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Scooter’s Liberty

Should Bush pardon? Science lessons. Democracy and double standards. Plus much more.

6.22.07

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BEG YOUR PARDON?
Re: R. Emmett Tyrrell, Jr.'s Pardon Libby:

I regret to find myself in disagreement with Bob Tyrrell, much less state it in public. But I consider this issue so vital to the future of the conservative movement in America and Bob is such a critical figure in the movement that I cannot stand by silently.

What troubles me the most about the general effort to secure a pardon for Libby is its abandonment of bedrock principle simply to achieve a desired result in an individual case and (from voices other than Bob's) a cavalier disregard of the merits of the case and the serious threat that perjury poses to our legal and political system. When Congress impeached President Clinton based on a charge of perjury in a civil case that otherwise involved no high crime or misdemeanor, nearly every conservative voice approved. While I had mixed feelings as to whether that charge merited the solemn constitutional step of impeachment in that case, I strongly agreed with the underlying point that perjury and obstruction of justice cannot be tolerated if we are to live under the rule of law. And conservatives continue to make that argument. Most recently the New York Post criticized Hillary Clinton for giving a prominent position in her presidential campaign to a member of Congress who was impeached and convicted for perjury as a federal judge.

On the merits of the case, I respectfully believe that the jury decided correctly. Nobody who was not in the courtroom every day of the trial is fully qualified to give an authoritative opinion. However, the contradictions between Libby's grand jury testimony about his conversations with Tim Russert and others and what Russert et al. testified are too stark to be accounted for by hazy recollection. The independent testimony of current and former White House personnel that Libby was briefed on Valerie Plame's status as a CIA agent weeks before his conversations with Russert -- which is when Libby testified that he first learned about it -- seriously undermined Libby's version. I would expect that, as a seasoned lawyer who has held positions of great public responsibility, Libby would have been able to give a compelling account at trial if he had a valid explanation as to why he testified the way he did. Since he exercised his right not to testify at trial, I can only conclude that he and his very able defense team decided that his testimony would not have helped him.

The notion that no underlying crime was charged is meaningless: anyone with experience dealing with federal prosecutors knows that they often bring cases based on perjury or obstruction when they may be lacking confidence that they can prove an element of the underlying crime beyond a reasonable doubt. That's why Al Capone was put away for tax evasion rather than murder and Alger Hiss for perjury rather than espionage.

I see no real evidence that Patrick Fitzgerald was on any sort of vendetta -- indeed he expressed great regret at having to bring the case in the first place. Far from seeking to entrap witnesses, Fitzgerald gave Karl Rove multiple opportunities to correct his testimony. If Fitzgerald were cynically hunting for a political scalp, Rove's would have been much more glamorous than Libby's.

I hope that conservatism in America will stand for something more than taking the convenient position on the issue of the day. Conservatism has stood for limited, accountable, responsible government and for the rule of law. It has held itself out as an ideology based on principles rather than ephemeral considerations and it has championed figures who took principled stands that cost them politically, such as Barry Goldwater, Jim Buckley, and (before he came back in 1980) Ronald Reagan. If it is to be taken seriously, it cannot impeach a President of the United States on a perjury charge but pooh-pooh the perjury conviction of Scooter Libby, just as it cannot hold Tom Foley to one standard and Mark Foley to another. If it is to deserve respect, it cannot stoop to protect lawyers who perjure themselves.
-- Paul Windels III
Scarsdale, New York.

Two Questions arise: (1) Since Patrick Fitzgerald is no different than Nifong, why hasn't he been disbarred yet? and (2) Why is the allegedly loyal Bush taking so long in to pardon Libby, who misremembered, and was wrongfully convicted of a crime that exempts congresscritters and lawyers when they are acting like congresscritters and lawyers?
-- John Gridley

For the first time in memory, I am compelled to disagree with Mr. Tyrrell on one point. He asserts that Mr. Libby is "disgraced and possibly broke." In the estimation of fair minded people, Mr. Libby did nothing to disgrace himself, and is probably the only person involved in this whole tawdry affair who can make that claim.
-- Richard Meade
Bayside, New York

