Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Forget Scooter, Focus on Real Scandal

OK. Let's compare the way Scooter was treated withthe way the former (Dem.) governor of Alabama was treated: Guess which one had to report to prison (thus making his "right to appeal" meaningless) on a charge that is a real stretch of the federal law (rewarding a political ally with an appointment to a commission allegedly because he contributed to an issues committee supporting legal gaming, something the Gov. also supported -- but from which he never personally profited)? (Check out the NY Times Ed. on this one.) Of course, he is only one of many Dem. officials and former officials singled out for such novel prosecutions.

I would like to believe that Scooter's prosecution had anything to do with Mr. Fitzgerald wanting to expose the Administration's criminal misconduct in selling a war that led to the deaths of 3500 American servicemembers. I fear it has more to do with running for Governor of Illinois.

Personally, I think Bush should pardon Scooter (and ultimately will) because the Bush Machine has always taken care of its own. And Scooter was only following orders, you know. A pardon will place the responsibility where it really belongs: The most corrupt and incompetent (at governing) and dangerous (to our rights, our military and other countries' citizens) administration in the history of the Republic. In an odd way, pardoning Scooter would be the most ethical act of W's administration.

Of course, the arrogance that has allowed torture, repealed Habeas Corpus and dismissed the Geneva Conventions as "quaint" is only the culmination of a quarter century of attacks on our rights and the independence of the courts. In the name of "law and order", there has been a real shift of power in this nation that has led to an "imperial prosecutor" mentality. Sentencing guidelines gutted judicial control and "bail reform" made the right to appeal meaningless. When was the last time anyone heard of a Court punishing a federal prosecutor or federal agent, or in any way sanctioning one in a meaningful way? Yet we all know of cases where their behavior would make Mike Nifong blush.

Nor are the scandals of the Gonzales administration likely to change that. The movie SiCKO has a telling line: Asked why there is universal health care in every western democracy except the USA, a French citizen replies, "It is simple. In Europe, the governments are afraid of the people. In America, the people are afraid of the government."

Ken Starr had the ability to cripple a President over a sexual laison and a six year "investigation" into a non-scandal over Arkansas land. Those same powers -- and the threat of their abuse -- hangs over every elected official. Do we seriously think any member of Congress is free to legislate controls on "law enforcement" when those who contribute to his next fundraiser -- or any issue committee he supports -- could find themselves visited by the FBI, subpoenaed to a Grand Jury to explain their "relationship", their businesses and families investigated? How can they twist the law and the facts in the secrecy of a Grand Jury to make lawful behavior appear unlawful, trivial behavior appear significant? News of an "investigation" of Congressman Sonandso carefully leaked can ruin a career -- or, at least, fuel a primary challenge. As for activist judges? Ask Harry Claybourn and Alcie Hastings. Waaay better not to rock that boat!

It is not that the Bush/Gonzales Justice Department has been different from previous Administrations in this march towards fascism -- just greatly empowered by the mantra of "9/11" to be more arrogant and more open. In control of all three branches of government -- with a compliant press (Remember the real contribution of Fitzgerald was to break the reporters into giving up their sources -- not good news for those few 1st Amendment fans left) -- the Bushies went after the only base for opposition: Local Democrats. Especially pesky liberal ones who raised money for other Dems & raised issues like health care and the environment, off the "law & order" "9/11" "Live in Fear" message. Or who can get elected governor of a red state like Alabama.

We have removed most of the historic checks on prosecutorial power. What the Gonzales scandal (locally known as the Schlozman scandal, at least in the NY Times) has has shown is what happens when that unchecked power is directly and politically focused. That should be scarry. Either it doesn't scare people like it should or they are too scared to speak out. Which is more depressing?

On the other hand, at least Scooter has been spared the hell Paris endured!


mainstream said...

Phil, you're railing against unchecked power?

Pot meet kettle.

Anonymous said...

"I would like to believe that Scooter's prosecution had anything to do with Mr. Fitzgerald wanting to expose the Administration's criminal misconduct in selling a war that led to the deaths of 3500 American servicemembers. I fear it has more to do with running for Governor of Illinois. "

Fitzgerald is a NY native and a career prosecutor who was chosen for the IL USA job precisely because he's an outsider. He was chosen as Special Counsel because of his experience and integrity. If you want to completely ignore all the indications that he's not a man of grand political ambition (because nothing moves you forward in the republican party quite like prosecuting Cheney's #2), can you at least come up with a better prediction? Maybe running for Schumer's seat?

