both the indignation and history together for folks who haven't been following this closely~~~

Was Commuting Libby an Impeachable Offense?
By William Rivers Pitt
t r u t h o u t | Columnist
Tuesday 03 July 2007

Let me get this straight.

Like a thief in the night, George W. Bush commuted the prison sentence of I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby. He made no public appearance to announce the decision, but instead air-mailed a written statement after 5 p.m. at the outset of a midweek holiday. The statement praised Patrick Fitzgerald as "a highly qualified, professional prosecutor who carried out his responsibilities as charged." As for Libby himself, the statement noted that "the consequences of his felony conviction on his former life as a lawyer, public servant, and private citizen will be long-lasting."

Not 24 hours later, Bush delivered a stammering, vacillating, nervous public statement defending his decision to commute Libby's prison sentence. During his statement, Bush made it clear that a full and complete pardon for Libby was still very much on the table.

Quite the boomerang, yes? Bush respected Fitzgerald, the truth, the jury and the rule of law on Monday night, but didn't respect these things in the morning. Mr. Bush, in doing so, has proven himself once again to be a quintessential moral philanderer, screwing around with justice at a whim, a serial cheater and a man who absolutely cannot be trusted.

Libby was part of a White House plot to discredit Ambassador Joseph Wilson, whose early criticism of the administration's Iraq claims were deemed a grave threat to the policy. The White House attacked Wilson by exposing his wife, Valerie Plame, as a deep-cover CIA operative. This exposure destroyed the intelligence network she had created to track any person, nation or group that might give weapons of mass destruction to terrorists. Libby lied under oath and obstructed justice to cover up these White House activities, and to protect Vice President Dick Cheney from scrutiny and censure for his direct role in the plot.

Despite these serious crimes, Libby will spend less time in prison than Paris Hilton, Martha Stewart and Susan MacDougal. The same Republicans who championed the impeachment of Bill Clinton now celebrate Libby's liberation from the consequences of the very same acts they accused Clinton of committing.

Beyond Bush's two-faced blather about potential pardons are details and possibilities of vast complexity.

By commuting the prison sentence, Bush left Libby's 5th Amendment rights intact. Thus, any Congressional committee or prosecutor wishing to call him to testify will have to immunize him from any potential legal repercussions arising from his testimony. If Bush chooses to fully pardon Libby, those 5th Amendment protections will go right out the window.

Libby has repeatedly stated his intention to go on with the appeals process so he can clear his name. If he does this and an appeal is granted, Patrick Fitzgerald will suddenly be back in business, because a granted appeal opens the way for a whole new trial. Libby, if granted this appeal, may well be tried and convicted all over again.

Appeals are commonly granted only if a mistake was made during the initial trial, a difficult standard to meet, which is why most appeals are not granted. Should Libby's team decide to base their appeal on the spurious claim that Patrick Fitzgerald was not properly authorized to prosecute the case to begin with, however, the playing field would be changed dramatically because Fitzgerald would no longer be in a position to retry the case. If the appeals court grants an appeal based on this argument, one would be forced to wonder if that court acted in collusion with the administration.

Hovering above all this is one all-encompassing question: did George W. Bush commit a dead-bang impeachable offense by commuting Libby's sentence?

A wise man once said that the life of the law is procedure. There are processes to be undertaken, papers to be filed and forms to be obeyed. In this commutation, no procedures whatsoever appear to have been followed. The haste in which this action was undertaken smacks of fear, desperation, and of a cover-up in process.

Consider the factors.

Libby's legal defense from the first day of his trial was that he was a fall guy taking the rap for others.

Fitzgerald pointedly stated that the details surrounding Libby's actions put a cloud of suspicion over Vice President Dick Cheney.

Combine these two details and you wind up with Libby standing as a patsy taking the rap for Cheney.

Bush has the constitutional power to offer commutations, of course. But if this commutation was granted to Libby in order to derail a criminal investigation, if it was granted to cover up prior or ongoing criminal activities, that is itself a crime meriting the impeachment of George W. Bush.

This, more than anything else, must be investigated.

Senator Leahy, Representative Waxman, Representative Conyers and any other Congressional chairmen must absolutely and actively work to get to the bottom of this. If doing so requires immunizing Libby to secure his testimony, so be it. Calling Patrick Fitzgerald to testify on these matters is likewise required; the idea that he can safely continue to refuse comment must be dismissed. Fitzgerald cannot make statements about clouds over Cheney, in light of this new situation, and still be allowed to stand in silence. The lawyers assembling Joe Wilson's civil suit should subpoena Libby into a deposition room and grill him, whether or not he stands on his 5th Amendment rights.

This isn't over by a long chalk, unless our representatives and law-enforcement officials choose the safe path - public statements, toothless accusations, substanceless denunciations - in lieu of true and effective action. The rule of law itself is on the hook here. This cannot be allowed to stand.

