Have we lost the Republic? – Jon

"The commutation is a subversion of justice at least the equal of Nixon’s Saturday Night Massacre, and done for the same reasons. Bush does not want further investigation, most importantly, any investigation that might come close to himself. It has nothing to do with mercy for Libby. Scooter just got paid for his silence and dissembling. After all, a deal’s a deal.

If anything, this is a further warning to those with access to confidential information, protected identities, or clandestine activities. Any act that threatens Cheney’s or Bush’s agenda will be ruthlessly and personally attacked, without regard for the consequences. The administration will protect its own when it has to, and do what it pleases to sustain it’s power and authority.

Beyond my agreement with the commenters, I find myself in the odd and unique point of agreeing with the Washington Times. I was under the impression that the commutation of a sentence required it being commuted into something else, rather than nothing. Not a lesser sentence, not an equivalency where the time might be served differently or by additional fine or longer probation. No, what was decried as an excessive sentence was commuted to nothing. And who else amongst us might be able to expect such a grant of mercy?

With this act, Bush has placed himself above the interests of the nation. He has demonstrated his disdain for the law, his contempt for those who serve the nation faithfully in difficult circumstances.

I share the colonel’s certitude that Libby will be pardoned before Bush leaves office. Bush may also find it advantageous to pardon himself before he relinquishes his purple robe.

Now, on Independence Day, I wonder if we have lost the Republic. We celebrate the event, but do we really think of what it means? This simple act of coming together, seeing ourselves, and rededicating the nation. I’m trying to understand the service my forbearers have rendered in peace and war, from the Revolution onward, and whether I deserve to stand in their company; am I equal to their contributions in defense of the nation and the Constitution?

I fear, with utter certainty, that the need for such devotion and sacrifice has not diminished. But I also have faith that our great and strong nation can weather this abuse, repair the damage, and make certain that we will not repeat the mistake.

It’s a cookout for me today with close friends. Then wandering in the throng and looking for a good spot. But I’ll be thinking of y’all when the fireworks go off!"  Jon

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23 Responses to Have we lost the Republic? – Jon

  1. Charles says:

    Seems to me that the republic was lost long ago. James Baker III steered the 2000 election imbroglio up to The Supremes, who promptly ruled that anything so democratic as a vote count must be immediately stopped.
    That any one man could wield such enormous influence over the outcome of an election demonstrates to me that the republic was lost even before then – maybe back when Power gained the power to overturn a presidential election. Realistically, it was further back, when Jeb Bush, Katherine Harris and Choicepoint could effectively conspire to knock so many black voters off the voting lists that the 2000 Florida results were even apparently close enough to question.
    The fix was in long ago, and the same gang is working hard to steal 2008 by the same means: vote caging, voter list scrubs, tightened voter I.D. requirements, the sham of the “provisional vote” and god forbid, electronic voting.

  2. lina says:

    Have we lost the republic? Maybe. If the republic is the people, and the people no longer give a damn, then yes, we might be circling the drain.
    We lost our taste for impeachment with the Clinton fiasco. We are now just waiting for the clock to run out on the Bush/Cheney crime syndicate.
    Sixteen months to go. Will we survive? It’s iffy.

  3. confusedponderer says:

    A lesser sentence would not have been sufficient an incentive for Libby to keep quiet and would have made cooperation with Fitzgerald preferrable. It needed to be commution and then pardon.
    The harsh sentence was meant to force Libby to squal or go to jail, and in that sense the judges and Fitzgerald forced Bush’s hand. He had to resort to his jokers, commution and pardon. Bush was under Zugzwang:
    Either see/hear/read Libby talk and perhaps lose Cheney as the result, or commution and pardon under a lame pretext at a time the ratings are at their worst anyway. Easy pick.
    But even so Bush is only buying time. The issue is now going to congress, and for Bush only bad things can come out of that. Well, there can always be ‘grand bipartisan bargains’, like when DC apparently forgot to investigate Iran-Contra to the end. But then, in election years? Unlikely. I’m curious about what comes next.

  4. frank durkee says:

    We made it out of Watergate with luck, a few people with integrity and a lot of pressure on congress, especiallly the Senate. I trust that we will survive this administration as well. what I do not trust is that there is anyone in this administration who will step forward and blow the whistle. that will come, if it comes, under a new administration. what needs, has to happen in the ’08 election is enough pressure for redress and return that no candidate can simply bueatify the Bush outrages and keep most of them intact. If that happens then perhaps we will indedd have lost the Republic.

  5. Dave of Maryland says:

    So what if Congress gives Libby immunity?