Welcome to the party, Tyrrell. This whole fiasco is so completely unbelievable that I've come to a decision that's been eating away at me for months. I know I'm going to bring the house down around me, intense scorn, abuse, etc., but enough is enough. The President should step down. For all his purported good qualities, I think we have someone who is now in way over his head for the times. The Vice-President could certainly take over, and he's a better communicator, too. This Libby case, losing the Congress, the immigration bill, the Middle East, etc., etc., etc. is beginning to look like a pattern I'm beginning to doubt the country can survive over the next 15-18 months, not to mention the GOP. He wouldn't even have had to pardon Libby. According to an astute constitutional observer who wrote a letter to National Review, he had several options. He could have given Libby a "respite" to keep him out of jail until the appeal process is over. What is the political downside? Someone tell me. Perhaps, he just has bad advisers, or he's fatigued. OK, but that doesn't explain all of it. Whatever the problem is, it isn't being addressed. With tears and regret, I've finally reached the end of my patience with this administration. Just go, George.
-- Mike Showalter
Austin, Texas

Regarding a pardon for I Scooter Libby for charges of perjury and obstruction, why hasn't anyone thought to ask the opinion of someone with genuine insight on such things, Sen. Hillary Clinton? I recall her telling Matt Lauer in Jan.1999 that regarding charges her husband committed the same crimes, "if true, it would be very serious indeed." I Don't recall another word on the matter from the woman once voted the ABA's "Lawyer of the Year" who aspires to be our next President.
-- Tim O'Neill
Pompano Beach, Florida

President Bush must pardon Scooter Libby if either these two events unfold: 1) Patrick Fitzgerald insists on sending Scooter Libby to jail before appeals are heard or 2) Appeals will not be heard before the President leaves office.

I am not a legal scholar but it is obvious to me that Mr. Libby deserves, at minimum, a new trial. The jury foreman should have never been on the jury since he and a key witness, Tim Russert, were neighbors that knew each other. Running out of juror challenges is still no reason to put such obviously biased people on the jury.

There should have never been a trial since there should have never been an investigation. Mr. Libby's only real crime here was cooperating with the prosecutor with a faulty memory of events and times. He did in no way disclose the identity of any covert agent. In retrospect, I believe Mr. Libby would have used "Hillary's Thesaurus" and simply said he could not remember in a dozen or more different ways.

Some pundits are saying that a pardon would hurt Republicans in the 2008 elections. I predict the opposite reaction: Conservatives and many moderates will support Republican candidates in larger numbers once the President has shown some spine. Liberals would be irate about a pardon but would never support a Republican for any reason.
-- Bob Staggs
Goshen, Kentucky

Tim Russert appeared on the knowledge based game show
"Jeopardy" opposite Tom Clancy and someone else a few years ago. Russert was astoundingly ignorant of basic facts of the world, and Clancy mopped the floor with him. Scooter Libby should not have been convicted by testimony from the likes of Tim Russert.
-- David Shoup
Fort Gordon, Georgia

While Democrats will howl and froth at the mouth the President should pardon Scooter Libby. Bill Clinton, for bribes, pardoned international criminal Marc Rich so President Bush should pardon the innocent Scooter Libby. In fact, he should begin pardoning all military personnel being railroaded by Murtha and liberals for "crimes" in Iraq and Afghanistan against terrorists and their supporters. Time to end the lame duck mantra of the wacky left and their "conservative" toadies like Pat Buchanan (fast morphing into Arianna Huffington) and shake up the liberal DC establishment by vetoing Democrat's bloated spending bills, firing Fitzgerald and more Democrat Federal prosecutors and calling those who want to appease al Qaeda in Iraq (on the right and left) cowards and traitors.
-- Michael Tomlinson
Jacksonville, North Carolina

In the somewhat frenzied entreaties (demands?) to pardon Scooter Libby, how come we have heard nothing from Libby's boss, the vice president? Could it be that Cheney has quietly advised his boss, President Bush, to not obviate the appeals process with a pardon so that Libby could be legally exonerated? After all, pardoning Libby would put him in company with such luminaries as Henry Cisneros, Susan H. McDougal, Patty Hearst and Marc Rich.
-- Sarsfield
Bellport, New York

Re: Pardoning Libby: He also serves who only stands and becomes a crucible.
-- Ty Knoy

IT'S ALL RELATIVE
Re: Tom Bethell's Einstein's Revolution, and Counterrevolution:

Mr. Bethell's article is a refreshing change from the misleading pabulum one usually finds when scientific issues are addressed in non-technical journals. It also provides the careful reader a proper appreciation of the oxymoron "scientific consensus." I rather doubt the global warming zealots will notice.
-- Bud Hammons

Thank you for the very insightful and informative review by Tom Bethell of Einstein: His Life and Universe.
-- Roger D. McKinney
Broken Arrow, Oklahoma

The relative slowdown in time and length contraction as velocity approaches the speed of light is expressed mathematically by the Lorentz Transformation Equations. Unfortunately skeptics can point out that mischief may have found a home because the equations result in division by a near zero number. Division by zero has no meaning, is undefined, in contemporary mathematics.However, clock experiments comfort strict proponents of the theory. Never the less our understanding of the universe will continue to evolve slowly in human terms because purpose must be given to each step forward.