William Rivers Pitt is a New York Times and internationally bestselling author of two books: "War on Iraq: What Team Bush Doesn't Want You to Know" and "The Greatest Sedition Is Silence." His newest book, "House of Ill Repute: Reflections on War, Lies, and America's Ravaged Reputation," is now available from PoliPointPress.

The second is from the Associated Press that posted first reactions on Monday~~~

Reaction to Bush's Libby Decision
Jul 2, 9:23 PM (ET)
By The Associated Press

Some reaction to President Bush's decision Monday to commute the sentence of former White House aide I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, sparing him from a 2 1/2-year prison term in the CIA leak case.


"In this case, an experienced federal judge considered extensive argument from the parties and then imposed a sentence consistent with the applicable laws. It is fundamental to the rule of law that all citizens stand before the bar of justice as equals. That principle guided the judge during both the trial and the sentencing." - Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald.


"When it comes to the law, there should not be two sets of rules - one for President Bush and Vice President Cheney and another for the rest of America. Even Paris Hilton had to go to jail. No one in this administration should be above the law." - Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill.


"While for a long time I have urged a pardon for Scooter, I respect the president's decision. This will allow a good American, who has done a lot for his country, to resume his life." - Former Sen. Fred Thompson, R-Tenn.


"Accountability has been in short supply in the Bush administration, and this commutation fits that pattern." - Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt.


"President Bush did the right thing today in commuting the prison term for Scooter Libby. The prison sentence was overly harsh and the punishment did not fit the crime." - House Republican Whip Roy Blunt of Missouri.


"This is exactly the kind of politics we must change so we can begin restoring the American people's faith in a government that puts the country's progress ahead of the bitter partisanship of recent years." - Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill.


"After evaluating the facts, the president came to a reasonable decision and I believe the decision was correct." - former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani.


"Only a president clinically incapable of understanding that mistakes have consequences could take the action he did today. President Bush has just sent exactly the wrong signal to the country and the world." - former Sen. John Edwards, D-N.C.


"The Constitution gives President Bush the power to commute sentences, but history will judge him harshly for using that power to benefit his own vice president's chief of staff who was convicted of such a serious violation of law." - Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev.


"This commutation sends the clear signal that in this administration, cronyism and ideology trump competence and justice." - Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y.


"The president said he would hold accountable anyone involved in the Valerie Plame leak case. By his action today, the president shows his word is not to be believed." - House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.


"It is time for the American people to be heard - I call for all Americans to flood the White House with phone calls tomorrow expressing their outrage over this blatant disregard for the rule of law." - Sen. Joe Biden, D-Del.


"President Bush's 11th-hour commutation of Scooter Libby's sentence makes a mockery of the justice system and betrays the idea that all Americans are expected to be held accountable for their actions, even close friends of Vice President Cheney." - Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass.


"By commuting Scooter Libby's sentence, the president continues to abdicate responsibility for the actions of his administration. The only ones paying the price for this administration's actions are the American people." - Sen. Chris Dodd, D-Conn.


"This decision sends the wrong message about the rule of law in the United States, just as the president is meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin. How can we hold the line against injustices in other countries when our own executive branch deliberately sets out to smear its critics, lies about it and then wriggles away without having to pay the price in prison?" - Rep. Tom Lantos, D-Calif.


"The arrogance of this administration's disdain for the law and its belief it operates with impunity are breathtaking. Will the president also commute the sentences of others who obstructed justice and lied to grand juries, or only those who act to protect President Bush and Vice President Cheney?" - New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson.


This morning's New York Times has collected comments from various attorneys and legal scholars~~~

The New York Times
July 4, 2007
Bush Rationale on Libby Stirs Legal Debate

In commuting I. Lewis Libby Jr.’s 30-month prison sentence on Monday, President Bush drew on the same array of arguments about the federal sentencing system often made by defense lawyers — and routinely and strenuously opposed by his own Justice Department.

Critics of the system have a long list of complaints. Sentences, they say, are too harsh. Judges are allowed to take account of facts not proven to the jury. The defendant’s positive contributions are ignored, as is the collateral damage that imprisonment causes the families involved.

On Monday, Mr. Bush made use of every element of that critique in a detailed statement setting out his reasons for commuting Mr. Libby’s sentence — handing an unexpected gift to defense lawyers around the country, who scrambled to make use of the president’s arguments in their own cases.

Given the administration’s tough stand on sentencing, the president’s arguments left experts in sentencing law scratching their heads.

“The Bush administration, in some sense following the leads of three previous administrations, has repeatedly supported a federal sentencing system that is distinctly disrespectful of the very arguments that Bush has put forward in cutting Libby a break,” said Douglas A. Berman, a law professor at Ohio State University who writes the blog Sentencing Law and Policy.

Perhaps inadvertently, Mr. Bush’s decision to grant a commutation rather than an outright pardon has started a national conversation about sentencing generally.

“By saying that the sentence was excessive, I wonder if he understood the ramifications of saying that,” said Ellen S. Podgor, who teaches criminal law at Stetson University in St. Petersburg, Fla. “This is opening up a can of worms about federal sentencing.”