  6. jr786 says:

    “There were massive evidences of celestial intervention at every step of Bush’s career, and he went through life clothed in immunities that defied and made a mock of all the accepted laws of nature.”
    Given the circumstances, substituting Bush for Mencken’s description of Coolidge seems an apt enough historical comparison.
    The Republic has always been in grave danger, apparently, calling for divine intervention and a firm hand. Whether it was A. Mitchell Palmer and the Red Scare of the 20’s, the Red Scare of the 50’s, John Mitchell in the 60’s and early 70’s, or the proto-Cheney himself: Spiro Agnew: “As for these deserters, malcontents, radicals, incendiaries, the civil and uncivil disobedients among our young…I would separate them from our society with no more regret than we should feel over discarding rotten apples form a barrel”.
    Nothing has changed. There’s always some new and terrible threat to America. The hooples lap it up like sweet milk from a chocolate cow; always did and always will – to hell with them.

  7. Montag says:

    Perhaps we should start referring to Bush as the “Lord Protector,” after Oliver Cromwell’s title as uncrowned king of England. Bush will spend the rest of his term protecting his henchmen, so the title is very apt. Of course the good news is that the office pretty much died with Cromwell, and they restored their previous form of government.

  8. Herb Thomas says:

    Most Americans haven’t followed the complexities of the CIA leak case, but Bush’s commutation of Libby’s sentence is starkly simple: the fall guy has been taken care of, the obstruction of justice has come full circle. (Kudos to Dan Froomkin’s “Obstruction of Justice, Continued”, in the July 3 WAPO blog.)
    Seventy-three percent in Baldwin County, Alabama voted for Bush in ’04. But even here there is anger. The Mobile Press-Register’s predictable “Bush made right call” editorial (July 4) had to compete with anonymous “sound-offs” denouncing the commutation. Examples: “As a Republican, I have to wonder what Dick Cheney and Scooter Libby know about our president that makes him willing to trash his own reputation in order to protect them….” And “Not since Richard Nixon and the Watergate days have we had such lawlessness in the White House….” Another riffed off last week’s sentencing (about 7 years each) and incarceration of former Governor Don Siegelman and HealthSouth Chairman Richard Scrushy: “Bush says Scooter’s prison time was too harsh. I bet Don Siegelman and Scrushy wish he’d look into their sentences. When he was governor of Texas, how many did he commute…? Not any, even if they were on death row and were retarded or iffy. He is a crook and a cheat…”
    The commutation arouses anger in a non-mainstream but growing constituency: drug offenders, tax dodgers, other defendants, convicts and their families, enmeshed in the federal criminal justice system, with its rigid sentencing guidelines and abolition of parole. They and millions of others living hardscrabble lives are all too aware that the clemency Libby received is not available to ordinary people.
    The argument that commutation might bring Bush a net gain, strengthening him with his base while making no difference among the majority who oppose him, may prove wrong; broader anger may be building. David Brooks’s claim that “nobody but Libby’s family will remember” the case “in a few weeks time” (NYT, July 3) could be the most fatuous thing Brooks has said yet.

  9. Donald Hyatt says:

    The offenses against civil liberties were greater during the Civil War and, in some ways, during WWI. The agenda for unabashed centralization of power pursued by the present administration is, however, different. While Lincoln suspended habeas, I don’t think he did it merely to maintain his personal power. (Of course, the counterargument is that he did it to facilitate silencing of the Copperheads.)In any case, to the extent civil liberties were circumscribed in the Civil War, WWI, or WWII, the administrations involved genuinely thought that they needed to pursue the policies in order to maintain order or fight the war at hand. With the present administration some of its policies may be necessary and appropriate to the fight at hand, but many have been deliberately designed to allow overreaching. And those wielding the resulting powers have, almost without fail, overreached. The number of times the Patriot Act powers, particularly national security letters, have been used either without proper authorization or in non-terror related cases (i.e. run of the mill criminal cases) is an obvious example. Right next door to that example is the entire swamp of domestic wiretapping. While these features of the current administration do not, by themselves signal the end of the republic, they do signal a very dangerous time. The general lack of concern on the part of so many citizens is an even worse portent.
    By the way. With the notion of civil liberties in mind, whatever happened to the notion “Give me liberty or give me death?” I guess SUV’s are just too damned much fun to allow time to remember it.

  10. Alex says:

    Balls. Cromwell introduced a written constitution.