I will buy the book and hope it says something of black holes as I am skeptical of them too.
-- Howard Lohmuller
Seabrook, Texas

Thank you for reminding us that far from being a physicist, "Tom Bethell is a senior editor of The American Spectator and author of The Politically Incorrect Guide to Science (Regnery Publishing)."

This goes a long way towards explaining why he balks at carrying Einstein's career as a theoretician much past the dawn of quantum mechanics a century ago, or mentioning that the spooky action at a distance that so frightens materialism's foes has established a concrete beach head in post-modern reality as quantum computation and cryptography advance from strength to strength.

As Bethell notes , Einstein's astute biographer, Walter Isaacson heads the Aspen Institute, and a such hosts much of the pantheon of modern physics annually . Little wonder his account of the view afforded scientists able to climb onto Einstein's shoulders is so more cogent and coherent , than Bethell's. Readers who absorb Isaacson's volume in full must return to Bethell's review in amazement. The mind is repelled that an addiction to contrarianism for its own sake could lead anyone to eschew the physics literature of the last three decades in favor of so dim constellation of self published 'dissident' authors as he cites.

As much as they may covet their own hypotheses, they haven't an experimental result between them , and their distinguishing feature is a failure to articulate their alternative universe cogently enough to survive the rigors of peer review. Bethell to his credit notes how Isaacson sent his manuscript around to journalists to ensure its clarity to lay readers. One wishes he would ask the long suffering , but admirably patient editors of Phys. Rev or Nature to pass judgment on his future offerings to the readers of TAS. This one raises fears the "Politically" in the title of his last book may prove subject to Heisenberg's principle -- any fixed critical gaze might implode the wave function of a word so distorted, leaving 'Incorrect Guide To Science " in its relativistic wake.
-- Russell Seitz
Cambridge, Massachusetts

Huh?
-- Kevin W.
Morgantown, West Virginia

PREMATURE ELECTIONS
Re: Christopher Orlet's Election Elixir:

A boy finds a chrysalis ripe with a butterfly birthing. The butterfly is struggling to escape the once protective, but now entrapping, cocoon. The struggle is obvious as it is painful. The boy, full of youthful compassion, but lacking hard won knowledge of life itself, reaches down and frees the butterfly from it encasement. The butterfly falls to the ground, furiously beats it wings and seeks flight. In short time, the butterfly beats it final strokes as dies never knowing the freedom or independence of flight. The boy runs home and cries to his father. The father explains that the butterfly didn't have a chance because the boy freed the butterfly from the necessary struggle. His father says the breaking out is a necessarily painful experience that builds up strength needed to survive. Without struggle, there is no life.

The parallel to the current President Bush and his father is clear: if W. had spoken to Pare` Bush, W. would have understood that the Palestinians needed time and experience with open exchange of ideas, government and the philosophies of democracy before they given the power of voting. Life is a continuous series of lessons to be learned, some of them extremely painful but equally necessary. Sadly, President Bush and his administration don't seem to grasp the history of the region to see what these lessons are.
-- Ira M. Kessel
Rochester, New York

OPEN MINDS, EMPTY PEWS
Re: Jeffrey Lord's Sharing a Church With Barack:

Jeffrey Lord's article was very near to my own experience in the Evangelical Lutheran Church. The local pastors decided that they were liberals first, and Jesus' emissaries second. I watched for few years as the Church of my baptism gradually preached less and less about grace and redemption for sins confessed and acknowledged, and more about why homosexuals were just another minority. There really was no sin at all in their view, just one big happy family unneedful of forgiveness because sin was abolished. What a load of baloney. Why even show up if there is nothing to be gained because I could not have possibly sinned unless I insulted a homosexual. We are all sinners, but some of us know it and some of us deny it.

