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August 10, 2012

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But both sides do it!

The Court of Appeals decision upholding the conviction on most counts is available on the web at http://www.ca11.uscourts.gov/opinions/ops/200713163rem.pdf. There is an earlier version of the decision at http://www.ca11.uscourts.gov/opinions/ops/200713163.pdf.

Paul Ryan?

still not feeling sure of your base, Mitt?

Both sides do 'do it.'

LJ, this is a perfect example of why Sebastian's earlier post was dead-on. We have a criminal law that lets prosecutors decide, after the fact, what conduct is or is not legal. Way back when, if a criminal statute did not give persons adequate and reasonably specific notice of the proscribed conduct, it was 'void for vagueness', I think under the 5th Amendment due process clause (but I stand to be corrected on this collateral point, I am working from distant memory).

Paul Ryan?

No kidding.

Paul Ryan?

Second reply, w/o intent to hijack, here is David Frum's tweet:

"If Ryan, Republicans have converted what ought to be an easy win for the out party into the biggest gamble since 1964."

That is pretty much the size of it. Folks hoping for a second Obama term should be very grateful. At least he's not Sarah Palin.

"At least he's not Sarah Palin."

Maybe with a little work, including shaving four times a day:

http://transgriot.blogspot.com/2009/08/gender-drama-at-1936-berlin-olympics.html

Actually, the individual in the link looks a little like Ayn Rand.

Why run with a person who merely talks a good Death Panel.

Now they have the Death Panel himself, though certainly a photogenic and charming one, on the ticket.

Will Ayn Rand fly Air Force One with the other parasites, including those gummint pilots, or will she pay her own dammed way.

Hi McT,
In this case, I think there is a pretty loose definition of 'it'. I'm trying to think where judges on the Democratic side gunned for Republican governors in a similar way. If we expand it to executives, I don't think Nixon would be a fair comparison. If we expand to politicians, I'd be interested in who you and others think are balancing examples.

However, I also have this vague notion that this took place in Alabama because of some peculiarities of Ala culture. I'm not sure how to put all the pieces together, but specifically Alabama astort hell and the changes seem to suggest that there is something beneath the surface of this that provides a special Alabama flavor to this. This is a bit different than Mississippi, but the element of geographic chauvinism seems similar, in that Siegelman was from coastal Mobile and the folks who were prosecuting him were primarily from Birmingham (which is pretty much a different culture) as well as being a Jew really seems to be at some of the disproportionate sentencing. I also think that national Republicans took advantage of this, with Rove parachuting in to gee up the troops.

I'm also just throwing stuff at the wall to see if it sticks, but I can't imagine that Susan Pace Hamill's efforts would have happened in Mississippi. But again, I don't really have anything organized enough to explain it more exactly, but I wonder if there are any Alabamians around to tell me if I'm wrong or if there is something there.

Things can "feel " wroog, and if one has an deep familiarity with a place, the feelings are more likely to be accurate. I don't know enough about Alabama to judge.

Here's an example: oh, maybe twenty years ago there was a state wide teacher's strike here. Then all of a sudden, for no reasonable reason, the Seattle union caved. With Seattle out all the other unions caved, too. When I told my sister in Illinois about this her response was immediate: "If that happened here, I'd assume that someone birbed the union leaders". See? That's the feel she has for Chicago politics. It is not the feel Ihave for Seattle politics. To the this day I don't know wny the Seattle union caved. I used to live in Seattle and the feel I had for politics there was that thigs were pretty clean. There was a very vicious rumor about prosecution for sex offenses that provided an explanation, but it was a rumor and so vicious tht I never really believed it.

So my point is while it might never be provable, your perceptions about prejudice, regional bias and raw political partisanshipfrom the Bush administration are worth sharing with those of us not familiar with Alabama.

As for Ryan, I thik that he will be worse for the Republican ticket than Palin was. Palin did all that dog whistlig and code talking so people could respond tot he emotional content of her remarks while not knowing or pretending to themsleves that they did not know what she really meant or what policies she would sujpport. Ryan on the other hand has a track record: the Ryan budget. And it is what it is. HA!

The up side of picking Ryan, for Romney, is that he can relax a bit about the Republican base. Not completely, but a little.

