Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Arrogance

Late yesterday afternoon, together with a handful of other mostly out of shape middle-aged men (and one very young, very much in shape, woman), I went off to the local park for my weekly humiliation ritual. Denying my groaning body, I spent two hours in the sun and shade waiving at ground balls three feet beyond my range (meaning four feet from my position), and wondering why I can't make my limbs do what I command.

On the way home, the re-mastered "Compliments" CD (with bonus material) helped me recall a time when a softball game didn't mean soothing angry body parts for the next few days. I noticed that my Treo flashed arriving emails, including yet more "action alerts". I ignored them. Home. I put in the recently-purchased "Freedom Writers" ($5 @ Wegman's) and eased into bed. Next thing I knew, it was time to get up and survey the damage done to these old bones and whatever muscle lay beneath the layers. Waiting for the water to boil for the French press, I called up the Times on the Treo and learned what all the action alert beeps were about.

This is what I would have said on the Libby pardon if I could have put it as well. Indignant, angry, befuddled and not surprised. The rules don't apply to this crew, as your sore and bruised correspondent babbled on about in these pages last month.

This Despicable Cretin selected the 231st anniversary of the day on which this Nation declared itself free from the bonds of a tyrant (distantly related to this Despicable Cretin) with no regard for the law, to free Scooter Libby.

Fittingly, he could do so only by ignoring the rule of law, by shucking the carefully-arranged procedures and policies governing the exercise of executive clemency.

Over time, the Department of Justice has carefully put together workable guidelines for considering requests for commutation. They strongly discourage even accepting applications from people who dispute their conviction or who are appealing their case: "Requests for commutation generally are not accepted unless and until a person has begun serving that sentence. Nor are commutation requests generally accepted from persons who are presently challenging their convictions or sentences through appeal or other court proceeding."

Commutation is very rare, and the guidelines recognize that: "Generally, commutation of sentence is an extraordinary remedy that is rarely granted."

The Department of Justice guidelines point out that the rationale for granting a commutation of a sentence is usually pretty limited, and the only one arguably applicable to Scooter would appear to be "undue severity" of the sentence. But, under the guidelines, one doesn't even reach that point until Scooter admits his offense, shows remorse, and has served a portion of the sentence.

The guidelines, keep in mind, are just that -- they collect the well established principles followed over much of the last couple of hundred years. Having somewhat more force are the regulations governing clemency.

And they provide, among other things, that Scooter should have been forced to drop his appeals before applying for executive clemency: "No petition for commutation of sentence, including remission of fine, should be filed if other forms of judicial or administrative relief are available, except upon a showing of exceptional circumstances."

But, this is a White House which has acted from the start as if the rules don't apply to them.

1 comment:

R flash-fellow-fluff said...

Not only did Rudy Giuliani say that, even with everything we know now, it was still a good idea to invade Iraq, but also that he wants to re-tool the American military to become a nation-building force.-----------------------------
So, we have Rudi The Dirty-Dewwdy on one side and a 1960's Freedom Rider-elitist type on the other.

Makes one want to: ..."Anyone going to Mars?"