The Libby clemency will be the basis for many legal arguments, said Susan James, an Alabama lawyer representing Don E. Siegelman, the state’s former governor, who is appealing a sentence he received last week of 88 months for obstruction of justice and other offenses.

“It’s far more important than if he’d just pardoned Libby,” Ms. James said, as forgiving a given offense as an act of executive grace would have had only political repercussions. “What you’re going to see is people like me quoting President Bush in every pleading that comes across every federal judge’s desk.”

Indeed, Mr. Bush’s decision may have given birth to a new sort of legal document.

“I anticipate that we’re going to get a new motion called ‘the Libby motion,’ ” Professor Podgor said. “It will basically say, ‘My client should have got what Libby got, and here’s why.’ ”

As a purely legal matter, of course, Mr. Bush’s statement has no particular force outside Mr. Libby’s case. But that does not mean judges will necessarily ignore it.

No one disputes that Mr. Bush has the authority under the Constitution to issue pardons and commutations for federal crimes. But experts in the area, pointing to political scandals in the Reagan, Truman and Grant administrations, said Mr. Bush had acted with unusual speed.

“What distinguishes Scooter Libby from the acts of clemency in the other three episodes,” said P. S. Ruckman Jr., a political science professor who studies pardons at Rock Valley College in Rockford, Ill., referring to Mr. Libby by his nickname, “is that in those episodes they generally served their time and some other president pardoned them.”

Mr. Bush repeated yesterday that he had found Mr. Libby’s punishment to be too severe. But experts in federal sentencing law said a sentence of 30 months for lying and obstruction was consistent with the tough sentences routinely meted out by the federal system.

“On what legal basis could he have reached that result?” asked Frank O. Bowman III, an authority on federal sentencing who teaches law at the University of Missouri-Columbia, said of the commutation. “There is no legal basis.”

Nor is there a reason to think that the Justice Department has changed its position about the sentencing system generally. Indeed, Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales said last month that the department would push for legislation making federal sentences tougher and less flexible.

Similarly, in a case decided two weeks ago by the United States Supreme Court and widely discussed by legal specialists in light of the Libby case, the Justice Department persuaded the court to affirm the 33-month sentence of a defendant whose case closely resembled that against Mr. Libby. The defendant, Victor A. Rita, was, like Mr. Libby, convicted of perjury, making false statements to federal agents and obstruction of justice.Mr. Rita has performed extensive government service, just as Mr. Libby has. Mr. Rita served in the armed forces for more than 25 years, receiving 35 commendations, awards and medals. Like Mr. Libby, Mr. Rita had no criminal history for purposes of the federal sentencing guidelines.

The judges who sentenced the two men increased their sentences by taking account of the crimes about which they lied. Mr. Rita’s perjury concerned what the court called “a possible violation of a machine-gun registration law”; Mr. Libby’s of a possible violation of a federal law making it a crime to disclose the identities of undercover intelligence agents in some circumstances.

When Mr. Rita argued that his 33-month sentence had failed to consider his history and circumstances adequately, the Justice Department strenuously disagreed.

Senator Joseph R. Biden Jr., Democrat of Delaware, posted a copy of the government’s brief in the Rita case on his blog yesterday and asked, “Why is the president flip-flopping on these criminal justice decisions?”

The Justice Department also took a hard line last year in the case of Jamie Olis, a midlevel executive at the energy company Dynegy convicted of accounting fraud. The department argued that Mr. Olis deserved 292 months, or more than 24 years. He was sentenced to six years.

Sentencing experts said Mr. Libby’s sentence was both tough and in line with general trends.

“It was a pretty harsh sentence,” Professor Berman said, “because I tend to view any term of imprisonment for nonviolent first offenses as harsh. But it certainly wasn’t out of the normal array of cases I see every day.”

Copyright 2007 The New York Times Company

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5 Jul 2007 @ 12:02 by jazzolog : Ad Libbying
I'd never imply we should feel sorry for twitchy Chris Buckley, schoonering around the Vineyard with dear old dad. His idea of the GOP surely is envisioned with a gaze down the Buckley nose of noblesse oblige sneezed at the lesser beings swarming below. But if Olympus is impatient with the fratboy cheerleader, will some discomfort begin to trickle down?

I've just spent 2 hours researching Libby developments and reading tons of speeches and comments about the whole deal. I too think cute Scoot is small potatoes in all this, but we may have to kick the lapdog to get at the fat matron. Essentially I find the newspapers and media typically soft on this topic. Wishy washy really. Keith Olbermann compared this commutation with Nixon's mistake of firing Archibald Cox. Suddenly Watergate crystalized in the public imagination as it had not before...and Nixon was on the way out the White House door. But there we had a press hungry for such a misstep...and now different owners are in charge. The question is did Bush make such a mistake on Monday, a mistake that's just going to grow and grow?