After a while, it became too much and I went on my way and found a new place that acknowledged that unless we confess we are in bondage to sin we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. In the meantime, churches like the one that I left will end up with no believers because there will be nothing to believe. Pretty sad.
-- James Parker
Carmichael, California

Right on and thank you !
-- Helen, Arizona

SPELL THE NAME RIGHT
Re: Cliff Briner's letter (under "Blame Distribution") in Reader Mail's Interleague Encounters:

Clif appears to be one of those folks who "never fails to miss the point." Poor guy was so frothed up he added an "n" to my name. I don't care what Clif or anyone else thinks about me or my opinions -- just spell the name right -- it's Diane.

If anywhere in my letter I stated or gave the impression that I was a "good Mother," that was not the purpose or the point. The only people qualified to render an opinion on that are my two grown sons. But there are many who will tell you they are fine men.

My stated point was that the young men were not choir boys and no one, up to the time of Jay Homnick's observation, to my knowledge, had suggested they possessed less than sterling characters. I'll say it again for the thick-headed (Clif, are you listening?) When they attended the party, they knew the star attraction wasn't Shari Lewis and her hand-puppet, Lambchop (well, maybe because she's dead. but you get the point.) The groundwork for this fiasco was laid by them by their attendance alone.

I would not have to "feed my sons to Nifong" because I can say, without reservation, there would never have been an occasion such as this, where I would have been called upon to. But I would not have sat in the jury room dabbing at my eyes and I would have probably have been overheard by a TV mike, telling my son on the way out, "If you ever get yourself in a jam like this again, don't call home."

I don't know if it better describes me as "good mother" or "martinet," but in their teens I emphasized to my sons that if they ever did anything dishonorable, dishonest or even shabby, I would consider it as turning their backs on their upbringing. Perhaps they considered it a threat that I would not "stand by them." If so, it worked.

A haircut, a suit and a tie do not a gentleman make. And before Clif gets going on "Does Diane think everyone who is not a gentleman belongs in jail? This guy's got a mind like a flat iron. I don't wish to split hairs with any reader about the "sterling-ness" of character of any of the beleaguered and whether it is a mark of character, being entertained by an evening of that particular entertainment. Mr. Briner is entitled to his standards. I am entitled to mine.

Here's the deal, Clif. Don't add an "n" to my name and I won't add an "f" to yours.
-- Diane Smith
South San Francisco, California

WAY PASTIME
Re: Lisa Fabrizio's America's Game Gone Lame; the letters (under "High Flies") in Reader Mail's Interleague Encounters; Elaine Kyle letter (under "Intentional Walk") in Reader Mail's Boys Will Be Boisterous; and H. Pippins' letter (under "Take Me Out of the Ball Game") in Reader Mail's Hold the Applause:

Last night (Wednesday, 20 June) the Boston Red Sox defeated the Altanta (nee Milwaukee, nee Boston) Braves in the rubber game of a three game series in Atlanta. Turner Field was sold out for all three games, proof again, as if any more were needed, that there is a Red Sox "nation." I was glad to witness the Red Sox victory on television, not because of any animus toward the Braves, but because the Red Sox increased their lead to ten games over the Yankees in the American League East, who lost to Colorado.

Inter-league play is fine in in the preseason, but I don't like it in the regular season for all the reasons Lisa Fabrizio relates. The Red Sox had played the Braves three times in an earlier series at Fenway. The two teams therefore will have played each other six times this season. Will any other American League team meet the Braves for six games, or National League team play the Red Sox six times? No, and scheduling inconsistencies like these should not be allowed. But this series is one of the "'phony'" rivalries Ms. Fabrizio decries, created because of the Braves' Boston origins.

The Braves (originally the Red Stockings, and also known at various times as the Nationals, Beaneaters, Pilgrims and Bees), one of the original 1876 National League teams, played in Boston for 82 years, from 1871 to 1952. After moving to Milwaukee in 1953 they played an annual exhibition game in Boston against the Red Sox to raise money for the Jimmy Fund, the Boston Braves-sponsored charity for the children's ward at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute. It was interesting in those days, as players like Warren Spahn and Eddie Matthews returned to Boston. But that was long ago, and the Braves' connection to Boston has nearly faded away (despite a Boston Braves website). Perhaps some day the Braves will return to their rightful home...after the Giants return to New York.
-- Paul DeSisto
Cedar Grove, New Jersey

I've got to agree with Elaine Kyle and H. Pippins on this baseball thing: boring. Even the letters to the editor on Lisa Fabrizio's recent column are, frankly, boring.

Maybe that's because I was one of those unlucky ones constantly relegated to right field.
-- Karl F. Auerbach
Eden, Utah

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