The up side for the country is that this changes the election from being all about the current economy to being all about where the country ought to be going philosophically. In short, about real issues that matter.

The down side for Romney is that nobody can maintain the illusion that he might govern from the center. Clearly, whatever the Republican base wants, he will do. What was the line from Norquist? "We just need a president to sign this stuff." Apparently Romney has agreed to be that man.

On balance, it looks like a pick that someone who compulsively avoids risk would make only if he thought he was in a losing struggle otherwise.

Romney is already claiming that he won't support the Ryan budget. But who's going to believe that?

If we expand to politicians, I'd be interested in who you and others think are balancing examples.

At the risk of totally derailing this thing, and addressing political prosecutions generally: Kay Bailey Hutchinson, Scooter Libby, possibly Tom DeLay (as despicable as he is otherwise, the Democratic DA in Travie County, Ronnie Earls had to go to three grand juries to finally get an indictment), possibly Ollie North. These are off the top of my head.

Siegelman: Democratic defendant, Republican administration, prosecutor nominated by Republican, judge appointed by Republican, served jail time.

Libby: Republican defendant, Republican administration, prosecutor nominated by Republican, judge appointed by Republican, pardoned by Republican.

Conservative: See! Political prosecutions happen on both sides!

Here's what gets me about the Siegelman case: as nearly as I can tell (unlike Scooter Libby) he did nothing illegal, certainly nothing out of the ordinary, and probably nothing that even a good-government wonk would describe as "wrong"

He accepted a campaign donation from a supporter; somewhat later, his administration made a decision that benefitted that supporter.

More than fifty (another article says ninety-one) former attorneys-general from many states, some of those AGs Republican, put their names on an amicus brief to the Supreme Court arguing it should hear Siegelman’s case because his actions did not constitute a crime.

Here's what I was surprised and angry to learn:

ut Kagan ... [prior to her appointment to SCOTUS and confirmation ]... urged the high court in November to deny Siegelman a hearing. Kagan used technical legal arguments devised with the assistance of DOJ’s trial prosecutors.

Right, Kagan is 100 % pro prosecutorial/executive discretion.

The up side for the country is that this changes the election from being all about the current economy to being all about where the country ought to be going philosophically. In short, about real issues that matter.

well, it will if the media lets it. odds are good that the media is going to ignore all policy details and focus on superficial hot-button spin, interesting distortions and issues of character.

we'll never get an honest policy discussion with a media that's afraid to point out lies.

Ryan as a VP would be even less relevant to questions of budget than is our current POTUS, I say. Sure, if Romney even bothered to submit timely budget proposals, Ryan's influence there might be a factor (although minor, I think, because Romney has not historically stinted on the social programs). But we'd still have the filter of Congress out there, and Congress rules the budget struggle.

(unlike Scooter Libby) he did nothing illegal

Hmmm...my memory of events was that Libby had a different recounting of memory than did another person.

So: Libby goes to jail, gets pardoned, and is remembered as the person who outed Valerie Plame, and the person who actually outed Valerie Plame gets completely ignored.

It's some kind of noise machine, all right.

@joel hanes: The Appelate decision that I linked to earlier is the best source of information for why the actions that Siegelman is accused of performing are illegal. The jury was instructed that to convict on the bribery charge, they had to find that, "the defendant and the official agree that the official will take specific action in exchange for the thing of value." It was perfectly legal for Scrushy to pressure UBS to pay Integrated Health Services to make a campaign contribution, and for Seigelman to subsequently appoint Scrushy to the CON Board. If the prosecution hadn't presented evidence of an explicit agreement between Scrushy and Siegelman to make the appointment in exchange for the contribution, the jury wouldn't have convicted him on that count, or if they had the Court of Appeals would have thrown out the conviction.

One other point: The contribution was made after the election, so it could not be spent to promote the ballot initiative. Instead, it was used to help pay off the bank loan, which was guaranteed by two people, one of whom was Siegelman. Therefore, the contribution ended up in the pockets of Siegelman and/or the other guarantor of the loan. So I think that what we are talking about is the equivalent of a direct payment from Scrushy to Siegelman's personal account, and is different from a contribution to a campaign where the money is expected to be spent promoting a political cause or candidate.