The first indication that he has comes from United States District Court Judge Reggie B. Walton whose jurisdiction is the District of Columbia. On Tuesday he issued an order to Libby to clarify for the court just how the President's commutation is supposed to be carried out...and for that clarification to be returned by next Monday. Judge Walton reminds the convict that the verdict (in a trial by jury) reads that his 2-year period of "supervised release" is to begin the very moment he concludes his period of imprisonment. Like everybody else, he goes from his cell directly to the probation office. The judge wants to know if Libby is supposed to report to his probation officer immediately, or at some more "convenient time" for him, or if we are to construe that Bush's clemency precludes any probation at all. Judge Walton concludes if Libby's people want to inquire of the White House what to do, he encourages them to do so.

That's the actual court order and is a PDF. CNN seems to be the rare outlet that reported the story, and if you're not on good terms with Acrobat here's their take on it

Of the columns and rants, decorated VietNam vet John Cory's Once Upon America from yesterday is getting picked up by several blogs...and I will too. Both Truth Spring and TruthOut posted it I think~~~

Once Upon America
By John Cory
Wednesday 04 July 2007

"No one man can terrorize a whole nation unless we are all his accomplices."
- Edward R. Murrow

And so it goes. The 4th of July is here with its parades and "what America means to me" essays, and picnics and fireworks, and all those pretty speeches about freedom and democracy and the true meaning of Independence Day. But it is all a facade. A lie.

Modern America now spies on its citizens, conducts warrantless wiretaps, suspends habeas corpus, creates "free speech zones" to corral protestors out of sight of sensitive royal eyes, and politicizes the very justice system meant to protect people's rights by turning it into a fraternity of God-fearing Republican conservatism. Neocon America rewards hate speech with celebrity, reviles the very immigration that built this country, and sells out to the highest lobbyist while poisoning its people. Preemptive war trumps truth, and death is glorified by those who never have to sacrifice an ounce of flesh. America has become the personal ATM machine of Bush and the GOP while their corporate cronies line their pockets with the lives of our loved ones.

Washington is no longer that "shining city on the hill," but rather a dismal swamp cloud of shadows that slink about in swirls of deception. The people's house is a piceous cavern of razor black secrets that shred the Constitution with every breath. And those charged with defending the Constitution - defending the Bill of Rights - scurry around in frantic search for the cheese of compromise and campaign contributions.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once said, "Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter."

Americans have become orphans of the great silence.

Democrat and Republican alike have forsaken representation of the people and the people's will. The latest polls show that 77 percent of Americans want the troops home from Iraq. And still the politicians argue for more time, maybe more money, maybe there is a way to support the troops without confronting the GOP machine. Congressional approval is at the same depressing nadir as that of George Bush. The people voted for change and got nothing but wimpy words and bluster and more political petulance - and more death and destruction.

America needs leadership, not Congressional co-conspirators or senatorial somnambulists. We need inspiration, not desperation. Edward R. Murrow said: "We hardly need to be reminded that we are living in an age of confusion - a lot of us have traded in our beliefs for bitterness and cynicism or for a heavy package of despair, or even a quivering portion of hysteria. Opinions can be picked up cheap in the market place while such commodities as courage and fortitude and faith are in alarmingly short supply."

I'm not a smart guy, nor educated in the fine political arts, but here's the deal: it's time to wake up and step up, dear Democrats. Plan all you want to take Congressional seats in the '08 elections - but be prepared to pay the price for inaction today. Nothing is off the table. Nothing. Ever.

Push the subpoenas to this White House. Don't fold. Don't whine. Don't run. And while you push the subpoenas to find the truth, fashion your spending bill that America supports, the one with the timetable for bringing our loved ones home. And then push that the day after you push the subpoenas. And when Bush vetoes the spending bill, shout it from the nearest blog and rooftop, that George Bush just vetoed America. Vetoed the will of the American people. And push for another vote.

And then generate the bill to bring back the Draft. That's right, the Draft. If Bush's war is so damned patriotic that he keeps recycling the troops over and over - then it is the patriotic duty of every American son and daughter to be drafted and serve. And when Bush vetoes that, remind America that the war is not all that patriotic, and certainly not for everyone - just those that Bush picks to die in the sandbox of incompetence and violence that is Iraq.

And then you start impeachment procedures against Bush and Cheney and Rove. You push the hearings that must be shown to all the American people - the voters - the ones who live and die at the hands of these ruthless, greedy thugs and power-hungry politicians.

And when you are called un-American and unpatriotic, point your finger at Bush and Cheney and remind everyone of Ronald Reagan, who said: "Concentrated power has always been the enemy of liberty." And that, my Democratic friends, is all the bipartisanship this country needs. The words of Dr. King should be your comfort. "When you are right you cannot be too radical; when you are wrong, you cannot be too conservative."

It is the 4th of July. Celebrate Independence Day by repeating the words of George Bush when he addressed the UN Assembly on September 21, 2004. "The desire for freedom resides in every human heart. And that desire cannot be contained forever by prison walls or martial laws, or secret police. Over time, and across the Earth, freedom will find a way."