Anonymous said...

Mainstream -

You're accusing Phil of having unchecked power? I can imagine accusing Phil of many things, but he is hardly the apex of power these days . . .

mainstream said...

Non, Anon.

It was an obvious reference to his spouse.

You know, it takes all the wind out of my quips when I have to EXPLAIN them.

Anonymous said...

Mainstream - sorry! (But, I have to say, Katheryn's not flying too high these days, either.)

mainstream said...


Phil Cardarella said...

What a surge of pride to know that your attackers prefer to remain anonymous! How delicious!

1. So, "career prosecutors" have no political ambition? Guess he's planning to retire to prosecuting traffic cases in Podunk. Or not.

2. He's not running for GOParty Chair. The ONLY way a Republican can get elected gov of Illinois is to be the outsider, anti-Chaney. But it's not a bad career move in any non-red state, including NY.

3. To a significant extent, it is those "Democrats" who take short-term advantage from infighting that act as enablers for the destruction of rights. Those who feed the "law & order" fear frenzy -- thereby legitimizing it. Those who stand embarrassed, fearful or silent when abuse occurs.

"First, they came for the Jews.." could just as easily be rewritten as "First, they stretched the law to get someone I don't like..."

Try reading "A Man for All Seasons." Slowly. It's a play, so it's OK to let your lips move while you read. Or rent the movie (the very good one with Scofield, not the poor one with Heston). Of course, you can't do that anonymously. Blockbuster will know.

Anonymous said...

Ah... rail away Cardarella, the crap flying from the Main Justice fan will not obfuscate your legal travails. Not even a "nice try"

sophia said...

Mr. Cardarella,

May I respectfully suggest that your original post would have been better off made anonymously? Signing your name to it is just an invitation to ad hominem. And I don't mean just calling names, I mean attacking the person and not addressing the argument. I think we all know you're justifiably sensitive on this topic. How many of the comments here are addressing your personal situation? And why is it you chose to lash out at the one person (me at 1:21) who made a comment actually addressing the substance of your post?

I think your aside about Fitzgerald running for governor was snotty and unwarranted. Signing your name to it doesn't make it better. Fitzgerald's done an admirable job in this case. And from every indication he's been motivated by respect for the rule of law, not posturing for a future in politics.

On a meta note, if you're serious about doing this blogging thing you should know that insults involving reading slowly and moving your lips betray your amateur status and are red meat for trolls. I would also like to point out that you didn't need to know my name to insult me. Lastly, you'll give and gain more from the lefty blogosphere if you don't read every disagreement as an attack.

Phil Cardarella said...

Ah, Sophia -- "wisdom" -- I am sorry if you took my barb so personally. In my defense, you should note that yours was not the only anonymous response. Of course, only time will tell what Mr. Fitzgerald's real motive was. I hope you are right, and that I am wrong.

I also hope you take to heart the damage he has done to the 1st Amendment by the precedent of locking reporters up to force them to reveal sources -- something far more important than whether Scooter bent the truth. And,you may recall that Mr. Rove was not charged because he was allowed to go back in and "correct" his previous statements to the GJ. thus protecting W.

I also hope you take to heart the essence of my message: Twisting the law for political ends is bad for the Republic, regardless of the Party doing it. This is not a "leftie" position. Sometimes the "lefties" loose track of that, too.

I am also happy to see that you consider my sensitivity on this subject to be justified. But on the issue of my posting anonymously, I must respectfully disagree. One of the aims of filing false charges against a person is to silence them, to discredit them, to make them a non-person. That is one of the things that has happened to hundreds of local Democrats in this country over the past six years -- not just in KC. And the example of their troubles has quieted how many others? We can never know how many have been silenced by falsehood or silenced by fear.

I have done nothing wrong, and I do not intend to be silent. Bearing injustice in silence may be a noble trait for martyrs for a religion, but such a trait in citizens is fatal to a Republic. Silence is death.

mainstream said...

Phil, if you ever use the phrase "How delicious" again in your posts I'll personally give you the online equivalent of a wedgie.

Stephen Bough said...

Phil - I'm glad you are out here, signing your name, and stirring things up.