Kenneth Almquist:

Thanks for the further details.

I had been under the impression that the things Siegelman did are not unusual in our political system, and are almost always tacitly ignored (even though they violate the letter of the law) and that this "everyone does it" reminder was the substance of the amicus brief filed by the former Attorneys General.

so, to review :

Everyone else who commented on the topic I nominated was way ahead of me in understanding, from the first comment to the last, and they politely and quietly helped me catch up. If I have.

I was a little surprised that lj went with the Skynard reference for the title (I'd have chosen "What's going wrong?", or maybe "Don't it take you down home?"), but now I see that the evident triumph of corruption and conspiracy compels this song choice.

Did Skynard cover Proud Mary? Between CCR and Tina I thought it was pretty well done.

Proud Mary is 'Big Wheel', Sweet Home Alabama is 'Big Wheels'.

Libby goes to jail, gets pardoned, and is remembered as the person who outed Valerie Plame, and the person who actually outed Valerie Plame gets completely ignored.

My take as well. Libby's memory was different that someone else's and this was deemed to be a crime. I also seem to recall the jury had a number of questions that required additional charging on the law and whatnot. Didn't seem like a fair trial or a valid prosecution for an actual crime.

I don't think Libby is similar to Siegelman because it took place in the context of something that was out of the ordinary, i.e. the outing of a CIA agent, plus the fact that she was married to Joe Wilson with his own story in Gulf War I. I obviously disagree about culplability and such, but I think we can agree that the context of that trial is a long way to taking a contribution and getting an appointment.

Quick note for the open thread: Third mass shooting in less than a month. Is that a record for the US?

(And isn't it interesting how much less media handwringing and attention there was over a bunch of Sikhs getting shot at their own place of worship than there was over suburbanites getting shot at a movie theater? Your liberal media at work!)

Well at this point we're almost certainly entering publicity hound copycat craziness which is your sensationalistic media at work.

"Almost certainly" is doing a hell of a lot of lifting there.

Libby's memory was different than many other people's. Also, the other people took notes. Lots of notes. Also, the people who took notes were willing to go to jail for Libby, until he told them they were allowed to testify.

When Libby allowed the people who were in jail for refusing to testify against him to testify against him, they testified in such a way that he got convicted. Then Libby got, begrudgingly, pardoned.

Why do you think Libby did that? He was facing jail. The reporters who could put him in jail were themselves in jail, refusing to testify. And Libby told them, go ahead and testify against me.

Why did he do that?

Why would you do that, if you were in that situation?

Also, the other people took notes. Lots of notes.

That's nice that they did that. Libby's memory can even be wrong without him perjuring himself. It is not illegal to have an incorrect recollection of events.

Why do you think Libby did that? He was facing jail. The reporters who could put him in jail were themselves in jail, refusing to testify. And Libby told them, go ahead and testify against me.

Why did he do that?

Why would you do that, if you were in that situation?

Any speculation that I might have to offer would be completely irrelevant, as well as having no bearing on whether Libby actually lied under oath. And all of this conversation is conveniently beside the point of: Libby did not out Valerie Plame. We know who did that, and it wasn't Lewis Libby. Do you dispute the fact that Richard Armitage was the one who outed Valerie Plame? It was known before Libby ever went to trial that Armitage was the leaker.

So, while you're asking for speculation, ask yourself: why, given that Fitzgerald himself was aware of this, did he bother prosecuting Libby?

We know who did that, and it wasn't Lewis Libby.

And a jury decided that Libby tried to prevent a grand jury from figuring out exactly who outed Valerie Plame. So he got a 30 month sentence from a Republican judge on that and 3 other charges (average sentence for the obstruction charge alone is 70 months) and then a Republican president pardoned him.

And now, apparently, conservatives think this is an example of a political prosecution.

Which is utter and total BS. This was the prosecution of a criminal by a prosecutor who was asked to investigate a crime.

And where Libby was pardoned and din;t spend a day in custody, Siegel wasn't given the traditional time to settle his affairs or appeal before being carted off to prison, and couldn't appeal because the judge couldn't be bothered to file the transcript for over a year.

But both sides do it.

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