Any other choice and we become a story that begins, "Once upon America there used to be democracy and freedom"


And then there was Keith Olbermann on Tuesday night. Some of you know Keith was a celebrated sports commentator until the Bush team pulled him out of the dugout. On MSNBC his nightly Countdown show became among the most radical TV in primetime. He briefly withdrew from it I believe, but couldn't tolerate sitting in the bleachers and came back with a vengeance. In his long "special report" Tuesday, he calls for impeaching the whole pack of them. Here's a highlight~~~

We enveloped our President in 2001.And those who did not believe he should have been elected - indeed those who did not believe he had been elected - willingly lowered their voices and assented to the sacred oath of non-partisanship.

And George W. Bush took our assent, and re-configured it, and honed it, and shaped it to a razor-sharp point and stabbed this nation in the back with it.

Were there any remaining lingering doubt otherwise, or any remaining lingering hope, it ended yesterday when Mr. Bush commuted the prison sentence of one of his own staffers.

Did so even before the appeals process was complete; did so without as much as a courtesy consultation with the Department of Justice; did so despite what James Madison - at the Constitutional Convention - said about impeaching any president who pardoned or sheltered those who had committed crimes "advised by" that president; did so without the slightest concern that even the most detached of citizens must look at the chain of events and wonder: To what degree was Mr. Libby told: break the law however you wish - the President will keep you out of prison?

In that moment, Mr. Bush, you broke that fundamental com-pact between yourself and the majority of this nation's citizens - the ones who did not cast votes for you. In that moment, Mr. Bush, you ceased to be the President of the United States. In that moment, Mr. Bush, you became merely the President of a rabid and irresponsible corner of the Republican Party. And this is too important a time, Sir, to have a commander-in-chief who puts party over nation.

This has been, of course, the gathering legacy of this Administration. Few of its decisions have escaped the stain of politics. The extraordinary Karl Rove has spoken of "a permanent Republican majority," as if such a thing - or a permanent Democratic majority - is not antithetical to that upon which rests: our country, our history, our revolution, our freedoms.

Yet our Democracy has survived shrewder men than Karl Rove. And it has survived the frequent stain of politics upon the fabric of government. But this administration, with ever-increasing insistence and almost theocratic zealotry, has turned that stain into a massive oil spill.

The protection of the environment is turned over to those of one political party, who will financially benefit from the rape of the environment. The protections of the Constitution are turned over to those of one political party, who believe those protections unnecessary and extravagant and quaint.

The enforcement of the laws is turned over to those of one political party, who will swear beforehand that they will not enforce those laws. The choice between war and peace is turned over to those of one political party, who stand to gain vast wealth by ensuring that there is never peace, but only war.

And now, when just one cooked book gets corrected by an honest auditor, when just one trampling of the inherent and inviolable fairness of government is rejected by an impartial judge, when just one wild-eyed partisan is stopped by the figure of blind justice, this President decides that he, and not the law, must prevail.

I accuse you, Mr. Bush, of lying this country into war.

I accuse you of fabricating in the minds of your own people, a false implied link between Saddam Hussein and 9/11.

I accuse you of firing the generals who told you that the plans for Iraq were disastrously insufficient.

I accuse you of causing in Iraq the needless deaths of 3,586 of our brothers and sons, and sisters and daughters, and friends and neighbors.

I accuse you of subverting the Constitution, not in some misguided but sincerely-motivated struggle to combat terrorists, but to stifle dissent.

I accuse you of fomenting fear among your own people, of creating the very terror you claim to have fought.

I accuse you of exploiting that unreasoning fear, the natural fear of your own people who just want to live their lives in peace, as a political tool to slander your critics and libel your opponents.

I accuse you of handing part of this Republic over to a Vice President who is without conscience, and letting him run roughshod over it.

And I accuse you now, Mr. Bush, of giving, through that Vice President, carte blanche to Mr. Libby, to help defame Ambassador Joseph Wilson by any means necessary, to lie to Grand Juries and Special Counsel and before a court, in order to protect the mechanisms and particulars of that defamation, with your guarantee that Libby would never see prison, and, in so doing, as Ambassador Wilson himself phrased it here last night, of becoming an accessory to the obstruction of justice.

Another scene from Iraq~~~

A rotting corpse is devoured by dogs after having lain there for at least nine days. (Photo by Ashley Gilbertson)

5 Jul 2007 @ 16:21 by quinty : Humanity as trash

I've never seen anything quite like that photograph before. And the two dogs looks so "normal," like a neighbor's, or those trotting along the side of their master out on a walk.

Buckley's comment is the nostalgia for the past paleocons feel today in the Age of Bush. They see their forebearers as sensible and hard headed shepherds of the economy, avoiding waste and taxation. (Ignoring their traditional largesse for corporations.) Politically this appeal may be their only hope too: the promise to become “sensible” and hard headed once again. This may be the basis for Giuliani’s appeal: his backers think he’s strong and decisive. A competent version of Bush.

I watched Olbermann’s j’accuse tirade the other night and felt some satisfaction. And wished more on the mainstream were like him. But we live by many myths in this country and cling dearly to them. Olbermann’s ratings shot up, I’ve heard, when he began delivering these scathing “commentaries.” There must be a certain hunger out there for them.