  11. Sidney O. Smith III says:

    Confused Ponderer is exactly right in my view when he writes…“The harsh sentence was meant to force Libby to squal or go to jail, and in that sense the judges and Fitzgerald forced Bush’s hand.”
    And in further defense of Judge Walton’s sentence, which was within federal sentencing guidelines: when a judge sentences a defendant, one factor of many to consider is whether or not the defendant shows any genuine contrition for the wrongs done.
    Libby and his defense team showed the exact opposite…arrogance…not only during the pre-trial hearings and the trial but also, most importantly during the sentencing hearing. If Libby ever apologized to society for his crime, then I sure would like it pointed out.
    Typically, if no remorse is shown, then the likelihood increases that a judge will order a harsher sentence. One reason (of several) is the need to break the denial mechanism of the defendant and force him to look in the mirror.
    Also, a judge most certainly would want to consider the nature of the allegations that the defendant shielded through perjury and obstruction of justice. In Libby’s case, those allegations focused on disclosure of a covert CIA agent as well as serious national security issues. Nothing is of greater importance to society. (I am not a Dem. necessarily, but contrast to Clinton’s misbehavior).
    One interesting case that is making the blogosphere rounds is that of Victor Rita (USMC) who was hit with a 33 month sentence for similar offenses. http://sentencing.typepad.com/sentencing_law_and_policy/2007/03/comparing_lewis.html
    Finally, this kind of cynical manipulation of the system hits the streets within real time nowadays. It DOES hinder the administration of justice. Some hapless drunk is sitting in jail somewhere for shoplifting right now and is further convinced how unfair the system is. And, much more disturbing, it is very easy in this day and age for violent defendants to justify their crimes for political reasons and this commutation only adds fuel to the fire.
    Judge Walton knew exactly what he was doing. He didn’t play the game. And like a good federal judge, he didn’t care about what they think on the Georgetown martini circuit.

  12. Mo says:

    I am not an American but have studied American history. I was taught that the founders of your nation intended a nation free from absolute rulers. A nation where the people chose their rulers and those rulers served the people.
    In my view what Bush and Cheney have done is far worse than what those past “villains” of American political history did.
    What Bush and Cheney have done is, without trying to sound sensationalist and though no-one is saying it, is create a constitutional crisis. What they have done, from Libby, to the Vps classified documents fiasco all the way back to getting their “friends” in Florida to affect the vote count, is to give the constitution of the United States the middle finger. They have shown that the constitution is, given the right circumstances (which can be moulded) neither effective enough nor powerful enough to hold the hand of the leaders of the United States if those leaders care not a whit for the constitution or the people. In effect they have shown that the constitution is only a bar to an absolute ruler if the leader believes in the constitution.
    I firmly disagree that what they have done will vanish when (if?) they are replaced. They have altered the rules for all future Presidents. The have changed the “red lines” which may not be crossed. They have given a future leader far more leeway in abusing the liberties and freedoms of the American public.
    The biggest danger for you guys is now not from Bush but some future neo neo-con who then wants to abuse Presidential powers. Since what was considered abuse before Bush is now considered, slightly south of normal what will the next neo-con consider to be abuse?

  13. jill says:

    Clinton did far more than Scooter Libby did. Not only did he lie and was found in contempt by a federal judge, he suborned lying. He was asking his associates to lie before the grand jury as well.
    Remember Marc Rich. How do you think the Clinton Library was funded? How about the 16 FALN terrorists? These were the Puerto Rican gangs, and these guys committed real violent felonies. Clinton pardoned them, didn’t commute the sentence, just pardoned them.
    Do you remember Henry Cisneros, the former HUD Secretary under Clinton, who left office after pleading guilty to making false statements to federal officials? Pardoned by Clinton in 2001.

  14. Don Schmeling says:

    Human rights.
    In the circle; commutation.
    Out of the circle; isolation & enhanced interrogation methods without end.

  15. Dana J says:

    “I don’t think these Bastards will ever leave office…national security crisis…martial law…”postpone” the 2008 elections….They can’t afford to hand the reins of power over to more honest and true Americans….Their crimes would then be utterly exposed and their ability to intimidate their enemies gone. They would be truly vulnerable. They can’t allow that to happen.” I’ve felt this way for a long time now. Think about it, do these people look like they are the type to just hand over power to the opposition because of an election? Maybe before the last election when Karl Rove was supposed to have engineered a “permanent republican majority” thus ensuring that the hand off of power was to someone of Dick Cheneys choosing, but not now. Too many skeletons left behind in the closets, even with the 24/7 shredding and hard drive wiping that will be going on after the Nov. ’08 elections, IF there are elections next year, which I doubt they will allow to happen. I certainly don’t see Dick handing over the keys of power to Hillary, do you? Naw, somethings going to happen.

  16. marquer says:

    I’m trying to understand the service my forbearers have rendered in peace and war, from the Revolution onward, and whether I deserve to stand in their company; am I equal to their contributions in defense of the nation and the Constitution?