So long as we cling to our myths Bush can be as outrageous as he likes, for he is, after all, President of the United States. And loudly or angrily speaking the truth about him will only be seen as bad manners. The boards upon which this administration trods are creaking with rot. Let ‘er go! I say.

There’s a quote from the Bible I’m attempting to pinpoint. Nor am I sure of the exact words. It goes something like: “By the manner they treat the least among them they shall be known.” Can anyone help me wit that?  

5 Jul 2007 @ 20:37 by b : l little liberal perspective
At last, the Scooter thing is just another thing that happened during this administration. And in perspective it was all about the firing of a government employee and the strange procedure it took. Scooter just obstructed some beaurocrats from seeing the whole picture. Is that really comparable to Sandy Waterman stealing classified documents from a government archive and hiding them on a construction site? He didn't even get indicted, charged, let alone sentenced to prison.
C'mon, Jimmy Carter in the person of Micky Cantor(read his books) divided up the world and what counties values are. Reagen and Bush41 helped the Soviet empire to reassemble and PRC to softly reenter the world of Earth. THat left the 56 Mulim nations to rare up for the return to the dark ages. The Clinton's opened up the free world for the Muslims to enter and stay enraged at everything with no critisism allowed. THen the free word's new technologies were trasnsfered to communist China and America has to pay for it all. Why should it be surprising to anyone that Bush/Cheney decided to take Muslim dictator no.1 and waste him or to create a battlefield far from US shores to drive a wedge in the 56? Cause China is not far behind in world dominition? Their Olympic farce is de kappa. Watch and see. Scooter is just a little potato chip. Not worth the salt.  

6 Jul 2007 @ 09:49 by jazzolog : Scooter Is, At Last, Actually The War
b, you may be interested in Amy Goodman's column yesterday---thanks to the heads-up from OU Professor Emeritus Bob Sheak~~~

Releasing Libby protects Bush & Cheney
Last updated July 5, 2007 5:15 p.m. PT

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal," says the preamble to the U.S. Declaration of Independence. Unless, of course, you are a friend of the president. By commuting Scooter Libby's sentence, President Bush is also protecting himself and Vice President Dick Cheney.

I asked former Ambassador Joe Wilson what he thought about the commutation. It was his 2003 opinion piece that refuted Bush's claim that Iraq had sought uranium from Africa. In retaliation, the White House leaked his wife, Valerie Plame's, name and CIA identity.

Wilson said, "It casts a cloud of suspicion over the president and begs the question whether the president is participating in an ongoing obstruction of justice and cover-up of criminal activity within the White House." I asked him how: "By ensuring that Libby will have no incentive to talk with the special prosecutor."

Prisoners often cooperate with government prosecutors in exchange for leniency. With the prison sentence gone, Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald loses his leverage over Libby. While Bush and his subordinates stress that Libby still faces a $250,000 fine, the Libby Legal Defense Trust was set up to help him out.

Among the listed trustees are former senator, TV actor and likely Republican presidential candidate Fred Thompson, and former CIA director and Iraq War booster James Woolsey. Woolsey's firm lobbied for the Iraqi National Congress, Ahmed Chalabi's CIA-funded group that provided faulty intelligence in the lead-up to the war. Woolsey was also a member of the Committee for the Liberation of Iraq and involved with the Project for the New American Century, two influential groups that helped provide intellectual cover and political muscle for the invasion of Iraq. Given the power and wealth represented on his fundraising team, Libby will do just fine with his fine.

Blogger Marcy Wheeler, who followed the Libby trial closely, told me: "In some ways, commutation is worse than a pardon. With a commutation, Scooter Libby retains his Fifth Amendment rights." If Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., for example, were to call a hearing, Libby could still plead the Fifth Amendment against self-incrimination, remaining silent. Had he been pardoned and been completely cleared of any wrongdoing, he would have a harder time refusing to answer questions. Libby's continued silence protects Bush and Cheney.

The commutation also allows the Bush administration to remain silent. As Bush said, "I have said throughout this process that it would not be appropriate to comment or intervene in this case until Mr. Libby's appeals have been exhausted."

So the commutation ensures that Libby will not cooperate with Fitzgerald, and will not cooperate with Congress. Why does this matter? Because this case is not about obstruction of justice, it is not about perjury. Ultimately, this case is about war. The Bush administration's case for war depended on false claims about weapons of mass destruction. President George H.W. Bush hailed Wilson as "a true American hero" for his role as acting U.S. ambassador to Iraq when Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait in 1990. But when Wilson publicly debunked the African uranium claim, he was attacked, his wife was outed, her career ruined. Her job: an undercover CIA operative investigating weapons of mass destruction. This week, the United Nations formally closed down their weapons search program in Iraq, United Nations Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission. So much for WMDs.

Thompson released a statement after the commutation, saying, "This will allow a good American, who has done a lot for his country, to resume his life." Good Americans sent to war, and who died, now number close to 3,600. They will not be getting on with their lives. And let's not forget the hundreds of thousands of Iraqis killed. More than 20,000 Americans are wounded, some with limbs lost, some blinded, some brain damaged. They have no choice but to get on with their lives, but without a star-studded fundraising committee.

The Declaration of Independence names unalienable rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. It also says that when a government "becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or abolish it."

Amy Goodman is the host of "Democracy Now!," a daily international TV/radio news hour.
© 1998-2007 Seattle Post-Intelligencer

David Sorel's illustration for this David Halberstam article in Vanity Fair  

8 Jul 2007 @ 16:26 by Quinty @ : What a loss!

At least we have Halberstam's book which is coming out in September - without need of further proofs, I hope. The Vanity Fair article was beautifully written and thought out....  

9 Jul 2007 @ 11:53 by jazzolog : The Man Who Knows Too Much
The New York Times
A Profile in Cowardice
By Frank Rich
Sunday 08 July 2007

There was never any question that President Bush would grant amnesty to Scooter Libby, the man who knows too much about the lies told to sell the war in Iraq. The only questions were when, and how, Mr. Bush would buy Mr. Libby's silence. Now we have the answers, and they're at least as incriminating as the act itself. They reveal the continued ferocity of a White House cover-up and expose the true character of a commander in chief whose tough-guy shtick can no longer camouflage his fundamental cowardice.

The timing of the president's Libby intervention was a surprise. Many assumed he would mimic the sleazy 11th-hour examples of most recent vintage: his father's pardon of six Iran-contra defendants who might have dragged him into that scandal, and Bill Clinton's pardon of the tax fugitive Marc Rich, the former husband of a major campaign contributor and the former client of none other than the ubiquitous Mr. Libby.

But the ever-impetuous current President Bush acted 18 months before his scheduled eviction from the White House. Even more surprising, he did so when the Titanic that is his presidency had just hit two fresh icebergs, the demise of the immigration bill and the growing revolt of Republican senators against his strategy in Iraq.

That Mr. Bush, already suffering historically low approval ratings, would invite another hit has been attributed in Washington to his desire to placate what remains of his base. By this logic, he had nothing left to lose. He didn't care if he looked like an utter hypocrite, giving his crony a freer ride than Paris Hilton and violating the white-collar sentencing guidelines set by his own administration. He had to throw a bone to the last grumpy old white guys watching Bill O'Reilly in a bunker.

But if those die-hards haven't deserted him by now, why would Mr. Libby's incarceration be the final straw? They certainly weren't whipped into a frenzy by coverage on Fox News, which tended to minimize the leak case as a non-event. Mr. Libby, faceless and voiceless to most Americans, is no Ollie North, and he provoked no right-wing firestorm akin to the uproars over Terri Schiavo, Harriet Miers or "amnesty" for illegal immigrants.

The only people clamoring for Mr. Libby's freedom were the pundits who still believe that Saddam secured uranium in Africa and who still hope that any exoneration of Mr. Libby might make them look less like dupes for aiding and abetting the hyped case for war. That select group is not the Republican base so much as a roster of the past, present and future holders of quasi-academic titles at neocon think tanks like the American Enterprise Institute.

What this crowd never understood is that Mr. Bush's highest priority is always to protect himself. So he stiffed them too. Had the president wanted to placate the Weekly Standard crowd, he would have given Mr. Libby a full pardon. That he served up a commutation instead is revealing of just how worried the president is about the beans Mr. Libby could spill about his and Dick Cheney's use of prewar intelligence.

Valerie Wilson still has a civil suit pending. The Democratic inquisitor in the House, Henry Waxman, still has the uranium hoax underlying this case at the top of his agenda as an active investigation. A commutation puts up more roadblocks by keeping Mr. Libby's appeal of his conviction alive and his Fifth Amendment rights intact. He can't testify without risking self-incrimination. Meanwhile, we are asked to believe that he has paid his remaining $250,000 debt to society independently of his private $5 million "legal defense fund."

The president's presentation of the commutation is more revealing still. Had Mr. Bush really believed he was doing the right and honorable thing, he would not have commuted Mr. Libby's jail sentence by press release just before the July Fourth holiday without consulting Justice Department lawyers. That's the behavior of an accountant cooking the books in the dead of night, not the proud act of a patriot standing on principle.

When the furor followed Mr. Bush from Kennebunkport to Washington despite his efforts to duck it, he further underlined his embarrassment by taking his only few questions on the subject during a photo op at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center. You know this president is up to no good whenever he hides behind the troops. This instance was particularly shameful, since Mr. Bush also used the occasion to trivialize the scandalous maltreatment of Walter Reed patients on his watch as merely "some bureaucratic red-tape issues."

Asked last week to explain the president's poll numbers, Andrew Kohut of the Pew Research Center told NBC News that "when we ask people to summon up one word that comes to mind" to describe Mr. Bush, it's "incompetence." But cowardice, the character trait so evident in his furtive handling of the Libby commutation, is as important to understanding Mr. Bush's cratered presidency as incompetence, cronyism and hubris.