    Every free citizen should regularly engage in this sort of introspection.
    What can be said with certainty is that while a select few Americans could in good conscience answer in the affirmative to those questions, the vast majority would answer “Huh?” It would never have occurred to them even to ask.
    Is the Republic lost? Consider the case that the Old Republic had been killed by Old Hickory well before even the first centennial of said Republic.
    Recall that the Founders were horrified by the idea of popular democracy with an unrestricted franchise, and references to the fragility and instability of such systems permeate their discussions and analyses.
    Jackson, in some ways for good and in some ways for bad, blew down the barriers which the Founders had so carefully erected, and gave us the era not of the intended American Republic, but rather the new American Democracy. This occurred with little or no thought as to whether democratic processs were compatible with the rest of the federal mechanism as originally designed.
    The design bequeathed by the Founders was in fact robust and flexible enough to cope for a time. The age of Democracy lasted for longer than might have been predicted from first principles.
    But we finally saw the course of the nation change again. The era of Democracy ended for America on December 12, 2000. Now we are embarked in truth upon the age of Empire.
    I do not expect said Empire to long endure. The senescent processes of internal corruption, external influence, class segmentation and intellectual sloth which have undercut every other such empire in history are already far advanced in the contemporary US.
    What comes next? I would not presume to speculate.

  17. W. Patrick Lang says:

    I will be more precise, a “Gleiwitz” moment.

  18. My mother rendered service to her country in the tradition of the Revolution – she sat in at Patterson’s Drug Store lunch counter, Lynchburg VA, in 1960, trying to integrate. Black people were welcome to buy medicine at Patterson’s in 1960, but they could not sit down at the lunch counter for a cup of coffee. My mother and her friends (two black students and three other white students) sat down, ordered coffee for all, and wouldn’t leave. They were arrested on “felony trespass”, put on trial, convicted and served jail sentences. Her picture was in all the papers, the whole business was a huge scandal, she was vilified up and down the state of Virginia. (her fiance, church, family and college supported her) The law under which she was convicted was later struck down by the US Supreme Court as unconstitutional.
    I know I don’t have the guts to go to jail today. Mom was twenty-one, a college senior, and didn’t have the family responsibilities I have. But I just don’t know if I would risk my liberty that way. I hope I would have the courage. but it’s theoretical – what would one do? And if one set out to do such an action, is it grandstanding and attention-grabbing – egotism?
    I am very angry and despairing about the direction of our government and I don’t know what I *can* do that would matter. I will call my congressional delegation today. Seems weak compared to going to jail.

  19. Jill is probably a paid RNC shill. They pay morons to post Republican talking points to successful lefty blogs. Col. Lang, we know you’re no leftist, but your blog must be hitting a nerve if the talking-points-parrots have arrived.
    I was indeed disgusted by the Marc Rich incident, but it’s nothing like blowing a CIA agent’s cover for a political vendetta, lying about it, and then commuting the sentence passed by a Republican judge and vetted by two other Republican judges.

  20. Fred says:

    Can we say “Iran Contra?” Elliot Abrams, convicted felon, pardoned. Now responsible for mid-east policy. Of course outing a CIA agent after the worst terrorist attack in history, especially an agent who’s husband had publicly opposed a war in Iraq and provided some convincing evidence that the ‘yellow cake’ from Niger story was a fraud, just pales in comparison to lying about sex. But have no fear, there is the fine example of Conservative justice in action at Guantanamo Bay. Speaking of fraud, does Ken Lay and Enron ring a bell? How about the Coalition Provisional Authority, paid for by future generations since that and the entire war is ‘off the books’.

  21. Serving Patriot says:

    funny how the shills keep bringing up the Rich pardon… considering that irving lewis libby (convicted federal felon) was rich’s lawyer.
    perhaps ironic is a better description.

  22. Will says:

    the first “Brutus,” so named for his feigned dullwittedness who overthrew the last Roman king, became one of the first consuls and the founder of the Roman Res Publlica, he has the following Latin quote attributed to him. Any translations?
    ” “Omnium primum avidum novae libertatis populum, ne postmodum flecti precibus aut donis regiis posset, jurejurando adegit, neminem Romae passuros regnare. (h) …
    (h) Compulit ad decernendum addito juramento, fore ut non permitterent quenquam in posterum Romae regem esse ”

  23. Will says:

    A search on ” Omnium primum avidum ” brought a google book search result of a work of Thomas Arnold on philology and the following
    “Omnium primum, avidum nova; libertatis populum, ne post-
    modiirn flecti precibus aut donis regiis posset, jurejurando adegit [Brutus]
    neminem Roma passuros regnare.” It will not do here to translate ”
    adegit” by a passive verb, and to make Brutus the ablative case,
    because Brutus is the principal subject of this and the sentences preceding
    and following it; the historian is engaged in relating his measures.
    To preserve, therefore, the order of the words, the clause ” avidum
    novae libertatis populum” must be translated as a subordinate sentence,
    by inserting a conjunction and verb.
    “First of all, while the
    people were set so keenly on their new liberty, to prevent the possibility
    of their ever being moved from it hereafter by the entreaties or
    bribes of the royal house, Brutus bound them by an oath, that they would
    never suffer any man to be king at Rome.”
    Thus the original Sic Semper Tyrannis.

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