Even The Wall Street Journal's editorial page, a consistent Bush and Libby defender, had to take notice. Furious that the president had not given Mr. Libby a full pardon (at least not yet), The Journal called the Bush commutation statement a "profile in non-courage."

What it did not recognize, or chose not to recognize, is that this non-courage, to use The Journal's euphemism, has been this president's stock in trade, far exceeding the "wimp factor" that Newsweek once attributed to his father. The younger Mr. Bush's cowardice is arguably more responsible for the calamities of his leadership than anything else.

People don't change. Mr. Bush's failure to have the courage of his own convictions was apparent early in his history, when he professed support for the Vietnam War yet kept himself out of harm's way when he had the chance to serve in it. In the White House, he has often repeated the feckless pattern that he set back then and reaffirmed last week in his hide-and-seek bestowing of the Libby commutation.

The first fight he conspicuously ran away from as president was in August 2001. Aspiring to halt federal underwriting of embryonic stem-cell research, he didn't stand up and say so but instead unveiled a bogus "compromise" that promised continued federal research on 60 existing stem-cell lines. Only later would we learn that all but 11 of them did not exist. When Mr. Bush wanted to endorse a constitutional amendment to "protect" marriage, he again cowered. A planned 2006 Rose Garden announcement to a crowd of religious-right supporters was abruptly moved from the sunlight into a shadowy auditorium away from the White House.

Nowhere is this president's non-courage more evident than in the "signing statements" The Boston Globe exposed last year. As Charlie Savage reported, Mr. Bush "quietly claimed the authority to disobey more than 750 laws enacted since he took office." Rather than veto them in public view, he signed them, waited until after the press and lawmakers left the White House, and then filed statements in the Federal Register asserting that he would ignore laws he (not the courts) judged unconstitutional. This was the extralegal trick Mr. Bush used to bypass the ban on torture. It allowed him to make a coward's escape from the moral (and legal) responsibility of arguing for so radical a break with American practice.

In the end, it was also this president's profile in non-courage that greased the skids for the Iraq fiasco. If Mr. Bush had had the guts to put America on a true wartime footing by appealing to his fellow citizens for sacrifice, possibly even a draft if required, then he might have had at least a chance of amassing the resources needed to secure Iraq after we invaded it.

But he never backed up the rhetoric of war with the stand-up action needed to prosecute the war. Instead he relied on fomenting fear, as typified by the false uranium claims whose genesis has been covered up by Mr. Libby's obstructions of justice. Mr. Bush's cowardly abdication of the tough responsibilities of wartime leadership ratified Donald Rumsfeld's decision to go into Iraq with the army he had, ensuring our defeat.

Never underestimate the power of the unconscious. Not the least of the revelatory aspects of Mr. Bush's commutation is that he picked the fourth anniversary of "Bring 'em on" to hand it down. It was on July 2, 2003, that the president responded to the continued violence in Iraq, two months after "Mission Accomplished," by taunting those who want "to harm American troops." Mr. Bush assured the world that "we've got the force necessary to deal with the security situation." The "surge" notwithstanding, we still don't have the force necessary four years later, because the president never did summon the courage, even as disaster loomed, to back up his own convictions by going to the mat to secure that force.

No one can stop Mr. Bush from freeing a pathetic little fall guy like Scooter Libby. But only those who paid the ultimate price for the avoidable bungling of Iraq have the moral authority to pardon Mr. Bush.  

24 Sep 2007 @ 19:02 by Connie Cornett @ : Tony Andretta's whereabouts
Tony Andretta died in Alpine, TX about 9 years ago. My parents bought his house in a foreclosure sale after his stepbrothers got the jewelry and electronics out of the house. The rest of his belongings were there and it was quite an experience going through his lifetime treasures. Please contact me as I would love to find out what you know about this guy who lived his last 30 years in Alpine. Thanks, Connie  

25 Sep 2007 @ 07:54 by jazzolog : Thanks Connie
The Internet remains consistently astonishing to me. How miraculous to post an inquiry about an old friend and to receive news back, even if expectedly sad. I'll try to contact you soon.  

30 Sep 2008 @ 16:20 by Gary Funkhouser @ : Tony Andretta
I know some details concerning Tony's death if you still are interested.


Mr. Funkhouser is Project Manager for the Cultural and Natural Resources Divisions in Santa Fe, New Mexico.  

3 Jul 2009 @ 22:42 by Linda Greene @ : Tony Andretta
I would appreciate any info you can give me re: Tony.
Please send or call 415-567-4555

Thank you.  

27 Sep 2009 @ 16:50 by alexandra @ : Tony Andretta
I am searching for my cousins who I have never met. My uncle was Tony Andretta and I have no trace of my cousin who I believe is Jonathan A Andretta. Please help me if you have any information like a wife that maybe I wouldn't know. My aunt Mel passed away many years ago and was married to Tony Andretta
Please contact me asap @ 631-433-7613 or  

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